Friday, April 18, 2014

Guest Blog and Giveaway with Sidney Stone

How To Write A Yelp Review

Thank you so much for featuring my book Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War.  It was a great experience writing my first novel after writing 4 screenplays. One of the ways that I practice my writing is by creating Yelp reviews.  I love dining out, hiking and visiting wineries so I have ample places and locations to review.  It is a great way to practice my writing, meet new people and I have also sold dozens of books through Yelp. I have met a few dating partners too over the years but I will focus on the writing not the salacious details ;)

My Yelp profile can be found here:

I have over 1200 friends and over 760 reviews.  So how does one write a good Yelp review?  Here are my tips:

·       Don’t be shy to include social commentary

Recently during a visit at a Monterey winery one of the patrons collapsed on the floor.  While paramedics attended to the stricken and stressed man, the winery continued to pour for the visitors who also continued to drink the wine.  It was completely surreal and really struck home how human empathy and common sense seem to be in the decline.  I made note of these observations and included them in my 2 star review.  It is observational detail like that that increases your audience and gets people to continue reading your reviews (and maybe buying your book).  Here is one example (and yes I start every review with a quote):

"We are homesick most for the places we have never known."
― Carson McCullers

I love Starbuck's just for the little human observation details one can see. At the one in Irvine in the Trader Joe's Plaza on Culver, it's the fascinating demolition derby of cars as that terrible parking lot design combined with frantic, inattentive, unskilled drivers combines into a kaleidoscope of unintended comedy.

Here in Mayberry, the scenes unfold a bit differently.

This Starbucks is located in the Walnut Grove Center in Morgan Hill. Yep, adjacent to another Trader Joe's and a CVS. Parking is excellent so no hilarity there. This Starbucks is busy but not unbearably so. There is a side room with a long mission style table where a few times I plugged in my laptop to work on my manuscript in the evenings and weekends. Service is generally efficient if impersonal and I still like the breakfast sandwiches here along with the hot chocolate.

But it's those little human scenes with just enough emotional pathos packed into a few seconds that you really can get a base understanding of the human condition and really make the visits here interesting.

Like this scene:

Hot brunette looks away when beefy married guy with four kids and wife in tow, not only smiles at her once, but goes in for second stare as he walks away with his latte, trailing the oblivious wife and kids.

What was he thinking with that oh so obvious second stare that he held for too long of a beat? Upset at the brunette for ignoring him? Longing for a previous life before the marriage and kids? Hoping desperately that he was still an attractive dude and trying to delay the ravages of time? Did he fantasize about the woman during that rare occasion he makes love to his wife or more likely, the frequent times he pleases himself alone?

That man was definitely forlornly homesick for a place he will never know...

·       Go to interesting places

Don’t write about the local Subway or McDonalds unless something unusual or unique occurs. Do write about your travels, interesting tourist spots, hiking trails, wineries; even professional services like dentists or contractors! Yelp is not just about restaurants!  Of course you may find yourself become a slave to only eating at local mom n pop places just to impress your Yelp friends J

·       Practice using different voices or techniques

One friend of mine changes the voice of his review constantly or writes it as a haiku or an advice column. In my reviews, sometimes I write in the voice of my son and my friends all love those reviews. Unfortunately sometimes Yelp doesn’t and they end up getting pulled.  Here is an example of one I did as my son that was removed after a year of being online:

Preparation for old age should begin not later than one's teens.
A life which is empty of purpose until 65 will not suddenly become filled on retirement -- Dwight L. Moody
So this hotel is recently remodeled and while pricing can be too high if you do not get a deal, when you can get a Hotwire or AAA rate it is very worth it. Nice rooms, good service, a decent breakfast (they just need more healthy choices) make this place a winner in Morgan Hill. I have stayed here and I had a friend stay here as well both with similar positive experiences. Are you asleep yet?

Oh, and sorry Niki S. but all the compliments for Hampton Inn were also removed too. Richard S. of Georgia is now the 12,000th compliment winner!!!! If he ever makes it out to California that is...

Highly recommended.

Now, my son stayed with me and had his own perspective:

What's up Yelpsters!!! Or is it Yelpbookers??? Yelptweets?? I don't know, who cares, you all are weird (Except my Dads Yelping friends who all seem to be cute. Yuck! I do not like girls! Although I soooo pone them at handball). This is, what does my dad call me, Mini-me! Although a few more years, I'll be bigger than him, because he will shrink as I grow, and I will call him Mini-me!!! Or maybe Mini-me 1.0 Ha! Ha! Ha!

I've taken over his computer. Dumb dads. "ooh, I'll password protect my laptop". Yeah, by using the same password you use on everything else!!!!! My dad is very smart but sometimes he is very dumb. Just like a lot of adults are. Smart. Dumb. Dumb. Smart. Smumb!!! Ha! Ha! Ha! New word! I just crack myself up.

I see he was starting to review the Hampton Inn. What does that quote above mean? and why does he do that? Just review the damn, oops, darn place!!! My dad hates it when I use bad language. Crap isn't a bad word!!! We all crap!!! Crap! Crap! Crap!! Ha! Ha! Ha! My dad took me on an awful hike, I hate hiking!, and I almost stepped in horses crap! Oops, I meant poop (I thought he was waking up but he is still snoring. Hey, here is a joke I learned at school: Why do black widow spiders kill their males after mating? To stop the snoring before it starts. Thank God my Dad is not a spider. I hate spiders! Spiders suck!!! But they don't crap! Ha! Ha! Ha!) Oh, And do not go in the bathroom after my dad craps!!! Ewwwwww!!!!! Talk about Defcon 5 and call in the HazMat team!!!! Wait, where was I?

Oh yeah, my Smumb Dad left his computer on so I'm going to finish his Hampton review. He was only going to give it 4 stars but that is crap with a Capital C!!! Just because they don't have a decent fruit selection at breakfast?? Who cares??? They have hot bacon and waffles!!!! Bacon is the fruit and waffles are the veggie in my crappy food pyramid!!! Plus, the beds and pillows are comfy, service is good especially since my Dad tips the maids and my dad said the hotel is remodeled. You will like the way it looks! I guarantee it! I think I saw that on a crappy commercial once! Ha! Ha! Ha!

Hey, what does that other quote of his mean? Love makes the world go up and down instead of around? Up and down? Love? Hey, wait, that's gross Dad...Ewwwwwww!!!!!! What a dumb, not smumb, Dad! Yuck!

Wi-Fi can lag sometimes but otherwise it works good. I know, I've had problem winning at Minecraft this week because my Dad doesn't let me use computer as much as my mom does. Why do we have to go on hikes Dad?????? 'Deer and cows, oh my?' No, Deers and Cows who cares!!!! Screens rule!

Anyway, my Dad said he got a good deal on Hotwire. I have no idea what that is unless my Dad is a secret Agent stealing cars like those cool dudes on Fast and Furious 6! That movie rocks! except my dad doesn't look like the mumbling t-shirt guy or the big humongous guy. And my Dad can't even password protect his laptop much less hotwire a car! He is such a smumby!!! Ha! Ha!

So a hotwired comfy hotel with hot bacon and waffles!!! Five stars in my book! Or MacBook as the case may be, right snoring smumb Dad!!!!!

I am out of here to go kill some zombies!!!!!

·       Have fun and be creative!

Describe your experience and everything so readers have a sense of the restaurant but have some fun with it. It is just a review and one in which you are not getting paid J So be honest, describe food and service accurately, do not be a jerk and have fun!  The genius of Yelp is that it is a social network combined with a review site.  The more creative you are the more people will read your reviews and the more interesting foodie friends you can make.

Have a great weekend and again thank you for featuring my book!

Jennifer Ainsley
The Final Demon War
Sidney Stone

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Suspense/
Horror/New Adult

Date of Publication: December 2013

ISBN: 1491200960

Number of pages: 308
Word Count: 102,400

Cover Artist: Pencilbox Studios

Book Description:

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” - Matthew 10:34

Demons are preparing to launch the Final War to destroy humanity. 

Can one young woman wielding the Sword of Jesus ensure our survival and redemption?

Will she lose both her love and her soul in the process?

Available at Amazon in Paperback and Kindle formats

About the Author:

Sidney Stone is a hiker, deer whisperer and non-pretentious wine connoisseur. An addicted reviewer on Yelp, he is also creator of affordable housing (although technically he is homeless part-time), thinks The Replacements are the best band of the Eighties and loves to boost his LinkedIn count with people he doesn't know.

He lives in both Northern and Southern California while constantly traveling to Orange County to visit his son, who can now beat his father at ping pong and chess rather easily (and is charmingly arrogant while doing it). A graduate of UC Irvine and Pepperdine University, Sidney wishes he chose at least one university to attend that had a college football team to root for.

The first scene Sidney thought of for Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War included a rather large massacre (take that for what it is worth). However, inspired by the works of Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Clive Barker; the book's violence is offset by dark humor and deep human emotion just like in real life where Sidney's darkness is offset by creatively placed sarcasm and an overwrought romanticism. For example, while Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War is a Fantasy-Horror novel, Sidney also still tears up at the end of both Field of Dreams and An Officer and a Gentleman.

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1 comment:

Reinventor said...

Thank you so much for featuring my book! I hope your readers liked my guest blog posting. I hope everyone has a fantastic holiday weekend!