Ramey On Reviewing by Mike Ramey

I don’t need to tell you what is going on in the land. Those who have an ear to hear, and eyes to see already know what is going on. The purpose of this series of columns is to teach those who have been ‘slowed down’ by life another skill to add to their ‘quiver’ of experiences to help lead them to the next level.

We’re going to spend our time learning about the Art of Reviewing.

Being a Reviewer does have its ups and downs. You have the opportunity to write about what you see, hear, or digest. You have the skill to impact society and those in the written, spoken, or culinary arts. A Reviewer is an influencer; one who spots trends on the horizon, or, has the opportunity to revisit some history that may be helpful in the future. Plus, along the way, you may get the chance to meet some of those heroes who have inspired your life.

These are the ups. As I said, there are downs. A Reviewer is the oil to the water of an artist. An honest Reviewer may not be appreciated, could be corrected and railed against for taking a realistic stand--but they are a blessing. A dishonest Reviewer--one who may have never ‘made the grade’ in the sector of art that he/she may be reviewing--could cause many problems for honest Reviewers. Dishonest Reviewers seem to always abound, just out of sight of--but in the way of--honest Reviewers. Nevertheless, it is always wise to be an honest Reviewer. You represent a genre of writing that has stood the test of time.

Now, IF you happen to be a Christian, the Art of Reviewing is even more critical. You get to focus your attention on the spiritual side of effective writing, and whether or not those who claim to follow and serve Christ are using their talents for His glorification, and not merely their own. You get to observe the eighth and ninth commandments in action from your own keyboard.

There are several basic questions I have found that one must answer for themselves as they move forward into serving as a Reviewer:

1) Do I have the patience and stamina and memory to write reviews?
2) What do I want to review?
3) Where do I want my reviews to run?
4) Am I able to tell the truth without fear?
5) Are my basic writing skills up to speed?

Over the next few columns, we’ll hit each of these one by one.

Reviewing does take a lot of patience. You have to learn how to read and comprehend what someone else has written and give your honest opinion of their mastering what they are putting forth for public consumption. This also takes patience…a lot of it. One must also develop the stamina to churn out a review of the work of--say--some 500 to 750 words (or more) under deadline pressures to get your work to the outlet on time. Then, there is a little thing called memory. Not only about past reviews, but concerning past people whom you have reviewed. A solid Reviewer knows how to keep their material fresh, their eye keen, and their memory firing on all cylinders.

These are skills that not only can be learned, but can be developed over the course of time as a Reviewer.

In wrapping up our time together, I wanted to put myself up on the operating table. This section will cover some of the ups and downs I had to suffer myself in getting my own reviewing career off the ground. I’ll be doing this in each column, just to let you know that I’ve been in the trenches.

I was blessed to start reviewing books when I was a reporter. After all, the Radio and Television stations, along with the Newspapers I worked for always received stacks of free books, videos and CDS from a host of publishing and music houses. Not to mention invitations that were dropped off by the people in sales who wanted to get the lowdown on potential new clients. One of the quickest way to ‘add’ to your job skills (and beat back the risk of being laid off) was to help out the powers that be and take the time to review some of these offerings.

Reviewing ‘sharpened up’ my writing skills by having to form an opinion on an author or artist who may have been laboring in obscurity for years. I learned quickly what constituted good and bad writing--both of myself and others. Reviewing also provided the added blessing of having a ‘hot’ new CD or video to take home with me, at no extra cost. In terms of reviewing restaurants and the like, I got a few good meals on the deal.

The best part of the deal? Reviews count as writing samples. They provided a nice little portfolio or ‘clip’ file of work to show to new publications and editors when I had to make those job hunting or freelancing rounds. That little extra ‘pop’ that could make the hiring difference!

Yes, the Art of Reviewing is just as important in this information age, as it was when keyboards were located only on manual typewriters. If you’ve ever had the urge or the gift to be a Reviewer, you’ve come to the right column to get started! More to come!

Mike Ramey is a Minister, Book Reviewer, P-School Ranger, Modern Street Gangs Specialist and Syndicated Columnist who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. “Ramey On Reviewing” is one of a variety of columns that Ramey has in cyberspace. To drop him a line…or a whine…the address is still the same: manhoodline@yahoo.com. ©2020 Barnstorm Communications.

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Rev. M. G. “Mike” Ramey (Retired) served as the Certified Modern Street Gangs Specialist & Media Consultant of “The Gang Line”. He had been interviewed in the U. S. and abroad on radio, television, and Internet about the dangers of Modern Street Gangs since 2007. His writings on Modern Street Gangs abound in print and online. Previously, he served as an award-winning broadcast journalist, producer, and TV/Radio talk show host. He has also served as a staff writer, section editor, and syndicated columnist. Ramey has won—or helped to win—some two dozen journalism awards and citations. He also holds a Police Citation for Citizen Bravery from the Indianapolis Police Department (1986). Ramey is also married, an Ordained Minister (Retired) and a KJV Bible Teacher.

Ramey is a Certified Modern Street Gangs Specialist with Certifications in Law Enforcement (2006), Non-Law Enforcement (2010), and Gangs & Cults Ministry (2017). He also has endorsements in K-12 Gang Issues and Transnational Gangs. He also carries Specialist Ratings in Cult/Occult Crime, and Transnational Human Trafficking. Ramey has also served with several International anti-gang ministries, including Gangstyle.com of Washington state (2004-2009), Thug Exposed Ministries of California (2010 to 2015) and Bishop Outreach Ministries of Florida (2010 to 2015).

In 2011 “The Gang Line” offered training and certification coursework for those interested in becoming certified Modern Street Gang Specialists: Training approaches the anti-gang ministry field through the combined use of spiritual (biblical principles/discipleship) and criminal (gang members and gang crime). From 2015-2017, Ramey served as an Advisory Board Member for the School of Criminal Justice at Harrison College, Indianapolis, Indiana, with a specialty of Organized Crime & Gangs. From 2017-2019, Ramey served as a Bible Teacher to at-risk detained juvenile offenders at the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center with his own Bible-based Curriculum centering upon Biblical Life Skills taught from the Book of Proverbs.

Rev. Ramey’s skill set includes having been a veteran substitute teacher (Secondary Education), a college instructor for two Bible colleges in the Indianapolis, Indiana area, a Probation Officer (Intensive/High Risk & School-Based) with the Marion County Juvenile Court, and a peer grant reviewer of anti-gang grant programs with the U.S. Department of Justice (2010). He also created, designed, and taught the course “Modern Street Gangs: Developing Urban Ministry Strategies—UM-190” at Crossroads Bible College, Indianapolis, Indiana (2009 & 2010). In 2013, Ramey served as a post-production Consultant for Chick Publications’ national anti-gang comic: “Black Angel”. It was translated into Spanish in 2014.

Ramey has written extensively on the topic of Modern Street Gangs with two Internet columns: “The Gang Line” and “The Gang Line Blogger” which abound in cyberspace. In a post-pandemic society, the motto of The Gang Line still rings true: “Spiritual Solutions for Spiritual Problems!”

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