Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Thursday, August 29, 2013

BOOK REVIEW - Homecoming Ranch by Julie London

Cover from Amazon
Enjoyed this more than I thought I would

 I’m not a romance genre reader, but this was a good book and kept me interested.  Madeleine has no idea that she has two other sisters until her father dies in Colorado and leaves the three girls his ranch because he had nothing else left to give them.  Grant Tyler felt like he needed to do something because he was a terrible father.  That right there was enough to intrigue me to want to read this book and see how the girls reacted to each other and what would happen in their lives, which would turn upside down by this event.  I wasn’t disappointed.

 Madeleine never even knew her father and only saw him once while growing up.  He was a sperm-donor for her mother who wasn’t a good role model.  The girl grows up with many issues.

 When Madeleine leaves Florida, where she works in real estate, she is out of her element.  She is having trouble finding the ranch she has never been to.  She stops on the side of the road when she gets a flat tire and is standing there with a map and a highlighter to mark the route when Luke sees her as he’s driving by and pulls over to help.  Luke isn’t happy when he finds out that she now owns the ranch, along with her two new sisters.  Luke used to own the ranch and was looking forward to living on it one day, but while he was in Durango starting his business, his father sold it to Madeleine’s father in order to get money for Leo’s (Luke’s brother) medical treatments.

 Madeleine usually has her life in order, but that changes once she’s in Colorado where her life turns to total chaos.  There is a lot of animosity between Madeleine and her new sisters.  One of them leaves in a huff soon after arriving to go back to California.  The other, Libby, attempts to work out a relationship with Madeleine who really wants no part of it.  She just wants to sell the ranch and get back to her structured life in Florida.

 There are several twists and turns along the way, but that only added to everything that was going on.  Luke and Madeleine fall into a romantic relationship, but the reader doesn’t know where this is going yet because Madeleine doesn’t want to stay in Colorado and Luke does.

 The characters are all believable.  Luke’s brother, Leo, is a very good role model because he’s determined and doesn’t let his handicap get him down, even though his disease is incurable.  This is the first in a trilogy, so I think the future two books will be about the other two sisters and a climax to Madeleine’s relationship with Luke.

 This book was very easy to read and entertaining as well.  I recommend it.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Great Points to Keep in Mind when Doing your Rewrite

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This is what I’m working on right now with my first mystery book, so I’m making an effort to cover all my bases by reading a lot of good hints about “do’s” and “don’ts.  I came across a good blog by an author living in the England, Mike Wells.  Reading this interesting post may help you avoid the pitfalls you can plunge into while revising your book.

 This post is specifically about why books are rejected by agents and set aside by readers, but I think it’s also useful if you’re self publishing your work.  The same thing would still apply because, of course, we don’t want our book set aside by readers.

 A brief summary:

 Story starts too slowly.

Story is not as advertised.

Too many characters introduced too quickly.

No clear-cut point of view.

Story has no distinct main character.

Too much bio/back-story info is presented.

Flashbacks used too often and/or too early.

Opening scenes lack enough tension to pull the reader along.

One or more scenes do not advance the plot.

Reader cannot emotionally connect with the main character.

Too many seemingly unrelated plot threads.

Narrative is description-heavy.

Description is loaded with “purple prose,” particularly the opening paragraphs.

Dialogue is not interactive enough.

Story starts too quickly.

 All of these are such good points to think about and sometimes I wonder why I can pick up traditionally published books and experience one or more things on this list.  I’ve been looking at my WIP to see how many of these things I’m guilty of doing.  Mr. Wells goes into this a lot more in his well-written post that you can find here:
The Green Water blog by Mike Wells

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Writing Quest

It’s amazing to me how I find myself always reading about writing if I’m not writing.  I’m not sure why that is.  You’d think that you’d eventually reach a burnout stage.  However, my quest for knowledge goes on even if I’ve read about the same writing topic numerous times before.  That is one way of getting something through my thick skull, repeat and repeat.  I think maybe that all this reading will eventually make me a better writer.

 I do know my imagination goes wild when I’m working on a story and my characters always seem to take over and take me places that I didn’t have in mind when I got started.  I guess that’s a good thing.  It’s entertaining for me to see what they will be up to next and keeps me writing to find out.  In fact, I find it hard to shut my mind off and that isn’t a good thing because it leads to a lot of sleep deprivation.

 My characters, although fiction, become real people to me as I go on with my story.  I think of them as actual people that I know and it’s almost sad to finish a book and close them away within the pages.  Do any of you form a personal attachment to your characters?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Are real writers delusional and irrationally optimistic?

I think the answer to this is YES.  It helps to have a little insanity.  Why else would we keep writing, always staying positive even when we hit the low spots?  Real writers keep writing and never seem to give up no matter how many times we meet rejection.

 I read an article by someone awhile back and I was thinking ‘boy, does this hit the nail on the head’.  I’m definitely like this, always thinking my current work is better than the last one and THIS ONE IS IT, the one that will sell more copies than any other will.  I’m always eternally optimistic like this.

 Of course, these days, not as many of us send off queries to publishers, or at least I think this is getting to be less common with self-publishing becoming more popular.  We have to face the facts that the chances are slim that any of us will end up with a publishing contract with a big publishing house.  Meanwhile, we’re all getting older as we wait for a response from the bog boys that may take months, and will probably be an adamant no, in which case we start the process all over again.  I can go on and on with dozens of reasons to abandon the query process and self-publish your book.

 Aside from all the previous problems I mentioned, if you self-publish you could keep more of your royalties.  Today, we have to do our own marketing regardless.

 But, even if we choose this route, what keeps us writing even if we know we won’t sell a single book?  Way down deep, I always have that impulse to keep going when all seems bleak and useless.  There is always that spark that says ‘I won’t give up’ and ‘I feel so good about this, it doesn’t really matter if anyone else likes it as much as I do’.  This is the way I am.  There’s no denying that.  I never really get discouraged because it seems to be enough to get my story out there.  I have never planned to make a living writing anyway.  If I ever do, that will just be icing on the cake because I really love what I do.

 When a ‘normal’ person looks at this, I’m sure they think I’m irrational and delusional.  I know my partner does because he tells me I live in a fantasy world several times a day.  I’ve heard this so much that I almost believe it myself, although I know this isn’t true  I have a vivid imagination and a lot of drive to do my best and keep striving toward that goal, which is writing, even if it’s against all odds.

 With so many writers out there, it is almost impossible for anyone to find me on the internet.  It’s a case of constant marketing, which I’m not very good at in any way.  I’d rather be writing my next book, which I know will be the ONE, and better than all the rest so far.  I rewrite and polish, and publish, and then start the process all over again.  Many times, I’m doing this before I have entirely finished the last masterpiece.

 It’s a writer’s life and I like it quite a bit, and hope I live long enough to write at least another dozen books, as I always have stories flooding my mind.

 “The ones who have been published are the ones who don’t quit.”  I’ve seen this quote in several places and I agree with this, whether you’re waiting on the traditional publisher or self-publishing your work.  It all takes endless determination to make it through the process.

 I think I’ll always have this disease called ‘irrational optimism’ because it seems to filter into all areas of my life, not just in my writing world where I spend most of my day  When I’m on a deadline, I always feel I can do it, no problem.  I even tell myself that I’ll get it done somehow, even if I know deep down that I won’t.  Those thoughts keep me going to the end I guess, with anything I do.

 It’s time to get off my unicorn now and join real life for a while.  Until next time, enjoy the journey we’re on and keep writing.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Editing Checklist

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I came across this article on one of the Linked In groups I follow.  This checklist is for all kinds of writing.  I think parts of this would be good to review when blog writing or book writing.  In any case, it’s interesting.  This article is from Pamela Vaughan on HubSpot.  You can read the full article here:


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Fiction Writing Group Update

 My first foray into creating a fiction writer’s group here has gotten underway with the first meeting last Saturday.  After quite a few pitfalls, including the paper printing the wrong address, we did have five people show up so Heather and I were pleased with that for the first time out.

 Everyone is just getting started in the writing field, but that’s okay.  We’ll see where this goes.  We figured we would get a spy from the other group because there is a rumor they want to start up a fiction area as well since that is lacking here.  Time will tell if we’ll make a go of this or not.  It’s still something we want to do, so you have to go for it and hope for the best.

 We haven’t paid for any advertising and have used numerous means to get the word out.  We’re hoping word of mouth will spread around as time goes by.  We have a nice, mixed group so far.

 This has taken up a lot of time, so I’ve yet to write the end of my mystery book.  I’m very close now.

 Happy writing everyone.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Busy Organizing a Fiction Writer’s Group

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I met another writer on Linked In who lives close to me.  We are starting a writer’s group here for fiction writers.  There are already a couple of groups here, but they concentrate on memoirs, poetry and screen writing.  They are very disorganized and get off-track at the meetings.  Because of this, you can’t learn much about writing or anything at all about fiction.  We decided a fiction writer’s group is what we need, so we used our time this last week in getting the word out and getting organized to take this on.

 We are doing everything free so far, all advertising, which consists of a free area in the local paper to post events.  We have also posted notices at the library and other places around town, as well as put an ad on Craigslist.

 We sat down this past week and worked out the agenda for out first meeting this coming Saturday.  She was able to book the community hall in her housing complex.  We have printed up our own handouts for the group.  Everything is looking good so far.  We’ll see how Saturday goes.  We think we’re ready and have managed to get a few phone calls for our efforts, so if those people actually show up we’ll be in business.