Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Slap some sense into me

I’m too busy cleaning, organizing, doing house repairs, writing blog posts for the A to Z challenge, and not working on my WIP.  On top of that, I’m proofreading a book for someone and playing with the kitten.  There are never enough hours in a day.

I got back my first chapter for my mystery novel.  I should be doing rewrites again and the only thing I’ve done so far is download the file.  That’s why I need someone to slap me!  All this other stuff’s getting in the way of me doing the rewrites on this book.  Bear with me, Lisa and Robin.  I appreciate all your help and I will get to this soon.

After I get all the junk out of here and shampoo the carpet, we can put up the for sale sign.  Then I’ll have more time to devote to this.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Moving on in the ABNA Contest

From Amazon Website

Well not everything going on in my life right now is crappy.  I was shocked to find I actually passed the pitch round of the ABNA contest this year and am moving on.  I never mentioned entering this to anyone because I didn’t want to jinx it.  On the other hand, I had to do it because I’ve entered every year since the contest started in 2008.  Something wouldn’t feel right to me if I let this pass by without my consideration.

I reworked my pitch and entered the first mystery I’ve written after I did some rewriting.  Yes, Lisa, this is the ms you’re working on.  I entered the same ms last year and never got through the pitch round.  I think my pitch was good enough to perk some interest in reading more, but you never know with writing being subjective.  I guess it landed on the write person’s desk this time.

I’m not expecting to advance much further, but its fun to enter this competition.  I’ve met many good writers along the way during the years of participating in this contest.  At least this year I’ve earned the right to have my excerpt read.  I feel good about that.  I’ll keep you posted next month when they make the next announcement.

Happy writing everyone.  Never let anything stand in the way of pursuing your dreams.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A writer’s residency

What a great idea this is.  Who ever had the thought it would be neat to travel by train, uninterrupted, and work on your WIP?  Well you might get the chance with this pilot program.  Check this out.  Amtrak Writer's Residency

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Many writers were not always writers

I thought this was interesting when I read this recently posted article from Reuters.  I thought I would share most of this, so I copied it here.  I bet we’d all be surprised at the number of famous authors today who knew as children they would be writers as adults.  Things were quite different in the beginning.  Maybe there’s hope for all of us.  Here’s the article.

(Reuters) - It doesn't matter how famous, or how important or how rich the person is - virtually everyone likes to stroll down memory lane and reminisce about their first job, which was usually very menial and extremely low-paid.

Since last August, to coincide with the nation's monthly employment report, Reuters has been interviewing a host of prominent achievers on the subject.  We have chatted with business titans, tech visionaries and some of the world's leading humanitarians.

This month we tap into the memories of notable authors, to discover the employment that preceded their outstanding creative careers.  They are not, to put it mildly, the jobs you might expect.

Margaret Atwood

Author of: The Handmaid's Tale; Oryx and Crake; MaddAddam

First Job: Market researcher

“I had many jobs as a teenager, as one did in the ‘50s, but they were intermittent.  The first job for which I had a regular salary and the offer of a pension plan was when I was 23, in 1963, as a questionnaire re-writer and tester for a market research company in Toronto, querying user response to everything from canned pear labels to beer brands to the first Pop Tarts, which popped all over the experimental toasters and had to be fixed.

“The job was to re-write the questionnaires so they actually worked (Understandable questions?  Logical flow?) and then go door-to-door to make sure they did.  That got nosy me into a lot of houses.

“Never waste anything,” said my Depression-era parents, so I didn’t.  The market research company (more or less) can be found preserved in aspic in my first published novel, The Edible Woman (1969).”

Matthew Quick

Author of: The Silver Linings Playbook; The Good Luck of Right Now

First job: Roofer

“I tarred and silver-coated industrial flat roofs.  The tar needed to be heated in a kettle, so I’d have to load huge solid chunks into bubbling black lava.  Little beads would jump out like tics, burn my flesh and take up residence in my arm hair.  We had to monitor the temperature so that the kettle wouldn't explode, and breathing in the fumes all day was the equivalent of smoking a half-dozen packs of unfiltered cigarettes in eight hours.  I'd cough all night long.

“Painting the roof silver was like working on a mirror under the powerful summer sun.  My skin would burn so badly that the other roofers took to calling me ‘Red Man.’  There was one particularly cruel day when a radio reporter said the city of Philadelphia had pulled all horses off the streets because of the heat-wave.  Six stories closer to the sun, and with no shade in sight, we all looked over at our foreman.  ‘Back to work,’ he said.

“Every summer during college I roofed.  Despite being filthy and sunburned on a daily basis, I enjoyed working outside amongst men whose handshakes were firm and calloused and honest.  I returned to roofing briefly after I graduated and noticed a shift.  Finally, one of my fellow roofers said, ‘What the hell are you doing up here, College Graduate?  There’s better out there for you.  Go.’”

P.J. O'Rourke

Author of: Parliament of Whores; Eat the Rich; The Baby Boom

First job: Messenger

“In 1970 I was under two mistaken impressions.  I thought I was a writer, and I thought I was a communist.

“My first job as a writer didn’t involve any writing.  I was trying to break into the field so I went to work as a messenger for a weekly newspaper in New York.  I was promised that I might have a chance to occasionally write something if, for instance, the entire rest of the staff came down with bubonic plague.

“The job, therefore, taught me nothing about writing.  The job did, however, teach me an important lesson in political economy, a lesson that has been shaping the things I write for more than 40 years.

“The pay was $75 a week.  We were paid every two weeks.  I was looking forward to that $150.  And so was my landlord.  But when I got my first paycheck I discovered that, after federal tax, state tax, city tax, Social Security, health insurance, pension contribution and union dues, I netted $86.50.

“I was furious.”

Susan Cain

Author of: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

First Job: Law associate

“My first big job out of law school, I worked for a Wall Street law firm as an associate, and I really didn’t know anything.  I didn’t even know the difference between a stock and a bond.  Like, nothing.

“So it kind of felt like a big adventure.  I would talk to clients, and I had a dictionary called Wall Street Words, and I would go home every weekend and try to figure out what all the words they were saying meant.

“I drew two contrasting lessons from that job.  The first is that you can be reasonably good at anything, as long as you work hard enough.  The flip side is that you shouldn't spend your life doing something you’re only reasonably good at.  So after a few years I left that law firm, because your job shouldn't feel like an existential struggle.  You should spend your life doing something you really love.”

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Book Review of Finding Sagrado by Roger Carrier

Finding Sagrado is a coming of age story, but unlike any other you’ve read.  The author, Roger Carrier, does a great job with this book and uses a theme I haven’t seen in another story.  This alone should be an incentive to pick this book up and read it.

The characters are believable in this well-written story about a teenage boy who goes on the hunt for a town he reads about in a novel in English class.  His father died in Vietnam and now his mother is seeing another man and wants to marry him.  This gives Shane even more of an incentive to search for his town where he thinks life is perfect.

He plans his strategy over the next few weeks, thinking of brilliant ways to throw his family off the track when they discover he’s run away from home.  This planning entails a roundabout way to reach Sagrado, which he thinks is somewhere in New Mexico.

When the big day finally arrives, Shane takes some money his father hid in the basement and starts his journey.  However, he finds traveling the way he’s planned causes him some pitfalls and run-ins with some dangerous elements.  Besides these setbacks he didn’t plan for, he meets some colorful people in his search.  These kind strangers are happy to help him, showing that all people aren’t bad characters.

Once he arrives in what he believes to be Sagrado from his favorite novel, Shane attempts to make it so through the other people he meets there, sometimes stretching the truth just a little.  We see this whole story unfold through Shane’s eyes, bringing back issues all teenagers face growing up.  The reader can empathize with Shane’s trials as he tries to become an adult and find his place in society.  While chasing his dream, Shane remains aware of how his actions may affect the family and friends he left behind.

Roger Carrier brings the New Mexico desert to life with his colorful description of the landscape and the characters and situations that help to shape Shane’s life.  Sometimes you can help the people you meet as much as they can help you.

This enjoyable book will linger with you long after you’ve closed the cover.  Highly recommended.  I'm giving this book five stars.  It's well written, edited, and has a unique theme and great characters.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

There’s nothing as fabulous as a great library

Trinity College Library - Ireland

The picture above is the biggest library in Ireland.  Isn’t it grand?

I love Celtic music and have an Irish screensaver on my computer, along with Celtic tunes.  I like the instrumentals best because I can turn them down low and write with the nice background music that isn’t a distraction.

This fabulous library rotates through my screen.  I had to look it up.  I can only imagine walking into a place like this, the wonderful smell of old books greeting me.  I could really get lost in here.  Seriously, you could leave me here with a blanket, come back in a week or so, and check on me.  I can spend hours in the library finding all sorts of interesting things to read.

Enjoy a gallery of the world’s biggest libraries here.  I wonder why we don’t have anything this grand in the USA.