Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Saturday, October 31, 2015


Be safe in your celebrations and keep your black cats safe.  

Monday, October 19, 2015

Entering NaNo -- insane or an exercise in discipline

I’m asking myself this very question as November approaches and another National Novel Writing Month comes along with it.  I’ve done this three times and I’m thinking about doing it again this year.  Why would I subject myself to this torture for thirty days?

The pros:

For one, it keeps me writing so it’s very good for discipline.  I won’t sign up at all unless I’m committed to finishing by the deadline. 

However, I think insanity also plays a part in this because I have too much on my plate this year to give this a second thought.  I have a PT job, the holidays are coming, and we all know what that means when you work in a retail environment.  The only redeeming feature here is that hubby will be out of state for part of the month.  When it’s only me, I can eat anything at any time and not make a fuss with dinner or clean up.  I can also adjust my sleeping schedule to a certain point, having to consider the job as well.  I’m thankful I can function on two hours of sleep.  Sometimes that comes in handy.

Two, they have great discussion boards to take advantage of if you’re stumped with your writing endeavor.  All you have to do is post a question and some brilliant person will come along to answer.  You’ll find a discussion boards for almost every topic you can imagine.  I have to admit I rarely take advantage of this discussion feature because, as we all know, it’s easy to be caught up socializing and not working on your word count. 

NaNo requires you to write 50,000 words in a month.  If you make it, you “win” and different things are available to you, such as writing software and books at discounts.  There are also helpers for editing and if you get your book finished in six months, there’s a discount on self-publishing.  At least there was last year.  This never happens for me.  I’m still working on my last three NaNo projects.  Someday I’ll have a series worth publishing.

The team at NaNoWriMo sends emails and pep talks to your inbox.  Some brilliant people write these, designing them to keep you motivated, your butt in the chair, and your hands on your keyboard.

There’s a great community of other writers at NaNo and if you’re lucky enough to live in a bigger city, there will probably be organized write-ins with others that live there.  This helps to keep you going too, although my town is too small to take advantage of this.

If you make your 50,000 words by November 30, you’ll feel so great and have such a sense of accomplishment.  Your story may not be finished, or ready to edit, but you’ll have a great start to a book.

Everything has a downside and NaNo does too. 

The cons:

You must write 1667 words a day to finish by November 30.  This is a huge commitment.  It takes time away from your family and holiday activities.

You need to prepare yourself for writing your brains out and let nothing hold you back.  You have to stay disciplined and committed.  There’s no penalty if you don’t “win,” but you’ll feel better about yourself if you do and also know you can do it.

Don’t get distracted by anything unless your house is burning down.  This means avoid FB and any other social platforms.  Don’t spend hours on email during your writing time, if you want to finish.  Save this for after you make your daily word count.

Do not watch TV or anything else until you’ve reached your daily goal.  If you can do more words, then you can take a day off during the month, which is the way I do it.  That way you don’t feel totally left out of things going on in your daily life and your husband and kids won’t want to kill you.

Brew lots of coffee and stock up on snack food, which is bad thing to say, but sometimes that’s all you can do if you want to keep going.  You don’t want your hunger to sidetrack you.  If you leave your chair, there’s a good chance you won’t be back in it later in the day.  I’m only speaking from experience here.  When you’re in the zone, stay put.

Some last thoughts:

If you intend to participate, do your character sketches now and write down plot points for your story.  You are allowed to do this beforehand.  You just can’t start writing your story until November 1.  I usually make a few notes, even being the pantster I am.  That way you aren’t totally lost and know what you want to cover in the story, and you don’t get your characters mixed up that way, which helps later during the edit process. 

Resist the urge to edit as you go.  I can’t stress this enough.  You don’t want to spend any time on anything except writing.  Editing can wait.

Back up your work daily.  Don’t turn the computer off until you do.  Writing is too hard to risk losing everything.  I back up everything twice, once to my external drive and once to Dropbox, which is a great cloud storage place and is free, up to 2 GB of space.  If you need this program, you can get it by clicking on Dropbox above.  THIS IS A CLEAN LINK.  I downloaded one last year that had viruses attached, so be careful.  Now, or any time, you don’t want to deal with that.

Sign yourself up here for NaNo, so that’s done when the first rolls around.  

Above all, have fun and good luck.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Enjoy a laugh about writing

A writer died and was given the opportunity of going to heaven or hell.

She decided to check out each place first.  As the writer descended into the fiery pits, she saw row upon row of writers chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop.  As they worked, they were repeatedly whipped with thorny lashes.

“Oh my,” said the writer.  “Let me see heaven now.”

A few moments later, as she ascended into heaven, she saw rows of writers chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop.  As they worked, they, too, were whipped with thorny lashes.

“Wait a minute,” said the writer.  “This is just as bad as hell!”

“Oh no, it’s not,” replied an unseen voice.  “Here, your work gets published.”

This is part of a blog post on the Writer’s Relief website.  They stumbled across some laughs for writers from Villanova University and this was one of their favorites.

This article has been reprinted with permission of Writer’s Relief, an author submission service that has been helping creative writers make submissions since 1994.  Their work is highly recommended in the writing community, and there are TONS of freebies, publishing leads, and writer’s resources on their website.  Check it out here.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Review for Life - it’s a Trip by Rasheed Hooda

I received this book as a PDF file from Rasheed.  I was surprised to find it in my email box on September 22.  I’ve been reading his blog posts since the A to Z challenge last April and really like his voice.  Thanks so much, Rasheed, for your book of life’s adventures so far.

This book is a quick read and very interesting.  Most areas are two or three pages long.  I found it well written and filled with things Mr. Hooda has learned in his life through the people he’s met during his working life and in his travels across the US.  This man has big goals for scaling mountains and has lots of energy.  What a great thing.  He also has a positive attitude about life even when things aren’t going their best.

Rasheed has chosen the nomadic lifestyle for himself, not wanting to be a “slave to wages”.  The nomadic lifestyle isn’t for me.  This clearly won’t work for everyone, but we each have to choose our own path and the author makes that clear.  He’s having a blast sharing his travels and thoughts about life on his journey through the states.

I think you’ll find this an enjoyable book to read.  Rasheed shares his thoughts on intuition, money, mentors, family and friends, finding your right place in the world and living your dream as you touch other lives with every action you make whether you know this or not.  This book will make you think and is written in a down-to-earth fashion.  As I read the short stories, I felt as if I was sitting in the room with this author and listening to his tales.

Life is full of difficulties and Rasheed shares some of his, along with some tragic happenings, as well.  He’s trying to live by the law of attraction (like attracts like) and mindfulness.  Good for him.  We should all be aware of these things in our journey on Earth.  By focusing on positive or negative thoughts, a person will bring positive or negative things into their lives.

The book is filled with lovely quotes too.  And I love this one from the author:  “Dreams do come true.  But first, you must have a dream.  So dream on and dream big.”

You can buy Rasheed’s book from his site here:

Or you can purchase his book at Amazon by clicking here.
Please leave him a review on his site, your blog, or on Amazon.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Awesome Writer’s Tool and Give Away!!

Reblogged from Jen’s Thoughts
I love writing tools, and when I find a good one, I have to share. Anyone who has followed my blog has heard me mention Grammarly. I use Grammarly for every word I write whether it’s for an email, cover letter, resume, short story, or my new novel. I have the ability to use it directly on their website or while I’m typing in Word (they offer a word plug-in).
Recently, Grammarly became available for Google Chrome as an add-on which means that it will assist you while you write emails, blog posts, and even Facebook posts.
With each error correction and suggestion, I’m able to improve my writing on a consistent basis. Grammarly also emails a report concerning your usage and where your problem areas are. Since grammar isn’t my strong suit, I’m now able to identify my mistake while writing. It helps me become more aware especially since I’m a visual learner. I traditionally suck at commas! :)
So if there is one tool I would recommend its Grammarly. And, here’s the really exciting part. I’m offering a free 3-month premium trial to a lucky winner! You can try it out for yourself and watch your writing improve.
Here’s the inside scoop about Grammarly from Wikipedia:
Grammarly carries out more than 250 grammar checks; it proofreads and detects plagiarism in the process and finally provides users with a list of possible errors for correction.
Grammarly also provides citations when it detects plagiarism. Users can click on a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” icon to let Grammarly know whether the result was helpful.
Other features include:
·                         A grammar checker that can analyze general, business, academic, technical, creative and casual writings.
·                         A contextual spell checker that determines the appropriate spelling of a word as it is used in a sentence; thus, it finds misspelled words and also identifies correctly spelled yet incorrectly used words.
·                         Grammarly Plug-in for Microsoft Office, which adds Grammarly to Microsoft Word and Outlook.
·                         An online Grammarly Handbook resource covering what the Grammarly platform does in checking grammar and syntax.
To enter you need to:
·                         Follow my blog
·                         Share this post on Facebook and Twitter
·                         Comment below WHY you would like to win and also leave the Facebook post or Twitter link that you shared
I’ll have the drawing next Tuesday, October 6th, and will announce the lucky winner!
Until Next Time…