bookcover: 
Write Your Own Mystery: Create Your Own Hair-Raising Stories and Intriguing Tales bookcover
Author: 
Pie Corbett
Publisher: 
Annova Books
Genre: 
Non-fiction_: 
Rating: 
7
ISBN/ASIN: 

9781843652359

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Write Your Own Mystery: Create Your Own Hair-Raising Stories and Intriguing Tales by Pie Corbett is a writing book geared to the juvenile audience. It is a short, charmingly presented beginner's book on how to write a mystery. Chapter headings include subject areas such as: Puzzling plots; Writers at work creating your own mystery; Tricks of the Trade; Map out your mystery; Editing and Publishing; and includes a glossary and index. The illustrations are child-like and charming. For an adult, this is a quick read.

The book is interactive in that there are tips, and problems presented which are designed to engage the young reader, and help them create their own original work. Because it is simplified for the young reader (8-12), it is not really appropriate for an adult looking for a writing resource. Also, the book is quite short, only 48 pages. It would be useful in a creative writing classroom, or even as part of a grammar course, because it does deal with the introduction of grammatical and writerly issues, like metaphors, sentence structure, and clauses, and other writing related forms. I found the glossary and index to be useful. I noticed the author also has written similar books entitled respectively How to write your own "Chiller" and "Thriller." I do not know how these (much cheaper) volumes compare to this one.

I would recommend this book for anyone who is homeschooling a child around the age of eight, as a way to introduce creative writing in an entertaining way, or perhaps as a fun summer project for rainy days, to help keep skills alive during a summer vacation.

bookcover: 
Writing on the Wall bookcover
Author: 
Tom Standage
Publisher: 
Bloomsbury USA
Genre: 
Non-fiction_: 
Rating: 
9
ISBN/ASIN: 

9781620402832

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Some years ago, I was in a writing group. It was a fantastic experience, and one that exposed me to a number of like-minded authors who quickly became close friends based on our common interest. Within that group, I became especially close to a smaller group; and even closer to a select few. These relationships lasted a couple of years, but then the course of our group interaction was interrupted by group politics. I found that I had been negatively influenced by these politics and policies. I had even become unconsciously a tool of those policies, and consequently left the group. I resolved at that time not to again become influenced by the manipulations—intended or not— of group politics. So now I look first before I join; and if I do join a group, I watch the boundary between gossip and sharing information and between the mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion. In these days, shifting social relationships and trends float on a societal level in contemporary media on internet mechanisms such as Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in, Pinterest, and all of the emerging technologies on which authors develop their platforms. It makes sense to be aware.

Writing on the Wall: Social Media - The First 2,000 Years by Tom Standage has an ambitious title. The book explores the history of communication from the first days when it was perceived that literacy was power, and draws parallels between current media, and all the forms of media going back through history. What is interesting is how today's digital age reflects constructs through history, in all its possible dimensions. The mechanisms, flow, floating and changing allegiances within today's media are not new; and Tom Standage's book connects the dots. It also provides plenty to think about regarding a historical perspective of freedom of speech.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of communication, as well as anyone who does not want to under or over-estimate, or be blindsided by the power and influence of (current) media in all its forms. Writing on the Wall is useful beyond its theoretical basis to anyone who wishes to be knowledgeable about the influence and drawbacks of new technologies. Ironically, Plato's arguments regarding oral vs literary culture apply to argumens involving the hazards of the internet today where "writing seen as a threat to the spoken word" parallels fears of internet communications replacing or displacing the spoken word in the face to face relationship.

bookcover: 
Sea Change
Author: 
Frank Viva
Publisher: 
Myrick Marketing and Media, LLC
Genre: 
Rating: 
7
ISBN/ASIN: 

9781935179924

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Twelve year old Eliot Dionisi gets sent off for summer vacation to visit his mother’s family in Nova Scotia. His parents think it will be a big adventure for him, but Eliot is not so sure he wants to see his Grandmother McNeil. He stays with his Uncle Earl who is a fisherman, and makes friends with some local kids from Point Aconi whose world revolves around fish and the boats that go out to get them.

Sea Change by Frank Viva is presented in a creative fashion, with child-like drawings that bring a youthful perspective to the table. Contrary to his expectations, Eliot discovers on his vacation the place that his Mother had "spent an entire summer in Point Aconi, and it was the best summer of my life." Eliot's summer vacation speaks of all summer vacations spent encountering strange friends, and encountering new foods and strange ways that only take a few months to feel like home.

What is appealing about this book is the nostalgia and romance of summers-gone-by.

However, there is also a looming threat from a coal manufacturer that never comes to a point. Maybe Frank Viva is planning more stories where the coal giant is taken on. If that whole thread had been left out, it would have been a better book. I am sure I was not the only one who spent the whole book waiting for that other shoe to drop. It never did.

bookcover: 
Writing to Wake the Soul: Opening the Sacred Conversation Within
Author: 
Karen Hering
Publisher: 
Atria Books
Non-fiction_: 
Rating: 
6
ISBN/ASIN: 

1582704120

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Karen Hering is uniquely qualified to write a book of spirituality. She tells of when her mother was losing the ability to speak; and how when there was a computer for her mother's communication, Karen configured the vocabulary for the communication protocol, and provides a perspective of figuring out what language would be necessary in her mother's diminishing sphere. That, in fact, is what this book is about. The language of communication, the gift of language honed to its spiritual point.

The challenges in this book can be liberating, perplexing, revealing, full of importance, deep in meaning, but it is all a matter of engaging oneself, milling oneself. This is a book for writers, thinkers, dreamers, philosophers, theologians. This book may have been intended for theologians, but we writers also can find a method here to help us write what is in our heart, through exercise, through the practice of contemplative correspondence, and an exploration of metaphor.

The language and method Hering espouses shows promise in being able to help one's inner writer come to the page. While Hering herself may be someone hidebound in her own religious theology, I would propose that writers can use this book beyond prescriptive theology, and use these questions and exercises in journeying where ever an individual search for meaning may take us.

bookcover: 
Live to Write Another Day: A Survival Guide for Screenwriters and Creative Storytellers
Author: 
Dean Orion
Publisher: 
Sky Father Media
Non-fiction_: 
Rating: 
8
ISBN/ASIN: 

9780989059312

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Review: 

While the best, meatiest screenwriter's survival guide that I've read is Max Adams Screenwriter's Survival Guide and the New Screenwriter's Survival Guide or Guerrilla Meeting Tactics & Other Acts of War, Dean Orion's Live to Write Another Day: A Survival Guide for Screenwriters and Creative Storytellers provides a different guide—not how to navigate the Hollywood trenches, but the trenches of the page.

Live to Write Another Day details Orion's evolving writing process, including research, note-taking, outlining, drafting, handling critique, revising and completing the screenplay.

Probably my favorite (or for me that would be the most useful) would be the section at the ends of his chapters. I am a big list-user and study-questioner, probably because I feel like I am accomplishing something as I check items off the list. I found this more of a quick, fun read than a real survival guide. It may well be his survival guide. I found the anecdotes entertaining, and relatable. It would probably be helpful to a beginning writer/screenwriter. It came across, however, as more of a memoir than a writing resource. It is quite short, so if you're looking for a big, extensive writing resource, you may be looking in the wrong place. But for a quick read when you need a little pick-me-up, it might do the trick.

bookcover: 
Mort
Author: 
Terry Pratchett
Series: 
Diskworld
Publisher: 
HarperCollins e-books; Reissue edition
Genre: 
SpeculativeFiction: 
Rating: 
10
ISBN/ASIN: 

0062225715

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Review: 

Mort is my first forey into the Discworld domain of fantasy author Terry Pratchett, and I found it fascinating. Perhaps it is fate when the teenaged boy, Mort, fails to get a job on his visit to the hiring fair in Sheepridge, and in the dark long after everyone else has gone home, is apprenticed to Death. The book is written in third person, and Death speaks in capital letters without the need for speech.

Death in Discworld is the familiar figure we know, and yet he is not. Because this Death has built a family, now comprised of our protagonist Mort, Death's daughter Ysabell (of the silver hair and eyes and a figure reflecting too many chocolates) and his manservant named Albert (stick-thin, raw-nosed and some two thousand years old.) This family lives in a non-reality outside of time and space "known to the few astrophysicists who have taken really bad acid" in which Death has carved a domain where his human family exists. Death's home contains myriad parts, including a stable where live the finest of Death's live horses, a black garden, a library where resides the books into which each soul is written; a kitchen where Albert cooks meals for Mort and Ysabell.

Before Death begins to teach Mort how he performs his office, and of course, it all goes awry, Mort agrees he wishes to "learn the uttermost secrets of time and space," and is sent on his first job to clean the stable, where he meets Death's horse, Binky.

I can see why Pratchett's books are so popular. Mort is everyman (or perhaps Everyboy) and Death is a surprisingly sympathetic character; one can certainly understand why he would wish to have a vacation. Pratchett's blend of myth and humor is charming like a fairy tale, humorous in a personal way, compassionate, and quirky. I can see why his books are so popular.

bookcover: 
Madam Tulip
Author: 
David Ahern
Series: 
Madam Tulip Mysteries
Publisher: 
Malin Press
Action-Adventure: 
Rating: 
8
ISBN/ASIN: 

B01DPY6FLA

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Madam Tulip by David Ahern is a cozy mystery about an out-of-work actress with her father's psychic gift. When her best friend suggests making money with her psychic gift, Derry creates the role of her life - a fortune teller for the rich and famous. But her first gig as her alter ego, Madam Tulip, is disrupted by murder.

With her best friend framed for the murder, and the life of a super model in jeopardy, Derry must solve the case before it destroys her friends, family, and herself.

I adored Derry, her father Jacko, and her friend Bruce the most. Derry's borage tea addiction, Jacko's dramatic flare, and Bruce's unwavering loyalty kept me going back for more.

Ahern weaves an intriguing tale of murder and mayhem, with quirky heroes and dastardly villains. Madam Tulip is a fun exciting read and I look forward to the next book!

bookcover: 
Doubt and Desire
Author: 
Pamela Loewy
Publisher: 
Pamela Loewy
Rating: 
6
ISBN/ASIN: 

B01B1Y7GDC

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Review: 

This is my fist book by Pamela Loewy, so I didn’t know what to expect. The story begins as most thrillers would... Interspersed with subterfuge, lies, deceit, all the usual hallmarks of a good thriller, and then comes the romance, unexpected, and all the more surprising. Sarah and Sterling weren’t looking for love, but it finds them, and they had to figure out whether it's real or not. To follow them on this roller coaster ride is both exhilarating and nerve racking, “You look like Zeus preparing to pitch a thunderbolt.” Lovers of thriller and romance will have a bit of both, in Sterling and Sarah’s story, as they struggle to come to grips with their unique situation.

bookcover: 
Author: 
Rue
Series: 
The Chronicles of Hawthorn, Book 1
Publisher: 
Sittin’ On A Goldmine Productions LLC
Genre: 
Fiction: 
Juvenile_: 
Rating: 
10
ISBN/ASIN: 

9780997311891

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Review: 

This is my second review of the book An Average Curse, Book One. I was alerted that extensive editing had been done, and could I re-read it to see if it improved. Boy has it ever. This book is something you will find yourself living in. A rare treat to find these days. You will feel the mist of New Zealand and ride the Moa Bird as you follow the learnings and mishaps of Flynn and her dearest friend Hazel. The Ninth daughter of the Ninth daughter, she was expected to be one of the most powerful Witches and help save the land from darkness. But from the time of her toddler days to her first class as an a spell caster in training, not even the most simple of spells could be done by her. She was quickly rumored to be nothing more than a Watcher. A person who can see others do their spells, but never herself. To help, her friend Hazel tries to cover up her folly by doing magic enough for two. Then they meet Po a young man, who was very clumsy except with his carvings and haphazard ways of doing things. Can the three of them get though their first sessions of learning spells and rescue their home from the beginnings of evil magic.

I rarely give out 10’s for stories, but if I could, I would give this a 20, its that good.
Nancy Louise
May 20, 2016


By Katherine MK Mitchell

Does cursing have value in the world of literature or in life? Is there “good cursing” and “bad cursing”?

The use of language has beauty and purpose. If you’re angry, you curse, you scream, you punch.

Pages