Its been awhile since I’ve written a proper article spotlight, so lets change that. Quite a while ago I found this article and have been using its wisdom ever since, I do admit to forgetting to share out the tidbits with you. It was written by Writer’s Relief*, a service that can help author’s manage the business of their writing. Make sure to check out the full article via Huffington Post, below is only a snippet of the full article and it’s worth reading.
Diagnosis: Self-Doubt. We’ve all wondered at some point: What if I’m not any good? A writer’s self-doubt is tough to overcome.
Remedy: Letting others evaluate your work is necessary for constructive criticism and growth as a writer. You can start small by having a close friend or relative read your work. Taking that first step will give you the confidence to show your work to a broader audience.
Diagnosis: Impatient Attitude. We know, we know: You want your writing to reach as many readers as soon as possible. But impatience doesn’t just cause unnecessary stress -- it negatively affects your writing. Rushing will divert your focus from creating quality work to worrying about your typing speed.
Remedy: Take a chill-pill and relax, re-read, and rewrite. Take the time you need to achieve your goals without sacrificing quality!
*Note: I have not used the services provided by Writer's Relief, nor am I endorsing it or recommending it, I simply enjoyed their article via Huffington Post and wanted to share it with you.
Creativity is tricky and without inspiration it can be like trying to swim up stream, how do you overcome creativity block?
Share your tips and tricks in the comments below.
This was a strange one, Just in Time by Kathryn Shay is a time travel story with romance, mystery, and even a touch of post-apocalyptic earth and space in it. It’s almost a ‘you name it, it’s in here’, story. [goodreads review]
Dorian Masters and her two friends have traveled back in time to save one man’s life and to hopefully change their future. Jess Cromwell is a researcher working on clean energy and his death ultimately leads to the destruction of the planet, granted many, many years down the line. But when Dorian and Jess team up to save his life, complications arise with the addition of his brother and wife learning of the three stranger’s secret. Dorian’s story is part one of how they work to save Jess and how one woman from the future learns what love really is.
I’m not sure what I enjoyed more in this story, the characters or the mix of futuristic lingo and gadgets they use. Dorian, the other two women, Jess and his wife, David and Luke. Seven characters, all vastly different and yet equally important and well written. All of them had believable personalities with flaws and benefits, each interacted differently with the other characters and all of them were lovable in their own ways. All of their motives and desires danced around, commingling with one another, forming this perfect blend of personalities that make up this wonderful narrative. Truly a great pleasure to read.
As for the other highly enjoyable aspect of the book, the lingo and gadgets, this novel did a great job of giving the reader just enough power to create their own objects. The futuristic healing device was named, explained briefly, and then left up to me as the reader to fill in the gaps with how it looked, if it made noise, etc. It was a great way to ease a reader (one who typically doesn’t read novels set in the future) in to the idea of future tech while not backing them into this corner of over description and unbelievability. There were also a lot of future terms used by the women along with their misuse and attempts to understand modern idioms. More often than not their mistakes were comical and their explanations of future words and how they morphed from our modern ones were well thought out.
With all of that said, the story was not perfect. If this was supposed to be a love story between Dorian and Luke, I’d say it fell flat and honestly to go so far as saying Jess and his wife were far more interesting. Luke was pushy, moody, and honestly a jerk. Of all of the wonderful characters in the story he was the one I felt was added to even out the sweetness of the others, unfortunately, he’s the one Dorian falls for…
What a great find! Cupcakes, Trinkets, and other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge is a delightful little read along the same lines as Barbara Bretton’s Sugar Maple series; Casting Spells and Laced with Magic. “Cupcakes, Trinkets, and other Deadly Magic” is a short little ebook at 230 pages, it makes for a great afternoon read. [goodreads review]
Jade is a half human half witch with very little witch in her. Unable to do more than find bits of magically imbued trash on hikes, Jade takes to cooking and opens up her own bakery in her little town selling sugary cupcakes to her loyal customers. When one afternoon a vampire shows up on her doorstep looking for answers involving a string of werewolf murders, Jade needs to make a choice. Wait for her Gram to come home from vacation to rescue her, or learn to believe in herself and practice a little magic she didn’t know she had in her.
This was so enjoyable to read. Jade is a well balanced heroine with character flaws and strengths. She is fun and family loving and needing yet is often a push over, especially when it comes to her family. She's not overly needy and for the entirety of the novel grows into herself and her confidence. By far, the best personality trait Jade has though, is her passion and that is most evident when she’s in her shop. Jade's bakery was a character in itself and she treats it as part of her family. Some of the best scenes in the story were located in the bakery where Jade seemed to be the most comfortable.
My main sticking point for this story was actually the pacing. At some points the plot seemed to stagnate and in others it rushed by too quickly for me to keep up. Part of that was probably due to the entire story taking place in three days. The tragedy that this family goes through in the last chapter of the book is glossed over and within half a nights sleep Jade has moved on with her life. Absolutely not and unfortunately I lost a bit of love for Jade because of it. The entire outcome was extremely predictable, though at one point I did find myself thinking I was incorrect, but I wouldn’t say the predictability was a negative.
One last critique was around the two main men of the story and how similar they were written. Their personalities, mannerisms, and actions were all basically the same and it made both characters less effective. Neither was any more important than the other and I felt myself frustrated at how little I cared for either of them.
Today I want to share my excitement with you! I got a new totally beast laser printer to replace my, still amazing but not what I needed, old inkjet printer. … what do you mean why is that exciting?! Fine, let me tell you.
1. Remove the distractions. Nothing is more difficult than trying to write through distractions, find a way to avoid them. Write after the kids go to bed, before the spouse wakes up, or go to a coffee shop to work. Don’t forget social media. Log-out of Facebook, sign out of twitter, and if you have to… invest in an internet blocker.
2. *Write as if your readers are beside you, listening to the story unfold. I found when I got hung up on a passage of the story it would help to step back and just explain it, simply, out loud. Imagine you are explaining to a friend how events unfolded, and write it down verbatim. This helped me get over writing "humps," and moments where my prose would get convoluted.
5. Find something to inspire you while you write. Find a quiet and cozy space to curl up in or the perfect music to listen to. Make sure whatever you pick isn't too distracting though or you may end up doing more harm than good. I really enjoy writing at my gaming pc (my keyboard is super comfy) while listening to Battlestar Galactica's sound track, but I enjoy editing with my favorite red pen on my garden porch in the sun.
*As mentioned above, a few of these tips have been pulled from "13 Tips for Writing a Novel” by Chaker Khazaal. I am not claiming ownership of his words, make sure to check out his full list of 13 steps for more amazing insight.
Do you have your own tips/tricks for your creative process?
Share them in the comments below.
Cinderella with werewolves... count me in! At just under 200 pages, Before Midnight by Jennifer Blackstream was a delightful bedtime story harkening back to childhood memories of fairy tales. [goodreads review]
In a kingdom where wolves are feared by the people and protected by the monarchy, a young woman struggles to find her place in the world and in her own family. With both parents dead, Loupe has no one but her step-mother and two step-sisters to care for her, but just like in the traditional Cinderella tale, not all is as it seems. Loupe lives in nothing short of misery, day in and day out. Until one day, she meets Prince Etienne.
Due to this being a re-imagining of a classic fairy tale, the plot was pretty straight forward. Lonely girl meets Prince, falls quickly in love, runs away, looses slipper, slipper fits, gets married and lives happily ever after. When you throw in werewolves it becomes a bit more complicated, and delightfully so. Loupe and Prince Etienne meet long before the ball and their interactions reinforce the romance between the two characters in a way that makes the ending sacrifices all the stronger in the end. This series also has some added depth in the form of the prologue and epilogue. A mysterious being is using the Princes and we get to watch it unfold.
Unlike the Disney version on Cinderella, the Prince is not just a pretty boy who needs to find a bride... well he is, but he's also more than that and thankfully there are some scenes that are from his perspective. Seeing the royal family interactions as well as Loupe's interactions with them gave more depth to the characters and provided a way for the reader to connect.
I have to admit, I'm struggling with this review a bit. While there is nothing glaringly wrong with the story, in fact I really enjoyed it, I'm not able to give it an additional star to bring it up to four. For whatever reason, the story was enjoyable, easy to read and a great bargain, but it didn't knock my socks of and leave me scrabbling for the next one.
Sadly, not much to say about A Bride for a Billionaire, by Lauren Hawkeye. I'm glad it was a free e-book or I would have been pretty annoyed at the length of it. Either way, I enjoyed it, but I would have expected more. [goodreads review]
Riley is a freshly graduated art exchange student from America. Matteo is playboy billionaire with family scars deep enough to never heal. When the two meet over a stolen purse, Matteo immediately rescues Riley and makes her an offer she'd be hard pressed to refuse.
Riley was a refreshing leading woman. For most of the story she sticks to what she believes, fights for those she loves, and stands up to the woman who bullies her, tries to kill her, and attempts to have her arrested. Even though this love story happens quickly, Riley is responsive to her lover's feelings and genuinely seems to care what he thinks and how he feels, even if it means putting her life in danger. On the other hand, everything I have said about Riley, multiply it by three for Matteo (middle of the book onward). Matteo falls hard and fast, and for a billionaire playboy, being the gentleman he was obviously took will power. A third character in the story, Matteo's step-sister Emilia, is a fantastic character as well. Her passion for getting what she wants and the insane lengths to which she'd go for them was enjoyable to read, and countered the sugary sweet lovey scenes that book-ended her own. My favorite character had to be Matteo's driver, he was witty, sweet, and genuine. Sadly, he had very few lines and only a few scenes.
While the characters were written well, I can still only give this a two star rating. It was upsettingly short, more like a novella in length than a full novel, and no where did it indicate that. I don't have a problem with novellas, but that's something I'd like to know up front, not after opening the file on my ereader.
Also, Matteo and Emilia were written in a way that made them both seem interested in a stronger BDSM lifestyle. But with no follow through to those types of desires, the hints left me feeling like I was mislead. The story functioned just fine without the BDSM relationships, so it wasn't detracting from the story, it more felt out of place than anything.
Reviewing books is like being back in grade school and having to write book reports again, the only difference is my taste and wisdom. With age comes the wisdom, and with exposure comes the changes in taste. Where at one point I would only pick up a book with something fantastical or paranormal in its pages, now I find even chicklit, mystery, and modern romance tickles my fancy on occasion.
For a writer, reviewing books can act as a sounding board for writing styles, plot likes and dislikes, and even opinions on aesthetics, ie book covers, paper stock, and in-text embellishments. Writing a review of something, anything, allows the writer to breakdown into parts exactly what they are feeling and pull those bits out of their brains and into words. Take that one step further and talk through the story with someone and you'd be surprised what you'll find. If you add a second or third person into that pre-writing dialogue the results are even more powerful.
Reading other author's work broadens a writer's understanding of how words can be manipulated. The tone in a scene can create different moods and evoke different feelings from a reader just by changing a few details and reading a wide range of genres can educate a writer on how to manipulate their own words to fit their own needs. Seeing how Stephen King frames a scene to be creepy and suspenseful is much different than how Laurell K. Hamilton writes Anita Blake. Being able to read both of those works and then incorporate the same feelings, how you want them when you want them, within your own work wouldn't have been possible without reading their works first. How about plot magic systems are great examples. Brandon Sanderson is an epic world weaver. His magic systems are creative and unlike anything I've ever read anywhere else, but reading his Warbreaker and being able to compare what worked and what didn't and what was enjoyable and what could have been different, needs a contrasting piece of writing to relate to. So pick up Catherine Asaro's Lost Continent series and debate the two.
Are you a bibliophile or a bookworm? Do you review your books with friends and family verbally or maybe even through goodreads or a bookseller?
Share your experiences below and where you post reviews if you do.
Thanks to BookBub for this enjoyable find, if you don't know what that is you can learn about it and other services in a recent blog post. The Look of Love by Bella Andre is the first book I've read from this author and it made for a wonderful bedtime read. [goodreads review]
When Chase finds Chloe on the side of the road, car wrecked and sporting a fresh bruise on her cheek, he swoops in to be the gentleman his mother raised him to be. Chloe is unsure but out of options, so warily she accepts his help and agrees to stay a single night in his brother's vineyard guest house. Chase soon realizes being honorable and keeping his promise to Chloe of chivalry may be harder than he initially expected.
The Napa Valley setting was described very briefly and with my prior experiences in that region I was able to really enjoy the stunning pictures in my head, but without that knowledge, I'm not sure how enjoyable it would have been. The instant love and trust with two main characters that were well developed and a wealth of side characters that are little more than faceless shadows narrowed the plot and removed a lot of the world building.
This was a quick, cut to the chase (no pun intended), instant love like I've never seen before. The first minute Chase see's Chloe he's in lust and by the time he drives her to the winery, he's practically ready to marry her. The back and forth from his point of view was interesting, seeing his internal struggle to keep his promise to her all while trying to fight his lust.
Chloe was an interesting character. For most of the story her struggle to trust again, both in herself and in Chase, is interesting to read. Near the end of the book though, all of that hard work of building up the character's fear, worry, and insecurities were thrown out. She seems to forget her past suffering and instead trusts this strangers she's known for a week with everything making me as a reader feel a bit betrayed. Where'd that strong negotiating woman go who owned he pain and didn't need a man to over come it?
Finally! The last relic read from 2014 and the chaos that was life. The Path to the Sun: An Epic Adventure by Kimberli A. Bindschatel is just as it claims, an epic adventure! [goodreads review]
What a full read this was. Kiran is a young orphan from a small village set in its ways and traditions. When he's chosen to go on an epic quest to save his village he's confused and filled with self doubt. Kiran and his six other companion set out across the world in search of something they know nothing of except a single legend and an old scroll given to them in secret. Their journey is filled with hardships, the need for blind faith, and great loss.
The plot was long and complicated. Kiran and his friends meet so many different cultures and religions along their journey that the middle of the story seemed to drag when compared to the urgency of the beginning and excitement of the end. The main plot driver of this book almost landed it on my did not finish shelf, religion, a LOT of it. Every culture had a different one, and each was victimized by at least one of the seven travelers, including their own. While the struggles the young travelers experience with regard to religion feels accurate, it's also not what I enjoy reading, especially close to four-hundred pages of it.
The setting of the novel is epic...really epic. There are so many places they travel to and all are described in exquisite detail. This was the highlight of the novel. More than once I found myself re-reading passages so I could re-visualize the scenery and bask in it's depth. Each of the indigenous people in these areas are so well written to match their surroundings they make you feel as if they are real and the author has first hand knowledge with them all.
Last but not least, characters. Kiran and his friends are an interesting bunch. The scholar, the brute, the beautiful girl, the religious man, etc. Each personality was developed well and enough to satisfy the need their role hand for the larger plot. The dynamic between characters was real and at some points heart wrenching and made you want to scream at them.
Hearts, chocolates, and flowers. February is the month for love and nothing says that better than a movie based off a book. For those of you rushing to theaters to see Fifty Shades of Grey, enjoy yourselves, I'll stay here with my imagination if you don't mind. But before I crawl into my favorite comfy chair to read my new book, let's talk about some news.