Tag Archives: book review

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

Creating Unforgettable Characters workshop – review.

I attended a library session hosted by the writer in residence. Although the evening was enjoyable and he relayed many personal stories to highlight how we can use our life experience to create characters, there was not much in the way of ‘practical’ tips. This was rather a disappointment to many that attended. A character sheet was handed out but it can be downloaded from the internet easily enough. It would have been a lot more instructive to actually have writing exercises and then discussion so we gained valuable feedback on our character descriptions.

Have you attended workshops that fell short or exceeded your expectations?

The Twesome Loop manuscript review.

I asked a friend, who is not a writer but a reader to give me her honest opinion on my manuscript as there are two time periods and multiple characters in the story. I wanted to know if the story was too complex and required drastic revision. Not only did she read it in record time but loved the story. This was her last comment:

“Finished 5pm local time. From p.89 today. Yay for Gerald , I was swinging punches at Brett too. P.96 love description of Rome, have visited some of those places. Your draft book was enjoyable. Had no problems with characters , followed story OK. Well done.” Doreen.

My reason for wanting this review was that a professional author thought I should cut out characters ‘as there are too many’ – however as he does not write or read historical romance, I was loathe to discard characters I thought rounded out the story. I think I will continue editing but will keep the characters. I did look at the prospect of separating some of the characters into two other novels but I think it would detract from their stories to do so.

Have you stuck to your guns on a manuscript?

Did you drastically revise a novel so characters were omitted?

A freelance client contacted me after some time away asking for more work so now I have to juggle her internet lessons, due 27th February with ghost writing a book for another client. And refining an erotic scene for a reading I am doing on 25th February – what’s that saying – when it rains, it pours! No I am not complaining.

Books:

I am 2/3 through Ava Moss by Joss Landry. After which I have Beyond the Precipice by Eva Blaskovic.

ava-mossbeyond-the-precipice

In addition I have a manuscript to review for an author friend so I have plenty to read.

What book are you reading currently? How do you like it?

Writing Tips:

“Read it aloud to yourself because that’s the only way to be sure the rhythms of the sentences are OK (prose rhythms are too complex and subtle to be thought out—they can be got right only by ear).” — Diana Athill

What’s your favorite writing tip?

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

Maybe it’s naughty but I submitted few pages of another manuscript to our current Writer in Residence over the weekend. This time it was the manuscript I am currently working on, The Twesome Loop. A romance with a touch of erotica and a reincarnation twist. It is two time periods – 2000 and 1874 so the chapters go back and forth between the two. The four main characters in each time period are linked by reincarnation and as you get to know the characters you will come to notice similarities in personality coming through.

My meeting on Sunday with Richard van Camp our current WIR was excellent. He gave me a ‘light bulb’ moment on one of the characters. This will give me a new boost in creating her in a whole different light. Now I need to find the time to revise all the scenes she is present in. An expression he used was to ‘echo’ the characters to entice the reader with the similarities between the modern day and past personalities.

I also submitted the initial draft of the book I am ghost writing to my client for her review. Fingers crossed it will meet with approval!

And – agreed to be a beta-reader for two author friends so the manuscripts are piling up!

Books:

i-can-see-you I completed this novel – here is my review: Great story with well rounded characters, especially Emma whose bravery inspires.
A story of spirit, love and overcoming fear.
The tension builds with unforeseen twists and turns.
A well written narrative by an artful author, I will certainly be seeking out her other books.

I am now reading:

ava-moss

Writing Tip:

You don’t always need an outline. Give discovery writing a try.

Do you have a writing tip to share?

What book can you recommend?

 

 

 

 

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

LifeinSlakePatch 001

As I told you all earlier, I submitted part of my speculative fiction novel, Life in Slake Patch to our current Writer in Residence – Richard van Camp. He answered with:

I’ve had a read of your intro and it seems to me that you find your rhythm in Chapter 4. I found the first three chapters to go so quickly, too quickly, that I couldn’t get a lock on any of the characters or their back stories.  Perhaps a rewrite of your intro?  My advice is slow down; take your time. Have fun with each scene. Sights, smells, etc. Give us setting; give us tone; set the mood.

Now for new or seasoned writers, critique is a double edged sword, some is favorable, some not but all should be taken as constructive rather than destructive. Several rewrites previously I took another writer in residence advice and ‘info dumped’ at the beginning of this story to ‘set the scene’.

So do I change it or not? Do I follow my gut and revise to balance the slightly conflicting advice from these two marvelous authors? Or do I rewrite a completely different introduction? This is something I will ponder and decide after careful consideration.

Have you experienced conflicting critique?

How did you resolve the matter? Did you change it or not?

Books: My review of The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North

hope

The story was a neat concept but fell short, unlike Claire’s previous two books. The character was complex, the story arc well constructed but the use of numerous synonyms of words detracted from the flow of the story – taking me out of the narrative. I understand as a fellow author that these descriptions were an explanation of the main character’s inner most thoughts but they were too much of a distraction for me.

However, it will in no way put me off reading another of Claire’s books – her ability to engage a reader is wonderful in The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August & Touch.

I have just started reading – I Can See You by Joss Landry.

I was engaged from the first page!

i-can-see-you

Writing Tip: Chuck Sambuchino

Remember the Three “P’s”:  Patience, Perseverance, and maintaining your sense of Purpose.

Do you have a writing tip to share?

What book can you recommend?

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

The Industry Insiders: Making a Living as a Hybrid Author event I attended spurred me on to do something about my blog. It has been successful but I feel it requires a boost! I connected with one of the panel authors, who agreed to review my blog and give me some pointers on improving my presence on the net. I will keep you posted.

I also spent time editing Life in Slake Patch prior to submission to the Writer in Residence. Unfortunately I did not complete the manuscript revisions (life gets in the way) but hopefully during this week I will. Then it will be back to The Twesome Loop revisions prior to sending it out to beta readers.

My other project over the weekend was to review and detail a ghost writing request from a client. There was quite a lot of research involved, which was interesting but time consuming. My proposal is now in the hands of the client.

Books:

hope

I am enjoying this book but it is not as good as the previous two by this author. It seems a bit contrived. However, I am intrigued as to how the protagonist will survive and the story conclude so will continue. I am half way through at the moment.

On my TBR pile are two novels by a local author, Joss Laundry (see her interview here: https://mandyevebarnett.com/2016/12/05/joss-landry-interview-5th-december/) I’m looking forward to reading them.

Writing TipJonathan Franzen

“The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator.”

What writing project are you tackling at the moment?

Do you have a writing tip to share?

What book can you recommend?

 

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Firstly I want to celebrate a personal milestone, 1000 blog posts on my blog as of Monday 9th January!

post-milestone-1000

Writing:

Over the weekend, inspired by the new Writer in Residence, I continued with an edit of my speculative fiction manuscript, Life in Slake Patch. I will send the manuscript for the WIR to review once this is complete. This particular manuscript has been through numerous edits and revisions and needs to ‘get out there’ soon.

Books:

hope

I began the third novel by Claire North called The Sudden Appearance of Hope. It is written in a similar voice as the other two I have read. It is an intriguing concept as the main character is ‘forgotten’ almost from the moment she is out of sight. Time will tell if it matches up to Harry August or Touch.

Writing TipElmore Leonard

“Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.”

What writing project did you tackle this weekend?

Do you have a writing tip to share?

What book can you recommend?

 

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


writing-hub

Writing:

twesome-loop-002

I managed to embrace the first of two manuscripts I will be revising this year during a day’s sabbatical with a good writer friend last week. It was the jump start I required. Although this particular manuscript has been on the back burner for some time, (I have dabbled with from time to time over the last few years), I felt it was time I grappled with it to make a well rounded, finished product for publication.

The Twesome Loop is a reincarnation romance, which centers on four main characters from two time periods. The subject of reincarnation, many of you know fascinates me and I spent the second half of 2016 covering it here on my blog.

The narrative is an erotic romance novel with a reincarnation twist. The narrative starts its journey in the late 1990’s English countryside, where several characters make seemingly unrelated choices to travel to Italy. Melissa is fleeing a loveless marriage, Gerald wants to find his soul mate, Brett is motivated by greed and Nancy’s insatiable lust drives her. They are drawn not only by the beauty and life of Italy, but by an unexplained inner longing. Each is unaware that a pact made generations before, links their souls to each other and the beautiful villa they will stay in. A parallel story takes the reader to 1874, where a young woman’s happiness is sacrificed for her father’s ambition. Unable to resist she suffers at her older husband’s hands until his brother offers a way to escape.

The villa’s history has become local folklore and the mystery is perpetuated among the village elders. The sudden disappearance of Lord William and the subsequent low-key marriage of his widow, Gabriella and his younger brother, Arthur, fueled speculations as to the Lord’s fate. However, the young couple embraced the village and its inhabitants becoming well-liked benefactors in complete contrast to William’s cruel domination. Arthur and Gabriella’s love is all consuming but unable to contemplate life without each other, Arthur seeks a way for them to love beyond the grave.

Once the modern day characters converge on the villa, passions and memories rise and the pact’s legacy becomes known. Melissa falls completely for Gerald, a stranger but very familiar at the same time, Gerald is convinced Melissa is the one he has searched for and will not let her husband, Brett take her away, ever again. Nancy finds in Brett the one person, who can sate her lustful appetites and although Brett’s greed was the motivation to chase Melissa, he finds in Nancy the answer to his innermost desires.

The Twesome Loop incorporates several aspects to the romance genre of time slip, travel, and past lives. Similar works include Ferney by James Long, Again by Sharon Cullars and Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine. Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn, Maybe This Life by J.P. Grider, Across Eternity by Aris Whittier and Her Past’s Present by Micheal Poeltl.

Books:

When I choose books to read I try to find similar themes to the one I am writing. I found an excellent novel called The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire  North. As the title suggests it is reincarnation based. I was so impressed with Claire’s writing style I immediately got Touch, which is ghosts inhabiting other people just by touching them. It is again well written and I recommend both of these books.

Writing Tip: Bill Harper
Try not to edit while you’re creating your first draft. Creating and editing are two separate processes using different sides of the brain, and if you try doing both at once you’ll lose. Make a deal with your internal editor that it will get the chance to rip your piece to shreds; it will just need to wait some time.

A really nice trick is to switch off your monitor when you’re typing. You can’t edit what you can’t see.

 

Words in the Park 2016 – An Author Event…


mandy

Once again I attended this fantastic event. Part of Alberta Culture days, organized by my writing group, Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and with co-hosts, Arts and Culture Council of Strathcona County. With over thirty authors and a dozen artisans filling the venue as well as an aboriginal fancy dancer, hoop workshop, memoir presentation, African drumming tutorial, live music, children’s activities and author readings, the event offered fun activities for all the family.

I planned my table to display my children’s books at the front with Rumble’s First Scare and soft toy Rumble of course, with hats, T-shirts, bookmarks and pins. Ockleberries to the Rescue had the animal ornaments and the ‘door’ display. Then there was Clickety Click – the day of the launch! I made the exploding planet to attract readers and had special scaly toques made in two shades of purple. The purple table covering also focused the eye as did my purple inspired outfit. To the side I displayed The Rython Kingdom, my fantasy romance, as it is an adult book, with its glowing orb and handmade bookmarks.

This year I created an activity table, which you can see behind me in the photo, with ‘monster’ and Rumble pictures and also animal quizzes. A couple of kids won prizes for their entries, unfortunately I only got a photo of one! She loved her monster slippers.

monster-slippers

It was a successful day and I sold many books and a few toques too. See this lad with his Rumble toque.

rumble-hat-boy

I find the themed displays and merchandise attracts the children’s attention and then I have a chance to explain the books to the children and their parents. I was fortunate to have one Clickety Click book bought by our Mayor who will donate it to a local school.

Another lady purchased two copies of Ockleberries solely on the review she had read in our local paper. She even cut it out and brought it with her.

book-review-2

I enjoyed participating in the author readings and shared part of Ockleberries to the Rescue – Stump the Woodpecker to be exact.

mandy-reading

To be part of such an event, sharing my words with readers and forging new friendships with other authors further confirms my love for the written word and this select membership that is ‘writer’.

How do you attract people to your author table?

 

Writing Prompt Contest – My Favorite Book…


books

Write about your favorite book.

Enjoy this prompt and leave your response in the comments. 1000 words maximum for prose. Poems can be any length, if you can regale your book review in rhyme!

A quarterly prize will be given for the most voted for response.

Ockleberries review – Jessica & Bianca


I received an awesome review from a young lady after she read Ockleberries to the Rescue.

Her mother left the review on Goodreads :

My daughter is reading this book. She says “I love the stories of how Tansy and Crispin help all the forest animals.” My daughter is nine and I recommend the book for the ages 8-12. Two thumbs up
Ockle newest reader 1Ockle newest reader 2
As you can see she was extremely happy to have a signed copy!
Thank you – reviews are always wonderful to receive.

Book Review: Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman


HerlandHerland_04

Herland 1915

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I first heard about Herland a couple of years after I wrote my first NaNoWriMo in 2009, resulting in the basis of my novel, Life in Slake Patch. The premise of my speculative novel, Life in Slake Patch, is a future matriarchal society forced by a global war’s destruction of the planets civilization and a large proportion of the male population, to take control. This developed a segregated lifestyle maintaining men and women into defined roles. The population is bound by strict rules on activities, living quarters and parings (marriage).

So when I discovered the Herland story, I was curious to read it. Maybe it was my naivety but I assumed the book would be the usual novel length, however it is only 124 pages, so more novella than novel. Due to a series of writing activities – writing a further four novels, publishing two children’s books and an adult fantasy and launching my freelance career, I never seemed to get the time to buy Herland. Well until a couple of weeks ago!

It is surprising how Gilman formed the concept of an all female land in an era when women were seen as delicate housebound wives. Although, Gilman was hardly typical of her time as she was a turn-of-the-century social critic and lecturer. Her short story ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ is probably more widely known than Herland. The style of Herland is of course a reflection of the era’s writing style but even so fascinating and enthralling. Gilman tells the story of a feminist utopia from the viewpoint of a trio of men, who discover it by chance. This was my first surprise as my novel, Life in Slake Patch; written I hasten to add with no knowledge of Herland; from the viewpoint of a young man living in the male compound, Slake.

Gilman’s verbiage can distract the flow of the story, which in itself does not have the modern trait of increasing action and concluding climax. In truth it is monotone rather than stereo, devoid of suspense. However, it has beautifully written exposition giving the reader a real feel of the land and its inhabitants. I feel Gilman must have had an expansive imagination not only because she created a woman only land, but also she obviously thought of the ‘perfect’ woman world, cut free of the stereo type she personally experienced. Gilman goes into great detail on how the fruit trees were cultivated, the traditional meat animals were foregone and the garments the women wore were practical and comfortable. She writes in great detail of their psyche and how the population works together and abides to a thoughtful and exacting structure of life.Her explanation of their history is also creative.

The male narrator explains throughout the book how he and his companions try to impress the women of their male dominated civilization. Over time two of these men find that Herland has a much better way of life, utilizing forethought and planning, which over the generations made the utopia. One man is, however, not convinced and is determined to ‘show’ the female leaders, how they should be mastered.

In our modern age it is probably thought of as a naive story but at the time I would think it was shocking. Women ruling their own world and equal to men! The women of Herland were strong, capable and fearless of the men. Their interest was purely educational, a thirst for  knowledge of the world beyond their fortified enclave. The woman’s way of life was based on motherhood. This was their governing and abiding focus in everything they did, from nurturing the female only babies to caring for each other to sustaining themselves.

The second surprise was Gilman’s explanation of how the women managed to reproduce without men. It is a kind of immaculate conception, (actually a parthenogenesis process), which occurred several generations after all the men were killed and the women cut off from the outside world. One woman gave birth and her daughters also carried the genetic ability to reproduce. In our modern day of science fiction and fantasy rich environment, where anything is possible this seems fanciful but in 1915, I would think it was inconceivable (pardon the pun!) to most of the population.

Although, I bore in mind the era in which it was written whilst reading, Herland is quite exceptional in its concept. Gilman was a woman before her time and I’m sure if it were written today in our accepted style, it would be a great hit with speculative and fantasy lovers.

Charlotte

Charlotte Perkins Gilman  1860-1935