Tag Archives: book review

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

I managed to do a final edit for a friend’s manuscript. It is a new genre for J.E. McKnight but he has written an exceptional thriller. The antagonist’s real identity was a real surprise and even after knowing who it was the narrative held other shocking twists and turns. I’m sure lots of people will be thrilled by Joe’s newest novel.

An author I interviewed over three years ago contacted me recently asking for a review of her book and a special blog interview. I’m always open to helping other authors so will be curling up with her book over the weekend. Look out for the interview soon – Manaswita Ghosh is a wonderful young writer based in India.

Earlier in the week I wrote nearly a thousand words for my new YA story, Bubble the Gruggle only to ‘lose’ them on a Mac system. To say I was unhappy is an understatement but what can you do but chalk it up to experience? I did not rush to write again but left the story until the weekend. While sitting on my deck in the sunshine with a cooling breeze, I returned to the narrative and wrote even more words exceeding the ones lost. They say rewrites are usually better than the first try anyway.

My writing spot at the weekend – my front deck.

I also managed to do a review of a freelance project I have been working on – ghostwriting a book – this week. I’m gradually catching myself up.

Work continues with ‘extra’ pages for publishing for The Twesome Loop and ideas for illustrations for Bubble the Gruggle.

Books: Evidence of Life by Barbara Taylor Sissel

Evidence of Life

My review: A woman’s hope through disaster and her an emotional and psychological turmoil are expertly conveyed in this novel. It had me turning pages even when my eyes wanted to close! Great writing and insight into how a woman would cope with the greatest loss but also go on for the sake of her remaining family. The twists in the story kept me guessing as to the truth of the situation regarding her husband and how her friends and family protected her. Really worth a read.

An author friend wrote this book and I thought it time I got around to reading it.

Merryweather Lodge by Pauline Holyoak.

merryweather

Writing Tips:

Instead of adding tags (he said/she said) to every bit of dialogue, learn to identify the speaker by showing him/her in action. Example: “Pass that sweet-smelling turkey this way.” With knife in one hand and fork in the other, Sam looked eager to pounce.

You don’t always need an outline. Give discovery writing a try. (This is me all the time – free flow writing!)

Focus on building tension, then give it a snap.

 

 

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

The final organizing during last week and the set up and running of Heritage Day meant  exhaustion played a part in my not writing over the weekend! However, I did manage to begin a second beta-read and edit for a friend’s thriller manuscript. It is a superb read and the story has shocking twists and turns to keep you turning the pages.

The Twesome Loop

I have devised a book club question section for The Twesome Loop  and now need to write a new bio and create a who’s who for the characters for the front of the novel. I am also thinking of how to convey the story in an image for the cover.

Now I have more time I can return to my ghost writing project as well. Back on track thank goodness.

How is your current writing project progressing?

Books:

Evidence of Life by Barbara Taylor Sissel I am tantalizingly close to finishing this great suspense story. The internal thought processes of Abby are well done and you can feel her angst.

Evidence of Life

I need to find a couple of new books for my reading pile in the library this evening, so will let you know next week what I chose.

What are you currently reading?

Writing Tips:

Try to write in simple way. Express your views with most appropriate words.

Right click on a word to use the thesaurus. Do it again on the new word and make the best use of your vocabulary.

If one word will work where three are, replace it! I always find these, where I slip into conversational as I am writing quickly, then go back and purge, purge, purge.

Do you have a tip to share?

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


writing-hub

Writing:

I enjoyed the fellowship of writing friends at a special supper for a member who moved to Newfoundland but continues to be a ‘virtual’ member. We talked up a storm, enjoyed a delicious meal and then attended the monthly writers meeting. It was a packed house! Sharing words, enjoying the fellowship and receiving great feedback. Our group always amazes me how supportive of each other they are. No matter what style, stage of writing or genre, we learn from each other.

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What benefits have you found from your writing group?

My personal writing has stalled due to the major event on Sunday 11th June requiring a lot of attention. After many months of organizing it has become a day full of artisans, cultural groups, musicians, food delights and so much more.

However, once it is done I can plunge back into The Giving Thief revisions. I did managed to submit The Twesome Loop to my publisher so at least I have achieved one of my many goals.

Books:

Evidence of Life by Barbara Taylor Sisselwell written and has me turning the pages.

Evidence of Life

Writing Tips:

Start a blog. Use it to talk about your own writing process, share your ideas and experiences, or publish your work to a reading audience.
Subscribe to writing blogs on the Internet. Read them, participate, learn, share, and enjoy!

I have found my blog has not only covered multiple topics but has also allowed me to connect with writers from all around the globe.

Right click on a word to use the thesaurus. Do it again on the new word and make the best use of your vocabulary.

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing

I plan on immersing myself in the ghost writing project for the rest of this and most likely next week. It needs to be propelled forward so a final draft can be approved. A graphic designer is working on the images so the placement of these will have to be worked out as well. With possible sizes of print books and price estimates from the publisher we are nearing a conclusion in the next month. An exciting time for both my client and I as we all know when we hold a physical copy of our book for the first time it is magical and awe inspiring.

However, prior to that schedule, I invested in a workshop last night for my writing. A local author, Jennifer Snow is currently writer in residence at a downtown bookstore, Audrey’s and she was holding a workshop, which intrigued me. The evening’s workshop title was – First Five Pages & Avoiding a Saggy Middle in your Novel.

There were several other writers attending and it was interesting to hear their questions and the advice given by Jennifer. Although you may not write in the same genre as the presenter or the other attendees at workshops or conferences, there are basic fundamentals required to entice, engage and hold a reader no matter the narrative.

We all need to invest in our writing, no matter how much we think we know. You can always learn from another writer or author and as it happens I did have an idea pop into my head during the evening, which will assist in the revision of one of my manuscripts. (For those of you who don’t know I am editing four manuscripts over this and next year!) I detail my progress here: https://mandyevebarnett.com/current-project-2/

Books

Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn

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My review:
What a wonderful book – stories of life, death and rebirth. Perfectly linking each of the souls/characters lives. Sometimes they linked up, others not. Suzanne weaved a perfect tale of past lives making great use of the ‘echoes’ of past life bringing them forward to the new existence.

If you are intrigued, interested or fascinated by reincarnation you must read this book.

Evidence of Life by Barbara Taylor Sissel   

Onto this novel – a great opening line and the story propels you forward with enticing glimpses of what might have happened.

Evidence of Life

Writing Tips

Invest in a few valuable resources starting with The Chicago Manual of Style and The Elements of Style.

Grammar: learn the rules and then learn how to break them effectively.

Do you have particular resources you use? Care to share?

What ‘writing rules’ have you broken?

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

My escape on a writing retreat from 18th – 22nd May was absolutely fabulous. Surrounded by fresh spring greenery, bird song, blue skies, fellow writers and delicious food (cooked for us!) what more could a writer need? The photos above give only a glimpse of my time there. I particularly love the A frame cabin – wouldn’t that be a perfect place to have to write in?

Strawberry Creek Lodge may only be an hour or so away from home but it is a different world away from the normal reality of life. This enabled myself and my fellow writers to indulge in the written word, discuss plots, formats and support each other. With an open or closed door policy we could shut ourselves away to write or be open to conversation and walks through the woods and along the creek. The lodge is a magical place where ‘real’ life disappears allowing your creative muse to flourish. 

I did manage to achieve my writing goals at the retreat so that was an added bonus.

  • Final revisions to The Twesome Loop final word count 75,007.
  • Wrote new YA story Bubble the Gruggle word count 8306.
  • Began revisions on The Giving Thief 70,394 word count.

With my writing goals attained I can immerse myself in the ghost writing project and hopefully have the revised draft to my client by the end of May.

Have you been on a writing retreat?

What benefit did you gain?

Did you achieve your writing goals?

Books:

Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger- I completed this book while on my writing retreat. The ending had a great twist to it and I found the characters to be intriguing all through the narrative. The story contains complicated relationships, past loves, new loves, strange addictions, cemetery walks, and ghosts. 

Symmentry

Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn – I began this book at the retreat. It has a unique format and is good research for my novel, The Twesome Loop.

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Writing Tips

Make it your business to understand grammar and language. Do you know a noun from a verb, a predicate from a preposition? Do you understand tense and verb agreement? You should.

My tip: Find a way to escape ‘normal life’ be it a road trip, a mini break at a hotel, or a weekend getaway – it doesn’t have to be far away to achieve the tranquility to write.

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


writing-hub

Writing:

So my excitement got the better of me and I forgot to write this post – so sorry for my tardiness. I have been busy tying up loose ends, revising freelance projects and ensuring I can leave for my writing retreat tomorrow with a clear desk. On the retreat I will only focus on my writing, which will enable me to ‘complete’ two manuscripts and add to another. These are my retreat goals.

  1. Final read of Life in Slake Patch
  2. Complete revisions and read through of The Twesome Loop
  3. Continue to write my newest story, Bubble the Gruggle.
  4. Enjoy no TV, no cell service and no WiFi.
  5. Converse, share and enjoy my retreat companions company.
  6. Indulge in the most fantastic meals.
  7. Enjoy reading curled up in a cozy corner.

Books:

Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger – I will most certainly finished this book this week. Just love the characters.

Symmentry

Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn – chances are as this is more novella than novel that I will finish this book over my writing retreat as well.

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Then onto new stories!

Writing Tips:

Learn from the masters:

Read works by highly successful authors to learn what earns a loyal readership.
Read works by the canonical authors so you understand what constitutes a respectable literary achievement.

Creek 2016 7Strawberry Creek

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


writing-hub

Writing:

The Twesome Loop

I managed to hide away in my local library last night prior to my writers meeting and work on revisions for my reincarnation romance, The Twesome Loop. With twenty-two pages revised, 510 words added (I don’t count deleted ones!) I felt satisfied at it’s progress. Now I have found a superb cover designer I’m already thinking of a cover for this novel, the illustrated one was the NaNoWriMo proof copy. This novel is one I will be finalizing (hopefully) at the writers retreat later this month. Countdown is on to 18th May…

Our meeting was fun and I shared a part chapter of Twesome, which was well received. It always bolsters an author’s confidence when their words are liked.

My ghost writing project will have several changes made this week, although as I am accompanying my daughter to her reptile show all weekend I doubt I will get any writing done until the evenings.

Books:

The Other Life

The Other Life by Ellen Meister- I finished this book, thoroughly enjoyed it. Here is my review on Goodreads.

Love the struggle Quinn has in this story, whether to stay with her current family life or switch to a more glamorous one, she once had. There are many factors for and against in both lives and this narrative beautifully demonstrates that.
Mothering has its challenges and Quinn has to make some hard choices, so even if you are not into ‘alternative or parallel worlds’ this story will capture you.

Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger. I am now absorbed by this tale, which is set in London, England on the outskirts of Highgate Cemetery of all places. Obviously this appeals to my warped sense of drama.

Symmentry

While I was at Authors for Indies on Saturday at the Sherwood Park Bookworm, I requested a book with a reincarnation theme. Luckily for me, Leanne the owner found it so it is now on my TBR pile.

Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn      

Reincarnation

How many books do you read in connection with or research for, your current work in progress?

Writing Tips:

Keep a journal or notebook handy at all times so you can jot down all of your brilliant ideas. If you’ve got a smartphone, make sure it’s loaded with a note-taking app. A voice-recording app also comes in handy for recording notes and ideas.

Personally I keep a notebook beside my bed and one in my handbag/purse all the time – when an idea strikes it is best to write it down – later it will allude you!

Make sure you have a dictionary and thesaurus available whenever you are writing.

Do you have a favorite writing tip you would like to share?

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

Conference logo 2017

My conference presentation was well received and my audience engaged in the interactive segments with gusto. The theme of the conference was everything Canadian to tie in with the 150 year celebrations. My session ‘Building a Canadian Character’ included choosing a particular province and building a character from its particular landscape, economy, resources etc. With numerous handouts I managed to compile, each attendee went home with helpful resources.

When I created the individual folders I pinned a small cloth doll to each and then asked everyone to choose – this meant they went for colour or pattern unaware I had put a photo inside for another exercise. Sneaky maybe but it worked well. Then later I asked everyone to describe with as much detail as possible the person in those photos. After they read their description they shown the photo to everyone else. It was a lesson in description. 

The week was not as busy although planning for the major event in June did take up quite some time. My other project is ghost writing a book, which is progressing nicely.

I am now on countdown to the Spring Writers Retreat, which starts on 18th May through to 22nd May. Here I will immerse myself in my writing without distraction. The location is perfect with a small river, woodland and trails to refresh a tired Muse. It is a huge log cabin with an expert chef, whose meals are just so appetizing everyone wants to take her home.

strawberry-creek-lodge

Books:

The Other Life by Ellen Meister – I am enjoying the story’s theme and the tension risen by choosing one life over another.

The Other Life

My friend Karen gave me this book, as she believed the mystery would intrigue me. Looking forward to reading it.  Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger 

Symmentry

Writing Tips:

Do it. Write.  Write every single day.
Read as much and as often as you can. Remember, every writer is a reader first.

 

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


writing-hub

Writing:

Unfortunately my creative writing has taken a backseat this last week while I compiled a schedule, contact sheet and action requirements for the Heritage Day my Board and another organization are holding in June. In all I spent seven hours going through hundreds of emails to find contacts and actions made and needed. Having so many people involved is wonderful for the work share but a logistical nightmare. Now it is done I feel confident that everyone knows the status of what is happening, who is attending and special information.

After all that creating my writers foundation Board’s agenda for tonight’s meeting was a piece of cake!

I will use some of my long weekend to type out the personal experience notes my ghost writing client gave me and insert it into the draft book. I’ll also be putting the finishing touches to the workshop I am presenting at a writers conference on 22nd April – I want to ensure it is informative but also fun.

Conference logo 2017

Hopefully I can also take some time to continue my edit and revision of The Twesome Loop. It is tantalizingly close to the finish prior to going back to beta-readers.

Twesome Loop 002

How is your current work in progress coming along?

Books:

The Faraday Girls by Monica McInerney- I am on the last few chapters of this wonderful narrative – I will not spoil the ending for anyone wanting to read it – that’s so unfair. So will put up a Goodreads review once I’m finished which will be this long weekend for sure.

faraday

The Other Life by Ellen Meister – so excited to read this story. If you could choose a different life, one you actually knew about – would you?

The Other Life

Do you have a recommendation?

Do you want to hook up on Goodreads? Follow the link on the side bar to my account.

Writing Tips:

Join a writers’ group so you can gain support from the writing community and enjoy camaraderie in your craft.

From personal experience a writers group is invaluable for any writer as long as you receive constructive critique, your style and voice are acknowledged and respected and there is a strong sense of support and encouragement. My group: www.wfscsherwoodpark.com  encourages writers any stage, any age of their writing career. We have local and virtual members.

Be observant. The people and activities that surround you will provide you with great inspiration for characters, plots, and themes. (And people watching is so much fun!)

Use writing exercises to improve your skills, strengthen your talent, and explore different genres, styles, and techniques. My favorite ‘inspirational kick’ is finding a word or picture prompt. I create a prompt on our website every Saturday – scroll back and find one that ‘speaks’ to you – top right on the calendar www.wfscsherwoodpark.com

Happy Writing…

Image credit: http://www.mywritingblog.com

 

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


Writing:

Well what can I say but that our road trip resulted in some spectacular revisions, editing and increased word count 72,674 for The Twesome Loop. We left just after work on Friday and made our way to Red Deer, got checked in and made the room our own! This actually means setting up laptops on the table/desks, selecting beds (usually Linda has the one near the window) and then we went for supper. Delicious meal with the chef’s specialty Bulgogi, amazing flavor.

The word Bulgogi literally means fire meat in Korean, and is derived from the Pyongan dialect. It refers to marinated meat, (generally beef if used without a qualifier), cooked using traditional grilling techniques such as gridirons or perforated dome griddles that sit on braziers, unlike deep frying or boiling in water.

15073509_10207622558337301_1573629241843353787_nThe Twesome Loop

Saturday morning after a leisurely breakfast we spent the morning writing in quite companionship for the most part. Then as the sunshine was too glorious to miss, set off for a drive to enjoy the afternoon and surrounding scenery. Back for wine and salad and more writing. As we have a late check out at 1 pm we utilized the time to write after breakfast and set off on a tour of the historical sites in Red Deer. At one site where old buildings have been sited we delighted at two surprise guests – a buck & doe walked in through the gate and calmly grazed just feet away from us.

Our trip home was of course the longer route (common practice for us) and took us to Sylvan Lake, through Lacombe and Clearwater counties up to Rocky Mountain House through Wetaskiwin  and Braznea counties and to Leduc and home.

Linda (as my publisher) kindly completed the update of my fantasy romance, The Rython Kingdom with its new cover and ordered proof copies. So it will be soon. I had the idea of having slip covers made for the editions I have at home so the new cover can be attached. I am so pleased with how the new cover looks.

rythonfinaltitletext

Have you changed a book cover?

Did you write over the weekend?

Do you escape to write? Where do you go?

Books:

uninvited guests

I finished The Uninvited Guests – my Goodreads review:

What a delightful and surprising book. I had an inkling about the visitors (I will not reveal) three quarters the way through the book but it was skillfully written, wonderful prose and immersed me in Edwardian life.
Sadie has a remarkable story telling talent and I recommend you read this story. Love lost, love gained and love thwarted with touch of revenge served cold.

The beginning of The Faraday Girls gripped me from the start – a great first sentence! The story is endearing, surprising and intriguing so far.

faraday

Writing Tips:

Diana Athill: 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).

Margaret Atwood: If you’re using a computer, always safeguard new text with a ­memory stick. (I know this from experience after loosing over 5K in the midst of NaNoWriMo – not funny!)

What are your writing tips?