Inspiring writing reminder

“I wonder how old we are when we stop thinking like kids?”  – This Kid Reviews Books  (Quote used with permission. Thanks, Erik!)

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Book Review: The Dragondain: a Moon Realm Novel – by Richard Due

Dragondain.2Book: The Dragondain: a Moon Realm Novel, book 2
Author: Richard Due
Illustrator: Carolyn Arcabascio
Publisher: Gibbering Gnome Press
Date: December 7, 2012
Genre: middle grade fantasy
Pages: 287
Price: $11.35 paper; $2.95 Kindle
My Rating: an exciting part two of a captivating, dramatic, exciting fantasy that keeps the reader enthralled to the end

I received a copy of The Dragondain from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Having read book one of the Moon Realm series, I was eager to read book two. This volume, The Dragondain, continues from where the first one left off.

You can read my review of The Moon Coin, which is book one of the Moon Realm, to get an idea of the thrill of this series. The Dragondain takes the reader on another burst of adventures, and fills one’s head with images and scenes that are amazing and wondrous. It’s as if the author, Richard Due (pronounced Dewy) stored in his mind every fantasy story he ever read, picked out the most exciting inspiring parts, tweaked them, added the Dewy imagination, and out came this exciting fantastical world … or, I should say, worlds. Wonderful! Note: The illustrations by Carolyn Arcabascio at the beginning of each chapter add a creative extra to the story.

In The Dragondain: a Moon Realm Novel we are reunited with fifteen-year-0ld Jasper and his fourteen-year-old sister, Lily, as they continue in their search for their missing mysterious uncle Ebb. Using a special necklace, they take turns travelling to other worlds where they meet with all sorts of dangers and strange characters, enter into serious battles, and discover their own unique powers. This time more dramatic events happen at their uncle’s mansion and their own house to add to the suspense.

The Dragondain is very well crafted and cleverly executed, with the final scene set for continuation in another book. It isn’t done in a mean way, either, but as an invitation to continue on the journey with Jasper and Lily. I look forward to it! There is a fourth book already in line for after book three is released.

If The Dragondain interests you, then it is best that you start with book one – The Moon Coin (at the time of this writing The Moon Coin is free on Kindle for anyone with Amazon Prime) – so you will get to know the characters and background. If you enjoy fantasy you won’t be disappointed.

You can find The Dragondain: a Moon Realm Novel, book 2 listed on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

What is the reading level of your writing?

For anyone writing for a certain readership, something that has to be considered is the age group or reading level of the intended reader. I’ve given attention to how to write for children, how young to make my writing – suiting it for the age group I am writing for – but I hadn’t thought so much about the reading level of my ‘regular’ writing.

I recently read an interesting article, and, although it is not to be taken as a firm guideline, I thought you may enjoy reading it, too. It’s called ‘What’s the reading level of your writing?

Before you leave here to check out that article I want you to know that I added the following three tools to my Writers’ Helps page. While there, please take a few moments to look around in case you haven’t seen other helps I’ve added.

  1. If you have a website or a blog you can test your readability of it by using the readability test tool. There are three different ways on there to test your writing, or you can even test the writing you read on someone else’s site.
  2. You also can analyze a sample of your own writing by using the writing sample readability analyzer. This one was created by Sarah K Tyler and is even more fun to try.
  3. Have you heard of Scrivener? It is a word processing program and as a management program it has become popular as a tool to improve one’s writing.

3886950-fountain-pen-writing-paper-with-black-inkBefore I sign off I just want to tell you my daughter’s ten-day visit – mentioned HERE – was fun and packed full of family things, including four barbecues – although one was more of a very informal “weinie roast” at the lake where we also created sticky s’mores by firelight, followed by thrilling fireworks that my husband set off when it got dark enough. Our final events were yesterday. After fourteen of us had a BBQ and corn boil at Dad’s, eight of us went from there for a fun visit to the local farm zoo, the largest zoo in Nova Scotia, arriving at feeding time for the lions. (Fortunately, we weren’t on the menu. ;) )  Then this morning, my husband and I got up shortly after 4:00 and woke our daughter. We were all soon on the road to the airport, taking our daughter for her flight back to Alberta. It’s always difficult for me to turn and walk out of there, keeping back the tears and leaving for home without her.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend – and on September 1: for those of you in Canada have a safe and pleasant Labour Day; for those of you in the USA have a safe and pleasant Labor Day. :)

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)




Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension” – Part 19: By Hook, Not By Crook

Welcome back! Over the next several more months we invite you to return here, specifically on the fourth Thursday of each month for the newest installment of Sue Harrison‘s teaching: Writing The Third Dimension. You can read all the segments by clicking on the page title WRITING THE THIRD DIMENSION, found under Writers’ Helps & Workshops on the drop-down menu. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments for Sue. Now for the topic for month nineteen:


“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 19: By Hook, Not by Crook

What do a fisherman and a writer have in common?


Yes, you’re right! Using a hook! How did you ever guess?

If you’ve read any how-to books about the craft of writing a novel, then you’ve read about the all-important hook — that sentence or idea which draws the reader into the story right from the first page on.

This post isn’t about that huge hook. It’s about another place within your novel that benefits when you append a hook. The end of a chapter. I’m one of those novelists who believe, that in our current reading climate, most readers prefer short chapters. I know there are exceptions, but long chapters can make a reader feel like she is listening to a long, boring diatribe.

Short chapters ramp up the tension, allow for more fluid point-of-view changes, and help the writer segue more easily into a new scene. However, shorter chapters mean more chapter endings and chapter endings can be a problem.

When I write, my goal is to pull the reader into the story and to do everything I can to keep him there. So the reader lives and breathes and sees the world as if he were the main character. Chapter endings remind the reader that he or she lives in another world. No matter how many positives exist because of a chapter break, those breaks also act like stop signs in the continuum of the story. Pop! The reader is back into real life. He or she sets down the book and goes about regular business. So you, the writer need an edge to bring him or her back as soon as possible, and that edge is the proverbial hook.

Basically, I observe two rules when I end a chapter with a hook.

1. The hook is short, contained in only a sentence or two or three.

2. The hook is honest. It doesn’t set up bogus expectations.  You don’t want your reader to feel cheated. The crooked hook: “Albert caught his breath. He was staring  into the golden eyes of a snarling cheetah.” The disillusionment, next chapter: “Of course, the cheetah was only a poster on the wall in Albert’s bedroom.”

I’m not at all the best  hook writer in the business. I’m afraid I’m not even in the top 1000, but I own the copyrights to my novels and my works-in-progress, so rather than cite hooks from other writers’ copyrighted novels,  I’ll close this post with a few examples of chapter-end hooks that I have written. I hope they’ll convey what I mean and give you some examples to draw from as you write your own hooks.

From MOTHER EARTH FATHER SKY, Chapter 25: “Then Kayugh took his daughter to the beach while the others finished burying his wife.”  [The hook: If he can't even bear to see his wife buried, how will Kayugh be able to survive his grief?]

From CRY OF THE WIND, Chapter 41: “‘River Ice Dancer,’ she said, holding out her hand, ‘you are cold, and my bed is very warm.’” [The hook: Will River Ice Dancer fall into the wily hands of the temptress K'os?]

From BONE FIRE (work-in-progress), Chapter 3: “If Rose wasn’t still pregnant when they got there, the Spirit-caller wouldn’t take her in trade. Then what would Villr do? Watch his own daughter die?” [The hook: Why would his daughter die? What are Villr's horrible plans for the main character Rose?]

Remember, you want to draw your reader back to your novel, even after the disruption of a chapter break. A small hook will do, a tease that will make your reader want to stay in the story. Be quick. Be honest.

Strength to your pen!


*Writing the Third Dimension, copyright, 2010 Sue Harrison*

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy, and a middle readers’ book SISU. Prior to the publication of her novels, Harrison was employed at Lake Superior State University as a writer and acting director of the Public Relations Department and as an adjunct instructor in creative writing and advanced creative writing. For more information, click here. To inquire about booking Sue for workshops or speaking engagements this year, click here.

Thanks for joining us! Please feel free to leave your questions and comments. We invite you to come back September 25, 2014, for part 20.

Book Review: Emma Bean – by Jean Van Leeuwen

Emma Bean1Book: Emma Bean
Author: Jean Van Leeuwen
Illustrator: Juan Wijngaard
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Date: September 6, 1993
Genre: picture book for ages 3 and up
Pages: 40
Price: can be found at a wide range of prices, from a few cents for used to phenomenal prices for new
My Rating: a book to love for its wonderful story and fabulous illustrations

The back story: I was studying, taking a course called Writing Children’s Literature. I had a long reading list of children’s books, so I began buying some from the bookstore and borrowing many from the library to read from that list. One day I made a trip to the bookstore and just wandered around lovingly looking at and touching the many, many books, when I came upon this particular one. Emma Bean by Jean Van Leeuwen was the most gorgeous hard cover book I had seen that day … and maybe ever up to then. I stood in a quiet aisle of that bookstore and read the story. Oh my goodness! It so touched my heart it was all I could do to keep from crying right there. In fact, I think I did sniffle a little. Not prepared to buy anything that day I reluctantly put the book back, but a few days later I went to the little shop with a specific purchase in mind and left with my own copy of Emma Bean.

Look at the words of the opening page:  Once there was a rabbit and she had a    girl. The girl’s name was Molly. The rabbit was Emma Bean.

How sweet and inviting is that beginning? This is the most adorable story. Emma Bean was made to be a cuddly toy bunny for a baby, and as the little girl grew Emma Bean got to have lots of experiences – from taste-testing to ‘flying’ (not always the best fun) to going to school.

The illustrations by Juan Wijngaard are fabulous. Rich, colourful, realistic, they help to make the story delightful and memorable.

Emma Bean2




This is the back cover.

If Emma Bean by Jean Van Leeuwen had been available for me to read as a little girl, for sure it would have been one of my most cherished. Even though it was published two decades ago, I highly recommend this book for a child you care about, or for your own bookshelf – like I did. :)

You can find Emma Bean listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! :)

Quiz: What magical creature are you?

Here it is Monday already! I missed blogging on the weekend, but I have a really, really good reason.

Friday at 3:00 PM my doorbell rang. When I went to the door who should be standing there but … my daughter who lives in Alberta!!  She came home for a ten-day visit, a surprise to everyone except her oldest sister who helped in the planning. :)  That’s neat because on her last trip home (in April) it was that sister who was the only one NOT to know she was coming since it was a surprise for her special birthday event.  What a lovely treat to have her home.  :)

It was a busy weekend, including a family event at the cottage to welcome into the ‘clan’ my sister-in-law’s fiance'; their upcoming wedding is in October. It was after receiving the invitation to Sunday’s special occasion that my daughter started making plans to come home again. She had been blessed to get a promotion with pay increase at work which enabled her to make two trips home this year, the first time she’s been able to do that since moving to Alberta six years ago.

Sunday was a gorgeous day for family and feasting (including lobsters and muscles on the menu), and then my beloved and I went canoeing for a little while on the calm lake. I needed that.

So … all the above, including reading to review, and I missed blogging – but with good reason, don’t you agree?  :)

Now, this post was originally going to be on the weekend and about this fun quiz I would like you to try. The question is: What magical creature are you?  I don’t know if I should tell you what I am according to that. ;) Funny.

Do try the quiz and leave a message to share what magical creature you are.  :)

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)



Book Review: The Michael Letters: Heaven’s Answer to Screwtape – by Jim Peschke

The Michael Letters, Heaven's Answer to ScrewtapeBook: The Michael Letters: Heaven’s answer to Screwtape
Author: Jim Peschke
Publisher:  Jim Peschke
Date: 2010
Genre: religious fiction
Pages: 142
Price: Kindle under $5; paper under $10
My rating: good attempt at a follow-up to C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters


In order for you to make sense of the intent of this book – The Michael Letters: Heaven’s answer to Screwtape – you may first have to read C.S.Lewis’ famous classic The Screwtape Letters. Even having read Lewis’ book I found this one a little hard to ‘get’.

Jim Peschke‘s writing is good – the archangel is writing to a guardian angel whose main focus is on a man who is struggling with his faith. All through the book other people in this man’s life are mentioned, sometimes pulling the focus off the main character, but making connections to his life.

The angels address his conflicts with his mother, his interest in a lady friend – even talking about her being overweight, his problems at work, and his worries about being a charitable person.

There were a few places in what the angels were believing where the author did not line up with Scripture. This may be a matter of interpretation, but if I may give an example: “The Son came to wonder if he could die for mankind’s sin.” This is not quite accurate; Jesus never doubted His mission and godship, although as man he was not welcoming the suffering He knew was coming.

The Michael Letters is an entertaining read, not C.S.Lewis standard but the author claimed to not pretend to write the same as Lewis. He does give a modern reply by angels to what the devil and helper were saying in The Screwtape Letters.

You can find The Michael Letters: Heaven’s answer to Screwtape listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

Book Review: Heaven’s PREY – by Janet Sketchley

Heaven's PreyBook: Heaven’s PREY: A Redemption’s Edge novel
Author: Janet Sketchley
Publisher: Choose NOW Publishing
Date: November 1, 2013
Genre: suspense; regional fiction
Pages: 322
Price: Paperback under $16; Kindle under $4
My rating: hard to read but harder to put down

I received a copy of Heaven’s Prey from the author for my honest review.

This was a novel hard for me to read but also hard to put out of mind. I had to know how it ended, and not only in order to write a review.

In Heaven’s Prey by Janet Sketchley we meet Ruth, the main female character who is still mourning the loss of her niece, a young woman who had been brutally attacked and murdered. We meet Tony, Ruth’s husband who refuses to accept the God to Whom his wife prays … for the killer! In a dramatic turn of events we meet the killer, Harry, who had escaped from prison and was not on the west coast of Canada where everyone was looking for him, but in Nova Scotia – on Canada’s east coast.

Mild spoiler alert: On her way home from a prayer meeting Ruth makes a stop at a convenience store. That’s when things get dramatic. In an odd turn of events Harry is there and kidnaps Ruth, not knowing her connection to his last victim (her niece) before he was caught. This traumatic event leads to dramatic change in the lives of Ruth, Tony and Harry.

Janet Sketchley is a strong writer. Heaven’s Prey is well-structured, dramatic, hard to read in places because of content, and keeps the reader interested in knowing if/how Ruth will survive, and what will happen to Harry.

Although this novel is a story of redemption and forgiveness it is definitely not a book for young readers. If you enjoy a good suspense with no foul language, scenes that are on the edge but not graphic, drama that rises and falls and increases again, then this is the book for you.

Heaven’s PREY by Janet Sketchley was a finalist in the 2014 Word Awards in the suspense category.

You can find Heaven’s PREY listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

 Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)