Book review missing for today – emergencies came up

It is very late Monday night as I write this, but for those of you who will be expecting a book review in the morning … there won’t be one this time. My apologies.

My little Meyya got stung this afternoon, probably by a hornet, and within fifteen minutes she became very ill and lethargic. We rushed her to the animal hospital where she was treated and soon began recovering. What a relief! Since we don’t know if she actually is allergic to bee stings, I am now keeping Allernix on hand just for her. That was too scary an experience! But that was just the beginning.

This evening my respite help called me at home (an hour before I was due back to Dad’s) to tell me my dad was in distress and she wanted to call the paramedics to check on him. I said to do it and I would be there soon. When I arrived they had him hooked up to a monitor and oxygen and had found he had irregular and erratic heartbeat. Although he saw no need to go they took him to the hospital by ambulance and my husband and I followed a little later once I got some things together. So there I was, another long evening in the hospital with Dad. This time it wasn’t nearly as bad time-wise, though. Only a couple hours from the time he was admitted – after monitoring, blood work and other things – the verdict is that they are treating it as a heart attack. Dad is in hospital now for a few days during which time they will keep a close eye on him, continuing to monitor his heart, doing more tests, and finding what will work best for his treatment. My sister and I will visit him in the morning and I’ll take him one of the books he’s reading, along with some other things needed.

All this to say, there will be no book review today, but I plan to have one for Thursday. 

Now I must sleep awhile.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

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Bless your soul today

I don’t know about you, but I am consistently brought into places of need for my soul, places where I need encouragement, restoration of my peace, reconnection with God on a deeper level again. It is at those times I often soak in His blessing of sweet ministering music.

I don’t usually share openly about my faith here, but today I will just say this … without Him I am nothing. He is the Meaning to my life.  Oh, that everyone would know Him that way.

Here is a beautiful collection by Hillsong. I hope you enjoy it and have a blessed day.

For who in heaven can be compared unto the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD? – Psalm 89:6

Praise the LORD oh my soul! Do not forget all His kind deeds. – Psalm 103:2

Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced; my body also will live in hope,  – Acts 2:26

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)




Book Review: Amanda in England: The Missing Novel – by Darlene Foster

Amanda in England, The Missing NovelBook: Amanda in England: The Missing Novel
Author: Darlene Foster
Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing
Date: August 9, 2012
Genre: juvenile fiction; adventure (age level 7-13, grade level 3-6)
Pages: 73
Price: paper $8.80; Kindle $3.65
My Rating: a fun read that educates while taking children on an adventure

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Amanda in England: The Missing Novel is book three of the Amanda series by Darlene Foster. Written for middle grade readers it is a quick-paced easy read. 

Amanda is a curious adventurous twelve-year-old whose friend in England invited her to come for a visit. Having a love of travel she happily accepted Leah’s invitation.

From the time Amanda arrives things begin happening. One thing leads to another, and she finds herself involved in the mystery of a missing valuable book. Young readers will enjoy the antics and escapades of Amanda, Leah and two local kids they meet as they encounter a strange acting lady, run into trouble when two men chase them, and try to keep all the trouble they’re in from Leah’s parents. While following Amanda readers will also be learning a little about some of the sites and sights of England.

Darlene Foster has written four books in the Amanda series so far. If you want to read my review of her first book in the series, go to Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask.

You can find Amanda in England: The Missing Novel listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

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! :)