Tag Archives: Writing

How I got into Writing book reviews

Tuesday is one of my usual days to post a book review. Obviously, I didn’t manage to do that this week, for which I apologize. I’m not sure I will even get one ready for Thursday, but I am still reading as much as I can.

There have been a few personal things come up to alter my course a bit. On Friday I had a scheduled few hours’ hospital stay, Saturday I was still getting my energy back from that, Sunday was my dad’s 89th birthday and also Father’s Day – so we had a family gathering at his house. Among our group there are five fathers. It was a great barbecue day and we had lots of delicious food to enjoy. Sunday was also my first day back at my dad’s for my week, which this time will be three to give my sister a needed break. Then Monday was my grandson’s ninth birthday! (Time is passing quickly!) Today, Tuesday, I took my little Meyya to the groomers and while she was there I enjoyed a pleasant afternoon with a friend. So you see, I have been busy in various ways. But that doesn’t stop the books from coming to me; yesterday another arrived in my mail and I’m trying to remember where I won it or chose it! (I really must keep better track.)

In lieu of a book review I want to talk a little about writing them. Writing reviews isn’t something I planned to be doing; it simply evolved. In 2010 I was excited to win a book in a writers chat room and mentioned a little about it here. Later, through what was then called BookSneeze – now BookLook Bloggers – I won a Max Lucado book in exchange for a review. Early in 2011 I reread author Laura Best’s first novel and reviewed it here in support of her work. That year, after Laura’s book, I reviewed fifteen others because I enjoyed it. I had become a book reviewer! Occasionally I receive requests for reviews, but I now have such a backlog of novels to read first that I don’t/can’t always accept. I am trying to get caught up, which is not as simple as it may sound.

When writing reviews, sometimes it isn’t easy to put into words what impressions I feel from the story I was immersed in. I try always to be fair no matter if the content appealed to me or not. What trips me up is that I tend to notice errors in spelling, punctuation, details. I say it ‘trips me up’ because they seem to stand right out as if screaming ‘Here I am! Notice me!’ and pull me right out of the story.

I really don’t want to write bad reviews because of that, or at all, because the errors are not the story, but they do affect an observant reader. Instead I try to be honest about my findings without trashing a book.

Even after a writer’s hard work there may be much yet to be done. Sometimes the typos and conflicts are glaringly noticeable and very distracting to the reader. In my next post I will be presumptuous and present a few tips – or maybe more like observations – for authors, especially those who are self-publishing or are trying to cut corners.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

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How do you express your creativity?

I’ve been thinking about creativity.

I don’t remember how I found this, but I made note of it to share with you because I think it’s such a fun and creative idea. A dad takes his children’s drawings and colours them (with their permission), and it’s amazing how it enhances their artwork. Take a look here. Did you ever think of doing this?

I used to sketch. In school — don’t ask how long ago that was! — I took a sketching class, which was fun and I looked forward to it. Each week a member of the class would sit in the middle of the room and the rest of us would draw him or her. Mine weren’t too bad – if I do say so myself; they looked like the person, anyway. For years I occasionally liked to sit and draw what I saw out the window, or across the room – but I am long out of practice. I’ve been thinking of taking up sketching again, taking classes, maybe even learn to paint, but who has time? Maybe it’s not about that, though. Maybe it isn’t whether there is time for it, maybe it’s about allowing myself that creative outlet, another vehicle of artistic expression. A stress reliever. A mind-expanding experience.

My dad used to doodle interesting little drawings. A few days ago I heard someone being interviewed about doodling. She said it’s very important because it is creative expression and also is something many people do while thinking problems through, processing things during conversations or meetings. I doodle sometimes, and my husband often doodles during his telephone conversations.

children-art-doodlesMy mother had a very creative mind. She sewed, crafted, planned fun family parties, made up cute stories and funny poems. After her passing we found a delightful children’s story tucked away. I remembered she had written it for a summer course many years ago. Dad would like to see it as a book, and it could be …     Mum also painted. She took beginner classes and learned different methods, so now we have several of her paintings in different mediums.

One of my daughters paints, beautiful work. Another can create very detailed drawings and embroidery work, another sculpts wonderful little creations from Sculpey (a polymer clay), another likes to bake fancy delicious desserts. This is just a glimpse of their artistic side. I remember when they were in school, each could come up with such good stories for writing classes, but unfortunately none of them chose to continue in that venue.

It seems I’m in musing mode tonight. Now I have some questions for you.

  • Are you a doodler?
  • Do you have memories of creative adventures – good or less than satisfactory?
  • Are there artistic expressions you wish you had pursued?
  • Perhaps there are things you are reminded of and feel enticed to venture into again? Do tell!

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension” – part 12: Whose Eyes?

Welcome back! Over the next many 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 twelve:

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“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 12: Whose Eyes?

Here’s what I love about reading novels. They give me the opportunity to see the world through another person’s eyes. For a novelist to provide that great joy to his readers, he has to develop full and believable characters and then choose how to convey the thoughts and ideas of those characters on the written page. That choice is all about point of view (POV).

 

In determining POV, every writer has two main options, first person or third person. We’ll talk about variations, like second person,  in a later blog post, but today let’s keep it simple.

 

First Person POV: I went for a nice walk, and I saw a pretty flower.

 

Third Person POV: She went for a nice walk, and she saw a pretty flower.

 

I know, I know, the two sentences above deserve trashing for multiple reasons, but let’s not complicate matters. Two choices. That seems pretty straight forward. So how do you decide which is best for your novel? Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that, but I can tell you how I decide which POV is best for my novels.

 

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I consider these four things:

 

1. The usual POV in which my genre is presented.

 

2. My preference.

 

3. The strengths and weaknesses of each POV.

 

4. The unique characters in my novel.

 

So let’s talk about #1 – the usual POVs for some common genres. In my next “Writing the Third Dimension,” I’ll discuss numbers 2 through 4.

 

Historical fiction is usually presented in third person POV. That’s because historical fiction often paints on a wide canvas, and most authors prefer to open the minds of many characters to their readers. Multiple third person POVs are less awkward and, to most readers, more “believable” than multiple first person POVs.

 

Mysteries and Who-Done-Its boast a wide variety of sub-genres. Because of the differing requirements in each of these sub-genres, readers will find some novels presented in first person POV and others in third person. If the novelist wants the main character to be as stumped by the mystery as the reader, she will often choose first person POV. If the writer wants to present what happened from multiple viewpoints, he will often choose third person POV.

 

Romance novels are built on a foundation of strong emotions. They are often presented in first person POV, which is able to convey emotions at a very intense level.

 

Young Adult novels are often told from first person POV because of that same strong emotional bond the writer is trying to forge between a main character and the reader.

 

Action-Adventure is another genre that is split between both POVs, but if the novel has only one main character, authors often choose first person POV.

 

Children’s novels, those first chapter books, are also usually written in first person POV, and that is done to help young children bond more easily with the main character.

 

Feel free to add to our genre list. Do you have a reading preference for POV?

 

Enjoy the Journey!

 

Sue

*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 come back February 27, 2014 for part 13.

Writing challenges over for now, fun news

It’s snowing on my blog again!  :)

A quick note tonight ..

So quickly the month of November is gone and some of us are into Christmas planning mode. With November done so are that month’s writing challenges. My report is: I made the hard decision and dropped out of NaNoWriMo; I blogged 28 out of 30 days for NaBloPoMo; for PiBoIdMo I met and surpassed the 30 ideas in 30 days having accomplished 40 ideas. Yay! Some of those ideas are only titles, some are names for possible characters, others are ideas for stories. One idea in particular I feel quite good about and have a rough draft begun. That will be the one I start working on first.

piboidmo2013-lightbulb-laugh-200x254Especially exciting news for me in another vein is the day all those things finished another challenge began for me.  I found what I was looking for!  I will tell you more about that in a later post, but do you know what a Schnoodle is? (hint hint) Adorable is what! :)

This is my caregiving week and ‘the household’ has just retired for the night so I am off here to get some sleep myself.

Talk to you all later!  Blessings.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

 

Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension” – part 11: Break Dance!

Welcome! Over the next many 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 eleven:

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“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 11: Break Dance!
I don’t hear much about one of the major rules for novelists. SCHEDULE BREAK TIMES!

Yes, you DO need to schedule definite writing times. Once a week or three times a week or every day, whatever works for you. Maybe you write for an hour or three hours or eight. (Don’t burn yourself out, by the way!) Some of my writer friends give themselves a goal of words written rather than time spent writing. The important thing is to establish a definite writing schedule. Maybe a dentist appointment will intrude but definitely not laziness or the dreaded “I’d Rather Not” Syndrome. That’s a novel killer for sure.

However, writers do need breaks.

If you’re reading the “Writing the Third Dimension” posts as I write them, that means that we’re closing in on the December holiday season.

PC240246 (This is a photo of my daughter, granddaughter, and my mom!)

I usually don’t write the last two weeks of December. During the rest of the year, I also break for Sundays, vacation trips, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Thanksgiving weekend, and a few other odds and ends along the way, including a week between finishing one book and starting the next.  The important thing is that these are SCHEDULED  BREAKS. I’m not cheating on my writing time. Once you begin to cheat on your writing time, it’s very difficult to get back into a disciplined routine.

Novelists function like marathon runners. Sustained discipline is often the only difference between success and failure. For the novelist, failure doesn’t have anything to do with publication or lack thereof. Failure is failing to finish when you suspect the book you’re writing is good enough to merit completion. (And I’m assuming here that your life situation and your health remains stable.)

In honor of the holiday season, and with Lynn’s agreement, I’m taking a December break from “Writing the Third Dimension” and will dedicate most of my December time to preparing for the holidays: sewing dresses for my granddaughter’s dolls, baking, cleaning, practicing songs for Christmas performances, wrapping gifts, writing holiday cards, having a houseful of guests and, and, and…

Meanwhile to all of you, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year! I’m looking forward to connecting with all of you again on January 23rd. Holidays are fun but it’s always great to get back to writing!

What breaks do you schedule in your writing time?

Happy Writing and Many Blessings!

Sue

*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 come back January 23, 2014, for part 12.

Shopping for a dog

Just a quick post tonight.

I added another fun idea to my PiBoIdMo list. Nothing on NaNo novel.

Today was a different kind of day. I changed things up a bit and dog searched. Why? Because I don’t want to not have a dog! It’s that simple.

I learned about a breeder who lives not far from me and who breeds Labradoodles (Labrador x Poodle). Adorable dogs but very expensive. I might go visit her dogs anyway just to see them and be sure it is not the one for me. I need to know up close. :)

I also called the local SPCA and asked questions. I might be able to stop in there tomorrow to check them out and see what orphaned dogs they have in need of a home. My husband said okay as long as I don’t come out of there with a dog. I assured him .. not tomorrow. ;)

I have a list of qualities to be filled, so it could take me some time to decide and find the dog for me. During that time I hope to also have convinced my dear husband that he should agree with me about us getting a dog.

Do you have any suggestions for me regarding what breed of dog I should consider? I need help!

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

Ideas that sometimes work

Not much to tell today.

I have not been feeling well this week (since Sunday), but today I’m better than I have been. It’s my week at Dad’s and I’ve been keeping my distance as much as possible, very grateful for the help we have coming in here.

*sigh*  Even though all the above is true, I can’t use that as an excuse for not writing. It’s a shame, too, because I can really build on that! I actually have quite an active imagination. Well, I have been writing, just not anything worth mentioning on my novel – only a few words. I did add a third idea for yesterday and one today for PiBoIdMo. That gives me 29 ideas by day 20. Yay! A few of them might even be good enough to work into manuscripts. There’s one I particularly like about gum. (Remember, this is for picture books. :) )

I have all kinds of ideas, really. My mind seems to be working all the time, it’s just that I don’t always pay attention to what is going on in there. You know … I see but I don’t observe, I hear but I don’t listen, I go about my day filtering out way too much. I have to focus on taking in more little things that can add up to big things, little things that usually go unnoticed, such as the sound and appearance of water dripping, how snow flurries swirl around in the wind, what the little birds are pecking at or where the squirrel is hiding the peanuts. Things that we see but don’t pay much attention to can work into stories that fascinate a child. By the middle of PiBoIdMo (Note #35 on my blog list) I am thinking more that way again.  (Thanks, Tara!)

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Have you noticed something that you had not paid attention to before, something that grew into a big idea for a story of some kind?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!