Monthly Archives: September 2015

Book Review: Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl – by Anne Frank

Anne Frank - The Diary of a Young GirlBook: Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
Author: Anne Frank
Publisher: Listening Library (Audio) 
Date: May 25, 2010)
Genre: Memoir; historical non-fiction
Pages: audio
Price: prices vary according to what format you want
My Rating: raw, real, tragic

I  “read” this book through and enjoyed listening to Selma Blair’s reading of it. Her voice and tone made it believable as that of a young girl.

Anne Frank was a writer, not officially, but a very good one who knew how to express herself well through the written word. Anne shared everything that was going through her teenage mind, all her worries, hopes, frustrations, desires,  fears, imaginings. She was a young girl struggling with her emotions in an abnormal way of living, while trying to be brave and making plans for her uncertain future. Anne’s relating of all she and the seven others in hiding with her had to deal with to survive for over two years in a small space was well recorded in what was, at first, to be a private diary. Of course, it would quickly become a stressful situation for them with many different personalities trying to share together. It was a horrible time for them, never sure they were going to be safe until the end of the war or if they would be found out. Unfortunately, it was the latter.

Imagine living in a few rooms with seven other people, both male and female, and not having a toilet that always worked, not being able to flush or run water or play music after a certain time each day because of the fear of being heard. Imagine outgrowing the clothes you were able to bring with you, or them wearing out, and having to make do because you can’t possibly go out to buy more. Imagine the few people knowing where you are risking their own lives to help you survive. Imagine being able to peek outside but never go out, and living in an attic space in the heat of summer without air conditioning. Imagine your food supply running out or rotting – and eating what you can of it anyway – or there being so little left you have hardly enough for everyone until more can be sneaked to you. Imagine being afraid and suspicious every time you hear a sudden loud noise; hearing bombers flying over; afraid the burglars who, at night are breaking into seemingly empty buildings, will discover you by accident. Imagine … life during a war, having to hide from almost everyone, including friends.

In her diary, Anne Frank expressed her thoughts regarding everything from her annoyances over petty things, to her hatred of her mother, to her sexuality –  graphic descriptions included. That last point makes this unabridged version not as much one for young readers unless approved by parents.

Anne’s diary ended abruptly, as – with no warning – her short life again changed drastically. If you want to know what it was like for Jews (and others) having to be in hiding during World War II, this book gives much detail of life from the inside of that.

You can find Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂



Photos that will amaze you

Have you ever had the experience of taking a photo that turns out to be more than you expected? Perhaps things changed just a little and it wasn’t what you had first seen. Or maybe it is better than you were waiting to capture.

Take a look at THESE PHOTOS. I am sure you will be amazed and humoured.

What is the most amazing or funny thing you ever captured on your camera?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Please adopt this school and help them get books!

Hi, Everybody! I seldom ask you for anything but today is an exception.

This morning it’s on my heart to try to do more to help the little local elementary school where my husband attended (never mind how long ago that was), and where in later years all our four daughters started their education in the system. 

There is a fundraiser challenge going on for high-needs schools, but only for a few more days — don’t worry! I’m not asking you for money — through which schools can win books. BOOKS! Books are so important and funding is inadequate to provide what the school needs, as I’m sure you realize is the case for many schools.


PLEASE, would you kindly click HERE to go to Adopt a School and once there click on ADOPT A SCHOOL.  At some point on the site you may have to sign up but it’s safe and not tying you into anything unless you want to opt in for updates or something. It is simply to record your votes.

Follow the links on there. Where you see ‘search for your school’ look at the list and click on NS (Nova Scotia). That will take you to the list of schools in NS that are taking part in this challenge. You will see Gaspereau Valley Elementary School – currently at the bottom of the far right column.  That’s the one you want. Click on it and that takes you to where you can vote. OR you can donate money to buy books if you want to – every $12 buys 10 votes!

Here’s ‘the thing’: the top three schools with the most adopts win books. Gaspereau Valley Elementary is a small school up against some much bigger ones, so there are fewer people voting. As I write this GVE ranks 11th on the list of 28 NS schools. PLEASE VOTE and help us make top three! Our children love to read and very much need more BOOKS for their library. It doesn’t have to cost you anything but a minute a day. 


The challenge is running from September 20 – October 10. Here is the page explaining how it works. PLEASE HELP. VOTE EVERY DAY

I thank you from the bottom of my heart. 🙂

Do you enjoy helping with things like this?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension”, part 32: Let Me Tell You About My Book…

Welcome back! For the rest of this year 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 and learn from all the fabulous segments from 2013-2015 by clicking on the page title WRITING THE THIRD DIMENSION, found under Writers’ Helps & Workshops on my drop-down menu. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments for Sue. Now for the topic for month thirty-two:


“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 32: Let Me Tell You About My Book…

The subtitle for this post is “The Query as a Sales Tool,” so I’ll begin the boring way – with a definition. A query is a business letter, sent to an editor, agent or publishing house, as a sales tool to generate interest in possible publication or representation of a writing project. 

That’s it. The query is a sales tool, and you – the writer – are trying to sell your novel, just like Walmart sells dog sweaters and J.C. Penney sells shirts.


Years ago, my husband and I attended a company Christmas party. I knew very few people there, and I’m not great at small talk. I was standing alone when a woman came up and started a conversation. After a few minutes, she asked me what I did. I mentioned that I was writing a novel.

Her reply went something like this: “Hmmm. Well. I guess I’d better go look for my husband.” And off she went.

I was puzzled by her reaction, but now, years later, I understand. Hearing about other people’s books can be a trying and even boring experience, and thus we have a gem of knowledge to guide novelists both in casual conversation and in query letters. Be quick about it!

During my writing life, I have written some of the most terrible query letters out there, so I’m not going to sit here, all high and mighty, and only tell you how to write one. I’m going to tell you how NOT to write a query letter.

1.      Do NOT scribble a casual note.

DO write a polite business letter. If you’ve never written a business letter before, you can find templates online that will give you the needed parameters.

2.      Do NOT start your letter with “To whom it may concern:”

DO begin with a salutation that is personalized with the agent’s or editor’s name.

3.     Do NOT begin with ‘I have written a novel.” Of course you have. That is exactly why you sent the query letter, and the agent or editor knows that.

DO begin your letter with your strongest sales tool. The first point of your query letter should be to “hook” or entice the agent or editor to read the rest of the letter. Your hook should be precise and quick, one or two sentences. The hook might be the presentation of the protagonist of your novel. It might be the location or the plot. It might be something unusual that you have experienced or accomplished which relates to the reason you wrote the novel. It might be that you have met the agent/editor at a conference or in an elevator, and he or she expressed interest in your work.

4.      Do NOT write multiple paragraphs describing your plot and characters.

DO write one paragraph about the book in which you give a brief overview of the main character (or two), his or her problem, and the setting or time period.

5.      Do NOT criticize another author’s work.

DO cite two or three other published novels that are similar to yours, and then mention what will make your novel stand out to readers of those novels and that genre.

6.      Do NOT resort to hyperbole. One way to turn off any agent or editor is to guarantee sales in the millions or the advent of an instant New York Times Bestseller.

DO give facts. “More than 2,000,000 people in North America enjoy the hobby of knitting.” (Which may be potential readers for your novel about a group of knitters!)

7.      Do NOT assume the agent or editor knows who you are, even if you are famous.

DO write a concise biography. This isn’t a resume. No need to go on and on about your education or job history unless that information is connected to your novel. If you have writing credits, mention that. If not, mention anything pertaining to writing – a writers’ group, a critique group, a writers’ workshop you’ve attended. Read the brief writer bios on the backs or jackets of published novels to get an idea of what will work for you.  However, be aware that the bios on books are written in third person. For your query letter, your bio should be written in first person.  (As in, “I make my living as a fisherman in the Bering Sea.”)

8.     Do NOT forget contact details.

DO include your street address, email address, and phone number on your query letter. I usually include those details in two places, at the heading of the letter (even if it is an email) and under my name at the bottom of the letter.

9.      Do NOT write one-size-fits-all queries.

DO enough research to know something about the agent or editor you are contacting.  For example, for an agent who is a dog-lover, you might mention in your bio, “I am the proud owner of a very spoiled schnauzer.” The personal touch reminds the agent or the editor that you are a real person, with joys and hopes and goals.

10.    Do NOT  be over-effusive as you end your letter.

Do be polite. I often end a query by writing, “May I send you sample pages and a synopsis? I look forward to hearing from you.” After that, it’s simply, “Sincerely,”

11.     Do NOT  wait overly long for an answer.  If you haven’t heard from an agent in a couple months, you can assume your query was rejected.

DO send multiple queries. The very good news for writers today is that the acceptable practice is to write and send multiple queries. Keep a notebook about where and when you sent queries, and if you received an answer.  Be sure to follow the guidelines for each agent/editor/publishing house. That can make all the difference between acceptance and rejection.

12.     Do NOT write a multi-page query. Although this post is quite lengthy, please remember that query letters should not be.

Do keep your letter to one page if possible, and that page should be well-edited. No typos, no spelling errors, no grammatical mistakes. Use a normal font that is easy to read. No fancy stuff, even if your novel is set in Victorian England. If the agent or editor/publishing house requests a hardcopy query, use white or cream good quality paper. Again, nothing fancy.

Good luck, and remember, rejection is part of the game. Many great novels have never reached their audience because the novelist gave up after a few rejections. A rejection letter with comments is almost as good as a request for sample pages. Agents are extremely busy, and any comment or suggestion means your query intrigued them even if they rejected it.

Next month we’ll address self-publishing — Pros and Cons. Meanwhile,  Strength to your pen!


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

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two bestselling Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy – all of which went digital in May 2013. She also wrote 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 October 22, 2015, for part 33.


What were they thinking?!

Have you ever had an idea in mind but just couldn’t seem to make it work? Have you ever seen a project that left you scratching your head in puzzlement? Why would they leave it that way, or why would they not see the problem in time? 

Sometimes one has to wonder … what were they thinking??!!

Take a look at this link … building fails … and tell me–

have you ever seen anything like these?  🙂

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂




Book Review: You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes – by Chris Hadfield

You Are Here
Book: You Are Here: Around the World 
in 92 Minutes: Photos from the 
International Space Station
Author: Chris Hadfield
Publisher: Random House Canada
Date: October 14, 2014
Genre: Arts and Photography
Pages: 208
Price: Hardcover: US $26; CDN $29.95;
       Kindle: US $13.35; CDN $15.99
My Rating: Sensational, stirring, amazing photography!

This is one of those books that easily qualifies as a coffee table book because you hate to hide it away on a book shelf. The photography in it is truly “out of this world.”

As you may recall, I am a fan of astronaut Chris Hadfield. He is among the very few famous people I greatly admire, so I was thrilled when my nephew gifted me his book, You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes: Photos from the International Space Station. I love it! It is full of the magnificent photos Chris Hadfield took during his last mission – from December 2012 to May 2013 – on the International Space Station. His view of the world from way out there was captured in many amazing shots. Out of the approximately 45,000 photos he took, the ones in this book are some of his favourites, most never seen before.

The book is divided into chapters:

  • Africa
  • Europe
  • Asia
  • Oceania
  • North America
  • South America

Each section gives us a perspective only attained from space combined with Chris Hadfield‘s wonderful way of explaining what we’re seeing. At the end of the book is a photo location map. “Every photo’s page number is pinned to the corresponding location on a world map.”  (quoted from page 194) It is fun to go back and look at the photo that matches up with the number on the map.

You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes: Photos from the International Space Station is such a beautiful book. It’s one I urge you to purchase, if only to get a better grasp of our mysterious and wondrous planet. You will be awed.

You can find You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes: Photos from the International Space Station listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!

How to write a Shakespearean sonnet with a twist

Last week I received an email from Publisher’s Weekly in which I learned of the opportunity to construct one’s own sonnet very simply and easily. And not just any sonnet — a Shakespearean Star Wars sonnet! 

Imagine that!

If you are a Star Wars fan, or a lover of Shakespeare’s writings, or just enjoy pushing buttons to see what happens … this is for you. 

Welcome to William Shakespeare’s Star Wars sonnet generator, originated by Ian Doescher. Check him out and his books.

All one has to do is answer four questions, deciding options for the sonnet, and then press the generator button. Ian says his math friend told him there are more than 2 quadrillion sonnets possible, given the way the generator works!

How cool is that!

I tried it and it’s fun and funny what you can do. Ne’er was there a Shakespeare sonnet such as these.

Have fun with it!  William Shakespeare’s Star Wars sonnet generator

What do you think of this?

Thanks to thee for reading, and Creative Musings!  🙂