Monday, July 27, 2015

Checklist for a Nasty Review

If you're going to write a real humdinger of a review for a book that triggered your gag reflex, here's a little friendly advice for you . . .

Have a Valid Point
Just because you hated the cover is not a solid reason to hate the book. You can rail all you like against the choice of model, colors, or font, but that bluster is not going to be taken as a serious commentary on the story.

Get an Editor
My favorite bad reviews are the ones that can barely spell basic English words. Really? You want to say the writer is an "ideot," because if you do, you should probably figure out that it's spelled "idiot" or you look like the imbecile.

Don't Crucify
If you have a hangup about Christianity, then guess what, little honcho . .  you should probably not read Christian fiction. Just sayin'.

Be Careful About Going Off Half-cocked
Never admit you didn't actually finish reading the book. How do you know things didn't turn around in, oh, say the last 3/4 of the story if you only read the freaking first chapter, hmm?

For Sweet Mercy's Sake, Check the Dang Title
Take the time to clarify that you're writing your angry review for a book you're really angry about. You look like a dork when you lambaste the wrong story.

Sometimes one-star reviews are my favorite form of entertainment. Sheesh.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Gratitude


"Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever God gives.
Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to His grace."
~ Ann Voskamp

Question of the Week:
How thankful are you for whatever God gives?

No really, think on that for a minute. Just sixty seconds. We all need a thorough heart examination every now and then.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Book Store Love

A photo posted by BOOK AND BED TOKYO (@bookandbedtokyo) on
My idea of a hot date is chocolate in pretty much any format and hours upon hours in a bookstore. Ahh. Just thinking about walking through a bookstore door, sniffing that paper an ink smell . . . yeah, that's what I'm talkin' 'bout. I'd sleep there, if they'd let me, but every time I try dragging in my blankie and pillow, I get kicked out.

But apparently I've been visiting the wrong bookstores, because in Tokyo, there's a new hotel option available: Book and Bed. Opening in September, this bookstore/hostel has beds set up next to the store's bookshelves. Shoppers can visit during the day, and if they want to stay the night, they can pony up a little extra cash and sleep in one of the bookstore's bunks. And yes, they can read, read, read. Sounds like a deal to me.

Unless the books are all in Japanese.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Stages of Writing a Book

I recently typed "The End" on my novella. Yep. 20,000 words that hopefully make some kind of sense. That's pretty much how every author feels when they finish a manuscript. Curious about the whole emotional journey? Here's an infographic I made. Feel free to steal it if you want to.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Elements of a Good Book

As I was just about dozing off to sleep last night, hubby elbows me and asks, "Hey, how do you write a good book? What are the top 3 elements?"

I replied with a snore, hoping he'd think I was sleeping.

He nudged me again. Gah! So, rather than discussing the building blocks of a great story at midnight, I told him I'd do a blog post on it.

How's that for a segue? Yeah, kind of lame, but it's the best one I've got and I did promise him, so here we go, kids. Buckle up and strap on your helmet.

Top 3 Elements of a Good Book

1. Connect at an emotional level.
All authors and readers have one thing in common: they're human. Humans have emotions. I don't care if you gargle with razor blades just for fun because you're tough. Unless you're a psychopath, you will cry if you see a puppy kicked to death. A good book will crack you open and play a tune on your heartstrings, leaving a mark long after you've closed the cover.

2. Freshen things up.
Good story writing makes a reader finish a book. Great story writing makes a reader sit up and beg for more. How do you go from good to great? Describe mundane things in a fresh, new way. Don't tell me the man had rotten teeth, tell me that his teeth looked as if he dipped them in mouse-colored velvet. Eew! Now there's a word picture you won't soon forget.

3. Twist the plot.
Would you like to wake up every morning for five years and eat oatmeal? I'm guessing not. Why? Because no one likes predictability (and there is the off-chance that you don't like oatmeal, either). Surprise is the name of the game, baby. Readers love it when a curve ball in the plot throws them off balance, something they didn't see coming.

Think about one of your favorite books. See if you can identify these three elements in it. Here's my example:

JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte

1. Emotional Level
I connect with her because she's a fiercely independent individual yet gives in to moments of self-doubt.

2. Fresh Prose
"Jane, be still; don't struggle so like a wild, frantic bird, that is rending its own plumage in its desperation."
Love that she's compared to a frantic bird. I can see that image in my mind.

3. Plot Twist
I did not expect Mr. Rochester to get blinded and who knew that Bertha was up in the attic?

So there you have it. If you want to write a good book, incorporate those three elements and you'll connect a deep level with your reader.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Visit to Crazy Town

I've got a lot on my plate, and I'm not talking BBQ. I'm teaching a new English class this fall, I've got several story irons in the fire, I'm in the middle of a landscaping project, there's the back forty to plow and if I don't get my fanny over to Target and buy some new underwear, well, let's just say things ain't gonna be pretty around here. Yep. Life can be crazy nuts sometimes, so here are a few coping skills that just might get you by . . .

3 Ways To Beat Stress

Eat
Yeah, I know. This sounds like a stupid made-up coping mechanism to deal with stress just because I love me a good bean burrito from Chipotle. But no, Ke-mo Sah-bee, I'm not foolin' with ya. Taking a lunch break is good for your body and your mind. Check out this little article: If You Think You're Productive During Lunch, Think Again.

Breathe
Andrew Weil, MD, has a 4-7-8 breathing trick that leaches stress from your lungs. Go ahead, give it a whirl . . .
1. Exhale completely through your mouth making a whoosh sound.
2. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose for a mental count of four.
3. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
4. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
5. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle 3 more times for a total of four breaths.
What did you think? Want to try another one? Check out his Three Breathing Exercises article.

Walk
Walking improves creativity, but don't take my word for it. The brains at Stanford University say so too. Their study showed that a person's creative output increased by 60% when walking. And if you're interested in reading more about the study, click here.

If your schedule is as whacked out as mine, give these 3 stress-relievers a try. Personally, I like the lunch one the best.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Don't Overthink It


Every now and then, my husband tosses around the idea of writing a book. He's got a great idea for a dystopian story, but my guess is that he'll probably never write it. Why? Because he wants to figure everything out before he starts it.

Writing a book doesn't work that way.

Oh, don't get me wrong . . . you need to have some kind of a handle on research. It would never do to set your story in Minneapolis then write that the Columbia River runs through it. You'd need to know that it's the Mississippi. But you wouldn't need to know all the species of fish that live in it, what the water composition is made of, or the ratio of silt to sand to rock.

Too much research straitjackets a writer.

Maybe, toward the end of the story, if you had your main character go fishing in the Mississippi, then you could check out what kind of a fish he might land. But guess what? You can cross that bridge if and when you get to it.

Too many writer wannabes stall out when they start overthinking the process. Writing is art. Yeah, there are some rules you need to know to make things coherent, but other than that, it's subjective.

Don't let the fear of imperfection keep you from trying.


 
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