Archive for November 16, 2018


Time to Kill the Cuties!


Since my characters seem to want to hide behind the boulders while the volcano erupts and the bad cops are shooting and no exploding Ebolic zombies are near as they should be, I’m being a bit of a NaNo Rebel. I’m adding the reviews I made today on my blog to the wordage. Otherwise, I will have to start being George RR Martin and start killing the cuties. Even at that, I’m two days behind. I know I will catch up and that I’ll be able to remove the non-story words, still it is frustrating!


Playing with Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American PoliticsPlaying with Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics by Lawrence O’Donnell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like Lawrence O’Donnell. He’s not my favorite. But I relate to him in that he is about Southern California where others are all in New York. I relate to him because he’s close in age to me. He seems to see things the way I do, most of the time. Not always. So when I had another credit on Audible I decided to grab his book.

It makes me a little embarrassed to admit that this was tough to get through. Not because it was a difficult read or that Mr. O’Donnell is boring. It is just… well… I lived through this history.

1968 is the year I graduated. The draft and Viet Nam were in the news and alive in our school. The boys who graduated the year before us were drafted. By 1968 we lost so many guys that were friends. So this history is painful. Oh, and if we didn’t lose the guys to death they went to Canada and we never saw them again. Or they killed themselves. It was a hard time to be a teen. In our high school, the spirit of our class was depressed. We lost most of the games. The year before and the year after the spirit was normal. But I really feel that that depression that lived in our souls was due to everyone knowing we might not see each other again. So I entered this read with that heavy weight.

Not only was this hard to listen to because of the death of friends, but we’d also lived through Kennedy being assassinated and the disharmonious political life was on the news every day. Listening to the political upheaval again did give me a little understanding as to what happened but it also hurt like reliving it all. As my bedtime book it brought dreams back I never wanted to see again.

On the other hand, if you didn’t graduate that year, especially if you are younger, this is an important look at that history. Lawrence reads and tells this history with reverence and his research was deep. Even if you aren’t his fan, this may give a bit of history to your political understanding. I know I am nowhere near politically adept, I like seeing how others perceived that time. Just like now, our families, friends, churches, and personal experiences color how we see our moment in time. It wasn’t quite such a divided world as it is now, and yet it was. Walter Cronkite helped us get through some of it but I can remember family members arguing about all of it. A Catholic President? Unheard of! The Pope will be running the show. Yep, I heard that said. People who were marching were unAmerican? Really? What about the Tea Party? Anyway, if you get the chance, read or listen to this and see what you can remember way back then.

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The Writer's Digest Sourcebook for Building Believable Characterwriter's Digest Sourcebook for Building Believable Characters SThe Writer’s Digest Sourcebook for Building Believable Characterwriter’s Digest Sourcebook for Building Believable Characters S by Marc McCutcheon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my go-to book for NaNoWriMo. It is great to set up characters for your book. I don’t know how others do it. I have a program called WriteItNow that is good for generating names. Other people use that program for everything. But I write in yWriter. After I have my names, I go to this book. I have tabs set up for different characteristics and I use a number generator on my phone to give me the characteristic according to the list of each page. I try not to cheat. If the character is very flawed it is easier to write them. Between the name and the characteristics, a story seems to emerge.

The beginning of this book has a character development questionnaire. I have found this handy, also. This is the best book to get me started writing and helps me keep writing unless my characters are stuck behind boulders and not moving. Then I need bigger help. Probably a sprint/prompt=sprompt will get my characters out. Or I’ll pull a George R.R. Martin on them.

If you get the chance to buy this book, you will be buying a treasure!

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Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life UnstrungGone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung by Min Kym
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Passion.

That is what this book inspired in me. The music major (piano/voice) in me was jumping up and down as I read and listened to this book. By the way, I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from NetGalley.

As I have often said, it is hard to rate an autobiography. It is their life, their truth. Even so, if you have practiced any instrument for any length of time you feel what the author feels about her violin. Min Kym has written a readable and relatable story. She describes her passion to play the violin in great detail. Stagefright doesn’t seem to enter her world as she is with her best friend at all times. Her life goes downhill when the violin disappears. I won’t give spoilers but that is enough. I have been without my piano (by the way, I have a love/hate with the piano) and worse found times when my voice didn’t work (bronchitis, etc.) and I know I was a mess!

I don’t want to rewrite her book or tell much more. I think musicians will appreciate this book the most but others will enjoy it, too.

The biggest thing that has happened to me since reading this is I want a violin to play with! I’m watching sales hoping. I know I might never get past Twinkle, Twinkle, something I did learn when I tried it a long time ago, but, I want to try!

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The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living DeadThe Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While I’m waiting for my characters to come out of hiding, yes, they are literally behind boulders during a volcano as Exploding Ebolic Zombies surround while being shot at by corrupt police… I thought I’d get some of my past due reviews written.

When I was telling my son about my upcoming (and now current) NaNoWriMo zombie novel, he dug out this book. It is an actual handbook that uses some well thought out ways to survive Zombie attacks. It is done tongue in cheek yet if you think about it, these ideas could save you during any kind of catastrophe. It is well-written. And the font easy enough for me to read during the day. But since most of my reading happens at night, before bed (yeah, zombies before sleep didn’t help much), I added the audible version so I could lean back and really think about what the author was telling us. Marc Cashman narrated this quite well. Though it is written in handbook form the narration was authentic sounding and keeps the reader/listener engaged.

I highly recommend this book for those who can take the humor with the survival facts. It will help my future writing as I rethink: how safe are my characters behind those boulders? And where is an exploding zombie when you need one to attack those cops?

Oh, just enjoy the book!

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