Tag Archive: on-writing



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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Starting as a writer can be very bewildering, and books, blogs, workshops and classes are full of advice. It can be really hard to figure out what is important. Here are some things I wished someon…

Source: Writing advice: what I wish someone would have told me when I started | Must Use Bigger Elephants


A Tale for the Time BeingA Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Over a decade ago, I met an online friend that would change or at least, modify my life. I met Judith on LiveJournal, you remember that old site, better than MySpace but not quite as social as FaceBook. Judith was chatting in her journal about Chris Baty and the NaNoWriMo scene (Which resulted in my first novel being written between the Ides of March and the Ides of April. I didn’t finish the novel then as we had to move to a new city and I just couldn’t stay with it. But I added more than enough wordage to that novel in November 2002 to “win”. (First of 10 or 11 novels since.)

The other thing Judith introduced me to was BookCrossing.com. The concept that grabbed me with BC was how my read book could be recycled to others and then the new reader and the old could discuss this story. The book could travel even when I couldn’t, so it felt like a message in a bottle thrown out to sea. It is fun to see where your book could end up and the friendships that develop over said book. I still belong but since my eyes aren’t what they used to be, I am happy for the invention of Kindle and other e-readers. So I release far fewer books nowadays.

Besides Judith, what do the above paragraphs have in common, and what do they have to do with ‘A Tale for the Time Being’? The art of writing and the art of reading. Both concepts play strong in this story. Rather than a message in a bottle, this message floats ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox in layers of freezer bags. The writer was in Tokyo, the reader/finder in Canada. Years separate the two. Yet a bond is formed. Oh, yeah, Judith read and reviewed this and hooked me in. I think she didn’t like the Zen parts of the book. I found that part delightful. I have to admit that most of the book is believable whereas the Zen bits are a little more ‘magical’. But the title twinkles with that magic. If you read it right.

Anyway, I HIGHLY recommend this book. I actually read it one and a third times. I borrowed the Kindle version from the library. Between reading it on my Kindle app on my Tablet and listening on my old Kindle text-to-speech, I managed to get to about 36% in. Then I found that my library also had the OverDrive version. So I restarted reading the book with the author’s voice. That pumped up my ratings for this wonderful tale. Each layer of depth into the story has its own built-in amazements. Level one, tree book, and the Kindle version, there are many footnotes and definitions to help with a deeper understanding of that time in history or that country, language. But the narration includes minor helps. Hearing a voice say the Japanese names or words adds to the believability of the whole story. Ms. Ruth Ozeki has an impeccable voice and narration, her variations of voices for each character supreme! I enjoyed rereading the first third with her help. I felt I gained deeper understanding just by hearing her. Please, if you get the chance to pair both versions, go for it!

By the way, I want to thank Jonelle Patrick and her Mysteries and website: http://jonellepatrick.me/ for introducing me to many contemporary Japanese subjects presented in A Tale for the Time Being. At least I was forewarned.

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Tears and Triumphs of a New Author
Tears and Triumphs of a New Author by Robert Thornhill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is for Kindle version ASIN B008ED36EC

Thank you, Robert Thornhill, for letting me read your book. I am so glad you had the giveaway day so that I could see the road ahead.

Mr. Thornhill has invited the readers in to view his life as a budding author. He tells how at the young age of 66 and retired, he found writing to be his passion, one he never knew he had. How this guy wrote so much and stayed so passionate about his subject matter and used just a finger and a thumb to typed two series plus this book, is absolutely amazing!

Since I have been on the road of writing through 11 books of my own, I understood that passion. But I must admit that I am a bit envious in that I don’t have a perfectionist wife to read my stories and get them to the next level. Still, I gleaned a lot of good ideas and feel more ready to start on the next steps.

I think all new authors would do well to read this personal account of the rollercoaster ride to publication. Robert never gives the opinion that he knows better than the rest of us. This is merely the paths he took and the lessons he learned. I found that refreshing.

AND this book got me curious enough to order his first book and see what its like. I’ve got to admit to loving the title.

My only problem with the book is the repetition. There were parts of his story that got repeated a few times. Being in the editing mode, I see that it can happen very easily. Hopefully, he and his editor/wife can look at that. From what I hear it is fairly easy to go into the Kindle versions and fix things.

Regardless, I will be sharing this book with writer friends of mine. We all need the kick in the butt to get to the next level like Mr. Robert Thornhill. Even this 64 year old youngin’!

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The Busy Writer's Self-Editing Toolbox
The Busy Writer’s Self-Editing Toolbox by Marg McAlister
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was short but pack with a lot of reminders about editing. Probably not the best book to read during NaNoWriMo but I took notes so I’ll be able to edit all my novels later. 😀

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2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love
2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a quick easy book to read! I came away with a lot of little nuggets that will be quite handy as of midnight tomorrow night. I have been sitting on an idea I started on during Camp NaNo. I managed about 19K but a whole lot of the story has resided in my head. Ms. Aaron’s book helped me feel there is hope for this little book. So, NaNoWriMo here I come, ready or not!

I am not sure that even with my Dragon Naturally Speaking I will be able to get that kind of word count the title implies but I will say that prep work before starting a book and daily prep work will help me get a better, faster, tighter story.

Now, on to editing. I had hoped for more. The author uses her own books to demonstrate what works and how to edit, but if you have never read her books it leaves one flat. Actually, that can be said of the writing faster part of the book, too. I would have loved to have a clickable link to charts or spreadsheets to aid the readers and other, commonly read novels as examples.

Still in all, it is worth the read.

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Professional Plot Outline Mini-Course
Professional Plot Outline Mini-Course by Holly Lisle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was an easy read. I took copious notes so that when I get ready to outline November’s NaNoWriMo I will be able to follow through. Though a lot of it feels like other books I have read on the subject, Holly Lisle’s personality shows through.

Ms. Lisle left plenty of examples off the top of her head. Because instruction given in other books don’t have examples, I find when I try what they present, it turns out to be quite a mess. Needless to say, I will not delete the book. I want it to be easy to refer back to in the next couple months.

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