Category Archives: Reading

Book Review: How to Make a Living with Your Writing – Joanna Penn

How to Make a Living with Your WritingBook Title: How to Make a Living with Your Writing
Author: Joanna Penn
Format: eBook
Series: Books for Writers
Volume: 2
Length: 126 Pages
Publication Date: June 22, 2015
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0
Summary: Joanna Penn gives writers something to work towards in this great book about making a living as a writer. This book includes information on self-publishing, how to write books people actually will want to read and buy, different ways to make income from your writing, and shares insights from her own journey from cubicle farm to full-time writer.

Pros: This is a great book, chalk full of good information for writers. I really love her take on the writing life and the writing community. She encourages sharing the work of fellow writers and creating good karma for yourself and others in the writing community. I love that Ms. Penn is passionate about her chosen career and shares what she knows with us in so many ways.

Cons: I felt it was a bit salesy with links on almost every page to something Ms. Penn had wrote and had for sale. However, she did pepper in links to thinks for sale that were not hers. So there is the feeling that she is just offering what she think will help her fellow writers.

Reader Warnings: None

Conclusion: I recommend this book for writers looking to make money from their writing. It is geared more toward the beginner rather than someone who has already got their start in writing for a living, but sometimes that beginner information is useful to seasoned writers too.

 

Book Review: Crush It With Kindle – John Tighe

Crush it With Kindle

Book Title: Crush it With Kindle
Author: John Tighe
Format: eBook
Series: N/A
Volume: N/A
Length: 253 Pages
Publication Date: December 18, 2012
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

Summary: John Tighe has put together a great little book for writers seeking to be successful selling their books in eBook format for Kindle. It includes monetizing Kindle books, choosing between niche and genre, how to write your book quickly, how to conduct research, writing your book, editing, and much more.

Pros: It’s very inclusive of the information needed to be successful on Amazon with Kindle eBooks. I especially enjoyed the parts about marketing your book and the book launch itself. Tighe gives tips on advertising, keyword research and usage, attention grabbing titles, why it’s important to use sub-titles, Amazon categories, and much more. It’s all useful information.

Cons: Some parts of the book were discouraging for me. Although they may have been honest, I felt there could be other ways to do what was being described. For example, Tighe recommends getting reviews for your book before you do the official launch. This would include giving away a free review copy of the book to someone in return for a review. I appreciate the fact that Tighe didn’t recommend making up reviews! However, this seems a daunting task as do other tasks in the book. Like I said, however, it may be the truth of it in which case it needs to be said.

Reader Warnings: None

Conclusion: This is a great book for anyone thinking about publishing eBooks on Amazon for Kindle. You can borrow it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited.

Book Review Video for Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Hey Everyone!

Happy Saturday! I hope you’re spending today with a nice cup of coffee or tea and a GOOD BOOK! If you haven’t read Gone Girl yet, here’s a new video I just made to review the book for you. As usual, my book review includes a summary, pros, cons, reader warnings, and book stats. I also posted a full article Book Review a little while ago you can check out for additional information.

If you read Gone Girl, let me know what you thought in the comments below or comment on the Video.

Happy Reading!
~ Eileen 🙂

YouTube Book Review Video for Gone Girl

Full Article Book Review for Gone Girl

How to Make a Living as a Writer by James Scott Bell

How To Make A Living As A Writer - James Scott Bell

Book Title: How to Make a Living As A Writer
Author: James Scott Bell
Format: Paperback
Price as of this post: $3.99 Kindle or $11.11 Paperback
Series: N/A
Volume: N/A
Length: 256 Pages
Publication Date: October 2014
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.00

YouTube Video Review

Summary: This is a great book with tons of resources on how to make a reasonable living as a writer. It does not promise a get rich quick scheme or other unreasonable methods such as writing a book a week.

Pros: This book is very thorough in the topics it covers for writers. James Scott Bell talks about traditional versus self-publishing as well as using a hybrid of the two. The entire book is stuffed full of great websites and resources for writers. I really love the LOCK system. I can’t tell you what it is without giving away Mr. Bell’s secrets, but trust me, you’ll love it! He gives sample writing and business plan information as well as even talking about making money from short stories and novellas.

Cons: There are a couple of places where Mr. Bell gets what I would call a little ‘preachy’. He goes on for a bit about exercising and eating well as well as balancing time with your family and writing. I get it, but what if you can’t exercise, already eat well, or don’t have a family? Thanks for rubbing it in! I agree with what he says, but I just think it was out of place for this book. There were a handful of typos, but nothing that is a show stopper. He also is pretty negative about social media, saying we create fake lives by posting pictures of us only happy on Facebook or other social media outlets. I found that to be pretty pessimistic, but maybe that’s just me.

One big con for me was that a lot of the suggestions for making your work successful included suggestions for tools that are quite pricey. For example, Mr. Bell suggests using a professional editor, cover artist, graphic designer, and layout specialist to make sure your book looks and feels the best it can be. I agree that would be great to do, but those experts cost several hundred dollars apiece. So the average writer just starting out and working a day job will not be able to afford those things. Practical tips on how to self-edit are included, but ideas on making the best cover you can yourself or additional resources for doing those things yourself would have been appreciated.

Reader Warnings: No vulgar language or content not safe for younger readers.

Conclusion: I really liked this book and would recommend it to my writer friends. I’m recommending it to you, my readers, so that is saying something! I really love the ideas, and advice James Scott Bell gives in this book and the resources are priceless. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Book Review: Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

 

Book Title: Gone Girl

Author: Gillian Flynn

Format: Kindle

Price as of this post: $2.99 on Amazon

Length: 434 pages

Publication Date: June 5, 2012

Rating: 3.50 out of 5.00

Summary:

Amy Dunne disappears on the day of her 5 year wedding anniversary. Her husband, Nick, comes home to discover signs of a struggle and his wife gone. The book is basically the story of Nick fighting the murder charges for his wife’s disappearance.

Pros:

This was a very interesting book full of wit and surprises. It was definitely a page turner. There is some great phrases in this book throughout. One of my favorites is when people are waiting around in the police station for some news and Flynn writes:

‘It was a bizarre gathering — the feel of it: not quite reunion, not quite hospital waiting room, celebratory yet anxious, like some parlor game where no one had all the rules.’

I loved that phrase! I could really relate to that feeling of not knowing all of what is expected of you, but excited to get started.

Flynn’s writing is full of great phrases and word usage as well as excellent characterization. There is a great cast of characters in this book. You really empathize with Nick and get angry with other characters who make things difficult for him. There is definitely a good connection built with each of the main characters.

Cons:

While I enjoyed Flynn’s turn of phrase, I was not particularly fond of her use of parenthesis throughout the story. At first I thought it was only used when a particular character was speaking, like it was their personality to have under the breath comments, or thoughts to self. But the use of parenthesis throughout the book indicated it was not a characterization technique, but a writing technique. I found it disruptive to my reading flow.

Nick has a twin sister in the story named Margo. She is referred to as ‘Go’ in the book. While this may be a cute nickname in person, I found it awkward in print. I kept thinking there was a typo in the middle of a sentence and I would get tripped up by the capitalized word ‘Go’ in strange places. And then I would realize it was referring to Nick’s sister, Go. Perhaps this is just my own oddness, but I found it bulky.

The biggest con of this book, for me, was the ending. Without giving anything away, I have to say that I was extremely disappointed with the ending. I didn’t feel like it really fit the characters well and it felt like Flynn was just ready to end the book. The entire book was full of well planned plot twists and surprising turns of events. But the ending was flat for me. It was like someone took a beautiful china teapot and put duct tape on it to hold in the tea’s heat. It was weird, awkward, and I didn’t care for it at all.

Reader Cautions:

This book does contain sexual content and extreme foul language (use of the c word is included). There are also adult themes such as murder, theft, and fraud. I would not recommend this book for even mature readers under the age of 15.

In Conclusion:

Do I want my money back? No. I’m glad I read the book. Don’t get me wrong, I did like the book. And while I understand that the ending was meant to leave the reader with a chill and questions of what the future holds for the characters, I just did not connect to the ending at all. I am not opposed to a non-traditional ending that leaves characters unhappy or dead or some other twist ending. However, I felt very strongly that the ending presented here was totally out of character for everyone involved. It was very strange and made me feel uncomfortable. I kept swiping on my Kindle thinking there was more to the ending that I had missed somehow. It was very discombobulated and disjointed and left me feeling very disenchanted with the whole story.

Read the book? Let me know what you think in the comments below! I would love to hear your opinions on Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn!

Happy Reading!

~ Eileen

You can also purchase Gone Girl on Amazon in these formats:

Hardcover ($14.09 Prime Price as of 12.14.14)

Paperback ($9.00 Prime Price as of 12.14.14)

Audio (Prices vary depending on your Amazon membership and whether you own the Kindle version or not. $25.95 to $12.99)

Mass Market Paperback ($8.34 Prime Price as of 12.14.14)

Audio CD ($34.00 as of 12.14.14)

iTunes ($4.99 as of 02.26.15)

In Memory of Maya Angelou

I grew up hearing her name with reverence in a home that loved literature. In school, we read her poems and heard of her great writing talents. It was a name I was familiar with as a child and grew to admire and respect as an adult who loved to read and strove to write. Born Marguerite Annie Johnson in April of 1928, she was dubbed ‘Maya’ by her brother, Bailey, who could not pronounce her name and wanted to call her ‘Mine’. Her debut autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ was published for the first time in 1969 when she was 41 years old and had already seen and lived through more than most of us ever think we will and never should.

Many people thought of Maya Angelou as just a writer but she was so much more. Her early years were spent in many vocations including dancer and singer. She traveled the world teaching and learning. She met and worked with both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr on the journey for civil rights and equality. She directed a major motion picture with Down in the Delta starring Wesley Snipes. She has been a teacher, a mother, a friend, and an inspiration. She will be sorely missed in the world and in our hearts but her memory and her works will bring joy to others for centuries and we were blessed to have had her among us.

Maya Angelou Quote

Flash Fiction Online

Flash Fiction

If you follow my blog at all, you know that I occasionally post a piece of micro or flash fiction here. Some people may not understand what a very short story or piece of writing is for or what to do with it. It’s there to enjoy, to simply read and maybe think about as you move through your day. I use flash fiction as inspiration. I use oneword.com to write most of my micro fiction. The site gives you a word and then 60 seconds to write whatever comes to your mind. It’s very inspirational and there is a great sense of satisfaction when you are finished with the piece. You can choose to continue it and polish it up from there, but I usually post the raw results.

Although there is some debate in the writing community about the length of flash fiction, generally it is a piece of fiction that is between 500 and 1,000 words long. However, some sources say a flash fiction story can be as low as 300 words and as high as 1,500 words. If you’re writing for your own enjoyment, that word count doesn’t matter. But if you’re writing for a publication, make sure you check their word count requirements for flash fiction.

While Googling ‘flash fiction online’ the other day, I realized there is actually a publication called Flash Fiction Online. Not only does it exist, but it’s really great. You can read flash fiction on their website, read copies on your kindle, subscribe to a print version of the magazine, and you can also submit your own flash fiction for publication. (If you don’t have a Kindle, you can purchase one here. If you don’t want to purchase one and have a tablet or smart phone, you can get a free Kindle app here.)

The thing about flash fiction, for me, is that it is addictive. I love short stories and have always been drawn to them. They give an immediate sense of success when you complete the story in a short amount of time. For busy people, short stories and flash fiction are little bites of literature that we can enjoy on a daily basis, without having to worry about forgetting what happened four days ago when we read for five minutes between meetings at work. It’s instant gratification that feeds my soul in bite sized pieces.

Flash Fiction Online is definitely a smorgasbord of delight for the flash fiction lover. Since I found the site, I have bookmarked it and read just about every story they currently have on their website. You can read past issues on their website as well. It’s only $9.99 for a year subscription to print (12 issues) or $0.99 per issue for Kindle purchases. It’s very affordable and extremely enjoyable.

Flash Fiction, as a whole, is a fairly new thing in the writing and reading world. My research indicates that the first real use of the term was in 1992 with the publication of a book called, ‘Flash Fiction: 72 Very Short Stories’. None of the 72 stories in the book are more than 750 words and it was hugely popular and still is to those who know of its existence.

So there’s a brief look into the world of flash fiction, a ‘flash look’ if you’ll be so kind as to indulge me. Check it out if you haven’t already, I think you’ll like it. Let me know what you think of flash fiction in the comments.

Happy Reading and Writing!
~ Eileen 🙂

 

Book Review: The Poets and Writers Guide to Literary Agents

The Poets and Writers Guide to Literary Agents

Book Title: Poets and Writers Guide to Literary Agents

Author: Cathie Beck, Amy Klein, John B. Thompson, Jofie Ferrari-Adler, Eryn Loeb

Format: Kindle

Price as of this post: $4.99 on Amazon

Length: 62 pages

Publication Date: February 15, 2011

Rating: 4.50 out of 5.00

Summary:

This book is a collection of articles from literary agents with tips and hints for the author who wants to land an agent. I found the insight and tips very helpful and plan to put a lot of the information to good use.

If you’re anything like me, you get bored reading ‘scholarly’ or ‘educational’ information. I need to know the details of how to find a good agent, where the agents are looking, and how best to approach an agent but it’s not as exciting as a piece of fiction. This book, with its collection of essays, articles, and interview snippets, allowed me to get the information I needed in bit sized pieces so I was not overwhelmed and did not lose my place.

If you are looking for information on obtaining an agent, this is a good read.

Here’s the official book description from Amazon.com:

Searching for an agent?

Poets & Writers is here to help. A collection of articles edited by the staff of Poets & Writers Magazine, this handy resource includes straightforward advice from professionals in the literary field and additional resources with insider tips.

This practical guide will give you everything you need to understand what agents do, what you can expect from them, and how to find the best agent for you and your work:

Where agents search for new talent
Tips on how to secure an agent
What agents look for in the first few pages of a submission
How to follow up with an agent after you’ve submitted your work
The agent’s role in today’s publishing industry
How to know when the time has come to dissolve a relationship with an agent

The Poets And Writers Guide To Literary Agents

If you read it or have read it in the past, let me know what you think of this book in the comments below.

Happy Writing & Reading!

~ Eileen 🙂

How to Use Story Dice as Writing Prompts

I love finding new writing tools. I found an app on for my iPhone that is story dice. You’ve probably heard of Story Dice. They have pictures on them and you roll the dice and try to use the pictures in your story or other writing piece.  The app I have been using is from Thinkamingo and it cost me $1.99 from the App Store. I like it because I can set the app to roll up to 10 dice if I want to.

Story DiceI love the idea of story dice. You can use one picture in each paragraph, use it to think up a title, characteristics, almost anything. They are very versatile. So this week I rolled 3 dice and got a Tree, a Couple, and an Umbrella.

So here’s what I wrote:

We were married beneath the reaching branches of a majestic oak tree but when you were buried I stood alone beneath an umbrella. I’m ashamed to admit that part of me was glad you were gone. Now I had no one to hold me back from my mission, no one to keep safe and no one to care if I was not.

I had loved in your life like I had loved no other and now in death your memory made me soft and so I cast it aside and said goodbye. I didn’t need you where I was going and I certainly didn’t want you there. I closed my umbrella and left it with you.

Walking to the waiting car the rain poured all around me, dropping to the already wet ground. My feet sloshed through the soggy grass, mud coming up and over the side of my loafers. Instead of overflowing, I took it in.

The car door opened as I approached and I bent to get in. In the dry interior I felt like a fish out of water. A handkerchief was handed to me and I took it in silence. I held it feeling the smooth material between my fingers.

 

Happy Reading!

~ Eileen 🙂

NaNoWriMo Progress: 21,600 Words!

Hey everyone!

In case you didn’t know, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year. This is day 7 and I just logged my updated word count at 21,600.

I am ahead of schedule and last weekend’s goal of 5,000 words each day kind of kicked my booty, so this weekend, I’m sticking to my 2,000 words per day goal. Check out my dashboard, yo!

DaySevenStats

I’ve finished my 2,000 words for today, finishing 2,147 as indicated on my dashboard. I also have a word goal that I set per chapter in my Scrivener application and when I reach it, the bar turns green, so I know I’ve hit my mark.

Here’s a shot of a snippet from the end of Chapter 10, heading into Part II of the novel where the meat happens. Underneath, you can see the chapter word count and on the bottom right, you can see my goal bar is green ’cause I’m a good girl and did all my words today. 🙂

ScrivinerBar

Are any of you participating in NaNo this year? How’s it going? If you need some inspiration, check out my Resources Page for writing prompts, ideas and other resources. I’m so proud of myself for sticking to my goals and meeting my daily goals every day so far. I won’t lie, it’s hard work and I’m tired. But it will be SO worth it once November is over and I have the completed first novel in my series (series? Yes, series!) of novels to come. And I’m so proud of YOU for participating and hanging in there. If you’ve fallen behind in your goals, it’s not too late to get caught up. Just dedicate some time to writing this weekend and you’ll be back in the game!

Happy Writing!

~ Eileen 🙂