November 30 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: Jonathan Swift (1667), Theodore Mommsen (1817), Mark Twain (1835), Winston Churchill (1847), Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874), John D. Carr (1906), Margot Zemach (1931), Kevin Phillips (1940), David Mamet (1947), David Nicholls (1966), Tayari Jones (1970)

Jonathan Swift is best known for his book “Gulliver’s Travels”

Theodore Mommsen won the 1902 Nobel Prize in Literature as “the greatest living master of the art of historical writing”

Mark Twain is best known for books like “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn” as well as multiple short stories.

Winston Churchill won the 1953 Nobel Prize in Literature for books like “The Gathering Storm”

L.M. Montgomery is best known for her “Anne of Green Gables” series.

Margot Zemach won the 1974 Caldecott Medal for “Duffy and the Devil”

David Mamet won a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony nomination for “Glengarry Glen Ross”

Quote: (Note: there were so many good ones for today, that I’m giving you multiple quotes from today’s authors).

“Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.” – Ray Bradbury

“It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make senses.” – Mark Twain.

“The proper words in the proper places are the true definition of style.” – Jonathan Swift

“There is no such thing as talent; you just have to work hard enough.” – David Mamet

“I am simply a ‘book drunkard.’ Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.” ― L.M. Montgomery

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” – Winston Churchill

Tip: Think about your readers when writing your climax and ending. What would satisfy them? The climax should be intense, but should leave the reader with a feeling of satisfaction.

Jumpstart: The shoes were an impulse buy. Something she never did. But they were the perfect shoes for the perfect dress for the perfect evening. Except…

November 29 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: Amos Bronson Alcott (1799), Louisa May Alcott (1832), C. S. Lewis (1898), Madeleine L’Engle (1918), Sue Miller (1943)

C.S. Lewis is best known for his series “The Chronicles of Narnia” of which “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” is most famous.

Louisa May Alcott is best known for her book “Little Women”

Madeleine L’Engle is best known for her Newbery Medal winning “A Wrinkle in Time”

Quote: You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. – C.S. Lewis

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” – Madeleine L’Engle

Tip: Every writer has his or her own personal tics—mistakes made over and over again. Figure out what yours are and be sure to check for them.

Jumpstart: It’s the end of the world. There isn’t enough time to do all those things you said you wanted to do in life. What do you do? Where do you go? Who do you spend your last day with?

November 28 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: John Bunyan (1628), William Blake (1757), James Allen (1864), Nancy Mitford (1904), Ed Young (1931), Rita Mae Brown (1944), Alan Lightman (1948), Jon Stewart (1962)

John Bunyan is best known for his book “The Pilgrim’s Progress”

Ed Young won three Caldecott Awards for his illustrations.

Quote: “Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.” – Joss Whedon

Tip: Avoid TSTL characters—too stupid to live. These are characters who have no depth and no reason for being in the story except as place holders or they may lack motivation or do the wrong thing just because the writer wants them to.

Jumpstart: She climbed onto the bus, her bag in her hand…(where is she going? Is she excited? Scared? Sad?)

Spotlight: Amelia Wilde

Title: Extortion
Author: Amelia Wilde
Series: Controlling Interest Book 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Publisher: Dangerous Press
Release Date: Oct 18, 2022

Will Leblanc takes risks in his private equity firm and in the underground boxing ring, but nowhere else. Definitely not in love. Which is why he had to walk away.

Except Bristol Anderson needs his help. More than that, he wants to protect her.

But no one can protect her from him. He has a dark side. A violent side. She’s an unbearable temptation. He’s barely holding back.

What happens when the monster inside him gets loose?

Welcome to the Midnight Dynasty… The warring Morelli and Constantine families have enough bad blood to fill an ocean, and their brand-new stories will be told by your favorite dangerous romance authors.

This book is intended for readers eighteen years old and over. It contains material that some readers could find disturbing. Enter at your own risk…

Continue reading “Spotlight: Amelia Wilde”

November 26 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

PSA (Public Service Announcement) before I get to today’s birthdays, etc. I read three books this week. The plots were good plots in that they kept my attention, and the characters and settings were decent, but… the editing was atrocious. There were so many editorial mistakes in these books that I continued reading only because I wanted to know the outcome of the stories. I should have just skipped to the ends. There were tense issues (past/present) so mixed up I didn’t know if I was now or then. And continuity errors that had me shaking my head. And these were not ARCs. They were published books. And books that were receiving good reviews. Obviously by people who knew nothing about the technical side of writing. And yes, being an editor for thirty years might make me a little pickier than most, but still… In one story, the two main characters were going up a mountain to a tree farm. She was driving her SUV because she knew the road and his Jeep was too small. After picking up the tree, they were coming down the mountain. He was driving his Jeep. Or another story where “She took the tray and placed it on the table.” Two sentences later: “He took the tray and placed it on the table.” Same tray. Same table. Same scene. Another story – the main character’s name changed twice on the same page. These are just three examples out of many, many more. All three books looked more like first drafts than finished books.

So, as a reader and reviewer, I am begging you – please spend the money and get a competent editor. And by competent, I don’t mean your neighbor who has read a lot of books and maybe teaches English. I mean someone who can look for not only grammar issues, but understands the difference between past and present tense, who will look for continuity issues, who knows the difference between “bring and take” (a pet peeve). Yes, this costs money. But had these authors used a competent editor, I would have recommended their books to others. As it stands, I will not. Nor will I ever buy another book written by them. Fortunately, these were freebies sent to me in hopes of a review. They got the reviews, but I know they will not be happy with them. I hate giving poor reviews, but I will not compromise my standards. Good editing is as important as a good plot. Maybe even more so.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program:

Birthdays: Eugene Ionesco (1909), Frederik Pohl (1919), Charles Schulz (1922), Marilynne Robinson (1943), David Poyer (1949), Jonathan Weiner (1953), Vicki Petterson (1971), James Dashner (1972)

Frederik Pohl is best known for his science fiction novels. He won four Hugo and three Nebula Awards.

Charles Schulz is best known for his “Peanuts” cartoons

Marilynne Robinson won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “Gilead”

Jonathan Weinger won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction for “The Beak of the Finch”

Quote: “If you grit your teeth and show real determination, you’ll always have a chance.” – Charles Schultz

“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” – Eugene Ionesco

Tip: Surprise the reader. If you find yourself bogged down in a scene, figure out something that would not only surprise (and upset) your character, but your reader as well.

Jumpstart: “I really care about you and when you care about someone, you can’t lie…”

November 25 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: Leonard Woolf (1880), Joseph Wood Krutch (1893), Helen H. Santmeyer (1895), Ba Jin (1904), P.D. Eastman (1909), Poul Anderson (1926), William McIlvanney (1936), Shelagh Delaney (1938), Marc Brown (1945), Charlaine Harris (1951), Arturo Perez-Reverte (1951), Cresent Dragonwagon (1952), Mark Frost (1953), Jandy Nelson (1965)

Joseph Krutch won the 1955 National Book Award for Nonfiction for “The Measure of Man”

Poul Anderson won seven Hugo and three Nebula Awards for his science fiction.

Marc Brown is best known for his series “Arthur”

Quote: “Here’s to books, the cheapest vacation you can buy.” – Charlaine Harris

Tip: Do you have special abilities or interests (beyond writing)? Use those in a story. Your expertise will give your characters and setting more depth.

Jumpstart: I sat in the audience, totally amazed… (describe what you’re seeing, hearing, the audience, the auditorium, everything)

November 24 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

To all my American friends, have a happy Thanksgiving.

Birthdays: Laurence Sterne (1713), Carlo Collodi (1826), Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849), Dale Carnegie (1888), William F. Buckley Jr. (1925), Mordicai Gerstein (1935), Spider Robinson (1948), Ruth Sanderson (1951), Arundhati Roy (1961), Marlon James (1970), Thomas Kohnstamm (1975)

Frances H. Burnett is best known for her story “The Secret Garden”

Mordecai Gerstein won the 2004 Caldecott Medal for “The Man Who Walked Between the Towers”

Arundhati Roy is best known for her 1997 book “The God of Small Things”

Spider Robinson has won the Hugo and Nebula awards for his science fiction novels.

Quote: “Librarians are the secret masters of the world. They control information. Don’t ever piss one off.” – Spider Robinson

“I think, for me, there’s The Book I Should Write and The Book I Wanted to Write – and they weren’t the same book. The Book I Should Write should be realistic, since I studied English Lit. It should be cultural. It should reflect where I am today. The Book I Wanted to Write would probably include flying women, magic, and all of that.” – Marlon James

Tip: A good novel has to have conflict, but there are many types of conflict. Some are: betrayal, obsession, envy, revenge, guilt, loss, greed, duty, disgrace, cowardice, hatred. Can you come up with more? Use conflict as a way to motivate your characters. It gives them goals and reasons for what they do.

Jumpstart: We sat down at the empty table, our stomachs grumbling…

Review: Witch Way to Murder and Mayhem


Fiction, Cozy Paranormal Mystery


Blurb: To call Gran eccentric is somewhat of an understatement. She has questionable fashion sense, cough, can anyone say bedazzled Ugg boots and a tutu? But my Gran? She is awesome. So when she suggested I buy The Dusty Attic Bookstore I was all in, after all, what could go wrong? Try finding my high school nemesis dead on the floor of my newly acquired store for starters. Now I’m on the suspect list! Okay, so I just need to find the killer, clear my name, and pass my witches exam. Oh, didn’t I mention that? Yeah, seems the stunt I pulled on my cheating ex-fiancee cost me not only my job but my magic. My name is Harper Jones and this is not how I expected my return to my magical hometown of Whitefall Cove to go.

Thoughts: There are a lot of nonhumans in this book – witches, shapeshifters, fey, etc. This little town is populated with all sorts of beings – including a murderer. Harper returned to her hometown in disgrace. She’d lost her tempter after finding her fiancé with another woman, lost her witch’s license, and her job. Now she’s living with her grandmother, who is beyond eccentric. And has a orange cat familiar. 

And a murder to help solve. One that happened in her newly-acquired bookshop.

This was a fun book to read. Gran was a hoot and a half. Harper was a good character – this is a good start to the series. But… there were quite a few strings left dangling that bothered me – the issue with the female cop, the license, and a couple others – I know it’s a series, but I was left unsettled by some of the threads. 

But the ending was funny! I can’t wait to read more in this series.


Review: Rebel Without a Claus


Fiction, Holiday, Cozy Mystery, Romance, 330 pages


Blurb: Christmas elf Tinklebelle Holly is a screwup. Demoted to a job in the reindeer division after one infraction too many, she hates her job, hates her life, and despises the North Pole. But when a surprise visitor arrives from Elven High Council, and Tink is assigned to show him around, everything changes. Jax Grayson is a dark elf, and unlike anyone she’s ever met. Looking past his obvious hotness, Tink knows he has a secret, and the audit he’s supposedly performing doesn’t feel legit.After an unexpected tragedy occurs, Tink’s life is thrown into even greater turmoil, and it seems like Jax might be the only one Tink can truly trust. Can she help him figure out what’s happening on the North Pole, or will Jax be her worst mistake of all?

Thoughts: This was a rollicking bit of fun. I laughed, then I groaned, then I laughed some more. The world building is amazing. And the characters are wonderful. Tink is the perfect foil for the tight-laced Jax. And she for him. The story takes place in the North Pole and everything Christmas, which Jax doesn’t understand since he’s a “dark” elf and they don’t do things like Christmas elves. All is definitely not well at the North Pole as Tink’s good friend is murdered, and someone tries to kill her as well. Jax and Tink investigate the problems and uncover some things that have been hidden way too long. Not everything is candy canes and hot chocolate good at the North Pole. There were a couple threads left dangling so we know (hope?) we’ll be seeing more of this pair.

This story was a bright spot in my day (and maybe I needed this laugh more than I knew). It was fun, imaginative, and had a satisfying ending. 

Definitely recommended.

Disclaimer: Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing this ARC. I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Review: Shortbread Cookie Princess


Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, 257 pages


Blurb: Sophia MacLennan Porter grew up in an environment of wicked duplicity with a stepmother who was nice to dad and mean to his daughter. A series of events brings her to the upstate New York town of Highland Falls and her late aunt’s bakeshop. Highland Falls is a town of Scottish descendants, well-kept secrets, and the best shortbread cookies for miles. No one in this town is immune from the secrets of their ancestors or greedy developers. When Ian Campbell, a handsome Scottish research professor appears in her life, she struggles with the chance to put romance on the menu. Sophia is more concerned with the future of her bakeshop than the lives of her dead ancestors. Reluctantly, she finds herself drawn into his investigation of the history of her family’s clan.

Thoughts: I thought this was a sweet romance. I mean, who doesn’t like a hot Scot in kilts? Ian was a wonderful character and his relationship with his sister was nice. He’s a forensic specialist who is working on research into Highland Falls Scottish descendants. He is charming, intelligent, handsome… everything you want in a romantic hero. Sophia, on the other hand, did not appeal to me. She fought Ian on everything about her past. Yes, she had a nasty stepmother (I really don’t like that stereotype), but I would think she’d want to know more about her past. And what was with the granny? Yes, there are family secrets, but after a while, all of them became a little silly. Plus, it felt like there were a few strings left hanging so I’m wondering if this is going to be part of a series.

I liked the story overall, I just didn’t care for the female main character. But there was a satisfying HEA that left me with a smile. 

Recommended with reservations. 

Disclaimer: Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this book. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by anyone or anything.