Category Archives: Writing

BOOK REVIEW: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

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ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

The instant #1 NEW YORK TIMES Bestseller

Named a Hot Fall Read by USA Today, Vanity Fair, Newsday, O Magazine, the Seattle Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Mashable, Pop Sugar, and the San Antonio Express-News

Named a Best Book of the Year by Brainpickings and Book Riot

“A must read for anyone hoping to live a creative life… I dare you not to be inspired to be brave, to be free, and to be curious.” —PopSugar

From the worldwide bestselling author of Eat Pray Love: the path to the vibrant, fulfilling life you’ve dreamed of.

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

MY REVIEW:I have participated three times in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where people set out to write a novel (or at least 50,000 words of one) within the thirty days of November. I successfully completed the challenge two of those years (last year I was close, but lost steam when I went on vacation the third week of the month).

Every year I do it, I think my writing is a little bit better than the year before — the characters are a little more developed, the story is more plotted out.  Also, every year I participate I ask myself a million times WHY am I doing this?  I have never considered myself a writer, but I have found that for some reason I enjoy the process of trying to write a book. There’s something within me that wants to do it even when everyone around me thinks I’m crazy. I would be horrified if anyone actually read the stories that I wrote during NaNoWriMo, but I keep thinking I might re-write them and maybe some day they’ll be presentable.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic was just the inspirational push I needed.  It has inspired me to finish (at least) one of the books I have already started. It also encouraged me to participate in NaNoWriMo again, despite the fact that I tell myself every year in December I will never do it again.  And it even motivated me to make writing more of a priority in my life, not just during NaNoWriMo. Why?  Because it is something I enjoy.  Will I ever publish anything I write? Maybe. Will it make me rich someday?  Probably not. But that is not why I do it.

If you are an artist in any sense of the word, this book is a must read. It isn’t just for writers; it is for anyone who enjoys creating something.  What is your art?  Is it painting, knitting, cooking?  Whatever it may be, Big Magic will inspire you to take a look inside yourself, to listen to your passion and to live a more creative life.

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BOOK REVIEW: Writing Your Novel from Start to Finish by Joseph Bates

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ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

Equip yourself for the novel-writing journey!

Starting a novel is exciting, but finishing it–that’s the real challenge. The journey from beginning to end is rife with forks in the road and dead ends that lead many writers off course. With Writing Your Novel from Start to Finish: A Guidebook for the Journey, you’ll navigate the intricacies of crafting a complex work of fiction and complete the journey with confidence and precision.

To maximize your creativity and forward momentum, each chapter offers:

  • Techniques to break down the elements of the novel–from character-building to plotting and pacing
  • Mile Markers to anticipate and overcome roadblocks like ineffective dialogue and “the unchanged protagonist”
  • Guidelines for Going Deeper to explore and implement more nuanced aspects of storytelling, such as finding your voice and the role of theme
  • Try-It-Out Exercises and 27 interactive worksheets that help elevate your writing.

No matter your level of experience or where you are in your project, Writing Your Novel from Start to Finish provides the instruction, inspiration, and guidance you need to complete your journey successfully.

MY REVIEW:I am surprised by the reviews for this book.  As of the date of this post there are only two reviews on Amazon and both of them are only 3 stars.  I feel like there must be some sort of secret about this book that I don’t happen to be in on. (If you know what that secret might be, please comment on this post and fill me in!)  Personally, I thought this book was excellent!

If you have ever tried to write a novel (or have that on your bucket list for “some day”), this book is a must-read!  I think Bates does a wonderful job of walking the reader through everything you need to know in order to put together a story that people will want to read.  It may all seem pretty obvious, but having attempted to write three novels myself over the last few years, I found the information in this book eye-opening.  If I participate in NaNoWriMo again in the future, I will definitely read through this book again before I begin and the worksheets in the back will be a fantastic resource.

I highly recommend this book if you write fiction and/or want to write a novel someday.

This year I will be a NaNo Rebel

Earlier this year I wrote a post titled “I’m back!” My plan was to begin posting regularly again on this blog as I had let some time get away from me in 2012 and wanted to get back to working on my book, which is being put together from the posts of this blog. However, things did not work out as I had planned.

For those of you who know me as the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press, I am also a mother of three (between the ages of 4 and 8) and in the middle of 2013 I moved my family about 900 miles. Not that I’m making excuses, but…realistically, time got away from me again.

Last year in November I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and completed the 50,000 word novel writing challenge on November 28, 2012. Although I have not opened that document since I last saved it on Nov. 28, I can honestly say that finishing that novel was one of the proudest moments of my life. It was a huge accomplishment to write a book and I am so glad I did it.

This year I have decided that my focus is going to be on publishing a book, and in order to accomplish that goal, I will be participating in NaNoWriMo again, but this year as a “NaNo Rebel.” What is a NaNo Rebel?, you ask. The NaNo Rebels are those who want to participate in NaNoWriMo, but work on something other than a novel, i.e. poetry, short stories, a thesis or a non-fiction book.

So, if you suddenly feel bombarded with my new posts this month, just know that I am making up for some lost time and working towards my end goal of publishing a book called “Book Marketing with Social Media.” If you are an author who has been following my blog because you are interested in the tips I provide for marketing your book, you are in for a treat this month!

Please post in the comments if you have specific book marketing / social media items you want me to address this month and I will get to everything I can. Wish me luck!