Tag Archives: book review

Maybe Outlines are Good?

I’m still working on coming up with a plot line for my Salem Witch Trial book.  I’m getting somewhere though…Faith, my character, is starting to come together a little bit.  I’m seeing a bit of her family dynamic, and how it is that she stumbles into the past.  I guess you could say I’m writing a bit of an…OUTLINE! Ugh! I’m really not an outline writer…I don’t want to have too much planned out because I like to let the story flow whatever direction it needs to go in and if I have an outline, I’ll be worrying about trying to fix a square peg into a round hole (if you will). I think that was a little of my problem with my first book.  Like, I knew one of my characters had to return to the story to meet his destiny, but I struggled for a long while trying to figure out how that was going to happen, after he walked out of the story earlier.

Before I go any further with anything even resembling an outline, I think I just need to start writing Faith’s story and let the characters lead the way.

But, I’m also still researching…I have a book called Writer’s Guide to Places, so I can get a little information about Salem. Certainly I can do internet research as well. I’m writing about a place I’ve never been, so I want to have a little information before I begin.

In other writing news

Well, maybe not writing news, but I’ve started doing book reviews for IndieReader. It might be a good resource for my first book, if I decide to go the self-publishing route. In the meantime, I’m helping fellow writers promote their books with reviews. It’s fun and I’m reading some books I wouldn’t necessarily seek out on my own. This is good for broadening my horizons as well as adding some publicity to other authors. My last review was a children’s book. I’ve always thought I might like to write children’s books, but I know I don’t have the skills to illustrate it, so I’ve never given it much more thought than that. Never say never!

Writers should read

“They” always say that writers should be voracious readers. I’ve been taking that to heart lately.  Right now, I’ve got four books I’m reading (in addition to the one I’m reviewing):

We Are Charleston – written about the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church Tragedy here in Charleston.

Who Do You Think You Are? – for the budding Genealogist that I am. I had no idea that census records had to wait so long (75 years!) before they can be made public.  I never thought about the privacy issue. Now, like other long time genealogists, I’m not so patiently waiting for 2025 for the release of the 1950 census. I’ve sadly realized that the information I’m looking for about my grandmother might not be reflected in the census record.  She was 14 in 1940 and will be 24 in 1950…already married with children. I was hoping to document her time spent living with a family as a teen because she and her father didn’t see eye to eye. The census records will completely miss this.

Memoir Your Way  – in the same vein, I’m hoping this book can give me a head start on preserving some of the family stories and organizing photos.  It hasn’t been helpful for the latter, but I’m just getting to the chapters about writing the stories.

Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank – a book of short, humorous essays written about life in the south. These are perfect little bits to read during my lunch half-hour.

Meanwhile…

This is the look Ralphie is giving me because, dang it mom, we should be playing right now, not blogging!

bored Ralphie

He couldn’t care less that I’ve got self-imposed deadlines to keep! If he can guilt me out of my desk chair, he will happily do it. Do I look pitiful enough yet? No? Let me try again…you look away from me and back again and I’ll have something even better!

I better get to work before he DOES come up with something better. Poor little guy!

 

 

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I Could Do Anything…

I’m always looking for that one book that will change my life. When I started reading I Could Do Anything, I was hoping for an easy answer. What I got was over 300 pages of homework. In my heart, I know there is no such thing as an easy answer, but I can dream, can’t I?

That all being said, by the end of the book, I had an epiphany about what I wanted in a career. I’ve always wanted to write, but I’m also passionate about women’s history and genealogy. One of my favorite programs is Who Do You Think You Are. I love learning about the lives of every day people in history – the good, the bad, and the ugly. And my newest obsession is Charleston, SC history. Basically, the short story is – I’m all about writing and history.

Which explains the historical fiction book I’m writing. Now I just need to figure out a way to mix my interests into a job I can look forward to going to every day.

Honestly, I didn’t do all the exercises…I skipped ones that seemed too involved or that I just didn’t have any interest in. As it turns out, you don’t have to do every single exercise to get to the pot of gold.

You start by learning what other people in your life expect of you so you can begin to figure out where you lost your childhood love of _____. From there you will explore what you want from your job and what your interests are. All the way through, you are building an idea of what you would like your future to look like.

If you are still trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up, give I Could Do Anything a try. Sometimes, when you least expect it, buried in the middle of six pages of free-writing, you’ll find the nugget that gets to the heart of the story.

 

 

 

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Book Review – Quitter by Jon Acuff

My husband gave me this book for Christmas, hoping it would help me navigate the road from property manager to best-selling novelist. I love that he has enough confidence in me that he thinks maybe this book is all I need.

The title was a little misleading for me because the first chapter is, “Don’t Quit Your Day Job.” Not that you should never quit, but be smart about it. Through the rest of the book, Acuff outlines the things you need to think about before making the leap. In each chapter he uses his own journey from day job to dream job as an example.  He takes an abstract idea and demonstrates what he means by applying it to his life.

For those of us who tend to jump blindly over the side of the boat – before remembering we can’t swim – Acuff does a great job of encouraging us to take the time to learn to swim. Be sure you have a life vest and know how deep the water is. Do your homework. Are there piranhas in the water? Rocky bottom or sand? Weeds? Pollution? Are you prepared for each of these scenarios?

The last chapter includes a quiz with a point system to help you determine if it’s time to give your day job the heave-ho. Have you been working towards your goal for a long time? +3 points. Are you pursuing someone else’s dream? -3 points. Oh yes he did – negative point questions. It seemed silly at first, but as you read the 52 statements, you can probably think of someone you know who has, in fact, chased a dream because it’s what their dad would have wanted. You might know someone who quit a job because they sold one article to the local newspaper and thought, that’s it, I’m on my way. No point wasting any more time making someone else rich.

Acuff does a great job of making you think realistically about obtaining your goals without discouraging you from going after them.

Image courtesy of ratch0013 at freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of ratch0013 at freedigitalphotos.net

There were things that I read and went, “well, duh” but I too know people who have jumped out of the plane without a parachute. Some folks need to have it all spread out in front of them. In fact, I am sometimes that person. When my husband and I started talking about moving from Wisconsin to South Carolina, I said, “Let’s do it!” Ten minutes later, I had the suitcases on the bed and was hurling clothes into them from across the room. The cats were hiding under the bed eyeing me warily – this wasn’t their first move. They don’t care for it.

My husband is the logic to my daydream. He did all the research and made all the plans. He really made the move possible. All of us fly by the seat of our pants people need a feet planted firmly on the ground person to keep us from running amok.

But sometimes, the daydreamer in me can help my logical husband by dipping my toe in the water before jumping in. If you have a tendency to leap before you look, Quitter can help you plan realistic steps to your dream.

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