Update to Reviews Page

Hi!

I’ve added a review of the Sarah J. Maas book A Court of Thorns and Roses to my Book Review page. Please check it out. I will have more updates as well and I will be adding contact information to make it easier for you to make suggestions if there are books you’d like to see me review.

There will be many more reviews to come. I’m reading some great books right now. Yes, books.  I have a habit of reading several books at once. One to take to work with me and read on my lunch break, one to read upstairs, one to read in my living room, one to read if I’m going to spend a night at my sister’s house, and one to read when traveling.

Keep reading.

Writing Tip # 1

For those of us who write, whether because we have to (for work, school, or other similar commitments) or because we HAVE to (because we can’t NOT write) there are always obstacles to overcome. The biggest one facing most of us is finding time to write.

You will always hear writers complaining of not having time to devote to their work. It’s an awful truth that most of us have to hold other jobs and not actually live off the work about which we are most passionate. To that end, full time work, part time work, a combination of the two along with the obligations of everyday life (shopping, cooking, cleaning, dry cleaning, picking up kids at school or soccer or dance, getting the car inspected) will often keep a writer too busy to have any sort of time to write.

There are a lot of ways to deal with this. Some prefer writing retreats, which are a great way to go if you have both the time and the money. A writing retreat is a chance to get away, usually to somewhere secluded or isolated, and concentrate on your writing. It’s like a working vacation. The pretty little isolated cabins in the middle of nowhere are supposed to give you a pleasant place to stay but with a minimum of distractions. I haven’t done a real writing retreat. I don’t have the money, and I also don’t know how I feel about going anywhere that isolated. These places are generally in what I think of as Wilderness. Having grown up in a city, the only nature I ever saw was a park. The only wildlife I ever saw were cats, dogs, pigeons, sparrows, and squirrels. The first time I saw a rabbit or a skunk was a moment of sincere shock and surprise for both the animal and me.
So…what’s a poor city girl to do? A writing retreat really only has to be a distraction free environment. Turn off your phones. Stop checking Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. There are apps designed for writers to lock you out of social media for a set period of time so you won’t be able to sabotage your work by getting sucked into the minutiae of the internet.

If you have friends who are writers, talk to them about working together not necessarily collaborating on a joint project, but turning to each other for advice, encouragement, and goading each other to stay on task.

Barring that, try remembering that it’s not important to wait until you have a lot of time. You can write during your lunch break, while stuck in a waiting room while your car is being repaired or waiting to see your doctor. You can write on the bus or train while you’re commuting.

Carry a notebook or two with you wherever you go and jot down ideas. Use a digital recorder, app or voice recorder or whatever technological thing you have to record your thoughts if you really can’t write them down. Keep a notebook by your bed in case you wake up with an idea you just don’t want to lose. Don’t let lack of time be the reason you don’t try to work on your pet project.

If you don’t have a pet project, write anything. Write a description of what you see out of the train window as you head to your home or office. Write a scene based on something you overheard in a deli at lunchtime. Use writing prompts or even a single word challenge to get yourself working, but just keep writing. The more you write the better your writing will be. Round Robins are a fun activity you can do with any number of writers from just two to a dozen or more. Each person writes a bit and sends the story on to the next writer. You can have rules about word count or structure or have one single word, phrase, event that must be worked into your pages and working together will make the story run in directions you might not have considered if you worked alone.

Remember, you don’t have to be published to consider yourself a writer. You just have to write.

Welcome to my blog!

I’ve started this blog to create a place to make book recommendations and give writing tips. I also plan to share information on writing retreats, writing conferences, author events/signings, and anything else that pertains to a literary life.

As a writer, editor and avid reader I have a deep love for the written word and a deep respect for those who can use it effectively. I have a long list of books that I absolutely adore. I have a long list of authors I admire. For the record, I am of the opinion that you can admire a writer’s talent without necessarily liking the types of books they write. I will try to make my recommendations from as many different genres as I can.

The opinions I share may not agree with yours.  I have often ended up railing against books on the bestseller list and loving books that not many people know about, but the reverse is also true.  It’s just opinion and we all get different things from the books we read. American writer Edmund Wilson said that no two persons ever read the same book. Everyone’s perspective colors their perceptions of the books they read. No opinion is wrong. It’s just unique.

Writing is one of those professions that requires a lot of commitment. A writer must at once be knowledgeable about people, character, and place, and must also very often stand separate from all of these in order to have the time to write. Fiction, non-fiction, or memoir whatever the genre, the one thing all good stories have in common is that at the heart of the story, it’s about people.

Writers are able to find all sorts of reasons not to write. Lack of time, the need to do more research, writer’s block, a computer crash that destroys your perfect draft are some common excuses. I’m going to try to share the tips and tricks that I have learned from trial and error as well as from other writers to keep you on track and help you write whatever project is dear to your heart. Here’s the first tip, you need to find what works for you. I’m here to help.

So that’s the point of this blog. Books and writing. Writing and Books. What do they have in common? Words.

“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”
― Patrick RothfussThe Name of the Wind

 

Review: The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear, The Slow Regard of Silent Things all by Patrick Rothfuss

 

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The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss

There is a book, a series actually, that I find so good I cannot find words enough to persuade people just how good it is. The series is The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss. The names of the books in the series are:

  1. Day One: The Name of the Wind
  2. Day Two: The Wise Man’s Fear
  3. How Old Holly Came to Be in Unfettered (experimental short story)
  4. The Lightning Tree in Rogues (Novella)
  5. The Slow Regard of Silent Things (Novella)
  6. Day Three: The Doors of Stone (Unreleased)

Browsing through a bookstore in 2007, I found the newly released hardcover The Name of the Wind. I was intrigued enough to want to read it, but money was tight, so I decided to wait for it to come out in paperback. Eventually, it came out in trade paperback, but money was tight. I talked myself into waiting for Mass Market Paperback. I read that book so fast that finishing and emerging from that world was something akin to culture shock. I couldn’t handle it so I flipped back to page one and read it again. When the second book was released, there was no way I was going to be able to wait. I bought it in hardcover the week it was released. Of course, I first reread the first book once more so I could be sure I hadn’t forgotten anything important.) I have since bought a signed copy of the first book and recommended it to at least 50 people. I will buy the third book the day of its release.

Why? There are so many reasons, and I don’t really think I ever do the book justice in all the times I’ve described it to people. I’m going to give it a go here, but you need to bear with me. This is a circuitous route.

The Name of the Wind is literally the first book I’ve ever read that had one of those first sentences. You know the ones I mean.

Every teacher who has ever taught creative writing on any level, any writer who has ever read or written an article about creative writing, any writer who has ever attended a Writing Group, a Writer’s Conference, etc, has spoken about or heard about or read about The Opening Sentence. Yes, it’s capitalized. It’s the Holy Grail of sentences. People debate about these things. They throw out examples of them at panel discussions. It’s the sentence that’s supposed to grab the readers and make them want to keep reading.

Until I read The Name of the Wind I had never read a first sentence that quite fit the bill. I’ve read a lot of first sentences that seemed, to be honest, rather pedestrian. They were good sentences, but I would read them over and over and wonder why the author thought they were The Opening Sentence. When I read The Name of the Wind, I got it. I understood. I finally understood just what that sentence should be and what potential it could claim.

What makes this book The Best Book I’ve Ever Read (Yes, it’s capitalized.) is that every sentence is like that. Patrick Rothfuss knows his way around a sentence.

I fail in explaining to anyone what this book is about. Whenever I try, it comes across like a combination of Harry Potter and Oliver Twist. This book is nothing like either of those books! It does, however, have elements of both. Those elements aside, it’s the language that I found stunning from the very beginning.

Until I read The Name of the Wind, though I’d been reading and writing for decades, I had never read anything so powerful in themes and characters, and so gorgeous in language.

I’m not going to tell you what that opening line is. It’s too good for me to give it away, and telling you would diminish it because you won’t have the next line or the next or the one after that. If you haven’t read this book yet, run out and buy it and its sequel, and even the related novella. You won’t be disappointed.

The Kingkiller Chronicle series follows the life of a boy named Kvothe from his happiest early days through several reversals of fortune. He goes to a school for magic (that isn’t even remotely like Hogwarts) and though the places he sees and the people he meets are astonishing, the world Rothfuss creates is believable, detailed, and complex in a way that few authors can convey so completely.

I am in awe of the series and the novella, but I am even more in awe of Patrick Rothfuss. There are a lot of fans of the series who complain that he’s taking too long to write the final volume in the trilogy. To all of those people I have to say leave him alone. He obviously knows what he’s doing. His talent more than buys him the privilege of tinkering with the book until he’s as satisfied with it as I know I will be.