Review: WRITING WITHOUT RULES by Jeff Somers

As a Reider – a commenter on (literary agent extraordinaire) Janet Reid’s blog – I was fortunate enough to hear about this book, WRITING WITHOUT RULES by Jeff Somers.

Now, I’ve read numbers of titles on ‘how to write and sell your book’, ranging from Stephen King’s ON WRITING to Chuck Wendig’s THE KICK-ASS WRITER. These particular two have stood out to me as the two ends of a spectrum, and many, many, MANY other titles within that spectrum have inspired me and encouraged me in my whole ‘get-your-butt-in-your-chair-and-get-your-novel-finished’ aspirations.

Not since reading Catherine Deveny’s USE YOUR WORDS though, have I read a more down-to-earth ‘just write, and finish what you write’ philosophy espoused so clearly. And it’s exactly what I (in my current “I can’t do this” frame of mind) needed to hear. And the footnotes! Hilarious!

Jeff’s wit sparkles, and I laughed aloud throughout each of the 20 chapters. The first ten chapters – on writing – were more applicable to me than the second – on selling – however now I’m in the winding down chapters, drafting Book 6 of a 7 book series, I can see that the latter half of his book may indeed become more important to me in the (hopefully not too distant) future.

As Jeff Somers is a client of Janet Reid’s, and as I am an unashamed Reider familiar with her take on literary agenting, it was not only a pleasing confirmation to note that her own views are firmly held by her client, but that the ‘inside jokes’ he made, were ones I am also (partly) familiar with. I smiled, I laughed, I took copious notes, and the fact that emblazoned across the back cover demanded that I:

STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND WRITE!

YES, YOU: WRITE!

made me smile every time I picked it up. [Because even though the blurb insisted I write, the premise behind actually being able to read the hard-cover book I’d been given for my birthday (thanks, Mum!) was that I needed to stop what I was doing – even if my current activity were writing – if I was to read the book!]

But it was worth it. Worth missing out on the writing time. Because it’s a great book. And it you’re an unpublished writer – or even a published one, come to that – you’d find this a good read. And if you missed clicking on that link at the top, it’s here again now if you wanted to buy it directly from Jeff Somers’ blog.

And have a great week, dear Reader!

– KRidwyn

 

 

Sipping from the saucer #27

I work at a Christian school. The pastor of the church which established our school has a saying: โ€œThe LORD has blessed me so much, my cup is overflowing (taken from Psalm 23) and Iโ€™m sipping from the saucer.โ€

I like the visual, so Iโ€™m using it here, in this month-long blogging challenge focusing on the blessings God has poured out on me.

And now, blessing #27: the books Mum ordered for my birthday – which arrived in time for her to bring when she came to stay on Monday just gone ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m partway through WRITING WITHOUT RULES by Jeff Somers – laughing my way through, more accurately. It’s a great read, and I’m learning about the writing craft at the same time, so a twofer and I like that ๐Ÿ™‚

And what with the holidays officially starting this afternoon, and my (meant to be) being on minimal movement in an upright position… having a second brand new book to look forward to is a wonderful thing!

Here’s wishing you a blessed day too, dear Reader!

— KRidwyn

Failing Challenges…

So I’m pretty up for a challenge, no matter the occasion. (Not sure what that says about me, but oh well…)

So at the end of 2016, when I completed my Goodreads challenge (2 books a week, meaning 104 books in the challenge, and I read 107) – I thought to myself, “No sweat! Let’s try for 3 books a week in 2017!”

Dumb move.

Really, really dumb.

I went back to full time teaching in January – but decided to not take that fact into account.

Whoops!

So here I am now, Monday the 11th of December, and there’s 20 days left to get the remainder of my challenge books read. 156 books in the challenge. 63 books read. Leaving 93 books to go.

Yup. That’s doable. Between 4-5 books per day…

Perhaps…

Wish me luck, dear Reader! (At least I’ve got access to well over a hundred Middle Grade books I’ve never read…)

And have a great week!

– KRidwyn

My take on the latest, greatest picture book…

I was given a stack of Picture Books recently, asked to read them, and give my opinion. Smiling, I agreed. Who doesn’t like picture books?

And although there were a couple that I recommended the library in question *not* purchase, one of the books in particular hit me as not only extremely well-written (and illustrated, of course) but with a clear message, subtle yet necessary, and BRILLIANTLY executed.

I don’t review books often – not because I don’t read (my 2016 Goodreads challenge is sitting steady on 77 books completed, of the 104 I set myself) – but because I don’t want to embarrass myself again with a recommendation for a book I’ve fallen in love with… which I later find out to be pretty much a blatant rip-off of an earlier novel which I’d never read. [This situation occurred earlier this year, and boy! was I mad when I discovered the original…]

But back to the picture book: my latest, greatest, most favourite of all picture books that I discovered this week is: THE FABULOUS FRIEND MACHINE by Nick Bland.

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-9-06-21-pm

Yes, that’s a chicken, looking at an iPad. No, I won’t give away any more than that.

If you’ve read this book already, you’re smiling right now; I know. Me too.

If you *haven’t* read it – go find yourself a copy and READ IT NOW. You won’t regret it, I promise. In fact, if you’re like me, you’ll probably say to yourself after, ‘I know people who need to read this book’. And you’ll tell them. The way I’m telling you.

Please, please, please, if you know of any parents, or teachers, or librarians, please let them know about this book. I can’t stress enough how much they’ll love it. Try it, and see. Bet you I’m right!

And, as always, have a lovely week ๐Ÿ™‚

— KRidwyn

Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’

I’m not one for political talk. A decade or so ago, sure. But since becoming a Mum, I’ve discovered that pre-polling (because voting is compulsory here in Australia) is awesome. Forgo the sausage sizzles and cake stalls, sure – but it’s worth it for the shorter queue. Less time trying to distract young children.

And so, having voted usually a week or so before the actual election day, everything after my slips of paper hit the bottoms of their respective voting barrels, becomes meaningless to me. I’ve done my bit, and my ability to influence the outcome becomes negligible. As does my interest in the matter, as well.

These last few months have been overly political too, in my opinion. What with the dramas on American soil, and then #Brexit, the fates of the Labor, Coalition and Greens parties here in Australia over the past ten days or so have been the straw that broke my political patience. [Give me voting for Ellen Reed in #TheVoiceAU any day!!!]

1747917718_7d941b5441_mBut I think what irates me the most (yes, I know I just made up a verb *cheesy grin*) is that the people in charge think that they can get away with hypocrisy. Saying one thing then doing the opposite is what we all teach our kids to NOT do, yeah? So why then is it seen as acceptable behaviour for our political leaders? Because when it all boils down to it, that’s where the majority of the problems come from, wouldn’t you agree?

The Bible records Jesus as saying, “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37, during what is now known as the ‘Sermon on the Mount’) and his brother James also wrote about this, in his letter to the Jews: “let your โ€œyesโ€ be yes and your โ€œnoโ€ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation” (5:12).

I’m guilty of ‘gushing’ myself. I want to demonstrate how appreciative I am, so I exaggerate. Or convince others of my happiness, so I use multitudinous exclamation marks. Whether I like it or not, such effusiveness is not a true representation of the way I feel – so therefore, it is false. White lies, yes?

How hard it must be, for those in the business of trying to convince others, to not ‘gush’. To simply let their ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and their ‘no’, ‘no’.

I get it.

But that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow when its from the mouths of our political leaders.

They, most of all, need to scrutinise their words before they say them. Because after, is too late. And votes have been cast due to poor word choice. And millions of lives are affected.

Just my two cents worth.

Dear reader, my wish for you is that you enjoy a lovely day today – wherever you are and whatever you may be doing.

— KRidwyn

CC image courtesy Anne-Lise Heinrichs on flickr

 

#blogjune wrap-up

I’m pinching myself. It’s July 4th already? Where on earth is this year getting itself to?

I have this funny feeling that it’s flying faster than normal because I’ve completed both #AprilAtoZ and #blogjune this year. And while I’m extremely happy that my tally for both was ‘KRidwyn 1, challenge zip’ – I’m also starting to recognise exactly how much time they are taking up! Not that I mind; I find externalising the more sane of my thoughts quite enjoyable. Hindsight, though, makes it easier to realise: if I spend my time blogging, then I’m not spending it doing the other activities which I could be doing. It all comes down to choices, really. Priorities.

And that was exactly why I found choosing 30 titles for my self-imposed #blogjune theme so difficult. What novels should I choose, over other novels? Why include A but not B, C, or D? (Just to clarify, A, B, C and D aren’t actually titles of books, but representations thereof. Although that sparks an idea. Perhaps I could write novels with these titles?! LOL… but I digress…) And therein lay my quandary. I had originally thought ‘Cool! Just post photos of the books on my bookshelves! That’ll be fast!’ But then when it came down to it: there are SO MANY more novels not on my bookshelves – for a myriad of reasons – which I love and wanted to include; in addition, how to cull the list to just thirty; and on top of that, to explain why I had included it… well, writing the blogposts took longer than I’d anticipated. That’s okay. Lesson learned. Perhaps.

And what about all those titles that I wanted to include but couldn’t? There were so many. Perhaps I could examine those next year? (But by then, I’ll have read twelve month’s more books…) Dilemma. Horns of, even. This will require more thought.

In the meantime, back we go to blogging weekly. Happy Independence Day, if that’s your thing – and have a brilliant week!

— KRidwyn

30 must-read books – #30

And today’s post marks Day 30 of my ’30 must-read books’ for #blogjune 2016. My last one!

#bj30

And what a novel to round out my list. Controversial both when it was first published in 1932, and still, this novel raises issues that sit uncomfortably with readers. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As I wrote yesterday, books that challenge us to think about, to adjust, or to be more firmly convicted in our own beliefs – I’m all for that.

As I tell my cherubs continually, KNOW what you believe. Don’t just follow the crowd because it’s easy. Be true to YOU. And the only way *that* can happen is if you know who you are, and what you believe.

Thus Aldous Huxley’sย Brave New World makes it into my list of ’30 must-reads’. And my question to you, dear reader, is this: would it make your list? Why / why not?

For those of you who’ve followed my #blogjune journey this year – THANK YOU! I’ve enjoyed sharing my faves with you – and especially enjoyed your comments / suggestions / recommendations!!!

And have an incredible day today ๐Ÿ˜€

— KRidwyn

 

30 must-read books – #29

I remember being an angst-filled teen. Who doesn’t, right?

In hindsight though, it was pretty cruisy. I was fed, clothed, dry. I was educated – well! – and had people in my life who cared about me. The values and beliefs that I challenged, I didn’t challenge too far, because I was happy in them and they sat comfortably with me.

#bj29

Ursula Le Guin’sย The Left Hand of Darkness took me aback, forced me to re-examine my opinions on gender and sex. It was, for me, the first time that I realised that a novel could do that, could stretch my mind in ways hitherto unforeseen.

What power there lies between the covers of a book!

And you, dear reader? What book first stretched your mind?

And, as always, have a fantabulous day!

— KRidwyn

 

 

30 must-read books – #28

As an aspiring writer, I’m interested in world-building. And Iain M. Banks does this brilliantly.

#bj27I first read The Player of Gamesย twenty-odd years ago. So yes, I was young(er) and more impressionable, but man oh man did this ever make an impression! The world-building is magnificent. Superlative. Masterful. And the story’s not too shabby either ๐Ÿ™‚

Have you read this, or any of his other work? Would you agree?

And have a great day, dear reader!

— KRidwyn

 

30 must-read books – #27

And from spies and courtroom dramas… to dystopian YA? Sure… why not?

I love Veronica Roth’s take on our future. Her writing style, too. And it’s impossible to divorce Theo James’ looks from the character of Four now… but really, who would want to?#bj28ย #bj28aI should also mention here that I quite liked Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games trilogy. Far more than Dashner’s Maze Runner take on it all – but then again, I really really REALLY don’t like zombies. (Here are my thoughts on Garth Nix’sย Old Kingdom trilogy, which is the only zombie treatment to date that I’ve found bearable.)

But Divergent / Insurgent / Allegiant? Fantastic work. *Spoiler alert* Of course Tris had to die. And although her death took me by surprise; it was obvious in hindsight.

And that made purchasing and devouring ‘Four‘ all the sweeter.

And with *that* thought; I’m gone ๐Ÿ™‚

See you tomorrow, dear reader!

— KRidwyn