Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Review: Publish Like The Pros – Michele DeFilippo

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012
Paperback: 88 pages
1106 Design (June 10, 2012)
ISBN-10: 985489901
ISBN-13: 978-0985489908
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Have you ever wanted to write a book, but wasn’t sure how to publish it. Self-Publishing is a big trend now in book publishing, and this small guide shows you how to do it, and avoid some of the pitfalls at the same time.


I found this book to be very interesting and easy to read. I learned a lot about the various jobs that occur in the publishing process, such as the difference between an edit and a substantial edit, or a proofreader vs. a copywriter. The book was very informative in these areas, and if you are an author or dream of being an author, I’d suggest it as a good place to get started.

There were some slight drawbacks. The book is published by a company that works with you to self-publish, so of course they are going to mention throughout the book that they offer these very services. So while the information is valuable, I think the reader has to take it with a grain of salt and still do their own investigations and decide what works well for them.

I would say that it’s suitable for any age.

About the Author

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Rebecca at Cadence Marketing for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

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Review: What are you afraid of? – Kiki Howell

Monday, January 2nd, 2012
Paperback: 26 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (October 8, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1466394609
ISBN-13: 978-1466394605
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Drake – The big Dog
Zoe – The Old Dog


Drake is a dog afraid of Halloween. Zoe introduces him to a game, telling him that when something scares him to turn it into something funny.

This book was a fun story. Much of it was told in a rhyming prose. I could see the ideas it presented a being helpful to children in coping with their fears, or even adults. The advice is pretty simple. For those with children, I’m sure fears of everything from the monster under the bed to the boogeyman in the closet are a struggle to deal with. But the idea in this book is to turn them into something funny. Have the child imagine that boogeyman in spiderman underwear. While banishing their fear, this book also enhances their creativity, which according to the author was one of the main objectives of the book.

I would recommend this for all parents who struggle with their child and fear.

Please see our interview with Ms. Howell here.

Ms. Howell is on a virtual tour for BK Walker Books. Here is her tour schedule.


December 22 – Kick Off at VBT Cafe’ Blog
December 27 – Review at Loves To Read
December 29 – Guest Blogging at AZ Publishing Services
December 29 – Interviewed at KWOD Radio 7:30pm EST
January 2 – Review & Interviewed at Rhodes Review
January 4 – Reviewed at Sacred Legacy Reviews
January 7 – Reviewed at From The TBR Pile
January 9 – Guest Blogging at BK Walker Books Etc
January 11 – Interviewed at Reviews & Interviews
January 17 – Interviewed at BK Media Entertainment
January 19 – Interviewed at Writing Innovations
January 24 – Guest Blogging with Louise James
January 26 – Review & Guest Blogging at Mad Moose Mama

About the Author

Ever since she was young, Kiki Howell loved to listen to a well-woven tale with real characters, inspired plots, and delightful resolutions. Kiki could spend hours lost in a book, and soon she knew that creating lives, loves, and losses with just words had to be the greatest thing that she could do. To that end, she pursued her study of literature and writing, earning a bachelor’s degree in English. She then followed in a Master’s program in Creative Writing.

“After a long break having my boys, I finally just had to write again. And, as soon as I gave the stories the space, they entered it. It’s both awesome and humbling to find the words in my mind become characters on a page and create their lives.”

Kiki resides in the Midwest with her incredibly handsome and talented, singer/songwriter husband and two children. When she is not writing, she is spending time with her family, reading, baking or knitting.

Her biggest dream is to have a novel she writes be made into a movie that her husband creates the soundtrack for, and then cruise to Alaska with her family on the money they make.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Brandi at BK Walker books for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

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Review: One For The Money – Janet Evanovich

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

Paperback: 334 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (June 13, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312362080
ISBN-13: 978-0312362089
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Stephanie Plum – Former Lingeries salesgirl turned Bounty Hunter.
Joseph Morelli – Cop being charged with a murder.
Ricardo Manoso “Ranger” – Agrees to help Stephanie learn the ropes.


Stephanie Plum is out of work. Her car is about to be reposessed. She can’t pay her bills. She has one option. She begs her cousin for a job. He doesn’t have one, but his assistant talks her into taking on bond cases. She blackmails Vinnie into giving her Joseph Morelli, the hardest case in the files. Will she capture him and collect her money? Will she shoot herself in the process?


I enjoyed this book. It’s a good blend of mystery, comedy, and action. Most of the plot and story are not as much built around the mystery as they are around Stephanie’s whacky family. Her grandmother is a laugh riot, and one of the funniest scenes involved her and a chicken.

There’s also a lot of plot, involving Stephanie’s attempts to get Morelli into prison, and her trying to learn the ropes needed to be a bounty hunter. On top of all that, there seems to be a bit of a love triangle storyline between her, Morelli, and Ranger.

I’d stick this in older teens (post 13) and adults category, but a fun story, and definitely one where I want to see her further adventures.

You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books (June 7, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1594744769
ISBN-13: 978-1594744761
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Jacob Portman – 15 year old coming to terms with his grandfather’s tales.
Emily Bloom – One of the peculiar children, a friend of Jacob’s grandfather.


One of the main questions as a reviewer is how do I categorize this book: Is it a fantasy? Children’s book? Science-Fiction? I think it’s probably a mixture of many different types. The characters are strongly developed. Jacob is a young boy trying to come to terms with his grandfather’s death, and his questions surrounding it. He’s also on a quest of discovery. A quest that would seem to match Joseph Campbell’s outline of the mythic journey.

In trying to find out about the stories his grandfather told, Jacob is pulled into something much bigger. A battle between good and evil. A battle beyond time, yet stuck in time. Part fantasy, part mystery, but in the end, just a good story.

I think I’d stick to older teens for this, but adults such as myself I think would also enjoy the story. I think there’s most likely a series of books yet to come, and I look forward to the next installment.

About the Author

Ransom Riggs grew up in Florida but now makes his home in the land of peculiar children—Los Angeles. Along the way he earned degrees from Kenyon College and the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television, got married, and made some award-winning short films. He moonlights as a blogger and travel writer, and his series of travel essays, Strange Geographies, can be found at or via This is his first novel.

You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

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Review: County Line – Bill Cameron

Friday, August 12th, 2011


 Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Tyrus Books; NONE edition (June 21, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935562525
ISBN-13: 978-1935562528
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Ruby Jane (RJ) Whittaker
Skin Kadash
Peter McKrall


Skin Kadesh has been away at a retreat for a month. His friend Ruby Jane sent him there to help him recover from a near fatal gunshot wound. When he returns, Ruby Jane has disappeared. She left no word on where she went, or why? Thinking it’s uncharactertistic of her, he begins the quest to find her. This quest starts with a dead man in her living room, sitting in her bathtub.


The characters are well developed, though I’d like to have seen a bit more detail on character appearances. I’m still not sure I know what Skin looks like, though I know he’s not supposed to be particularly handsome.

He enlists the aid of her former flame Peter, and they begin in a cross country search. The reader can feel the rivalry between them, and the pain when one is chosen over the other. This isn’t so much a crime mystery, though there is someone going around killing off people connected to Ruby Jane, but more a mystery of uncovering a person’s past.

It’s delving into this past, where the true strengths in the story come out, as the reader unravels RJ’s history, a history of abuse, broken families, and the emotional connections that some people hold on to.

I think it’s a good story. On an age scale, I’d say for older teens and adults, due to a lot of the subject matter. I think if you like stories that are studies in characters, then you’d probably like this. It’s good for both mystery and fiction fans, and was an enjoyable reading experience.

About the Author

Bill Cameron lives with his wife and a menagerie of critters in Portland, Oregon. His stories have appeared in Spinetingler, Portland Noir, and the forthcoming First Thrills. He is a member of Friends of Mystery, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to LeYane at FSB Associates for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

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Review: An Apple a Day – Caroline Taggart

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Readers Digest (March 3, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781606521915
ISBN-13: 978-1606521915
ASIN: 1606521918
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Caroline Taggart who I’ve reviewed before, is the author of a new book called An apple a Day. This book is part of a series called the Blackboard series. In essence, it’s all the things you learned in school, condensed into smaller packages. A previous entry which we reviewed here was I should know that.

This book covers all the sayings we’ve heard our whole lives. An apple a day keeps the doctor a way. Out of sight, out of mind. A penny saved, is a penny earned. Ms. Taggart however goes even further and tells where they sayings originated or where they were first used in some form in literature or other writings.

Some examples:

Charity begins at home – This phrase comes from around 1338.

Beggards can’t be choosers.

She also presents the saying at times, and all the sayings similar or even the reverse for example:

All good things come to those who wait but the early bird gets the worm.

This book, I think, would be a great reference book. It’s also just plain fun to read, and to see where all these sayings come from. This is especially true I think, if you are a student of history.

Grab a copy of the book. I think you’ll like it. In the next week or two, I’ll cover two more books in this series. I used to know that: Civil War and I use to know that: Shakespeare. But in the meantime pick this one up, and see what you think.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Ruby at FSB Associates for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Review: How to write a Damn Good Novel – James N. Frey

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; 1st edition (December 15, 1987)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312010443
ISBN-13: 978-0312010447
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Do you have a novel within you. Then you might want to pick up James N. Frey’s How to Write a Damn Good Novel. Everything from building your characters, how to avoid stereotyped characters, Inner conflict, the Premise, viewpoints, and prose.

I took a creative writiing course at the same time I read this book, and most of what he told in the book I was also learning in my class, so it is good information and a good introduction for those who want to begin writing. I haven’t read or reviewed How to Write a Damn Good Novel II his followup book, which offers more advanced techniques.

As a reviewer, though, these books come in very hand. I might never actually write a book, but I’ll know a lot more about the writing process and be able to look a little harder into books, such as are the characters three dimensional or wooden, plot vs. story, etc.

If you are interested in writing and looking at just ordinary fiction, then pick this up. If you want to write Mysteries, then maybe look at his How to write a Damn Good Mystery, or if it’s a Thriller, he’s got How to Write a Damn Good Thriller. I think you”d find any of them helpful.

You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

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Review: How to write a Damn Good Mystery – James N. Frey

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; First Edition edition (February 12, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312304463
ISBN-13: 978-0312304461
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This was a very informative guidebook in the process of writing a mystery. The author takes you step by step, from premise, to character creation, creating outlines, how to plan the stories, etc. If you’ve ever read a mystery and felt you could write one, then I think this book would be very helpful. It’s certainly along with his other books, helping me analyze books more thoroughly in doing my reviews.

So if you are interested in writing, then pick this book up. I think you’ll find it helpful.

You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Guest Post – Shanda Sharlow – The Psyonic

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Guest Post On The Art of Writing – Shanda Sharlow

The Psyonic was the first book I successfully completed. Oh, I’d started at least a dozen fantasy novels, muddling through from when I had no clue how to write to figuring out about little things like copyright laws. I’ve got enough material from unwritten or unfinished stories (actual original stories) to write several more novels. Of course, the problem in finishing them was just that: I crammed so much information and so many storylines into one place I could never finish a story.

With The Psyonic, I actually started out with a very, very simple and short storyline, and worked from there. As it turned out, I actually completed the story and ended up making it much longer and complex than the original idea was.

Sometimes I look back at the story and think about ways I could go back and rewrite it to make it longer and far more complicated. In the end, however, I don’t think it’s necessary. Inspiration and conception should be simple and vague, an allow for natural creative growth. Overcomplicating things before getting started just bogs down the writing and gets you lost along the way.

And really, where’s the fun in writing a story, if you can never make it to the end? Isn’t it much more fun to get stories finished and find yourself with several stories you can share with others and swap around as inspiration strikes, than spending years working on one very long and excruciatingly detailed work you won’t really be able to share until it’s complete? And imagine how the sequels would be. Could you account for everything? Would you have to? Just how many should you plan to, and what if it’s not as popular as you’d like it to be?

Of course many of my favorite novels are extremely long and highly complex, but shorter and simpler novels have captivated me just as much when I read them, and more often than not, they’ve got plenty of sequels to follow afterward. And there’s nothing saying that the longest stories of all couldn’t be summed up in very short and colorful ideas. Think of some of your favorites, and some of the famous epics out there, can you sum up those stories into short ideas? Probably. And that’s probably exactly how most of them started out.

-Shanda Sharlow

Author of The Psyonic.

About the Author:
Shanda Sharlow began writing short stories from the time she could hold a pencil. Through the years, she’s scribbled down thousands of pages of random stories and unfinished novels that were eventually abandoned or forgotten about. In 2005, she set down to finish a full fantasy novel in the form of the Psyonic, which she managed in a few months. For awhile, she shelved the book without any way to get it realistically published. After Amazon Kindle came out, she found the opportunity to release the Psyonic to the public, and is now working on another full novel. Currently, she lives in Vancouver WA with her father and brother, and edits novels for other people when she’s not writing.

The Psyonic:

Hale lived his entire life in hiding, traveling through slums and nondescript villages, never staying anywhere long enough for the people there to recognize his face. Never staying long enough for anyone to ferret out his secret.

When he comes across a woman who recognizes him, he becomes the confidante of a Princess. Yet the halls of the palace hold far more danger than that of the streets, for within its shadows lurk dark mysteries and murderous intent. Desperate to remain hidden from those who hunt him, Hale must unravel the hidden machinations of the gathered royal families before it’s too late, or it will be more than his life that he loses.

Here’s Shanda’s Blog Tour Schedule:


January 10 – Spotlight Feature at
January 17 – Guest Blogging at
January 19 – Author Interviewed at
January 21 – Guest Blogging at
January 24 – Guest Blogging at
Januaary 26 – Guest Blogging at
January 29 – Author Interviewed at
February 1 – Author Interviewed at
February 3 – Guest Blogging at
February 7 – Author Interviewed at
February 9 – Author Interviewed at
February 11 – Guest Blogging at
February 15 – Author Interviewed at
February 18 – Author Interviewed at
February 21 – Guest Blogging at

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The Glamour of Grammar – Roy Peter Clark

Saturday, September 4th, 2010



Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (Aug. 16, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 031602791X
ISBN-13: 978-0316027915
Order from here:

Grammar. A word that’s brough many an English student to their knees in tears. But Roy Peter Clark manages, somehow, to take what is a very dry subject, and make it fun. The book is divided into 5 Parts. Each part concentrates on a differen area of Grammar: Words, Points, Standards, Meaing, and Purpose.

Under each of these sections he covers things such as when to use the ellipse…for example…when you want…to write like Captain Kirk. But when explaining these things, he gives real world examples, and keeps the reader entertained at the same time.

I managed to learn many things from this book, things such as the origin of some words, like for instance, from Chinese we get the word Ketchup, and from Arabic get words such as Sugar and Syrup. I also learned of something called a Contranym. I’d heard of antonyms, synonyms, and homynyms, but never a contranym. A contranym it seems is one word that can mean two different things. Examples are the word sanction which means both allow and prohibit, or the word cleave, which means tear apart and hold together.

While the author does lay out the standard rules he also lets you know that sometimes, it’s okay to break the rules, and points out authors that do, some having won awards for their writing.

Each chapter of the book ends with takeaways which highlight the main points of the book and summarize what he’s covered.

If you’re a writer, reader, or just want to learn more about grammar in a more exciting way then you did in High School, then you should pick up this book. I’m certain you’ll learn a lot of new things that you never knew, I know I did, and I’m definitely keeping this book around for a reference.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Anna at Hachette Book Group for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. Thanks to Anna, we are able to give away three copies of the book. See our giveaway here.

You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.