Monday, June 29, 2015

Off the Bookshelf: The Fiction Writer's BOOK OF CHECKLISTS, by Angela Hunt

This is book #9 in the Writing Lessons from the Front series by Dr. Angela Hunt.

I kinda wish I had this book in paper, so I could photocopy the checklists and have them just sitting there as I go through my next writing project. This is common sense stuff, folks -- but you know how it is, you forget some of the steps because there is so much involved in writing a great book. And I still wonder how people can insist that writing a book is easy .... yeah, just the people who have never tried to write one!

Checklists, and a brief discussion of what needs to be done in each step, include: Prewriting, First Draft, Second Draft, Submissions, and even a checklist and discussion of pros and cons and considerations if you want to try self-publishing.

One of these days, I'll have the whole series, but the ones I've bought so far are very useful, and all worth reviewing on a regular basis.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Off the Bookshelf: A WINNING RECIPE, by Bonnie Engstrom

The full title is: A Winning Recipe for Meatloaf Magic and Love Everlasting. A mouthful, huh? Wish I had a mouthful of some of the recipes described in the book, which, per the title, features cooking quite often.

The story starts -- and throws the romantic leads together -- at a cooking competition. Kate is a control freak and Lance has some strong white knight tendencies, coming to her rescue from the start -- and maybe being just a little too friendly. At least, too friendly for a stranger ... who just happens to get on the same shuttle to the same hotel. As we find out soon, Kate has had some boyfriend issues, a guy who wants to control and dominate her life -- the kind who says she likes it when she protests his treatment. So when Lance kind of takes over from time to time, that irritates and frightens her.

I wish the author had put the winning meatloaf recipes in the back of the book -- they both sound scrumptious. This is a fast read, funny in places, frightening in others as Kate deals with some issues in her life, emotional and physical. If you like Golden Retrievers -- Kate's faithful sidekick -- and you like people who like to cook ... try it!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Off the Bookshelf: RASPBERRIES AND VINEGAR, by Valerie Comer

This sweet, inspirational romance by Valerie Comer was a lot of fun to read.

Jo is Green -- heavily into natural products, energy conservation, organic food, sustainable sources, eco-friendly housing. She and her friends have come to a farm they have bought -- and named Green Acres -- in the little town of Galena Landing. Their mission: Change the world.

Zachary is a veterinarian with a problem. He was dating the daughter of the vet he was interning for, and hoped to work for, but when her demands didn't match his morality, suddenly he was out on the street, with lies told about him, and no chance of a recommendation. Not good for his career. Zach came home to Galena Landing to take care of the homestead while his father dealt with sudden, serious illness. Jo and her friends moved in next door.

The clash between the health food girl and the guy who loves junk food is predictable in some ways, unpredictable and fresh and fun and surprising in others, and heartbreaking in still others. You'll ache for them both by the time they get things straightened out, in their lives, their hearts, and their souls. It's a romance, so you know how it will end, but it's the JOURNEY that's so much fun. Of course, there are more stories about Jo's roommates, so ... more fun awaits!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Off the Bookshelf: POWER ELEMENTS OF STORY STRUCTURE, by Rebecca LuElla Miller

Today's book report is on a wonderful little -- as in short, fast read -- book on the basics and essentials in writing. POWER ELEMENTS OF STORY STRUCTURE applies to all levels of writing experience. I've heard Rebecca LuElla Miller's name for years now in ACFW, and seen her name on various loops and groups, but haven't talked to her or communicated -- and I'm starting to think I've been missing out. She knows how to teach without making you think you're utterly stupid and in need of remedial lessons before tackling her class or book. Have you run into teachers like that? Don't they make you want to just throw down your pen or turn off your computer and walk away for good?

Miller does NOT do that. Far from it.

For beginners, this is a great book of advice and guidance distilled down to the basics, with examples. Planning, story structure, suspense and tension, the hook, assembling the plot, backstory, description -- it's all there, in plain language and simple explanations. Whew!

For those of us with more experience, this is a great refresher course. I like books that remind me of what I've already learned either by reading other books or by trial-and-error, and yet present it in a different angle, a different viewpoint, different words. Sometimes doing that makes things "click" and you get one of those "Ah ha!" moments ... and you wonder why you struggled so long. Yeah, that kind of book.

Read it. Learn from it. And if you get a chance to attend a class Miller might happen to be teaching in the future ... I'll see you there!