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All posts for the month August, 2015

The Scoundrel and the Debutante review

Published August 26, 2015 by francesothomas

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The Scoundrel and the Debutante by Julia London gives us an unusual pairing. Instead of the American girl seeking a noble to wed, we have an American man and a British lady.

Poor Roan has trouble understanding much of what the locals say to him and vice versa. It’s true; English and American really are two different languages. As a result, he’s heading south to a town to find his missing sister when he should be heading north. Pru enlightens him that Wesleigh and Weslay are not one and the same. Then, starved for adventure, she decides to accompany him.

The twosome grow close crammed into a coach and then closer still as the adventure continues. They are quite likeable, and the people they meet along the way are amusing. So are the rest of Pru’s family and Roan’s sister. There’s not a whole lot of conflict, but it doesn’t much matter.

This is the third of the Cabot Sisters series. I don’t remember reading book one or two, but I will be looking for book four.

Blueprints review

Published August 19, 2015 by francesothomas

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I haven’t read anything by Barbara Delinsky for a while. This is an oversight I need to rectify. Her latest novel Blueprints is a winner.

I picked the book up because of the concept, a mother and daughter with a TV show about rehabbing homes. I love anything HGTV. The book included lots of descriptions of architectural details and the like that I really enjoyed.

Delinsky gives us characters who are recognizable and relationships that are believable. We either know someone like these people or we are them. She has a good handle on the crises of both young adulthood and middle (or older) age.

I thought the mother-daughter rivalry would be the main story here, but a plot twist brought in additional elements. The result was somewhat predictable but so well-written that I couldn’t put it down.

It was a pleasure to meet such competent women.

Jumpstart Your Novel review

Published August 12, 2015 by francesothomas

jumpstart_166wJumpstart Your Novel by Mark Teppo offers a nine box organizational model to address “stuckitude” and help authors to bridge the gap between pantsing and plotting. That he first calls it “plodding” gives some indication on where he stands.

The boxes are pretty standard, but his take on them is not.

He defines the protagonist as an important character involved in a conflict that is critical to the story. This is not the same thing as saying he is the main character or the hero.

The second box is The Hook. This is what keeps the reader reading. The Hook doesn’t need to be in the first line or even the first page, but it should appear early in the story.

The adversary may be a person, a natural force, or an entity with many agents. Teppo doesn’t like the terms villain or antagonist.

The next box is The Goal. The author needs to know what the protagonist wants.

The Obstacles and Opportunities typically come in multiples of three. The protagonist must try and fail several times before reaching their goal.

The next box is called The Mirror because it mirrors the first box. In this one, the author must know his or her own goal of writing the novel. What is its theme?

Transformation is next. How does the protagonist change?

Teppo has given the final box the unlikely name of The Boom Boom. This is the final image the author wants to leave in the mind of the readers.

I found Teppo’s chapter on outlining helpful. He ties in what should happen chapter by chapter to his nine box structure.

The rest of the book, however, didn’t grab me. Teppo instructs how to use Tarot cards for fresh ideas. He also makes a thorough examination of movie plots. I am an aficionado of neither Tarot nor movies, so all this was lost on me.

Teppo’s definition of a good book is one that is finished. I think most of his techniques will help me finish mine.

How to Blog a Book review

Published August 5, 2015 by francesothomas

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For bloggers like me who also aspire to be book authors, Nina Amir’s //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=ss_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=mindmatt-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1599635402&asins=1599635402&linkId=GSUPDQP6YUR5I5XZ&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true“>How to Blog a Book is a valuable resource. Amir’s book is in its second edition and boasts two pages of testimonials from her peers.

The questionnaires at the end featuring other authors whose blogs became books are insightful. Some planned carefully, others not at all.

Amir advocates planning and a lot of it. She gives extensive instructions about how to construct a business plan for your book before you ever write a word in your blog. This plan contains 14 items to be covered although those who don’t intend to seek a traditional publisher can simplify the process down to Overview, Markets, Promotion, Competing Titles, Outline, List of Chapters, and Chapter Summaries.

Amir covers the mechanics of setting up a blog in a way non-techies can understand. She also covers such things as word count and whether or not to hold back content from the blog to be included in the book itself. There is information here on an author platform, self-publishing, and the all-important ways to earn money beyond the blog and the book.

For those who already have a blog with existing content, Amir reverses the process and talks about how to turn that content into a book.

If you need a mentor to guide you through what can be a complicated process, Amir is the one.

SEP is my weakness

Published August 5, 2015 by francesothomas

 

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I’m pretty sure I have read all of Susan Elizabeth Philips’ books. Her latest, Heroes Are My Weakness, releases in Mass Market Paperback on September 28. I read and loved it when it came out in hard back.

Here’s Avon’s Blurb:

The dead of winter.
An isolated island off the coast of Maine.
A man.
A woman.
A sinister house looming over the sea …

He’s a reclusive writer whose macabre imagination creates chilling horror novels. She’s a down-on-her-luck actress reduced to staging kids’ puppet shows. He knows a dozen ways to kill with his bare hands. She knows a dozen ways to kill with laughs.

But she’s not laughing now. When she was a teenager, he terrified her. Now they’re trapped together on a snowy island off the coast of Maine. Is he the villain she remembers or has he changed? Her head says no. Her heart says yes.

It’s going to be a long, hot winter.

And here’s an excerpt:

Annie didn’t usually talk to her suitcase, but she wasn’t exactly herself these days. The high beams of her headlights could barely penetrate the dark, swirling chaos of the winter blizzard, and the windshield wipers on her ancient Kia were no match for the wrath of the storm that had hit the island. “It’s only a little snow,” she told the oversize red suitcase wedged into the passenger seat. “Just because it feels like the end of the world doesn’t mean it is.”

You know I hate the cold, her suitcase replied, in the annoying whine of a child who preferred making a point by stamping her foot. How could you bring me to this awful place?

Because Annie had run out of options.

An icy blast rocked the car, and the branches of the old fir trees hovering over the unpaved road whipped like witches’ hair. Annie decided that anybody who believed in hell as a fiery furnace had it all wrong. Hell was this bleak, hostile winter island.

You’ve never heard of Miami Beach? Crumpet, the spoiled princess in the suitcase retorted. Instead you had to haul us off to a deserted island in the middle of the North Atlantic where we’ll probably get eaten by polar bears!

The gears ground as the Kia struggled up the narrow, slippery island road. Annie’s head ached, her ribs hurt from coughing, and the simple act of craning her neck to peer through a clear spot on the windshield made her dizzy. She was alone in the world with only the imaginary voices of her ventriloquist dummies anchoring her to reality. As sick as she was, she didn’t miss the irony.

She conjured up the more calming voice of Crumpet’s counterpart, the practical Dilly, who was tucked away in the matching red suitcase in the backseat. We’re not the middle of the Atlantic, sensible Dilly said. We’re on an island ten miles off the New England coast, and the last I heard, Maine doesn’t have polar bears. Besides, Peregrine Island isn’t deserted.

It might as well be. If Crumpet had been on Annie’s arm, she would have shot her small nose up in the air. People barely survive here in the middle of the summer let alone winter. I bet they eat their dead for food.

The car fishtailed ever so slightly. Annie corrected the skid, gripping the wheel more tightly through her gloves. The heater barely worked, but she’d begun to perspire under her jacket.

You mustn’t keep complaining, Crumpet, Dilly admonished her peevish counterpart. Peregrine Island is a popular summer resort.

It’s not summer! Crumpet countered. It’s the first week of February, we just drove off a car ferry that made me seasick, and there can’t be more than fifty people left here. Fifty stupid people!

You know Annie had no choice but to come here, Dilly said.

Because she’s a big failure, an unpleasant male voice sneered.

Leo had a bad habit of uttering Annie’s deepest fears, and it was inevitable that he’d intrude into her thoughts. He was her least favorite puppet, but every story needed a villain.

Very unkind, Leo, Dilly said. Even if it is true.

 Susan

Author Info

Susan Elizabeth Phillips soars onto the New York Times bestseller list with every new publication. She’s the only four-time recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Favorite Book of the Year Award. Susan delights fans by touching hearts as well as funny bones with her wonderfully whimsical and modern fairy tales. A resident of the Chicago suburbs, she is also a wife, and mother of two grown sons.

 

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