Monday, July 17, 2017

4 More Inspirational Writing Quotes (and Pretty Pictures)

Photo credit goes to David Purse. He was very generous to let me use his beautiful pictures to create these graphics. As usual, if you copy any of these for any reason, please give proper credit back to this site. Thank you.

Do you have a favorite writing quote to share?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Book Review: BIG MAGIC: CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond FearBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are a creative person, I highly recommend this book! I found it so inspiring that when I finished the last page, I wanted to turn back to page one and start reading all it over again.

Prior to this book, I had never read anything written by Elizabeth Gilbert. After attending multiple writing conferences where agents and editors recommended this book, I had to buy it and read it. My expectations were high, and Gilbert did not disappoint.

BIG MAGIC, by far, is one of the best books I've read in years.

Some of my favorite passages:

"Pure creativity is something better than a necessity; it's a gift. It's the frosting. Our creativity is a wild and unexpected bonus from the universe. It's as if all our gods and angels gathered together and said, 'It's tough down there as a human being, we know. Here--have some delights.'" (Page 127)

"Over the years ... I found that if I just stayed with the process and didn't panic, I could pass safely through each stage of anxiety and on to the next level. I heartened myself with reminders that these fears were completely natural human reactions to interaction with the unknown." (page 145)

"A good-enough novel violently written now is better than a perfect novel meticulously written never." (page 176)

"You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you passed your entire existence in devotion to the noble human virtue of inquisitiveness. And that should be more than enough for anyone to say that they lived a rich and splendid life." (page 239)

Oh, I could quote many more passages, but instead, I encourage you to read the book.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

#IWSG: Valuable Writing Lessons 

The first Wednesday of the month is the Insecure Writer's Support Group! 

The question posed this month: What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

Well, if you'd like to read my "formal" answer to this question, hop on over to Writer's Digest where I wrote an article titled "7 Things I've Learned So Far."

Or for a quicker answer, here are three tips I've learned from experts in the writing field:

What about you?

What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Book Review: FREEFALL by Joshua David Bellin

Releasing September 26, 2017, from Simon & Schuster, you can pre-order Freefall from Amazon and other major booksellers now.

Freefall is another engaging novel from master world-builder and storyteller, Joshua David Bellin.

I thoroughly enjoyed this space adventure!

Description from the publisher:
When the 1% and the 99% clash, the fate of the human race hangs on the actions of two teens from very different backgrounds in this thrilling sci-fi adventure.

In the Upperworld, the privileged 1% are getting ready to abandon a devastated planet Earth. And Cam can’t wait to leave. After sleeping through a 1,000-year journey, he and his friends will have a pristine new planet to colonize. And no more worries about the Lowerworld and its 99% of rejects.
Then Cam sees a banned video feed of protesters in the Lowerworld who also want a chance at a new life. And he sees a girl with golden eyes who seems to be gazing straight through the feed at him. A girl he has to find. Sofie.

When Cam finds Sofie, she opens his eyes to the unfairness of what’s happening in their world, and Cam joins her cause for Lowerworld rights. He also falls hard for Sofie. But Sofie has her own battles to fight, and when it’s time to board the spaceships, Cam is alone.

Waking up 1,000 years in the future, Cam discovers that he and his shipmates are far off-course, trapped on an unknown and hostile planet. Who has sabotaged their ship? And does it have anything to do with Sofie, and the choices—and the enemies—he made in the past?

My review:

Freefall is Joshua David Bellin's third novel published through Simon & Schuster, and this book does not disappoint. Often times, I struggle to follow a non-linear narration, but Bellin handled the narrative skillfully and I actually found myself highly engaged when jumping back and forth in the story's timeline.

With the story set in space in the future, Bellin utilizes fun word plays such as "corponations" and "MexSanto" to help build the world of the novel. The words I did not enjoy as much were the cuss words, which included taking the Lord's name in vain quite a bit. But those are my personal preferences.

While it is necessary for teenagers to solve their own problems in a young adult novel, I did wish that Cam's parents had been more involved. I wanted to see more interaction with them at the beginning and in the middle to help justify their involvement at the end of the story.

Those were the only two minor details that bothered me. EVERYTHING else I loved! 

I'm telling you . . . if you enjoy Sci-fi and/or young adult novels and/or adventures and/or monsters . . . this story is a must read, because Freefall is an engaging novel from the master world-builder and storyteller, Joshua David Bellin.

Bellin amazes me with his ability to develop characters, settings, and monsters, allowing readers to envision every aspect of the story.

I am a fan for life, and I look forward to reading his next story.

My favorite line from the book:

Pre-order your copy from Amazon today!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Book Review: THE SILENT CORNER by Dean Koontz

Oh . . . I was so excited to read this newest book from one of my all-time favorite authors! I read it while on a camping trip and finished it in one day. I'm excited for this new series from Koontz.

My review:

The Silent CornerThe Silent Corner by Dean Koontz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz features a strong-willed, strong-armed, and strong-minded female character who does not need to be saved by a knight in shining armor.

This is the start of a new series by Koontz, and I'm looking forward to reading the next installment! Since this is book one, not all of the story lines are completely resolved; however, The Silent Corner had a satisfying end.

My favorite line from the story:
"Life is complicated, but if it wasn't complicated, it would be a roller coaster on a flat track. Wouldn't be a ride worth taking."

If you're a fan of the Jason Bourne novels, you'll enjoy this engaging read by Koontz.

The Silent Corner is psychological suspense at its finest from start to finish.

[I received an advance copy of The Silent Copy from Random House, which in no way influenced my opinion of the book.]

View all my reviews

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

#IWSG: Should You Quit Writing?

The first Wednesday of the month is Insecure Writer's Support Group!

The question posed this month by IWSG: "Did you ever say 'I quit'? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?"

I have not said, "I quit" to writing. I don't think I could, because writing lives deep within my bones. However, I have certainly stepped away from writing for various reasons and for various lengths of time. For me, if I feel the need to step away I will turn either to another creative activity (such as quilting) or a physical activity (such as gardening) or an escapist activity (such as reading). Usually, the time away lifts the fog that was hindering my writing insight, and I return feeling rejuvenated.

So . . . should YOU quit writing? I've heard many long-time writers say, IF you can quit, then quit, because a writer's life can be challenging. However, if writing is in your bones, my guess is that quitting is not an option. There's a compulsion to write. My advice? Step away when you need to clear the fog. Try a different creative outlet, a physical activity, or read something inspiring. Then get back to work.

Happy writing.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


When I was first offered an early copy of this book for review, I thought, sure! I mean come on -- it's Alan Alda -- it has to be entertaining, right?

Oh. My.

Entertaining is not a singularly correct word for this book. Alda's book, IF I UNDERSTOOD YOU... is engaging, educational, enlightening, and entertaining. For my complete review, scroll down.

From the Publisher

Alda is an acclaimed actor, star of M*A*S*H, writer, and director, whose many years of interviewing guests on PBS’ Scientific American Frontiers led him on a quest to develop ways to help us learn how to communicate better. In his new book, Alda reflects on moments of miscommunication in his own life, and teaches us ways to build empathy, use improv games, storytelling, develop a mind-reading ability, and more, all in an effort to improve the way we relate and talk to others.
With his trademark humor and frankness, Alda digs into the heart of what it means to be a true communicator: being able to read another person so well, you know what they’re thinking and feeling and are able to be in sync with them. Alda has seen this kind of engagement facilitate real communication in a wide range of settings: within families, between lovers, at the office, between doctors and patients, and between scientists and the rest of us.

“Sit back and enjoy Alan’s scientific journey of communication”--Barbara Walters

“A distinguished actor and communication expert shows how to avoid "the snags of misunderstanding" that plague verbal interactions between human beings…. A sharp and informative guide to communication.”—Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Alan Alda has earned international recognition as an actor, writer, and director. He has won seven Emmy Awards, received three Tony nominations, is an inductee of the Television Hall of Fame, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in The Aviator. Alda played Hawkeye Pierce on the classic television series M*A*S*H, and his films include Crimes and Misdemeanors, Everyone Says I Love You, Manhattan Murder Mystery, Bridge of Spies, and many more. Alda is an active member of the science community, having hosted the award-winning series Scientific American Frontiers for eleven years and founded the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. Alda is the author of two bestselling books, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I’ve Learned and Things I Overheard While Talking To Myself.

My Review

Alan Alda's book, IF I UNDERSTOOD YOU... is engaging, educational, enlightening, and entertaining.

Most importantly, it answers the question: What should I buy as a gift for everyone I know?


I will be buying multiple copies of this book to give as gifts for Father's Day, Graduations, Birthdays, Christmas, Mother's Day, Weddings, and every other possible occasion that needs a gift given. Simply because the book, IF I UNDERSTOOD YOU..., will be a terrific tool for parents, students, public speakers, psychologists, and anyone else who needs to communicate well, which is all of us!

Alda's content focused quite a bit on the perspective of scientists and their need to communicate well, and the content fell a bit short when it dealt with business professionals and their needs. However, Zig Ziglar will always be the master of business and sales communication skills. So if you want to improve in that specific area, turn to Ziglar's books.

With that said, I've read a LOT of books and I've attended a LOT of seminars on how to improve my communication skills and this book by Alda is absolutely fabulous. I kid you not when I say that I will be buying multiple copies for people I know.

I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Here's an example of one of the exercises in the book:

[Thank you to FSB Associates for providing me with a copy of this book for review. This in no way influenced my opinion.]

Monday, June 5, 2017

Book Review + GIVEAWAY for GRIEF COTTAGE by Gail Godwin

While camping last week, I read GRIEF COTTAGE by Gail Godwin, and it was fantastic! Scroll down for my full review AND enter to win a hardback copy for yourself! (Hurry, giveaway ends on 6/15/17.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Description from the publisher
In the novel, Godwin tells the story of Marcus Harshaw—a precocious child who, following the unexpected death of his mother, finds himself in the care of a reclusive aunt on an island off the coast of South Carolina.

Marcus spends his days busying himself with errands and watching over the sea turtle eggs expected to hatch soon. But the highlight of each day is his trip to Grief Cottage, a home abandoned and left to ruin following a hurricane years earlier. Marcus, in the midst of grieving his mother and acclimating to his new life, is drawn to a presence there. He sees a young boy inside the cottage and innately understands theirs is a fragile and unusual relationship, not to be shared with others.

Aunt Charlotte has been living alone for many years in a small renovated beach shack making a living painting the local landscapes, many featuring Grief Cottage, and selling them to wealthy patrons. Her solitary life is jarred when Marcus arrives and her complicated history creeps into her present. She fights to keep the memories at bay, retreating to her studio with bottles of wine for hours every day.

As Marcus meets more people on the island, clues about the boy at Grief Cottage surface and his interest in connecting with the boy intensifies. At the same time, while unpacking mundane remnants of his past from cardboard boxes, he is unearthing the life his mother led with and without him. Every person in Marcus’s world has secrets, and his connection to the boy at Grief Cottage is one of his own.

Marcus’s introspective nature illuminates the themes Godwin beautifully explores in Grief Cottage—grief, remorse, and memory.

About the Author
Gail Godwin is a three-time National Book Award finalist and the bestselling author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed books, including Publishing, a memoir, and the novels Flora, Father Melancholy's Daughter, and Evensong. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts grants for both fiction and libretto writing, and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Woodstock, New York.

My Review

GRIEF COTTAGE is a well-written exploration of life as the characters deal with loss and cultivate relationships. The layered repetitiveness within Godwin's writing served a dynamic storytelling purpose, reconnecting the reader with important points. The pace of the plot allowed time for terrific character development.

On a side note: When I speak to writers at workshops and conferences, I'm often asked, "Is the age of the main character the determining factor of whether or not a book is classified as a young adult novel?" The answer is no, and GRIEF COTTAGE is a perfect example. This book is targeted at the adult market, not the young adult market, even though the main character is eleven years old. Why? Because the narrator of the story is an adult looking back, using adult language (in description and tone) and reasoning as he does this. This is not a YA or MG novel for that reason.

Here are a few lines that show the adult tone of the book rather than the youthful and often immature mindset of an eleven year old boy:

"She also had linkups to local and online art galleries who liaised between her and potential buyers and charged finders' fees. As I didn't pine for it, she continued not to have cable television." (page 44)

"But in 2004 the shorn look was becoming fashionable for women, because of feminism or because they were cancer patients or because they wanted to announce to the world they were lesbians or because it made them look more dramatic." (page 45)

"I did worry about the state of Aunt Charlotte's sheets inside the off-limit studio, but refrained from inquiring." (page 187)

My favorite passage from the book:
"'What's so sad?' I asked. 'When we don't realize how remarkable someone is while they're still with us. Then after they're gone we wish we had told them, but when they were around we didn't know yet.'" (page 293)

And finally, I must say, the final cover design is breathtaking.

You can find more information about Gail Godwin, including her tour schedule on her website:

[Thank you to FSB Associates for providing me with a copy of GRIEF COTTAGE for review and giveaway. This in no way influenced my opinion and review of the book.]

10 Days of Camping = 10 Books Read

I love camping in the boonies, because it's a great excuse to read a lot of books. (My goal was 17 books, but I spent time playing fetch with the dogs, cooking in the Dutch ovens, and gaming with our kids.)

It was a fabulous trip.

I'll be posting reviews for the books I read during the trip, but here's a quick list and below are a few fun pictures.

1. Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin
2. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
3. If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? by Alan Alda
4. The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz
5. Freefall by Joshua David Bellin
6. The Care & Keeping of Us by Dr. Cara Natterson
7. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
8. Mothering & Daughtering by Reynolds & Reynolds
9. Strength to Love by Martin Luther King, Jr.
10. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

What's the best book you've read recently?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Enter to Win a Signed Hardback Copy of UNLOCKED!

It's a Goodreads giveaway for UNLOCKED!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Unlocked by Margo Kelly


by Margo Kelly

Giveaway ends June 15, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway