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The Bridegrooms April 12, 2010

Filed under: Book reviews — sallyhanan @ 10:56 pm
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Overall impression
I must confess: Because The Bridegrooms was set in the late 1800’s, I was expecting to read the usual frills and clichés period writers seem so fond of using. I should have known better than to have a Multnomah book be a normal read. The Bridegrooms was a delightful concoction of unexpected happenings and tantalizing writing.

It would have been tempting for the writer to move into the Jane Austen style of sarcasm and make fun of people with money and the desperation of single ladies, but Pittman doesn’t do this.

The plot
Mixing a middle-class family without a mother, baseball, music, and a dalliance with the town’s wealthy visitors, Pittman has a unique style of her own that illustrates the richness of the soul and spirit within each of her unique characters. Following the stories of four girls keeps the plot and sub plots moving along quickly, and this is a book that is difficult to put down once begun. Each story within the story is beautifully paced to the end, and even then Pittman doesn’t wrap it all up with a perfect bow—she leaves the readers to use their imaginations to see into the future.

(This book was given to me by Multnomah in exchange for an honest review.)

 

 

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Murders and forensic investigations March 8, 2010

Filed under: Book reviews,Writing — sallyhanan @ 10:14 pm
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I found a wonderful book at the library the other day—Teasing Secrets from the Dead: My Investigations at America’s Most Infamous Crime Scenes by Emily Craig.

Ms. Craig has a background in medical illustration, but she is now the state forensic anthropologist for the commonwealth of Kentucky. Her descriptions of sculpting facial features onto skulls, examining rotting flesh on bones, and noting the impact of hard instruments on a skeleton can help a crime writer tremendously.

“Unflinching, compassionate, and beautifully written. I was hooked from page one.” ~Sue Grafton

While the book is well written, I kept turning the pages wanting to find out more about how the crimes were resolved, not just the information about what Ms. Craig did with the victims’ bones. As writers, though, this might make the book all the more important to us—it can bring our imaginations to the point of constructing new plots that dance among the details of her discoveries.

 

 

Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

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Derailed by Tim Irwin, Ph.D. February 15, 2010

Filed under: Book reviews — sallyhanan @ 10:52 pm
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Any reader can benefit from the message Tim Irwin gives in Derailed: In order to lead and succeed, one must have essential behavioral qualities that help others feel safe, respected, and valued.

Derailed‘s content gives preventative advice to companies that are considering adding new executives to their top tiers of leadership. Because of the value of learning from the failures of others, Irwin gives examples of what former CEOs did, unintentionally, to damage the huge companies they were hired by. It’s not so much that the CEOs were failures; they were very competent people, but they each lacked one of Irwin’s key components for success (authenticity, self-management, humility, and courage). Each missing ingredient and the presence of its evil twin (hypocrisy, impulsive reactions, arrogance, and fear) caused the companies these CEOs led to lose a lot of business.

Irwin’s research and knowledge on the subject of leadership is extensive, which makes this book’s content an interesting read. Irwin even gives tips at the end of his book on how to develop better leadership skills, and he should know—he teaches this for a living.

Derailed is the kind of book that gets me thinking about how all my small reactions to life can play a part in forcing my own dreams off track. It makes me want to be a better woman.

 

 

Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

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Writers’ market guides—which one should you buy? January 2, 2010

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Writer’s Market, one of the standard submission guides writers use, seems to have taken its 2010 edition down a rocky path. Amazon reviewers are not impressed.

“This edition missed the boat completely.”

“This edition is substandard.”

“This 2010 Writer’s Market is the last edition of this book that I’ll be buying.”

“Somebody needed to proof the manuscript before publication.”

Other online book sellers seem to copy the reviews from Amazon, so I am limited in my resources; nevertheless, my thought is that the researchers and editors for Writer’s Market may have taken to resting on their laurels rather than upgrading (or even maintaining) the quality and content of the 2009 guide.

Needless to say, I won’t be buying this year’s Writer’s Market. My choice would be Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents 2010.

Amazon reviewers, so far, have given it four and a half out of five stars, and to top that,

“the twentieth edition has been has been completely revised. The updated layout includes new symbols and callouts designed to give readers the information they need most in a quick and accessible format.”

 

 

Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

sallylogo3 INKSNATCHER.COM                                                                                                                                      

 

 

 

 

The Search for God and Guinness November 12, 2009

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Stephen Mansfield, the renowned biographer of presidents and dead men, has written a book that might cause the deeply religious to twitch an eyebrow or two. It’s called The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World, and it is a testament to the lives and philanthropy of the Guinness family over the last 246 years.

Faith seemed to play the largest part in the generous actions and career choices of the family, and it was heartwarming to see how one family could give such worth to so many. Even more fascinating is the fact that this has continued for so long.

Stephen got a lot of flack last year for writing a book called The Faith of Barack Obama. This book shouldn’t generate nearly as much shock and denial. It runs like a familiar history book with an easy, swing-door style into the hearts of various members of the Guinness family over the generations. Stephen is a writer who can take history and turn it into interesting stories. I’d give this book a four out of five, only because of the tendency for repetition in places.

The most valuable lesson in this book is the questions the reader can ask him/herself at the end.
What can I create that will change culture for the better?
What legacy of giving will I leave behind?
What value have I given to all I have encountered and had the opportunity to lead?
How can I be enough of an example to my children that the good will continue to touch the generations beyond theirs?

 

 

Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

sallylogo3 INKSNATCHER.COM                                                                                                                                      

 

 

 

 

Andy Andrew’s book The Noticer October 1, 2009

Filed under: Book reviews — sallyhanan @ 12:07 am
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I recently signed up with Thomas Nelson to become a book blogger. I agreed to read and review a book in a certain time frame and in exchange I got to read the book—always a good deal for a reader. 🙂 This is my first review.

The Noticer reminds me of Dan Miller’s writing in a way—the writing in this little book is not as good, but the book is an easy read with deep wisdom in its pages. Sometimes it only takes one sentence to imprint destiny.

At times the advice is a bit trite, e.g. the way to get out of depression is to focus on happy thoughts, or that to make a marriage good all you need is the right love language. Andy Andrews uses simple descriptions and simple writing to back up his points, and sometimes that’s what we need. We make life out of big words and big bold statements with our lives, when, ultimately, all God wants is the little simple things, the small seeds that can change lives.

I’m not sure Andrew’s ending was in line with the rest of the book, but it certainly wrapped things up for the reader.

Overall this was impactful. Age-wise, I would recommend it for teenagers and up. It would be a perfect gift for those who are stressed out, worried or angry a lot of the time. Would I buy it for myself? No, but I would definitely leave it in the bathroom or on the coffee table for others to enjoy.

 

 

Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

sallylogo3 INKSNATCHER.COM                                                                                                                                      

 

 

 

 

Reviews and Interviews—Why Bother? July 9, 2009

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Meet Tim George—guest blogger; author of novel in the making, The Source; reviewer; interviewer; and author of: t.e. george, unveiled.

Reviews and Interviews—Why Bother?
A recent e-mail reflected a question more than one person has asked me. “How much do you get paid for your book reviews and author interviews?” the earnest writer asked. Now if that had been my eighty-five-year-old mother, I would have understood. But it was a fellow writer hoping to be published, as they put it, “in the near future.” One of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my writer’s journey is you have to be willing to give more than you take. Seems like Jesus had some things to say about that.

For many years I hoarded books like a squirrel does acorns. There couldn’t be too many on my shelves, or in my closet, or under the bed. You get the picture. But the more serious I have become about writing, the less I want to horde my works of fiction. More and more, I find every way possible to give away a good book once I have finished with it. Why? Because I want others to know the same pleasure I found in the story.

Why I review fiction
That is why I review fiction. I love to read and I want to help other people who love to read. At first I reviewed on Amazon just because. Then I began to offer reviews on my Web site and blog for my friends. And now I review for Fiction Addict because my love for books was recognized by others. But in the end, I review because I read. My aim in a review is not tell you what the book says (that’s why you buy the book). One of my pet peeves is reviewers that can’t resist telling me the whole story, including the ending. Instead, a good review tells you why you should read the book and, on a few occasions why your money might be better spent elsewhere.

Interviews
Several have also asked me how I got into doing interviews. The answer is similar yet deeper. I review because I read. I interview because I write. Interviews with published authors fascinate me. It allows me to join the writer in front of their computer, if you will, and see things through their eyes as they work to bring ideas, characters, and plots to life. We can interact and discuss those characters as though they are a part of the conversation. And in many ways they are.

I was amazed to learn how readily many authors are willing to do an interview. Their time is very valuable and limited so I do everything through email (back and forth several times usually). What I enjoy most is when an author gives me something from the heart. Like when Athol Dickson said, “the novel I’m writing now also has a lead character who is morally perfect. Since I’ve never met anyone like him, he’s been a real challenge to write.” Priceless. Or when Randy Singer responded, “If Christ didn’t wrap up each parable with a neat spiritual conclusion and tie a bow on it, I don’t feel pressure to do so either. I will let the story be king and the spiritual truths will flow out of that.” That comment forced me to change the ending of the novel I am working on—for the better.

More than one fellow blogger has asked me how I get these people to grant interviews. There’s no mystery to it. I asked. The worst they could do is say no. And, if we writers are not thick-skinned enough for that, we surely need to find some other pursuit.

 

 

Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

sallylogo3 INKSNATCHER.COM                                                                                                                                      

 

 

 

 

Interview with Fran Lewis, tween author of the Bertha series June 3, 2009

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I recently interviewed Fran Lewis, author of the tween My Name is Bertha and Bertha Speaks Out. Fran is currently working on the third book in the series—Bertha Fights Back.

What do you love about writing?
Freedom of expression is important, and after retiring from teaching, I realized that there were many new things I could learn to do. I love writing because it allows me to express my true feelings about any subject I choose.

Writing is an art. I have always loved writing poems, short stories, and reviewing books or short stories (that my friends would write, that they wanted an honest opinion about). Writing children’s stories is something that I am new at and hope to continue doing.

So far, you have written two books and are on your third. This has become a trilogy, possibly a series. What is it about your main character, Bertha, that causes you to keep writing?
The main character, Bertha, is really me. Bertha is smart, and she has her own unique voice and personality. She is overweight, as I was as a child, and is often the brunt of jokes, ridicule, and more. Her sister is always prettier, more agile, and able to do sporting activities like dancing and ice-skating. Bertha is still a total klutz, but she’s a klutz with a great sense of humor. Bertha’s father won’t let her play any sports that requires running. She’s allowed to play punch ball, but only on the condition that someone run for her.

Bertha goes through many of the things you endured as an overweight child—how has writing about them helped you?
In both of my books, Bertha learns to deal with her weight issues, mean teachers that treat her unfairly, and the persistent feeling that she is hiding in her sister’s shadow. In real life, my sister and I were always best friends, and I guess I never expressed how I really felt about being the outcast and the overweight, not so cute sister. I never realized how much I was affected by what I went through as a child and by what adults were doing to me (and others who were overweight) until I wrote these books.

You went from heavy to skinny in a few months after years of fad diets and mantras. What was it that finally caused you to start losing the weight?
I lost the weight when my doctor called me one morning and told me my cholesterol numbers were off the charts, and that I was eating all of the wrong foods. I realized that my Dad died because he was overweight and had diabetes and more. My mom had a stroke and now has Alzheimer’s disease. I did not want to have any health factors that would cause me to have any serious problems in my future if I could fix them by dieting.

I never went on a fad diet, but I did try the heart healthy one and modified it with my own plan. I lost over 75 pounds in three years and will never gain them back again. I walk every day, and I never eat eggs, fried food, butter or red meat. I eat lots of fresh fruit, and I love to snack on grapefruit whenever I get great white or pink ones. I never went on a real diet, and I think that is why I lost the weight. I enjoy food that is good for me, and I have never felt better in my life.

I would be happy to share my plan with anyone who wants to try it.

Have you had many young girls contact you about their own embarrassment of weighing too much? What kinds of advice do you give them, besides, of course, telling them to buy your book! 🙂
I have had girls at my book signings, family members, and sales people (in stores that I knew before I lost the weight) tell me how empowering my two books are; they mention how great it is that I am reaching out to help them understand that what you look like is not who you are as a person. I would tell girls:

Do not let others make fun of you. Feel comfortable with the way you are, even with your extra weight; when you are ready and want to lose the weight, you will. I always explain to girls and adults that losing weight is hard and does not happen overnight. It can really be discouraging at first. When I finally realized that I needed to lose the weight or I’d have other problems, it took me 6 months to lose 3 pounds. My dad was overweight, and I guess I always took after him.

I have never hurt or insulted anyone, ever, for the way they look or dress. I have gone into stores and been made to feel that I did not belong there because of my weight. I was told in one store that a plus-size store was just across the way and maybe I should shop there. I will not repeat what I told the salesperson. Let’s just say she was encouraged to work elsewhere. To this day, I will not shop in many of the stores where the sales people were rude to me. It is true that you are treated differently in many places because of how you look or whether you can wear particular styles or not. That is sad.

I think that buying my book would help all kids understand what someone with a weight problem goes through. I welcome e-mails from girls and adults—I love to help them and tell them how I did it, and possibly give them other resources to help them start their own journey.

What have you found to be the best selling method for your book?
The best method of selling my book is a hard question. Wherever I go, I manage to tell people about my books. I am on so many sites and have been the featured author on many. I’ve even had an interview on live radio, but no matter now many sites a writer is on, if someone is not looking for that genre, it will not be sold. I could use some help with that. I have blogs, websites, and e-mail addresses. I have five star reviews on many sites, and my books were just reviewed by Online Stories Magazine by Wayne Walker for the July issue. I will take suggestions for this question.

Your heart is that heavy girls will be helped through their pain in the crucial, formative years of puberty. Obviously, you have a lot of compassion for those who are hurting. Are there other areas of suffering in others’ lives that you would love to help ease?
My mom has Alzheimer’s, and it has had a devastating impact on my life and my family’s life. She is in the last stages of the disease and is at home with split-shift home health aides. It is hard for me, because I have to monitor her care on a daily basis as well as give her the medications she needs twice a day.

I am writing a book about how she dealt with the illness when she first learned she had it, and how she is now. The book will include research and information about the disease, websites to find more support, as well as original poems and stories that I and other members of my family wrote. There will be a dedication section and a good memories section. The dedication page will be for short sentences or paragraphs dedicated to anyone who wants to wish my mom well, and the good memories section will have post by relatives whose family members have, or had, the illness.

To read more from Fran, you can find her here: kidsread.ning
Fran also loves to read other genres and review unknown authors: gabina49.webs

 

 

Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

sallylogo3 INKSNATCHER.COM                                                                                                                                      

 

 

 

 

 
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