Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How to Write a Novel: 47 Rules for Writing a Stupendously Awesome Novel that You Will Love Forever –by Nathan Bransford


234 pages
5 Stars

First off, notice the subtitle, "...YOU WILL LOVE Forever." I think that's one of the most important parts of the whole book. If YOU don't love your novel, no one else will. And, if no one else does love it, you still will.

I've read several How-to-Write books, and put this right at the top. It is one I will keep and recommend to people who write short stories, novels, nonfiction, memoir – in short, to anyone who writes and wants to make it better.

If you're serious about writing that novel, get and read this book. If you've been around the business of writing for any length of time, you probably won't learn a great deal from this book, but it's a marvelous affirmation you're doing the right stuff. And there may be just enough difference in his presentation from the other books you've read on the subject, that this one will resonate and hit that "Ah-ha!" chord within your breastbone.

What, in my mind, sets Bransford's book apart from so many of the others who write these books is he was a working agent, as well as a novelist on his own. So he knows how it's done. He knows the agony and the ecstasy of writing, and he knows what agents and editors look for and do.

Bransford has a great sense of humor that may not appeal to everyone, more's the pity. It appeals to me, and for what more can I ask? Yes, he talks about his books (after all, he is intimately familiar with all the stages of writing, editing, and publishing those books), but he isn't trying to sell them, just uses them as examples. He uses other books, too, books most of his readers will be familiar with. His writing is relaxed, accessible, and not at all "professorial," though I imagine he could pontificate if he wanted. Go to and take a look inside the book.

My favorite chapters, or rules, are toward the end, in the section on Revising. I love Rule 43: Accept feedback graciously and with an open mind. So many writers feel the need to justify and argue for their limitations, when they really just need to put their big boy boxers on, smile, and take it with a simple "Thank you." If it doesn't work for the critiquer/s it probably won't work for agents or publishers or readers. Something to think on, eh?

I had my first novel critiqued by a couple of known authors. They did not like it. No, not at all. I kept my mouth shut, a smile on my face, the tears in their ducts, paid them, took my manuscript and their notes home, and cried and cried and cried. Six months later, I realized I agreed with 95% of what they said, hauled out their notes, my manuscript, rewrote the novel, and sold it. And the two authors and I are best friends (they told me later they would either discourage me forever, or turn me into a writer.). Though his example isn't as drastic as mine, it was a good affirmation I'd done the right thing.    

I love the penultimate and last paragraphs of the first chapter/rule:

"And if you've already written a novel, you can learn to write an even better one.
"Here's how."

Yes, I'm going to take him up on that. I'm armed and ready to write. Again. Thank you, Nathan Bransford!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The 8-Hour Sleep Paradox: How We Are Sleeping Our Way to Fatigue, Disease and Unhappiness – Dr. Mark Burhenne, DDS

Nonfiction / Health
131 pages / 8703 KB
5 Stars

Shall we dispense with the legalities first? I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. There are many first rate reviews of this book already listed on,, &c, and I shall try not to duplicate too much of those reviews.

When the chance to read and review this book came across my screen, I jumped at it. I've suffered from insomnia since I first became a mother. (Yes, I think there might be a correlation, and though my kids no longer live at home, I truly wonder if insomnia, in this case, became a habit I need to learn to break? Or is there a more sinister, underlying cause?)

I quite literally read this book in one sitting; I found it that well written and that informative. As a child (post tonsillectomy) I required 9-10 hours of sleep a night, as an adult, that time dropped to around 8, and I now consider myself lucky to get 7. Do I snore? I don't know. No one has ever complained about it, but I am going to get one of the apps for my phone to find out.

And I am going to ask my dentist the questions Dr. Burhenne recommends. In fact, I have ordered a copy of the book to give him well before my next visit so he will have a better idea of why I'm asking the questions. I am also going to talk to my MD about the possibility of a sleep study. 

If you sleep, I recommend you read this book. If you sleep but don't sleep well, this book could, literally, save your life. If your sleep partner snores, snorts, mumbles, &c, in her/his sleep, this book could save his/her life—and possibly your partnership.

One of the first things I noticed is the use of footnotes v. end notes. Dr. Burhenne gets extra points for that (I hate end notes). The second thing I noticed is they are grey, not black; however, they are mostly bibliographical not informational, so I'll give him a pass on that one.

This book is well researched, and very well written. Although the subject is serious, deadly serious, the writing is easy to read, interspersed with personal stories, and totally accessible by the average reader. I have already recommended this book to friends of mine who are on CPAP machines (I finished reading it yesterday). He doesn't just tell you how to get checked out, he tells you how to get through the maze of insurance forms, and he gives you check lists in the appendices to help you determine if you need to be checked out by a sleep specialist, and to copy and take the forms with you. And he explains the hows, the whys, and the options and alternatives to CPAPs.

Who would think that a dentist, of all people, would be an expert in sleep disorders? Who would even think of asking their dentist about their sleep disorder? I certainly didn't! But I will now. I hope Dental Schools read this book, and consider developing a class, mandatory, for all dental students, so they are at least aware of it. Dentists are, after all, our first defense against disease. Who knew?

Buy this book. You need it. It may save your life. Honest. Trust me.

Trouble with Gargoyles: an Urban Fantasy (Moonlight Dragon Book 3) –Tricia Owens

Fantasy / Urban

pages 161 / 2880 KB
5 Stars

Oh, botheration, lets get the legalities out of the way first, OK? I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I am, truly, a very lucky lady!

Anne Moody is still cursed. Poor girl, she's going to be cursed forever, which is really too bad for her, but really, really good for us. The longer she's cursed, the more books we'll have to read. This is the third book in the series, and it was ever bit as gripping and fun as the first two. The cameos in her store are still calling out curses to her, this time they warn of betrayal, but they don't tell her who the betrayer is, or who the betrayed is. And Anne Moody is in for a true surprise, as is the reader.

This would have been another one-sit read, but life interrupted. Admittedly, I was not pleased--I wanted to read. When I get my hands on a book that is as much fun as these are, I want to escape into that world, and not be called back to this one until I'm darned good and ready – or when the book ends, whichever comes first.

Trouble with Gargoyles takes us back to her parents and their untimely death. It shines a bit more light on the Oddsmakers and why they are so interested in poor, cursed Dragon Sorceress Anne Moody, and why she feels the way she does about them.

A monster has arrived in Las Vegas, and is hunting Anne Moody and her friends. The cameos warn of betrayal, and Vale (her gargoyle boyfriend) is a prime suspect. Anne takes us to an old time speakeasy, populated with shifters of various degrees, and learns why she isn't liked, let alone trusted.

Vale's brother, heir to the Gargoyle Throne drops in, and Anne sees brotherly love and competition up close. Is this the betrayal the cameos warn her of?

And we get to see Lucky in his full glory, no holds barred, as he finally is allowed to become Dragon as Anne carries out orders imposed on her by the Oddsmakers. Is her biggest fear realized when this happens? Is Anne Moody now Dragon, and no longer Human?

Some old friends return, and new friends are made in this book. While this series can be read as stand alone books, I think they just might be more fun if read in order. If you are a fan of Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, and or Anne Bishop, give Tricia Owens a read. Escape into a Las Vegas you'll never see, except through the eyes of poor, cursed, Anne Moody!