Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Reviews

This week I'm reviewing Linda Jackson's book, The Lie that Binds. She had a brief mention on one of her posts saying that it was now available as an e-book for .99 cents on Amazon.

She's a middle grade book author with a knack for amazing character portrayals and this book didn't disappoint. Although it's for the younger crowd, it is a good read for adults too. Being raised in a middle class, white suburban neighborhood (boring), I love having my horizons broadened by perspectives on other situations, and this book did just that, showing what living in a poor area might be like and why children make the choices they do.

Link here to check it out.

The second book I just finished was One for the Money. I loved the movie and since this is my genre, I decided to read the book afterwards. Usually that ruins the book, but I loved it anyway. The three things that kept me turning the pages were the likeable MC, the thriller/mystery plot, and the sexual tension with Morelli. Entertaining read!

On the subject of book reviews, for all writers out there, this article is a must read. Link here to read it for yourself. Quick summary- it exposes the "review" business where good reviews can be bought. For the record, I read EVERY LAST WORD of the books I review, and I am never, ever paid. I have a day job as a nurse already.

If I don't like a book, I'm not going to finish it. (I did write a few bad reviews on my Goodreads account, which is a risky business as a writer). Who's to say that they won't look me up and get nasty in revenge?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Revision hell

Okay- there is slush pile hell, submission hell, and so on, but I've been stuck in revision hell, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

I feel like I've been running with this porcelain figurine (my WIP), and every time someone critiques it, they drop it, and it smashes into a million pieces. I pick up the pieces and put it back together, but in a different shape according to their suggestions. The problem is, not all the pieces flow together smoothly anymore and while I like the improvements, I'm not sure what it is anymore.

Next Monday I meet for the second time with my writing group, and we've been emailing each other every week with our progress. One of them volunteered to read my manuscript and has given me some much needed encouragement. Thanks to the editing of Barbara Watson, I saw my grammar was not too far off base, which was my concern as well, since I'm one of those that just goes by what sounds right vs. being able to actually explain the grammar. That's how I learned Spanish, so I guess it's served me well.

This post is going to be short and sweet, because I've had a long day driving the kids around to school, ballet, orientations, etc. Just an update on my writing life- Where are you at lately? And how did you survive the revisions? Or the critique process? Please don't say you wrote it perfectly the first time because I just may have to hate you.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fairytale Blogfest

Here is my 300 word flash fiction entry. I've chosen plot twist.

      Cinderella stood for moment contemplating in the garden. Her fairy godmother hovered before her ready to grant her wishes, but faced with the opportunity, Cinderella saw a bigger picture emerging.
     “Wait a minute, fairy godmother,” she said with resolution. “I know I wanted to go to the ball, but what I truly want, more than anything, is to have back what was rightfully mine.”
      The fairy godmother held her wand in mid-air, ready to transform Cinderella's rags into a sparkling ballgown, but her smile faded into a look of confusion. “But the prince, my dear, don't you want to meet him?”
      “Here's the thing,” Cinderella went on to explain, “I don't really believe in love at first sight, and my stepmother and sisters are ruining my father's legacy. Because of their greed, they have run his estate into the ground. The peasants who used to live comfortably under my father are now starving. I want my land back.”
      The fairy godmother looked at Cinderella with a look of admiration. “Wish granted,” she said, and with a wave of her wand, she disappeared in a cloud of glitter.
      The following day Cinderella went about her daily work, wondering how her wish would be fulfilled, when a knock at the door grabbed her attention. She wiped her cracked, calloused hands on her apron and opened the heavy wooden door.
      A government official stood at the door with a paper. “I am looking for Ella Dubois, the mistress of this manor.”
      “Mistress? How so?” Cinderella asked.
      “Yes, it appears that the marriage of deceased Monsieur Dubois and a certain Mademoiselle Marie Leroy was fraudulent, and has been officially annulled. That leaves Ella, the only child, as the rightful heir to the estate.”
     Cinderella straightened her shoulders and stood tall. "I am Ella Dubois."

That's it! 300 words exactly. Thanks to Morgan Shamy and friends for their awesome idea. Link here for more information.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Reading from the Library

As I've posted previously, when I can't figure out what to read, I go to the beginning shelves of my library and grab a book.

For my bad reviews, I don't post the title, out of respect for other writers' efforts. I know all too well how much effort goes into them, but I still can have an opinion, and that I will post.

I grabbed a 500 page book by a male author, and had gotten about 100 pages into it when I stopped. The writing was actually pretty good, and if it weren't for the overall topic, I might have kept reading. Those 100 pages were 75% mindless rants of a drunken, incoherent character with the other 25% being flashbacks into the most depressing environment imaginable. I felt as if continuing to read would leave me in either a depression or madness, neither of which is a convenient state of mind to be in when I have to function as a productive person in society. I can take dark, I just can't take dark and rambling.

Next, I skipped to an author I had heard about, Mary Higgins Clark, and checked out her book, All Around the Town. Since my novel is heading into the suspense/thriller category, I figured I better start reading my genre. The results?
I couldn't put her book down. It was, as they say, such good writing that I didn't even feel like I was reading. One thing I noticed with this particular book is that she jumped around a lot with POV, but I didn't mind at all. It was the plot that kept you moving forward, but the characters were mostly believable and interesting. Mostly- because I had a little trouble with the multiple personality disorder portrayal.

I'm still chipping away at another revision on my WIP (AArgh- will I never finish?) but I also popped out part of a short story, so I'm still a little bit productive.

By the way, I'm on goodreads under the name Rose Munevar. I don't know if anyone else is on that as well so we can connect. I do list mostly all the titles I read there, plus I'd love to see what you're reading!

Monday, August 6, 2012

On Being a Nurse

Part of the basis of my WIP, which is heading into another round of revisions, comes from my experience as a registered nurse. One of the bits of advice I picked up from the book, How to be a Writer in the E-Age. . (see previous blog for link) was to work around building an audience in your genre by writing about subjects related to it. That, and fellow blogger Barbara Watson (click on her name for more info.), did a content consult for me and made a note with regard to the educational requirements of being a registered nurse.

My personal story was that at the age of 19, I went to school for 6 months to become an EMT (emergency medical technician) and simultaneously a ski patrol. An EMT is a lower level than a paramedic, but also works on an ambulance. I worked doing that for the next two years until I moved to Ecuador. My plan was to do volunteer work for 10 months and then go to nursing school, and I was on a waiting list for a community college. I ended up staying in Ecuador 3 years, but I never lost sight of my goal, and when I moved back I went to a tech school to be a LPN. (Licensed Practical Nurse) That is a diploma course that lasts 2 1/2 semesters and then you can take a state board exam for your license. Most LPN's work in long-term care, i.e. nursing homes, but it varies state by state.

After that, I moved around some, had two kids, and continued to work on my associate degree in nursing, which I finally finished a while back. You can be a registered nurse with an associate or a bachelor degree; both have to pass the same state board exam for the R.N. license. In the work field, there is little acknowledgement of the difference as far as pay or title goes, which makes the time and money involved for the four year degree less appealing.

This whole subject leads me to a book from my "reading through the library project" that I got turned off by. Again, for my negative reviews I won't post the title, but the problem I had was that it referenced a nurse giving a patient a bed bath and having only one patient (unless you're in ICU, you have more than one). The issue I had is that obviously the writer didn't research this, because nurses do not routinely give bed baths now, CNA's (certified nursing assistants) do. It's not because it's beneath us, it's just the reality is that we are so bogged down with documentation and paperwork that bedside care has been delegated. 

That's today's nurse. (Sigh)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Insecure Writers Support Group

It's that time again, and since I missed last month I wanted to make sure I posted today. I'm still insecure with my writing, and here's how this month.

I had sent an email to a regional writers group trying to get into contact with other writers in my area. The result was that four of us met in person at a local bookstore and compared notes for an hour and a half. I was worried that I'd be meeting hopelessly awful "writers" that I would feel obligated to teach how to write English. Instead, I met highly educated people, one of whom has representation but is yet unpublished, a published poet working on her master's in creative writing, and a journalist from a local paper. Oh, and did I mention the writer with an agent is also a registered nurse, like myself, except she's the head of the RN to BSN program at a college. And then there was little 'ol me.

To make it worse, my social phobia was in full form, and 75% of me wanted to hide somewhere in a corner.

Despite all that, the end result was that I left thrilled with the prospect of having critique partners to push and inspire me, and I hope I can help them in some way in return.

With that, today was a horrible day for me. I had to put down my dog Cookie. The first time I saw her was about two years ago- an old, lame, deaf dog with ear infections and covered in sores at the animal shelter where I volunteer. I couldn't stand to see her in the cold, dirty kennel during the winter, so I brought her home as a foster. Then, I fell in love with her. The sweetest dog ever, she wagged her tail constantly unless she was sleeping. She was 11 years old, and after years of neglect, she finally found what it was to be loved, and she loved me back.
Rest in peace, sweet Cookie.

And as the Lorax from Dr. Seuss says,

UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better,
It's not.

I console myself with the fact that I cared a whole awful lot. She was worth it.