Craft Book Review: How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson

snowflake methodHow to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method (Advanced Fiction Writing) (Volume 1) by Randy Ingermanson takes the unique tact of telling a story to teach storytelling.

Why I picked it up:
I liked the approach of building your novel in repeating smaller forms like a fractal. I wanted to see how he used the analogy.

My Expectations:
I expected a unique approach to novel writing; something to do with the math of chaos theory.

Intended Audience:
Writers in the planning stage of the novel-writing process who don’t mind the odd fairy-tale retelling.

What I liked:
It covered the basics in a straight forward way. It did somewhat follow the fractal idea as it starts with a one sentence pitch and builds it to a synopsis (big picture) then looks at character overview leading to character specifics, then scenes and scene structure. I felt it had many of the same ideas as The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne explained more succinctly and the explanation of Proactive and Reactive scenes made me think of the take-aways I got from Scene & Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing) by Jack Bickham.

What made this book different from other writing instruction books is it is told in the form of a story itself. Part of me thought this was a great way to make the content less dry and incorporate examples of concepts while learning the concepts. Clever. But I could not get over the character choices. I could only take it in small doses and thought about giving up on it a couple of times.

What I didn’t like:
Goldilocks and the three bears, The Big Bad Wolf and the three little pigs, Robin Hood and Old Mother Hubbard are all at a writer’s conference. It annoyed me. And it wasn’t only that these characters were used, but they kept calling Goldilocks “Blondie” and that didn’t bother her, but Robin Hood kept leching on her, so she finally called him out for calling her “wench”. I also didn’t find the writing “method” unique, but, like the characters, a rehash of the basics.

Rating: ♦♦♦◊ 3.5 out of 5

Overall, I think the writing ideas are useful and clear, and the concept of presenting writing instruction through story is unique and a good idea, but I found the character choices grating and distracting which cheapened the effort.

Happy Reading and Writing!

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D is for Duende and a Double Dose of Dufresne

 

duende: noun – 1. a goblin; demon; spirit 2. charm; magnetism

Bonus word: dejecta: noun – feces; excrement

 

Azalea petals

 

Azalea Petals

                                           It was a shame
to cover up those voluptuous curves in that floral tent of a mumu
such a contrast to the white hood and robe silently hanging in the padlocked closet
Her lime and tan wide-brimmed sun hat veiled her face in shadow,
but she also shuttered her eyes with oversized mirrored sunglasses
as if darkness was not dark enough to hide her thoughts

It was a dirty shame
the way he still stared longingly, lustfully while imagining no one saw
his history of apologies sloughed like the purple azalea petals
scattered on the pavement at the cease of spring
His gape eluded to his ape ancestry, unaware of the taboo;
triggered by olfactory stimuli: the heat, the sweat
He stood erect; up from the dusty ground revealing his genitals,
revealing his weakness

It was a crying shame
that she looked out the window at that moment of passing duende
She observed his every twitch of the dance
Her nose curled at the smell of dejecta while festering secrets burst forth
like erumpent maggots from a rotten apple
She thought of his ancestry, his family grooming him in consolation after
his beat down by the alpha male from whom he did not evolve
Now he only suffered the yearnings of the flesh.

For shame!

 

For today’s poem I took a look at a couple philosophy staples I’ve kept with me since college:Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future by Friedrich Nietzsche and Civilization and Its Discontents (The Standard Edition) (Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud).
For the poetic form, I was inspired by District and Circle: Poems by Seamus Heaney, specifically “Edward Thomas on the Lagans Road,” “A Clip,” and “A Chow.” This book of poems has great examples of using specific descriptive nouns.

Craft Book Review

If you have followed Experience Writing for a while or follow me on twitter, you have probably heard me mention Is Life Like This?: A Guide to Writing Your First Novel in Six Months by John Dufresne. I read this book early in my writing journey and I still use the tools he discussed.

Mr. Dufresne has a new book about writing flash fiction called FLASH!: Writing the Very Short Story and for this review, I also read his book The Lie That Tells a Truth: A Guide to Writing Fiction.

Flash! cover

Why I picked it up: I enjoy writing flash fiction and was curious about Mr. Dufresne’s take on the subject.

My Expectations: I am a big fan of Mr. Dufresne’s other craft book Is Life Like This?, so I had high expectations that I would learn something and enjoy this book.

Intended Audience: People curious about flash fiction.

What I liked: This book is full of great examples of flash fiction stories, in their entirety, by many different authors. There’s a wonderful variety. The book flows nicely: heavy on the examples at the beginning and ending heavy on the suggested exercises and writing prompts.

What I didn’t like: There isn’t anything I didn’t like about this book. The only problem with reading it is I now have even more stories to write. Because I read Mr. Dufresne’s other writing books, I recognized some of the exercises–he even included a Flash-O-Matic–but it makes sense that many fiction exercises for longer fiction would work well for flash fiction also.

Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 5/5

Why I picked it up: I picked this one up to see what other gems of knowledge Mr. Dufresne had to impart.a lie that tells a truth cover

My Expectations: My expectations were perhaps not quite as high for this one. I wondered if it might repeat  much of what I read in his other books.

Intended Audience: Fiction writers of all levels and interests.

What I liked: This book is packed with exercises. Someone in a chat the other day asked me what books I would recommend with good writing exercises and I replied, “Anything by John Dufresne.” I was not wrong.

What I didn’t like: My issue with this book is the format. It is so packed with quotes (usually two to each page) that I couldn’t get through the text without reading through the chapter’s quotes and then going back to read the chapter. And even then I found the quotes distracting. I’m not into quotes out of context in the first place, so they don’t enhance my reading experience when placed well, but the way these broke up the page distracted me from the substance.

Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ 3/5 I recommend doing the exercises.

Happy Reading and Writing!

See you tomorrow.

B is for Banausic and Bickham – Craft Book Review: Jack M. Bickham Double Feature

banausic beauty

banausic: adjective – relating to or concerned with earning a living; utilitarian; mechanical; practical. Not operating on a refined or elevated level; mundane.

Why Stand By?

I heard a scuffle on the sidewalk below
You put down your glass and walked to the window
She saw a hussy in a public embrace
He saw a man gettin’ his
We heard her scream
They turned back to the TV

I grabbed your glass and brought it to the window
You took a sip and poked your head out
She yelled, “Let that woman go.”
He finally called the police
We watched and waited
They turned off the lights

They were too late
We took one last look at the body
She had bled out
He was never found
You refilled your glass
I contemplated banausic windows

Today’s NaPoWriMo theme was the I, or the speaker of the poem. I thought it tied in well with witness testimony which I am studying in an online forensic psychology class through futurelearn.com

I also found inspiration in National Book Award Winner Lighthead: Poems (Penguin Poets) by Terrance Hayes, especially “Lighthead’s Guide To Addiction” and “Satchmo Returns To New Orleans.”

tools of physical labor

Craft Book Review

I first came across Jack M. Bickham‘s name while reading Crafting Dynamic Dialogue: The Complete Guide to Speaking, Conversing, Arguing, and Thinking in Fiction (Creative Writing Essentials) from the editors of Writer’s Digest. His book Writing novels that sell was mentioned in a section called Parent-Adult-Child which talked about three primary roles people/characters occupy in life.

My local library didn’t have that book, but did have Scene & Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing) and Setting (Elements of Fiction Writing), so I picked them up instead. They are both part of a series called Elements of Fiction Writing 5 Volume Set (Beginnings, Middles & Ends – Description – Setting – Characters & Viewpoint – Scene & Structure)

Setting

My Expectations: A while back in a critique meet-up, I  heard people talking about active setting. I hadn’t read A Writer’s Guide to Active Setting: How to Enhance Your Fiction with More Descriptive, Dynamic Settings by Mary Buckham yet, so I still wasn’t clear what sort of magic made setting active and hoped this book might clear that up.

Intended Audience:
All fiction writers, but it may be a little advanced for early beginners.

What I liked: It was fun to learn about setting from the man who wrote Twister which  has a vibrant setting and uses setting (weather) as a character. Not only did this book answer my questions about active setting, it inspired me, through straight-forward exercises, to think about setting differently in my novel. This book really clicked for me and helped me understand aspects of setting that I hadn’t thought of before.

What I didn’t like: The writing is very dense. Though the book isn’t very thick, it’s a slow read. Definitely worth it because I really felt aha! moments, but it felt like mining through thick stone to get to the gold.

Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 4/5 I recommend this book.

Scene & Structure

 My Expectations: Because I had such a good experience with Setting (Elements of Fiction Writing), I had high expectations for this book. I looked forward to seeing what sort of clarity Mr. Bickham could bring to my understanding of plot.

Intended Audience: Writers of fiction. Perhaps most useful to someone planning a novel. Though I plan to use his order of component segments of scene and sequel to evaluate my scenes during revision.

What I liked: This book did not disappoint. Mr. Bickham’s presentation and explanation of scene and sequel were eye-opening and gave me lots of ideas to evaluate and improve my draft.

What I didn’t like: This book, even more than setting, felt like a lot of reading for the amount of useful information. However, the information is so useful, that it makes it completely worthwhile.

Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦  4/5  I recommend this book.

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

I’ll see you tomorrow.

Craft Book Review: Story Fix

Story Fix coverStory Fix: Transform Your Novel from Broken to Brilliant by Larry Brooks is intended to help authors “reinvigorate” rejected novels, but I found it lacking in tangible instruction and full of discouragement.

Why I picked it up: I was looking through Writing Voice: The Complete Guide to Creating a Presence on the Page and Engaging Readers (Creative Writing Essentials) from the editors at Writer’s Digest and started looking up the different authors who had written chapters. Because I am focused on editing and revision, Larry Brooks’s book looked like a good choice.

My Expectations: I was expecting a book on revision and editing with specific guidelines to follow as I revise my draft. With the bold title STORY FIX, I expected a plethora of tools and boxes to check.

Intended Audience: This book is for writers whose manuscripts have been rejected so many times that they are facing a major re-write or abandoning their novel to the drawer of despair, or the locked trunk in the basement. The author also assumes the reader has attended conferences.

What I liked: The examples of Mr. Brooks coaching authors at the end of the book are  worth reading. Before I got to the three case studies, I was having trouble finding anything I liked, but they were interesting. I recommend reading the case studies first and then, if you’re curious about Mr. Brooks’s terminology, going back and reading those sections of the book. I found the questions Mr. Brooks asked the authors during these story coaching sessions to be eye opening while evaluating my own manuscript.

What I didn’t like: Until the coaching examples (and somewhat during), the book comes across as very negative. Mr. Brooks appears to think he’s being honest and frank, 200 pages of tough love, one might say, but it comes across as cynical and impugning. Until I read the case studies, I felt like I had read 150 pages of how to write an elevator pitch and fifty pages telling me I might as well give up trying.

 

Rating:  ♦ ♦   2 out of 5 – only because of the coaching examples at the end.

 

Books on revision and editing I would recommend instead:

The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults by Cheryl B. Klein. I reviewed this book as my first Craft Book Review. It is not only for authors of children’s and YA novels.

The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne

Revision And Self-Editing (Write Great Fiction) by James Scott Bell

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

 

 

Craft Book Review: The Magic Words by Cheryl B. Klein

The Magic Words book cover

The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults by Cheryl B. Klein is a great book for writers who are ready to take their manuscript to the next level. As an editor for Scholastic, Cheryl has experience that makes her an authority on the subject of revision and editing MG and YA novels. She shares first hand stories about the revision process that bring difficult subjects to life.

Why I picked it up:

It was one of the books recommended by Denise Jaden at the end of Fast Fiction: A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First-Draft Novel in Thirty Days for when you’ve finished your draft and you’re ready to edit.

My Expectations:

Because the book is about writing for children and because Magic is in the title, I expected it to be focused on magical thinking and getting back to the child mind. I expected exercises in discovering stories that appeal to children and using language geared toward different age groups. This book wasn’t like that at all.

Intended Audience:

The ideal reader is a fiction writer who has finished a first draft of a novel fomiddle school, high school or adult readers. To get the most out of the exercises, you will want to have read through your draft and created a “book map.” The book map is a lot like the story grid from The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne that I talked about in the Editing Focus sections of my Final Days of 2017 posts. Cheryl Klein uses a post from Anita Nolan as an example. The book map is also a lot like Susan Dennard’s index card outline.

What I liked:

I liked the examples from her work as an editor working with authors. Her experiences were informative and brought the concepts into the real world. I also liked the extensive exercises in every chapter. The exercises raise poignant questions to get you analyzing your work.

Since I focused on plot last fall, I enjoyed that this book presents a fresh take. I learned yet another plotting structure called Freytag’s pyramid. I hadn’t heard of this one before. Based on Poetics from Aristotle, it describes the five act dramatic structure of classical plays, but also works as a model of rising action.

The Magic Words is thorough, covering every aspect of writing and revising your novel.

For your convenience both the plot chart and the character chart discussed in the book are available on the book’s page of Cheryl’s website.

What I didn’t like:

I got tired of Harry Potter references. If I didn’t write adult fiction as well as children’s fiction, I would have found most of the examples (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight) to be geared toward older kids and I would not have found this book very useful. However, as a book on the craft of writing, it was excellent.

Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦  5/5 Highly Recommend

 

Writing Reviews

I have a favor to ask. This year, I plan to write a review each week. I’m trying to come up with a format that is both fun and informative so I would appreciate your feedback of this review.

  • Did you like the layout?
  • Was the review helpful?
  • What else would you like to know about the book?
  • What didn’t you like about the review?
  • How could it be better?

Please respond in the comments. Thank you.

Happy Reading and Writing!

 

Interview with Richard C. White about his new book Harbinger Of Darkness!

Some of you may remember way back before #Writober  started, I asked What are you planning for #Writober? Back then, a million years ago, I mentioned that I planned to do Readers Imbibing Peril XII’s Peril in the First. I listed the books I planned on reading and half of those have changed, but I also mentioned a surprise. Here is that surprise. I was given a copy of Harbinger of Darkness by Richard C. White in exchange for a review. He also agreed to an interview. Imbibing So Much Peril!

My Review

 

four stars

The cover of Harbinger Of Darkness by Richard C. WhiteThough I’m not usually a kings and princes, guilds and taverns kind of reader, I enjoyed many things about this novel. I especially enjoyed the strong female protagonist. Perrin, by day, working in her father’s bookshop, uses a charm to change her appearance and becomes Raven, by night, master thief who doesn’t play by the rules. I was pulled into her world through visual description and quick-moving action scenes. I also enjoyed the crisp, natural dialogue.

There were some areas of the novel that I felt dragged slightly. Though there was a rich, layered story being told, I sometimes thought it could be told with fewer words. There were a few times I worried the story would turn to fairy tale stereotypes, but the story took a creative turn and rewarded me for my continued reading.

Harbinger of Darkness is a visceral adventure through a world of magic with well-developed characters, dynamic dialogue and a good dose of two-handed sword fights.

Interview with Richard C. White

Reading your bio at the end of Harbinger of Darkness, was fascinating. You have a career with a defense contractor and you write novels? Can you tell us about a day in the life?

Im a technical writer, by trade, so as I like to describe my life as six weeks of boredom followed by two weeks of panic. Most of the projects I work on are what we call eight-week spins, so for six weeks, theres not much for me to do while the developers and programmers work on their projects. However, once the code goes final, I have one week to write the users manual, update the technical manual, review and update the requirements spreadsheet, and write the change sheet. Once thats all done, then I have to get the government lead to review and approve my documents before the end of the second week, so we can release on time.

I try not to let that six-week slack period go to waste though. Most of the time, Ive been able to work on my latest story while Im on the slow part of the spin. Ive been able to sell my project managers that Im getting in typing practice. Generally, theyve been cool about it though – as long as I am at my desk, answer my phone/email, and help out when needed, etc. – its sort of like being on-call.

Most of my writing is done at home though. I try to carve out an hour or two before bed for writing, but that doesnt happen all the time. Getting a chance to spend time with friends and family is pretty darn important for physical and mental health.

One of my favorite writing exercises is going on writing walkabouts on the weekend. Ill take a Saturday or Sunday and go out and do an hour or two of writing at a coffee shop, then walk to the park and write, then hit a restaurant to write/eat, then maybe a local pub or a bookstore and write some more. The object of a walkabout is getting outside of the house to write, but not abusing a businesss hospitality. If I hit a coffee shop, I only stay a while and I order somethingsame for a restaurant, pub, bookstore, etc.. Im not there just to leach their electricity or wi-fi.

So, between working in some writing at work, in the evenings at home and on the weekends, I manage to balance family, work, and my writing. I wish I could say I was one of those who wrote every day, but I do what I can. Maybe after I retire, Ill consider trying to write full-time, but I dont see it happening anytime soon.

I would see the Star Trek and Star Wars book titles on the bookstore shelves and assume they were books that rehashed the scripts. I only learned about the media tie-in genre this past summer, but you’ve lived it. What, to you, is the purpose/joy of media tie-in and what’s it like to write for licensed media?

There are a number of different types of media tie-in stories. Some are novelizations of an existing property, say, Star Wars. There you take the movie and expand on it. A movie script would probably make a long novella, so to get 80-100,000 words for the novel, you get to go into descriptions, what the characters were thinking in certain scenes, what might have been happening right off screen, or how did that character we last saw on this planet manage to get to the other planet in the nick of time? Novelizations are a way to linger over a movie/tv show/game and fill in a few blanks.

Other media tie-ins are original stories set in the established universe. Now the authors get to maybe go back and revisit characters who only appeared in say one episode of Doctor WHO or NCIS and maybe instead of them being just a walk-on, now we get to do an entire story about them. Sometimes, we can tell stories of what happened between two episodes or even two seasons of a show to cover what happened to the characters (provided the season didnt end on a cliff-hanger). Other times, we come up with completely unique stories about charactersperhaps we tell the story of what they did before they came onto the show or if theyve left the show, perhaps we do a reunion story, to catch the fans up on whats happened to this or that person.

However, writing media tie-in stories has its own unique pitfalls. First of all, most people dont get to start off writing media works. You cant just write a Supernatural novel and send it to the publisher and hope theyll pick it up. Most of the authors you see whore writing media tie-in have been approached by an editor and asked to pitch something. Studios are very protective of their properties, so for the editor to sell you as the author, they like to be able to point to something youve already done to prove you have some writing chops.

So, if you get the opportunity to write something, then you get to do the tie-in dance. First off, the editor gives you your right and left boundaries, a.k.a., the licensor is looking for a story about X and Y, but dont go into Z or U. Why? They may or may not tell you, but the licensor is the final approver, so learn to keep them happy. Then the writer comes up with two or three plot pitches, which have to be approved by the editor and then the licensor. Once they decide which they like best, then you do a synopsis or perhaps a chapter breakdown and again the editor and then the licensor have to approve them. Finally, you get to write the short story, novella, or novel. And again, it goes through the editor and the licensor.

At any time in this process, the licensor can go, Nope, thats not working, and thats it. Hopefully, your editor can smooth thing over or help you come up with a way to mollify the licensor, but if they say no, then your story is dead. And I mean dead, since youre using their characters, theres no where else to sell that story. Sure, I guess you could try to file the serial numbers off the story and change it enough to make it your own, but in that case, why not just write a new story?

What inspired you to write Harbinger of Darkness?

Its hard to say what was the initial inspiration for Harbinger, but I can definitely trace some of its literary roots to stories like the Scarlet Pimpernel, Batman, Zorro, and the Green Hornet. However, I wanted to make the main character a bit more human. Perrin isnt necessarily out to right great wrongs or even make the city safer, although, she winds up setting herself against some of the greater criminals in her own citybut for her own personal reasons. Instead, this is about someone who feels trapped by circumstances and she is forced to take what some would call drastic actions to free herself and be able to follow her own dreams in the end.

I also wanted to try and determine for myself if I could write a story about a nocturnal character who a) is not independently wealthy, so they must maintain their secrets while holding down a regular job and b) must keep their secret identity from their own family – no faithful Diegos or Alfreds for Perrin. It was fun to take the trope of the costumed crime-fighter and morph it into what I wanted for this story. Hopefully, Ive succeeded.

Halloween’s coming up, do you have a favorite horror author/novel?

I have to admit, I like dark fantasy, but Im not much into modern horror. That being said, I do enjoy the Saga of Pandora Zwieeck series by Steve Roman. Even if Steve wasnt my publisher, he does write a damn good yarn with this series. Im constantly nagging him to put out the third book so I can find out how this first arc is going to end.

I did enjoy earlier Steven King The Shining, Carrie, Firestarter, and I remember making the classic mistake of trying to read The Exorcist at midnight when I was 12(ish). Not great for sleeping, let me tell you.

What’s your favorite scary movie?

Alien. Far and away, one of the most intense horror movies that I can remember, It was marketed as a Science Fiction movie, but it was a classic locked-house monster movie. Others I really enjoyed over the years were Jaws, Psycho (1960), The Birds, Cat People, An American Werewolf In London, and for a touch of comedy, Young Frankenstein and Abbot and Costello Meet the Wolfman.

What’s your biggest fear? Do you think it’s rational or irrational?

My biggest fear? Spiders, and of course, its irrational. Obviously, Im thousands of times larger than they are, but I dont like them, never have, and suspect I never will.

Which dictionary do you use?

My go-to dictionary is the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, ©1964, that I was given when I was in Kindergarten, and still use to this day.

Any advice for writers who have yet to feel their novel is finished or are yet to be published?

If youre feeling like your novel isnt finished, my advice is to really think about what youre doing. Are you really doing restructuring and introducing new plots or are you simply playing with where do the commas go in other words, are you really making meaningful changers or simply procrastinating? Eventually, youre going to have to take that next step and either start writing those query letters to try and get an agent/publisher to take a look at what youve got or else start down the path to self-publishing.

A number of people I know have worked and reworked and re-reworked their novels to death because they were afraid of what someone might say or think if they read it, but writing to be published is not for the timid. After a while, youre going to have to put it out there, with the understanding that once you release it, you have no more control over your story. People may like it, they may dislike it. Odds are something you write is going to be misinterpreted (dont even get me started on literary criticism here). Some people may even be offended at what you wrote.

Dont let that fear stop you because you have NO control over it unless you never write again. Once its published, the writer part of you has to forget about it, put pen to paper, and start working on your next book. The promoter part of you may have to spend some time with making sure people know your first book exists, but thats another tale for another time. As a writer, once you say, The End, except for making corrections/edits, its on to the next story and dont look back.

Cover of Terra Incognito by Richard C. White

Richard C. White has also shared his writing wisdom in a book for writers – Terra Incognito: A Guide to Building the Worlds of Your Imagination.

You can learn more about Richard C. White and his books on his website RichardCWhite.com, his facebook page AuthorRichardCWhite, on Twitter @Nightwolfwriter and at StarWarpConcepts.com

Wanna see Richard and hear his voice? Here’s a video interview on Youtube.

Summer Book Bingo 2: Adventures with A Good Book

In my last post, I told you about all the fun squares/book choices of the Seattle Summer Book Bingo. One of those squares said to get a recommendation from an independent bookseller, so I headed over to A Good Book in Sumner, WA to see what they could recommend.

Recommendations

When I mentioned to the dark-haired, bespectacled young man behind the counter what I was up to, he motioned toward the woman behind him who was the proprietor of the establishment, Evelyn Nicholas. They were both quick to point out the books that were next to the cash register.

Campfire Bookclub

The first book they showed me was A Darker Shade of Magic: A Novel (Shades of Magic) by V. E. Schwab. This is the book selection for their June Campfire Bookclub. You are welcome to join in a discussion of the book around a campfire with a drink and marshmallows on June 28th from 7-9pm. The book is part of a trilogy and Evelyn told me that her customers who read the first book rush back in for the second,  A Gathering of Shadows: A Novel (Shades of Magic). The third book in the series is A Conjuring of Light: A Novel (Shades of Magic).

Though this sounded interesting, and the bookclub sounds fun, I was curious to see what else they would recommend.

MC The great train robbery 75

The Great Train Robbery

The second book near the register that they recommended was a 2014 re-release of the 1975 novel by Michael Crichton. I had heard of the film and didn’t know it was based on a Michael Crichton book. I have read most of his books and found this tempting, but it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for.

Evelyn said, “and we also have used books,” and took me into the other half of the shop. This reminded me that I had read on their website that they buy used books, so I asked her about their buy-back policy. Turns out they do a one-to-one exchange, meaning for every book you bring in, you get a discount on a purchase. I’ll definitely be taking her up on that, next time I visit.

Since I recently enjoyed Pest Control and The Exterminators (Assassin Bug Thrillers) by Bill Fitzhugh and I’ve enjoyed every book by Carl Hiaasen, I asked her if she had any recommendations in that vein.

Evelyn said, “You like funny,” and took me to another section of the shop. She told me about a couple of books then grabbed Hidden Palms: A Butch Bliss Novel by hidden palms coverHarry Bryant. The plot, as she described it, sounded like something Mr. Hiaasen might have conjured and I really liked the cover. Then she directed me over to another area of the store while she explained that Harry Bryant is a new nom de plume of an author that works at the store. I was pretty sure I knew who she was speaking of because I had met him and as I looked over what she called his “darker titles” I saw I was right.

Harry Bryant is the “more light-hearted and funny” persona of Mark Teppo who I met at an authors’ talk at the Sumner library and again when I went to a NaNoWriMo write-in at this bookstore. I haven’t read any of his books yet, so this was a perfect recommendation. SOLD.

While back at the register, where my adventure began, I saw that they, too, have a Summer Book Bingo. I excitedly got my first BUY A BOOK square stamped in the top

A Good Book Summer Bingo Card

row, though I was given a choice, so I recommend reading through and seeing where it will be most advantageous for you to fill a row.

This bingo card is a clever way to inspire me to come back and buy books. The squares aren’t only types of books to read, but calls to action as well. Not only do you get a stamp for buying books, but also:

Read a media tie-in – Okay, this isn’t a call to action. Turns out it’s a genre. The call to action is, I had to look this up. I thought it would be reading articles or essays about books, but it’s not. It’s a genre all its own and, actually, will help me out with my “Genre that is new to you” square on my Seattle Summer Book Bingo card. Media tie-ins are books made from TV or movies. Things like Star Wars and Star Trek books. I really enjoyed the TV shows Monk and Castle, so I will probably read one of the books made as extensions of those series.

Attend an event – I’m not sure, but I would think that attending the Fireside Bookclub would get stamps for an event and a book discussion. Another event at A Good Book that I think sounds interesting is A Good Talk Salon where local people give talks on subjects other than their profession. The only problem being I would have to sign up to give a talk. I hope they have another one soon.

Have a book discussion – It’ll be interesting to see how I prove some of these things for my stamp. I have book discussions all the time.

Show them your library card – I should have gotten this stamp while I was there. I always have it on me.

Review a book – this is something I have been working on. Reviews are so important to authors these days. If you like a book, you should quickly head over to Amazon and Goodreads and let everyone know.

and Gift a book – I’m always excited when I find a book that I think is just right for a friend or family member.

Supporting Local Authors

Evelyn told me, as the only bookstore in town, she really wants to help local authors. She showed me a Free Books in return for review shelf at the front of the store that she hopes to fill with local authors. These are the books I took.

Wedgie & Gizmo- This will be my “Gift a book” bingo square. I plan to give it to my niece and can picture her reading it to her little brother. I’ve already posted my review on Goodreads.

The Fallen Star: The Nocturnals Book 3- Not a local author, but I’m hoping this will be a nice birthday gift for my niece. I better read and review it quickly as she’s an independence day baby.

The Best of Talebones-I was excited to see this on the free-for-review shelf. I met Patrick Swenson at the same author talk at the Sumner library as Mark Teppo. I got a signed copy of The Ultra Thin Man: A Science Fiction Novel and enjoyed it. Though the sequel, The Ultra Big Sleep

was on the shelf, I left it for another reader, for now, and grabbed the collection of short stories from Patrick Swenson‘s previous magazine. As a short story writer, I’m always looking for interesting short story collections.

Another way that A Good Book is supporting local authors is by inviting local authors to sell their books in front of the shop during the Rhubarb Days weekend. Evelyn offered me a spot on Sunday, July 16th and I am very excited to bring Gator McBumpypants to my local community. I’ll talk more about it soon.

I want to thank Evelyn and A Good Book Bookstore for her time, great book recommendations and her work for local authors. I had no idea that trying to fill one square on my Summer Book Bingo Card could be such a great adventure. Goes to show how important independent bookstores are to a community. I hope this inspires you to venture to your local independent bookseller and ask for a recommendation. I would love to hear about your local bookstore and the latest book you bought there.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Whisper by Christopher Bailey: a YA page turner.

I had an Amazon gift-card, so I treated myself to a copy of Whisper by Christopher Bailey and I’m glad I did. Like Chris’s other novels I’ve read, Without Chance and The Crystal Key (Starjumper Legacy, Book 1), it is a page turner. Christopher Bailey definitely knows how to keep me reading to the end.

cover of Christopher Bailey's new book WHISPER

four stars

In Whisper , Jackson, a high school football player, begins to hear a voice whispering in his head. His life is turned upside down when he has a vision while having a seizure. Doctors can’t find a physical cause for his condition, so he ends up in a psychological hospital. Jacks, however, comes to believe he is hearing the voice of a real girl, and she is in trouble.

This book has vivid characters and settings. I found it easy to empathize with Jacks’s sudden roller-coaster of fear and change. Each strange step, though frightening and surreal, leads to a natural chain of events.

The psychologist’s actions were sometimes hard to swallow, but I’ll admit that is personal bias because I have a psychology degree and hope that if I had gone counseling instead of research, I wouldn’t have ended up like that. I also had trouble relating to a Dad that would think doctors know best since I have a Mom who stored penicillin in the freezer and a Dad who almost fell off a roof before he would see a doctor because he had been getting dizzy (heart valve replacement), so again personal bias. However, since I felt that strongly about those personal biases, the characters must have been so well written that they affected me and made me think.

The mystery was intriguing. From beginning to end, the story concept kept me turning pages. There were times I would have liked more clues through the whispers, but the idea of pharmaceuticals stopping the whispers left me thinking the story could veer in many different directions; and it did, leaving me guessing!

Want to know more about this author? He wrote a great guest post for Experience Writing about breaking through writer’s block and did an author interview.