Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Review: A Dear Little Girl’s Thanksgiving Holidays

By M. J. Joachim

Learning to write dialog is sometimes as simple as studying well-written passages in the pages of a good book. A Dear Little Girl’s Thanksgiving Holidays by Amy E. Blanchard is such an example, where studying the art of written conversation is easy to comprehend.
The story is a charming tale of warmth and family during the Thanksgiving holidays, interwoven with enticing detail, dialog and scripted with energy, joy and enthusiasm. It literally makes you want to be there, or at the very least, celebrate your own festivities with as much harmony, love and amusement.

A Dear Little Girl’s Thanksgiving Holidays is a Gutenberg free ebook, available in many formats. It is a relatively short story that will draw you in and keep you satisfied. From a writer’s perspective, I feel it is an excellent way to study and learn to write effective dialog, since much of the story takes place through various characters conversing with one another, in a mixed medley of settings. 

I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading this book and learn a lot from it, which is one reason I’m adding it to my Recommended Reading List. The other is because I had so much fun reading it myself. You can find the links to down load it here.

Thank you for visiting Writing Tips. My posting this week might be a little hit and miss, since I’ll be hosting our own family Thanksgiving, complete with visitors from out of town. In a nutshell, if I’m able to post, I will, if not, I’ll see you next week. 

Wishing you all a wonderful and superbly fantastic Thanksgiving. Safe travels and joyous memories to each and every one of you!

M. J.

©2013 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: Jennie Augusta Brownscomb (1850 - 1936), The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, PD-US

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Review: Telling Details by Kat Duncan

By M. J. Joachim

It seems a bit ironic that Telling Details is an instructional book about writing. Blame it on the formatting, if you can get past the rhetoric. It’s not that Kat doesn’t offer a few sound tidbits on how to add detail to one’s manuscript. It’s that the way she does so, gave me the impression I was reading paragraphs that had been copied and pasted from somewhere else – perhaps one of her lectures to her students or something, which could have something to do with why the formatting was so poorly organized. (I’m just guessing here. Please don’t hold me to this speculation.)
Personally, I have a problem with CAPS and bold lettering randomly appearing throughout any manuscript, without logic or reason. However, I’ve never run into whole sections of a script being set in italics before, until I read Telling Details, that is. As an author presenting herself as an expert in writing, this didn’t sit well with me at all. Nor did the phrases passed off as complete sentences.

Many of the examples Kat provided to clarify meaning, only served to muddy the water even more. They were random, inconsistent and some of them didn’t make sense at all. Perhaps this is because she clearly offered more examples than explanations and instruction. Examples are good in how-to books, provided they are examples to the explanation of what and how readers are supposed to do something. Clearly there is an unnecessary imbalance in this department when reading Telling Details.

Another thing that sufficiently bothered me in this book were all the questions. Writers shouldn’t have to work that hard, analyzing and second-guessing every thought, word, character, scene and detail. We shouldn’t have to work that hard reading a how-to book about improving details in our stories either. I mean, if we have to micromanage our words to the extent suggested in Telling Details, we may as well quit writing before we start, because we’ll never be able to commit a single word to paper, without driving ourselves crazy about whether or not it conveys the desired message and meaning. 

To say I was disappointed with this book is an understatement. To suggest to my audience that it will benefit them in their goals to add details to their writing is a lie. My review for Telling Details will eventually find itself buried in the archives of this blog, never to grace the growing list of wonderful books in my Recommended Reading List

Thank you for visiting Writing Tips. My brief thought about adding detail to your writing today is, write what you want to see and experience, in a way that’s naturally clear to you and your readers. 

M. J. 

©2013 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: Gustave Flaubert, Un Coeur simple, PD-US
Links to this blog are greatly appreciated. However, please don’t copy any content here. Thank you.

Book Review: America for Americans! by John Philip Newman

By M. J. Joachim

I have just read one of the most amazing Project Gutenberg free ebooks titled, America for Americans! by John Philip Newman. It’s a quick read, not more than 2 – 3 hours, if you take time to pause and digest the content like I did. 
In this sermon, you’ll discover the history of America, as it was unfolding in the 1800’s. You’ll learn what it means to be a true American, whether you are native, naturalized or foreign. You’ll come to understand the inherent meaning of Separation of Church and State, how it came to be and what it means for all Americans, regardless of status, creed or race. 

America for Americans is a Thanksgiving sermon written and delivered with native principles in mind. The message is no less valuable today than it was the day it was written – a message of hope and thanks for the gift of the country we proudly call home, and the freedom we’ve established here. It is in fact all the more pertinent, particularly in today’s times. 

Among the most accurate messages shared in this short ebook are the seven attributes that qualify one to be an American:

  • Civil rights belong to all, and no man is superior to another.
  • Our rights are founded in morality, not dictated by force.
  • Culture and responsibility of each individual determine these rights, protecting them from faulty premises set by sovereignties and people in lofty positions. 
  • Education is “forever free from sectarian control.”
  • The government has no religion, therefore it is not only non-religious, but it should be preempted from being irreligious. 
  • The Sabbath is a day of rest, regardless of religious affiliation, or lack thereof.
  • Christianity – not distinct religions, and all of its principles is the religion of this land, without preference to any particular religious affiliation or group. 

These principles, based on the writings and declarations of our Founding Fathers are what make this country great. These are the standards all Americans should hold true, defend and preserve. Each individual American, irrespective of who they are or where they come from, should recognize who we are as a nation, what we stand for and why we are the beacon of hope for all who come here. 

America for Americans! will proudly be added to my Recommended Reading List. It’s a must read for anyone who recognizes life, liberty and happiness as the key to freedom and the right of every citizen in our world. 

Thank you for visiting Writing Tips. I hope and trust you’ll take time to read this important manuscript that delivers such an important, positive message for America and her citizens.

M. J. 

©2013 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: John P. Salvatore, PD-US, Universal Public Domain Dedication
Links to this blog are greatly appreciated. However, please don’t copy the content here. Thank you.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Book Review: Champion in the Darkness by, Tyrean Martinson

By M. J. Joachim

Please take a moment to read my post on St.Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, which is part of the Holiday Food Drive Blogfest this week. While you’re there, I hope you’ll take time to look at some of the other participant posts in this special blog hop, designed to raise awareness about hunger and fill the food bank shelves. Thank you.

Champion in the Darkness is a story with so many elements, many which ring true in daily life on multiple levels. It is a story about family, the human spirit, embracing destiny, growing up, accepting limitations and overcoming failure, only to rise to the challenge and conquer defeat within ourselves.

Set in a mystical world that alternates between fantasy, fiction and reality, Tyrean’s book takes us on an adventurous tale of magic and chivalry, much of which takes place on battlefields, where loyal servants fight to defend their kingdom. 

The Dark Sisterhood is a force to be reckoned with – not just in the story, but also in our own hearts, as we decide our fate to stand with good or evil through the characters presented. Sometimes we don’t know which is which; at other times it’s all too clear. So it is true for all of us, regardless of where or when we live our lives in history. 

The unwritten story (what’s not written, but can easily be read between the lines) is what intrigues me most about Champion in the Darkness. The reader can easily identify with each and every character, at some point in the story. Put the mirror aside and see yourself from a new perspective, as your strengths and weaknesses are unveiled in the depths of your reading. See your family, friends and neighbors too, and recognize the human spirit at work, interacting with each other on small and grand scales in community.

There is power in seeing ourselves and others through the books we choose to read. A wide range of emotions overcomes us, as we realize we are the demon, soldier or champion capable of affecting the lives of those around us and beyond. Of course, it’s much easier to do in a dramatic physical setting, so unreal and imaginary, that we focus on the adventure, while the subtle messages chip away at our souls. Okay, it’s not always so subtle. There were a few times I put the book down to digest what I was reading, pondering the message and what it meant for me.

Champion in the Darkness will definitely be added to my Recommended Reading List. There are a few typos and minimal awkward phrasing, but nothing so much that could alter my opinion of the book. In saying this, I find it disappointing to read published books with typos and other editing problems in them. Yes, the story is important. However, presentation of the story matters and is vitally important, so readers are not distracted by common mistakes that should be left in rough drafts, and not included in finished, published manuscripts. It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine. 

The standard is high, and the bar should not be lowered, especially at a time when self-publishing is so easy to do. Anyone can publish a book these days. Those who take the time to thoroughly go through their manuscripts and make them top-notch should rightfully rise to the top. Unfortunately, the rush to publish and desire to finish, seem to take priority at times. Not to mention, writing a book is the fun part. It is grueling, tedious work to reread that same work and find every little mistake, until it shines with the glow of perfection.

Tyrean tells a committed story meant to touch our hearts and souls, but also designed to make us think about who we are, and ponder the decisions we make in relationship to ourselves and others. There is no black or white, but rather numerous shades of gray, as we journey through the phases in our lives. Each one comes with its own joy and hardship, testing our faith in God, life and humanity. It’s up to us to chart the course, drawing on gifts of strength from powers within and beyond our control.
Thank you so much for taking time to read this review and consider picking up your own copy of Champion in the Darkness. I hope you find my post helpful in making your decision, and look forward to hearing your thoughts about this review and Tyrean’s book in the comments. 

M. J.
©2013 All Rights Reserved
No part of this blog may be copied or distributed without written permission from M. J. Joachim. However, links to this blog are more than a little appreciated. Thank you.

St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance – Holiday Food Drive Blogfest

By M. J. Joachim

Super Saturday is just days away, taking place on Saturday, November 23 this year. Safeway has joined forces, offering to double your donation when you donate a turkey every Tuesday in November. The 12th Annual Operation Santa Claus is in full swing, working to feed families and make kids happy this year. It’s all part of St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, an Arizona organization dedicated to reducing hunger and raising awareness about it where I live. 
“St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, the world’s first food bank, is a non-sectarian, non-profit organization that alleviates hunger by efficiently gathering and distributing food to the hungry,” states their website. Relying on volunteers and developing important community relationships with local businesses, news networks and anyone willing to get involved, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance is a member of Feeding America. “Our mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger,” states the Feeding America website.

People get excited about donating food during the holidays and when tragedy hits. However, hunger is a daily problem that never goes away. Summer is one of the hardest times for food banks in Arizona. It’s hot here – extremely hot. Winter visitors disappear. Dust and monsoon storms make for nice weather pictures, but not for feeding the hungry and keeping food bank shelves full. 

There’s always a need. Wouldn’t it be amazing to keep a steady stream of food lining those shelves, just like people who can afford to go shopping do every week or so? I’ve shared two links in this post, one local and one national, where you can easily find out what it takes to get involved. Let this be a starting point, one that continues each month of every year. The need is great and it’s present all year long. 

Thank you for visiting Writing Tips today. I hope this post inspires you to get involved, either by donating, volunteering or writing a few blog posts to inspire others to get involved. Feeding the hungry isn’t just a random act of charity. It’s what we are called to do as citizens of the human race.

Thanks to my friend, Tina Downey, for helping me host this special blogfest!
M. J. 

©2013 All Rights Reserved

Saturday, November 9, 2013

How to Participate in a Blog Hop

By M. J. Joachim
Sign up on the link list provided. Your blog will be added with all the other blogs. (I’m using Celebrate the Small Things as an example – This hop requires writing about short positive moments from your week. It is an ongoing hop that takes place every Friday.)

Read and follow all blog hop rules provided by host. These vary from hop to hop, so make sure you know what you are signing up for, to determine if you're willing to participate. Most rules are in accordance with the general list I'm sharing in this post. However, there may be other rules added at the discretion by the blogger hosting the hop.

Link back to the host of the blog hop – In this case, VikLit

Highlight her name and add the link in your post.

Right click and save the blog hop badge, so you can insert it as a picture in your post – this is pretty much optional, but it makes it easier for all who visit, as they recognize you as a participant more readily. 
Copy the code (if provided) for the blog hop list of participants.

After you’ve created your post, go to html mode – top left in blogger, next to the compose button. Scroll all the way to the bottom and paste the code at the very end of all the other html code.

The list of participants will show up at the bottom of your post this way. Again, this is optional, but most people do it to make it easier on all participants. 

On the day(s) of the hop, visit as many of the other blog participant’s blogs as you can, leaving a kind comment for them. They will do the same for you. Some people take a couple of days to visit everyone, especially if the list is long. 

Note: Not all blog hops make the code available for participants. This is okay, since you are linking to the host of the hop, and she has the list on her site anyway. 

That’s all there is to it. 

When you sign up, just put the name of your blog and a link to it. Then add your blog owner name and email as required. Once you do so, you’ll be given the option to go back to the main blog. 

Thank you for visiting Writing Tips. I hope this helps clarify things for those who are new to blogfests and blog hops, as well as those who are curious, but not sure if they should join them. I must warn you, blog hopping can be addictive; it’s also a whole lot of fun!

M. J. 

©2013 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hunger Management – dVerse 110513

A poem for dVerse Open Link Night, written by M. J. Joachim 

Gut wrenching, tired and sad
Moments of weariness
As children cry, old people die
Of hunger

Is this all there is
A mother’s heart reaching
For something
There’s not any food

She makes up a story
Water fills up a potWith a bone and some salt
Soup – a most delicious meal

Pasta is cheap
The store has a sale
Fast food is cheaper
No one will tell

Full for a moment
Nutrition aside
Is this what we’ve come to
Letting poor people survive?

Please join us for the Holiday Food Drive Blogfest. Our goal is to highlight the issue, help fill the food banks and reach out to those in need through our blogs. Your help is needed, requested and more than a little appreciated. Thank you!

So glad you stopped in for a visit today! Can’t wait to see you next time!

M. J.

©2013 All Rights Reserved