Saturday, January 31, 2015

Book Review: Box of Rain by Debra R. Borys

by M. J. Joachim

Capturing a sense of reality in the dangerous prospect of living on the street, engaging in the abstract sense of hope through a sense of safety confounded by betrayal, Box of Rain stimulates and intensifies a journey saddened by hardship, lies and futility. It’s not easy breaking the cycle of negative circumstances and situations in one’s life. Even when one works confoundedly hard to do just that, life has a way of ripping the rug out from under you.

Surviving is not the same thing as living. Life on the street, in gangs, bouncing from foster home to foster home and the like is about survival, not living. Kids do what they have to do, they’re faith and trust in people always tested, which often leaves them bitter, cynical and afraid. Rarely is one able to count on another person while living this type of life. When one does, it may well lead to betrayal and unexpected pain in the future.

Box of Rain is an important story for us to read. It’s an inside view of life unfolding in the shadows of our world, providing a new perspective about the challenges good people face trying to survive and live in spite of the circumstances they were born into. The odds are usually against them. Heck, society and even their own kind are usually against them, but still some of them take every ounce of courage and every bit of energy they have to fight against the odds and break the cycle in the hopes of changing their lives for the better.

Box of Rain is a well written story that captivates the reader from beginning to end with twists and turns, making this book nearly impossible to put down at times. Borys keeps us wondering, sitting on the edge of our seat, scratching our head, guessing and hoping, praying even, for certain characters to be alright, and others to be held accountable for their crimes.

No spoilers here. You’ll just have to read it and find out for yourself, and I really hope you do. This is a very well written story, offering so much more than a good book to read. This book provides new perspective, and might even inspire a bit of action on our parts, to reach out or at least look at those living in the shadows with love, compassion and the willingness to care enough to do our part to help them.

Thank you for visiting Writing Tips today. Your visits mean the world to me, and I truly enjoy engaging in the conversation with you.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Paulette Harper Shares Valuable Marketing & Writing Tips

by Paulette Harper

Writing, publishing and marketing are all important aspects to consider when writing a book. Paulette appears to tackle these tasks  head on, delving into all aspects of getting her name and books out there. It's an important conversation, one that requires forethought when deciding to write and publish a book. Thanks, Paulette, for taking time to share your experience with us today. M. J. 

When I wrote my first book, That Was Then, This Is Now, I was under the impression that my publisher was going to promote my book. I soon found out that the publisher was only going to give a fraction of the time in helping me promote and market my book. Given the limited resources I had, I believe I did a great job of breaking into the market, making people aware of my presence. Here are just a few of the things to do to get started.

1. Send review copies of your books to book clubs and to all the journal and magazines that review books in your genre. Most publishers will do this, but it never hurts to research other places that you can submit a copy of your book. There are plenty of places on-line that will review your book for “free”.

2. Create a web page for the book. Ideally, you should have a separate website with an address that features the book title. Now you can exchange links and drive traffic to the site with comments, blogs, quotes, and extracts. Be sure to show people how they can buy the book.

3. Offer sample chapter as free downloads on your website. This is an excellent way to “tease” readers to want more. Make sure the chapters you are offering are your best chapters, and turn those chapters into PDF files.

4. Offer yourself for interviews on radio. Most radio stations are eager to interview newly-published authors.

5. Plan and give workshops on topics related to your book.

Paulette Harper is an award-winning and best-selling author, speaker and ordained Elder. She is the owner of Write Now Literary Virtual Book Tours and is passionate about helping authors succeed in publishing and marketing their books. Paulette has been writing and publishing books since 2008. She writes both Christian Fiction, Non-Fiction and children’s books. She resides in Northern, California.

Thanks again for stopping by, Paulette. Good luck with all of your publishing and marketing ventures.

Your visits and comments mean the world to me. Thanks so much for taking time to read, discuss and share this post.

M. J. 

©2015 All Rights Reserved  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Book Review: Beyond the Blue and the Gray by Tony Verna

by M. J. Joachim

It’s the sort of slapstick comedy that makes you shake your head when an author ventures into the realm of using history as a backdrop for such an unusual fictional story. A snapshot of day to day life rolls out while President Lincoln ends the Civil War, gets assassinated, put on public display and finally laid to rest. The Civil War, Lincoln, these were newsworthy events, sort of like us talking about the pros and cons of Obama at our kitchen table over coffee.

“Beyond” in the title means exactly that. This is the story about life taking place on the streets, rolling out across the country and even riding the high seas to Hawaii. Verna takes us on a journey of life, relationships, feelings and mischief. All sorts of mischief plays out in the story, things that make you scratch your head, laugh, cringe and shrug your shoulders.

Taken as a whole, the story is quite entertaining in an odd comedy sort of way. There were times I thought of Woody Allen, and his offbeat comedy style. There were other times when Mel Brooks came to mind. Beyond the Blue and the Gray is sort of crazy like that, charming, uncanny, a bit rude and politically incorrect at times.

It’s a good read if you like this sort of thing, one to take lightly and enjoy the sights and events as they happen. This isn’t a quick read, so be prepared to take your time. Remember, you’re traveling back in history and watching daily life unfold. Crime, murder, romance and magic all play a part, as characters live and die in these pages. There’s a main cast with more than a few supporting roles, some sticking around as the story continues to develop, while other make haste with cameo appearances.

Overall, I enjoyed Beyond the Blue and the Gray, and I’m glad the editor, Jim Bessey, sent me a copy. He had a personal relationship with Tony Verna, a man who struggled with leukemia and recently lost his battle. I was still reading the book when I received Jim’s tribute to him. May he rest in peace. May all his family and friends be consoled as they feel his loss.

Thanks so much for stopping by today,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Gardening, Book Reviews, YouTube Videos, Blog Hops and More…

by M. J. Joachim

January Gardening

January remains one of my favorite and busiest gardening months of the year here in Arizona. It’s a perfect time to get outside because the weather is warm enough to roll up your sleeves, but not so hot that you’re sweating to death after a few minutes. I’m currently working hard on the back planter I made a few years ago. I planted an evergreen Japanese hedge that I plan to accent with cat’s claw to cover the ugly gray wall and snapdragons to add extra color and fragrance. Snapdragons also happen to be one of my favorite flowers.

Book Reviews

Book reviews have been heavily on my list since early December. I have at least three I hope to publish before February, plus a few that were previously published on a site that no longer exist. I received Gone Girl for Christmas and literally couldn’t put it down, reading all 560 pages in less than two weeks. It’s quite the page turner, though my near future review will share a much more detailed analysis, complete with pros and cons. The other two books are requests from visitors to this blog. The one I started before Christmas is taking quite a bit of time to get through, which unfortunately isn’t faring so well for the author. The other I started last night to get a break from the first. It’s turning out to be a much better read, and might even get reviewed before the one that is taking so long to finish reading.

Making YouTube Videos

I made my very first YouTube video - a slide show I took of a praying mantis hanging out in my backyard for two days. It was so much fun that I made a second YouTube video of Arizona clouds, pictures I’ve been accumulating for more than a year. I had a third YouTube video up, but there was some issue with the music copyright, so I removed it. I plan to change the music and put it up again at some point. It seems all music given on the computer software is not free to use. Only some of it is, and I used the wrong soundtrack. A learning curve is definitely taking place as I enjoy the task of making public videos.

Blog Stats, Glitches and Blog Hops

Sayanara blog hops and blog hopping. I won’t do them anymore. We’re so careful about keeping our computers clean, avoiding glitches and fixing things when they come up, which is why I’m also being careful about giving away my links to any master list that can be edited by one or more powers that be. It makes good sense when you think about it. The only real way to improve blog traffic is to create excellent content that people want to read. Short of that, all the blog hops in the world won’t improve your stats, so why risk having someone edit your links? One of my New Year’s writing resolutions is to blog pure. I owe this to myself and all those who I follow and who follow me. We’ve got a good thing going and for my part, I want to do everything in my power to keep it on the up and up, without added worry from extra-curricular blog events, which might (or might not) take away from what we are ultimately trying to accomplish.

Other than all of the above, I wrote a post on Effectively Human a week or so ago explaining how January is taking me by storm. Regular and consistent blogging will resume soon, I’m thinking February, shortly after Super Bowl in AZ and my big 50 birthday coming up too fast. In the meantime, I’ll keep reading and working on those reviews I’ve got in progress, and you keep being the wonderful blogging friends I’ve come to know and love.

Wishing you only good things, dear blogging friends,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Praying mantis, ©2015 All Rights Reserved, M. J. Joachim