It’s so easy to make excuses to not write. Besides the traditional reasons like lack of time, inspiration, or endurance, using the excuse of “I don’t know what I’m doing” or “I don’t know where to start” are great ways of letting those unfinished ideas drift into the abyss. Even though I have a fancy piece of paper from a fancy university that says I should know how to write, it’s still one of the hardest things to do. From character development to subplots to the type of language you choose, the technicalities of writing can lead even the most motivated writer to giving up the whole thing. To yank me out of this mentality and really get this ball rolling, I’ve recently found an awesome resource on Daily Om called How to Write Your First Book.
This blog-style course is really helpful in just getting down to it. You want to write? Well…then you have to write, and not just scribbles of ideas and hopeful dreams. You have to get into the trenches and answer those questions. What is the story? Who are the characters? How will you make the audience care about them? This course does a great job of literally giving you the questions and saying “okay, it’s up to you. Answer them.” As I’ve gone through the course, I realize so much of gearing up to write is about taking it one question at a time. I’ve spent an entire week mulling over one question until the answer showed up. When it did, I felt more confident in how much stronger my story’s foundation was.
Even when writing plot, the best way to tackle such a gargantuan task is to simply ask what could happen.
When you answer that question, ask it again. Then again. Then asks things like “who is my main character at the end of all of this? Why did I just take my audience on this journey?” By the end of those questions, the answers will be the skeleton of your work.
I think right now my biggest struggle with writing is relying on my own brain power to answer all of these questions. Being a writer means being decisive. You are the ruler of this kingdom, the god of this world, and it’s a lot of pressure to make so many decisions! But with each choice you make, it gets a little easier, and your writing gets clearer.
First line: The things a woman has to do to make her way in this world…
Summary: The villainess of the classic novel, The Three Musketeers,
is Milady de Winter. She is accused of many terrible crimes. However,
maybe Dumas’ story got it wrong? Milady now wants to tell her story.
is a young girl, raised in England on a small estate. When her father
decides that she is old enough to be of use to him he takes her to the
court of King James I of England. There she meets that handsome rogue,
George Villiers. They are both taught how to manipulate and use the
people around them to gain power. But when Clarice learns something she
is sent away to a convent in France. Here she learns more about who she
is and sets her on the path to becoming one of the most notorious women
My Thoughts:The Three Musketeers is one of my favorite books. I love the action, the love, the revenge and of course Milady! When you read the original story it is easy to see her as the villain but Sullivan gives us a look at who she might have really been. It was fascinating and loads of fun to read.
I loved how the author switched between the events of the TTM and Milady’s past. Giving her a past makes her much more likeable and easier to understand her motives. She does do a lot of terrible things to the musketeers but she is also a victim. I never considered the interactions between Milady and D’Artagnan as rape but as I read this I realized that it totally is. Crazy! This romantic hero did what?!
When I began reading I was highly anticipating the events mentioned in TTM at Milady’s trial. I loved her time at the convent. Sullivan twisted the original story and its characters to fit into her story. I could tell that she did lots of research in order to make the story plausible. If I had not recently reread TTM I would have almost believed that things happened the way she wrote it.
My second and probably favorite part was her relationship with the Vicomte de la Fere. He is one of the major twists in the classic novel. I could not wait to see what their relationship was like and how it turned so deadly. It was well worth the wait. I loved seeing her change over time but in the end she could not escape her past.
FYI: If you love swashbuckling tales then this one is for you! And please read The Three Musketeers. It is wonderful! Read my review in our July newsletter.
First line: Keith, the boy in the rumpled shorts and
shirt, did not know he was being watched as he entered Room 215 of the
Mountain View Inn.
Summary: A young mouse named Ralph is
living in a knot hole in Room 215 when a small boy comes to stay. Ralph
loves to watch the guests, especially children because they are always
dropping food around the hotel. As he watches Keith he sees him playing
with his toys cars and a motorcycle. Ralph has always wanted to ride a
motorcycle. When the boy is not in the room Ralph gets his chance.
However, it does not work out as planned. He falls into the trash can.
Keith soon discovers the small mouse and they quickly become friends.
With Keith’s permission Ralph is allowed to ride the motorcycle all over
the hotel. This is when the adventure Ralph has been craving truly
My Thoughts: This was one of my all-time favorite
books as a child. I loved everything I read by Beverly Cleary but Ralph
definitely holds the top spot. His adventures were lots of fun and quite
funny too. And to have one of your favorite novels also be a movie was
so cool! I spent many a summer day watching the movie version of this
book as well.
When I just reread this charming story I realized
that Wichita is mentioned in it. How cool is that?! The teachers who are
staying at the hotel are from Wichita and consider taking Ralph home
with them to live in their classrooms. I thought this was a fun little
tidbit to find as an adult.
On my most recent trip to Oregon I
stopped in Portland for a few hours. While looking for things to do I
learned that the Multnomah County Library in Portland has a Beverly
Cleary Children’s Library. I immediately added it to my itinerary. We
stopped into this beautiful library for a short visit. As a fan of
Cleary’s and a librarian I was in heaven. If you get a chance go and
check it out.
FYI: If you are looking for a bit of nostalgia then this book is perfect.
I think you would probably be from a different planet if you said you hadn’t heard of Jaws before so instead of a synopsis I’ll just include this bit of info…
When Peter Benchley wrote Jaws in the early 1970s, he meticulously researched all available data about shark behavior. Over the ensuing decades, Benchley was actively engaged with scientists and filmmakers on expeditions around the world as they expanded their knowledge of sharks. Also during this time, there was an unprecedented upswing in the number of sharks killed to make shark-fin soup, and Benchley worked with governments and nonprofits to sound the alarm for shark conservation. He encouraged each new generation of Jaws fans to enjoy his riveting tale and to channel their excitement into support and protection of these magnificent, prehistoric apex predators.
I’ve always had a weird fascination with sharks. For some reason the adults in my life didn’t see anything wrong with 5 year-old me watching this terrifying movie. But hey, it was the 80’s and I don’t think the parents of that generation or the generations that came before were too concerned with parenting. So little me had a hard time even getting into swimming pools, let alone large bodies of water for several years without being certain I was going to be ate by a shark! With all that being said I’m not sure why I felt it would be a good idea to take this book with me to read while I’m vacationing ON AN ISLAND!!! I’m sure the rest of my summer will be filled with that old terror while I sit poolside certain that if I get in the water it will end with death by shark.
All death scenarios aside the summer food on the east coast is super yummy. If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life a Lobster Roll would be on top of the list. I can also always get behind a Oyster Po’boy. I think you could finish off either of these delicious sandwiches with some homemade Ice Cream.
Whether you’re going on vacation this summer or maybe just planning a staycation I think you should pick up Jaws and make one or all of these amazing recipes. Happy Summer!
First line: Maybe the machine could see the words she never spoke.
Summary: Alex and Suzette are the parents of a beautiful seven-year-old girl named Hanna. With her father she is his sweet little girl. For her mother she is complete opposite. After having been expelled from several schools in the last few years Suzette has had to home school Hanna but as the months pass the tension between mother and daughter continues to escalate. Suzette truly does love her child but she also fears her a little bit. Whenever she tells Alex about Hanna’s behavior he thinks she is overreacting. How can his perfect little angel be as bad as Suzette says?
My Thoughts: There is something truly wrong with
this child. I could not decide between a 4 or 5 star rating mainly
because I did not know if I could say I loved a book about such a scary
little girl. I was completely terrified of her. Even though I was
cringing and shocked by the events of the story I could not stop
In alternating chapters we see the perspectives of
Hanna and Suzette. I kept telling Suzette (in my head of course) to
leave. Just leave. How can a person live in a house with a child who
seems to want to kill her mother? Suzette though tries everything she
can think of to try and help her child. I think what makes it even
scarier is that Hanna does not speak. She cannot or will not tell her
parents what is bothering her.
FYI: Not for the faint of heart. I have to say that I had to put this down several times in order to breathe a bit.
First line: “Sophia, let’s go,” I call out from the hall.
Alice’s life is beginning to come back to normal. She has remarried
after the death of her first husband. She has two beautiful daughters
and a successful business. But when her husband, Nathan begins acting
strangely she turns to her best friend, Beth. As they talk about the
situation Alice begins to wonder who she can trust anymore.
My Thoughts: This by no means is anything groundbreaking or new to the genre but it was a lot of fun to read. It went by very fast and kept me interested the whole way. I liked how it was divided into sections for each of the women. We got a look into each of their lives and pasts which helps build up to the conclusion. I had so many theories flying through my head as I read. Each became more twisted with each passing page.
I would highly recommend this to anyone who likes a fun thriller. It is a perfect summer read!