Thursday, December 1, 2016

Takhayyal #writingprompt 50: Unleash Your Creativity

Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen, Artists, Poets, Writers, Authors, Dreamers, Friends and Family; Welcome EVERYONE to Nadaness In Motion's bi-weekly picture-prompt writing challenge Takhayyal.

Can you believe we've made it to the 50th prompt in the series?!

WOW! I call that a milestone! Thank you for your support!


For this special occasion, I'm featuring a number of prompts, some that were most popular, and some that didn't get the amount of publicity they deserved.

Feel free to mix any of them, just mention which ones you've used/mixed up.


Now off to the writing promptssssss


 

















Takhayyal prompt 21 - Image found Online for the Blood Moon 2016

Takhayyal Prompt 23 - Image found online.
































Takhayyal 46 - Image found online




















Digital Artwork by Elena Godina - Takhayal prompt 18
























Artwork by Yomna El Mahany - Takhayyal 45






















Arabic for Imagine, Takhayyal is a challenge for writers of all ages and genres; a place to spark creativity and explore new genres.
Your post can be in English or Arabic, prose, poetry, short story, flash fiction; you name it and write it.

General rules:
·        No nudity, violence, and/or abuse.
·        Leave the link to your post in comments below OR post your piece as REPLY to this post
·        Your piece MUST be inspired in some way or other by the above picture
·        Multiple entries allowed
·        It is not required but it is a nice and encouraging gesture to comment on others' pieces.
·        Feel free to add your Twitter handle (@....) so I can tag you in my tweets!

Let's IMAGINE!


Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Importance of a Good Editor - Guest Post by Carl Schmidt

Book: Dead Down East
Author: Carl Schmidt
Genre: Mystery, Humor
Release dates:  Kindle: 25 May, 2016; Paperback: 26 June, 2016
Length: 241 pages
ISBN:  9781533502186
ASIN:  ISBN-10: 1533502188


Synopsis:

Dead Down East, a fictional murder mystery, is both detective noir and smart screwball comedy rolled into one. Jesse Thorpe, a young private investigator operating out of Augusta, Maine, receives a mysterious phone call from a former client, Cynthia Dumais.  She begs to be rescued from an island south of Brunswick, within a mile of where William Lavoilette, the governor of Maine, was assassinated the night before. She insists that her life is in danger, but is unwilling to provide any further information. Reluctantly, Jesse goes to fetch her.

Within a week, Jesse has three separate clients, each with his, or her, own desperate need to have the murder solved. He assembles a motley team of compadres, including rock band members, a tie-dye psychic and his rousing girlfriend, Angele Boucher, to help him with the case. While the FBI and the Maine State Police investigate political motives, Jesse looks for the woman—Cherchez la Femme—as the trail draws him through the lives, and DNA, of the governor’s former mistresses.

Fresh, witty and loaded with eccentric characters, this first novel in the Jesse Thorpe Mystery Series is both clever and stylish. It’s an old-school private eye tale with inventive twists and local charm. If you enjoy a well-crafted and zesty narrative, lively banter, or take pleasure in the company of Mainers, you’ll love Dead Down East. 


The Importance of a Good Editor
Guest post by Carl Schmidt


Every seasoned novelist will tell you that there is absolutely no substitute for a good editor.

An editor doesn’t just alert you to mistakes in spelling, grammar, sentence structure and punctuation; editing goes way beyond that. Your story needs to be consistent, factually correct, clear, and succinct. This might sound obvious, but when you are dealing with a 90,000-word novel, there are plenty of ways to muck it up on every single page.

So. You’ve written your first novel, or maybe you’ve just completed a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Chances are you’ve read it several times, and it looks good to you. You’re excited about it. You’ve created a likable story or perhaps you’ve made some kind of definitive statement. Now you want to have it published.

Hold your horses, Kemosabe.

This last sentence is a perfect example of why you need an editor. I know what “Kemosabe” means, but do you? I was raised on The Lone Ranger and Tonto, but if you are considerably younger than I, you might not have a clue. And if you don’t, I may have just lost you as a reader. A good editor will bring this to your attention and make sure you use references that will be familiar to your target audience.



Every chapter in your novel needs to have a fresh beginning and a logical conclusion. The fresh beginning will keep your reader awake, and will revitalize his/her interest in your story. The logical conclusion will wrap up that particular scene and give the reader a breather. It may have taken you a week to write the chapter, and in that time you have been so wrapped up in the content of the storyline that you may have lost sight of what your reader knows at this point, and the pace of his reading experience. If your editor suggests that the chapter rambles, then clean it up and shorten it. If your editor says that something is missing or unclear, then you probably have left too much to the reader’s imagination.

Another important purpose of editing is to broaden your vocabulary so that highly descriptive words or phrases are not overused. A Thesaurus can help with this, but every author has a tendency to repeat himself in some way, either with specific words or sentence patterns. Repetition will blemish your story, and a good editor can spot it.

JanMarie Moullen edited my first three novels. She has an uncanny ability for recalling my use of unique adjectives and adverbs, and letting me know when they appear too often throughout the book. There were instances where she went back 50 pages or more in the text to find that I had used an unusually graphic word, and when it appeared for just a second time, much later in the book, it stood out to her as tiresome. And…she was right.

Overall, I took her advice about 95% of the time. I learned to trust her judgment, and it paid dividends. Several reviewers have commented on how crisp the editing is in my first novel. She deserves most of that credit.


Purchase Dead Down East via Amazon.


About the Author:

Carl Schmidt graduated from Denver University with a degree in mathematics and physics. As a Woodrow Wilson Fellow he studied mathematics at Brown University.

Carl lived and traveled widely throughout Asia for seven years, including two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines and five years in Japan, where he taught English.

Carl has spent dozens of summers in Maine, on lakes and in the woods. He chose it as the setting for this novel because he loves its rugged natural beauty and the charming idiosyncrasies of Mainers. He has also written and recorded three musical albums. This, along with his formal education, proved invaluable when molding the persona and voice of Jesse Thorpe, the narrator of Dead Down East, and endowing him with both a creative eye for detail and a sense of humor.

Dead Down East is the first novel in the Jesse Thorpe Mystery Series, which includes A Priestly Affair and Redbone.  In 2001, New Falcon Press published his non-fictional book, A Recipe for Bliss: Kriya Yoga for a New Millennium.

Currently, he is a freelance writer living in Sedona, Arizona with his lovely wife, Holly, and their faithful German shorthaired pointer, Alize.


Connect with the Author via Facebook, Goodreads, Smashwords and his Website. 


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Researching for historical fiction novels & Yellow Hair - Guest Post

Today, I'm featuring a guest post by author Andre Joyce on the research of its historical fiction epic adventure Yellow Hair.

Enjoy!

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. I would like to thank Nada for allowing me to be here today to promote my latest, Yellow Hair, which documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage I write about actually took place. The historical figures that play a role in my fact-based tale of fiction were real people and I use their real names. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century.

Through no fault of his own, a young man is thrust into a new culture just at the time that culture is undergoing massive changes. It is losing its identity, its lands, and its dignity. He not only adapts, he perseveres and, over time, becomes a leader—and on occasion, the hand of vengeance against those who would destroy his adopted people.


Now that the commercial is out of the way, we can get down to what I really came here to talk about: the research that goes into writing an historical novel or an action/adventure novel that uses an historical event as a backdrop.

I want to say that I learned the hard way how important proper research is. But it wasn’t really that hard of a lesson. In my first book, which takes place in the last half of the 19th century, I made two mistakes. I had the date of an event off by one year and I had my hero loading the wrong caliber cartridge into his Winchester rifle. I would have gone blissfully throughout life not knowing how I had erred if not for my astute fans. Both mistakes were quickly pointed out to me in reviews of the book. One guy said he would have given me five stars if not for the wrong caliber bullet mistake. I had to settle for only four stars. Lesson learned!

Before I get into telling you about the year-long research I did for Yellow Hair, I’d like to tell you how I researched my second and third books and describe what that research entailed.

My second book was a western and the protagonist was a woman. The research took about three months. I had to know everything from women’s undergarments of the late 19th century to prison conditions for women in those days. (I sent my heroine to jail.) That kind of research was easy. Thank God for the internet. But then I had to do some real research. Molly (my protagonist) built up her cattle ranch to one of the largest in Montana, but she and her neighbors had nowhere to sell their beef. So Molly decided to drive her and her neighbors’ cattle to Abilene where she could get a good price. She put together the second largest herd on record (12,000 heads) and took off for Abilene.

That’s when I had to really go to work. I wanted my readers to taste the dust on the trail. I wanted them to feel the cold water at river crossing. I wanted them to know about the dangers of the trail, from rustlers to Indians to cattle stampedes.

This is how I learned about all those things and more. First of all, I found old movies that were authentic in nature. I watched them to get a feel for the trail. Then I read books by great authors who had written about cattle drives to soak up even more of the atmosphere of a cattle drive. That was all well and good, but it still did not put me in the long days of breathing dust and being always fearful of a stampede.

That’s when I went looking for diaries written by real cowboys while they were on the trail. After that, I found obscure self-published books written by those cowboys. Then it was onto newspaper articles written at the time about large cattle drives. That’s how I had Molly herd the second largest cattle drive. I discovered that the largest was 15,000 head, driven from Texas to California in 1882.

My next book took place in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. Here new elements were added such as wolves and the extreme weather as adversaries. Dogsledding was also involved. I have seen snow only three times in my life and I have never dogsledded. I knew even less about wolves. I had to learn about those things. I had no idea what it was like to travel across a wilderness on a dogsled at seventy degrees below zero. I also had to acquire knowledge about the dogs themselves, especially the lead dog. I learned about all that by doing the same things I did for my second book. The old diaries were the most helpful. As to the gold rush, there was plenty of material in the form of self-published books by some of the participants. Some were never even published, but I found copies of them in the archives of universities and historical societies. Again, newspaper stories printed at the time were very useful. Concerning wolves . . . I read everything I could get my hands on about wolves—their habits, the pack hierarchy, the alpha male, and the different jobs or tasks the males and females have while hunting.

Now we come to Yellow Hair. As I mentioned above, the book is about the Sioux Nation from 1805 to 1890. I had to know both points of view, the white man’s and the Sioux’s. Getting to know the whites’ take on things was easy. There are many, many books (non-fiction) that were written at the time. I even found a book written by Custer detailing his strategy for wiping out the Sioux entirely. That was hard reading. And, again, there were universities and historical societies whose archives were a great help.
As to the Sioux’s point of view, there are a few books that were dictated to newspapermen years later by the Indians that took part in the various battles that I weave into my story. I found a lot of material from Native American participants of the Little Big Horn, written twenty to thirty years after the fact.

But I wanted to immerse myself in the Sioux culture and I wanted to give them dignity by using their language wherever possible. I also wanted to introduce them by their Sioux names. So, I had to learn the Lakota language. And that wasn’t easy. There is a consortium that will teach you, but they wanted only serious students. You have to know a smattering of the language before they will even deign to let you in. I had to take a test to prove that I knew some Lakota. I failed the first time and had to go back to my Lakota dictionary and do some more studying. I got in on my second try.

It took six years from the start of Yellow Hair until it was published. But I wrote three books in between. All boiled down, the research took a year and the writing and editing took two years.

I’m running out of space, so I reckon I’ll wrap it up. I hope I’ve given you a little insight into the research process. It’s time-consuming and sometimes frustrating. But it is also a blast. Every new discovery is like finding the mother load.

I’d like to sign off with another commercial. The three books I alluded to above are:
·        Molly Lee

I would like to thank Nada once again for having me over and you good folks for tuning in.

Andrew Joyce


Connect with Andrew via Facebook and his website.

Purchase links for Yellow Hair: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo and Smashwords.

About the Author:

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and fifty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, YELLOW HAIR. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, MICK REILLY.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Charming Life of Izzy Malone by Jenny Lundquist - Excerpt & Giveaway

the-charming-life-of-izzy-malone
The Charming Life of Izzy Malone 

Izzy Malone isn’t your typical sixth grader. She wears camouflage combat boots and tie dye skirts; the Big Dipper and Orion are her two best friends; and she’d rather climb trees or shoot hoops than talk about boys and makeup. And after only a month of middle school she’s already set the record for the most trips to the Principal’s office.


The only time Izzy feels at peace is when she’s on the open water, and more than anything else, she wants to become a member of the Dandelion Paddlers, her school’s competitive rowing club. But thanks to those multiple trips to the Principal’s office, Izzy’s parents force her to enroll in Mrs. Whippie’s Charm School, a home-study course in manners and etiquette, or they won’t let her race in Dandelion Hollow's annual pumpkin regatta—where Izzy hopes to prove to the Dandelion Paddlers she is more than qualified to be on their team.

When Mrs. Whippie’s first letter arrives it’s way different from what Izzy was expecting. Tucked inside the letter is a shiny gold bracelet and an envelope charm. Izzy must earn her first charm by writing someone a nice note, and once she does more tasks will be assigned.

Izzy manages to complete some of the tasks—and to her surprise, she actually finds herself enjoying the course. But when one of her attempts at doing something good is misinterpreted, she fears her chances at passing the course—and becoming a Paddler—are slipping away. With some unexpected friends there to support her, can Izzy manage to earn her charms and stay true to herself?


Excerpt

Coco grunted and stuck a pumpkin on her bookcase. “Consider yourself lucky. The only reason you’re not in Principal Chilton’s office right now is because Ms. Harmer decided stealing keys is a bigger offense than climbing trees…And how many more times am I going to have to tell you not to put your feet up on my desk?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “How many more times do you think I’ll get sent to your office?”
“That’s a mystery to me. You’ve only been here a month and I think you already hold the school record. It’s been—What?—two days since I last saw you? When you kicked Tyler Jones in the shin.”
“That was totally not my fault. Tyler called me a weirdo and a waste of space.”
“‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me.’ It’s a saying,” Coco said. “Ever heard of it?”
“You know what? Now that you mention it, I think I have!” I nearly sprained my eyeballs; I was trying so hard not to roll them. Words are a weapon, and rotten kids like Tyler Jones get a free pass when it comes to using them, because the marks they leave are invisible. Why don’t more adults realize that?


Praise for the Book:

barnes and noble“Izzy’s frank, vulnerable, sassy first-person narration reveals her surprising journey from a solitary girl talking to the stars to a girl with friends to light her way…This story of an atypical girl, her family, and friends, laced with middle school drama, is indeed a charming one.” –Kirkus Reviews

“A heartwarming coming-of-age journey…Lundquist deftly portrays the pain of being odd girl out, both at school and at home.” –Publisher’s Weekly

amazonadd to goodreads new
jenny-lundquist
Author Jenny Lundquist
Jenny Lundquist was born and raised in Huntington Beach, CA, where she spent her time unsuccessfully learning how to surf. When she was younger, she wanted to be either a rock star or a published author. After she taped herself singing and listened to it on playback she decided she'd better opt for the writing route. Jenny is the author of Seeing Cinderella and Plastic Polly as well as the young adult titles The Princess in the Opal Mask and The Opal Crown.




amazon or paypal$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 12/12/16

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Key to a Murder – Book Review

Book: Key to a Murder
(Antique Hunters Mystery book 4)
Author: Vicki Vass
Genre: Cozy Mystery


Synopsis:

A mysterious woman appears on the doorstep of Great Aunt Sybil's Attic in the middle of the night. Owner Anne Hillstrom lets her in, only to have the woman die in her arms.
With no final words, and only an old lantern clutched to her chest, the dead woman provides Anne and her partner CC precious few clues to discover her murderer or why she spent her last moments in their antique store. The two Antique Hunters search for clues, finding themselves entangled in a centuries-old mystery leading them to a cemetery in Ireland where a ghost from the past has left them a cryptic message, and a killer has left them no choice but to discover his identity before he kills again.
On their journey, the two best friends encounter antiques, romance and the key to a murder. Key to a Murder is the fourth book in the Antique Hunters Mystery series.

Book Review

Key to a Murder by Vicki Vass is a cozy mystery – well sort of. It does have almost all the criteria of a cozy, but the mystery is aspect is significantly lacking in the novel. In fact, at some point – almost towards the third of the book – I had to go back and reread the synopsis to remember why I picked up the book in the first place.

The mystery is about the lantern, but until almost half the novel, there are only a few mentions of it and it is thrown to the background and is not considered a pressing matter.

The novel has a very strong opening with the possible ghost of Anne's late Aunt Sybil, the introduction of the mystery woman who dies in Anne's arms and the old Irish lantern.

While I liked that the mystery was not about a person specifically, but rather about an object, I didn't like that I had to read chapters on food, antiques, buying and selling that didn't pertain to the mystery itself. There were many chapters that I could have easily cut out because, for me, they neither moved the story nor helped the mystery.

There was also something in the narration. Sometimes the sentences were too short; it felt like I was hitting walls rather than full-stops. At other times, the narration felt like it was a story told to a five-year-old. So it felt out of place and irritating – throughout.

I did like how we got know more about Anne through her actions. She is carefree, spontaneous, and disillusioned.

In terms of characterisation, I couldn't stand Anne. I tried, I really did. But I couldn't. She's a quirky character, an aspect for a cozy; however, the quirkiness makes the 40-something antique shop-owner act like a five-year-old ALL THE TIME! She's immature, and impulsive. Yes, she's kind. But, unbearable.

I did, however, like her friend CC, who I might add was the one who pretty much did all the research and 'cracked the case'. Still, CC, who has a few quirks of her own, was sometimes irritating. She is a know-it-all kind of character and likes to narrate history to anyone who'd listen. Like Anne, I got bored of her rambles and sometimes wanted to skip some parts.

In a guest post by the author, published here on the blog, I discovered that Vass has a different and more enjoyable writing style. She also mentions that she lets her characters take her wherever they want – hence I would presume the chapters that for me weren't needed.

Of the quotes and lines I liked were: "Old farmhouses in the middle of nowhere on rainy nights were better left to cozy mysteries than real life."

"CC half expected to see a hobbit answer the door when she knocked. The woman who answered was a bit taller than a hobbit but not by much."

One of the reasons I finished the book was to see if the unraveling of the mystery would WOW me or not. It ended up being a bit complex but the mystery-solving came in the last third of the novel. It was also rather rushed, like "oh my the novel is about to end and I haven't solved the mystery yet!"

By p. 159 (that's 75% through), there was at last some development! I thought the novel would end while the mystery remained in the trunk of the car.

The conversations between the characters were mostly basic, bits that can be skipped. Some were too long and useless.

I liked that there was a good bit of a historical background, making the novel a historical fiction cozy.

Of all the notes I kept writing throughout Key to a Murder, was pointing out how immature Anne was and how many of the events don't lead to anything.

The good side about reading this novel was learning a few tricks for my own writing.

My overall rating for Key to a Murder is 1.5-2 stars.

I had high hopes for this novella, most of which didn't come through.

Note: I received a free copy of Key to a Murder by Vicki Vass in exchange for an honest review with Lori Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. But since my review is less than 3 stars, I opted to keep it till after the tour was over.

I'm honest and I don't hold back on what I like or dislike about a book. But it wouldn't have been fair to post this review as part of a promotional tour. 

I would, however, recommend you read the guest post by Vicki Vass, titled "Blurring the Lines between Reality and Fiction".


Friday, November 18, 2016

Takhayyal Writing Prompt no. 49: Mystery?

It's here!

Are you ready to be inspired?


Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen, Artists, Poets, Writers, Authors, Dreamers, Friends and Family; Welcome EVERYONE to Nadaness In Motion's bi-weekly picture-prompt writing challenge Takhayyal.

(Seems I had mis-scheduled this) 


What does the picture speak to you?





Arabic for Imagine, Takhayyal is a means to get inspired and spark our writing once more.
Your post can be in English or Arabic, prose, poetry, short story, flash fiction; you name it and write it.

General rules:
·        No nudity, violence, and/or abuse.
·    Leave the link to your post in comments below OR post your piece as REPLY to this post
·        Your piece MUST be inspired in some way or other by the above picture
·        Multiple entries allowed
·     It is not required but it is a nice and encouraging gesture to comment on others' pieces.
·        Feel free to add your Twitter handle (@....) so I can tag you in my tweets!


Let's IMAGINE!