Friday, March 30, 2018

20 Quirks and Strange Habits of Famous Writers - Infograph by Jack Milgram

Today, I'm re-featuring freelance writer Jack Milgram, whose new infograph on famous writers and their quirky traits is full of fun insights that many authors can relate to, or readers probably didn't know about. 

The new post titled 20 Quirks and Strange Habits - The Weird Side of Famous Writers, includes authors like Edgar Allan Poe, Agatha Christie, Franz Kafka, Virginia Woolf - just to name a few.

I've featured Milgram on Nadaness In Motion before in the post titled 28 Boring Words and What to Use Instead.

The new post is a little long but exciting nonetheless. Feel free to leave a comment or note in the comments section below. 

Happy reading!

Infographic by Jack Milgram Custom-Writing.Org

Feel free to get in touch with Jack Milgram via Twitter or Facebook, or you can comment on the blog post itself. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Writer's Lexicon by Kathy Steinemann – Book Review

To say that The Writer's Lexicon: Descriptions, Overused Words, and Taboos by Kathy Steinemann is a wealth of information is an understatement. This book is unbelievable in the amount of research, help, and information it provides.

The Writer's Lexicon by Kathy Steinemann
“Although you’ll encounter a few “rules” in this book, writing is not rules. It is a fusion of emotions, senses, and conflict. Whatever engages your readers should be the rule.”

Not only does Steinemann offer tonnes of alternatives for many clichés and overused words, she also gives detailed advice on show not tell, when to tell and not show, and tonnes of examples for everything she says.

“Instead of making your characters cry, show their emotions.”

The Writer's Lexicon is an encyclopedia of writing tips, word lists, and workarounds. A reference I plan to use every time I write and/or edit a book.

The book covers clichés and overused words like “nodded”, “said”, “shrug”, “shake the head”, “have”, “to be”, just to name a few. Steinemann digs deeper, helping writers handle the “I” in first person narration, cursing, redundancies in writing, punctuation, and last but certainly not least, how to write using the senses and environment.

“A groaning heart paints a different picture than a cartwheeling one. In each case, a single word tells how the protagonist is feeling.” (From examples on replacing “pounding”)

There’s even a lengthy section on how to avoid using the dreaded “very”. It’s the longest chapter in the book.

Steinemann offers dozens of story prompts along the way, whether you wish to use them as exercises to practice the lessons mentioned in the book or actually develop them into a full-length novel, is entirely up to you. But there is lots to keep you inspired.

Below is a list of "some" alternatives for "said" from the book - excuse the image, my phone camera and Kindle screen don't like each other much. :(

Alternatives for 'said' from The Writer's Lexicon by Kathy Steinemann

There are also exercises at the end of each section to allow you to practice what you’ve learnt.

 “Clear the Throat. Irritating in real life. Ditto in fiction.”

Although it took me a while to read, The Writer's Lexicon is a must-read for both seasoned and newbie writers. Even if you’ve memorised the dictionary, Steinemann’s examples will help improve your writing.

Reading Steinemann’s The Writer's Lexicon has also helped me as a reviewer and I hope as a blogger and writer in general.

“Repeat any word often enough, and it morphs into an irritation just as obnoxious as a saddle sore on a long ride.”

I’m thrilled to have received the opportunity to read this book, which has been and will continue to be a great help to me, and which I think I would never have found in my home country Egypt. I pretty much bookmarked every page in this book.

Steinemann’s writing style and occasional sarcasm is fun to read. Overall, the whole book was a pleasure to read, even if the tonnes of information was sometimes overwhelming.

“Remember who your protagonists or narrators are and choose creative words to match their personalities and backgrounds.”

My rating standard is 1 to 5 stars. But The Writer's Lexicon: Descriptions, Overused Words, and Taboos by Kathy Steinemann is a 10-star read.

Note: I received a free copy of The Writer's Lexicon: Descriptions, Overused Words, and Taboos from its author Kathy Steinemann in exchange for an honest review.


Check out my book review of Kathy Steinemann's new book in the Writer's Lexicon series: The Writer's Body Lexicon. This 500+-page volume is your go-to resource for all verbs, colors, and descriptions related to the body.

Add The Writer's Lexicon by Kathy Steinemann to your Goodreads' to-read list.

About the Author (via Goodreads):
Kathy Steinemann, Grandma Birdie to her grandkids, is an award-winning author who lives in the foothills on the Alberta side of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. She has loved words for as long as she can remember, especially when the words are frightening or futuristic or funny.
Her career has taken varying directions, including positions as editor of a small-town paper, computer-network administrator, and webmaster. She has also worked on projects in commercial art and cartooning.

Connect with Kathy Steinemann via Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon, and her website.

The Writer's Lexicon Volume II is out now too! Find it on Amazon.

Need more writing help?

Check out these books (and reviews)

Writing about Magic by Rayne Hall 
Writing Fight Scenes by Rayne Hall
Write Your Book in a Flash (non-fiction) by Dan Janal
What Is a Cozy Mystery? Guest post by Kirsten Weiss
The Negative Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi
The Writer's Body Lexicon by Kathy Steinemann

Friday, March 23, 2018

Exclusive interview with Madam Tulip author David Ahern

Today, it gives me great pleasure to feature Irish author and documentary writer and director David Ahern. He is the author behind the exciting and humourous paranormal mystery and thriller series Madam Tulip.

Exclusive interview with author David Ahern

About David Ahern:
David Ahern grew up in a theatrical family in Ireland but ran away to Scotland to become a research psychologist and sensible person. He earned his doctorate but soon absconded to work in television. He became a writer, director and producer, creating international documentary series and winning numerous awards, none of which got him free into nightclubs.

Madam Tulip wasn’t David Ahern's first novel, but writing it was the most fun he’d ever had with a computer. He is now writing the fourth Madam Tulip adventure and enjoys pretending this is actual work.

David Ahern lives in the beautiful West of Ireland with his wife, two cats and a vegetable garden of which he is inordinately proud.

Check out Nadaness In Motion's five-star book review for Madam Tulip (book 1 in the series). The books can be read as standalones.

Update: Here's my book review of book 4 in the series, yes I've read books 1 and 4, but not 2 and 3, which means you don't have to read them in any order. Here's Madam Tulip and the Serpent's Tree.

First, a few general questions 
Q: What are you favourite reading genres?
David Ahern: Non-fiction mostly, but in fiction comedy and mystery-thriller. I binge on historical every few years.

Q: Who are you favourite writers, canonic and contemporary?
David Ahern: Patrick O’Brien (a wonderful historical novelist and one of the finest storytellers ever), EF Benson (Mapp and Lucia) and Dorothy Sayers (of course). For comedy, Wodehouse, Thurber and Flann O’Brien (hilarious Irish genius). In the canon, Jane Austin is right up there for me.
Q: How much time do you spend on writing your books? Do you have a target in place?
David Ahern: I guess no more than a couple of hours a day. At the editing stage, much longer. I don’t have a target for the number of words. Anyhow, I’m an obsessive rewriter.

Madam Tulip
Q: How has your study of psychology helped you in writing the Madam Tulip books?
David Ahern: About two percent of what living has taught me.

Q: What first inspired the Madam Tulip character and subsequent books?
David Ahern: I’m an Irish writer who grew up in a theatrical family. I used to make serious TV and wanted to do some fun stories for a change.  The Madam Tulip books make me smile.  I hope they do the same for readers.

Q: Character development is hard to see in mystery books. So how did you work that out in the Madam Tulip books?
David Ahern: For me, character comes first.  The big challenge is to create mysteries that aren’t mechanical and characters, who are real.

Q: I like the idea of tarot readings, how much research did you have to put in this section to write about it?
David Ahern: Some, but I have advice from some real experts too. 

Q: Will we get more revelations about Derry's visions and abilities in the coming books? (In book 1, she was struggling with her ability and was at one point hoping to lose it entirely)
David Ahern: You’ll have to read the books to find that out! But I will say that sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between psychic abilities and empathy - a sensitivity to people and atmospheres. Derry has both. The important thing for readers, though, is that these abilities are no help at all to Derry in solving crimes. But they do matter for all kinds of reasons.  

Q: Apart from Bruce, Jacko, and Vanessa, are there other recurrent characters? Even if they appear in books 1 & 3 but not 2 for example?
David Ahern: Bella is definitely here to stay. There may be others, but we have to see what they want to do.

Q: How many books are you planning for the series?
David Ahern: I’ll keep going as long as readers want me to.  I’m writing book #4 now.

Publishing & Miscellaneous

Q: Are you a self-published author? For you what have been the pros and cons of publishing?
David Ahern: I’m not really typical of self-publishing in that I run an independent TV production company that has started a small publishing venture. So I’m kinda the boss and not the boss. They’re testing the water with Madam Tulip, and so far they’re happy.
I’m a big fan of the freedom and independence the smaller publishers can give their authors. Writers looking for a deal with the big houses can forget that what they need is the right contract for them as a writer, and that’s not easy to get.

Q: Having written paranormal mystery, what other genres would you consider in the future?
David Ahern: Madam Tulip already crosses genres to some extent, so I don’t feel constrained at all. I’m inclined to the literary, but then I'd have to play the artist and pretend to know what I’m talking about.

Q: Are you working on anything else besides the Madam Tulip series?
David Ahern:  No. Tulip is enough for me.

Q: Is there anything you'd like to add?
David Ahern:  Just a big thanks for having me.

Connect with David Ahern via FacebookTwitterGoodreadsAmazon, and his website.

Buy links for Madam Tulip (book 1), Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts (book 2), and Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance (book 3)

Also don't forget to check out my newest book review for Madam Tulip and the Serpent's Tree by David Ahern.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Madam Tulip by David Ahern – Book Review

Book: Madam Tulip
Author: David Ahern
Publication date: March 2016
Publisher: Malin Press

"An image materialised in Derry’s mind like an apparition. Where had it come from? The effect was like a thousand different parts of her brain had caught fire all at once as her terrified grey matter blazed out a storm of random thoughts. And out of the chaos, in a slow-motion explosion of colour, emerged a man on a throne, the man with the magnificent headdress, the man with a severed head on his lap."

Madam Tulip by David Ahern is the first instalment in the fast-paced, exciting, Ireland-set paranormal mystery series Madam Tulip.

Derry O'Donnell is an unemployed actress and with a possible ability to see the future through tarot cards and visions she cannot understand.

Derry is offered an opportunity to pose as a Madam Tulip at a charity event. Invited by the dashing supermodel Marlene, Derry goes to the event at a castle, accompanied by her actress friend Bella.

"Derry O'Donnell was fully qualified for unemployment in three different dialects."

At the event, Derry and Bella discover a host of celebrities and Bella chances upon one of them before they drop dead.

Although the mystery does not take place till the middle of the book, there are lots of events in between, with Ahern carefully building the setting of the novel and the series to follow.

Narrated in the third person, Madam Tulip casts a host of quirky characters and features some absolutely farcical situations.

I loved Derry, her friend – although no hopes of being a boyfriend – Bruce, the army guy who switched into an acting career. I'm glad to learn that Bruce will be appearing in the next instalments of the Madam Tulip series.

"Next to Marlene, Derry felt like a hobbit - a hobbit overweight and round even by the famously relaxed standards of hobbits."

There is character development for Derry, hardly any for her father or the other characters. But this is normal for mystery books and series. Although doubtful of her abilities, which she had previously limited to free teacup readings, Derry slowly learns more about herself and her vague abilities as the book progresses. At one point she doubts her ability to glimpse the future and wishes it would all go away.

Apart from the characters and setting, Madam Tulip is filled with beautiful imagery and lots of laugh-out-loud moments. (There were so many parts I would like to quote but had to be picky).

I tend to tread carefully when it comes to humour, but Ahern has a knack for it. Derry is absolutely hilarious and the book is full of laugh-out-loud moments.

"What do you say to an internationally famous supermodel? Slept with any rock stars I know of? Eaten any good celery lately? How are your legs— still long?"

Last but certainly not least, Ahern builds his novel from his previous work in the acting and art industry, which gives depth to the novel and characters, and how they act and react. It was a lot of fun reading about what actors do, how they try to be free at any time so their agent can get them a job but at the same time they struggle to pay their bills and with their lives. 

The book does not have an open ending. Each book promises a mystery with tonnes of humour for all.

Overall, Madam Tulip is a laugh-out-loud, exciting, paranormal mystery; a must-read by all standards.

Overall rating: 5 stars

Note: I received a copy of Madam Tulip from its author David Ahern in exchange for an honest review.

Update: Check out my exclusive interview with David Ahern and learn more about his books and writing process.

Update 2: Check out my book review for book 4 in the Madam Tulip series by David Ahern, Madam Tulip and the Serpent's Tree.

Follow David Ahern via Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, and his website.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Witch Way to Mintwood by Addison Creek - Character Guest Post

Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Addison Creek
Self Published (19 December 2016)Print Length: 208 pages


House falling down? Check. Pet sitting job with annoying clients? Check. Ability to speak to ghosts, which has the unfortunate side effect of having to listen to what they say back? Double check! Hot high school crush still in town being all successful and stuff while you protest his building projects? All kinds of checks! Did anyone say Witch of Mintwood? Yup! Just add murder and this will be a week to remember!

Character Guest Post by Lemmi, the witch of Mintwood (told by Addison Creek) – Exclusive to Nadaness In Motion

I’m Lemmi, the witch of Mintwood, and I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it’s like to have a ghost for a pet.

There are a lot of downsides to having a ghost cat. In my case, it’s mostly because my ghost cat can speak. If he were quietly judging me with just his eyes, it might be less of an annoyance, but he isn’t. His favorite pastime is to order me around. What’s worse is that since he’s so helpful, and I secretly love him to bits, I usually let him. Even more important is that he was my grandmother’s before he was mine. My grandmother was the previous Witch of Mintwood. She entrusted the job to my care, and the job includes Paws the talkative ghost cat.

Together we solve crime. Ghosts are very useful for that. They can go where I can’t, especially the cat variety. Paws is always there in a pinch, in a jam, and in a murder investigation. He offers unfiltered and often unsolicited opinions that more often than not prove to be very helpful.

What is it like to have a ghost cat as a pet? I’d recommend it to anyone.

To assist us in our work, we also have my two roommates. Charlie and Greer are an integral part of the Witch of Mintwood team. Paws likes one of my roommates but not the other. Discord does not always lead to a lack of productivity, but in the case of Paws and Greer it certainly does lead to hostility. In the end we all get the job done. Come by and you’ll see. The four of us live together in an old farmhouse in Maine. Paws lives on the porch. He’ll be there to greet you.

About the Author 

Reading, writing, dark chocolate, and cheese.

Hello! I'm the author of the Witch Way to Mintwood series and the Spooky Business series! I live in New England and love it. I survive the winter by layering, good-natured complaining, and more layering. In case you were wondering. Hearing from readers is always lovely, so come visit me here me on my blog or Facebook.

Purchase Witch Way to Mintwood by Addison Creek via Amazon

Books in this series:

1. Witch Way to Mintwood
2. Witch Some Win Some
3. Spell by Midnight
4. A Witch on Mintwood Mountain
5. Witch Raising Situation
6. Witch Way Round
7. Witch Wish Way
8. White Witch Wonder

Keep up with the rest of the blog tour for book reviews, interviews, character interviews, and spotlights.