Monday, February 20, 2012


Title: Stein on Writing
Author: So Stein
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (January 25, 2000)
Pages: 320

STEIN ON WRITING by SOL STEIN is clearly to date the most impactful book on writing I’ve read. If you were to glance inside my copy you’d find dog-eared pages, highlights galore, asterisks, and notes written throughout.

STEIN ON WRITING is precise information, right to the point with useful examples. The language isn’t over the top. A must read for writers at any stage of their journey, but especially for those new to the craft and unpublished.

Here are a few notes I took pertaining to specific areas of the book:

Page 8 – Feelings, no facts.

Page 20 – Must grasp/shock in first sentence and or paragraph.

Page 36 – The first paragraph should contain:
Trigger curiosity.
What will they see.
Focus on an individual.
Visible characteristics of the individual.
Individual doing or saying something.
Startling or odd fact to grab attention.

Page 42 – Readers insist on seeing what they are reading because of TV.

Page 43 - Description needs to be part of the storytelling, not static.

Page 45 – Storyteller, not an interior decorator.

Page 49 – If characters are alive, they become the story. You must know and be attached to the characters in order for the plot to work, not the other way around.

Page 57 – Talk and act, not tell.

Page 54 – Good examples of showing not telling.

Page 55 – Show with eyes, not just state color. How/what are they expressing.

Page 55, 56 – Words need to not be just informative, but evoke something. Need to stir feelings in readers, even in description.

Page 62 – What makes a character.

Page 71 – Individualize minor characters through main characters eyes, not narrative.

Page 75 – Separate our lives/beliefs from characters.

Page 81 – Character questions to ask.

Page 197 – Get rid of the flab!

Page 260 – Need to visualize each paragraph/scene first to get a sense of the surroundings to give great detail.

If I had to pick one thing that stuck out the most that I learned from STEIN ON WRITING, I would have to say to cut out the flab. After reading about eliminating flab, I went to work on my own manuscript, getting rid of the words that clog our writing and hinder our reading experience.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Title: His Steadfast Love
Author: Golden Keyes Parsons
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 1, 2011)
Pages: 336

Amanda Belle takes the responsibility of raising her siblings seriously, a promise placed on her before her mother passed away. When her brother heads off to war, Amanda’s responsibilities increase.

Captain Kent Littlefield, with the Union troops, and his men are forced to take refuge in the home of a family from a Confederate State. When he sets eyes on Amanda Belle, he is instantly drawn to her.

When Amanda’s father discovers his daughter has feelings for a man their state if fighting against, he demands she never see him again. When her brother learns of this, he forces her to make a decision. Amanda’s family or the man she loves.

What I liked about the book:
-The history.
-Well written.
-The well thought-out plot.
-The unique storyline.
-The low key, yet sold faith.
-The choices the author made in revealing some of the horrors of war.
-How the story progressed over several years.

What I didn’t like about the book:
-The slow pace.
-The lack of interaction between the main characters, Amanda and Kent.
-The lack of drama between the main characters.

I loved how the author started each chapter with the month and year, along with non-fiction script. Though the story read at a slow pace, I was captivated by the lives of the characters as they lived through a war.

If you’re looking for a novel filled with romance, HIS STEADFAST LOVE by GOLDEN KEYES PARSONS will not fit the bill.

If you’re looking for a wonderful story set in Texas at the beginning of the Civil War, laced with romance, suspense, history, and faith, then HIS STEADFAST LOVE is for you.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Title: A Ranger’s Trail (The Texas Trail Series)
Author: Darlene Franklin
Publisher: Moody Publishers; New Edition edition (February 1, 2012)
Pages: 288

In A RANGER'S TRAIL, author DARLENE FRANKLIN has incorporated fiction with non-fiction, set in the late 1800's. FRANKLIN provides insight to which characters are fictional and which are not. Each chapter begins with a real life account from actual documents that pertain to that particular chapter, an added plus to this historical novel.

Leta Denning witnesses the killing of her husband in the hands of angry men after being acquitted from cattle rustling. She is left alone to care for her young son and teenage brother. Bringing her husband's killers to justice is never far from her mind as she wrestles with all she's lost.

Texas Ranger, Buck Morgan comes home after an extended absence to uncover a wrongful killing. What he hadn't expected is the widow,Leta Denning to be a beautiful and strong independent woman.

The account of the range wars and cattle rustling will intrigue male readers as well as females, despite the romantic element. A RANGER'S TRAIL is the forth book of six in THE TEXAS TRAIL SERIES.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Title: A Town Called Valentine
Author: Emma Cane
Publisher: Avon (January 31, 2012)
Pages: 384

Emily Murphy returned to her mother’s hometown for one reason and one reason only. For a quick sale on the building willed to her. But as life often goes, another plan started to materialize.

Nate Thalberg is a real ladies man. Not that any woman got past his ten date rule. Nate has wounds, and refuses to hurt another woman…or himself for that matter.

Emily discovers something she never imagined. As her mother’s secret unravels, so does Emily’s heart. Nate learns to live life, and in the process discovers he may have found the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with.

If there ever was a book that stirred up mixed feelings, it’s A TOWN CALLED VALENTINE by EMMA CANE. The cover is what originally caught my eye like it so often does. The back cover blurb was intriguing. I’ve never read one of MS CANE’S books in the past, so after starting it, I looked to see what other books she wrote on Amazon. I was surprised to discover this was her first, it was that good.

The first half of the book read at a steady pace, had a good plot, and was well written. So well written I searched the internet for more information on MS CANE. It was then that I discovered this was not technically her first book. Just her first under this genre, and using the name EMMA CANE.

What I didn’t like about A TOWN CALLED VALENTINE:

-The second half of the book contained repetition and telling.
-Lack of peaks.
-Lack of tension between any of the characters.
-The characters casual sex.
-The foul language.


-The words the author chose.
-The characters.
-The plot.
-The fictional Town of Valentine Valley.

Though I would have preferred no sexual encounters between the characters, the author didn’t get as detailed as she could have, and for that I was grateful. I also prefer no foul language, and again MS CANE didn’t go overboard with that as well.

I loved the plot, though I felt she could have stepped it up. There were many opportunities for amazing tension filled scenes. I felt everything was kept on an even-keel. The characters were well thought-out, with such great goals and motivations; the potential for some amazing conflicts was overlooked.

For the first time ever I kept paper and pencil nearby as I read this novel to markdown evey word or phrase I came across that intrigued me. One of my weaknesses as a writer is my limited vocabulary, I found MS CANE’S brilliant. Her choice of words never felt forced or misplaced. For that alone this books was worth reading.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

BRAD PAISLEY - I'm Still a Guy

When you see a deer, you see Bambi
And I see antlers up on the wall
When you see a lake you think picnics
And I see a large mouth up under that log

You're probably thinkin' that you're gonna change me
In some ways, well, maybe you might
Scrub me down, dress me up
Oh, but no matter what, remember, I'm still a guy

When you see a priceless friend's painting
I see a drunk naked girl
When you think that riding a wild bull sounds crazy
And I'd like to give it a whirl

Well, love makes a man do some things he ain't proud of
And in a weak moment I might
Walk your sissie dog, hold your purse at the mall
But remember, I'm still a guy

And I'll pour out my heart, hold your hand in the car
Write a love song that makes you cry
Then turn right around, knock some jerk to the ground
'Cause he copped a feel as you walked by

I can hear you now talkin' to your friends
Sayin' yeah, girls he's come a long way
From draggin' his knuckles and carryin' a club
And buildin' a fire in a cave

But when you say a back rub means only a back rub
Then you swat my hand when I try
Well, now what can I say at the end of the day
Honey, I'm still a guy

And I'll pour out my heart, hold your hand in the car
Write a love song that makes you cry
Then turn right around knock some jerk to the ground
'Cause he copped a feel as you walked by

These days there's dudes gettin' facials
Manicured, waxed and botoxed
With deep spray-on tans and creamy lotiony hands
You can't grip a tackle box

Yeah, with all of these men linin' up to get neutered
It's hip now to be feminized
But I don't highlight my hair, I've still got a pair
Yeah honey, I'm still a guy

Oh, my eyebrows ain't plucked, there's a gun in my truck
Oh thank God, I'm still a guy
Yeah boy