Non-fiction

Reviewing Books for Writers: The Complete Bullshit-Free & Totally Tested Writing Guide by Gabe Berman

Posted by on Jul 1, 2013 in Non-fiction, Reading, Writing | 0 comments

Reviewing Books for Writers: The Complete Bullshit-Free & Totally Tested Writing Guide by Gabe Berman

It recently dawned on me that Pen and Muse has not reviewed one single writing resource. Crazy, right? How is it possible that we haven’t discussed any books for writers? Lucky for me (Muse KJ), I didn’t have to ponder that long as the Universe shoved this book into my metaphoric hands. (If you need an Universe to KJ translation, I was talking to Gabe about writing, and he offered to let me review this.)   The Complete Bullshit-Free and Totally Tested Writing Guide: How to Make Publishers, Agents, Editors & Readers Fall in Love with Your Work by Gabe Berman Blurb:  “How do I get published?” Following the successful publication of his book, Live Like A Fruit Fly, Gabe Berman is asked this question more than any other. Do you know why you don’t know how to get published? Because nobody does. And that’s why the idea of writing a book is so utterly overwhelming. There isn’t a map. You’re on your own. Gabe has taken the journey to the top of the mountain and lived to tell about it. And although everything has worked out the way it had to, in this book he shares the secrets he wishes he knew years ago. He hopes you’re ready. “This amazing little gem of a book should be added to every author’s or aspiring author’s bookshelf (or Kindle) of must-read writing books. In fact, any person who plans to create anything — writing, music, art — can learn from Berman’s book. I wish I had this practical, no-nonsense guide when I first started writing.” – Rachel Thompson, three-time Kindle bestselling author, Broken Pieces, Mancode: Exposed, A Walk In The Snark Muse Kristen’s Thoughts Ever considered a writing coach? Need a peptalk in a book? That’s exactly what you’ll get in The Complete Bullshit-Free and Totally Tested Writing Guide. (We’ll be shortening that to The Complete Bullshit-Free Writing Guide from now on because it’s less of a tongue twister.) This is a fast read – with lots of info and tips jammed pack in. Remember the promise of it being bullshit-free? Gabe wasn’t kidding. Much as you’d expect from any session with a writing coach, there’s no sugar coating here. But maybe that’s the difference you need to get off your butt and create some literary success. Is The Complete Bullshit-Free Writing Guide just for fiction writers? Au contraire. The tips and advice given can apply to any type of writer – from a casual blogger, to a fiction writer, to a serious journalist. If I can’t connect with [your words], it means nothing to me. But I will literally love you forever and buy everything you write if your words find their way into my heart. As you can imagine, I was very happy highlighting while reading this. There are some great points within this guide – and told in a way that I think will really sink in for most readers. I’m sure I’ll be reading this one again whenever I fear I’m gettting into a writing slump. About the Author: Gabe Berman   Gabe Berman is a native New Yorker who settled in South Florida after graduating from the University of Miami. An epiphany, a passion, and a trail of breadcrumbs led him out of Corporate America and into a writing career. Find Gabe on Twitter @GabeBerman or his blog www.OMGabe.com...

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Broken Pieces by Rachel Thompson

Posted by on Feb 28, 2013 in Non-fiction, Reading | 3 comments

Broken Pieces by Rachel Thompson

Do you know that feeling when you read something so emotionally powerful that you’re lost for words afterwards? That feeling is what you get after reading Broken Pieces. Broken Pieces is an emotional, raw memoir from Rachel Thompson. As soon as you are a few vignettes through, you’ll understand the poetic meaning of the title, which is just as powerful as the vignettes. Broken Pieces by Rachel Thompson Blurb: Vastly different in tone from her previous essay collections A Walk In The Snark and The Mancode: Exposed, BROKEN PIECES is a collection of pieces inspired by one woman’s life: love, loss, abuse, trust, grief, and ultimately, love again. This is NOT a humor book! It IS a book about relationships, a study of women, a book with heart. Want to see why people love it? Why they call it ‘riveting, powerful, insightful?’ Read it and see why Broken Pieces is tearing up the lists for Nonfiction, Women’s Studies, and books for women!   Blurb from the Author: This is my most intensive work to date. Broken Pieces is a work of nonfiction essays, poetry, and prose where I open my soul and invite you in for a visit. It’s vulnerable, it’s raw honesty, it’s no-holds barred. This is the first book I’ve published where I questioned if readers and reviewers would respond favorably due to the serious nature of the work. And yet, they have. Most readers know me as the funny girl, but this work (hinted at in A Walk In The Snark), shows that I can go into those long buried rooms, the ones we lock up deep inside, and share. These stories were there. I simply had to wait until my brain caught up. Buy Now @ Amazon Broken Pieces: Review If you’re on Twitter, you probably know Rachel Thompson (@BadRedheadMedia or @RachelInTheOC). You’re accustomed to her snarky sense of humor and love of Nutella. What you’re not used to is being exposed directly to her raw soul, to her struggles, to her pain – to her Each story is a little vignette – a little glimpse at a particular piece of Rachel and how it broke away from her. It’s always a special thing when someone hands you their soul on a platter, and that’s precisely what Broken Pieces brings you. I cried during a couple vignettes. During a couple more, I wished that I could have shared them with former versions of myself. Throughout all of them, I thought how brave Rachel was – and is. I only share pieces of my soul through fiction. It’s easier to hide truths within the lies. That said, these pieces aren’t for everyone. They’re lyrical vignettes, akin to poetry – beautiful words describing not always so beautiful moments. These pieces are about finding courage to move on, the ability to look back and learn, and reflect on everything from rebounds, and broken hearts to the more sensitive subjects that need a trigger warning: molestation, domestic abuse, stalking, and implied rape. While nothing is described graphically, the trigger warning still needs to be made. Author Bio: Rachel Thompson Rachel Thompson aka RachelintheOC is a published author and social media consultant. Her two books, A Walk In The Snark and The Mancode: Exposed are both #1 Kindle bestsellers! When not writing, she helps authors and other professionals with branding and social media for her company, BadRedhead Media. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. Twitter Facebook Blog...

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Basic Story Plots- Quest

Posted by on Feb 21, 2013 in Basic Plot Points, Children's, Genres, Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, New Adult, Non-fiction, Romance, Science Fiction / Fantasy, Thriller, Westerns, Writing, Young Adult | 2 comments

Basic Story Plots- Quest

There comes a time in every writer’s life where you’re about to start another project and you’re faced with a tough question: Which plot am I going with? Is your new project all about revenge? Is it a story about a change or metamorphosis? Is it a Romeo and Juliet story about a forbidden love? Either way, welcome to the second installment of Pen and Muse’s Basic Story Plots project. Each week we want to introduce you to a different plot point. Hopefully we can help and be that swift kick in the inspiration booty that you need.  It doesn’t matter if this is your 20th novel, your first novel, or your very first flash fiction. If there’s no plot, there’s no story. This week’s basic plot point is: Quest Details: Quest plots involve your protagonist / main characters being on the search for something. Whether it be person, place, thing, animal, or mineral, your protagonist will not rest until it’s found, obtained, or resolved. Traditionally, the quest story has three facets that seem to be ever-present: The Motivator or motivating situation- In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry gets his Hogwarts acceptance letter. In The Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers as tribute after her sister’s name is picked. It’s always a good idea to start your story as close as possible to the starting action. The Journey- This is where everything takes place. This is the part that will hopefully ensure your reader can’t put your book down. Your reader at this point should understand that the journey is about to take place, and should understand why this journey is happening / where the protagonist is going. They may have no clue about all the hardships you’ve planned for your MC or who dies (if anyone), but they need to know the journey has commenced and why it’s important. Tell the story. Make your protagonist wallow through that swamp of sadness, barely escape pirates, or be pursued by crooks in search of treasure. In Defiance, the journey begins when Rachel and Logan head into the Wasteland. In Harry Potter, the journey starts at Harry’s term at Hogwarts for the school year. In The Hobbit, this is when Bilbo Baggins decides to go along with Gandalf and the other dwarves. The Goal- Normally at the end or towards the end of your book, the goal needs to be addressed. Did the protagonist meet their goals? Did they fail? Did they realize that they only accomplished half of it? Or does the protagonist have multiple goals, accomplishing one and ending the novel one step closer to the other goal? For example, in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry finds the Sorcerer’s Stone. He thwarts Voldemort’s evil plan but he doesn’t destroy Voldemort. This leaves his stretch goal still unfulfilled and perfect for a sequel, but his immediate goals and journey were met.   Other reading material with a Quest plot: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein (Fantasy) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling (Fantasy) The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordon (Fantasy) Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (Urban Fantasy)   What are your favorite quest plot novels? What tips do you have for someone writing a quest novel? Let us know in the comments below!  ...

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New Release Tuesday: 2/12/2013

Posted by on Feb 12, 2013 in Genres, Mystery, New Release Tuesday, Non-fiction, Reading, Romance, Science Fiction / Fantasy, Young Adult | 0 comments

New Release Tuesday: 2/12/2013

New Release Tuesday It hit me suddenly. I was on high alert and overwhelmed. There are simply too many great releases this week for New Release Tuesday!!! Then I decided that I need to change my vacation time to tomorrow for accomodate accordingly. Heh heh. Not really. But I heavily contemplated it. For those of you that know my reading taste, it may come as no shocker that I’m a huge fan of The Feminine Mystique and I’m so happy that they did a 50th anniversary edition! Also, Pivot Point is out. Drool.   Non-fiction / Feminism The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan Amazon blurb: A 50th-anniversary edition of the trailblazing book that changed women’s lives, with a new introduction by Gail Collins. Landmark, groundbreaking, classic—these adjectives barely do justice to the pioneering vision and lasting impact of The Feminine Mystique. Published in 1963, it gave a pitch-perfect description of “the problem that has no name”: the insidious beliefs and institutions that undermined women’s confidence in their intellectual capabilities and kept them in the home. Writing in a time when the average woman first married in her teens and 60 percent of women students dropped out of college to marry, Betty Friedan captured the frustrations and thwarted ambitions of a generation and showed women how they could reclaim their lives. Part social chronicle, part manifesto, The Feminine Mystique is filled with fascinating anecdotes and interviews as well as insights that continue to inspire. This 50th–anniversary edition features an afterword by best-selling author Anna Quindlen as well as a new introduction by Gail Collins. Where to pick up: Amazon / Barnes and Noble   Mystery Ghostman by Roger Hobbs Goodreads blurb: Stunningly dark, hugely intelligent and thoroughly addictive, Ghostmanannounces the arrival of an exciting and highly distinctive novelist. When a casino robbery in Atlantic City goes horribly awry, the man who orchestrated it is obliged to call in a favor from someone who’s occasionally called Jack. While it’s doubtful that anyone knows his actual name or anything at all about his true identity, or even if he’s still alive, he’s in his mid-thirties and lives completely off the grid, a criminal’s criminal who does entirely as he pleases and is almost impossible to get in touch with. But within hours a private jet is flying this exceptionally experienced fixer and cleaner-upper from Seattle to New Jersey and right into a spectacular mess: one heister dead in the parking lot, another winged but on the run, the shooter a complete mystery, the $1.2 million in freshly printed bills god knows where and the FBI already waiting for Jack at the airport, to be joined shortly by other extremely interested and elusive parties. He has only forty-eight hours until the twice-stolen cash literally explodes, taking with it the wider, byzantine ambitions behind the theft. To contend with all this will require every gram of his skill, ingenuity and self-protective instincts, especially when offense and defense soon become meaningless terms. And as he maneuvers these exceedingly slippery slopes, he relives the botched bank robbery in Kuala Lumpur five years earlier that has now landed him this unwanted new assignment. From its riveting opening pages, Ghostman effortlessly pulls the reader into Jack’s refined and peculiar world—and the sophisticated shadowboxing grows ever more intense as he moves, hour by hour, toward a  constantly reimprovised solution. With a quicksilver plot, gripping prose and masterly expertise, Roger Hobbs has given us a novel that will immediately place him in the company of our most esteemed crime writers. Where to purchase: Amazon / Goodreads  Contemporary A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy Goodreads blurb: Stoneybridge is full of holiday-makers in summer, its beaches are full...

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#PitMad

Posted by on Jan 25, 2013 in Children's, Contests, Genres, Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, New Adult, Non-fiction, Romance, Science Fiction / Fantasy, Thriller, Westerns, Writing, Young Adult | 0 comments

#PitMad

What is #PitMad? First off, if you don’t already follow Brenda Drake, you need to. She is brilliant!!! She is a middle grade and young adult writer who also happens to be a fantastic literary resource and organizer of amazing writerly contests. Recently, she hosted Pitch Wars over at the YA Misfit’s website  where certain writers were selected and mentored to get their pitches and manuscripts ready for agents. So if you’re reading this Brenda, thank you SO much for everything you do! For those not chosen or anyone who desires, Brenda Drake is also hosting #PitMad over on Twitter today. What is #PitMad?  #PitMad is a twitter pitch party that uses the hashtag #PitMad. You pitch your book in less than 140 characters (not easy, but it’s fun to be creative) and agents stop by to peek. Normally, if an agent or editor likes your pitch they will favorite it, meaning they would like to see more. Check out their twitter feeds to see what they’re looking for. Normally the agent or editor will tweet something earlier saying, “If I like your twitter pitch, send me the query and first ten pages” or whatever it is that they would like to see. Agents can also @ reply to you and tell you exactly what they want from you. It varies per person. Don’t forget to check the feed too. Some agents will post things like, “if it’s a contemporary YA novel about dinosaurs” please pitch it directly to me.” Pay attention. You never know what agents or editors may be looking for. And please,  for the sake of writerly love, do not forget to root for your fellow writers. Offer them encouragement! We’re all in the trenches together. If things don’t work out today, remember Pitch Madness is coming up again in March! We’ll keep you informed! There’s still time today to get your #PitMad pitch in!...

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Basic Story Plots- Revenge

Posted by on Jan 23, 2013 in Basic Plot Points, Children's, Genres, Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, New Adult, Non-fiction, Romance, Science Fiction / Fantasy, Thriller, Westerns, Writing, Young Adult | 0 comments

Basic Story Plots- Revenge

Basic Story Plots- Revenge There comes a time in every writer’s life where you’re about to start another project and you’re faced with a tough question: Which plot am I going with? Is your new project an adventure? A Romeo and Juliet story about a forbidden love? Something else? Or maybe you’re experiencing symptoms of that dirty bitch named Writer’s Block. Either way, welcome to the first installment of Pen and Muse’s Basic Story Plots project. Each week we want to introduce you to a different plot point. Hopefully we can help and be that swift kick in the inspiration booty that you need.  It doesn’t matter if this is your 50th novel, your first novel, or your very first flash fiction. If there’s no plot, there’s no story. This week’s basic plot point is (insert drum roll here): Revenge Details: Revenge plots revolve around retaliation and reciprocation, a tit for tat so to speak involving the protagonist, antagonist, or a main characters. One of these characters (or more than one character) seeks to deliver payback for an injustice done to them, whether it be something real or perceived (imaginary). Example: Since I’m a Shakespeare loving fiend, let’s use “Hamlet”, one of his famous plays. Basically Hamlet loathes the new man (his father’s brother) that his mother has married and his father’s ghost speaks to Hamlet asking him to set things right. Hamlet discovers and confirms that his uncle is actually his father’s killer. This information paired with Hamlet’s rage (and a lot of other stuff I left out for time sake), drive Hamlet to madness and causes him to revenge-kill his father’s killer (his uncle) to make amends. Other reading material with the revenge plot: The Berenstain Bears and the Bully by Stan and Jan Berenstain (Children’s) (Also if you want a good laugh about it, read this article) Ten by Gretchen McNeil  (YA Mystery) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (Classic, Historical Fiction) Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King (Horror) A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin (Fantasy) Also, I found this hilarious article on Perfecting Your Revenge Plot from the Onion. It’s worth the chuckle. What are your favorite revenge plot novels? Is this your favorite novel plot to write? Let us know in the comments below! (but you can call me Jolene Plotter and the Chamber of Write Tips)...

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