Sunday, June 27, 2010

Doodle While You Work

By Staffan Gnosspelius

From the back of the book:

“A clever collection of half-finished doodles for the bored, daydreaming, and distracted. Survive long meetings, endless conference calls, and the general tedium of everyday office life. Sharpen your pencils, take your eyes off the clock, and let your mind wander.”

Doodling is something I really believe everyone does – even if they don’t realize it or don’t want to admit it. Google the word “doodle” and you’ll be amazed at what come up. Did you know there is even a day dedicated to doodling? Or that there are psychological meanings behind doodles?

Well, artist Staffan Gnosspelius has offer the solution to releasing our inner doodler. This book is simply a collection of doodle pages. Each one starts with a small piece of a picture and gives you a prompt to finish the doodle.

Here’s a fun page … it features a keyhole and asks you to draw what’s happening in the boss’ office. Or there’s the page with the light pole with surveillance cameras in the parking lot and you’re asked to draw what the cameras see. Or you can draw what you see outside your window inside the frame.

What fun! Not only does this book provide an outlet for your creativity, it’s also a great time waster. Who could ask for anything more?

So, if you find yourself bored at work, pick up this book and go to town. It’s bound to provide you with a laugh or two to brighten an otherwise drab day!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Now Write! Nonfiction

Edited by Sherry Ellis 

From the back of the book:

“Culled from the personal stashes of such critically acclaimed nonfiction writers as legendary essayist Gay Talese (‘Thy Neighbor’s Wife’), New York Times-bestselling authors Ishmael Beah (‘A Long Way Gone’), Reza Astan (‘No God but God’), and Tilar Mazzeo (‘The Widow Clicquot’), 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner John Matteson (‘Eden’s Outcasts), creative nonfiction icon Lee Gutkind (Creative Nonfiction magazine), and many other top memoirists, journalists, and teachers of creative nonfiction, the exercises collected in ‘Now Write! Nonfiction’ offer fresh ideas for every facet of creative nonfiction writing. Covering topics ranging from pushing through writer’s block to organizing a story, injecting new life into a finished piece to starting a new work from scratch, these exercises will be relished by beginners and seasoned writers alike.”

It’s no secret … I’m a writer. I write mainly journalism. I write nonfiction. I’ve worked for newspapers for more than 20 years (freelancing for the last several of those). And I’ve won awards for my writing.

I’ve listened to lectures by some of the biggest and best in the field, so I do know at least a little something about the craft of writing nonfiction.

However, like any skill, there is always more to learn. I have lots of books on writing stacked on my shelves and sitting in boxes and yes, I do refer to them often. So, I was thrilled when Penguin asked me to review “Now Write! Nonfiction.”

This isn’t just a book about people telling you how to write. Sherry Ellis takes essays on the topic from some of the most recognizable names in the field and follows them up with some exercises so you get the chance to try out some of the advice for yourself.

In one of the sections, S.L. Wisenberg, the co-director of the creative writing master’s program at Northwestern University, discusses “The Brain Map.”

“How many times do we jot down ideas on scraps of paper – the backs of shopping lists and ATM receipts, on sticky notes that lose their stickiness, and the like? Too many, in my case. And, of course, we lose them, both the papers and the ideas.”

Wisenberg then goes on to explain how we can pin down those ideas so we can actually use them. The exercise is designed to “inventory what’s inside your head” so you can “refer to it later whenever you’re stuck for a subject.”

It’s just one of many ways this book can definitely assist the writer of both nonfiction and fiction.

I plan to keep this book close by and refer to it often. I may even take the time to do some of the exercises to hone my writing skills. Can’t hurt, as they say!

This is a great book and I challenge all my writer friends to give it a try.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Mail Call

I just love getting mail! Most people hate the junk and bills, but as a reviewer (and someone who enjoys entering author and blog contests), I always look forward to the mail arriving, as well as the UPS or FedEx truck pulling up in front of the house.

Then, there is my e-mail box where I often get e-books, too. I recently received a copy of Gail Kroger's book "Just My Luck" and I'm really looking forward to reading it!

I had several great items arrive in my mailbox the past two weeks. Here's my list!


1. The Radical Question: What is Jesus worth to you? by David Platt
2. The Tapestry Shop by Joyce Elson Moore
3. Joshua and Aaron (ITP Book Two) by David Gelber – sequel to Future Hope
4. Lumby on the Air by Gail Fraser
5. An Irreverent Curiosity by David Farly

I also received a package from a drawing on the Martha's Bookshelf blog that included dish towel and potholder, set of decorative blocks with birdhouses, 2 pencils, bookmarks, postcards, business cards

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

 I'm sure you've heard the saying "Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad." Well, I've known some men who can't be considered fathers, either.

However, I do know some wonderful fathers and dads.

The perfect example is my son. He is both a good father and a super daddy! He has blessed me with two grandsons who are the apples of my eye.

Then, there is my husband. Eric is a wonderful stepfather to my children and he adores the grandkids, too. He's kind and patients and very loving.

My own father had his faults and yes, like every parent, he made mistakes -- some of them quite serious -- but there were times when I was fortunate to have him as my father. He was, indeed, very supportive and he was determined to give us every thing we needed ... plus a few things just because we wanted them. My son reminds me a lot of him.

My mother's father was a special grandfather. He was, as they say, "the bee's knees" in my book! I just adored him, even though I didn't get to see him as often as I would have liked to when I was growing up (we lived 2,500 miles away). But he wrote me letters and we made regular visits.

Take some time today to remember some of the special fathers in your own life. It's very uplifting!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Night Whispers: A Story of Evil

By Emmett Clifford

From the book jacket:

“When Justine slipped out of the house to meet her lover Sanford at his cabin in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, she had no idea she would be dead before the night was half over. But then, Sanford had no reason to believe he, too, would suffer the same fate. How could either of them know Scanner, a brilliant psychopath preying on their sleepy East Tennessee mountain community, had murder on his mind?”

I had some problems following this book. There were a lot of different stories rambling around in the pages and the descriptions were overdone.

However, the premise of this evil murderer is a good one and the book left me wondering clear to the end who was behind these dastardly deeds.

This is Emmett Clifford’s first novel and he definitely has some potential as a writer. In my opinion, though, he needs to work a little on his style and make the next book a little clearer and not bring so many personalities into his stories. I really never could pinpoint which ones were the main characters.

I’ve always been a fan of the thriller genre and I like a book that teases me to the end. Unless it’s important to the story, I would rather keep guessing whodunit. Clifford did that and I appreciated the little twists and turns. Just when I thought I had it figured out, I was proved wrong.

I hope others are reading this book for review because I’m anxious to find out what they thought of “Night Whispers.” I think I’ll try Clifford’s next novel and see if I like it better.

I’m giving this story two books because I thought it was “OK.”

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins

I know it wasn't very long ago that I changed the look of my blog. I just had to update again because Blogger finally got a three-column template. It's what I've been wanting all along,  I was afraid to try the third party templates. What with backing up my blog, transferring the entries, etc., it made me very nervous.

So, you can imagine how excited I was to see this template. And, to top it off, the background is books! How cool is that! Yay!

Thanks to Blogger, I now have a blog template I should be happy with for some time to come.

Now, on to the weekly Friday Fill-Ins. we go!

1. Updating my blog background feels great.

2. The solution is being patient and waiting for the right time.

3. I hope I make it through my obligations today before I fall asleep.

4. How about taking some time to stop and smell the roses.

5. A relaxing walk to view nature is something I highly recommend!

6. Imagine hearing from a long lost friend.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to start a new book, tomorrow my plans include finishing up some last minute writing projects and Sunday, I want to enjoy the canoe trip we are going on!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Easy as Pi: The Countless Ways We Use Numbers Every Day

 By Jamie Buchan

From the back of the book:

“Have you ever stopped to think how many countless ways we use numbers? From the ring of the alarm clock in the morning to the numbers triggering our cell phones, our world is designed with numbers in mind. With Easy as Pi, you’ll get the 4-1-1 on the fascinating origin of many of the numbers we use or read about every day."

This is such a great little book! Author Jamie Buchan explains the origins of a variety of ways numbers make their way into our lives. There are sections on numbers in language, fiction, culture, mythology and religion and math and science.

Many people automatically think of math when numbers are mentioned. And that can often make people balk because few are truly interested in that subject. Personally, I do like math and that is also what I thought of when I first picked up this book.

Imagine my surprise when I saw how the author shared the origins of numbers in language – which just happens to be one of my favorite topics. In fact, I found phrases that we don’t really think about. We use them often … sometimes on a daily basis … but we think of them are merely words, not numbers.

For example, there is the phrase “cloud nine,” which means being elated or extremely happy. Or how about “86” or to dismiss or get rid of? If we move on to the chapter about fiction, we find “Catch-22” and “Hawaii Five-O.” These phrases actually do have a specific meaning and origin.

For math enthusiasts, don’t worry. There are chapters that do, indeed, deal with those numbers.

I had so much fun with Easy as Pi and you really should give this book a try. You’re bound to find something that will put a smile on your face – rather than a “Pi on your face!”

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday Mail Call

The past couple months have been so busy and I really haven't posted on my blog as often as I would like. I tried to do a review now and then, but my meme posts have truly been neglected, including my mail call updates.

So, here's what I've received since the last Monday Mail Call post on May 10:

1. A Place for Delta by Melissa Walker
2. An Irish Country Girl by Patrick Taylor
3. Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten
4. In Our Quiet Village by Mary Lou Chayes
5. Sometimes Mine by Martha Moody
6. Specific Impulse by Charles Justiz
7. Fall by Colin McAdam
8. Finding Marco by Kenneth C. Cancellara (I also received three extra copies and will have a giveaway for those in the near future, so watch for that!)
9. Ten Minutes From Home by Beth Greenfield

From author Sandra K. Marshall, I won a gift basket containing shower gel and shower cream, a leave-in conditioner from sexyhair, a pretty beaded bracelet and a bookmark from her book “Addiction.” Lovely gifts!

From a blog tour of Delia Lathim’s new book:
1. Grace for the Moment: A 365-Day Journaling Devotional by Max Lucado
2. A Yosemite Seasons Screen Saver CD

From Knopf Marketing, I won a Pantheon Comics tote bag. It’s 12x12 – just the perfect size to carry around small items, such as the book I’m reading!

In my e-mail box, I received a copy of “When the Ocotillo Bloom” by Linda LaRoque and Elaine Cantrell’s book “Grandfather’s Legacy.”

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Now What? 90 Days to a New Life Direction

From the back of the book:

“In ‘Now What?’ pioneering life coach Laura Berman Fortgang shares the process that she has used so successfully with hundreds of clients to help them make major changes in their lives. Whether it’s moving on from a dead-end job, discovering an entirely new creative outlet, or answering the age-old question ‘What am I meant to do with my life?’ this book provides a clear and infinitely practical ninety-day program to discover a new direction for your life.”

When I first picked up this book, I wondered what was in it for me. After all, I wasn’t planning any major changes in my life. But I had agreed some time ago to review this book for FSB Associates and it somehow got buried in the bottom of the pile. I unearthed it a few days ago and thought I should get busy reading it.

Even if you aren’t looking for a new direction in your life, you will find something in this book you can use. I honestly guarantee it.

Although designed to be followed step-by-step, you can pick out sections that may more apply to what you want to use, such as overcoming stubbornness or getting the upper hand on your budget. There’s also a section on updating your resume. That may not seem important, but it really is something everyone should do regularly. Not only does it keep the resume fresh, it also is a good way to see where you’ve come since you started your last job. It might make you realize it’s time for a major change and well, the book is in your hand to do just that!