Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Hobby Time from the Review This! Contributors




hob·by - an activity done regularly in one's leisure time for pleasure. 

January is known as National Hobby Month.   The contributing writers here on Review This! each have their favorite ways to enjoy a relaxing pursuit and have written many reviews of various how-to books, crafting supplies and DIY tutorials, gardening tips, recipes & kitchen aids for the cook, photography lessons, reading or listening to music, sports, and a host of other hobbies. 

These are but a few of the hobbies enjoyed by the Review This crew. The list of hobbies is almost endless.  If you are interested in looking for what we writers here have reviewed, type in the name of your 'hobby' either in the box in the top left-hand corner of any Review This page, or in the search box down the right-hand side. By looking at the author's name, you won't have any problem figuring out which HOBBY is each writers' favorite! For instance, mine  (Wednesday Elf) is crochet and my hobby is shared by several other contributors here, so we learn and share with each other. A more comprehensive list is shown below.


National Hobby Month




Begun by the Hobby Guild of America in 1955,  National Hobby Month was celebrated in April until 1976, then in October until 1986.  Since then, it has been celebrated during the month of January. 

January was most likely chosen for National Hobby Month as it is the beginning of a new year and a good time to start a new hobby.  Many people have never had hobbies during their working years or while raising a family and begin one in their retirement or after the children are grown.  Others try many hobbies throughout their life before finding one or two that gives them the most enjoyment. 


Hobby Examples on Review This!



Hobbies can be passive (such as crafting, reading, writing, listening to music or watching a movie) or an activity such as gardening, cooking or participating in sports. Many people have more than one hobby and often combine them, such as listening to music while crafting. 

In addition to writing reviews here on Review This!, most of the contributing writers here write for their own blogs and websites.  Writers consider writing to be more work than hobby, so time away from writing is important. That's where the activities done in our leisure time become such a pleasure. It is also interesting to note that the passion we feel for our hobbies is shown in many of the subjects we write about.


  • Barbara Tremblay Cipak (Brite-Ideas) is crazy about country music and frequently writes about the artists and their music she is so passionate about.  She is also loves to experiment with color in home décor. 
  • Dawn Rae does crochet and participates in a group of fellow jeep owners.  She also enjoys gardening and lately 'learning about homesteading'.
  • Cynthia Sylvestermouse is a freelance writer and photographer who loves all different kinds of crafts, including crafting in the kitchen, creating fancy cakes and cupcakes. 
  • Barbara (BarbRad) is an expert on books and loves to read.  She is also a nature photographer who most enjoys photographing her central California area. 
  • Mary Beth Granger (MBGphoto) is a fabulous photographer who continually takes photography classes to learn more.  Photography has become her passion in her retirement, along with traveling.  Lighthouses and beaches are her favorite subjects. 
  • Wednesday Elf loves crochet and needlework, watching baseball and reading. 
  • Beverly Owens is busy researching her Native American Indian heritage and loves to write about spirit animals and the wisdom of her ancestors. She also enjoys crocheting. 
  • Olivia Morris loves gardening and following the fashion world.
  • Brenda Little (Treasures By Brenda) collects coffee mugs and researches the history of vintage cups and other vintage items which she shares in her eBay store.  She also loves reading, great movies, cooking, and pop culture. 
  • Diana Wenzel (Renaissance Woman2010) enjoys an off-the-grid lifestyle where she pursues her interests in animal rescue, wonderful nature photography, and DIY projects. She also loves to read. 
  • Louanne Cox (Lou16) loves reading, 80s music, zombies and dolls, among a host of other interests. 
  • Heather Burns (Heather426) is an artist, illustrator and graphic designer. Her hobby is her artistic accomplishments, including the colored pencils she has created for coloring pages and coloring books. 
  • Coletta Teske is a published book author and loves to sew. 

These are just the highlights of hobbies and interests I have observed from the articles they publish and the interaction we have as a team here on the staff of Review This!.  I am sure there are other interests each of them have.  


Quick View Home Page



By clicking on the Quick View Home Page button at the top of any Review This! page, you will have weekly examples of many of the articles your hobbyists here enjoy (plus many non-hobby reviews).  

Stop by the comments section and tell us your favorite hobby or activity. The Review This! staff would love to hear about what gives you pleasure in your leisure time.

(c) Written by Wednesday Elf on 1/20/2018







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Reviewing A Thesaurus

A Most Important Tool For Writing

writing desk
Writing Center image courtesy of Pixabay.com
My decision to review a thesaurus in today's post might seem a little lame at first glance. Stick with me for a bit and you will see why I think that every home and office should have at least one available.

I, along with the other reviewers here at Review This, do quite a lot of writing. Most of us write a post here each week while maintaining our own sites in other locations on the web. It would not be far-fetched for me to assume that each of us probably has at least one thesaurus that we refer to often. Mine is sitting right here next to me as I compose this post. I pick it up and use it several times every single day.

Now, I realize that not everyone considers themselves writers, as we do, but that isn't exactly the case. Adults frequently need to compose a letter or a report pertaining to their jobs. (You should know that I just picked up my thesaurus to find a better word for often and decided on frequently in that last sentence.) College students are required to write a term paper for some of their classes. A thesis might be required for many degrees. High school, middle school and even elementary school students will need to write reports about different subjects during the years that they attend school. In all of these instances the person is temporarily a writer. 

Certainly, we all have the option of looking up words (synonyms or antonyms) on an online thesaurus. Those have been available for quite a while. My preference is an actual book that I can pick up and search through quickly. I don't have to open a new window or switch screens. My writing is still in front of me and I can return to it swiftly. (I just used my thesaurus again choosing swiftly over quickly.) See how that works?

Personally, I think that if we encourage our young students to get into the habit of using this tool for their writing needs; we are also helping them practice searching for words in alphabetical order along with spelling skills. Adults will be better adept at this but even they learned at one time the order of the alphabet when looking a word up. Whether the writer is very young, middle-aged or even elderly their finished product will be a much better piece if they have taken a few minutes to find a variety of words to use in their text. Can anyone remember a paper returned from the teacher with several red marks and a note that says, "You used this word 15 times! Choose different words from time to time."

As a writer, it is my desire, to create a pleasant reading experience for anyone who might read what I have written. I don't want to sound repetitive or appear that I have a very small vocabulary. I think whether it is a conscious goal or not; most people who are writing something want it to be received well. A thesaurus can be invaluable for that very purpose.

It is probably no surprise that I think that giving a child a tool that will help them write better is a very good idea. They may not be looking to make a career out of writing but they will from time to time be required to write something. That "something" will be better if they know how to find synonyms to use to say the same thing in a different way. A by-product is that they will have a much better vocabulary.

As I stated before; I use my thesaurus regularly each day. I have found it extremely helpful as I work on my soon to be published mystery book. 




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Quick Flip Questions for Critical Thinking Charts: A Review

What Ever Happened to Critical Thinking in Education?

As we look around our American universities and the streets of many cities, we see that many people no longer care about critical thinking or examining any opposing opinions. In fact, you don't have to look any farther than social media to see that.  Yet schools used to teach logic and critical thinking. As recently as a few years ago, when I was still selling books online, my best seller was a small flip chart: Quick Flip Questions for Critical Thinking. Recently, its publisher, Edupress, sold its educational supply business to another supplier. Fortunately, it's still available for home, school, and business use.

Quick Flip Questions for Critical Thinking Charts: A Review
Top Selling Critical Thinking Aid for Students, Educators, Writers, and Speakers
Collage of my scans edited on PicMonkey

When I Was Still Selling Teaching Resources Directly, This Flew Off My Shelves and I Shipped It All Over the Country.

Several years ago when I got my Edupress dealer catalog, it had a new item in it -- a small chart called Quick Flip Questions for Critical Thinking. I decided to try a few of them and listed it in my catalog. 

The results amazed me. It quickly became a best seller. Large school districts were ordering it in volume so they could give one to every teacher in the district. I discovered that education professors were giving workshops and recommending that everyone in the workshops buy this little chart. 


Why is this inexpensive little chart so valuable to educators?


This handy chart, which is easily held in one hand, started a stampede of educators to get it because it took the work of Benjamin Bloom and made it easy to understand and refer to. Quick Flip Questions for Critical Thinking was the work of Linda G. Barton, who based it on the original Bloom’s Taxonomy. 

This little spiral bound chart can be held in the hand while teaching a class or leading a discussion. It doesn’t take up much room on a teacher’s desk when he or she is planning a lesson or writing a test. As you can see in the photo to the left, it has a separate page for each level of thinking in the cognitive domain. If a teacher wants to make sure her test or discussion questions and lesson plans cover each level, all she has to do is flip from page to page.







This Mug Will Remind You or Someone Else to Think Critically 


Do you know someone who needs it? 



As you can see in the picture below, each page is easy to flip open. On the other side of the page you open is a definition of the level of knowledge that page covers — in this case, Comprehension. Under the definition is a list of keywords — verbs– that tell how one would demonstrate mastery of this level of knowledge: eg. classify, explain, outline, summarize, etc. Under the spiral are open-ended questions that students would need comprehension to be able to answer.  


This little chart is so useful it finds its way into the hands of workshop leaders, Bible discussion leaders, and even writers. Why writers? It helps them organize writing, and its questions can also act as writing prompts when writer's block attacks. The questions can encourage you to take your topic in a new direction. 


A New Flip Chart Appears

Quick Flip Questions for Critical Thinking was so popular that more flip charts were introduced. People loved the original Quick Flip Questions for Critical Thinking but had also been requesting an updated version. Before long, it was followed by Quick Flip Questions for the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. While it was still new, I sold more of these than of the original flip chart. But soon others discovered what I already knew -- this dirty little secret.

There is nothing new in this updated version. The words for the headings have been changed, but "Creating" has the same material as "Synthesis" had in the original version, and everything else that appears different is just in a different order. The levels of the cognitive domain of learning have been divided by the authors into these levels: Remembering, Understanding, Applying, Analyzing, Evaluating, and Creating.

Either of these handy resources helps one improve thinking skills at any age with the flip of a page. Either is an indispensable tool that helps teachers write lesson plans, master Bloom's Taxonomy, and develop higher levels of thinking. It will help students develop analytic skills. They will learn to ask their teachers the right questions and to see through some of the nonsense they will find in their social media feeds.


How to Use the Flip Charts at Home


Quick Flip Questions for Critical Thinking Charts: A Review
You Can Even Use the Flip Charts at Home
Photo © B. Radisavljevic


There are many ways to use the flip charts in families. They can even help improve child/parent communication. There are both threatening and non-threatening ways to ask questions. If it's your words which put children in a defensive stance (not your tone of voice), this resource can help you frame your questions in a way that may not raise the same barriers to communication. (I would not hold the book in your hand for these encounters. Learn the most useful questions and keep them in your head.)

Homeschoolers will also find these charts valuable. I still like the original version best. Home educators should get a copy for each child of middle school age and older. When the parent assigns reading she can also have the children answer one or two Level IV-VI questions orally or in writing afterward. After the family watches a video, TV commercial, or show together, maybe one of these Level IV and VI Questions would be appropriate to discuss together at the end:


  1. How would you prove...? disprove? 
  2. What choice would you have made?
  3. How is _____ related to...?
  4. What motive is there?
Parents need to help children get into the habit of analyzing what the media puts in front of them instead of just accepting it at face value. 



Why Not Get one of these Handy Critical Thinking Tools Now?




Quick Flip Questions for Critical Thinking Charts: A Review


***



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Teach Your Child to Spell: A Review of The Natural Speller



What Do You Need to Teach Spelling?


If you are homeschooling your children, you don't need new graded workbooks every year. You need sensible teaching materials that help students at any level learn exactly what they need to know at their own pace.



For some of us, spelling came easily because we read a lot while growing up and were used to seeing words spelled properly all the time. We just knew, when proofreading, if a word looked wrong. This also worked for us on standardized multiple choice tests where we had to pick out the one word that was misspelled. If you are one of those people and are now faced with teaching a subject you almost absorbed yourself by osmosis, the book reviewed below is bound to help you plan your lessons.




If spelling was a tough subject for you, maybe you don't feel confident enough to teach your children. You may need a reference book that will bring you up to speed by helping you learn words that are especially hard for you -- the ones that never stuck after years of weekly spelling tests that simply confirmed you did not know them. One book that will help in each case above is Kathryn Stout's, The Natural Speller

Teach Your Child to Spell: A Review of The Natural Speller

About Kathryn Stout


I  first met Kathryn when we were both on the homeschool convention conference circuit. We were vendors, and during the dead times when the exhibit hall was almost empty, I walked around to try to discover new books to add to my inventory. I was impressed with Kathryn and the books she had written since they were perfect for those using a unit study approach, an approach I used when homeschooling my own children. She understood what in each subject was really important so that people could design a homeschool curriculum that did not leave out anything essential as they combined subjects in a unit study.  

Kathryn had taught in public schools for eight years before retiring to teach her own children. She already knew how many books were out there to help teachers, but she wanted to compile all that information into single subject resource to help other homeschooling parents get to the heart of their subjects. The Natural Speller is the go-to book for spelling. While many textbooks have some and gone, The Natural Speller is still popular after over twenty years. That's because it has everything people need to know about learning to spell in one handy book.

What's In The Natural Speller?


This is a comprehensive tool for the spelling teacher to use for any grade level. It has word lists for all grades through eighth, and they are arranged phonetically. It teaches the teacher how to teach spelling, and suggests activities to help students practice the words, use the words to help develop dictionary and grammar skills and build vocabulary. Writing activities to go with the spelling lists are included. After all, writing is where one uses spelling.

The Natural Speller also has a section devoted to special word lists: abbreviations, calendar and number words, colors, measurements, contractions, homophones, homographs, irregular verbs, foreign words, and Latin and Greek roots. Another section contains spelling rules. Lastly, there are hints on punctuation and capitalization; models for writing letters; and activities for using prefixes and suffixes. Just about anything related to spelling is in this book.

Another great feature of this book is that it assists the teacher in designing a completely individualized spelling program for each student without buying another book. Whether your child has learning disabilities and needs to go at a slower pace or whether your child is far above average in spelling, and only needs a reference when proofreading,  get the Natural Speller. It will be all you need. Older students will probably only need it for reference unless they haven't mastered the spelling words designated to be learned by grade nine.


Don't let your children grow up to be like this person below. If you're already this person, the book will help you, too.

For more reviews of books to help homeschool families and others who want to enrich their children's education, see Books to Remember: A World of Reading Choices.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Review of BlogJob.com: A Great Free Host for Your WordPress Blogs


Is BlogJob a Writing Community That Has Everything


Update, May 4, 2016

AS of May 4, 2016, BlogJob has "temporarily suspended" its rewards program as described below. You can still blog there, but you will not get points for any site activities or blog posts until the site straightens out certain issues. It is still a good place to socialize, and those who have monetized their blogs themselves can still earn from them. I would not advise anyone to join at this time, though. Although the site may solve its issues and begin making enough income to begin paying again, there is no guarantee that will happen.  I have posted an updated review of BlogJob in Transition

Have you been thinking of starting a blog? Perhaps you are already an experienced blogger who would like to start a new blog. Maybe you'd like to  use WordPress without the cost of buying domain names and paying expensive hosting fees. It would also be advantageous to be paid something for your efforts as soon as your posts are published while you are waiting for traffic to build. I believe you will find a happy blogging home in the BlogJob writing community.

Ravens Discuss BlogJob, created on Shareasimage.com

I want to emphasize the word community here. I've not been so happy at a site since Squidoo died.  Here's why. BlogJob is like Facebook, Tsu, and just about any content writing site that shares revenues all rolled into one. It functions well as a social network with forums, groups, and friends. The active friends interact with each other often and comment on each other's blogs as Squidoo lensmasters used to comment on each other's lenses and as Hubbers comment on each other's hubs. You can start or join groups. You have forums for discussing whatever is on your mind. You write your content on your own WordPress blogs which are hosted for free on the site as folders on the BlogJob domain. You earn for everything you do.

Blogging on BlogJob


Image courtesy of https://pixabay.com/en/cms-wordpress-265129/
On BlogJob, you  have almost total control over your WordPress blogs. It's not limited and difficult to use as it was on Seekyt, a site that finally closed to most writers. As long as you follow the usual Google content rules and keep everything G-rated and free of spam, you can decide what to post without any unreasonable restrictions. You can use affiliate and referral links to reputable sites. You can choose your own theme and customize it. You can add widgets. You can place Goggle ads or others. You can do almost anything you could if you  were hosting the blog on your own domain.  Your blogs must be at least 300 words long. Most of mine are about three times that.

There are some limitations,  however. Aren't there always? As this point in time, some of the tools that make affiliate selling easier don't function because of software conflicts. Amazon native ads don't work unless you use them in place of a regular ad, like one from Google. I haven't tried that yet. Easy Product Displays only show buttons and links, no images, when viewed. I'm hoping the EDP developers and the BlogJob website owner will figure out how to make it work. Meanwhile, Zazzle and Amazon regular codes work just fine.

 Another limitation is that you don't fully control the placement of all ads on your site. BlogJob administration places a couple of them where you might not want them to be, but I found when I complained they changed the placement and type of ad where it would not be so distracting.

Can't I Get Free Hosting Elsewhere?


Image courtesy of https://pixabay.com/en/blog-tweet-like-share-parts-710670/
BlogJob is a Community
Yes. You can use Blogger or WordPress.com to host free blogs for you. They also network you with other bloggers, but not in the same way. Those networks offer little incentive for bloggers to interact with each other. BlobJob bloggers are motivated to read and comment on other members' blogs because they are rewarded for it. They are also motivated to share the blogs of other members on social media. Blogging on your own can be a lonely business, especially at the beginning. Building traffic takes time, and income only arrives with traffic. BlobJob bloggers get help with both traffic and earning at this early stage.

How You Earn

As of may 4, 2016, what follows has been suspended until further notice. People may redeem points they have already earned, but cannot earn any more points. We don't know if the rewards system will be reinstated or not at this point in time.

Image Courtesy of https://pixabay.com/en/dollar-currency-money-us-dollar-499481/
Points add up to gift cards or PayPay cash at BlogJob
BlogJob has a reward system that works on points. You get points for almost anything you do -- commenting on blog posts and in forums, responding to comments of others, making friends, starting a group or interacting in a group, referring new members and site visitors and making blog posts. You get 50 points for each blog post. As the points add up, you will be able to redeem them for gift cards or PayPal payments. You can get a $25 payment to PayPal with 5,000 points or $100 for 10,000 points. Patience pays off.

I accumulated 5,818 points between November 5, 2015 and April 30, 2016. That's an average of 33 points a day, and that's because I did not have time to do at least one blog every day. You are limited to earning 100 points a day until you are able to complete a project. That means if you earn all 100 points a day, it will take you 100 days to cash out for $100 in your PayPal account.

A completed project raises your point ceiling. A project is something like a merit badge was in scouting. You have a step-by-step list of jobs to do and then you apply for the project. They involve blogging and attracting people to your blog or to the site. The first project most people complete is Social Networker. It includes instructions for getting your blogs set up.

Promoting Your Blogs


Sharing Buttons on BlogJob (Screen Shot from one of my BlobJob Dashboards
On every BlogJob blog you publish, there are special sharing buttons for social media. (See screen shot above from one of my blogs.) When you use them while logged in, they will include your referral in the links. If people use those links to visit your blog, they  are considered referred visitors and if they come as a referred visitor and sign up, they will become part of your network of referred new members. Only referred visitors give you points and count in completing  a project. As I update this on April 30, 2016, the site has been migrated to a new server and the sharing buttons have not been put back yet. Members have been advised to use a compatible plug-in for sharing, but referral codes must be manually added at the time being.

You will not work alone in getting more visitors to your blogs. Other logged in BlogJob members who use the buttons will also send visitors, but those who come to your blogs on their links won't be credited to your account. They will, however, see your ads and affiliate links. You don't get points for visitors who haven't come via your referral links, but you don't really get anything for visitors to your self-hosted blogs either unless they buy something or their view increases your Google earnings. You can profit the same way from un-referred visitors to BlobJob blogs.

One thing I like about the built-in share buttons is that there is a Hootsuite interface for posting to Facebook and Twitter. That means I can schedule tweets to all three accounts at once and then go back to Hootsuite and refine the scheduling.  Facebook links can be posted to your personal profile, a page you manage, or a group. Unfortunately, it can't post to a specific group thread in the way some groups require. (This is no longer the case unless you use the recommended Super Socialize plugin with both Hootsuite and Buffer interfaces.)

I Highly Recommend BlogJob


Would you rather not start your own self-hosted blog or website for your unhosted articles or posts you still plan to write? Please consider BlogJob as an alternative. It has a built-in community where you can connect with friends so you can work together to make each other successful. It has integrated promotion tools. It helps you begin to earn before your blog is established. Please join me at BlogJob by clicking this referral link. It may  be just the solution you've been looking for.

Keep in mind though that when writing on any site you don't own, you don't have full control. If you'd rather self-host and you want to start a blog you can monetize properly from the beginning, I recommend you enroll in the Pajama Affiliates blogging course described below that meets your particular need. There is usually at least one course on sale at any given time.

A Review of BlogJob.com: A Great Free Host for Your WordPress Blogs


To be up and running quickly you may want to start with WordPress Site in a Day. If you're serious about making an income blogging as your business, you may want to go all in for the Affiliate Marketing Business Bundle that has the works. You will find a full description of each course when you click through. I have purchased these courses and can tell you they are worth every penny I've spent on them. The teachers are making thousands of dollars a month from affiliate marketing in their blogs, so you know you won't be getting useless information.

 If you aren't sure about making even this small investment, there is even a trial course for a dollar that not only gives you access to some of the most useful videos in the course, but also admittance to the private Facebook group for those taking the course. You will probably discover that you already know some of the others if you've been writing for third-party sites.

This has just been a whistlestop tour of all the features BlogJob offers. BlogJob also provides business opportunities for network marketers if you are inclined that way. There are job and resume boards, as well, where you can look for blogging jobs or submit your resume if you would find that useful. Most members will probably never even click on the tabs that lead to those extra earning possibilities, but they are still available if you need them.

Hope to see you at BlogJob soon.

Update, After being temporarily closed to new members, BlogJob is now open again. Those now wanting to join need to fill out an application that demonstrates they can write in English.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Review of Novels that Take You Behind the Scenes in Book Publishing Houses

Two Novels Let You Peek into the World Of Book Publishing


Have you ever wondered how the authors of best selling books get to the top? I just discovered two authors new to me whose novels provide a peek into the offices of publishers and their agents, as well as insight into book marketing and the publishing industry. I will review these novels here.  


Spider Web with Scott Quote, photo from Pixabay


Marsha Grimes offers a humorous look at the competition between publishers, editors, and agents for popular authors . Just to make it interesting, a few hired killers with scruples are added to the mix.

 Writer Steve Martini's thriller, The List, shows another aspect of the publishing industry that focuses on the marketing of an author persona. In this book, an author's idea for promoting her new book involves a bit of deception that almost gets her killed in the end.


Martha Grimes Novels about Publishing


Buy Foul Matter at Amazon
The two books I read by Martha Grimes are Foul Matter, my favorite, and The Way of All Fish, which bored me. Many of the same characters populate both books. We meet the first of those characters, Paul Giverney, in Foul Matter. He is trying to choose a new publisher who will meet his conditions – a publisher who would do whatever it takes to get whatever he wants. He decides that Bobby Mackenzie of Mackenzie-Haack is his man. 

Mackenzie wants Paul badly because Paul writes best-selling books that would carry the costs of marketing them and make money for Bobby, but Paul will only come on board if he can have Tom Kidd, who doesn't like to edit the kind of commercial fiction Paul writes, as his editor. Tom Kidd only likes to edit literary fiction, especially that of Ned Isaly.

Paul is now a free agent and the big publishers are competing to sign him. Mackenzie wants Paul's book, but Paul has one condition that is blocking the deal. Paul insists Mackenzie drop Isaly. Paul wants Kidd to edit his books, but almost everyone knows that if Ned Isaly is dropped, Kidd will also go and he would take Mackenzie's best literary authors with him, including Isaly, who has won a lot of awards for his fiction. Besides that, Isaly is still under contract for one more book. Breaking the contract isn't legal. Paul insists the legal team could find a way if they really wanted to. 

Clive Esterhaus is second in command to Mackenzie, and handles acquisitions along with some editing. His job is to get Paul Giverney under contract. He just doesn't see how he can get rid of Isaly without breaking the contract and also losing Kidd and his literary authors. 

Mackenzie puts a book written by Danny Zito, an ex-mob contract killer who is now in the Witness Protection Program, on Clive's desk, and hints that maybe Danny would like to write another book. Clive knows the real hint is that Danny still knows people who might be able to solve their Isaly problem for them. Danny refers Clive to hit men Candy and Karl, and Clive contacts them. Bobby Mackenzie hires them to get rid of Isaly.

Candy and Karl are unlike any hit men you've ever seen and have their own conditions. They don't want to “do” anyone they don't think deserves it. They take the advance money and study the potential “project” for a couple of weeks until they decide whether they want to take the job. If they decide they don't, they return the advance. Candy and Karl ask Bobby and Clive why they want Isaly eliminated and they can't believe the answer  they get. Karl would actually like to write a book himself, and is fascinated by what he's learning about book publishers. 

As the book progresses, we often see Ned and his friends Saul, Jamie, and Sally, at Swill's bar, where many literary folks hang out. The friends also run into each other in the park, another place they frequent.  Saul, like Ned, is a literary author. Sally is a wannabe writer who is an assistant to Tom Kidd. Jamie is a romance writer. Saul sometimes takes them for dinner at the Old Hotel, which is known for including and excluding dinner guests, and even some who only want a drink at its lobby bar. No one knows what criteria determines who gets in and who doesn't. Clive is one of the anointed but neither Bobby nor Paul can get in on their own. No matter where they get together, Saul, Ned, Sally, and Jamie often discuss their books and the writing process. There's a lot of shop talk.  


Novels that Take You Behind the Scenes in Book Publishing Houses
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay


Ned is at the very end of the process of completing a book.  He's been struggling over what to do with his character Nathalie in the final scene. He has left her in a park after her lover has ended their affair, and he keeps "hearing" her entreaties not to leave her there like that. On one such occasion his thoughts are distracted by his realization that he can't remember what Pittsburgh, the town he grow up in, looks like. This bothers him, and he decides its time to visit his hometown. He thinks that might help him figure out how to end his book. He tells everyone he's going to Pittsburgh. 

Naturally, Candy and Karl follow him so they can observe him and decide whether to take him on as a project. Sally, who had overheard part of a meeting between Bobby and Clive discussing how to end Ned's contract, senses something is up that's not good. She has mentioned this to Saul. Each of  them separately decides to go to Pittsburgh when Ned does without telling Ned or each other. In the meantime, Clive is afraid Candy and Karl might really kill Ned and he might get blamed. So he hires someone to follow Ned and protect him. Her name is Blaze. Clive decides to go to Pittsburgh himself, as well, just to keep and eye on things.   

Paul, although he stays home, is worried at what his demands may have set in motion. He has nothing personal against Ned, so he hires Arthur Mordred to protect Ned. Ned himself is oblivious to all of this. He only vaguely senses someone may be following him.  He does wonder why Candy and Karl seem to be turning up everywhere he goes. 


Arthur Mordred, Candy and Karl know each other and wonder why they are seeing each other on the same turf. It seems like the whole gang is in Pittsburgh, though Saul and Sally don't let Ned or each other know they are there at first. The Pittsburgh chapters are fun for the reader, with Ned mostly just looking around while all the others follow him as inconspicuously as possible, often in disguise. The last day the disguises come off and everyone acknowledges everyone else, but not why they are there. Then everyone goes home and they all manage to get back to New York safely, including Ned Isaly, so the problem of what to do with him remains.  You will have to read the book to see how the situation is resolved, and only at the end is it revealed why Paul wanted Mackenzie to break Isaly's contract. 

The best parts of the book are the conversations between Candy and Karl as they “research the project” and interact with everyone. They provide a lot of comic relief. It was, in fact, this humor and the spoof on the publishing industry that made the book interesting. The characters were not very well-developed, but the dialogue was great. The whole scene (several chapters) in Pittsburgh is hilarious. Some readers may find Ned's mental interactions with Nathalie a bit tedious. though. 

A reader might pick up the idea that in spite of having written the popular Richard Jury novels, which I've not yet read, Grimes is not especially fond of how the publishing industry operates and that would also apply to the way books are marketed and get to the best seller lists. Steve Martini picks up some of these same themes in his legal thriller, The List.

Review of The List by Steve Martini


The title refers to the  New York Times Bestseller List that every author wants their book to be on. I'm classifying this as a legal thriller because two of the main characters are lawyers. The book is much different in tone and style than Martha Grimes Foul Matter. In the Grimes books, there were plenty of opportunities to laugh and the fun was in seeing the characters interact and learning what they really thought of each other. In The List, you will find yourself holding your breath and unable to put the book down. It is full of action and suspense. 

Book Review of The List
Buy The List at Amazon
 The List begins with a Prologue in which Abby Chandlis is running for her life on an old docked ship. She is trying to reach Morgan Spencer, her lawyer, whom she is sure is aboard. She is fleeing two men on the dock, whom you will meet later in the book. Then the book moves to Chapter One and we discover Abby is a lawyer who works with Morgan Spencer. It's obvious the two are very good friends, but not lovers. Abby wants to keep it that way. Morgan doesn't.

Abby has written a book, but since she has written previous books, which although published never got very far, she is reluctant to publish her new book under her own name. She has chosen the pen name of Gable Cooper. She is afraid that if she submits the book under her own name she will get less for it because she's a woman and it wouldn't be marketed well because her other books weren't best sellers. She knows her new book is blockbuster material.

We next meet Carla Owens, who is looking for Gable Cooper. Carla is a powerful literary agent, and she tells Abby that she must get hold of Cooper because a major publisher wants the book and expects it to be very successful. Abby says Cooper is in South America researching another book and cannot be reached. The truth is that Abby hasn't found anyone to play the part of Cooper for the book jacket, interviews, and book signings. She promises to try to find Cooper. She is his legal representative in the negotiations. 

The scene then shifts to Jack Jermaine, a frustrated writer who is currently at home in Coffin Point, South Carolina, using his rejection slips for target practice. He is handsome, rugged, and very good at shooting.

Meanwhile, back at Abby's office, she explains her problem to Morgan, to whom she tells everything. He's upset because they have a new boss, Cutler, whom he doesn't like. It appears Cutler wants to downsize, and that means both Abby and Morgan could lose their jobs. Abby asks Morgan to file a copyright for her on the new book so she can prove, if there's ever a problem with the person she gets to lay the part of Cooper, that she herself wrote the book. The only other person who knows about her authorship is is her best friend Theresa, who is divorced because her husband Joey has abused and almost killed her. Abby had acted as Theresa's divorce lawyer, and Theresa is currently living with Abby.

Morgan, as Abby's lawyer, wants all the details of how Abby intends to pull off letting someone play her part without the publisher and agent finding out who really wrote the book. They discuss all the details of how Gable Cooper will sign papers and contracts that deposit Cooper's advances, signed over to Abby, in Abby's account. Then she will pay Cooper his share. Morgan wants to be sure only he, Abby, Theresa, and whomever turns out to be Cooper, are the only ones who know Abby really wrote the book. Because he doesn't trust Cutler, he tells Abby he will keep all the documents safely at his home.

Abby, realizing she has to come up with a Gable Cooper soon, goes with Thersa to L.A. to hire someone to play the part. She settles on the handsome Jess Jermaine. Theresa is staying with friends. Abby stays in L.A. to continue briefing Jess on his part. After that her plan is to fly to New York, meet Carla alone, and then after the two of them have worked out the details, they would meet Jess at the airport together.

Meanwhile, back in Seattle, Joey has broken into Abby's home and torn it up, waiting for Theresa to appear so he can abuse or kill her. While he's there, the people trying to get the movie rights to the book appear looking for Cooper. Joey answers the door, plays along, pretends he is Cooper, and agrees to sell them the rights for only $25,000.

Abby gets into New York at 2 AM and after only a few hours sleep prepares to go meet Carla. Under her hotel door she finds a handwritten note from Jess saying he can't be Cooper after all, but not to worry, he's made arrangements. She imagines her entire book deal flying away and is furious, but when she calls Carla's office about the change in plans for picking up Cooper, Carla very happily tells her that she has been chatting in her office with Cooper and he's wonderful. Jess had arranged for his brother Jack, older and just as handsome, whom we met earlier in Coffin Point shooting up rejection slips, to substitute for him. Abby is extremely angry that Jack got to Carla before she did, but she's in a bind and finally has to accept the situation in order not to blow her own deal.

Since this is a review, not a synopsis, I won't tell you about all the dead bodies, romance, and double-crossing that follow or even introduce all the players in this drama. The plot is too intricate for me to do that here. I did not pay careful enough attention to all the details on my first reading, and so I was more surprised than I should have been at the end. What I could not do is put this book down. As I'm rereading parts of the book today, I find myself laughing at some parts I'd forgotten about. There is touch of humor because of who the people are and how they interact, even though the mood of most of the book is tense.

Novels that Take You Behind the Scenes in Book Publishing Houses


My Recommendations 


I would recommend either Foul Matter or The List to writers or anyone else interested in the publishing industry. Foul Matter is a light book with a lot of comic relief. Most of the action is intellectual, and most battles take place with words. The “goons,” Karl and Candy, have their own version of justice. They tend to find an appropriate punishment to fit whatever is crime in their eyes. 

Although The List has a bit of humor, it has much more violence and suspense than Grimes' books. It, too, has some vigilante justice, but it's more violent than in that in Foul Matter.  You will find language and behavior in both books you would not want your grandchildren to imitate, but nothing worse than they would see in a PG-17 rated movie or much of today's television, or overhear in conversations. The F-word is used often by some characters because it fits their personas. There aren't any sex scenes in Foul Matter that I can remember, but The List has a few that would be rated R if they were in a movie. Forewarned is forearmed. I didn't see anything that seemed inappropriate in its context, and I enjoyed both books, different as they were from each other.

Which of these books do you think you'd want to read first?



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Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Art of Tolerance

Get For All Good on a Pillow
The Virtue of Tolerance: Making an Effort with Empathy, Kindness, Goodness and Grace

Getting Better, with Tolerance.
A personal saying 'Kindness breeds Tolerance' ...Tolerance requires an accepting mind and a willing participant. It's not a spectator's virtue. To see life from another person's perspective suggests that we are attempting to live outside of ourselves, to mentally travel the journey of another soul.
This world is our home, we all live here, and we all deserve the best from each other.
Below you'll find a few of my works on Tolerance, Perspective, & Self Awareness.
I hope all your flowers grow

TOLERANCE



Hold my hand
then judge me
Or better
Feel my sameness,
Look me in the eye
then tell me I don't matter
Or better
See I am you,
Sit at my dinner table
Sharing food and conversation
then tell me I'm not worthy
Or better
Understand my hunger is like yours,
Take a walk with me
then hate where I live
Or better
Understand my plight,
Watch my children play
and tell me they are expendable
Or better
Love them as your own,
As I hold your hand
Look in your eyes
Eat at your table
Walk with you
Understand your plight
And watch your children play
I know I want to be better too
by Barbara Tremblay Cipak

PERSPECTIVE
From Your Perspective
What do you want me to know about you
I'm interested in your life
You're journey is my teacher
I'm wrong about so much
How can I make your day better
Show me what I can do
I am a willing spirit
by Barbara Tremblay Cipak

SELF AWARENESS


I can't judge you
I'm too busy judging myself
I can't hate you
I'm too busy learning about myself
I can't envy you
I'm too busy competing with myself
I can't expect anything from you
I'm too busy expecting the best from myself
I can love you
By loving myself
by Barbara Tremblay Cipak, Copyright

COMPASSION



Youtube Channel - DragedaPoemsLyrics
Drageda.com




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