(First published as Book Review: The Observations by Jane Harris on Blogcritics.)
After reading and reviewing Jane Harris’ latest novel, Gillespie and I, I became interested in Harris’ fresh writing style that I also learned that she came to the literary limelight via a critically acclaimed debut novel, The Observations. I read the advanced praises and reviews to see what the fuss was about and became convinced to read the novel that made Jane Harris a familiar name in Victorian fiction.
The Observations, like Gillespie and I, also takes place in 19th Century Scotland, and it tells the story of a15-year-old Irish city girl going by the name of Bessy Buckley, who escaped her rather eccentric and dysfunctional family back in Glasgow to seek a new life in Edinburgh. She accepts a job as a maid in a lone house known as Castle Haivers despite the fact that she lacks basic housekeeping skills. Arabella Reid, the lady of Castle Haivers, simply hired Bessy to be the new maid because of her basic ability to read and write. At that time, Bessy realizes the rather strange behavior that the lady of the house displays, from being ecstatic to being angry from out of the blue, back to being ecstatic again. As part of Bessy’s tasks in her job, Arabella provides her rather odd tasks from sitting and standing up repeatedly to requiring her to record all of her daily tasks and personal thoughts with the empty journal and pen that was provided.Tweet
(Article first published as Book Review: Gillespie and I by Jane Harris on Blogcritics.)
Set in Victorian Scotland, 35-year-old spinster Harriet Baxter is an independent Englishwoman who traveled from foggy London to the bright lights of Glasgow, in order to enjoy her newly earned independence from nursing her ailing aunt. An avid fan of art, she attended the International Exhibition to have a chance encounter with a young artist named Ned Gillespie, who at an early age destroyed his artwork and committed suicide. Through Ned and a chance rescue with Ned’s mother Elspeth, Harriet eventually became a trusted friend to the entire Gillespie Family, making herself a fixture in their lives. The accounts of her life and friendship with the Gillespies were written in a memoir account by the lone, elderly Harriet in her Bloomsbury home. Bearing that this is a Victorian mystery, you as a discriminating reader should be expecting the unexpected in this story, and Jane Harris’ Gillespie and Iexactly illustrates that fact.Tweet
(First published as Book Review: No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty on Blogcritics.)
It’s the brand-new year, two months since the end of the novel-crunching event of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and for all the NaNoWriMo writers participated, it is time to go through post-novel composition mode. For the writers who reached the 50,000 word count goal this year, congratulations. For those who didn’t, now is the right time to reflect and re-plan for next year’s NaNoWriMo. Maybe some of these writers decide to just stop at the last day of the challenge, but for those who want to improve their craft through revision of their first draft prose or for those who want to start a brand-new prose for next year’s event, The Office of Letters and Light, the organization behind literary challenge events such as NaNoWriMo and Script Frenzy, prepared and published a series of textbooks and tools to provide the writers and would-be writers a guide to preparing for NaNoWriMo and tips during the event itself.
The Office of Letters and Light presented so far two textbooks: No Plot? No Problem! (along with its optional companion writer’s kit) and Ready, Set, Novel! writer’s workbook. For this review, I am going to feature the first guide book and its companion novel-writing kit: No Plot? No Problem.Tweet
(first published as Book Review: South of Superior by Ellen Airgood on Blogcritics.)
Although I have lived in the U.S. for 23 years now, I’ve never had the chance or the money to explore the rest of the country and its various lands and wonders that make this country so great. I do watch a good number of travel documentary shows that give me a quick introduction to various lands I’ve never thought existed, but reading books with stories that set place in such places draw me in to that particular place, imagining myself being in that setting and experiencing the scenery as the story flowed through, page by page.
I found this fresh and rare little gem at the public library two weeks ago that goes by the name of South of Superior by small-town Michigan-based writer Ellen Airgood. At first glance, seeing the word “South” would automatically tell me that the setting would be somewhere in the Deep South, giving me something reminiscent of the simple and feel-good-type of novels such as Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café and Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees. But as I read the summary on the book’s jacket, I soon discovered that the title refers to the southern area of Lake Superior, which in short, the story would depict as small-town life way up north in the Great Lakes area.Tweet
(first published as Book Review: Don’t Take a Bath on a Friday by Neni Santa Romana-Cruz on Blogcritics.)
Superstitions. They’re everywhere.
We learn them from our parents and our elders. We learn them from our neighbors and fellow city folk, town folk, village folk, any local we may come across as you get older.
As we get older, we get wiser and we eventually learn that many of the superstitions we grew up with were simply just superstitions. Even if that was the case, however, as we start entering the new phases of our lives, such as entering high school to even beginning of our first job, we even start learning more new superstitions from our classmates or co-workers.Tweet
(first published as Book Review: No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog by Margaret Mason on Blogcritics.)
As writers of all different styles and genres, it’s quite difficult to come up with an idea for a plot or a topic to dig further and explore through words without seeing some kind of a trigger that would let your creative noggin do its work. The trigger that I’m referring to is what we call inspiration. We see something at random in our everyday lives that from out of the blue we may find interesting — something that we can expand from being ordinary to extraordinary.
Not all writers, however, are out-of-the-box enthusiasts. Many of these types of writers would rather stay in their small comfort station, reading through the news and other blogs in the internet to find some interesting and unique topics that they can find to get their creative juices flowing. Though this method works also, it’s also difficult to come up with something original out of an original written piece about the same topic without getting sued for plagiarism. When stumped, there is another effective way for writers to search for ideas for their writing pieces: writing prompts.Tweet