Monday Motivation


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

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ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Monday Motivation


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Monday Motivation


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Super Snappy Speed Reviews: Children’s Edition (Vol. 4)

Spoiler Alert

Anyone who has not read The Golden Egg by Maggie Keen, Peedie Puffin by Michelle Robertson, The Jolly Pocket Postman by Janet & Allan Ahlberg, Tractor in Trouble by Heather Amery or Postman Pat and the Giant Snowball by Alison Ritchie is hereby advised that this post may contain a few unavoidable spoilers.

It’s time once more for another exciting edition of Super Snappy Speed Reviews: Children’s Edition! My daughter is almost three now and more addicted to books than ever before, especially picture books with simple stories, and so I’ve reviewed another small selection from her bookshelf for your enjoyment.

You all know how these things work by now. I’ve selected five random children’s books and written tiny little reviews on each of them. As ever these reviews reflect nothing more than my own personal opinions and impressions, abridged, abbreviated and condensed into just a few short sentences. The books I have selected have nothing in common, save the fact that they are all fictional stories for very young children. They are not necessarily books that I or my daughter particularly liked or disliked, nor are they sorted into any particular order. So, here we go.

The Golden Egg by Maggie Keen

This sweet little tale of a duck who longs to find an egg made of solid gold (for some reason) has been one of my daughter’s favourites on and off since she got it. I quite like it too. The protagonists have a clear goal which they try to accomplish only to gain a profound epiphany in the end. Highly accessible to small children and with a beautifully paced rhyming pattern.

My rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Peedie Puffin by Michelle Robertson

A sweet but fairly unremarkable tale about a puffin who decides to go and live apart from other puffins and then changes his mind and goes home. Highly accessible for toddlers but a bit of a bore.

My rating: 🌟🌟🌟

The Jolly Pocket Postman by Janet & Allan Ahlberg

If you’re running out of psychoactive drugs during lockdown*, try reading this instead. This story follows the bizarre adventures of a postman who gets caught up in a surreal mish-mash of fairy-tales. The swift rhyming pattern creates a sense of urgency, stressing out both adult and child alike as they try to make sense of what the heck is going on.

*Don’t do drugs, kids.

My rating: 🌟

Tractor in Trouble by Heather Amery

This book is flavour of the month with my almost-three year old right now. Personally I found it a bit of a bore at first but I’m warming up to it and I can see how its simple but inoffensive plot would appeal to a toddler. My only real criticism is about Mrs Boot, the farmer. She is introduced on the first page and then… she never does anything again. Even when Ted needs a farmer’s help, he calls for Farmer Dray instead of Mrs Boot. I mean…. why?

My rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Postman Pat and the Giant Snowball by Alison Ritchie

This has been a firm favourite of both myself and my daughter since the day she first encountered it. Postman Pat and the Giant Snowball (or ‘The Snowy One’ as my daughter used to call it) is based on the TV episode of the same name. You can’t go wrong with Postman Pat and this book has been lovingly adapted from screen into clear and simple prose in a way which feels natural and remains highly accessible regardless of whether or not your child has seen the TV show.

My rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT ALL THE PREVIOUS EDITIONS OF SUPER SNAPPY SPEED REVIEWS
Super Snappy Speed Reviews: TV Edition (Vol. 3)Super Snappy Speed Reviews: Books (Vol. 4)
Super Snappy Speed Reviews: Children’s Edition (Vol. 2)Super Snappy Speed Reviews: Doctor Who Edition
Super Snappy Speed Reviews: Children’s Books Edition (vol 1)Super Snappy Speed Reviews: TV Edition (vol. 2)
Super Snappy Speed Reviews: Writing Apps for AndroidSuper Snappy Speed Reviews: Books (vol. 3)
Super Snappy Speed Reviews: Games EditionSuper Snappy Speed Reviews: Star Trek Edition
Super Snappy Speed Reviews: Books (vol. 2)8 Super Snappy Speed Reviews: Film
5 Super Snappy Speed Reviews: TV Edition8 Super Snappy Speed Reviews

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Monday Motivation


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

5 Novel Writing Mistakes to Avoid

Whatever people may tell you, there is no universal and clear cut way to write. Sure, we can look up writing tips and some of them might even be useful (at least I hope so, otherwise I’ve wasted a lot of time writing this blog!) but when push comes to shove, writing is an art form and can’t be easily reduced to a rule book. That being said, there are a few mistakes which are more or less nearly always unacceptable most of the time; mistakes which will almost inevitably ruin your book every time, no matter who you are or what you’re writing. I have noted a few such writing boo-boos here for your perusal and, per chance, instruction.

Having Little or No Conflict

No matter what your genre or who your audience are, all stories need at least one central conflict. That is to say, there has to be a problem for your protagonist to face. No matter how intricately you have crafted your world and your characters, no one will be interested in reading about their day to day lives where nothing much happens. Could you imagine reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy if Frodo had just been kicking it in the Shire doing everyday Hobbit things?

Of course not. You wouldn’t make it past the first chapter. That story, despite its all its detail, only works because Frodo is presented with a problem in the first couple of chapters which he then spends the next three books trying to resolve. The story ends only the conflict has been overcome.

Writing a Deceptive Hook

We all know that the first few lines of your novel are critical. After all, a boring hook will make your audience put the book down without giving it a chance, right? Absolutely. No arguments there.

However, some authors think this means they can have a heart-pumping, gun’s-blazing, rip-roaring thrill ride of a hook only to pull the rug out from under the reader’s feet in the next scene by revealing that it was all just a dream.

Don’t do it. It’s not big, it’s not clever and it will make your reader hurl your book across the room for wasting their time.

Propping Up Weak Verbs with Adverbs

Adverbs are pretty controversial among the writing community. Some people take a very hard approach to them, insisting that there should be absolutely no adverbs in your story whatsoever. Others have a more relaxed approach.

Me? I’m not going to tell you adverbs are the devil incarnate, but I will ask you to consider this: do you truly need an adverb and if so, why? The chances are if do need an adverb, it’s to prop up a weak verb. That is something to avoid. A stronger verb will make your narrative flow better and will communicate your meaning in a way which shows, rather than tells.

Info-dumping

Ah yes, I know it can be tempting to devote an entire chapter to detailed back stories of your main characters and explain at length how the various fantastic elements within your world work. After all, you’re proud of your world and the people you have populated it with, as well you should be.

However large portions of explanatory material are boring, boring, boring and they drag the pace of your story down to an unbearably slow crawl. Don’t do it.

Quitting

I know what you’re thinking: ‘this is a terrible story, I just need to start from scratch with a new, better idea.’

You might even think you’ve come up with a better idea, one which is sure to succeed where your current one failed.

But you’re wrong. Ideas are a penny a dozen. It’s more likely there’s a flaw in your execution and if that’s the case, you’ll just keep making the same mistakes over and over again.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Monday Motivation


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

5 Excellent Blog Posts: Writing Tips

It’s that time again when I don’t get my usual post finished on time take a humble bow into the shadows and give centre stage to some of the best writing blog posts I’ve read in recent weeks.

This time, they all share a single unifying theme: they all contain great tips and advice for writers. As ever, I have listed these in no particular order. So without further ado:

‘Tracking Character Motivations with a Free Spreadsheet’ by Shannon A Thompson

‘Time to Write, Don’t Procrastinate’ by Lorraine Ambers

‘iWriterly Video: How to Improve Your Writing: 11 Novel Writing Tips for Newbies’ by Meg LaTorre

‘Tips & Advice: Readers & Authors – Write Silly Nothings Often (Guest Post by Didi Oviatt)’ by Didi Oviatt

‘Evolution of a historical novel – writing tip’ by Jody Mabry


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Monday Motivation


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Killing Your Darlings

I was deep in the throes of outlining my novel when I hit a bit of a wall. And I don’t just mean a little wall. I mean a big wall. The kind of wall that made me want to give up on the whole novel and start again from scratch. Try as I might, I just couldn’t come up with a way to end my story that made any sense and drew the main conflict to a satisfying conclusion. Then I remembered one of my golden rules:

Quitting is not an option.

So after a few painful days of working hard but accomplishing very little, I decided to make a pretty fundamental change in my plot. I had originally planned to kill a particular character in exchange for the life of another. This was to happen right at the end of part two of my novel, to act as a catalyst for everything that happened in part three. I’ve since changed it however, so now that character survives the whole novel and the other character dies instead, under altogether less unusual circumstances.

Kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart.

Stephen King

I really didn’t want to make this change. I was so proud of the original death I had written. It was shocking (yet foreshadowed), heartrending and gave my antagonist that final push he needed to become utterly consumed by evil. Alas, it also completely undermined my protagonist’s goal, essentially resolving her main conflict prematurely and leaving her with sod all to do.

I tried everything to keep that original death scene but I just couldn’t. That beautiful, surprising, frankly marvellous chapter was undermining everything else. It had to go.

You’ll often hear authors quoting William Faulkner or Stephen King urging us to ‘kill our darlings,’ and this is exactly what they mean. A clever turn of phrase, a heartrending scene or even a beautifully crafted but ultimately superfluous character can undermine an entire novel. It doesn’t matter how good it is. It doesn’t matter how in love with it you are. It has to go, no matter how much it hurts. Here’s a few things to remember if you’re finding it hard to let go:

You’re Making a Cake, Not a Salad

Look at a salad and what will you see? Lots of vegetables, which you can easily distinguish between and pick out. If you don’t fancy the tomatoes, you can just pick them out, because a salad is really just a collection of vegetables sitting next to each other. But you can’t get eggs and milk out of a cake. It has ceased to be a collection of discrete ingredients and has become a single entity.

So too, a story is not a collection of discrete ideas, characters, story beats, sentences and chapters. It is one whole creation, so try to focus on the big picture whenever you write and create a beautiful story, rather than a collection of beautiful phrases.

Remember, pork crackling is delicious but it still doesn’t belong in a Victoria Sponge.

You Can Always Recycle

It’s not just paper and plastic that can be recycled. Ideas can also be recycled too. If you really do believe that your darling is too beautiful to die (and you should run that past a dispassionate third party just to be sure) despite the fact it’s ruining your entire story, save it somewhere separate to be used again as needed. You may find you can use it (or at least, draw inspiration from it) in future projects. That useless sidekick could perhaps get a story of her own. That clever bit of wordplay could be placed somewhere else.

Even if it can’t be reused, at least your stroke of ‘genius’ won’t perish forever.

Your Darling Probably Isn’t as Good as You Think

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this but it’s true. In my experience, the things I’ve created which have jazzed me the most have often left my audiences the most underwhelmed (and the reverse is often true as well). Try to look at your darling dispassionately and ask yourself if it really, truly is too beautiful to die.

Then kill it anyway. Kill it now before it kills your story.

Oh and don’t forget: you created genius once before. You can do it again.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here: