Wednesday, October 31, 2018

How to Plan, Outline, and Write Your Novel in Thirty Days by Amy Deardon

How to Plan, Outline, and Write Your Novel in 30 Days

Hey writers and fellow NaNo-ins (National Novel Writing Month participants) I’ve got a great how-to book for you today. 

Writing craft coach Amy Deardon has written another how-to book, published just in time for NaNo.

Let’s begin with the summary outline:

Can you really plan, outline, and write your novel in thirty days?

It may sound unlikely, but if you are determined, can commit two to three hours a day, and follow a structured plan -- yes you can!
This book uses a streamlined process to efficiently guide you in quickly creating the first draft of your novel. It includes how to:

* Create a doable schedule with a weekly day off to complete your novel in as little as one month.

* Copy sample forms to record your progress and keep you on track.* Find an intriguing story idea.

* Include fast tricks to develop your characters.

* Follow easy steps using the Story Template to structure your story.

* Plan for the "secret ingredient" that can make or break your story.

* Plan each scene with a five-minute no-fail trick that *always builds tension.

* Learn fast writing tools, tricks, and techniques that will have you writing 1000 or more words per hour -- really!

* Self-edit without stress.

* Move ahead to finish your book and publish.

Whether you want to participate in the National Novel Writing Month challenge ( or simply accomplish your long-standing desire to create a novel, you've come to the right place. This book shows you exactly how to get your novel written fast and well. Get this book today and start writing tomorrow!

And now, my review:

As with other craft books, I recommend picking up the paperback version of this non-fiction guide. That way you can easily refer to the pages/charts/information you may need. I noticed in my Kindle (.mobi) version that the charts were a little challenging to read. The paperback price is very reasonable on this book too, as is the ebook price. 

The advice will likely work best for beginners, especially those who haven’t participated in NaNo multiple times, since the author begins at the beginning. But I think even NaNo veterans will find useful information here. 

Amy writes in an encouraging, cheerleader style that will have writer-readers believing they can absolutely write 50K in 30 days. That’s the promise. The book offers two styles from which to choose. The first is a guide for how to plan and then write a novel in 30 days, for those who start this whole process on November 1st. The second is a guide for those who have planned ahead and are ready to begin writing.

As a NaNo participant of almost a decade, I love that she advises days of rest during the month so writers can disconnect, get refreshed, come back rejuvenated. When we rest, our minds problem-solve and our souls find new strength. 

Her advice centers on how preparation enables words to flow, which is imperative during a short time span—like NaNoWriMo (30 days).  She gives secret and effective tricks for getting words down fast. 

I liked how left-brained the approach is. Very much about outlining and planning and a logical approach. I liked the author’s encouraging voice, telling readers we can do this! And I liked that she gives two options—one for those who haven’t had a chance to plan before the 30 days begins, and a different approach for folks who have been able to prepare ahead. 

For the story prep, she includes prompts to help writers brainstorm. Then, she covers an approach to story structure in an easy-to-follow way, along with characterization, your log line, and then the story’s outline, breaking it down by acts. She covers story boarding, and gives tips for editing, and some info on publishing as well. You can use the story structure and characterization methods you prefer if you already have some in place.

SOTP (seat-of-the-pants) writers may not benefit as much from this approach. One of the best ways to know if you could benefit from this book is to check out the Table of Contents through a sample on Amazon.

I recommend this book to writers, whether you’re participating in NaNo or not. Again, it’s for beginning to intermediate, so writers who already have an established process may not benefit as much.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The opinions here are my own.

Romancing Daphne by Sarah M. Eden

Published 2017 by Covenant Communications, Inc.

Sarah is one of my favorite authors. I love her Pure Romances (an imprint with Shadow Mountain Publishers), and anytime she takes up pen to scrawl a regency romance, we’re in for a treat.

Let’s begin with the summary:

As her first London Season looms before her, the thought of the impending social whirl fills Daphne Lancaster's timid heart with dread. She hasn't her sisters’ beauty nor their talent for conversing easily. Even her family's enviable connections may not be enough to prevent disaster.

But Daphne's misery turns to surprised delight when the first event of her Season brings an unexpected visitor to her door—James Tilburn, whose tender kindness stole her heart in her youth. When the handsome young gentleman expresses his desire to court her, Daphne is elated. Their feelings for each other quickly grow, and it appears that, much to Daphne s disbelief, her happily ever after is within reach.

Yet nothing is as it seems. The couple finds themselves caught in a tangled web of greed and deceit, leaving James and Daphne to determine whether they are willing to risk everything for true love.

And now, my review:

I only recently discovered this publisher as I was searching for more books by this author. So, I haven’t read the rest of this series. (The Lancaster Family Series) Still, I didn’t feel lost as I read. At the same time, it would be helpful if you’ve read the earlier books in the series first, I think, to fully experience these characters’  interactions.

Once again, Sarah’s storytelling is great. You know you’re in good hands. The romance is pure and subtle, yet you feel that thread’s impact. I liked how the plot wasn’t predictable or formulaic. Just when we think they’ve possibly settled things, a twist comes up. And this hero? Very noble, misunderstood, and heroic.

Our heroine doesn’t trust easily because of rejection and abandonment from her past. Her self-worth suffers. Along comes a hero who, from the first time they met, has been able to help her see hope and light. He introduces a new perspective into her life and she she’s drawn to that and to him.

The hero is a caretaker who seeks the good of everyone around him. He’s learning and growing throughout the story. He’s admirable and sympathetic (we care what happens to him). We cheer for him.

He lacked a little bit of the emotional impact you’d expect he’d experience from his past pains—a layer I’d have loved to see developed. This was a mid-length novel, so it’s understandable. I also wanted to see the impact of her twelve-year-old self’s secret in a more impactful way—that shared moment could have been stronger.

The secondary characters were great. The heroic older brother-in-law who hides his heart. The caring, dignified older sister. Great cast.

I recommend this book and may have to look up others in this series.

Monday, October 22, 2018

A Fine Gentleman by Sarah M. Eden

A Fine Gentleman by Sarah M. Eden

C 2017 Covenant Communications
Book 5 in the Jonquil Family Series

Let’s begin with the summary:

London barrister Jason Jonquil has spent his entire life working to establish his identity as a gentleman, a man of refinement like his father and brothers. But when fiery Spanish beauty Mariposa Thornton walks into his office, he finds himself losing his grasp on his dignified character. The woman is infuriating, pushing him to the limit of his legendary patience. However, her case seems simple enough—a small matter of inheritance. Or so he believes.

Once a well-born lady, Mariposa fought to survive the brutalities of Napoleon’s war on Spain. She braved horrific perils and undertook dangerous missions on behalf of those fighting against the invading French army. But her greatest battle still lies ahead: after being separated from her family, Mariposa sets in motion a plan to reunite with her loved ones in England. To avoid drawing the attention of the French, Mariposa dons a carefully crafted persona to conceal her true purpose. 

As Jason and Mariposa are drawn together by the case, they come to know the people beneath the masks they both wear. When the truth of Mariposa’s quest is revealed, the couple is pulled into a mystery that will test the limits of their courage—and expose the true desire of their hearts.

And now, my review:

Having not read the earlier books in this series, I was at a loss at times as I read. However, the story hooked me right away and the humor! I laughed aloud several times reading this book. 

Of course the whole of the story isn’t so lighthearted that there are no valuable moments. 

I loved how noble the hero was—which is fitting, given the title. The heroine was an interesting character. I’m guessing she appears in earlier novels in this five-book series, so I think reading of her there would help understand her here. The mix of Spanish in the dialogue was fun to try to decipher;  I love languages.

As I mentioned, this is book five in the Jonquil Family series by this same author. I recommend reading them in order. (I did not.) That way, you won't be lost.

Such an enjoyable book, and a fast read as this was a short novel.