You Should Be Writing [Book Review]

No matter if you’re a professional or a hobbyist, you know you should be writing. It’s like an internal drumbeat. Always there, always beating, never relenting.

So, what do you do about it?

You Should Be Writing by Brenda Knight and Nita Sweeney. Book with lavendar on the cover

A Journal of Inspiration and Instruction to Keep Your Pen Moving Forward

I love craft books. At any time of the year. But this one is especially intriguing because it’s a bit off the beaten path. For me.

Slotted in the “quotation reference” genre.

It’s a thing!

Also, the pitch is great! It says it’s a book to help me “write to document, reflect and heal.”

This isn’t my usual approach to the craft, since I do this as my profession. I write to eat, live and work.

So you understand why I want to explore a different, more emotional side.

There isn’t much to the book, subtitled as “a journal of inspiration and instruction to keep your pen moving.” There’s a bit of intro and then pages and pages of lines, waiting for you to fill them.

Each page begins with an inspirational quote. And the quotes are organized into topical sections.

You’ll be encouraged to find the topic or quote that inspires that creative spark. And then…it’s time to write.

If you’re a bit blocked or are looking for a book of prompts to aid your creative exploration, this is an excellent option.

You Should Be Writing: A Journal of Inspiration and Instruction to Keep Your Pen MOving Synopsis

From famous all-time-great poets like T.S. Eliot to modern creatives like Roxane Gay, the selected writing quotes in this journal aim to instruct and inspire you to become a better writer.

Writing Inspiration from Incredible Authors

Gathered by Brenda Knight and writing coach Nita Sweeney, author of Depression Hates a Moving TargetYou Should Be Writing provides you with writing wisdom from a variety of accomplished authors.

Writing Practice on Every Page

This journal is a must-have for writers everywhere. With quotes from a diverse group of historical and modern authors to use as creative prompts on every page, you’ll be able to bring your writing inspiration with you wherever you go. You’ll find plenty of great advice, such as Toni Morrison’s encouragement, “As a writer, a failure is just information. It’s something that I’ve done wrong in writing, or is inaccurate or unclear. I recognize failure―which is important; some people don’t―and fix it.”

Creative Writing Practice for Every Genre

This writing journal with prompts helps you practice a wide variety of writing skills. The excerpts and prompts include:

  • General advice: “Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.” —Zadie Smith
  • Helpful instructions: “If you scribble your thoughts any which way, your reader will surely feel that you care nothing about them.” —Kurt Vonnegut
  • Genre-specific writing ideas and tips for particular areas of writing, such as poetry or storytelling: “For those whose bucket-list entails seeing their name on the spine of a book, it boils down to the power of persistence.” —Marlene Wagman-Geller

If you were inspired by the creative writing prompts and advice in 642 Things to Write AboutComplete the Story Journal, or Piccadilly 300 Writing Prompts, you’ll love Brenda’s and Nita’s You Should Be Writing: A Journal of Inspiration & Instruction to Keep Your Pen Moving.

You Should Be Writing was published on June 16, 2020 by Mango Publishing.

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No matter if you're a professional or a hobbyist, you know you should be writing. It's like an internal drumbeat. Always there, always beating, never relenting. So, what do you do about it? This quotation reference book will help.

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Jessica Jones Playing with Fire Audiobook

On May 28 Marvel’s Jessica Jones Playing with Fire launched on Serial Box in immersive e-book and audiobook formats.

jessica jones playing with fire
Cover art by Annie Wu

I’m a big fan of books, audio and JJ so it makes sense I’m looking forward to this serialized adventure.

Here’s a quick synopsis but I’ll leave the Big Description below the audio sample for your edification.

We join with our favourite private investigator just as she’s giving self-care a try. Jessica is trying to live a healthier lifestyle (as in, no drinking during business hours, trying not to punch things, etc.) and she’s even trying to take less intense cases to take care of herself.

But when her latest missing person’s case seems too neat and tidy, she can’t accept it or let it go. This sends her diving headlong into a search for answers.

This is a 16-episode series available to read or listen to, delivered in bite-sized chunks on Serial Box.

Sample audio OF JESSICA JONES PLAYING WITH FIRE

https://soundcloud.com/serial-box-pub/first-listen-marvels-jessica-jones-playing-with-fire

Join Jessica Jones on an obsessive search for truth that leads her to an ancient and deadly magic

Her story isn’t over, thanks to this upcoming release on the premium reading and audio entertainment platform Serial Box. The next title in the original serialized fiction and audiobook series based on Marvel Comics brings a case to the superhuman detective leading to a supernaturally evil discovery.

On May 28 Marvel's Jessica Jones Playing with Fire launched on Serial Box in immersive e-book and audiobook formats.

In Playing with Fire, private investigator Jessica Jones is giving self-care a try. She's trying to live a healthier lifestyle (as in, no drinking during business hours, trying not to punch things, etc.) and she's even trying to take less exciting cases to take care of herself.

But when her latest missing person's case seems too neat and tidy, Jessica can't accept it or let it go. This sends her diving headlong into a search for answers.

WHO: The series is narrated by voice actress Fryda Wolff. The writing team is led by best-selling novelist Lauren Beukes, four-time Hugo Award-finalist Elsa Sjunneson, Zoe Quinn (Vertigo’s Goddess Mode), Vita Ayala (Marvel’s Nebula; Age of X), and television writer Sam Beckbessinger. 

WHEN: The first three episodes will launch on Thursday May 28, with new episodes releasing in weekly installments thereafter. The full season (16 episodes) will be available for $9.99.

WHERE: Exclusively on the Serial Box apps available on Google Play and the Apple App Store, and through the Serial Box website.

MORE: This is the third Marvel title to launch on Serial Box. Marvel’s Thor: Metal Gods and Marvel’s Black Widow: Bad Blood are currently available to listen to or read.

Podcast recommendations

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The Author’s Checklist by Elizabeth Kracht

The Author’s Checklist is a literal A-Z checklist. An amazing, wonderful, helpful list.

The Author’s Checklist An Agent’s Guide to Developing and Editing Your Manuscript

The Author’s Checklist: An Agent’s Guide to Developing and Editing Your Manuscript

Agent, editor and author Elizabeth Kracht based her book on common issues she noticed in the thousands of manuscripts she has read over the years.

There is a significant gap between manuscripts that writers believe to be ready for publication and those that agents or other publishing professionals do.

Elizabeth K. Kracht

Kracht came to the publishing industry from the author side. Now on the agent side, she wants to bridge the gap between authors and agents. The Author’s Checklist helps authors identify weak points in their manuscript. The goal? Empowering writers to fix these common errors so they can get published.

Offering tips for authors at every stage of their writing journey, the A-Z headings contain short snippets of helpful advice and recommendations. While some sections are definitions explaining concepts and jargon, others act more like warnings. (For example, under “Word Count” the first sentence reads, “Word count matters.”) Other headings include “Proofreading,” “Collections,” and “Voice.”

Here’s an excerpt from one of the tips about how unsolicited queries go. This is found under “Agency Guidelines.” I found it especially enlightening.

At most agencies, unsolicited submissions are first read by an intern or reader rather than by an agent. Often these readers are highly educated English majors seeking to enter the publishing industry. Such readers can be less tolerant of mistakes such as typographical errors and failure to follow submission guidelines.

Elizabeth K. Kracht

Hmm.

I’m relating to this piece in particular because I’m reflecting on how much I’ve eased up with my stringent editing/gatekeeping as I’ve matured in my career. I was SO picky when I was a new writer/editor taking submissions. I wanted everything perfect. Just so. No, exactly so. Now? Decidedly more tolerant. Interesting. And a good nugget to keep in mind.

Anyway, the tips included in this book aren’t overbearing or too bossy. They’re handy for catching slippery errors and making them right. The tips are also excellent explanations for what to expect when you’re querying. And there’s some good advice for how to make your book better in general.

The simple solution? Don’t take shortcuts. No matter how much urgency you feel to get your book out there. Do it right. Think through every aspect of your writing and prepare to dive deep. You’ll get there, you just have to do the work.

The Author’s Checklist: An Agent’s Guide to Developing and Editing Your Manuscript was published on February 4, 2020 by New World Library.

The Author’s Checklist: An Agent’s Guide to Developing and Editing Your Manuscript is a literal A-Z checklist. An amazing, wonderful, totally helpful checklist.

The Author’s Checklist Synopsis

An Indispensable Guide for All Writers in All Genres

The bad news: even really good manuscripts have weak spots that are enough to garner rejections from agents and publishers. The good news: most of these problems are easy to fix—once the writer sees and understands them. After several years of evaluating manuscripts, literary agent Elizabeth Kracht noticed that many submissions had similar problems, so she began to make a list of the pitfalls. The Author’s Checklist offers her short, easy-to-implement bites of advice, illustrated by inspiring—and cautionary—real-world examples. Most aspiring authors yearn for a friend in book publishing. The Author’s Checklist is just that.

Other writing-related book reviews

The Author’s Checklist: An Agent’s Guide to Developing and Editing Your Manuscript is a literal A-Z checklist. An amazing, wonderful, totally helpful checklist.

One more thing. I think you’ll enjoy my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn with you. As I learn new tips and tricks about writing and marketing I make sure to add new resources to the library.

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Boekenweek | The Darkness that Divides Us [Book Review]

This March commemorates the 85th annual Boekenweek. It’s a festival celebrating Dutch and Flemish literature and this year’s theme is “rebels and dissenters.” How wonderful!

Boekenweek | The Darkness that Divides Us

Boekenweek | The Darkness that Divides Us

Thanks to World Editions, I’m participating in Boekenweek by reading and reviewing The Darkness that Divides Us by Renate Dorrestein, an important contemporary writer from the Netherlands.

This is a gripping tale of Lucy, a young Dutch child, whose life is changed forever when an incident on a stormy night sends her mother to prison for murder.

I found the story both chilling and captivating. And shrouded in mystery.

Broken into three parts, the first is told from the voice of observers, so the reader isn’t quite sure what happened to Lucy (then age 6) on that fateful night.

When the narrator switches to Lucy in the second part, the reader doesn’t learn much more. Turns out Lucy, now 12, is wilfully forgetting the past. Or perhaps repressing her memories.

It’s not until the final part when Lucy at age 18 finally confronts her past, her memories and her guilt. We all learn together what happened when she was an innocent six-year-old child. I cheered in hope that the truth would finally set her free so she could face the future with her former zeal.

The Darkness that Divides Us quote page 322

The Darkness that Divides us asks an important question about whether looking back or moving forward is the important thing. It also circles around the themes of how keeping secrets separates you from freedom and telling the truth, although horrible at the time perhaps, will save you from prison, real or imagined.

I found the literary devices Dorrestein chose intriguing (she writes the first section as a collective “we”—three six-year-olds!). Her writing challenges me to try new, more daring writing styles.

This is not something I would normally read but I’m glad I did, for many reasons.

The Darkness that Divides Us Synopsis

Beautiful, happy people? No.

Lucy is the most popular girl in the local elementary school of an idyllic Dutch housing estate. When a bizarre crime rocks her world and sends her mother to prison, Lucy is turned into an outcast and her childhood becomes an ordeal of constant, vicious bullying. After her mother’s release, Lucy’s family decides to escape and make a clean start on a rugged Scottish island. But even here, in this remote corner of the world, Lucy’s past holds a firm grip on her. Told in the alternating voices of the bullies and Lucy, this darkly atmospheric and emotionally gripping story is part family drama and part mystery.

About Boekenweek

In the Netherlands, Boekenweek (Book Week) is an annual celebration of literature, happening every Spring since 1935. Events are held across the country during Boekenweek, and include book signings, readings, and panel discussions. Every year, a well-known Dutch author is asked to write a novella specifically for Boekenweek that is given out for free in bookstores to each customer who purchases a book. These books then act as tickets for a free train ride anywhere in the country. In 2016, World Editions author Esther Gerritsen (RoxyCraving) wrote the Boekenweek gift of which 600,000 copies were handed out.

Other Fiction Reviews

Thanks to World Editions, I'm participating in Boekenweek by reading and reviewing The Darkness that Divides Us by author Renate Dorrestein, an important contemporary writer from the Netherlands.

One more thing. I think you’ll enjoy my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

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“I Still Believe” Inspirational Movie Review

Based on singer-songwriter Jeremy Camp’s life, I Still Believe is a touching, inspiring story about love, loss and facing disappointment with faith.

I Still Believe movie review

I Still Believe

While I’m aware of Jeremy Camp and some of his songs (like I Still Believe, Walk By Faith and Right Here) I didn’t know much about his personal life. In 2013 he published a book about his early life, career and spiritual journey and it’s now becoming a movie.

It’s the story behind the song, the book and the movie and addresses some big questions we all ask at one time or another.

Have you ever wondered…

  • What you’re supposed to do with your life?
  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • Is God really there in the midst of great disappointment or shattered dreams?
Faith Films I Still Believe Banner

These are a few of the big questions this film wrestles with, all while unveling a beautiful love-at-first-sight story, which will sweep you off your feet.

It’s difficult to talk about the movie without revealing spoilers so I’ll just say this. The story in I Still Believe, for me, was unexpected. It’s emotional, lovely, exhausting, encouraging and asks important questions we should all wrestle with.

I Still Believe is a deep dive into one love couple’s story. It challenges us to live like there’s no tomorrow and to shine bright, because we don’t know who’s watching.

“Joy comes from having a relationship with the unchanging God and transcends any trial we can face on this earth.”

― Jeremy Camp, I Still Believe (book)

I Still Believe was released to theatres on March 13, 2020.

I Still Believe synopsis

From the creators of I Can Only Imagine comes an inspiring love story for the ages. Rediscover the wonder of love in I STILL BELIEVE, the real-life story of chart-topping singer Jeremy Camp. A hopeful reminder that faith tested is faith worth sharing, I STILL BELIEVE stars K.J. Apa, Britt Robertson, Nathan Parsons, Melissa Roxburgh, Shania Twain and Gary Sinise.

Selfie with the I Still Believe movie poster

Other Inspirational Movie Reviews

Based on singer-songwriter Jeremy Camp's life, I Still Believe is a touching, inspiring story about love, loss and facing disappointment with faith.

One more thing. I think you’ll enjoy my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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Based on singer-songwriter Jeremy Camp's life, I Still Believe is a touching, inspiring story about love, loss and facing disappointment with faith.

This post is sponsored by Graf-Martin Communications Inc. on behalf of Mongrel Media. The opinions expressed are my own.