What's Your Favorite?

We all have favorites: favorite colors, favorite animals, favorite books, movies, food, and the list could go on for many pages.

How about a favorite phrase? Or word? Sometimes in our writing we overuse phrases or words. The difficulty comes in identifying those phrases or words (perhaps because we love them, we overlook how often we use them). When I did one of my final editing runs for The Archer's Hollow, I used a list of commonly overused words (that, just, etc.) and discovered not only did I overused them, but there were some phrases I really liked. You can't find these phrases with a read-through. Holy cannoli, by the time I did that edit, I think I'd read that manuscript a hundred times. OK, so that is a bit of an exaggeration, but it felt like it. When you go through and find specific words, you are able to see the manuscript from a different perspective. It's a good thing, I promise.

After your first and maybe second drafts (or even your fifth or sixth), go through searching for those common words and see if you can find your own Pet Phrases. In the meantime, Write On my friends!

Do It Right

I want to share a contrast with you. All the houses I have lived in during my married life have involved rock in the landscaping theme. The first one didn't have any water to the rock except from the rain. In Arizona, that isn't often, so clearly nothing grew there. The next three houses had either black plastic or black weed prevention mesh stuff (I don't know the name), very little grew there and if it did, it was usually after a rainstorm. The bonus being that those weeds were usually super easy to pull. The house I am currently in has lots of rock. Nothing but hard Arizona soil under those rocks, but you know what? Weeds grow there. And not just a few. A. LOT. I don't think millions would be an exaggeration, but it obviously is. How is it possible that every day I am pulling weeds out of the rocks only to find many, many more the next day. When people say their kids grow like weeds, this is what they're talking about: day one, a tiny sprout, day seven, nearly a bush. Can you feel my frustration? Are you thinking "Weed killer, duh!"? Oh, I've tried weed killer. I know, I need a different kind, one with pre-emergent stuff in it. I'm not too confident that even that would work.

How does this apply to writing? Funny you should ask. A proper foundation, or doing things right, saves so much time and work in the long run. Learn your craft, never stop learning it, set a good foundation for your writing, and Write On my friends.

Christmas in July

What do you do when you're about to melt from the soaring temperatures of summer? You dream of cold weather and pick up a good book.

Accomplishing both, my friend and fellow writer, Bonnie Harris, is doing a Christmas in July give-away. Head over to her blog to check it out.

My book, The Archer's Hollow, is featured. If you don't already own it, sign up to win a free e-copy and enjoy a fantasy adventure with romance, of course.

Proper Inflation

The other day my son's bike tires were a little low. After filling his with air, I attached the pump to my own bike tires and inflated them to proper levels. Big deal, right? Right you are!

What I found was that it took a lot less effort to get places with my tires inflated than it had when they were below optimal psi. Which got me thinking. I had heard how proper inflation is important not only to bikes, but to cars. But I had sort of dismissed it. Oh, everyone knows that, my tires look fine, what difference can it really make?, my tires still get me down the road, etc.

I think you know where I am going with this. Even though we hear things or know things as we progress on our writing journey, it's important to pay attention to the little details. Everyone knows you have to have a hook, right? But how seriously do I take having a great hook at the beginning of my story? That's just a tiny example (unfortunately there are more). What things do you overlook? What area of your writing can you improve today. Focus on it--like a laser! This is all about self-discovery and getting better as we go. Having the right things in place makes the journey--writing or biking--much easier.

Write on my friends, write on.

Finding Sheba by H.B. Moore

Finding Sheba
by H.B. Moore

Back of the Book: 

An ancient legend is reborn . . . One that might prove the Bible false. 

For centuries, historians have theorized the Queen of Sheba as only a seductive legend, and scholars have debated over the legitimacy of King David or King Solomon. When undercover Israeli agent, Omar Zagouri, stumbles onto a tomb in Northern Jerusalem he unknowingly finds the final clue that threatens to overthrow government claim to the Holy Land, pits wealthy collectors against one another, and sends ruthless archaeologists scrambling to find the queen’s secret burial place. An assassination attempt on the Coptic Pope, His Holiness, Patriarch Stephanus II, is only the first in the chain of lethal crimes. Omar must find a way to prevent the greatest discovery of the century from becoming the most deadly. 

My take: 

I love when history and fiction come together to weave an interesting tale. This was a fascinating book. My only regret is reading it sporadically over the holidays. There were a lot of characters and I had some difficulty keeping track of  who was who. Other than that, I liked the characters, was sometimes frustrated by what they chose, but ultimately I really enjoyed this novel that brought the Middle East, the Bible, and its characters to life. Finding Sheba is a clean and interesting read that I recommend.

I received a free copy of this book. No other compensation was given. The opinions expressed are 100% my own.

The Tenth Circle by Jon Land

The Tenth Circle

Back of the Book:

Blaine McCracken races to stop terrorists from unleashing an ancient weapon of unimaginable power at the president’s State of the Union speech

Blaine McCracken pulled off the impossible on a mission in Iran, but his work has just begun. Returning to the US, he faces another terrible threat in the form of Reverend Jeremiah Rule, whose hateful rhetoric has inflamed half the world, resulting in a series of devastating terrorist attacks. But Rule isn’t acting alone. A shadowy cabal is pulling his strings, unaware that they are creating a monster who will soon spin free of their control.

Finding himself a wanted man, McCracken must draw on skills and allies both old and new to get to the heart of a plot aimed at unleashing no less than the tenth circle of hell. A desperate chase takes him into the past, where the answers he needs are hidden amid two of history’s greatest puzzles: the lost colony of Roanoke and the Mary Celeste. As the clock ticks down to an unthinkable maelstrom, McCracken and his trusty sidekick, Johnny Wareagle, must save the United States from a war the country didn’t know it was fighting, and that it may well lose.

I love when history and fiction come together brilliantly and that's what Jon Land accomplishes in The Tenth Circle. I really enjoyed this book's twists and turns and the way the author intertwined everything. A difficult read during the busy holidays because I read sporadically, but when I wasn't reading I was thinking about what was happening. There were an abundance of characters, and for me, keeping track of who was whom was sometimes a bit of a challenge. There is a bit of language, some graphic violence and a vague sex scene. If those don't put you off, I highly recommend this one.

Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and many fine bookstores.

De-Stress Your Holidays

I realize that hate is a strong word but it really is how I feel about December. I love Halloween and Thanksgiving (candy and comfort food--who knew?) but I dread what follows. Connie E. Sokol's new book, Simplify and Savor the Season gives me hope. Hope for a more Christ-centered holiday, hope for peace during the holidays, hope for organization of the typical chaos that rules the month for me. Her new book contains formulae for creating the holiday YOU and your family want and a take-along workbook that completely simplifies the whole process is also available. 

Make this holiday season one to remember and Savor. (I know I'm going to!)


Leave a comment here and be entered in a hat-drawing for a free copy of the e-book Simplify and Savor the Season

You can also enter to win the Back to Basics Holiday Gift Set. This festive collection includes three e-books, each with a specific tool to create a meaningful season:Simplify & Savor the Season to organize; 40 Days with the Savior to spiritually focus; and the Life Is Too Short collection to lighten up if you need to. 
Visit www.conniesokol.com and either 1) email a way you’ve simplified the holidays, or 2) sign up for our weekly e-letter. Winners chosen weekly!

BACK of the BOOK:
Ready for the holidays? Would you like to be?
This year, organize and re-energize with Simplify & Savor the Season, a three-part holiday planner to help you savor the celebrations!  
First, get ready by brainstorming what’s needed for each of the Big Four—Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Then detail the to-dos, including menu and gift planning, with quick tips on how to lose the unnecessary and focus on the essential. Keep all your notes in this book or its workbook companion, Simplify & Savor Take-along.
After organizing, sit back and enjoy the season with “5 Holiday Juicers”—tips that teach how to keep life joyful, not stressful. Then curl up and relax with “Savory Suggestions, Snippets, and Stories,” a collection of laugh-out-loud anecdotes including “How the Real Halloween Fright Happened the Next Day,” “Thankful for Warbling,” and “Let Go of the Cookie-Cutter Christmas.”
Make your holiday celebrations meaningful and memorable as you Simplify & Savor the Season!
What people are saying:

“Connie's inspiring stories and practical tips will help you do exactly that. She has a wonderful way of speaking to women's souls, and de-cluttering our minds and hearts.”

–Trina Boice, author of How to Stay UP in a DOWN Economy

“Reading Simplify & Savor the Season is like getting an early holiday gift: permission to let go of meaningless frills and pageantry and instead, focus on family and love. And it helps the most diehard procrastinators get organized in time to enjoy the holidays.”
Elyssa Andrusauthor of Happy Homemaking: An LDS Girl’s Guide
“Love it!  I don’t have to hold my breath anymore. Connie is the master at bringing clarity to the chaotic. This book brings to light the little things that make all the difference. I want to tell all women that serenity during the holidays really can happen. What a gift!
–Kalli Wilson, International Wellness Coach