Pearl by Jo Knowles

Pearl by Jo KnowlesPearl by Jo Knowles

My rating: 5 of 5 stars!

A beautifully told story of friendship, honesty, love and forgiveness.  Thoughtfully written and expertly told, the characters are lovingly drawn and every one of them feels like someone I might know in real life.  Pearl is one of those rare books I know I’ll treasure reading again and again.

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Measuring Your Words: The Value of Word Counts

WIP Word Count
Until recently, I never really considered the value of counting the total words I write each day.  As a writer, I tend to revise as I go.   Since my goal, even while drafting, has never been mainly to get new words on the page, I always suspected if I actually kept a running count I would come away feeling like I wasn’t making an real progress.  Of course, new words do get added, but plenty of other words get changed or moved around along the way.

Instead of counting words, I’ve always measured my writing progress in terms of completed chapters.   When my non-writing friends (the few who I’ve been brave enough to actually tell I’m writing a book) ask me how my writing is coming along saying,   ‘I’ve finished drafting chapter 12′ goes over much better than, ‘I wrote 1,200 words today.  Good ones, too!‘.  The latter typically results in blank stares or a friendly but abrupt observation about the weather.

Nevertheless, I recently started tracking my total word count and have even gone so far as to add a word count widget to my blog.  I’m still not sure how much it will help me in the long run, but here are some of the benefits I can already see for those who do it.

  • Estimating Your Completion Date:  If you set a goal for how long you want your book to be, and you’ve been tracking how may words you write per day, you’ll have a rough idea when you’re initial draft will actually be completed.
  • Setting Goals:  If you want to set a goal goal for when to have your draft completed, you can lay out your writing strategy in measurable chunks to reach your goal (or even to determine if your writing goal is too lofty for you.)
  • Providing Status Updates:  For established writers with a growing fan base, this can be a fun way of bringing eager readers into the process while keeping them updated on your latest project.
  • Staying Motivated:  Seeing the numbers increasing daily or weekly means your novel is growing.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Accountability:  Sometimes writers need the accountability a public display of writing progress offers.  This allows your writing friends to either offer their congrats or to bust your chops which ever the case may be.

If you’re interested in setting up your own and your progress bar and you’re using WordPress you can get the plugin I use at http://jasonpenney.net/wordpress-plugins/progpress/.  There are other options which work on all platforms such as http://www.writertopia.com/toolbox/meters.  These don’t require WordPress at all, just simple HTML which can be placed on any blog anywhere.

What about you?  Do you track word counts?  If you do, do you find them to be discouraging or do they actually help?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Across the Universe by Beth RevisAcross the Universe by Beth Revis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars!

A delightful surprise!

This book was not at all what I was expecting. The story is a compelling blend of science fiction, mystery, love, secrets, intrigue and more all unfolding within a society specifically engineered for life on a generation ship – Godspeed. Thoughtful and exciting, parts of the story will keep you guessing until the very end!

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Duffy and the Devil (A Retelling in Verse)

National Poetry MonthApril is National Poetry Month!  In honor of this I’ve recently completed a retelling of ‘Duffy and the Devil’ for children entirely in metered verse.  Oh, and I wrote it as a short play.  Why?  Well…why not?  Besides, this was a lot of fun to write! Just think of it as a script for a young reader’s theater performance with rhyming couplets. *crickets chirp* Anyway . . . moving on . . .

This “telling” is ~1,400 words (3 pages).  There are five characters, including the Narrator.  In case you’re wondering this mini-play actually has been performed.   By children.   Mine.   (Yes, I played the Narrator.)

Rather than allowing it to collect eDust on my laptop I’ve decided to try sending it out.  Another BIG step for me.  Still, I have no idea where to begin querying something like this.  (Suggestions are always welcome!)

While I ponder what to best do with it, I wanted to offer anyone interested a chance to read it first.  If you fall into that category, you can use the form below to request an email message with the password to the protected post.  Please feel free leave any feedback you may have in the comments section of either post.

To whet your poetic appetite, I’m posting the opening two stanzas here.  After requesting the password, you can read the rest of the story here.  I hope you enjoy it!

NARRATOR:

Squire Lovell lived alone, lone managed his estate,

without another soul about to toil or conversate.

He preferred things his own way, as you are soon to see,

yet wearied he of doing chores like cooking and laundry.

Deciding he the time was right to add an extra hand,

alone he rode one Autumn morn to seek in Burian

for one to come to spin and knit and mend his fraying garb,

when he did overhear a shout of angry disregard.

 

Thanks again for your interest!


EDITED TO ADD: Comments on this story are now closed. Thank you for your interest!

Chime by Franny Billingsley

Chime by Franny BillingsleyChime by Franny Billingsley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars!

I admit when I first read the description of this book where the character of Eldric is described has having “golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair” I almost passed it by.  I was afraid I might be in for a glossy romance novel. (Not my thing).  However, several friends on Goodreads whose opinions I regard gave it high marks, so I decided there must be more to it.  There is.  And thankfully, none of it is glossy romance.

The characters are well-crafted and appropriately sympathetic, while the language used to describe them is in keeping with the setting of the novel.  And speaking of setting (The Swampse), I don’t recall when I’ve last encountered a book where the setting so thoroughly permeated the story that it felt like a character all by it self.  It is quite beautifully done.

The storyline is equally engaging.  It is as much an exciting mystery, full of danger and old swamp magic, as it is a thoughtful examination at the power guilt and shame have in affecting our experience and our memories.

I’m so glad I didn’t pass this one by.

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