Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Writing from the Trenches: Tips and Techniques from Ten Award-Winning Authors

400YOU … and an Army of Ten!

TEN-HUT! Gear up for your writing with tried-and-true tips from the trenches. Ten award-winning authors share invaluable tips and secrets they’ve gleaned the hard way, offering a broad range of insights and opinions on the best way to tackle subjects such as the following:

Plotting Techniques
Research
Characterization
Villains We Love to Hate
Dynamic Dialogue
Sigh-Worthy Heroes
The Right Heroine for the Job
Hooking Your Reader in the First Chapter
Scene Endings to Lead Your Readers On
Creating a Movie Set
Making your Readers Cry
Deep POV
Copyediting your Manuscript
Indie Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
Marketing for Those Who Hate Marketing

At last … a writer’s tool that provides the experience and expertise of ten authors who’ve been on the front lines of publishing and lived to teach about it: Connie Almony, Lynnette Bonner, Hallee Bridgeman, Louise Gouge, Michelle Griep, Julie Lessman, Elizabeth Ludwig, Ane Mulligan, MaryLu Tyndall, and Erica Vetsch.

My Thoughts: This was a terrific overview of writing. There were so many sections covered that it’s a must-read for aspiring authors. The beauty of it was that it was compiled together by ten different authors so you’re getting the strengths from each author. I found it so helpful that I immediately offered to buy a copy for the aspiring author that I’m coaching.
As a published author, I didn’t really find “new” information but rather a new way of explaining old information which I found really helpful. I kept finding myself quoting something from this book as I pulled my notes together for the aspiring author I was critiquing.
The layout was perfectly arranged so that one point naturally flowed into the next. The beginning opened with all ten authors sharing how they plot their novel. While it did start to feel a tad repetitive with each author giving nearly the same intro, all ten authors had vastly different styles of plotting. I found this section really interesting and I didn’t find any one author who did it exactly like myself, so I certainly walked away with some ideas for things I could try in the future.
I do feel obligated to share a warning for more conservative writers. There’s a section on how to create a great hero which was extremely well thought out and packed full of outstanding material. The author even shares a vast selection of examples from her writing. I’m the sort who learns best by example so I double appreciate that sort of effort. But in this particular case, I found the majority of the examples a bit steamier for my personal tastes. While I wholeheartedly stand by the information, for more conservative writers, I would just caution you that may find yourself skimming. But the information itself should NOT be skimmed over but soaked up instead.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it 5 stars and highly recommending it to aspiring authors looking for a solid overview and to published authors looking to finetune some areas or seeking a great teaching aid.

~ I received a copy from the authors. I was not compensated for my review. All thoughts are my own.

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Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: English Through the Ages

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Lists words, grouped by subject, that were in use in different time periods, including prior to 1150, and in increasingly smaller ranges to the present.

They didn’t offer much of a description, so let me help you out:

This is one of those gems that, as a historical author, I wish someone had told me about sooner. Not only is it helpful, but it’s flat-out fun to read. Ok, I just admitted to having fun reading a dictionary. I’m aware of how that makes me look, but I don’t care. Lol Did you know they were using the word “kicks” for shoes by 1905?! Or “rock” as another word for diamond? Or that “groovy” was in use by 1945?

As with any book, there could always be more information or more words added, but this is a great overview of a wide variety of words, subjects, and eras. Here’s the breakdown:

Eras:
1150
1350
1470
1500
1550
1600
1650
1700
1750
1800
1825
1850
1875
1900
1910
1920
1930
1940
1950
1960
1970
1980
1990
The way the eras work, is they’re showing you words that were in use BY that particular era. So if you wanted to know what new words were commonly used in 1955, you’ll look under 1960.

And here are the categories they cover in each era: 
Geography/Places
Natural Things
Plants
Animals
Weather
Heaven/Sky
Energy
Time
Age/Aging
Mathematics
Measurement
The Body
Physical Description
Medicine
Everday Life
Shelter/House
Drink
Food
Agriculture/Food-Gathering
Cloth/Clothing
Fashion/Style
Tools
Travel/Transportation
Emotions/Characteristics
Thoughts/Perception/The Mind
Love/Romance/Sex
Family/Relations/Friends
Holidays
Games/Fun/Leisure
Sports
Professions/Duties
Business/Commerce/Selling
The Workplace
Fiances/Money
Language and Speaking
Contractions
Literature/Writing
Performing Arts
Music
Education
Religion
Society/Mores/Culture
Government
Politics
Life
Death
War/Military/Violence
Crime/Punishment/Enforcement
The Law
The Fantastic/Paranormal
Magic
Interjections
Slang
Insults
Phrases
General/Miscellaneous
Things
Description
Colors
Actions/Verbs
Archaisms

There’s an Index in the back where you can look up a word and find where it falls in the timeline. They tell you if the word is a noun, verb, adjective. With some words, they offer a brief explanation and other words, they believe to be self-explanatory (although, I’ve found some that I would have liked an explanation for.)
The book is helpful in showing you when a word is first documented, but it doesn’t show you how it faded from use or reappeared years later. Take the word “groovy” for example. They claim it was in use by 1945 and yet we know it as a word from the 1970s.
Overall, this a great book to have on hand. Even if it doesn’t address ALL your questions, it’ll address many and/or make for a great conversational piece later.

 

Posted in History

Getting Dressed: A Collection of Historical Dressing Videos

I enjoy learning about historical fashion and have taken you on tours in the past. But there is something that videos can teach us that simple text cannot. I thought it would be interesting and even handy to collect some videos together for your enjoyment.
I do not own any of these videos so refer to the video itself for ownership and credit.

First, we’re going to look at the late 1700s, also known as Georgian, American Colonial, or American Revolutionary War eras.

This video does the best job explaining the various pieces and shows more detail into how they were actually layered on. This is an example of a wealthy woman of the day.
**Be sure to watch this video. Some of the other videos on the page rush through many of the details, so this one becomes a sort of foundation that will allow you to fill in the gaps in the other videos.

 

And here is an example of a working woman of the same era. You’ll notice some differences in the clothing as well as the stays, which can be laced in front since she didn’t have a maid to assist her.

 

And here is an example of a soldier’s layering, also from the same era. Now we can imagine that while the average man wore different clothing, there’d be some similarities as well.

 

And next, we move on to Regency. In America, this would be around the War of 1812. This video is a little bit quicker and doesn’t explain things as nicely as that first one did. But after watching the first one, it’s easier to grasp what’s happening here.

 

And if you’re as curious as I am about how men wore their ties here’s a look at how it’s done. This video covers some of the simpler styles, which is great news for reenactors looking for a new look, as well as curious readers. 😉

 

The first half of this video is from the Civil War. The Civil War was in the 1860s. The bulk of the 18th century is often referred to as the Victorian Era.
Before the 1850’s women wore a layer of petticoats. Here we see the introduction of the hoop skirt.
This is a two in one video. She’ll also show us how to put on another style of dress. While we’re still in the Victorian Era, Americans often refer to the last half of the 1800s as the Gilded or Progressive Era, pending on the actual year. The biggest change in the style is that the hoop skirt is out and the bustle is in.

 

I hope you enjoyed this look at historical fashion. I’d love to hear from you!

Which part of the process surprised you the most? Which style do you like the best? Have you ever worn a gown like these before?

 

 

Posted in History

The History Lover’s Playground: Digitized Newspapers

I want to share a website that I ran across during my research. This is for the author, history buff, or those who are bored and looking for something new to read. 😉
 It’s called: Chronicling America, Historic American Newspapers

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I found this website when I was searching up headline news during the year 1885. As it turns out, I wasn’t finding much…until I opened this site. 

Here are some of the perks: 
Over 2,000 newspapers (as in titles) to view on the site
Papers from most of the states across the nation
Dates range from 1789-1924
They have a newspaper directory where you can search for a paper they didn’t have on the site that was printed between the years 1690-present.
The site is part of the Library of Congress.
Narrow down your search to a particular year or section of years
Narrow down your search by state
You can view the full paper or just the front page.
Easy to navigate
Great zoom
You can “clip” out images and save them straight to your computer.
It’s FREE!
What better way to find out about the people of another generation than to read their newspaper!!

4

I clipped out the sports section of the Memphis, TN paper from 1885. Enjoy!

Now it’s your turn! Go check the page out for yourself if you haven’t already. Make sure to bookmark it so you can return as often as you like!

I’ll be bringing you some of the interesting things I had uncovered during my search in a later post, but for today, I’d love for you to share something interesting with me that you found from one of these newspapers. Happy Reading!!

Posted in History

Historical Book Review: The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette by Florence Hartley

52This is a special book review especially for history fans or historical authors. And the best part is, this book is a freebie on Amazon!!

The full title is, The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness A Complete Hand Book for the Use of the Lady in Polite Society.
Now if that isn’t a mouth full, I’m not sure what is! Lol

I picked up this book with the intentions of getting a better understanding of the customs and social manners of the 1800s. And, boy, was it a gold mine!! Along with the do’s and don’t’s, The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette also gave me a lesson on the common, day to day things like paying and accepting house calls. You can’t get a better source on Victorian customs than a book written in 1860.
I highly recommend this to anyone wanting to study more about the time period. I had picked up another freebie but I enjoyed the flow of thought and the overall writing style better in Florence’s version. I’ll share both links at the bottom of this page and you can give both books a try if you wish.

Here’s a list of categories found in the book:
Conversation
Dress (A MAJOR bonus in this book! She offers a fantastic breakdown on the type of dresses and when/why they were worn as well as what style was acceptable for each.)
Traveling
How to behave in a hotel
Evening Parties as the hostess
Evening parties as the guest
Visiting as the hostess
Visiting as the guest
Morning receptions or calls as the hostess
Morning receptions or calls as the guest
Dinner company as the hostess
Dinner company as the guest
Table etiquette
Conduct in the street
Letter writing
Polite deportment and good habits
Conduct in church
Ballroom etiquette for the hostess
Ballroom etiquette for the guest
Places of amusement
Accomplishments
Servants
On a young lady’s conduct when contemplating marriage
Bridal etiquette
Hints on health
Miscellaneous
For the complexion

I haven’t finished reading this gem yet, but I’ve seen more than enough to pass it along to my fellow historian junkies.
You’ll find a free ebook version on Amazon here:
The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness A Complete Hand Book for the Use of the Lady in Polite Society

As mentioned, there is another book similar to this one. I didn’t read very far into it before switching books. But feel free to check them both out. This one is also free on Amazon.
Martine’s Hand-book of Etiquette, and Guide to True Politeness

And lastly, I ran across a gentleman’s book and thought to pick up a copy for myself as well as passing it along to you. I haven’t opened this one yet so it’ll be a surprise to us all. 😉
The Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness Being a Complete Guide for a Gentleman’s Conduct in all his Relations Towards Society