What I like best about this book is its presentation. The information provided is not necessarily new and profound, but the way it is presented really...moreWhat I like best about this book is its presentation. The information provided is not necessarily new and profound, but the way it is presented really works for me. The chapters are very brief and each ends with a writing exercise. Because of the chapters' brevity, I was able to read one each morning. It served as a kind of diet devotional. It gave me the motivation to start my day in a positive frame of mind. Cameron explains the importance of eating clean and this makes a lot of sense especially with all the mysterious "additions" that are now included in many of our foods. However, she recommends "diet" foods that include artificial sweeteners which I personally believe are not part of clean eating. I found the exercises to be effective and the personal and client testimony/dialogue to be inspirational. I especially like Cameron's emphasis on living in the moment even when we have chosen to eat something that is not healthy for our bodies. We do not have to continue our unhealthful eating for the rest of the day (as we often think) but can instead forgive ourselves immediately and start over right at that moment. Writing daily, in what Cameron calls "Morning Pages", can really help to uncover hidden links between food and emotions (both negative and positive) as well as other issues we may not be aware of that sabotage our efforts towards a healthier life. Anyone who is focusing on leading a healthier life and building a positive relationship with the food they eat should read this book. They will come away with many great tools - such as four questions to ask before making the choice of what and when to eat - to help them on their journey. This is a book that should be read more than once. I recommend reading it again and again as a daily dose of inspiration.(less)
I read Devotion in two days/two sittings. The structure of the book – chapters starting right where the last ended – made it difficult to find a place...moreI read Devotion in two days/two sittings. The structure of the book – chapters starting right where the last ended – made it difficult to find a place to stop reading and I loved it. Dani Shapiro’s narrative was so personal and spoke to me on such a deep level and that structure gave me permission to keep reading…just one more chapter. What Shapiro wrote about: Is this all there is to life? If so, why do I feel like something’s missing?, and the spiritual quest that she began, is something universal to many of us these days as we watch the ground we once thought was impenetrable disintegrating before our eyes. Shapiro has what seems a charmed life, but at the root of her quest are a lot of loss, deep loneliness, and an inability to relinquish control of the uncontrollable. For those who have experienced great loss and tragedy or have come through a “near miss” it is very difficult to trust that everything will be okay. Instead, they spend most of their time thinking about what bad thing might happen next and how they can avoid it. Shapiro addresses how “…we’re all complicated by the way we were raised” as she tries to come to terms with her strict religious upbringing and the guilt she feels for seeking other ways to find God and meaning in her life other than just the Judaism in which she was raised.
I loved the interweaving of samskara (our knots of energy that each tells a story) throughout Shapiro’s narrative. She says, “Release a samskara and you release that story. Release your stories, and suddenly there is more room to breathe, to feel, to experience the world” which is what she is doing by writing this book. We are all a compilation of these stories. Some we share. Some we cannot bare to acknowledge. I equally loved Sylvia Boorstein’s metta meditation chants (the condensed version). I believe it is a wonderful way to begin a meditation routine and is something so simple that we can bring it with us wherever we go. There is also a practice Shapiro discovers at a California yoga studio that she incorporates into the end of her yoga routine that is again so simple, yet extremely powerful.
There are so many stunning moments that pierced right through me, so many questions that I have asked myself sitting right there on the page. Shapiro writes in such an accessible way you feel like you are taking the journey with her, discovering what she is discovering right there with her, and equally feeling her frustration at the lack of solid answers to the existential questions that haunt us. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is unsettled and is searching for that elusive something that will help them feel more grounded. Keeping an open mind and reading about others’ experiences are the best ways to move towards that more peaceful state of being even if we find that there are no answers and we must just “live inside the questions.”Devotion: A MemoirDani Shapiro(less)
The first thing I noticed about Writing the Life Poetic when I opened up my package was the beautiful cover. Already, before even opening the book up...moreThe first thing I noticed about Writing the Life Poetic when I opened up my package was the beautiful cover. Already, before even opening the book up to the first page, my senses were heightened by the brilliant designs and colors. When I ran my fingers over the cover of the book I was pleasantly surprised by the raised designs (especially on the back cover) and the raised text. Just holding the book was a poetic experience. Then I opened it – Wow! I was struck by the contrast between the bright white paper, the text, the colors, and the illustrations. Without reading a word my creative mind had already been given a jumpstart.
I was a closet poet for nearly twenty years and when I finally had the courage to submit some poetry for critique I realized how much I did not know about poetry. I was discouraged and even considered not writing poetry anymore because it all seemed too complicated and then I saw an advertisement in Writer’s Digest for this book. I thought I would give it a try and I am so glad that I did. My reading of Writing the Life Poetic coincided with a 30-day poetry writing regimen that I participated in and I had the chance to incorporate much of Sage Cohen’s advice with great results.
Her instructions are clear and concise and so easy to understand even for a beginner like me. The chapters are short but provide a wealth of information and encouragement. I read one chapter per day and this easily fit into my hectic schedule. Eighty days later I was not only writing more poetically, I was living more poetically. What Cohen has taught me through these beautiful pages has helped me in all of my writing: poetry, personal essays, and memoir. She has taught me that there is poetry to be found in even the most minute and mundane of things; in the things that might be overlooked even discarded otherwise. She has taught me that it is the awareness of the world around me and the writing of that awareness that is so important even if at first glance I do not consider what I write to be “top quality”.
I recommend this book to beginner and experienced poets and writers alike. Beginners will get a guide book on how to embrace the poetry within and around them. Those with experience will get a fresh perspective on reading and writing poetry and expand their creative minds to higher levels. I also recommend Cohen’s book of poetry, Like the Heart, the World, which will, after reading, unequivocally convince you that she knows of what she writes.
Sage Cohen also has a Writing the Life Poetic blog that you can subscribe to and it is a must read for all the fans of her book. It will provide you with a continuation of the same fresh poetic view of life that is seen within the pages of this book. (less)
In all her writing, Cohen has a way of first allaying our fears so we can open our minds to the unlimited possibilities before us. But, she doesn’t st...moreIn all her writing, Cohen has a way of first allaying our fears so we can open our minds to the unlimited possibilities before us. But, she doesn’t stop there! She follows up with great, detailed advice; clear steps for us to take towards success; along with examples from her own writing life. In The Productive Writer, she adds a new dimension with printable worksheets and checklists she’s made available on the web to serve as companions to The Productive Writer. One such worksheet is “Your Platform at a Glance.” After reading through her example, I finally understood what a platform entails. I’ve read so much about platform and how important it is to my writing success, but never have I seen it broken down into the simple steps Cohen presents in this book. I was able to follow the worksheet and develop my platform which gave me a whole new outlook on my writing.
What made the biggest impact on me was Cohen sharing her perfectionist tendencies and how it was hindering her success as a writer. Her solution: Do the best that you can and then send out your work. Let others decide if your writing is worthy of publication. Don’t sabotage yourself by requiring that everything you write be absolutely perfect before you release it to the world. Like what has happened to me, your writing will go nowhere. It will collect dust among the computer archives. Cohen doesn’t just say “Do the best that you can,” she tells you how. She provides editing advice, organizational tips, and suggestions on how to find time to write. She has an entire chapter devoted to “Publishing and Landing Gigs!”
Through her writing, Cohen encourages us to find our own writing rhythm. She tells us that it isn’t absolutely necessary to write first thing in the morning as is often suggested. It is important for us to find our own writing rhythm. Through debunking some of the common myths about writing, she gives us the freedom to become our own unique writer selves. Even as she offers suggestions, tips, and personal experiences, she tells us: “Find what works for you!”
The Productive Writer is structured in short chapters, usually about ten pages in length. The structure helps you find what you’re looking for easily and also makes it a great book to bring with you while waiting at the doctors, or at your kids’ soccer games, or wherever you have a little free time. This is another aspect of the book I love. It shows Cohen’s attention to detail and consideration for today’s busy writer.
Cohen provides information for writers of all levels. The Productive Writer will become your permanent writing companion. If you’re a beginner, Cohen provides the inspiration and knowledge you need to begin your journey as a writer. It is a book that will grow with you and you will return to again and again as you progress. If you are experienced, Cohen provides excellent suggestions on topics such as organization, social media, and the collection and storage of your random thoughts as well as the edited out portions of your writing so you can easily find and use them later. The information and inspiration she provides will be the fresh perspective you need to take your writing to the next level. (less)
*It is important to note that my review is based on the uncorrected proof.
Seeds covers author Richard Horan’s trek across America in an attempt to col...more*It is important to note that my review is based on the uncorrected proof.
Seeds covers author Richard Horan’s trek across America in an attempt to collect seeds from the trees of some of his favorite authors. When I was first made aware of this book, I couldn’t wait to read it. The concept sounded fascinating. For the most part, it is a great book and provides a lot of interesting information. However, there are some things that are problematic.
The book seems to alternate between two voices – Horan’s personal voice and his more professional journalistic voice that provides the factual information. It gives the narrative a feel of inconsistency. Also, there were numerous times where Horan interrupted the narrative flow and scenes with asides within parentheses that began with: “Later on I learned…” The reader is pulled completely out of scene to be given this unnecessary information and then forced to try and re-assimilate back into the scene. Nearly every sentence contained within parentheses in the book could be deleted without altering it in any way.
Horan frequently described the people he came in contact with in a condescending manner. It is off-putting to the reader. This book would have been much better if Horan had stayed with one voice consistently throughout, preferably the one that stated the facts as they were rather than the one who randomly interjected personal opinion and unnecessary asides. When Horan interjects his personal opinion it feels as if he doesn’t trust the reader to come to the same conclusions as he did. The facts he provides are enough to bring those same feelings to the reader without his personal opinion which can be quite jarring at times. The details Horan gives are also inconsistent throughout the book. Sometimes he provides minute unnecessary details about every single thing that occurred at a particular moment and sometimes he provides details in a way that feels forced and list-like. Other times he doesn’t provide enough detail and leaves the reader to make assumptions.
I did not like the “Back Home” chapters. They were also inconsistent. For example, Horan’s wife joins him at one point and the reader has to assume that he has been home to pick her up, but there is no “Back Home” section prior to her appearing. I understand the purpose of those chapters and their placement, but the information would have been better blended into the already existing chapters or in a separate chapter at the end of the book. I would also have liked to see at least some of the pictures Horan is constantly mentioning in the book. It would have been great if they were dispersed throughout the book or in a section at the end.
All that being said, I loved the information provided in Seeds and taking the journey with Horan. I especially loved his assertion that trees are living, breathing beings that have witnessed historical events long before we were here and – if we stop being so uncaring – will be witnesses to the future long after we are gone. I think it is fascinating that trees have witnessed so much important history, that they keep many secrets we will never know, and that they have served as constant companions to many of our favorite authors. Another aspect that works really well is that it’s clear Horan is very knowledgeable and passionate about the subject matter of which he writes. This adds a level of legitimacy to the book. The reader knows Horan chose to do this because he loves it not just as a stunt to get a book deal.
I read Seeds slowly and was excited to return to it each day to continue on the journey with Horan. I loved learning the history behind some of my most beloved authors. If you can get past the author’s personal opinions and unnecessary asides, I believe you will enjoy reading Seeds too.(less)
I fell in love with Everything Beautiful Began After after having just read the Prologue and the rest of the book did not disappoint. Simon Van Booy’s...moreI fell in love with Everything Beautiful Began After after having just read the Prologue and the rest of the book did not disappoint. Simon Van Booy’s beautiful poetic language is stunning and his descriptions require the reader to pause and take a deep breath to take them in. The characters are so well developed that one cannot help but love and care deeply for them. It is fascinating to watch as they argue over the existence of fate while we quietly witness fate take its toll on each of them. There is a sense of unpredictability, an unknowing that keeps the pages turning. Van Booy’s use of different points of view also adds depth to this novel. It was a genius way to create various space and distance between the reader and the characters. The cover and deckle-edged paper provides the perfect package for such a beautiful and tragic love story.
The ending felt a bit rushed to me and things seemed to be tied up a little too perfectly in the end. This may be that I just didn’t want the book to end. I was invested in these characters and wanted to spend more time with them. However, at over 400 pages, I understand Van Booy had to end the book at some point. Maybe he will write a sequel! If you want to be swept away into a beautiful love story with writing that literally takes you there as a silent witness to the unfolding lives of the characters, this book is definitely for you. I wanted to continue inside the world Van Booy created with this novel so much that I actually got up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and continued reading until it was finished.(less)
Lowcountry Bribe by C. Hope Clark is the perfect fall read. It is the kind of book you curl up with for a weekend along with your coffee and a warm bl...moreLowcountry Bribe by C. Hope Clark is the perfect fall read. It is the kind of book you curl up with for a weekend along with your coffee and a warm blanket. But be warned! It is hard to put down once you start reading. I finished it in two sittings. Lowcountry Bribe is a fast-paced mystery with an amazing protagonist, Carolina Slade. First, I love her name! Second, she is a great protagonist. She is not Ms. Perfect. She is flawed in her own unique ways and that is refreshing. She makes mistakes and poor judgments (as we all do) and we get to witness the consequences for the choices that she makes. Carolina Slade isn’t the only loveable character. There is also Wayne, the hunky but somewhat troubled investigator who often butts heads with Carolina Slade, and Carolina’s quirky and energetic best friend Savvy. In addition to these loveable characters, C. Hope Clark gives us plenty of unlikeable and suspicious characters, enough to make us wonder who the guilty party really is all the way until the end.
Besides the great cast of characters, I also loved the fast pace of Lowcountry Bribe and how C. Hope Clark ended each chapter in such a way that it was nearly impossible to put the book down without reading just…one…more…chapter. The development of the characters was done really well, too. Even though I feel like I was given a satisfactory ending to the book, I can’t wait to read the next two books in the Carolina Slade Mystery series to see where she takes the characters.(less)
Bloom emerged from a blog author Kelle Hampton began shortly after her first daughter, Lainey’s, birth. Through her blog, Enjoying the Small Things, H...moreBloom emerged from a blog author Kelle Hampton began shortly after her first daughter, Lainey’s, birth. Through her blog, Enjoying the Small Things, Hampton wanted to share with others the simple joys of motherhood she was experiencing. She could not have foreseen how the birth of her second daughter, Nella, would challenge her so vigorously to continue to find a way to enjoy the small things. Bloom chronicles Hampton’s coming to terms with having a child with Down syndrome, her grieving process over her expectations of what could have been, and her resolve to take the situation that was handed to her and make the best of it. Bloom is by far the most visually beautiful memoir I have seen. The photographs included are stunning and bring Hampton’s experiences to life for the reader. One of the most wrenching photos is on page 7. Family and friends are toasting Nella’s birth and in the background, behind the half-full glasses of champagne, you can see Hampton’s face and it is clear from her expression that she already knows something is not right with her daughter.
Bloom is so much more than just Hampton’s experience learning that her daughter has Down syndrome. It is a testament to the miraculous healing power of family, friendships, women, and forgiveness – not just forgiving others, but forgiving ourselves as well. When I started reading, I thought this was another memoir that sugar-coated the process that a mother goes through when they find out their child has a special need. Being a mother with a child on the autism spectrum, I needed to see how someone else handled learning their child has special needs and how they came to terms with it. I needed the good, but I also needed the downright ugly. It was so refreshing to see that in Bloom. Oftentimes, when I read a memoir that only highlights the rainbows and butterflies and skips over the tornadoes and hurricanes, I feel like a horrible person, like somehow I should be able to make every day full of rainbows and butterflies. I needed to read something I could relate to, something that showed what it’s really like to find out your child is different from what you had expected and Bloom filled that need. I love the authenticity Kelle Hampton exemplifies; the courage she shows through her willingness to bring us fully into the ugly. It is ugly, this awakening. It is an awakening to our own selfishness in our expectations for others and our prejudices towards those we don’t perceive as perfect. It is an awakening to just how much we define ourselves by what other’s think of us and it brings us to a place where we question our beliefs about ourselves, our world, and God. As we see in Bloom, though, the beauty far outweighs the ugliness, and if we choose to let it, that beauty can transform the ugly from a raging wildfire into a tiny flicker.
Bloom spans the first year of Nella’s life and I love how Hampton shows that the fears, the questions, and the journey itself, does not stop just because we’ve learned to accept what we have been given. It continues and the ugliness can creep back in if we do not make a conscious choice each day to keep it at bay by focusing on the good that surrounds us no matter how small. Hampton’s journey to find the beauty in the unexpected and her truth on how she got to that point will help so many others start searching for and find the beauty hidden in the ugliness of their situations too.
Hampton addresses in Bloom how her positive outlook about Nella’s diagnosis caused uproar with some of her blog readers. She was told that she was in denial and to wait until Nella got older and her services ran out and she’d have to fight to get the care her daughter needs. Then she would fully understand the awfulness of her situation. I am there now, and yes, it is hell, but I don’t believe keeping a positive attitude about your situation is ever a bad thing. It is beneficial to warn others what might be up ahead, but not beneficial to scold them for enjoying the time they have right now. I think it is wonderful that Hampton has the blessed opportunity to enjoy her daughter at a time when every need she has is being met and that she has the mindset to enjoy it instead of focusing on what might happen years from now. It is one thing to be prepared for what might happen and quite another to be so worried about it that you don’t enjoy what is happening right now.
This is a wonderful book for anyone who is facing a crisis that has led them to question everything they thought they knew about themselves and about life. It is an uplifting, transformative memoir. We are witnesses to the shattering of Hampton’s tough outer shell in the midst of tremendous heartbreak and the emergence of her true, authentic, beautiful self that had been patiently waiting for the right moment to be revealed.(less)
Christina Katz has done an amazing job putting everything an author mama needs from getting started writing a book all the way through to publication....moreChristina Katz has done an amazing job putting everything an author mama needs from getting started writing a book all the way through to publication. She has left no topic untouched from celebrating each step completed in the book writing process to the changes taking place in traditional publishing. Especially unique in this e-book are the sections on paying attention to physical and mental health needs during the book-writing process. This is a book you will definitely want to have on your desk for reference as you begin the process of pitching and then writing your first book!(less)
As I began my journey into the writing life, I went in search of books that would inspire me - especially when I felt like giving up. This book did ex...moreAs I began my journey into the writing life, I went in search of books that would inspire me - especially when I felt like giving up. This book did exactly that and more. Some of the essays addressed the follies experienced by new writers when sending their work out into the world and others addressed the feelings associated with the inevitable rejections letters that follow. What I gained from reading this book was a sense of camaraderie with other writers that have blazed this trail before me and have experienced what I am experiencing now. It is good to know that others have had doubts, felt like giving up, or struggled with finding the time to write. This book will make a nice addition to any aspiring or experienced writer's collection and I believe each will find themselves reflected in these pages.(less)
LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! My new favorite book on writing. I recommend getting a hard copy of the book to keep with you for those times when you need some ins...moreLOVE LOVE LOVE!!! My new favorite book on writing. I recommend getting a hard copy of the book to keep with you for those times when you need some inspiration or just a reminder to sit down and write. (less)
As I read through Like the Heart, the World, I was intrigued by the uniqueness and depth of Cohen's words. She has created surprising word combination...moreAs I read through Like the Heart, the World, I was intrigued by the uniqueness and depth of Cohen's words. She has created surprising word combinations such as "the metal taste of alone" that made me stop and contemplate their meanings. I love that her poems are like a maze of language; fresh and thought-provoking. The book is separated into three sections according to places that Cohen has lived and reflects her experiences in those cities. Through these sections, she intertwines the sensory world around us with the deep emotions that we feel inside. As the sections progress we see Cohen open up, giving us more of her, allowing us a bigger glimpse into the depths of her mind. Her poetry becomes more relaxed and longer signifying her growth as she moves through the different phases of her life. In the end, we see that she is comfortable where she is now, that she can sit within the pain, loss, and triumph of life and convey it all to us magnificently.(less)
What a stunning novel. Maybe I'm biased because I have an autistic son, but Haddon described so many behaviors and thought patterns that are identical...moreWhat a stunning novel. Maybe I'm biased because I have an autistic son, but Haddon described so many behaviors and thought patterns that are identical to my son's. It helped me view things from a different perspective. I literally read the novel in one sitting and that is extremely rare for me. I just could not put it down. I believe Haddon has captured the autistic mind nearly perfectly.(less)
Courage and Craft is a phenomenal inspirational guide for aspiring writers and experienced writers alike. I have been a closet writer for many years a...moreCourage and Craft is a phenomenal inspirational guide for aspiring writers and experienced writers alike. I have been a closet writer for many years and recently enrolled in an MFA program. I have the same fears many new writers do and this book has really helped to inspire me. Not only does it give fantastic exercises to help spark your creativity, it gives lots of great advice about the writing process. Every time I feel like putting down the pen and quitting, I read a small section and it helps me realize that those fears come from the critic crawling around in my head. I pick up the pen and start writing again – even if it is bad writing. This book has something for everyone regardless of what genre you are interested in. It is also structured in small sections for quick reading. I don’t have a lot of time outside of writing and reading for classes, but I could pick this up and in a few minutes get the inspiration I needed to start my day. Courage and Craft will be a permanent addition to my writing desk so that I can turn to it any time that I need a boost, some advice, or just some suggestions on how to break free from my inner critic.(less)