Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Burnt Offering Given 5 Stars by Readers' Favorite

  Burnt Offering 
reviewed by Trudi LoPreto for Readers' Favorite

     Hadara is the daughter of a rich Egyptian and married to Tzabar, a cruel and conniving man. King Ahaz of Judah believed in idols and not the one true God. He and Tzabar, together in their evil ways, killed children by placing them in bronze idols and burning them alive. This caused many to flee and hide to protect their children and their religious beliefs. Hadara left the home of Tzabar in the middle of the night, taking her son and others of the household and she did her best to protect all of them. 
     Burnt Offering has much romance as each person finds love and marries but there is much danger as well. There are those worshipers of the idols and those who believe there is only one God and are ready to fight to prove that their beliefs are the right ones. When Hezekiah, who has been in hiding for many years, becomes the new king, many changes take place, but the fighting and killing still continue.
     Burnt Offering by Vivian Zabel takes place in the eighth century,
beginning in 720 BC. The story brings the Old Testament alive and depicts  a way of life so very different than anything we can imagine. There are many characters in this book and each plays an important role in telling the story. Burnt Offering has enough suspense and romance to keep you reading long into the night.
     Vivian Zabel is a master of words and turns them into vivid pictures as she takes us very far back in time. Burnt Offering fits  into so many genres that I can only say I do not think there is anyone who will not enjoy reading this book. It is a page-turner.


      After receiving the review shared above, I wanted to tell everyone. The novel is also entered in Readers' Favorite book competition, but I won't know the results until September 2020 -- Wow! What a long time to wait.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Vacation Inspiration

For some of us, writing is as much a visual experience as it is a physical task of putting pen to paper or typing on a keyboard. Thankfully, modern technology has enabled us to capture moments that can inspire our writing.

Here are a few photos from our recent vacation and ideas they inspired.


1. A whirlwind romance culminates with a proposal near this elegant fountain.
2. A summer romance comes to a surprising end when one half of a couple invites the other on a walk through this beautiful garden only to find out that he is breaking it off to return home to another person.

  

1. A young elf lives in this enchanted cottage with her family where she struggles to find her place in the world.
2. A brother and sister step inside this abandoned cottage and find themselves transported back to 18th century America. 


1. A newly hired ecologist finds herself in danger when she discovers her employer is performing illegal experiments on endangered species.
2. Three friends are separated from their families during a hiking trip. 

What are some ideas these photos inspire for you? 




Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving, and Amos Faces His Bully. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at http://ccmalandrinos.com and her children’s book blog at https://childrensandteensbookconnection.wordpress.com

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Read as a Writer

Every writer has been told to read, read, read. Read as much as you can to improve your own writing skills.

Well, I read an interesting article at Writer Unboxed that explained why simply reading to improve your writing won’t cut it.

According to the author, Julianna Baggott Faculty Director of Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing and Publishing, “I’ve found that some of my most thoroughly read students – the ones who devour and love every book they come across – are some of my hardest to teach. I believe that how one reads is essential. And if you don’t master reading as a writer, sheer quantity will be of little use.”

Baggott broke down reading as a writer into five categories: blueprint reading, territory reading, language reading, portal reading, singular lens reading.

Breaking them down:

1. Blueprint reading.

This goes back to read, read, read. While she kind of said this doesn’t work, she does agree that reading in volume does give you an idea of how a book is written to get published. (assuming you’re reading traditionally published books.)

For my writing, I like this type of reading. Seeing how the author puts the story together, how he builds his characters, how she keeps the conflict rising, how he ties up all loose ends . . .

It is a great tool to learn ‘good’ writing.

2. Territory reading.

This is reading to take ideas away with you. It could be from the topic, a chapter, a scene. At least this is what I think the author is saying.

I’ve done this. I’ll be reading a children’s book and an idea pops up. It may just be something I’m reading that takes me in a new direction. But, it can get the creativity flowing.

3. Language reading.

Reading with language in mind is to see the words that are used.

I do this often. While Baggott uses it for ideas and transitions into topics, I use it for the actual words. I love to see what words authors use to convey an emotion, a sensation, a description, and so on.

I also keep a database of words I find that I might be able to use down the road. So, just like the author of the article, I’ll have words circled or underlined in the books I read.

4. Portal reading.

I’ll be honest, I’m not quite sure what the author is saying for this reading experience. As far as I can tell, it’s reading and through the scene be transported into your own story. The book somehow acts as a muse to give you insights into your story.

This hasn’t happened to me.

5. Singular lens reading.

This one is more about seeing everything through the story you’re writing. You look at book covers, titles, contents and how it relates to your story.

As Baggott puts it, “This reading is how you look at the world around you when you're so deeply involved in a project that everything you encounter gets filtered through that one lens.”

As a ghostwriter, I’m usually working on more than one story at a time plus my own stories. Because of this I don’t really get ‘singular lens’ anything.

But, it’s easy to see how this can happen.

Summing it up.

Being a writer, I notice how I read different than someone who doesn’t write. I see grammar. I see sentence structure, chapter structure, story structure, character building and sometimes all this is at the sake of the story itself. I’ll have to stop myself to actually just read the story.

But, this is what writers do consciously or subconsciously. We can’t help it.

And, now you have five reading styles to help you write your stories. Have you found yourself using any of these?

Reference:

5 Ways to Read as a Writer


This article was originally published at:
http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2017/08/13/read-as-a-writer/


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author, successful children’s ghostwriter, and online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing. Check out her middle-grade book, WALKING THROUGH WALLS.

You can connect with Karen at:
Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/writingforchildrenwithkarencioffi/
LinkedIn  http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencioffiventrice
Twitter  http://twitter.com/KarenCV

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Jodi Heaton Hurst - New Children's Book Released







      That wild prairie wind! It might blow Grandma Rose’s letters out of her hand. It might even pick up Grandma Rose and Grandpa Frank and Mollie Dog and blow them down the road! “Wa-shooh,” the wind chuckles as it plays its prairie-wind game.

      During her years of growing up in west Kansas, the author's parents often said, “This wild wind will blow you away,” which she adapted for this story. Jodi Heaton Hurt's story, illustrated by Jeanne Conway, will delight readers young and old.

    

          Jodi states on her blog (jodiheatonhurst.com): "Wild, Wild Wind blows you, the reader, from page to page with Grandma Rose, Grandpa Frank, and that crazy, wild wind. LOOK! It's blowing Grandma Rose down the road. Grandpa can't help Grandma. Neither can Mollie Dog or Gorby Goat. Will somebody, please, help Grandma?"


     Copies of Wild, Wild Wind can be purchased from the author contacting her on jodiheatonhurst.com/p/projects.html, by asking for the book at a local bookstore, or by ordering it from the online bookstore: 4rvpublishingcatalog.com


Friday, July 26, 2019

Group Book Signing: Wayne Harris-Wyrick and vehoae included



     The July 24, 2019 Edmond Sun carried an article about a group book signing to be held at Best of Books July 27. Two 4RV authors are included: vehoae and Wayne Harris-Wyrick. Hopefully, anyone in the area will attend the book signing and support Wayne and vehoae. A scanned copy of the article follows:

 
     Congratulations, vehoae and Wayne for being included in a well-written news article. May the book signing be successful.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Two of the Most Powerful Words for Writers



For a character driven writer, a story idea begins with a character. Think about this character. Figure out where he or she lives, how the character dresses, what his or her daily life is like, what motivates this person, and consider his or her physical description.

None of that, however, gives you a story. A storyline involves plot, climax, and resolution. It involves conflict: something the character needs or wants and the obstacles that stand in the way of him getting it.

This is where two of the most powerful words come into play. What? You’ve never heard of these words? I think you have.

Those two words are, “What if ...”

Consider Amelia. She is an impulsive girl born into a wealthy family. Her curly hair is blonde and her eyes blue. At the age of 13, she lives in Pennsylvania where her father is an important businessman. Tea parties and private schooling fill her days. Since she lives in the mid-1800’s, she wears fine dresses made of silk and fashionable boots with buttons. She has a collection of porcelain dolls, but there is one that is very special to her.

She could be any well-bred girl living in the 1800’s—but she’s not. Amelia has a story all her own.

What if …

Amelia experiences a tragedy unlike she’s ever known?

What if …

Her parents die of the influenza and Amelia is sent to live with her spinster aunt at the family estate in Massachusetts?

What if …

Amelia’s impulsive nature is at odds with her Aunt Martha’s desire to bring her up properly?

What if …

A lonely Amelia befriends Ralph, the Negro stable hand working at the estate? And …

What if …

Aunt Martha disapproves?

What if …

Amelia’s father told her stories of what Aunt Martha was like as a girl and they are very different from the stern, bitter aunt who is now her guardian?

What if …

Amelia decides she must uncover the secret that caused the change in Aunt Martha? And ...

What if …

She is willing to risk her aunt’s wrath to find out?

Two little words, yet they open up a world of possibilities. Use them wisely. Use them often.



Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving, and Amos Faces His Bully. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at http://ccmalandrinos.com and her children’s book blog at https://childrensandteensbookconnection.wordpress.com

Sunday, July 7, 2019

4 Realities Writers Need to Face


Contributed by Karen Cioffi

Writing can be a tough field to be in. Some authors seem to make it overnight, while others struggle on for years with not much success.

There are at least four must-know tips that every writer should be aware of to help get over the bumps in the road.

1. It’s going to take time to write your story.

It’s important for new writers to know writing a story can take a while – if you want to get it as ‘right’ as possible.

One reason for this is you should occasionally take a break from your story to look at it again with fresh eyes. Maybe in a week or so.

Another reason is as you’re going along then reread your story, you’ll no doubt find things here and there that you want to change or that doesn’t read right. 

And, often, writers don’t know when enough is enough. You keep trying to tweak the story until it’s ready to go,’ at least in your eyes.

While there are events like ‘Novel in a Month,” most of those who participate create a draft in 30 days, not a ready to submit manuscript.

So, expect it to take a while to write a story you will be proud of. And, don’t try to rush the process. If you get done sooner than expected, it’s icing on the cake.

2. Don’t expect your first story to make it.
Your very first attempt at writing a book may not be the one that actually gets published. In fact, chances are it won’t be.

It may be that the story just sits in your computer, in a file somewhere. Or, you may occasionally work on it, never being quite satisfied with it. Or, you may keep submitting it, but it never finds a home.

What do you do in the meantime? Keep writing. Get another story started and keep honing your craft. Don’t be discouraged.

3. You need a critique group or a critique partner.

New and seasoned writers can benefit from critique groups or having a critique partner. It’s almost impossible for a writer to see her own work with fresh eyes. You know what you intended to say, so even if it’s not really there, you will see it. You won’t know if you’re missing clarity or possibly a blatant grammatical error.

And, there are all the other writing pitfalls, like character development, plot, story arc, and so on, that you may glaze over.

Another writer, particularly one who writes in your genre, will be able to spot what you may be missing. Or, at the very least, give you some insights.

4. Don’t compare yourself to other writers (at least try not to).

Writers can feel insecure in their abilities, their progress, and their successes. This one goes for authors and freelance writers.

You may feel other writers you know are getting publishing contracts while you’re not. Maybe you’re a freelance writer and don’t feel you have enough credits. You may feel you’re not as good a writer as others.

It may be hard to do, but DON’T go there.

If you think you need to hone your writing skills, take classes and hire a writing coach. Instead of feeling unworthy or discouraged, take steps to move forward.

Keep honing your craft and persevere your way to success.

5. If you don’t go for it, it’ll never happen.

Okay, this is a bonus reality, but super-important. If you don’t submit your manuscript, it’ll never find a home.

If you don’t query magazines to get a foot in the article writing arena, you’ll never get an article in a magazine.

Don’t procrastinate and don’t think you’re not good enough. Just go for it. Do the work and SUBMIT. Remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Source:
6 Hard Truths Every Writer Should Accept

This article was originally published at:
http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2016/05/15/4-realities-new-writers-need-to-face/

-----

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author. She runs a successful children’s ghostwriting and rewriting business and welcomes working with new clients.

For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with your project, contact her at Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

To get monthly writing and book marketing tips, sign up for The Writing World – it’s free!

And, you can follow Karen at:

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/writingforchildrenwithkarencioffi/
LinkedIn  http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencioffiventrice
Twitter  http://twitter.com/KarenCV




Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Editing — It Makes All the Difference


As a reviewer, I’ve read hundreds of books in a variety of genres. While not every book has been my favorite, what leaves me feeling most disappointed is when I think to myself, “This could have been a great book… if only it had been edited more thoroughly.”

I once read a series of children’s books. I enjoyed the message and loved the characters, but the sheer number of typographical errors distracted me.

A famous author wrote an amazing mystery novel. Do you know what I remember most? In one chapter, the bad guys had kidnapped the hero and taken his belt. In the following chapter, the hero used the belt — the one he no longer had — as a tool to assist in his escape.

In another book, the main character’s mother’s name changed several times and one of the character’s cars was green early in the book, but silver later on.

Now, I’ll admit, I’m not as good at editing my writing as I am at spotting errors in the work of others, but the editing phase of completing a manuscript can’t be rushed. In addition, a critique group and a third party editor will catch errors and inconsistencies you will miss.

Here is how I approach editing my writing. After sending a manuscript to my critique group, I review the feedback and make necessary changes. Then, I let the manuscript sit for at least a week. I go back and perform three rounds of edits: one to pick up typos, one to focus on grammar, and the last to check for inconsistencies. Finally, it's off to an editor to polish it for submission.

Years ago, I interviewed a woman who had been in the entertainment industry for decades. She had written a book about her father, an award-winning composer. Finding a publisher proved difficult. She told me breaking into publishing was more of a challenge than catching a break in entertainment.

In such a market, taking the time to edit your book thoroughly will make a huge difference. Proper editing can turn a good book into a great one.



Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving, and Amos Faces His Bully. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at http://ccmalandrinos.com and her children’s book blog at https://childrensandteensbookconnection.wordpress.com

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Writing through the Hazy Days of Summer



Summer will soon be upon many of us. For some, that means the regular schedules have eased a bit, there are fewer activities, school is out, and vacation brain has settled in. For a writer, this can come with a few challenges:
  1. Spend the day at the beach or write
  2. Take the kids to the park or write
  3. Tackle spring cleaning because you were too busy before or write
Can you see how this leads to not being productive? 

It doesn't need to be that way. Here are three tips to keep you writing through the summer.

Get up Early

Ugh! I said it. Better to get the hard one out of the way first. I'm not a morning person. Let me stay up until 3 AM and sleep until 10 AM. I'll be happy. The problem is that by the end of the day, I'm dragging. Who wants to be creative when they are exhausted? 

Think about what time your family rises and get up an hour earlier. Brew your coffee or tea and spend the first hour writing. You'll be surprised how much you can accomplish.

Find a New Writing Spot

Writing from home is convenient. What often happens, however, is we take up our writing time with household chores or getting distracted by our children who aren't usually around in the middle of the day. 

Pick up your laptop or pen and paper and find a writing spot outside of your house for a few hours. We are lucky to have several local cafes here, but the library or a park would also be a great spot. 

Join a Writing Group

Our writing group has been an immeasurable help in encouraging me to write more regularly. Not only are we required to bring a writing sample each month, being around other writers is a huge source of motivation. For tips on how to find a local group, click here.


If you're still struggling, here are a few writing prompts to try:
  • My dream vacation is...
  • I became a writer because...
  • My favorite thing about our city/town is...



Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving, and Amos Faces His Bully. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at http://ccmalandrinos.com and her children’s book blog at https://childrensandteensbookconnection.wordpress.com

Thursday, June 6, 2019

4RV Editor Honored for Her Poetry

Barbara Ehrentreu presenting her poetry



            Long Island, New York, is the birthday place of Walt Whitman and the home of Local Gems Press, which hosted the Walt Whitman Bicentennial - a celebration of poetry, in the town of Hauppauge. Part of the celebration was the release of Poets to Come, a compilation of poetry from poets around the country.


            Barbara Ehrentreu read her poem “Down the Path of My Memories,” from the anthology, on Sunday of the convention. Ehrentreu stated:

Yesterday afternoon, the last day of the conference, 
I read my poem from the Walt Whitman Bicentennial anthology titled: Poets to Come. Several other poets 
read theirs as well. I am very honored to be with this 
talented group of poets.


            Barbara Ehrentreu, from Stamford, Connecticut, has been an editor for 4RV Publishing since 2010. 4RV doesn't publish poetry, but the company realizes the value of poetry and has many authors, illustrators, and staff members who write  poetry.

             Congratulations, Barbara.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Writers - 4 Powerful Steps to Breaking Bad Habits


Contributed by Karen Cioffi

Habits are pretty much who you are.

Are you a positive thinker? Are you ambitious? Do you work hard? Are you a compulsive cleaner? Do you procrastinate? Do you fear jumping in?

Some of the items above are traits, but they are also habits created – they reflect your actions and reactions. They are part of the things you do each and every day, consciously or subconsciously.

Have a habit you don’t like? Or, one that is getting in the way of your writing success?

Well, you’re in luck.

According to WebMD, you can break bad habits in three easy steps.

1. Analyze the habit you’d like (need) to break.

Maybe, you spend too much time on social media, even if it’s to work it. If you’re not getting the ROI on your efforts, you need to change things.

Maybe, you don’t get enough writing in.
That story that’s been on the back burner is still there. You keep saying you’re going to get to it, but you keep procrastinating.
Or, maybe you need to write two articles a week for your blog, but barely manage to write one. Not for a real lack of time, more because you’re not prioritizing your work.

Maybe, you’re not using video as much as you should in your content marketing, simply because it’s easier not to.

Figure out what it is – put it in front of you. This strategy may help you change things for the better.

2. Write it down.
Actually writing things down adds another element or layer to the consciousness of the habit.

Psychologist James Claiborn, PhD, and the co-author of The Habit Change Workbook, explains, “Write out a list of the pros and cons of this behavior and keep a record of when you do it. Measurement of anything tends to change it and makes people much more aware in the first place." (1)

This is similar to number 1, in that it allows you to analyze the habit.

3. Put a temp in.

Once you realize the’ whens and whys’ of a habit you want to break, try substituting another action in its place.

Suppose you drink two cans of soda day. Substitute one of the cans for a cup of water or naturally flavored seltzer. Once that’s working well, substitute the other can of soda with something healthier.
Or, suppose you spend 2 hours a day on social media. Time yourself. Stop at one hour. Then jump into writing something, whether it's your story or a blog post.

4. Realize it may take a bit of time to break a habit.

This one isn’t from WebMD, but it’s powerful.

According to Mark Twain, "A habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time."

I love this quote. In one sentence, it lets you know that habits can be broken, but it won’t be overnight. You need to persevere.

All of us have some habits we know we should overcome. Try these three tips and see if you can’t break at least one of your bad habits.

Source:
(1) http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/3-easy-steps-to-breaking-bad-habits

This article was originally published at:



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Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author. She runs a successful children’s ghostwriting and rewriting business and welcomes working with new clients.

For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with your project, contact her at Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

To get monthly writing and book marketing tips, sign up for The Writing World – it’s free!

And, you can follow Karen at: