Unique Libraries from Around the World

library-863148Many of us still use libraries to get and read books. Libraries are a great way for introverts to gather without having to be forced into a stressful, overwhelming social situation. Instead, we can mingle with others, who like ourselves, prefer solace and low-key interactions with other people who are also attracted to reading and contemplation.

So, because libraries are still such a necessary and intrinsic part of our lives, Brianne Alphonso has put together a look at some of the most unique and interesting libraries from around the world. To read more…

 

Do-It-Yourself Movies?

When chasing dreams, the solutions to catching them can sometimes seem implausible. But maybe implausible is the way to go. After all, you never know what might be hiding behind that door marked implausible until you open it and check it out.

Apparently, I’m not the only one to think so, either. Read the post to see what another indie publisher is doing that may seem implausible, but might just turn out to be the answer to catching that impossible dream.

The Let's Play Ball Blog

I bought my way into the publishing industry. I self-published three novels and paid a pretty penny for editing, covers, ISBNs, marketing, and all the other necessities. My next, far more improbable goal, is to see these stories made into movies. I wonder: is it possible to self-produce a movie if you’re not cinematically talented? Can you throw money at this problem, or do you need connections and know-how?

I’ve already begun this process by paying to have my books converted to screenplays by real screenwriters. If I should get serious about submitting those to various markets, I’ll start collecting rejections again, something I had hoped to be done with forever. However, there are film production companies that work with self-publishers, such as the vibrant Witness Pictures that partners with iUniverse. The company makes professional-looking book trailers that resemble real movie trailers, using actors and filmmakers whose talents are evident…

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The Punster

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A few puns to brighten up your day:

  1. The fattest knight at King Arthur’s round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.
  2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.
  3. She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.
  4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class, because it was a weapon of math disruption.
  5. No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery.
  6. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.
  7. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.
  8. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. It’s being looked into.
  9. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
  10. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other: ‘You stay here; I’ll go on a head.’
  11. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.
  12. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: ‘Keep off the Grass.’
  13. The soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.
  14. A backward poet writes inverse.
  15. In a democracy it’s your vote that counts. In feudalism it’s your count that votes.
  16. If you jumped off the bridge in Paris, you’d be in Seine.
  17. A vulture boards an airplane carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, ‘I’m sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger.’
  18. Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says ‘Dam!’
  19. Two people sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can’t have your kayak and heat it too.
  20. Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says, ‘I’ve lost my electron.’ The other says ‘Are you sure?’ The first replies, ‘Yes, I’m positive.’

 

Yes and No…Mostly eh

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The Writer’s Mentor by Ian Jackman, Editor

Scene and Structure by Jack M. Bickham

Summary  Both books purport to offer advice and insights to help you improve your writing.

Review
While neither of these books was worth keeping, at least “The Writer’s Mentor” lived up to its title. It’s quotes and anecdotes made me realize that even well-known authors can sometimes struggle with a story, maintain a regular 9-to-5 job despite being published and lauded, and don’t always consider writing as less than a full-time, underpaid vocation.

After reading this book, I felt mentored. I truly felt as if someone with more experience and a different perspective took my hand and said, “Look, others have felt like you feel, and others have gone through what you’re experiencing.”

However, if what you’re looking for is step-by-step instruction on how to write, “The Writer’s Mentor” is not the book for you. But then, neither is “Scene and Structure.”

Jack M. Bickham, author of “Scene and Structure,” is (supposedly) a well-known author. I, however, have never heard of him or his books. Despite that, I went through this book hoping for some nuggets of insight that might help me improve my own manuscripts. Unfortunately, I failed to find anything useful.

As a technical writer, I expect a certain amount of usefulness and help in a how-to book. (It’s why they’re called how-to books or self-help manuals.) What I found was dense passages of rhetoric and mind-numbing paragraphs that had to be read several times before I could glean his point. These were combined with self-promoting examples from his books, which did little more than shout, “See what a great writer I am?”

I don’t normally disparage the use of one’s own works when giving examples or helpful tips (heck, I do it myself), but in this case, I think it was greatly overdone. In addtion, the examples were not always applicable to the point he was striving to make.

So, if you’re seeking wisdom and instructions on how to improve your writing, skip both of these books. If, however, you need a morale boost, then at least try “The Writer’s Mentor.”

 

Do You Know About End-of-Life Experiences?

veilbetweenworldsSeeing loved ones, angels, or other guides to the afterlife is a common occurrence for those who are dying. However, many living (and healthy) people find the concept ludicrous, frightening, or just plain fanciful. Yet, ask any hospice worker or doctor and you will find that they have hundreds of stories showing just how often this occurs.

Is it simply a daydream, nightmare, or hallucination induced by the dying mind or the drugs? Not according to most doctors and nurses.

As a psychopomp who escorts the dead to the afterlife, I’ve often been the stand-in for some loved one that the dead and dying expect to see–a loved one who has already moved on to another life or who is otherwise ‘unavailable’ to make an appearance. psychopomp-3d-dls-8pxls-2

You can read more about end-of-life experiences and people’s reactions to them, here:

Near Death, Seeing Dead People May Be Neither Rare Nor Eerie

Like him, but not so much the book

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Keep Moving by Dick Van Dyke (and Todd Gold)

Summary:  Beloved Hollywood icon Dick Van Dyke will celebrate his 90th birthday in December 2015. He’s an established legend, having starred in Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and The Dick Van Dyke Show. And yet he’s still keeping himself busy, entertaining America on television, movies, the stage, and social media. Everyone wonders, “How does he do it?” For the first time, Van Dyke will share his secrets and tips on old age: Just keep moving.

In a fun and folksy way of addressing readers, Keep Moving will serve as an instruction book on how to embrace old age with a positive attitude. The chapters are filled with exclusive personal anecdotes that explore various themes on aging: how to adapt to the physical and social changes, deal with loss of friends and loved ones, stay current, fall in love again, and “keep moving” every day like there’s no tomorrow.

Recommendation: Mixed feelings (in Amazon stars, maybe 2 stars)

Review:  It’s true that the narrative is fun and folksy, and I could hear Mr. Van Dyke’s voice throughout. I also enjoyed the snippets of biography that were included, such as how he and his current wife met and dated, and the relationship between him and his brother, Jerry.

However, the instructional part was less than useful to those who aren’t as well off as the celebrity author. This also made it difficult for me to relate to him and his ‘advice.’ For instance, his instruction to get up every day and have a sing-along with your spouse while enjoying birds and sunshine on the patio are a lovely idea. But it’s not something that most people can relate to, because most people (even elderly people) get up before the sun so that they can spend their mornings fighting traffic to get to a job that they may or may not enjoy.

I don’t begrudge Mr. Van Dyke his more than adequate retirement funds, he worked hard for them. However, most of us don’t (and didn’t) get paid millions; also, many of us got hit pretty hard when the stock and housing market collapsed. That means that many of us are struggling while just hoping we don’t get laid off because we’ve reached a certain age.

So, while I appreciated his happy attitude, I found the information rather Pollyannaish. I really wished that his ‘advice’ applied more to those of us living in a ‘normal world’ rather than his more rarefied and exclusive group of the rich and the elderly.

Not Quite Up to the Hype

MeetClaraMeet Clara Andrews by Lacey London

Summary: Meet Clara Andrews… Your new best friend!

With a love of cocktails and wine, a fantastic job in the fashion industry and the world’s greatest best friends, Clara Andrews thought she had it all.

That is until a chance meeting introduces her to Oliver, a devastatingly handsome American designer. Trying to keep the focus on her work, Clara finds her heart stolen by lavish restaurants and luxury hotels.

As things get flirty, Clara reminds herself that inter-office relationships are against the rules, so when a sudden recollection of a work’s night out leads her to a gorgeous barman, she decides to see where it goes.

Clara soon finds out that dating two men isn’t as easy as it seems…

Will she be able to play the field without getting played herself?

Join Clara, as she finds herself landing in and out of trouble, re-affirming friendships, discovering truths and uncovering secrets.

Recommendation: Yes and No (maybe 2.5 stars by Amazon standards)

Review: While the first to-thirds of the book was a typical romantic farce, the last third (the ending) felt tacked on and flat. It was if the author wasn’t sure how to fix the corner she had written herself into, so she simply wrote a happy ending and forced it into the book. It didn’t fit the circumstances nor did it fit the personality of the male protagonist she had created, but that didn’t seem to matter. At least now the book had the requisite ‘happy ending’ that romance stories are supposed to have.

The other reason I can’t give it a higher ranking is the repetitive and glaring grammatical error that occurred throughout the book. The error was so jarring that it quite literally pushed me out of the story. If it had happened once, I might have thought it was just a mistake by the editor; but, the same error occurred repeatedly, which led me to think that the book hadn’t been edited at all. (Note: I have subsequently discovered that what most ‘normal’ people perceive as a glaring grammatical error, is considered all right in some less affluent neighborhoods of London. And while I might then consider that the author was trying to add some quirkiness and flavor to her main character, my perception of the main character as a university graduate made it difficult to accept that the character would use such awkward and poorly constructed speech idioms.)

As romances go, it’s a cute bit of fluff as long as you’re willing to overlook the lack of a successful ending and some huge grammar gaffs. However, I much prefer a Cathie Linz, Amanda Quick, or Janet Evanovich book when wanting a bit of romance, comedy, and charm.