Monday, November 25, 2013

Author Bryan Cohen Back Again with 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts Volume 2: More Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More

Guest Post by Bryan Cohen


A Priceless Creativity Habit 
by Bryan Cohen 

Your habits can make you or break you. Some of my worst habits almost broke me financially during my early 20s. My better ones raised me to some success almost a decade later. One habit in particular helped me to create an Amazon best-seller, get thousands of students in an online course and appear on the game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." If you added this habit to your life, you'd likely find equal, if not better, success yourself.  

Here's the habit: constantly thinking of ideas to improve my life and actively following up on them. 

People like to daydream about a better life. But how many of them actually write those daydreams down? And out of those select few, how many make an effort to see if the ideas are feasible? I imagine the number is smaller than you think. Writers and other creative types often say that they want to sell more art or make more money, but how likely are they to achieve these goals if they don't actively brainstorm on how to succeed?

Let me give you an example. I had about $8,000 in credit card debt that I wanted to pay off. I'd figured out that I'd be able to pay it off over the course of two years by making small payments each month. That's when my habit kicked in. My life would be better and easier if I could pay off that debt more quickly. I began to write a list of ways that I could pay off that debt quickly and easily. There were plenty of ideas on the list (it's been said that thinking of lots of ideas is easier than trying to come up with one alone), but one idea stuck out like an exciting thumb. The item on the list read, "Get on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and win $8,000 or more." 

Instead of dismissing the idea as crazy, I started researching how people get on the show. I looked up where auditions were and how former contestants convinced producers they were worthy of the hot seat. I studied trivia questions and prepared for the entry test. I went to ABC Studios in New York, auditioned twice and got onto the show. I plan to discuss the show more in depth on another blog post, but to make a long story short, I was ultimately successful at achieving my goal.  

Now imagine if I never created this list. I'd still be paying down that debt the old-fashioned way. The old-fashioned way is boring! The old-fashioned way would have me stuck in an office as my 9-to-5 job and would have me trying to make small potatoes money organizing workshops in the local YMCA. 

By brainstorming ways to improve my life, I also learned about self-publishing and freelance writing. I found out how to host a course online and how to bring thousands of students to my digital classroom. I also got to meet Meredith Vieira and walk away with awesome prize money. 

It's not enough to talk about how you want to improve your writing life or your career. You need to follow up that talk with two additional steps. Write down your ideas for how you want to make the improvements. Follow through on those ideas until you actually achieve them. 

If you can practice this as a weekly or daily habit, I can't guarantee you'll have game show success. But it is very likely you'll be more successful as a writer. 

Talk is cheap. It's time to get back in the habit.

About the Author

In honor of his new book, Cohen is hosting the “1,000 Prompts, 1,000 Dollars" Writing Contest on his website. Click the link to find out how to enter!  Click the next link to check out the rest of Cohen’s blog tour!

Bryan Cohen is an author, a creativity coach and an actor. His new book, 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, Volume 2: More Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More is now available on Amazon in digital and paperback format. His other books include 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, The Post-College Guide to Happiness, and Ted Saves the World. He has published over 30 books, which have sold more than 20,000 copies in total. Connect with him on his website, Build Creative Writing Ideas, on Facebook or on Twitter.  


So sorry the LINKS weren't working earlier! They are now!!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Eighth Menorah by Lauren L. Wohl from Albert Whitman and Company

The Eighth Menorah by Lauren L. Wohl
Available Now
Publisher: Albert Whitman and Company
Received copy for review and then giveaway
Picture book- 32 pages
To Buy Links-
Albert Whitman and Company
Amazon/ Kindle/ Barnes and Noble/ Book Depository/
Indiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads-Hanukkah is a few weeks away, and Sam can't wait to celebrate with his family, especially his grandma. At Sunday school, everyone in his class is busy making clay menorahs to give as Hanukkah gifts! Sam likes how his menorah is turning out, but he's worried--his family already has seven menorahs! Will they want another one? His teacher reassures him that his parents will love it, but Sam is determined to solve this problem on his own and find the perfect home for his menorah. 
Sam's dilemma in this sweet and simple Hanukkah story is one that rings true for kids and their families. 


Review

This is a very sweet simple story about a little boy, Sam, who has made a menorah in Sunday School and he thinks his family just doesn't need another one as they already have seven. Of course, none of them look like the one he has made, nor does he know what a handmade gift means, but Sam is practical in thinking that seven is enough. The pictures are so cute, Sam hiding his wrapped present under his bed. Sam hiding under the table covering talking to his grandmother on the phone sharing a secret with her. This is a wonderful book for younger children to show they are important too, that their contributions do make a difference. Sam found the exact right person to receive his menorah and it was even more special because of who it was shared with. The end shows the special relationship he has with his Nana and how thoughtful Sam is.

I have two copies of the books for giveaway thanks to Albert Whitman and Company! They are signed. And this is a continental US giveaway only.

About the Author
Lauren L. Wohl has been working in children’s books… well … always, or so it seems.  Primarily, she’s been involved on the marketing side of publishing. But she’s worked for companies big and small, including some notable start-ups: Disney Press, Hyperion Books for Children, Jump at the Sun, Roaring Brook Press, and First Second Books.  

Lauren has an MLS and has been a school librarian in the New York City public schools.  And she’s taught marketing at NYU and is currently mentoring students in the Masters of Fine Arts program at Simmons College.  Lauren and her husband owned a children’s bookstore on Long Island, New York, where she was the Saturday morning storyteller and the summer evening PJ parties’ host.  She’s proud to be the local “book lady” – the neighbor to whom kids come when they want a book; the person local schools call on when they need a guest storyteller or reader; the “expert” friends trust to find the absolutely perfect match between a child and a book.


It seemed like the right time for her to jump in and write herself.  THE EIGHTH MENORAH is the result of that impulse and effort.  It’s a story out of her own family’s experience, and she’s hoping many other families will see themselves in it as well.


How cool does that sound?? Summer evening PJ parties host?? I think someone should do that in every city! Out on the lawn in the summer just before the sun goes down under some big shady trees....yeah, summer!
Or in a huge tent with fairy lights on the ceiling and pillows and blankets on the ground. Camp lights. Would that not be the coolest to hear stories read to you like that?? Somebody do that. Then send me pictures or a link. This is one cool author!

So, for the giveaway.....
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody Review

Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody
Available Now
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Hardcover 272 pages
Received e-ARC for review from Publisher through NetGalley
To Buy Links-
Amazon/ Kindle/Audiobook CD/ Audible/ Barnes and Noble  /Book Depository/  Indiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads-  Will Scarlet is on the run. 

Once the sheltered son of nobility, Will has become an exile. While his father, Lord Shackley, has been on the Crusades with King Richard, a treacherous plot to unseat Richard has swept across England, and Shackley House has fallen.

Will flees the only home he’s ever known into neighboring Sherwood Forest, where he joins the elusive gang of bandits known as the Merry Men. Among them are Gilbert, their cruel leader; a giant named John Little; a drunkard named Rob; and Much, an orphan girl disguised as a bandit boy.

This is the story of how a band of misfit outlaws become heroes of legend - thanks to one brave 13-year-old boy."

Review

Oh wow, this was such a great novel! Everyone that has every been evenly slightly interested in Robin Hood must read this novel. It's got a little bit of everything in it so everyone should find something appealing in it. Will Scarlet is actually the young son of Lord Shackley who has been off fighting with King Richard in the Crusades. In his place, Lord Shackley's brother Geoff has been running things and trying to teach Will, a mischievous teen who is more child than grown up, how to be a lord. 

This is like an historical novel without too many dreary details, but enough to make you feel like you're really there. And Will, he's someone you will love! He's led this sheltered life, protected and pampered from the real world and all of the sudden he is thrust into politics and the real world and he sees the "Real England." He has to leave behind everything and everyone he knew, all the comforts of home and join the Merrymen just to try to survive.

This is a character driven novel with two different main characters Will Scarlet and Much the Miller's daughter, who is posing as the Miller's son. It's safer that way. The chapters go back and forth between the two points of view and they blend seamlessly. There is a budding romance between the two and it's sweet and good. Will is a gentleman and just what Much needs. 

I cannot say what it is about this novel that pulled me in, but I swear I could not put it down. It's very well written, never a dull moment. Someone's life is almost always in peril and the Merrymen seem to take it in stride. It is very interesting to see how the Sheriff of Nottingham becomes who he is and how the Merrymen become bandits that give to the poor and why. Will has to grow up fast and face some ugly truths. But this is one of these books that I have to have a copy for my own shelves. I hope it's going to be a series. The secondary characters where just as interesting as the main characters and it was enchanting, a fairy tale in a way, one we've heard told over and over, but this was completely original.

Yes, Will is 13, but remember the time period. Much is only a year older and she is of marrying age. So this isn't a young book. It reads like an ageless book. I just loved it! That's the best I can say about it. I loved it!

I received a copy of the e-ARC from the publisher for review through NetGalley. The opinons expressed in this review are my own.

Find Matthew Cody-

Monday, November 4, 2013

Waterfell by Amalie Howard- Review

Waterfell (Book 1 The Aquarathi) by Amalie Howard
Available Now
Harlequin Teen
Paperback 350 pages
Received E-ARC through NetGalley from publisher for review
To Buy Links-
Amazon/ Kindle/ Audible/ Barnes and Noble/ Book DepositoryIndiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads-  THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE QUEEN

Nerissa Marin hides among teens in her human form, waiting for the day she can claim her birthright—the undersea kingdom stolen from her the day her father was murdered. Blending in is her best weapon—until her father's betrayer confronts Nerissa and challenges her to a battle to the death on Nerissa's upcoming birthday—the day she comes of age. 

Amid danger and the heartbreak of her missing mother, falling for a human boy is the last thing Nerissa should do. But Lo Seavon breaches her defenses and somehow becomes the only person she can count on to help her desperate search for her mother, a prisoner of Nerissa's mortal enemy. Is Lo the linchpin that might win Nerissa back her crown? Or will this mortal boy become the weakness that destroys her?

Review

I think you may have read by now that the Aquarathi are not mermaids. They aren't. My problem is despite their lovely description I can't picture them. I need a picture. I see giant squid with scales. And it is not the beautiful image I think the author is trying to get across. But I know that's kind of a personal problem, I'm a visual person, I need a picture.

I thought this story was going to be predictable. It was not. I was really pleasantly surprised by some of the twists in the novel. The author threw out enough red herrings that some things I just knew were going to happen never did. And she even left me doubting myself as to what would happen with the main characters. After reading so many YA novels, when you can still surprise me, I am a happy girl (woman, whatever).

I wasn't very keen on Nerissa. She's haughty, proud, indifferent to everyone and everything and selfish. She even knows and admits these things about herself and does nothing to change them. What's worse- she used to be a mean girl and she knows that. She still isn't sorry about the people she hurt. She gives herself a pass because she didn't know any better. But she doesn't think about the people she hurt, the people still hurting from what she did. And, to me, she STILL seems like she has a bit of a mean girl streak in her. Especially towards her arch enemy who is suffering under Nerissa's onslaught of abuse. She's also oblivious to her BF and guardian's excruciating hurt at not being able to mate or have his own friends because she refuses to return to Waterfell.

What we see of Speio, her BF and guardian, leaves the impression that he is shifty and reckless, a moody teenage boy. He doesn't care about the fact that Nerissa's life will be in danger, he just wants to go back to Waterfell. Nerissa's true BF, Jenna is wise beyond her years and is a relief to have in the story. She calls Nerissa out continuously for her behavior until finally Nerissa can't deny that Jenna is right. As best friends go, Jenna ticks all the boxes. Sets Nerissa up with the guy she likes, forces Nerissa to face her character flaws, keeps her secrets, fights for her, you really couldn't ask for a better one. I would love to have a BF like Jenna and her oblivious boyfriend Sawyer.

Lo Seavon, I have to laugh at that name because it seems so obvious. He is the human boy Nerissa falls for, hard, but she doesn't want to and denies herself through most of the novel. She's mean to him, pushes him away, breaks dates, pushes him towards her arch enemy. I'm not sure why he even keeps trying. Well, I know why, but not until the end. He's an easy going surfer dude who'd rather be surfing than going to school. He never pushes himself on Nerissa and other than Sawyer, he doesn't have any close friends.

As I said about the story, it's interesting and has some unique twists, but some of it is tiring. Like Nerissa pushing Lo away. It got tiresome. And her treatment of Cara, who once used to be her best friend. And then there are some scenes, the twists, that are just so unlikely I can't buy. If this was pure fantasy, sure, but it's realistic so much of the time, I just can't buy what happens when everyone is surfing and Nerissa dips her head down into the water and sees what's swimming with them.

And I was left with some questions. The secondary issues were murky and still didn't feel cleared up to me. I can't say anything more without revealing anything, but I don't know really what's going on with that secondary issue. And how it affects one of the main characters. How they can do certain things that the others before them could not. Yeah, I know you're totally confused.

So to sum it all up, there were some unique twists and turns, some unbelievable moments, a new take on underwater creatures, some good secondary characters, and an annoying main character. However, I do have to say that Nerissa did show character growth, she turned everything down a notch, maybe almost too much. I still didn't like her, though. She just lacked warmth. There is a snippet of the next novel in the e-arc, I'm assuming it will be included in the book and it starts out with an eventful and worrisome beginning. Almost like a cliffhanger for this book. Yes, I will be reading the next one. For those of us that are descriptively impaired, please Harlequin Teen, put a picture of the Aquarathi on the back of the next book!

Recommended for lovers of romance, mystery, sci-fi, and YA realistic fantasy. One sex scene off the page, very generic. One thing I'm not liking in YA books that I see often is immediate 

I received an e-arc of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley for review purposes only. I was not compensated for my review in any way. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Find Amalie Howard

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