BeFunky – Photo Editor

Anyone ever need a good photo editor? BeFunky is free and easy to use if you need a fast crop, color change, or text box. Fun and with some neat effects. Might be worth checking out:

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Book Review 1. In a Dark, Dark Wood

The first book I am reviewing is for adults. Most of the books I will be reviewing on here will be for young adults and children, but I just finished this one and thought I’d kick off my reviews with In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware.

This is a psychological thriller full of mystery. Our main character is Nora who decides to go to a hen for her once best-friend, Clare. The only thing is, they haven’t spoken in over ten years, having left an unsettled past behind them. Upon going to this hen despite her best wishes, she finds herself in the company of various strangers and it’s not long before things go awry and someone is suspected for murder.

Was it Clare, the perfect person in everyone’s eyes, even in Nora’s. Was it her over-obsessed friend, Flo, or was it Nora, who can’t remember exactly what happened the night everything went wrong?

I enjoyed this book. It was down-to-earth, easy to read, and kept me engaged. While I couldn’t relate to any of the events in the book, I could relate to the main character’s motivation for going to the hen as well as some of her internal insecurities.

Each character was well thought out and individual. And even though I had a pretty good hint as to who-done-it, I was still interested as to the how and why.

This book would be good for adults who love mystery and suspense. On a scale from 1-5, 1 being the least and 5 being the most adored or enjoyed, I’d give this book a 4.

The last note I have for this book and as a warning, it does have a fare amount of language. I simply choose to ignore that, but in truth, I really didn’t enjoy that factor.

You can find her website here:


Book Reviews Up Next

Hi all!

I will be reading 8 books a month and blogging about them here real soon. The first book I will be reviewing will be Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Reviews will include the intended audience, my reflection of the work, relevant links to the work and author, as well as a rating and the ways in which it relates to teens.

Keep an eye out!

And, as always, happy writing!


Writing Tip – Put Figurative Language in your Arsenal

Have you ever wanted to write, but just wasn’t feeling it? That has been me for quiet some time. I fell in love with writing but over the last year or more, my writing hasn’t really sparked much joy; it’s been more like work. I would tell myself to do it because I loved it, but I wasn’t doing it because I felt in love with it.

I recently took a state exam for English and even though I already knew this, I kept reading sections in my study guide that said something like this: Great writers use figurative language in their work, language like similes, metaphors, onomatopoeia, etc. I’ve taught English and would help students identify and analyze figurative language, but I never mindfully tried to incorporate it in my own work.

So, one evening when I sat down to do some writing, I took an old passage that was rather thin (small paragraphs) and said to myself: “Okay, let’s redo this using that figurative language that great writers use.” The effects were huge. My writing went from skimpy in quantity to actually having much more substance. I even found myself enjoying the process so much more and looking forward to getting back into it. I could feel myself falling in love again.

It’s not that I didn’t try to employ all of the five senses as well as balance the amount of showing and telling, but my writing just didn’t feel… alive. Needless to say, after mindfully using the various literary elements I’ve had in my arsenal for so long, my writing has that spark again.

If you haven’t been already doing this, mindfully or naturally, you could always give it a try. You never know what it might do to improve your writing.

As always, Happy Writing.


Lady Mary ~ A Second Attempt at Watercolor

Lady Mary Illus.

I’ve never been interested much in art. I suppose this is because I figured, no, I knew, that there were so many others who were better than me. This is still VERY much true. However, I decided to give it a whirl when I knew I wanted to illustrate children’s books. Though a long journey of learning and error lies ahead, I have found it quite fun and relaxing.

The above image was my attempt to draw Lady Mary from Downton Abbey, which I completely recommend. Anyway, if this painting taught me anything, it’s that you can recover from mistakes (large mistakes). If you notice, the background is streaked and black. Before, I painted it a shade just bit lighter than her hat. Big mistake. From afar you cannot make out her cap that well. So, I went over it in black. Was this too a huge newbie mistake? Sure, I’m learning, but I’m still pleased with it; you can see some of the gold behind the black, and it turned out neat in my humble opinion.

I’m not saying I’m Picasso, or even a “good” artist, but I can say I like and enjoyed my trial and error painting of Lady Mary; I can go so far as to say that I am pleased with it. So, if you’re like me and up for a good challenge, give it a go. While your at it, you might like checking out: The Mind of Watercolor on YouTube; he has excellent videos on drawing and watercolor.

Happy Drawing!

Which Cover would you Choose?

If you had to pick a cover, which one would it be? The illustrated watercolor (minus the make-shift title) or the photo-stock image? Keep in mind the right title is not centered, but when it’s printed, it is.

Forces Cover Illus.                    Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 9.32.48 PM

Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of either all that much. The font on the blue cover is dull and the painting looks quite kiddish. Any constructive* feedback would be appreciated.

Writing Tip: Put it on your Desk

Sometimes just printing out pages of your manuscript while you write and compiling them on your desk can be a huge motivator as you watch your story grow into a full novel. I did that for my first book, Forces and the Malachite Stone, and it was exciting. I dare say it helped me keep going. So give it a try, you might just get the same encouragement, knowing that your work is amounting to something tangible.

Happy writing!

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Image by Mark A. Rayner

Snowing in Texas – Write with Scenery

Those are words you don’t hear very often, maybe once a decade if you’re lucky: It’s snowing in Texas.

The snow’s beauty is magnified here in Texas as most of it falls on trees, blanketing them in soft crystals. In Oklahoma, for instance, it’s mostly roofs of small businesses that are covered.

Truly Christmas is on the way! For those of you who have the luxury of writing, take the time to snuggle up with a warm cup of whatever-it-is-you-like and take advantage of the beautiful, cold scenery to spice up your imagery and senses in your story. I know I plan too!

Whether it’s taking note on what it’s really like for your characters in a cold setting, from the shivering to the cold puffs of air, to the numb fingers, or just practicing your skills in scene/setting writing, don’t miss out on this awesome opportunity!

Happy writing folks.

What’s Missing in Your Writing?

Short and to the point post: Music.

If you haven’t found a song or songs to listen to that inspire you, you’re missing out. From your favorite bands, artists, or even soundtracks, all music, even instrumental, has some story to tell. Let those stories and those emotions fuel your imagination.

I don’t always listen to the music while I’m writing but rather while I’m planning and outlining. Then again, depending, if the music is in perfect line with the scene I’m writing, I’ll keep it going.

Recommendation: Scores from your favorite movies or favorite genre that you write in. Personally, I love Two Steps from Hell and music that YouTuber, Epic Music Shall Prevail posts. They’re providing the music and I’m providing the scenes. It’s a win-win.

#epicmusic #amwriting #writingtips