reading

“Survival of the Fittest” – Short Story

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An elderly woman finds her way through the grocery store without being arrested… check out Mary’s story, the latest creation by JC.

Source: “Survival of the Fittest” – Short Story

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“Watching a Glass Shatter” – Literary Agent Time

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After months of outlining, organizing, researching and… oh yeah… writing, I have a draft of a new novel that I’m finally happy and ready to share. I’ve been through two rounds of beta reading and editing, now embarking on my third and final round while I prepare the list of literary agents and query letter for next steps.

I am excited about this stage and would love to share a few chapters with several of you to get more feedback, as well as take any advice and thoughts on next steps. As a writer, I feel really passionate about what I’ve created, but as a reader, I want to know others feel the same way.

It’s quite a journey, and as I look back over the last few months, I find myself thinking… the first goal was always to finish it. And I’ve completed that goal. Now, my new one is to find an agent and to build up a readership who wants more. It’s amazing how you can transfer your thirst for a goal from one activity to another, ultimately all culminating in the same final outcomes.

I can’t wait to move this forward. How about you?

About the Novel

The novel is approximately 350 pages (95k words) and I would classify it as contemporary fiction / women’s fiction given this is a story about how Olivia Glass deals with her husband Ben’s car accident and untimely death – a drama about family relationships. In his will, Ben leaves behind a letter for his wife Olivia where he confesses a massive fmily secret. Upon reading this letter and waiting for the family attorney to locate a woman who holds all the answers, Olivia visits each of her sons to spend time with them before she has to tell them what Ben did. The novel also tells the story from each of her five son’s perspectives and the secrets Olivia learns about each of them during their visit. As Olivia begins to realize how far removed she’s been from what she thought was a perfect family, the lawyer locates the missing woman who can answer the questions. After a powerful journey, Olivia prepares to tell the family what she’s learned but circumstances get in the way changing the choices she has to make.

Want to Beta-Read?

I’m looking for passionate readers who love stories about families, relationships and journeys, who don’t mind laughing and crying in the same book and who will provide real and honest feedback. I’d like to know where it falls apart, where it really grabs you and what you think the most important changes should be in the story. You won’t need to check for spelling, grammar, consistency or punctuation. The story may not work, the descriptions may seem off, etc. but that’s where you come in — a true reader’s feedback on the story, readability and overall appeal. Please message me on here to further discuss.

About Me

You can learn more about me on my profile here or my personal webpage where you will see my own book reviews, samples of stories I’ve written and the first two chapters of “Watching a Glass Shatter.” Hopefully this will give you a taste of what I am capable of and you will be interested in providing a few hours to read my book in the hopes of enjoying your read and providing me with some good direction for where to focus next. I have been surrounded by strong and emotional women all of my life and feel that I can write a novel in this genre given the relationships I’ve developed over the years. I majored in English and have been writing in my day job (non-fiction) for nearly 20 years. I’ve also written a few other books, short stories and poems, but have been too busy working a day job to try to get anything published. I am now focusing on entering the publishing world with a goal to launch 1 or 2 novels in 2017. Click for BIO.

-jjc

Review: Teatime with Mrs. Grammar Person

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Teatime with Mrs. Grammar Person
Teatime with Mrs. Grammar Person by Barbara Venkataraman

Barbara Venkataraman‘s “Teatime with Mrs. Grammar Person” is an adorable piece of work that provides a humorous approach to learning all the key grammar rules in about thirty pages of sheer brilliance. It may sound funny to call it a “piece of work” but it truly fits in this case. It’s a work of fiction because there are characters with certain actions who are not real; however, it’s also a figurative “piece of work” because the approach the author took is quite amusing and unique.

Mrs. Grammar Person (Mrs. G. P.) introduces readers to all the rules and guidelines for how and why words change tense, plural / singular, possession, contractions, repetition, similar / different spellings, et al. She has a few friends that handle other areas of the English lexicon (syntax, other language translations) but is consistent in her need for tea and biscuits each morning. What a hoot!

Think of her as a cross between Miss Marple and Mary Poppins. But I guarantee you’ll save it as a quick look-up when in a pinch and you just can’t remember the formal rule before you submit that text to your professor, editor or blog.

Yikes! Even though I should be critical in the words, punctuation and grammar I select in this review, I’m hoping Mrs. G. P. will forgive me if I am not 100% on point with all the rules. It’s not her fault if I still get one or two wrong; it’s my conscious decision to blatantly break the rule. Yeah, that works. 🙂

View all my reviews

Why do I review books? (Seriously!)

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Folks often post their thoughts and reasons why they choose to read, but it is with less frequency they attempt to explain why they want to write a book review. Let’s see if I can do some justice in that respect…

Google tells me there are currently 130 million published books in the world. Let’s say an average reader can get through 25 books per year (one every 2 weeks) and let’s say on average, people spend 40 years of their life actively choosing and reading books.  Putting those numbers together (isn’t basic math fun?), we’re working with about 1,000 books per reader per lifetime on an average across the board of typical readers.  With 1,000 to choose out of 130,000,000 options (not even counting what will be published in the future), the % has so many decimal places, I’d be lost just thinking about how to choose which book to read without having some up front data… hence the value of a good book review.

As a reader, when I choose a book, it’s usually based on genre, setting, author, marketing/advertising, and feedback from others.  Who goes to a book store, library or digital collection and just grabs the first book “off the shelf” without having done some type of research or had a conversation about it with another human? Not this reader

As a writer, I only have so many opportunities to grab a potential reader’s attention. I may get lucky if someone shows up at a book store, library or digital collection and selects my book because the cover looks good or (s)he saw an ad about it or it’s in the genre that most appeals to him/her.  Ultimately, more readers come from good feedback, word-of-mouth and familiar connections — not just by happenstance.

As both a reader and a writer, I believe a book review can capture everything all at once — if it’s done properly. A book review opens the door for anyone to potentially come across the book and increase the chance it will be purchased or borrowed. Authors need to create a digital and online presence so their name pops up in search engines and in as many social media sites as possible.  Readers are more savvy with technology these days and innately search the Internet to find out as much as they can before they actually make a purchase.

When I write a book review, I’m passionate about it because it’s likely I chose that book, I wanted to read it and I have something to say whether it’s good or bad.  I want to share what I’ve learned and help others avoid a pitfall, find a treasure or just be amused with me — especially since my style tends to be 75% factual & direct with a fun 25% reserved for sarcastic humor. (I can’t help my personality shining through).

And so for me — as a reader and a writer — a book review serves the single most important connection between those two worlds. When I write a book review, I ensure I can provide all of the following to the person reading my review either in the review or with a link to the appropriate site:

  • Author’s biography and list of additional works
  • Summary of the book
  • What was good in it
  • What could have been better
  • Images of the book
  • Rating of 1 to 5
  • Would I read it again or recommend it
  • Biography on me as the person writing the review.  Readers want to know if they would like you or agree with you in real life.  Facts such as:
    • What else have you read — maybe you’ll lead me to more good books
    • What are your favorites — what did I not read that I should have
    • What are your credentials — informally of course since we’re usually not editors and publishers in addition to readers and writers
    • What is your style —  sarcastic, overly positive, humorous, dry, witty, harsh…

When I write a book review, I want to accomplish all of the above (and more) and post it on as many websites as I reasonably can (it takes time!) for others to find; however, it’s also a valuable tool to help me as a reader when people comment on my review, follow me or like what I’ve said.  In turn, I can then check out people I find interesting and maybe discover a new friend, a new book or possibly a new site I didn’t know about.

It’s all connected.  And it can be overwhelming to keep up.  But if you have a core of places to look, people to trust and options to consider, you as a reader are lucky to be able to choose the best 1,000 books of your lifetime.  And that’s what I hope for when I am reading a new book and as a writer looking for new fans of my work: A BOOK REVIEW!

About Me

For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

 

The Cozy Mystery Series – One Reader’s View

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The cozy mystery series genre is my favorite type of book — hands down, I even dream about them.  While I’m an invested fan of general fiction, historical fiction, crime thrillers and general mysteries, the cozy is that old faithful friend guaranteed to make my day just a little bit better whether I’m curled up on a chair in my bedroom corner, relaxing on my NYC terrace observing the skyline or keeping myself occupied on trains, planes and automobiles.

I’ve been adding tons of books on my Goodreads “To Read” list over the course of 2016 not realizing along the way that over 50% of them fell into the cozy category.  It happened naturally as I saw the title or cover of the book — just clicked “Want to Read” and suddenly hundreds of books showed up.  When I went to categorize them to make my actual selection process easier (seriously, how do you choose from a list of nearly 500 TBR books when you personally picked them all?),  lo’ and behold — the cozy stood out.

Perhaps it’s because I’m an only child and looking for the drama.  It could be that I am a bit of an introvert but also a little bit nosy!  Or maybe it’s that the cozy takes you into a magical world where you continuously create and build on the characters, setting and background.  Of course, it’s the author who creates your initial picture, but when you read series fiction, each successive book adds more to the town, the family tree, the history — up until you as a reader have suddenly immersed yourself in this make-believe land that you could swear is real.

But when the series is actually a cozy series, you have every type of character including the nosy neighbor (no, that’s not really me), the scary cop, the well-meaning friends, the awkward yet lovable helper, the “is (s)he / isn’t (s)he” my love interest, and the sometimes super villain.  Each character feels real, and the setting and backdrop become somewhere you hope to visit in the future.  In other types of series fiction, you may have a couple of the same characters recur throughout the series, but it’s usually a very different setting and story where only the basic elements carry through.

And YES, there have been one or two occasions (I won’t admit to anymore) where I mentioned some name or place and the person to whom I was speaking thought I was losing my mind.  “Yes, I did just tell you I visited a fictional place in a book. Sorry, I must just be tired.” has been an excuse I’ve had to use.

Have you ever talked with another fan of a cozy series you follow?  Do you picture the characters the same way and then get all riled up over who is closest?  Do you want to draw out the town on a map to get it all straight in your head?  Do you create your own little family tree diagrams to keep remembering who is who?  Do you write reviews where you imagine yourself as one of the characters?  It happens a lot to me… especially when I’m following over 50 different authors and series.  Where else can you find a genre that can accomplish all of this?

And so… as I get started with my day, knowing at some point I’ll have to pick the next book to begin reading tonight, I found myself just feeling pretty psyched that this cozy little (well not so little!) world exists…  you should definitely give it a shot if you have never read one before.  Feel free to reach out to me for any recommendations.

If you’re new to me or my site, you can find more about me by clicking here.

-jjciv