Truthwitch- My Book Review

Hell-O  Fellow Readers,

I give that intro since I am creating a few book reviews today. Happy Easter for those who celebrate- I sat on my couch and spent the day reading. It was great who those of us who do not have little babies running around. Anyways….. Don’t worry this review has no spoilers.

Truthwitch: A Witchlands Novel by Susan Dennard

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I thought the story was well written but I found the main characters a little frustrating, and the beginning slightly hard to get into. The two lead young women seemed very capable but their decision making seemed questionable. I believe the author was trying to show character growth as the consequences of actions were revealed. However the growth happened so quickly that it felt a bit forced.

I enjoyed the action. There was lots of fighting with and without magic. It felt like everyone in the world had a stake in the lives of these two friends which shows up in the decent world building. There was a lot of intrigue and some surprises. The POV is told from four people and at points it can be hard to decipher which is which. On a personal note, I dislike books that have everything in the whole world going wrong and basically throwing every possible doom and gloom thing at the main character only to have some type of minor success at the end, which is just enough to get you to read the next book. I find that type of story tiring and depressing.

This book managed to bypass that pitfall mostly by having minor victories along the way and making sure that there was some support for the main characters. There were moments of joy and optimism throughout the story. Overall, I thought the book was better than decent. It had unique fantastical concepts and creatures, the plot consists of a lot action and adventure, and the dialogue was witty. It has made me curious about Dennard’s other books that are popular among YA readers like myself. I can say that I am intrigued by Truthwitch. Definitely good enough to read the next book when it’s released.

As a side note, this review is my opinion and not to be held to any sort of standard. You could read it and hate it or love it more. I’m merely sharing my thoughts, and those are to urge you to give it a try.

“No two persons ever read the same book.”

–Edmund Wilson

Ta-Ta for now,

-Brandy 

Declutter Your Writing

Hello Darlings!

Beyond sorry for my last post being in July. I lost track of time during school, and when I found it six months had gone by. But I have a lovely post for you all – how to declutter your writing.

 

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photo credit- Google

First drafts should be about just getting your thoughts and words onto a page without worrying about what you’re actually saying. Since finishing my first draft of a YA novel I’ve been working on, I have gone back and realize how many extra words I added.

One mark of a good writer is the ability to communicate more to the reader using less. Editors like lean prose that’s effective and clear without wasting words. Often, our writing becomes cluttered without us realizing it. Words that seem innocent enough can actually detract from what you’re trying to say and add unneeded “fluff.” So how can you create tight, lean prose? Here are some examples of words you can cut from your writing!

NOTE: While these words can often clutter your writing, that’s not always the case. Exceptions can always be made, and it’s up to you to use your judgement to decide when a word can stay and when it needs to go.

1.Of the

“Of the” is almost always unnecessary and can be simplified.

Examples:

The owner of the restaurant.

The restaurant owner.

The wheels of the skateboard.

The skateboard’s wheels.

One of the nails came loose.

A nail came loose.

2. That

This one seems innocent enough, but again it can almost always be cut without any damage. If you have “that” in a sentence remove it, and if what’s left still makes sense then it’s unnecessary.

He said that he was coming.

He said he was coming.

Our teacher promised that there wouldn’t be any homework.

Our teacher promised there wouldn’t be any homework.

3. Adverbs

Most adverbs are either redundant or superfluous.

For example:

“I have to go,” she whispered quietly.

Whispering implies being quiet, so “quietly” is redundant and can be cut.

He moved quickly across the lawn.

If we choose a strong verb the adverb becomes unnecessary and the writing becomes tighter and punchier:

He dashed across the lawn.

4. Almost/slightly/somewhat

Words like almost, slightly, somewhat, etc. aim to de-emphasize. This can weaken your writing. You can be as clear and direct as possible. Don’t waver in-between.

The weather was somewhat hot.

The weather was balmy.

He backed up slightly.

He took a step back.

Her hair was almost soaked.

Her hair was wet.

5. Really/very/quite

These words aim to emphasize, but if we choose our words carefully to begin with, they become unnecessary.

He ran really fast across the parking lot.

He bolted across the parking lot.

They had a very good time.

They had an excellent time.

The mouse was quite large.

The mouse was massive.

6. Adjectives

While not all adjectives are bad, you can usually eliminate or combine them without losing meaning. Watch out for piling on too many adjectives, and try to choose strong nouns that could replace them.

The small, fluffy, white kitten

The white kitten (small and fluffy is implied with kittens)

The large spotted dog

The dalmatian

7. Things/Stuff

Vague words like things, stuff, something, etc. should be avoided whenever possible because they do little to help the reader. Be specific to communicate clearly and give the reader a vivid picture!

She knew they needed to talk about things.

She knew they needed to talk about John cheating with Shelly.

The table was littered with random art stuff.

The table was littered with pens, charcoal, paper wads, and brushes whose bristles were gummy with dried paint.

8. Most dialogue tags

Sometimes we need dialogue tags (said, yelled, whispered, etc.) to let us know who’s speaking. But often we can use character actions to communicate the same information in place of dialogue tags, or drop both altogether. For example:

Derek moved his sweet potatoes around his plate. “I’m not hungry.”

His mother sighed. “Stop being picky.”

“I’m not picky. Potatoes shouldn’t be orange.”

“It’s good for you.”

“I don’t trust orange food.” He shoved his plate away.

There wasn’t a single dialogue tag in that conversation but you probably didn’t have any trouble following who was saying what. When you do find yourself in need of a dialogue tag, it’s usually best to use said over words like intoned, stated, etc.

9. Thought/realized/wondered

Just like with dialogue tags, we can communicate a character’s thoughts without words like realized, wondered, pondered, etc.

10. Then

This is a sneaky clutter word that can often be cut from your writing without changing its meaning.

Sara called a cab and then grabbed her coat.

Sara called a cab and grabbed her coat.

 

If you don’t see the book you want on the shelf, write it.

-Beverly Cleary

Do you struggle with any of these clutter words? Are there any other words you avoid? Let me know in the comments below!

-Brandy 

Denver’s Bubble Run!

Howdy Readers!

As promised in a few posts back I went to the Denver Bubble Run today which was awesome! Believe it or not, I thought I might be too out of shape to complete it unless I walked the entire thing. Lucky for me, I have good friends who push me to do more than I think I can. So we walked some and ran some and considered making bubble angels in the bogs of colored bubbles (sadly, it’s in the rules that you can’t do this).

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Our packet of goodies

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Our ‘before’ photo:) Look at those white shirts.

So I woke up this morning telling myself I should just stay in bed and sleep. But I got up and drove with my girl Lindsey to one of the Community College Campuses for the run. For $20 they gave us a t-shirt, a head band,a face tattoo, and a number to pin to the shirt. I was happy for the white shirt and the tattoo. We then trekked to the starting line (which honestly probably added another mile). Every one was standing around waiting for the run and we stretched on the grass. You don’t wanna pull something running through bubbles!

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Just before the race starts.

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Almost halfway and I was just shocked at how many people showed up!

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Lindsey and I, right before.

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A lovely group of ladies let me take their photo. Aren’t the tutus amazing?

They let us go in waves of people and have five bogs (or places) to run through to get covered head to feet in bubbles. White, pink, blue, green, and yellow bubbles and I am not exaggerating when I say you are covered. At one point, Lindsey turned to call for me because she lost me for a moment in the bubble bog and got a mouth full of soapy goodness. It was great!

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Finish line! Yeah buddy!

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She had a blast!

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After shot:)

We ran across the finish line feeling accomplished and soggy. Let me tell you-your t-shirt is dyed, your skin is dyed,  your hair is dyed, and your shoes will never be the same again. I would recommend this run for anyone who wants some good clean fun (wink wink), and as a plus it’s not too long at 5K to bring the kiddos. Just make sure they get glasses or perhaps something to cover their mouths.

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They had another bog after the race and we went and played in the bubbles.

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Caught in the bog of bubbles!!!!

Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. 
-Lou Holtz

It was a blast and I can’t wait till next time. Did anyone else do the Bubble Run?? I would love to see other photos!

-Brandy

10 Must-Do Things to Indulged in When Life Gets in The Way

Heya Readers!

We have recently decided to refinance our home and get rid of our debt/make home improvements. In doing this it has reminding me of several times in my life where I have either been rich, at least in my sense when you have more than five digits in my bank account. OR been eating ramen for weeks and pinching every penny to make rent. Most of the time I find myself in between where I can’t spend a fortune on the finer things but not poor enough that I can’t enjoy life at all.

And then one day, I read a post about splurging from this incredible blog- Single Dad Laughing

Dan talks about a friend who went and got a facial when they were too tight on money and he asked her how her could afford to spend money on it… His friend was honest and to quote her she said- “I can’t. But I just started this thing where I’m forcing myself not to live like a poor person every once in a while so that I don’t forget what I’m working toward.”

And her words made sense to me. In the middle of my penny pinching, I had somehow began living life as a poor woman, and completely forgot how I wanted to be living. Now don’t get me wrong if I had a million dollars and never had to worry about money again I would be set. But this is reality. Using all of your  energy and time focused into making it possible to pay down debt, bills, etc. whatever the case may be and not into making things better for yourself or myself.

So I decided to follow their lead and make a list for myself. Things that I enjoyed when I was barely able to afford it. Things I’d just toss money toward any time I had the chance. The promised myself that I would find a way to do each of those things.

10 Things I Make Myself Splurge On At Least Once a Year

1. A expensive pair of jeans. You know what I’m talking about. You go to Wal-mart and grab a cheap pair of jeans and fix okay but you need to get a new pair because you current jean selection consist of holes and rips. Having a pair of jeans that actually fits you makes you feel sexy and comfortable. And the difference having a good pair of jeans makes on those tough days is insane. This is a must spend at least $50 or more on these jeans.

2. A nice meal. And I don’t mean head to Olive Garden and get the soup/salad combo and a nice glass of wine and expect that to count.  I’m talking about your plate alone is $50 of steak and potatoes or a fancy piece of fish… Food is usually the first thing we start trying to save money on when we’re pinching pennies, and after being neglected, your body and your tastebuds really need some love.  Yeah, get that kind of meal and remind your palate that the Top Ramen and spam is only temporary.

3. A mani/pedi. Ladies, most of us already know how essential a mani/pedi is when life drags you down. But this one is for the guys as well. Having someone else work on your hands and feet has to be one of the most soothing and calming things you can do. Besides, this one isn’t really that much money anyways.

4. A maid. This one is for everyone. I know that sometimes life just gets in the way and your dishes pile up, or the floor just keeps getting dirtier. And if you’re a parent you know that despite your best efforts, sometimes the house gets so out of control that you want to sit down and cry. There are times after I have had a crazy schedule for work/school/writing and Josh is the same that when I sit and look at the state of my house is just too much, and there isn’t a way I can get on top of it.This is when you grin and bear the call for a maid and ask them to deep clean for you. Even if its just a room. I promise you’ll come home and not want to touch anything. It will be so clean. So what I needed to see that day. Sometimes, I don’t know what it was about it, but that clean house gives you the oomph to jump back into everything else at full speed again.

5. An amazing dessert. For the dessert, pick a really fancy restaurant. Go sit at the bar. Don’t order any other food at all, then pick the best, most delicious looking dessert on the menu. It’ll probably cost you $10-$20. Who cares. You know that in real life you’re never going to order that kind of thing (let alone go out to eat), so go do it all by itself on a night that you need a win and do it for yourself.

6. A nice pair of underwear. Now this one is directly from Dan’s blog post but the way he says it is so perfect that I’m going to cheat and et you red his words.

“Have you ever spent $25-$35 on a single pair of underwear? Neither had I until I finally did (go figure). And I didn’t know what I was missing out on. The way it forms to your body, the way you don’t sweat and stink in it, the way you feel cool and fresh all day? It’s worth its weight in gold. And you really need only one really nice pair because you don’t need a really nice pair every day. Make them your special occasion underwear and wear them when you need them. Wear them on the days when you need good things to happen. It’s almost as if you can’t go wrong when you pull on a fresh, nice pair of undies.” – Single Dad Laughing

7. A nice pair of sunglasses. Now this one is usually hard for me cause I lose them or i don’t use them. But if you’re a sunglasses junkie this can end up paying for themselves. When you know you paid decent money for shades, you usually don’t lose them (unless you’re me). When you know you paid a dollar, you lose them pretty much weekly (totally me). This of course, can be a once every several years purchase if you can keep them around long enough.

8. Nice shampoo. NOW this one I 100% support. If your hair never feels nice, you are never going to feel nice.  At least once a year, you should spend roughly $45 on a bottle of shampoo. The best part is, it lasts quite while (if your hair isn’t crazy thick or long)because you need way less of it to get the job done. That, and you don’t need to wash your hair every day because it stays clean so much longer. The more I used the cheap $1 bottle shampoo, the grosser I always felt my hair was. It was tough, and rough, and heavy, and fuzzy, and not nice to touch at all. Switching to nicer stuff ultimately saved me money but it also saved me from a lot more bad hair days, which will make your days pinching pennies feel a little bit easier.

9. A good laugh. Unnecessary entertainment is also one of the first things to go when money gets really tight. But every once in awhile, you have to get out and laugh. It makes life so much more bearable and more fun. It makes not having money be nowhere near as bad as it should be. So it makes sense, to make sure that once each year, no matter how poor I am or how many pennies I’m counting to pay for bills, that I find a way to buy a halirious movie or perhaps tickets to a stand-up comedy show. Sometimes, laughter really is our best medicine and I believe that filling that hole is a good thing.

10. A fun night out. This one is much like #9, but slightly different. A fun night out me could be bowling, or mini golf, heck last night we went to see Ed Sheeran at Red Rocks and let me tell you it was worth every single penny I will have to pinch to make up for it. Every in and out of life can seem awful and never changing but planning one fun night out and letting go of your worries for just one night can be fantastic. It can be just the thing you need to kick that everyday feeling in the butt, and get that skip back in your step.

And that was my list. But note guys, non of these things should be done on the same days you do the other things.

Actually doing these things have affected me so much that I’m going to continue to do them. No matter what odd things I have to do to make them happen.

What’s funny is, when you start focusing on making sure you can have a taste of the finer things every once in a while, my finances and life started turning around and got better and better until I could keep my list, add to my list, and even repeat things on my list without hurting at all. Sometimes just writing it down and putting somewhere you can see it and follow it makes it happen.

Which is why, if you’re struggling with money, I would challenge you to make a list of your own. And keep it, no matter what you have to do to make it happen.

Except murder for hire  or dealing drugs. Don’t do that. I’ve seen enough TV shows to know that that never ends well for anyone.

There is just one life for each of us: our own. 

Euripides

-Brandy

p.s. Comments, please! What’d you think of the things on my list? What would you add to your list?

Bookbub- A Site for All Your Book Loving Needs.

For the Addicted Readers Like Me,

Now I understand there is a large percent of the world’s population who claims to hate reading. For those in that category- I am sorry. You need help. Go find a book and read it! For those like me, who don’t have enough hours in the day for reading I have found a great site to aid us!

Bookbub is a site with free or discounted books. I have been using it all for a month and have a pile of books I still need to get through! Now this is usually for the off-the-radar books, not the best seller current what is hot books. Just a heads up, but they are written by best sellers or well-known authors. So click here and check out what your missing.

There’s so much more to a book than just the reading.

Maurice Sendak

-Brandy

Oh yeah and a reminder that Gishwhes is coming up soon! Team KamikazeDivas needs more people! Register of the weirdest yet most amazing week of the year!

Writing Prompts for the Struggling Writer

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Readers and Writers and Internet Searchers Alike,

For those of us who put time aside each day to sit and bleed over a computer or a notebook. Or those who read constantly and want the chance to sit and create something beautiful. OR for those who just read that great article in your favorite magazine and want to know how hard it was for them to do it. I have complied a list of writing prompts to inspire anyone on any part of the journey of writing. Knowing what to write about has caught the best of us by surprise…

  • What scares you?
  • Do you have a Plan? Do you need a Plan? Have you had a plan fall spectacularly to pieces?
  • What is your take on soul mates?
  • Are you a worrier? Is there a particular worry that you can’t shake? How do you cope with worry?
  • Dear Past Me . . .
  • Dear Future Me . . .
  • Nobody knows that I . . .
  • Dear ____, it weighs on me that I never told you . . .
  • The biggest lie I’ve ever told is . . .
  • Is there anything you feel guilty about?  Is there anything you need to be forgiven for?
  • What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?
  • What’s your secret desire?
  • What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve ever done?
  • The most terrifying moment of my life was . . .
  • The most fun I’ve ever had . . .
  • The most surprised I’ve ever been . . .
  • The most disappointed I’ve ever been . . .
  • What are you looking forward to the most?
  • My saddest memory is  . . .
  • Some of the things that make me happy are . . .
  • How do you deal with anger?
  • How easy is it for you to forgive those who have caused you pain?
  • What is the dominant emotion in your life right now?
  • My favorite Sunday ritual . . .
  • The Holiday traditions I most look forward to . . .
  • Things I always did with my dad when I was small . . .
  • Things I always did with my mom when I was little . . .
  • If you could have dinner with anyone currently alive, who would it be?
  • If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be?
  • If you could change one thing about your present life, what would it be?
  • If you could live anywhere you wanted, where would you live?
  • If you could go back in time and change one things from your past, what would it be?
  • Who made you feel good this week?
  • What was the biggest mistake you made this week?
  • What did you do this week that moved you closer to reaching your goals?
  • Is there anything you did this week that you wish you’d done differently?
  • What did you most enjoy doing this week?
  • How did you procrastinate on important tasks this week?
  • What did you learn this week?
  • What’s the funniest thing that happened to you this week?
  • Write a letter to someone you need to forgive.
  • Write a letter to someone who believed in you even when you didn’t believe in yourself.
  • Write a letter to be read by each of your loved ones after you’ve passed away.
  • Write a fan letter to your favorite actor/actress.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your favorite magazine telling them what features you would like to see included in the magazine.
  • Is there something you’re reluctant to tell someone?  Write a letter to help y0u organize your thoughts.
  • What makes you unique?
  • How do you stand out from the crowd?
  • What are your best character traits?
  • What are you really good at?
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • How would your best friend describe you?
  • What character traits do you need to work on?
  • What are some of your idiosyncrasies?
  • How do you indulge yourself?  Do you need to indulge yourself more often?
  • How do you think others see you when they meet you for the first time?

Here is a list- there is a million more ideas out there. The first draft is always crap so get the words out at they come to you and worry about editing later.

Hopefully, this will help a few of you!

Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.

E. L. Doctorow

-Brandy

DIY Indoor Herb Garden

 

 Readers!

It’s exciting to work at Home Depot while I’m getting through school- the people there are amazing! Even more so, when you work there all these ideas come to mind to build make create.

Yesterday, I decided to create an indoor herb garden. Super easy to do. First you’ll need a few things:

  • Wire (or something like it)
  • Screws
  • Piece of wood (I just used a old piece laying around the garage)
  • Tea tin ( or mason jar or something else funky like that)
  • Seeds (or the plant which is what I used)
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Plants I used

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Tea Tins!

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First, I poked holes in the bottom of the tins to drain water, as well as in the back for easy removal. Then, I went ahead and screwed the back to be able to hang it. I added four more screws to the front for the tins.

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Hole to hold it in place and easy to remove to water

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Screws are in and it is hung on the wall!

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After I hung it up I placed the plants inside the tins leaving room of the hole I put in the back of it. Then I simply hung those on the screws on the wall. Easy!

Weekend project that takes less then an hour to complete and you can use a lot of things that yo already have at home.

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Final product!

 

Let me know if you have any weekend project ideas, or show me your herb garden:)

 

 

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

Marcus Tullius Cicero

 

-Brandy