Thursday Thought-Self Help: Dear Writer, You Need to Quit

Dear Writer, You Need to Quit  by Becca Syme is not a book about writing. Instead, the book is a manual for writers. Syme, who is a Gallup certified Clifton Strengths coach, has focused her training on helping authors. The individuals creating the books.

The key word is individual.

One size fits all is a myth created because standardizing is easier than dealing with differences. The theory  doesn’t work for clothes, hats, or writing methods. Even standardized sizes are wishful thinking. Ask any woman who has ever purchased a bra. Why should writing style be different?

They’re not. Syme believes in alignment: creating an individual strategy based on how the author is wired. My own critique group is a microcosm of writing styles; from a woman who writes 30-page synopses, to someone who does some character work, some scene work, and has a rough outline, to someone who sits down to write by the seat of her pants.

Syme points out and repeats there is no right way to write, that we each not only need to accept our writing style–what works best for us–but also embrace it. Not only embrace our uniqueness, but work to strengthen our methods. Strategies for the organized writer will not work for an organic author.

A plus-sized woman dreaming of breast reduction surgery wouldn’t consider buying and wearing a 32A  bra. Why would an intuitive writer believe she should write a detailed outline of the book she’s writing? The fit won’t work.

Bob Dylan is a musical genius, but that doesn’t mean his Christmas album or covers of Sinatra standards were great. Or even good. Those styles aren’t his strength.

If you can imagine Stephen King writing category romance, you have a better imagination than I do.

The point is writers need to quit practices that don’t align with their strengths. Quit working against your wiring and work with it. You’ll be amazed at the results.


Book Review-Linda Howard: Drop Dead Gorgeous

Image credit: tieury / 123RF Stock Photo

Drop Dead Gorgeous is the second book in a two-part series Linda Howard wrote in first person.  The heroine. Blair Mallory, is a ditzy but savvy former cheerleader who now owns her own health club. (See my July 9, 2020 blog for info on the first book.) 

Drop Dead Gorgeous picks up where To Die For ends. Someone else is trying to kill Blair, but her detective now-fiance (Wyatt) doesn’t believe her.  We get to see how Blair and Wyatt resolve their problems . . . and stop another murderer before it’s too late.

The brisk pacing  and laugh-out-loud moments make this an easy but compelling read.

I use one line I stole from the book all the time in my personal life:

“How many pairs of <<insert color here>> shoes do you need?”

“One more pair than I already have.”



Thursday Thought: Self-Help: Make Your Creative Dreams Real

For several years, I was “into” SARK. Believe it or not, Positivity is one of my strengths, and SARK is very much into being positive. I love her bright colors and creative drawings.

When I saw her book Make Your Creative Dreams REAL in a bookstore I naturally had to purchase it. Like the more popular The Artists Way, the book is broken into twelve parts–in this case, months, not weeks. When I decided to follow the outline, I broke each month into weeks.

Unlike TAW, there is a lot of external reading involved.  Fortunately, my local library system had most of the books. I even purchased at least three that I loved so much I knew I would want to read them again. Since SARK’s book is copyrighted 2004, many of the books are no longer in the library. Many aren’t even available (except as used) on Amazon.  But I learned a lot from the books. It’s funny now, because I belong to a “reading club” and many of the books we’re supposed to read are either books from SARK’s reading list or rehashes of same.

There are also a lot of Internet links in the book. Many of the urls were no long active even when I did the year of introspection.

But the book is more than a reading list and websites. There’s a ton of introspection involved. I journaled my way through the book.

SARK is also a proponent of what she calls “micromovements.” I call them chunks. I call it eating a whole bear by myself–one bite at a time (thank you Julie Garwood). Don’t look at the whole picture at once, but break it down into do-able pieces. I live by this philosophy.

So even though the reading list is outdated and the website links are history, I still recommend this book for anyone wanting to define what it is they want from life and how to make that dream happen.


Book Review-Karen Robards: Vanished

Image credit: tieury / 123RF Stock Photo

Every parent’s worst nightmare. You and your child are in a public place and then . . . your child is gone. Vanished. 

This book deals with the delicate, agonizing topic of a child gone missing. It also deals with the ultimate betrayal by trusted people. Robards handles the terrifying scenario with her usual attention to detail and emotion. If you have any humanity in you at all, you will weep with the heroine and root for her success in finding her daughter, no matter how long it takes.  No matter how long the kidnapper tortures you.

Five stars.

Thursday Thought-Self Help: A Whack on the Side of the Head

Years ago, in my incarnation as a local TV worker bee, I went to a conference for promotion and marketing types. I wasn’t really a promo person, but the TV station’s general manager decided that since I was a writer, I could do the station’s promo. I was also a smoker in those days. I didn’t know anyone at the conference, but struck up conversations with people in the smoking section of the lobby.  Net working with those folks was more valuable than the workshops.

I ended up with my very first laptop as a result of that conference (and when I left the station, I negotiated the laptop as part of my package). And I learned about A Whack on the Side of the Head.

The book isn’t self-help for personal or even profession growth in the traditional sense. There is no advice about how to manage your in box, your email, or delegating to your underlings (of if there is, the rest outweighs the arrogance). Instead, Whack is about learning to look at situations from another angle. Turning problems upside down, sideways, and inside out. Stretching the limitations of your creativity.

I rushed home and ordered the book and the Creative Whack Pack from Amazon.  The Whack Pack, according to my favorite on-line merchant, is going or has gone out of print. It’s a deck of cards using the methods/ideas from the book to assist in choosing a method to deal with your situation. Example: I just drew the SUBSTITUTE card. There is a small blurb, then the question: “What can you substitute?” The purpose is to not only get the reader to think outside the box, but in some cases, destroy the box.

The book is full of gems, such as “Sacred cows make great steaks.” (Richard Nicolosi, businessman), and “All art is a series of recoveries from the first line. The hardest thing to do is put down the first line. But you must.” (Nathan Olivera, artist).

The book is from 1983, so parts of it are dated, especially when it comes to technology, but the premises are sound. And I believe it has been updated and expanded.