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Grit for the Oyster: 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers

Thanks to the authors–Suzanne Woods Fisher, Debora M. Coty, Faith Tibbetts McDonald, and Joanna Bloss–of Grit for the Oyster: 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers and Dorothy Thompson at Pump Up Your Book Promotion for sending me this inspirational writing guide for amateur writers.

This book meshes scripture from the Bible with inspirational quotes from published authors and writers as well as questions writers should ask themselves about their own writing and writing careers. I would equate this book to a writer’s devotional. It is broken down into a sometimes personal or inspirational story from the author of each section, a prayer fashioned for writers, a reflection, and a set of quotes from authors, publishers, agents, and others.

There are several references to Anne Lamont, author of Bird by Bird, and other published authors.

A couple of prominent tips in the beginning pages of this book include

1. Outlining the three steps amateur writers can take to become more qualified at their own craft.

2. Seek inspiration in the ordinary world and among ordinary people.

In “No More Detours,” Joanna Bloss has some great tips for writers who have ADD, or the inability to focus on one project at a time. Rather than write like type-A personality writers who have set numbers of words to write per day, Bloss recommends ADD writers work on more than one piece of writing at a time and gradually finishing each one by the deadline. Learn to prepare the writing space first, ridding the atmosphere of noises and tasks that are unfinished. Writers also should remember to connect with other writers and hold one another comfortable. (pg. 29)

Here’s a sample quote from this section from author Kristin Billerbeck:

“Now get busy, go write and quit making excuses. A badly finished manuscript can be fixed. A blank sheet of paper? Not so much.” (pg. 31)

My caveat to this would be that a blank sheet of paper can be remedied as well, you simply have to write!

In “Will Work for Words” by Debora Coty, there is some great advice about writing on a freelance basis for money. I will share this quote with you: “Do not be squelched by low pay rates. View nothing as beneath you, and consider each publishing experience as a step up to the next level.” (pg. 35)

Section one of the book is a vast outline of how to start writing and remain motivated as a beginning writer. For me this section of the book was a bit long, but other writers may need this kind of motivational pep talk. The nuggets of information in this section are helpful for Christian writers as well as those of other faiths.

There are some sections of this book that preached to the reader about the righteous path of writing, which could limit the outreach potential for this book. Writing is a way to express oneself and to say that writing about sex in romance novels is not the right path is to limit that self expression. In this respect, this writer’s guide falls short for me.

However, some of the tips on how to remain motivated and inspired are eye-opening. For instance, Joanna Bloss indicates that some writers are more productive at certain times than others, but what they accomplish in their off-times is as equally important as what they accomplish when their writing productivity is high. Most importantly, Debora Coty suggests each writer take a Cyber Sabbath or time away from writing and the computer to provide balance to his/her life. I agree, without time away, how will you gain perspective on what you’ve already written? How will you have gained new experiences to supplement and breath life into your writing? You can’t. Take a break. Breathe in the fresh air, then get back to work.

Interested in Grit for the Oyster? Want to win a copy? Feel free to leave a comment about this review and why you want to read this book or discuss your biggest fears as a blogger and/or writer. Deadline is November 30; Randomizer.org will choose a winner for December 1.


Check out some announcements I made on Sunday!

Explore Hidden Hawaii



Ray Riegert’s Hidden Hawaii published by Ulysses Press incorporates full-bleed photos ranging from the Pacific Ocean to lava flows on the outside and inside of the book. I claimed this travel guide from the Mini Book Expo for Bloggers because my husband and I have been talking about a vacation to Hawaii since before we got married six years ago. Ideally, that would have been our honeymoon of choice, but money was unavailable at the time for that kind of vacation, so we went somewhere closer for our honeymoon–Jamaica. Now that we are older and wiser and are willing to plan ahead, we are looking toward our goal, Hawaii, and hopefully, Kauai.

This travel guide is larger than I would like to take along with me on the streets as a handbook for exploration, but then again I carry a large SLR and other photographic equipment. However, this book does have a lot to offer tourists interested in a trip to the island chain.

The white and green pages provide readers with a crisp, clean page to read, and the contents are broken down by island–Oahu, Big Island, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, and Kauai. One of the best parts of this travel guide is that it not only tells the reader the touristy locations that are “must see,” but also the hidden aspects of the islands. For instance, in Waikiki, one of the most well-known attractions is Diamond Head. One of the hidden treasures of Waikiki highlighted in the book, which peaked my interest, is Queen Kapiolani Hibiscus Garden where tour buses do not have a place to stop, but tourists can spend the day picnicking in splendor.

Hidden Hawaii not only describes the major hotel chains in Hawaii, but also some of the smaller hotels and bed and breakfasts. It contains green and white maps broken down by particular regions and various coastlines, which will help tourists orient themselves. Some of the maps outline streets, and many of them are dotted with attractions.

I would love to see the Star of the Sea Painted Church on the Big Island for myself, which is another of the hidden treasures that can be found in this book. According to the book, a Belgian priest painted murals of religious scenes inside the church, which reminded me of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling in Italy painted by Michelangelo. This church must be a sight to see.

From outdoor activities like kayaking in the ocean to hiking to tennis, this book has something for everyone, even those just interested in lying on the beaches and getting a suntan. There are favorite tourist night spots and those that are hidden.

My husband and I enjoyed looking through the book and picking out the hidden spots and the more well-known spots we would like to see on our trip someday, but we were a bit disappointed that there weren’t too many photos of the islands, the parks, destinations, museums, activities, and the like. All of the photos in the book are at the beginning. If I had to pick a drawback, that would be it.

This book is for tourists interested in the hidden side of the islands and the tourist attractions. I would recommend it as a starting guide for a trip to Hawaii.

***Please do not forget to enter the Mrs. Lieutenant Contest, Deadline is Sept. 14.***

***Diary of an Eccentric has a contest for The Almost Moon and The Choice; Deadline is Sept. 30.***

Charanavi and Animal Fortune-Telling

Masahiro Tsurumoto‘s Charanavi is a book I received from one of J. Kaye’s Book Blog Raffle. I’ve had fun with it ever since. The premise of the book is to explore your own personality and improve your relationships through animal fortune-telling.

This psychological theory was introduced in Japan in 2000 and has grown in popularity since then crossing language and cultural barriers. It gained popularity in the United States in 2003. It is now taught in college courses and among companies, which use it as a communication tool.

The book is a simple read and helps the reader easily locate their animal character based upon their birth date and simple mathematical formula. After quickly running through the formula, I discovered I am the Lovable Wolf or “living common sense.” Along with my animal character, I learn that I belong in the Earth group, which is equivalent to scissors. What does all this mean? I’ll let you read the book to figure that out, but I will tell you that it has a lot to do with how well communications progress between character groups.

The book continues to breakdown the Earth, Moon, and Sun groups into behavioral patterns, and for me as an Earth Group member, I tend to be goal-oriented and practical.

The book also aims to help readers learn how to navigate communication with their partners and loved ones based upon their animal characters and tendencies. In the latter portion of the book, there are practical guides to use in conversation, business settings, and at parties. There is even a chart to help a single male or female discover which animal personality is the best “love” match.

It’s been a fun book to read and learn about the animal personalities. I cannot vouch for its accuracy in terms of practical application. I recommend anyone interested in various philosophies or communication tools check this book out.