Thursday, October 1, 2015

Book Review by M. J. Joachim: September Sky by John Heldt

Historically speaking, September Sky was an interesting tale about the hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900. As time travelers go, the characters were interesting enough, and the story was definitely engaging, in a soap opera sort of way. 

My biggest problem with the book is that it was a little bit choppy, like the waves that must have crashed into Galveston during the hurricane. Short, curt sentences interrupted the natural flow I fully expected would be there. Redundant uses of first names of the characters, when pronouns would easily have made things a lot smoother and easier to read.

None of this took away from the story, however. It just got to be a little bit annoying after a while, making it easy to put the book down whenever I needed to. I’d sit for different stretches of time, fully intending to read at a good pace and get my book review finished in a timely manner. Not so timely, as I let quite a few things prevent me from reading, because it was easier to read in short stretches and I really could put it down without difficulty.

Overall, I liked this story quite a lot, in part because I learned a bit of history I never knew before. The transition from 2016 to 1900 was remarkable too, and gave me quite a bit to think about. Life certainly has changed; there’s nothing like a good time travel book to make one sit up and notice.

September Sky is a decent book for the casual reader, if you want to give it a try. I wasn’t over the moon about it, but then again, I might be a little pickier than the average reader too.

Happy reading and writing everyone,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Family Dynamics and Politics by M. J. Joachim

Life happens and then we blog about it. I’m finally finding time to read September Sky by John Heldt. I’m up to Chapter 10 and hope to finish the entire book this weekend. My book review for it will follow. Considering I need to take it easy a bit because I hurt my back last week, that should be no problem. I’m sitting still more than I have in months, all to try and immobilize my back a bit, because I simply have no other choice if I want it to heal properly. 

I’ve been all over Facebook lately, commenting on the Iran Deal and Planned Parenthood atrocities. I’ve made many of my posts regarding these public, because I think it might raise awareness. In the process of finding out about these things, I ended up following a whole bunch of senators, state representatives, governors and other government officials. This led to the discovery that Obama was working with the EPA to try and take over all water rights. Thirteen states filed a lawsuit, mine among them, and won. Water rights in these states will not be ruled by the Feds. I definitely had a few things to say about that, and it prompted me to start sharing the Constitution section by section, as I’m able. I’m up to Article 1, Section 7. If you’d like to connect with me on Facebook, look up Teresa DePoy and add me as a friend. I have a beautiful Arizona sunset as my picture.

The last seven months or so have been dominated by family. There have been five or six moves, with one more to come in another month or so, and then one more in December. That’s a lot of moving. Thankfully, the family home is the same one we’ve had since the kids were little. Though the occupants in the rooms have been bouncing around like a guy on a bungee cord. I’m sitting in one of the bedrooms that we made into an office a few weeks ago. It’s nice, but every once in a while, I take my computer out to the kitchen and work. Guess I got used to all the traffic and noise out there.

I’ve added a couple of books to my Amazon author page, and I currently have three more books in progress. I’m hoping to get at least one of them published before the holidays. When I’ve had the time, I work on my books instead of blogging. Time has not been easy to come by, and making it is so much harder than it looks lately.

I’ve missed you all. So much has happened since January 2015. Life is like that sometimes and I’ve realized you just have to go with the flow, because the waves are going to hit you whether you’re ready or not. I like to body surf when the waves keep rolling in like that. It’s about the only way I know to keep my sanity.

Please comment and catch me up on how you all are doing. I miss you and hope it’s all good news. Not to worry if it isn’t. I’ll add you to my prayer list and keep you and your intentions in my heart.

Guess I better get back to the couch and my reading now. Sitting on the computer at my desk for long periods of time won’t be very easy for a few more days, I’m afraid.

Best to all,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Plants in the Bujuku Valley, Manuel Werner, CCA Share Alike 2.5 Generic License

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Book Review: Chinese Recipes 500, Contributing Editor Jenni Fleetwood

by M. J. Joachim

Because I received Chinese Recipes 500 as a gift several years ago, I’ve had the unique pleasure of making several of the recipes inside, some more than once or twice. I’ve always been a big fan of oriental food, and this book makes it easy to prepare many of my favorite dishes.

The ingredients are readily available in most supermarkets. Substitution of these ingredients is relatively easy to do, without compromising taste. I use gluten free everything because I have celiac. I also substitute spicy peppers with bell peppers and sometimes, I swap out meat depending on what’s in my fridge already.

The directions are clear and extremely easy to follow, and the pictures are enough to tempt me into cooking oriental food on a fairly regular basis, much to my family’s delight.

If you enjoy oriental food, you’ll probably also really enjoy this cookbook. It’s truly wonderful and I look forward to making many more dishes as the years go by.

Thanks so much for visiting Writing Tips today,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Book Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

by M. J. Joachim

Character development is the primary focus of Insurgent, the second book in the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. Divergent, the first book, laid forth the groundwork, set the scene and introduced the characters, both living and deceased, introducing a sort of history, if you will, of direction, prophecy, dialog and intrigue for all concerned.

Insurgent further explores the characters, exposing how they handle grief, failure and hope for the future. It provides an in-depth view of how each character interacts with each other, and why, based on introductions to such things in the first book of the series. Readers will easily relate to being haunted by the past and those who have gone before us, as well as how we deal with our memories - both pleasant and not-so-pleasant, which guide us into our dreams for the future and how we hope to see it unfold.

So far this series has left me completely satisfied, both as a reader and a writer. It is a worthwhile study of how to meld characters and transition from one book to another, without leaving the audience shaking their heads or feeling like let down from the less than stellar ending that may or may not get readers picking up the next book in the series. I’m already reading Allegiant and look forward to reading Four, the last two books in this series.

On a more personal note, I want to thank all of you who are patiently sending books for me to review. The pile continues to grow, and I’m forging my way through it as much as time allows. Currently, I’m in transition, getting used to a new schedule which includes a variety of activities away from the computer. As a normal routine develops from this, I anticipate a much more regular blogging schedule to follow in turn. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

All my best to you,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: US Copyright Fair Use Law

Friday, April 10, 2015

Book Review: Squat the Robot? by Pat Hatt

by M. J. Joachim

If you’re a fan of It’s Rhyme Time, Pat’s blog, you’ll likely enjoy Squat the Robot and its quirky characters. I scratched my head a few times, rereading as necessary to make sense of the rhyme. A robot society, an affair and oh yes, Creepy Cupid make this poem rather curious.

I’ve already expressed a few curiosities  about Pat, and with the mention of Pat and his band as a character in this book, well, I have to wonder if perhaps I really wasn’t onto something.

This is definitely an adult book, in my opinion, and it is fun to read, not as good as some of his other books. I really enjoyed Cassie and the Honk of Zagonk. I also like the Rebirth of Dino Earth. These were all children’s books, so maybe that’s the difference. At any rate, if you’re a fan of Pat Hatt like I am, you’ll probably get a kick out of Squat the Robot? Pat’s got a style all his own, and if you like it, you can’t go wrong reading this book.

Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting Writing Tips today. I’d love to hear your thoughts on Pat’s poetry and books. Please take a moment to comment and let me know you stopped by. I’ll be only too happy to come and visit your blog too.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Creating New Content through Theme Blogging

by M. J. Joachim

Theme blogging is one way to consistently have new ideas for pages on your blog. When your blog is built around a theme, it is easy to come up with new content, because as long as it relates to the theme, you can do a search if you don’t already have an idea for each page you create. Doing searches regularly is also a good idea, because it helps you produce current content on your pages, as opposed to yesterday’s news. Evergreen content, or information that won’t change over time, can be made into new pages as the idea develops and is transposed into new page content.

Quality research makes a world of difference when creating new pages for your blog. Making quality content requires due diligence, research, fact checking (preferably with an open mind) and appropriate editing and proofreading prior to publishing new pages on your blog.

Generating blog series is a limited form of theme blogging, which enables you to make multiple posts centered around a specific topic related to the overall theme of your blog. This blog is about writing tips. Consequently, I created book and movie review pages, poetry analysis and creative writing pages here, along with general writing tips which can be anything writing related. A gardening blog might include general information about gardening. Within this theme, series might include plant species, pest control, climate zones and edible gardens that might include recipes for each plant mentioned.

Theme blogging is one way to ensure you never run out of ideas or content. When you have a lot of ideas and content to create, it’s easy to publish multiple pages each day. It’s helpful to have some sort of system to keep track of these ideas. This might be as easy as opening a note on your desktop and posting your ideas with a couple of reference links.

Theme blogging and producing blog series also makes it easier to organize your blog, similar to a traditional website. Once you have enough related content, you can make pages at the top of your blog and place related links on them. While this adds one more step when you create a new page, because you should publish and post the link to your new article on its page, it also makes it easier for visitors to easily find content on your blog.

Is your blog centered around a theme? Do you publish series related to that theme, in an effort to increase content and develop new ideas for your pages? Based on blogs you visit, what are some of your favorite blog themes? Do you think having a theme makes it easier or more difficult to create new content for your blog?

Thanks so much for visiting Writing Tips today. I hope I’ve inspired you to create lots of new content for your blog, and have given you a few ideas on how to create new content.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Pixabay, reverent, CCO-Public Domain

Making Web Pages on Your Blog

by M. J. Joachim

Bloggers create web pages every time they publish content. Keeping this in mind, each blogger has a unique ability to publish superior content, often capable of building their own reputation as an expert in a specific area, niche or field. Publishing often only increases this opportunity.

Blogs are informative and interactive, whereas stereotypical websites are deemed static and disengaging. Websites often use blogs to create the connection that is missing with their audience, when they create unchanging, evergreen content. Blogs can create the same type of evergreen content, keeping in mind that their pages are dynamic, often inviting comments, discussion and conversation to follow.

When you create a website, it is highly unlikely you will only publish one page at a time. Rather, you will build your website, with lots of pages, prior to publishing it as a whole, unique and interesting site intended to attract lots of visitors. Blogging starts out one page at a time, but soon evolves into dozens, then hundreds and even thousands of pages. The speed at which it does this is up to each individual blogger.

Growing your blog and its content can take as much or as little time as you want or need. Posting once a day works well for steady blog growth, while posting less frequently is adequate if one is not too worried about blog growth. However, maximum growth can easily be achieved by posting often, because the more often you post, the more search engines will ping your blog and its content, thus sending more traffic to your blog.

As you get more traffic, if your content is superior, you will also gain followers and comments on your blog, and if you monetize your blog, chances are you will also earn a few extra pennies by posting more often. Monetizing your blog does not mean hard selling to your audience, as tempting as this might be. Websites are often designed to be sales sites, whereas blogs are more informal and are meant to be a means to engage with your audience. Hard selling to your audience will likely detract from this goal, especially if every frequent post of yours is nothing less than a sales pitch camouflaged as a blog post.

Provided your content is solid and your presentation is easy to understand, posting often is not a problem for your blog. It stands to reason that if you don’t have anything worthy to post, or you don’t have time to construct a well planned and thought out blog post, you probably should skip posting until you do. If this means you don’t post every day or even a few times a week, or if this means there’s no way you can post multiple times each day, then don’t worry about it. Blogging is not the be all, end all of anyone’s life. As long as you enjoy it, and post if and when it works for you, that’s all that really matters.

I hope this information helps you in your blogging ventures. Please share your thoughts about blogging frequently in the comments. How often do you post? What are some of your blogging goals? Are you achieving your goals? Why or why not?

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I always look forward to your visits.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Pixabay, Kevin King, CC0-Public Domain