Monthly Archives: October 2012

Book Review 2

It’s been longer than a month since I did a book review, so I figured it was time to write another one. I’m an eclectic reader and will read anything if it is interesting. I normally do not read memoirs. I don’t know why, maybe because I like fiction better. However, that being said, I have recently read a memoir that I liked.

Lucky Man: A Memoir by Michael J. Fox. Yes, I bought it because he is a celebrity. And I have never read any other celebrity memoir before. So this was a first for me. I bought it because I acknowledge Michael J. Fox’s contribution to making me laugh. I watched Family Ties, and Spin City. I enjoyed his movies. But he is also one of those celebrities that didn’t appear to be a douche. He always seemed to be genuine nice person. I could have been fooled but I don’t think I was. And his book seemed to confirm that.

Michael J. Fox doesn’t pull any punches. He shows us at his worst, when he is hung over, when he makes stupid mistakes and when he is taken in by the ‘Hollywood crazyland’. He shows us at his most vulnerable.

I enjoyed the glimpse of the real Hollywood. I got a glimpse of the inner works of some of my favorite shows without being stupid. I felt the pain of him finding out and could empathize with him. Although different, it still reminded me of my cancer diagnosis. His life is put under a microscope but he doesn’t do it in a whiny manner.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. If you watched Family Ties or Spin City or Teen Wolf or what was that one movie or series of movies…. What was it? Uh…. Back to the what? Or yeah. The future. Back To The Future. Michael J. Fox uses humor and keeps thing from getting too maudlin. I enjoyed it immensely.

And good luck to Michael J. Fox. We’re behind you, guy!

Stay tuned.

Angela Abderhalden is the author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and Acquiring Editor for Seventh Wave Books, LLC.

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Book List

Recently I was asked how I learned to write. I jokingly replied, “In grade school.” Seriously though, it did start in grade school. My first short story I wrote in fifth grade. I still have it. It was called ‘The Monster In The Alley’. It had suspense, mystery, lots of showing and not telling and a twist at the end. Okay, it wasn’t all that great, but it had potential and it did have all of the above, just not very well written.

I did taking composition in high school. And I was an English major in college. However, I’ve never had any real writing ‘instruction’. So how did I learn? The best teachers were other authors. From when I could read to this very day, I’m a voracious reader. I read everything. No, I’m not kidding. If it keeps my attention, I read it. Any genre, fiction or non-fiction.

And included in that reading, I read every writing book I could get my hands on. Not genre specific either. I literally read every writing book in the Boise Library system. (I don’t live in the area anymore but they have an excellent selection.) I also began buying those books that I found particularly helpful. I studied, and restudied them. To this day I usually reread them about once a year or so.

So today I’ve listed the best of my book shelf here for you. These aren’t all of them and they aren’t my genre specific writing books.

First there is a series that I love. Elements of Fiction Writing by Writer’s Digest
Plot by Ansen Dibell
Beginnings, Middles & Ends by Nancy Kress
Conflict and Suspense by James Scott Bell
Scene & Structure by Jack M. Bickham
Description by Monica Wood
Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card

The Comic Toolbox by John Vorhaus
The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler
Teach Yourself Body Language by Gordon R Wainwright
The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go by Les
The Chicago Manual of Style by University of Chicago Press Staff

That’s just one shelf. I have a whole shelf of just mystery writing and reference books to help with writing mysteries. I also have a number of books for inspiration from other writers; the best one by Stephen King, On Writing.

So there, you have a glimpse of my book shelf.

Stay tuned.

Angela Abderhalden is the author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and Acquiring Editor for Seventh Wave Books, LLC

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Active vs. Passive

It’s the fight of the century! Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! Come and see the pugilist fight that has been going on for centuries. Who will win? Come find out.

Sorry, it’s been a long day and I was being silly, but the fact remains… Active has been fighting Passive since man began writing. For beginners, let’s start of with the basics. What is the definition of both active and passive?

Active simply put is thing doing the action + verb + thing receiving the action.
Passive simply put is thing receiving the action + (be) + verb + (by) + thing doing action.

By looking at nothing else by the simply explanation, you can see that the active uses less words and is faster (hence the reason it’s called active). The passive uses more words, longer sentences, doesn’t engage the reader and can be vague.

Let’s look at an example:
Active: Bill hit the ball. We see that…. Bill (thing doing the action) hit (verb) the ball (thing receiving the action).
Passive: The ball was hit by Bill. We see that…. The ball (thing receiving the action) was (a form of be) hit (verb) by Bill (the thing doing the action).

Active moves the story along. It engages the reader. It will use showing not telling (remember from last blog?). This is important to keep the reader reading. And it can still be improved. Let’s think about it. Bill hit the ball. Boring. Bill slugged the ball. Bill ruptured the ball. Bill thwacked the ball.

Passive voice uses the ‘be’ words. Try to eliminate ‘be’ words when you can. Use active verbs for better sentence structure and easier reading. It’s okay to have some passive sentences or to use some ‘be’ words. Just be judicious with them in your writing.

Many times passive writing is used in reports and more scientific writing. But in fiction, especially in genre fiction it is best to use active sentences. Active sentences make the story interesting. Interesting stories sell better. And that is what most of us are after… to sell tons of books, make lots of money and write full time.

Active might just equal more money!

Stay tuned.

Angela Abderhalden is the Author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and is an Acquiring Editor for Seventh Wave Books, LLC.

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Show, Don’t Tell

If you’ve been a writer for more than a few days, you’ve heard the saying, ‘Show, don’t tell.” It’s one of those things that every writer hears- over and over and over again. It’s an axiom, a chant, a truth… a law.

And although some laws are made to be broken, don’t break this law. At least most of the time. As a new or beginning author, you need, no you must have this law on your mind at all times. Here’s why- Show is active. It engages the reader in the story. Telling is passive. It doesn’t make the reader part of the story. (More about active versus passive in another blog real soon.)

Let me give you an example:

John was mad. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Wally had tried to calm him down but John wouldn’t listen.

“What?” John slammed the door and stalked over to Wally’s desk. He deliberately placed both hands flat on the desk, leaning closer to Wally. “What are you talking about? How can-”
“Calm down, man,” Wally said holding his hands out, palms toward John. “It isn’t that bad. The last thing-”
“Calm down! Calm down! That contract was mine. That little weasel-”
“John, would you listen to me! The contract is still yours. Fred only went-”
John pounded a fist on the desk cutting Wally off. The red flash brightened on John’s cheeks. His voice deepened even as it ratcheted up a notch in volume. “No one is supposed to work my contracts. No one!”

Do you see the difference? The first one, telling, doesn’t engage the reader in the story. Very passive. Is the reader caught up in the action in the telling? No.

But with the showing, the reader gets involved in the action. The reader figures out that John is mad and won’t listen. The reader might even put themselves in the scene because everyone can relate to being this mad at something. You are engaging the reader in the story. Absolutely vital.

Since the reader is engaged they are less likely to put the book down or stop reading. And this is something that you never, ever want your reader to do.

Stay tuned.

Angela Abderhalden is the author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and is an Acquiring Editor for Seventh Wave Books, LLC.

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