Friday Fun – One Perfect Thing

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: What is one perfect thing in your life? Not a person, but an item you own that is simply your favorite. Author Deborah Crombie’s is an Emma Bridgewater teapot. Hallie Ephron’s is a red fleece coat she’s had for over 20 years.

wendy-shotWendy Thomas – you know the mom in me wants to say my kids, all of them. But I get what is being asked here and this is a tough one because I am a very tactile person. I love to have *things.* My things remind me of experiences and at times, just holding one can calm me down. I’d say that the items I’ve had the longest at some of my most perfect things – the tiny felted witch doll that stands and looks over my writing, a bottle of perfume I got when I was in Paris, the china teacup my son got me for my birthday that reads, “I love you this much”, the trolls saved from my childhood, and a stone with the word “strength” engraved on it are all on my top  10 list.

hennrikus-web2Julie Hennrikus: I have a necklace that I wear several times a week. It is a Betsy Johnson, and I got it on wicked sale. I almost passed it by, but my mother made me buy it. “If anyone can pull that off, it’s you.” She was right. It has lots of different colored beads on wires, and is a strong piece that goes with anything. In my younger days, I wore pearls every day and had red hair. These days the hair is white, but the beads have a ton of color.

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: I love things that are useful, so right now I’d say my perfect item is the jog-stroller I’ve been using to run with my son since he was about a year old. He’s going to outgrow it soon, so that makes it a little more special. I know the days are numbered when I can run with my son–until he starts running along next to me, that is!




LisaJJackson_2014Lisa_oldManLisa J. Jackson: Mine is a 16″ x 20″ counted cross stitch creation I spent a couple of years stitching as a teen. I had it professionally framed and it’s always in a prominent room so I can see it every day. The image is a weathered old bearded fisherman in yellow slicker and hat, smoking a pipe, looking at an unknown view. It’s a combination of the image that originally captured my attention, and knowing how many hours of stitching I did by counting every little square that makes it special. I love seafaring stories and this image leaves a lot to my imagination.

This Saturday I’ll be meeting with a small group of writers to retreat from our normal lives and our normal writing practices to write in a different way. Here are some thoughts on how and why to take a little time to retreat from your regular (writing) life.

My Top Three Reasons for Going on a Writing Retreat:

  1. To re-engage with my creativity.
  2. To connect with my inner voice.
  3. To play.

The Three Essential Ingredients to a Writer’s Retreat (in my opinion):

  1. Make the time. Schedule your writing retreat on your calendar, in code if you have to. (If someone sees “Root Canal,” they probably won’t ask you to reschedule!)
  2. Set your intention. Create the expectation within your body, mind, and spirit that you are about to take an important action on your own behalf.
  3. Go to a place where you won’t be interrupted with the mundane tasks of daily life. Stay home if everyone else is out (and you can ignore the laundry), but go out if everyone else is home. A coffee shop is a great place to retreat, as long as you aren’t close enough to others that their words are distracting. Sometimes it’s great to overhear other people’s dialogue; sometimes it can drown out your own voice.

Writing Warm Up:

My favorite way to “warm up” to writing is to do timed flow writing. Here’s how:

  1. Get out a journal or open up a document on your computer (I prefer a journal for this kind of writing.)
  2. Put the date at the top of the page.
  3. Set a timer for 5 minutes and close your eyes as you press “Start,” or just check your watch for the time and close your eyes.
  4. Take a deep breath and open your eyes. Whatever object your eyes fall on, use that as the beginning of your entry.
  5. Start writing and don’t stop until the timer goes off or you see that the time has advanced 5 minutes on your watch. Don’t edit or correct spelling, just keep the pen moving. If you don’t know what to write, write “I don’t know what to write” over and over until another thought comes to you.
  6. Once you’ve stopped writing, put a topic note next to the date at the top of the entry, as this will help you find the entry again if you want to use something from it.
  7. Repeat steps 1-6, perhaps increasing the time to 10 or 15 minutes.


Before you return to your normal daily life, take a few moments to write down what you feel you gained from spending some time in retreat with your writing. Plan to reward yourself in some small way for honoring your writing self. A couple of my favorite rewards are a hot bath or a latte, but you will know what’s the best reward for you.

So, when’s your next writing retreat?

I have a couple of spots still open for my One-Day Writing Retreat this Saturday, September 20, 2014, at the Radisson Hotel in Nashua, NH. Please click here for more information and to register. I’d love to see you there!

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: is a writer, blogger, life coach, physician, mother, and stepmother. I’m getting my writing done little by little, with the occasional hours long stretch–it’s working for me, although I’m really looking forward to my writing retreat this Saturday because, while I’m hosting, I also get to do some writing. It’s a win-win! You can find my blog at www.dianemackinnon.com/blog.


I wish I could recall which of the masters painted this piece. If anyone knows, please let me know in the comments.

I wish I could recall which of the masters painted this piece. If anyone knows, please let me know in the comments.

Are you fascinated by other people’s writing habits and routines? I am. There’s a great series on Copyblogger called The Writer Files that profiles the writing lives of different business writers and authors. I hardly ever miss an installment.

I’m a sucker for the allure of the writerly way.

Though I love knowing who uses Scrivener vs. who uses a yellow legal pad and a blue felt-tip pen, I think as writers we have a penchant for getting overly caught up in the romance of the craft. We are, most of us, confessed addicts when it comes to new notebooks and writing utensils. We each of us crave a room of our own and aren’t shy about drooling (metaphorically or literally) over another writer’s creative space. We believe in the magic that comes with a lucky pencil, the inspiring scent of a particular candle, or a certain time of day. If you asked us to speak incantations over a shrine to the written word, we would hardly hesitate.

In short, we are disciples of the writing ritual. And, there’s nothing wrong with that. I love ritual as much (or more) than the next writer. Ritual is a sort of emotional preparation. Your ritual sets the stage for good, writerly things to happen. It gives you the right “feeling” and invites your muse to come out and play. On hard days, ritual can sometimes be the thing that tricks your mind into cooperating. Unfortunately, a writing ritual will not always work. By it’s nature, ritual is a bit intangible. You go through the motions – arranging things just so – but they may or may not get you to where you want to go. Ritual is, despite its best intentions, not always 100% effective.

Process, on the other hand, is a tool you can count on.

Where ritual taps into the “woo-woo” side of writing, process speaks to the “professionals-just-get-it-done” side . A process is predictable, repeatable, and it does not depend on the cooperation of your emotions. Ritual offers you a sense of hope by making offerings to the gods of writing along with a silent plea for literary brilliance. Process is a plan of attack. It is a tactical strategy. It’s how you can get things done … no matter what.

A process is a way to break “writing” down into a set of smaller, less daunting tasks. It sort of dissects how you get from idea to finished piece so that you can see the machinations behind the magic. It helps you to harness your creativity so that you are better able to direct it. DON’T WORRY – a process will not steal your creative soul. It will not rob your work of spontaneity. A process does not change the content or style of what you’re writing. It’s just a tool to help you write more easily and productively.

Let’s look at an example.  

Whether I’m writing an essay, a feature piece, or a website page for a copywriting client, my process is always pretty much the same and it looks something like this:

  1. Define the goals for the piece. No matter the piece, I’m always trying to make a point by giving my reader the answer to the question, “So what?” Getting as clear as possible about how my piece will answer that question before I start writing is a big part of what saves me from late nights of endless rewrites. Looking at the piece through this lens helps me focus my thoughts and, eventually, my words so that I stay “on point.”
  2. Review the reference materials. Sometimes these are interview notes. Sometimes they are my own scribbled thoughts. Sometimes they are other articles, books, white papers, or websites. At this point, I’m immersing myself in the material. I’m taking it all in so that I can get the lay of the land, so to speak. I want to know what’s already out there and be able to compare and contrast that to the idea in my head. I want to be able to pull relevant references and quotes into my work so that I can help my reader connect the dots. This is the research phase. NOTE: You’ve often heard the advice not to get too caught up in the research phase. It’s good advice. Research can appear deceptively productive even when you’ve long passed the point of learning anything new. Set boundaries and stick to them. Don’t wander too far down the rabbit hole.
  3. Take notes. Craft a mind map. Make an outline. Whatever method you prefer, this is the stage where you put your thoughts in order. My favorite method is the mind map. If the piece is short, I just scribble one by hand. If the project is larger, I use a software called MindManager which allows me to reorganize elements and also include copious notes, hyperlinks, and documents. I love a good mind map.
  4. When possible, simmer. At this point, if time allows, I will walk away from the piece for a day or so. I’ll be honest. I don’t often have that luxury, but when I do I always find that stepping away from the work for even a brief time is immensely helpful in terms of gaining perspective and clarity. After taking a break from the work, I will return and noodle a bit with my mind map. I always find that I’m able to make improvements that I might otherwise have overlooked. If you can, it’s worth it to build this time into your schedule.
  5. Plug in headlines and subheads. Though these may not always exist in the final draft (as with an essay, for instance), they often do apply to the finished product (blog posts, articles, web pages, even novels if you consider chapter titles as headlines). In addition to further clarifying my intentions for the content and flow of the piece, putting headlines and subheads down on paper is an easy way to get something on the blank page so it isn’t so darn blank any more. It transcribes part of my mind map onto my working document so that I have a basic structure in place before I even start writing the narrative. This is a trick that many of my writer friends use to ward off writer’s block.
  6. Write the (5#!tty) first draft. Not that you’re aiming for crap, but the point of the first draft is simply to get it out of your head and onto paper. Sometimes, that might look a little like vomiting on the page. That’s ok. Again, I’m going to be honest and ‘fess up that I am a notorious idiot when it comes to editing as I write. I know this is neither helpful to my creative flow or – ultimately – beneficial to the quality of the finished product, but I can’t seem to help myself. Anyway – do what you can to avoid my mistake and just write the damn thing. Seriously.
  7. Take another break. Again, if possible, make time to step away after you’ve finished the first draft. First drafts are rarely pretty. Give yourself the chance to gather your strength before looking that beast in the eye. Breathe. Go for a walk. Work on something else. Do whatever it takes to put a little emotional distance between you and your creation so that when you come back you can look at it with a teensy bit more objectivity.
  8. Review your goals. At this point, it’s a good idea to go back to the beginning. Even though it might be scary, you should take a look back at what you were planning to accomplish when you started out and see if, by some miracle, the first draft bears any resemblance to the vision in your head. It doesn’t have to be perfect (remember, it’s a first draft), but it should align with the basic gist of your initial intentions. If not, now is the time to see what kind of triage you can perform to get it back to where it’s supposed to be.
  9. Read your work aloud. Never, ever skip this step.  There is something about reading words aloud that exposes all kinds of flaws in the writing. This is a Good Thing. Believe me. I read all my work aloud. My cats probably think I’m insane, but that’s okay. As I read, I make on-the-fly edits (if the fix is a quick one) and highlight bits that need a heavier hand. I never regret taking this step.
  10. Revise and edit your piece. These should, perhaps, be two separate steps, but I’m combining them because – for me – they both fall under the “re-do” part of the writing process. I recently read somewhere that revision should be thought of as just that: “re-visioning” your work. Revising is not spellchecking or even making changes in your narrative voice. Revising is actually making structural or conceptual changes. I know, it sounds scary, but it’s part of the process. Editing, on the other hand, is more in-the-weeds tactical. Editing is about word choice and sentence structure and grammar. It’s less invasive, but equally important to the overall quality of your work.
  11. (Optional) Share with beta readers. At this stage, when you’re (hopefully) feeling pretty good about what you’ve written, you may choose to share with beta readers – those people you trust to give you honest, constructive feedback. My mom is my beta reader, and she rocks. Some people prefer to put their first draft in the hands of beta readers raw (as in, pre-revision and editing), but I’d rather show a more finished product.
  12. Proofread your work. Finally, with all your revising and editing done and any additional changes made based on beta reader feedback, you can put that final polish on your work with a thorough proofreading. If possible, it’s best to have someone else (a professional, optimally) do this for you (it’s difficult for any writer to proofread his or her own work), but if that’s not possible just do your best with spellcheck and other available tools. Based on what I see out there, many people don’t even bother with that, so you’ll already be ahead of the curve.


Twelve repeatable, manageable steps – that’s how I tackle pretty much any writing project on my docket.  It may seem like a lot at first glance, but it’s the act of breaking “writing” down into all those smaller tasks that is the magic of a writing process. Think about it. What’s scarier – “write essay” or “define essay goals”? By looking at your writing as a series of not-so-scary steps, you can just get down to the business of writing without having to worry about whether your writing ritual is going to do the trick this time.

That isn’t to say you should toss your writing ritual out the window. Not at all. I love my ritual – tea, a fresh page in my notebook, two cats nearby to cheer me on – and wouldn’t give it up for the world. I just like the fact that because I also have a writing process, I don’t have to rely on the ritual to make magic. I know how to do that all on my own.


Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

Photo Credit: freeparking :-| via Compfight cc

Human_Pyramid-0As promised in A Sentence is a Complete Thought, today’s post is devoted to Parallel Structure.

Parallel structure aids coherence by balancing nouns with nouns, prepositional phrases with prepositional phrases, and main clauses with main clauses. It might help to visual a see-saw with two similar elements on either side keeping the sentence level. With more than two elements, visualize one of those human pyramids from the circus, where everyone spreads the weight equally to maintain the configuration. Once you can recognize parts of speech and parts of a sentence, you can string them together in clear, euphonious, parallel structure that helps your reader follow your thoughts.

Here are some examples; the parallel elements are underlined.

Balanced nouns.

On my recent bike trip, I packed only the essentials: bike shorts, water bottle, Kindle.

Balanced verbs.

On vacation, I biked, ate and slept.

Balanced clauses.

It was a great vacation: I biked, I ate, I slept.

Francophone Quebec combines French haut cuisine with North American portions.

Balanced clauses, each containing an independent and dependent clause.

My vacation started in Burlington where I stayed with my daughter, continued to Mont-Laurier where I picked up the bike trail, and ended in Montreal where I visited museums.

While in Canada, I biked through lovely scenery, ate four-course dinners, and slept soundly every night.


Balanced clauses (with repetition).

While in Canada, I biked through lovely scenery, I ate four-course dinners, and I slept soundly every night.

By repeating the subject I, I’ve changed the previous sentence from a list to a series of balanced independent clauses.

It sometimes helps to repeat a preposition, an article, the to of the infinitive or the introductory word or phrase to maintain clarity in parallel structure.

On the bike trip, I wasn’t just outdoors all day, I was also unplugged.

The rail trail not only cuts through beautiful scenery; it has neither car traffic nor steep hills.

All in all, I had a great vacation that combined visiting friends and family, getting lots of exercise, eating delicious meals, and returning home refreshed.

Please let me know if you find this post useful. Thanks!

M. Shafer, Photo

M. Shafer, Photo

Deborah Lee Luskin is a novelist, essayist and educator. She lives in southern Vermont.








We talk a lot about managing time here. About setting small goals to realize our big goals. We’ve even chatted about how if you do what you love, it won’t seem like work.

I recently came across Meg Cadoux Hirshberg‘s work-life balance interview with Ari Weinzweig on Inc.com and it touched on all of these things and is definitely worth sharing.

You can find it here: http://www.inc.com/meg-hirshberg/I-never-fight-time-the-way-I-used-to.html.

It’s a short interview, but what particularly caught my interest was her question and his answer about how to make good use of the time you have.

We all have 24 hours in a day.

TryingtoControlTimeWe can schedule our lives down to the minute and feel productive, yet unsatisfied and having a feeling of lack.

We make time for work and family without a second thought.

Making time for ourselves is as important as work and family, yet it’s the first thing sacrificed when time seems to run out. Is this true for you?

It used to be true for me, but since becoming self-employed I’ve shifted my thinking and strive for balance as often as possible. After all, if I’m not at my best, neither are the other areas of my life.

It’s all about balance, of course, and some days it may be a lot easier to have everything flowing in harmony. I believe with practice and the mind shift to realizing life is too short to have it full of “I wish I had…” or “I should have…” or “If only I had…” statements, that each of us can remove that feeling of lack or dissatisfaction.

We make our own choices and not every decision will be 100% satisfying, but I bet by respecting time and striving for the best soul-fulfilling options we can, we’ll find more happiness.

Life is what we make it, right? So why not strive to make it as good as possible?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She admits to using downtime to clean her home, but swears it’s more play than work. You can connect with her on Twitter, FacebookGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

The Genius of Curiosity

pin curious whitmanLast week I started a conversation about whether you should Do what you love. Or, not. Live to Write – Write to Live community members shared some insightful thoughts and keen observations in the comments. This week, I came across a video clip of author Elizabeth Gilbert speaking out against “passion.” She begins her short speech by admitting that the advice she’s about to give is “really weird.” But, after listening to her, I kind of wanted to stand up and cheer.

Have you ever seen the movie Contact? Jodie Foster plays Dr. Ellie Arroway, a young and passionate woman searching for life on other planets. The film came out in 1997. I was ten years out of high school and working for a global promotions company, helping to manage a thirty-person creative team as they cranked out designs for t-shirts, bag, and tchotchkes to promote everything from m&m candies to Marlboro cigarettes. It was not a job I loved. It was not a personal passion.

Watching Jodie’s portrayal of Dr. Arroway’s unswerving dedication to her mission, I wanted to cry. I felt like there must be something wrong with me that I didn’t feel that kind of passion about anything. Sure, I enjoyed writing and I liked sketching. I loved animals and music and hiking and any number of other things and activities; but I didn’t feel a burning drive to pursue any one goal. I longed to be as fully committed and singularly focused as Ellie Arroway. I wanted passion and purpose.

Seventeen years later, I am finally realizing that Gilbert is right. Curiosity is more valuable than passion. Passion is blinding and consuming. It is biased and stubborn. Passion is exclusionary. Curiosity, on the other hand, is playful and open. Curiosity can learn through discovery. Curiosity expands your world; passion diminishes it, closing in around you like tunnel vision.

My happiest days are the ones with no agenda, no obligation, and the freedom to follow my curiosity. Perhaps I will write, perhaps I will browse a flea market, perhaps I will learn to cook something new. The ability to remain curious is, I believe, one of the secrets to remaining forever young at heart. You cannot be curious and close-minded at the same time. You cannot be curious and bored at the same time. Curiosity is like a self-perpetuating form of energy.

I agree with Gilbert. If you are feeling creatively stumped or stifled, just follow your curiosity. Stop worrying about whether or not you have found The One Thing. Instead, give yourself permission to choose curiosity as your guide to creativity. Do what interests you. Follow your impulses and your intuition. Remember when you were a child – all inquisitive and full of wonder? Be that child again. The world is still full of interesting things.


What I’m Writing:

pin perfect timeNothing at the moment, but …

I just signed up for an 8-week Fiction class with the Grub Street Writers Center. I’m pretty excited. As I mentioned recently, I don’t really have time to take a writing class. My dance card, as they say, is full. I have multiple projects with annoyingly fluid deadlines. Even though my daughter is back in school, I still struggle to get it all done each day. Sometimes, the pell-mell nature of my days leaves me with an odd feeling of having not actually experienced the day. (It’s kind of like when you drive the same route each day and sometimes wind up at your destination with absolutely no recollection of driving there. Scary.)

The thing is, whether it’s today or next week or three months from now or next spring, it will never be The Perfect Time. The stars aren’t going to align and send me a hand-engraved invitation to do the thing I want to do. Committing to your craft is a bit like deciding to have a baby. There is no “right” time. No matter how well you plan, the journey is not going to be what you expected. And once you’ve committed, you’ll just figure it out. Simple as that. It won’t be easy or perfect, but it will be worth it.

So, despite feeling a bit insane for doing it, this morning – in the middle of writing this post – I clicked over and registered for class. Hooray for baby steps. Hooray for throwing caution to the wind. Wish me luck, fellow writers. Wish me luck.


What I’m Reading:

book princess brideSpeaking of childhood wonder, I am finally reading the book that inspired one of my all-time favorite movies, The Princess Bride.  Fellow Live to Write – Write to Live blogger, Wendy, is probably reading this with her mouth agape in horror. (Anyone who knows Wendy even a little knows that The Princess Bride is one of her all-time favorite movies AND books.) Wendy, I’m sorry it took me this long. You were SO right!

I have always been a fan of the parenthetical phrase, but The Princess Bride takes the form to new heights. There is something so irresistibly charming about the familiar, conversational voice of the narrators. (There are two – author William Goldman who is, supposedly, abridging the original work of writer S. Morgenstern who shares Goldman’s penchant for copious asides.) It is also delightful, as a fan of the movie, to read so many of the now-famous lines in print. Probably because Goldman also wrote the screenplay, it is almost one hundred percent faithful to the text of the novel.

I have not quite finished the book, but I fully intend to do so over the weekend. A chill has finally arrived in the air and I can think of nothing I’d like to do more than curl up on the sofa under a soft throw, with a mug of hot tea and The Princess Bride.

And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

pin munro curiosity

Here’s to letting your curiosity guide your creativity. Happy reading. Happy writing. See you on the other side. 

Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and – occasionally –  trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: Is there any genre of books that you just can’t stand reading? How about a particular author? Time period? 

wendy-shotWendy Thomas – When one is a writer, one needs to tread very gently when being critical of another writer’s book. We have first hand knowledge of the blood, sweat, and tears that went into its birth. I truly hesitate to damn anyone’s work. Having said that, let me say that the books that get under my skin the most are the ones that are:

  • Predictable – saw that ending coming from a mile away
  • Poorly written – repetition, poor dialog, and poor editing
  • Written as a script – seems to be a trend in some genres these days
  • Rushed – some books come out to quickly to appease the market, you can tell that the author was rushed

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: I agree with Wendy, it’s difficult to trash a book when you know how much has gone into it, but I also have a hard time with poorly edited books. I love to read so there isn’t any genre I wouldn’t try, but I’m not a big fan of horror fiction. I think Stephen King’s books are well-written but most of them are not my idea of a good time (although I really loved Fire-Starter.) My only really complaint with any book is if the author breaks that unspoken contract with the reader and throws in something you could never have seen coming or turns everything into a dream or uses some other device to force an ending to a story. I can think of an example, but I’d spoil the story if you haven’t read it yet, so I’ll just say–Don’t do that!–when you write your book. :) I won’t either. Promise.


Jamie Wallace: Ooh. Tough question. I’m not a huge fan of certain genres (horror, romance), but that doesn’t mean I detest all books that fall into those categories. I think the only books that I’ve refused to read on principle rather than any personal preference are ones that seem to have been written to exploit something or someone. From tabloidesque “biographies” that expose and sensationalize a celebrity life to coattail-riding copycats who whip up some barely publishable shlock in order to benefit from reader enthusiasm for some particular subject matter or style of story, I just can’t stand books that appear to have been “designed” around capitalizing on someone else’s pain or hard work. As Wendy and Diane have already said, we writers understand what goes into writing a book from the heart. I consider it enormously disrespectful when a faux writer mocks that passionate and Herculean effort by throwing a book together in a slapdash fashion just to make a buck. For shame, for shame.

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson: As a reviewer, I read all types of books and don’t avoid any in particular. I prefer some genres over others, but no particular one to all-out say I despise. I love time travel stories and futuristic so there’s no time period I avoid.

I won’t finish a book if the editing is poor, no matter how great the story might be. There have been a few times when I’ve been totally enthralled in a novel just to get to the end and have the ENTIRE novel turn out to be a dream and doesn’t at all relate to the protagonist’s life. I feel that’s the laziest way to conclude a book.  It’s a tactic used when plot threads can’t be neatly tied up. I will avoid reading anything again from authors who do that.

Susan Nye: How about … books I steer away from rather than can’t stand. For a writer and avid reader, my list is longer than maybe it should be. Here goes, I have no interest in horror, zombies or sci fi. Likewise, I usually stay away from young adult fiction. I just can’t relate to all that teenage angst. Romance novels don’t do it for me, although, I do like chick lit and romantic stories. In other words, a good love story, tearjerker, girl defies all odds and makes good – yes; but bodice rippers – no.


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