Book Review: “On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft”

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On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft is Stephen King’s foray into sharing his knowledge of writing and encouraging the next generation of writers with what he has learned, the mistakes he has made, and the tips and tricks he’s picked up throughout his life.

Let me start this review by stating that I am not personally a fan of craft books. I’ve read a few of them, and I’ve found, overwhelmingly, that they’re full of stuck-up, preachy “advice” about how you NEVER do this, and ALWAYS do that. Those other books I’ve read were full of demands from snobbish writers who believe that one can only become a writer if one follows a set, precise roster of dedicated rules that must never change. This, of course, is complete bullshit, and Stephen King knows it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s back up a tad.

Despite my dislike of the previous craft books I’ve read, I decided to pick up On Writing because I’d heard a ton of good things from fellow writers. Additionally, King is one of my favorite writers of all time, so I hoped that he would have something interesting to tell me.

I was surprised to find that the book does not jump right into writing rules and well-meaning advice, but actually begins with a bit of an autobiography. In chapter-like chunks of varying sizes, King tells us about his life growing up and how these moments, in one way or another, created the writer we know today. This section takes up nearly half of the overall book, and I’ll admit that if I’d know this before buying the book, I might have reconsidered. I was looking for writing advice, after all, not a life story. However, having been glued to the pages throughout the entirety of the autobiographical section, I now implore any prospective readers to not let this deter you. To be perfectly blunt, reading about King’s life, different trials and tribulations, and all the little moments that made him the writer he is, was infinitely more interesting and useful information than any of the tripe in the other craft books I’ve read. There were little, simple lessons he learned from people he’s worked with, family moments that changed how he looked at things, personal struggles he had to deal with and how his writing was affected as a result, and much more. It reads a bit like a stream-of-consciousness project, with King occasionally wandering off on tangents that seem totally irrelevant, but everything manages to come together in sweeps and waves, and eventually we come out on the other end having knowledge we might never have otherwise gained unless we happened to live a very similar life (which, obviously, is unlikely).

The second half of the book is where the specific advice comes into play, though this section still isn’t drawn out in the way other craft books are. While King is now giving his opinions on what we need in our writing “tool box”, what steps we should take when deciding to become a writer, and what changes we should make in our lives to facilitate that decision, it’s all still written in a kind of autobiographical way. King explains his advice by comparing it to his own life and his own experiences, and in my opinion that makes it all seem much more worth while, somehow. There’s something more convincing about advice garnered through personal experience as compared to advice that came from a university course the giver took from a professor who’s never written an actual book in his/her life.

The advice itself varies from the simple and obvious (understand your language, your grammar, etc), to the more involved (adverbs have their place but should be used very sparingly), to the “yeah that makes sense” (read a lot; TV is the devil). I was pleasantly surprised, myself, to realize that the overwhelming majority of what King was saying made perfect sense to me. Instead of screaming at me that you can NEVER do this in a book, and if you don’t do THIS and THIS you’re a worthless amateur, King gives a ton of actual, meaningful, reasonable advice. One of the lines from the book that really resonated with me in particular was, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.” In this King is so right, and this is something I myself have been neglecting in a terrible way. So I’ve recommitted myself to reading more – as much as possible, in fact – and if this is the only thing I’ve gained from reading On Writing (it isn’t) then I’ll happily say that the book was well worth reading.

Something else that I have to mention, though: what I loved most about this book is that King understands writing and writers. While so many other craft books shove lists of rules down your throat, nearly everything King offers up is a suggestion. He mentions a number of things that he personally feels are very important, hard-and-fast kinds of rules, but at the same time regularly admits that something will work for one writer but not for another. He understands that writing is fluid, changing shape depending on the container it is being poured from and into. In this way he gives us the tools, but admits that sometimes a rock can work as well as a hammer. For this reason alone, I am quite happy that I decided to purchase and read On Writing. In a world of veteran writers with their noses in the air, it was extremely refreshing to read the advice of a very successful novelist who realizes that his words may be everything to you, and may be nothing. That, in itself, is an exceptional lesson.

So would I suggest this book to the fledgling writer? Of course! In fact, I would suggest it even to the established writer, because the fact is that we all have something to learn, and sometimes the lesson is to relax a bit and figure out what works for you.


Want to check out On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft for yourself? Click right here to order!
Already read it? Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comment section below!

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Plans and Goals 2018: Week 27 Review

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Another week come and gone! I won’t bore you with my usual whining about how it came and went in the blink of an eye on me; I had a good week for the most part, even if I wasn’t necessarily as productive as I could have been.

In news unrelated to my specific goals, I spent the overwhelming majority of Saturday tending a yard sale, which turned out to be mostly a waste of time. I did get rid of a small amount of baby clothes, some baby books, and some frames, but what I got rid of was only about 1% of what I have to get rid of, and I barely made enough money for the drinks Jason and I bought at the Beer Bash later that night.

Which brings me to the second unrelated news: we went to a Beer Bash Saturday night. 😛 It was part of our local summer festival, and involved some excellent live music in a “pub by the sea” (aka. a beer tent). It was a good time, marred only by the fact that Jason and I spent pretty much all of Sunday extremely dry, and we had to then drive 2 hours away to pick up lil’ miss at her grandmother’s house. All together with the yard sale it made for a very long two days during which I got little-to-nothing done, but a good two days overall.

So what about the other 5 days of the week?


Plan #1: Focus more on Writing.
You already know that Saturday and Sunday were the definition of unproductive, but the rest of the week wasn’t too shabby, if I do say so myself.

  • Goal #1: Write half a million words throughout the year. Week 27 still wasn’t as productive for writing as I hoped it would be, but I have managed to keep pushing forward and do a little better than the previous week. I wrote 2380 blog words and 1822 fiction words, for a week’s total of 4202. That brings the year’s total up to 111,709, but more importantly, keeps my daily average at 591. Of course you know that I’d like to see that last number go up, but the fact that it’s not going further down is a huge achievement at this point in the game. So yay for me!
  • Goal #2: Sell more books. Someone buy a book? Please? *puppy-dog eyes* That’s really all I have to say about that. ._.
  • Goal #3: Complete and publish The Other World: Book Two. I’m still working on it! It turns out that there was more left to be done than I realized, but work is still moving forward, so that’s the important part. My ultimate goal is to have the manuscript in the hands of my beta-readers before the end of the summer, which I don’t think should be a problem as long as I keep focusing on it at least a few days each week.

Plan #2: Focus more on YouTube.
YouTube focus was disjointed in the past week, but with a few chats and some ideas for the future (along with a new opening for our videos!) Jason and I have managed to pick up some motivation for moving forward that will hopefully work out in the long run.

  • Goal #1: Film more often.  We only did two videos last week, a sub box and a mail call from a friend. We could have done more, and I hate to sound like I’m making excuses, but the honest truth is that we were (and still are, actually) experiencing an uncharacteristic heat wave in Nova Scotia that had us not wanting to even move, let alone get any actual work done. Our basement is even the coolest area of the house, easily a few degrees colder than anywhere above, but even still I was literally dripping sweat during those two videos, which isn’t exactly attractive. So here’s hoping the weather evens out a bit to something we’re more used to as we try to get more videos done in the current week.
  • Goal #2: Put more focus into, and have more fun with, the social media aspect. I have to admit that I’ve been slacking off quite a bit on the social media. That’s not to say that I haven’t been using it; I just haven’t been using it as much as I feel I should. I could definitely stand to throw out more Tweets when I have something worth mentioning, and there’s always opportunities for photos that I can throw up on my two Instagram accounts. I just have to condition my mind to think to do these things. Often I’ll think of something clever or interesting, or  have a question that my friends and followers could probably help me answer, and these are great things for Twitter, but it just doesn’t occur to me to actually tweet them. Similarly with Instagram, I’ll see something that would be a great shot, but it doesn’t occur to me to actually take a picture and post it. That’s what I really have to work on in the future.

#3: Focus more on myself.
I was a bit busy and stressed out during week, and as a result I don’t think I spent as much time on myself as I could have, but there are wins for this one as well, as you’ll see below.

  • Goal #1: Take time daily to read/watch/play. This past week I finally finished reading Stephen King’s “On Writing”, and as a result I’ve made a secondary goal. As I’ll mention again in my review of the book, one thing that really resonated with me is when King said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write”. I realized that this is extremely true, and that a lot of the time that I could be writing is time that I’m spending playing dumb phone games or browsing the internet, doing nothing in particular. So I’ve been trying to take note of that fact, and instead of playing mindlessly on my phone while I’m doing things like cooking, or waiting in line somewhere, or keeping an eye on lil’ miss while she’s on the trampoline, I’ve been reading instead. I’ve just started this, so I haven’t accomplished much so far, but I’m a good chunk into The Luna Chronicles: Winter, so that’s definitely something!
  • Goal #2: Stay active, but don’t obsess. I mentioned the heat wave, right? That’s been making it extremely difficult to build up any kind of motivation to move. I want to get back into running – particularly because Jason’s been teasing me about how I haven’t been doing it – but it’s difficult to find the willpower when you’re sweating to death just sitting on your couch. As a result I didn’t get much activity in during week 27, although I did spend some time with lil’ miss on her trampoline, and PHEW! That’s a lot more exercise than it seems! o.o

So that was my week! Not the most productive in the world, but I got a good bit done, dealt with some things that needed dealing with, (barely) survived the heat wave, and developed some motivation for things that are to be done in the future. I’ll call that a win!

How was your week? Were you able to accomplish anything? Do anything fun? Make any progress toward your own goals? Feel free to share!

MASSIVE BOX OF AWESOME from Marie in Sweden! Nendoroid, NECA, Doctor Who & More!

We got a massive box PACKED with awesomeness from our girl Marie in Sweden! She sent us a bit of everything in this box, including Doctor Who, Conan, Breath of the Wild, Street Fighter, AND figures from both NECA and Good Smile Company! o.o Thank you so much again, Marie!!!

PEW PEW! Unboxing Loot Gaming May/June 2018? Who Knows Anymore! Ft. Overwatch, Metroid, & Destiny 2

Okay, we’ve got the right one this time around, right? Right. Okay, let’s do this!

We’ve got the “PEW PEW!” Loot Gaming box this month, featuring items from Overwatch, Destiny 2, and Metroid. Check out the vid, and click the link in the description box to try out a Loot Gaming box for yourself!

Dream Log – July 5th 2018 – Schools & Ghouls

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I often wonder what it is about my psyche that causes me to return time and again to school in my dreams. I’ve mentioned before that, rather often, I find myself in a math class, miles behind with no idea of what is happening and virtually no way to catch up. I’d venture that one speaks for itself; clearly it’s a sign of stress and/or feelings of failure/hopelessness. But the threat of flunking my math course isn’t always what brings me back to school, and sometimes what does seems completely random and totally meaningless.

Usually when I dream about school the dream starts with me already in the school, or I’m desperately trying (and failing) to find a way to get to school. Last night’s dream, however, began with me arriving to school – college, to be more precise – in my old Hyundai, the first car I owned. I was trying to find a parking space, and it was entirely more complicated than it should have been. For one thing, I somehow accidentally drove off the road completely and a good thirty feet into a patch of lawn before I even noticed what I’d done. While people pointed and snickered I turned myself around and headed for an area that had free parking, but couldn’t find any spaces, so I was forced to the paid parking area. While there I was extremely confused to see that nearly every car had bandanas folded out and draped across the windshields. For the life of me I couldn’t come up with any explanation as to why people would be doing such a thing.

The rest of my time in the school is disjointed, but I can remember a few particular moments:

  • walking through the school, looking at all the little shops, coffee places, etc, and thinking that the building was really more of a mall than an educational establishment,
  • going to the buffet-style cafeteria and sneaking away with a bunch of food – mostly spaghetti and chocolate bars – without paying for it,
  • having positively no clue what day it was, what my schedule was, or what class I was supposed to be going to,
  • going to what was supposed to be a Drama course, but when I arrived everyone there was knitting,
  • chasing a young boy through the halls – I have no idea why – and losing him around every corner,
  • leaving the school and finding that my car had been blocked in by several of the cars with bandanas on their windshields.

The next thing I remember is being at my husband’s family’s house, but not their real-life one. It was a very old, large house, almost a mansion, that was in various states of disrepair. Some rooms looked immaculate, but then you’d turn a corner and there would be entire walls missing. I was in my husband’s bedroom, which was decorated more or less the way you’d imagine a teenage boy’s room to be, and he had a cage which I noticed was empty. Evidently he had a pet hamster, and it had gone missing. Here my viewpoint changed to that of the hamster, and I watched as it ran through walls and floorboards. Eventually it came to the wall outside it’s cage, and it chewed an enormous hole in it – a hundred times the size it needed to actually fit through – before popping into the cage to have some food. When I was in my own head again I examined the enormous hole and realized I could see straight through to my sister-in-law’s bedroom. She was playing on a computer, and when I yelled to her and pointed out the hole she waved it off as though it was the most unimportant thing in the world. My husband didn’t seem particularly upset either, although he was amused when he realized he’d be able to throw things at his sister through the wall, and we began looking around his room for the best projectiles.

At some point I decided that I was going to take a walk through the house, but I decided to do so by climbing into the wall between the two bedrooms. I wandered through the walls and up a steep incline, which brought me out into a large, dark loft area. In this area there was a very strange display. It was a bit like a separate room with one wall cut out so that you could see inside, and it was propped up like a stage. Inside was decorated to look a bit like you might imagine the hold of a pirate’s ship, and there were animatronic characters all around, frozen in their last positions. I approached, and one of the characters – a woman wearing a pirate’s hat – said something. If you paid me a million dollars I couldn’t tell you what it was she said, but I remember being very freaked out. I stepped away, and she said the same thing again, and when I stepped away further she turned and looked at me and said it again. After the third time I screamed and ran for my life. I found my way back to my husband and sputtered out my story, positively terrified.

The next thing I knew, I was back up in front of the animatronics with my husband, sister-in-law, and several other people, including my ex-boyfriend’s parents, for whatever reason. Someone hit a button and the robots began to move about and speak their lines, and I insisted that the pirate lady had said something different when it was just me there alone, but no one believed me. Someone set out chairs, and the whole crew of people sat down to watch what was evidently some kind of show. The robots were reenacting something that had happened in the past, and there was some kind of trick to the show itself… My memory is fuzzy, but there was a puzzle of some kind that they wanted you to solve by watching the show. My husband figured it out – it had something to do with watching the location of a particular treasure chest – and when he did the pirate lady began to speak again – something about how ghosts don’t need money. Everyone else seemed to think it was all just part of the show, but I was completely freaked out, because I was certain we’d just discovered that the entire set-up was haunted.


Any thoughts? Ideas? Concerns? Feel free to share in the comment section below, and also feel free to tell me what you think of dreams in general, what you think their purpose might be, and fell free to share some of your own! Cheers!