Book Review: The Writer’s Little Helper

July 31, 2009

LittleWritingBookCoverThe Writer’s Little Helper is the best reference on writing I’ve found. It’s the one book I carry everywhere with me. 

The author James V. Smith, Jr.has published more than a dozen novels. His more recent material is published under the pen name John Harriman.  His objective in the book is to give the technical aspects of writing fiction to readers wanting to write a bestseller. In his words he wants to inspire, answer technical questions, and provide tools to assist the writer. 

The size of the book makes it easy to tote along. It’s 5 x 7 1/2″ and about an inch thick. 

By the way the subtitle is, “Everything you need to know to write better and get published”. There is no doubt in my mind I’m a better writer for reading and using this book. It can be read start to finish or just to focus on areas for improvement in your writing. The reading is easy and straight to the point. He uses excellent examples to illustrate. The book is an easy read. I hate books that use long-winded verbage to illustrate a simple point. 

The entire spectrum of writing is covered from ideas to publishing. Some examples include character, point of view, plot, editing, dialogue, creativity, beginnings and ends, and everything related. If you read this book you will learn something, be inspired, and have fun writing. I highly recommend it. 

The books publishing details are: 

The Writer’s Little Helper by James V. Smith, Jr., F+W Publications, Inc. (Writer’s Digest Books), 2006, ISBN 13: 978-158297-422-4

On Being Computer Literate

July 27, 2009

OliviaComputer2009This is Olivia, one of the twins. She’s five and is becoming adept at using the computer. She learned to use the mouse and keyboard at three.  Although she plays games. It’s taught her how to load programs, read menus, and click and point with the mouse.

Some of the games she enjoys the most are Surf’s Up, Barbie’s Horse Adventure, and some others related to princesses. She and her sister also have Nintendo DS hand-held gamers and have learned to play various kid adventure games.

All of this in my mind is a good thing. These skills will come in handy later when using other apps and the internet.

A short story to illustrate how far kids have come.
I was in a dentist’s office. The phone rang and the receptionist called for a six or seven year old patient, we’ll call him Johnny. Johnny took the call which I couldn’t help but overhear. He described in detail how to save and print a WordPerfect document. Seems it was his mother calling to ask him for help. He then hung up and said aloud, “My mom, I’m still training her to use the computer.”

Needless to say I felt kind of inadequate even though I knew how to use the computer. I knew exactly what some kid in grade one knew.

Train Travel – Hang On Tight

July 24, 2009
Hanging on

Hanging on

This picture of Indians traveling for the eclipse fascinated me. I wondered if,
  • Those outside got a discount over the fare for riders inside the cars.
  • If a rider falls off, can a refund be requested.
  • Train wrecks in India seem to be frequent. Wonder if this is the reason fatalities are so high when they do occur.

I’ve decided if I ever travel to India not to travel by train. I just don’t think I could hang on for very long.

Summer Vacation 2009

July 20, 2009
Oregon Beach, Tillamook

Oregon Beach, Tillamook

Our family just returned from the annual summer vacation. The five of us set out from Calgary in the motorhome for a couple of weeks.

First up was a family reunion on my wife’s side at Halcyon Hot Springs near Nakusp, British Columbia. We spent several nights here enjoying the pools. They have a somewhat normal one, a warm one, and a downright hot pool. Between the warm and the hot pool is a frigid plunge pool. The idea here is you get into the cold and then race for the hot one. It will either invigorate you or give you a heart attack. This can be checked out at:

After the reunion we headed into Washington State and towards the coast on I-90. We spent a couple of days in Seattle. Stayed at a KOA and took the transit bus into downtown. The kids enjoyed the Space Needle built for the 1962 World’s Fair held in Seattle. Also visited the Seattle Aquarium and the Pike’s market.

Near Lincoln City, OR

Near Lincoln City, OR

Next we headed down the Washington/Oregon Coast to Newport. We did get a couple of nice days of beachcombing, but mainly misty rain and cool weather. Finally in discouragement we headed inland to Portland for shopping.

The kids liked the camping best of all and made many friends in the playgrounds of the KOAs. This year the wee ones developed into great roadtrippers, few complaints and they learned to amuse themselves on the road.

We did cheat as we provided each of them with DS gamers and mini-TVs to watch movies on. Lots of snacks and frequent stops kept them occupied. We adults enjoyed the scenery and relative peace to visit as we rolled along. Cindy was happy with the shopping I made sure she got access to. Her one complaint was the lack of a visit to the malls. She hit outlets, a couple of Targets, and of course the mandatory Wally Worlds (aka Wal-Marts).

The last couple of days before crossing back into Canada consisted of a short stay at Siverwood amusement park in Cour d’Alene, Idaho. They have a huge water park with slides, wave pools, and a lazy river for tubing. After the water you can ride roller coasters. Damian, my almost 8 year-old, dared to ride the large wooden coaster called “Tremors” with me. He enjoyed it, but hung on for dear life the entire minute. The twins rode the little rides and loved the water.

Definitely our best motorhome vacation so far. As always it was good to get home into our own beds and familar surroundings.

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