“The Inaugural Meeting of Fairvale Ladies Book Club” – A Book Review and just a tad of jealousy

You’re going to love this book and the reviewer, too.

by Irene Waters

Every so often, go through your list of followers and those who have liked your blog and you will find some gems of people. Irene is one of them.

Irene has more energy than a puppy and has bounced from one successful venture to another. She has been a clinical nurse educator in intensive care, a resort, general store, and restaurant owner (at different times), construction contractor, and now writer. This is a woman you want to rub off on you. If she were a pill I’d take 10,000 mg of Irene Waters a day.

Her book review moved me to instantly purchase the book and start reading.

She gave me permission to reblog her review on Always Write.


A long time friend gave me The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club  by Sophie Green for my birthday with a little trepidation. She knows I read a lot and was worried it may not have been a book to my liking. How wrong she was – I found this book not only enjoyable but it made me jealous of this writer’s ability to put you in place, to describe perfectly emotions that I struggled to describe in my own book. But let me tell you about the story first.

It was set in the Australia’s Northern Territory on a vast, remote cattle property in 1978. It was hot and arid for most of the year, becoming humid in the wet which saw the property cut off from everything as the red bull dust turned to sludge. A family ran the property and the son had just returned from Britain with his bride. In an effort to make her life easier  Sybil Baxter started the Fairvale Ladies Book club which consisted of Sybil, the mother, her daughter-in-law, an American jillaroo from the next property (a couple of hours drive away), a mother that lived in the closest town (also a couple of hours away) and the flying doctor nurse who flew in from Alice Springs. Read more…

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Jake, Lucid Dreamer by David Naiman

Want a Book That Boys Want to Read?

Attention Parents and Teachers!

Boys struggle to read fiction, believe it or not. Give them a book about animals, cars, boats, anything non-fiction and they devour it. But not fiction. So now schools focus on non-fiction. But fiction develops values and emotions. Boys need that as much as girls. So give you boys this book. It’s funny and deep.

The topic: anger

The reason: Jake’s mother died when he was eight.

The day-to-day problems: middle school. A couple of bullies wanted to take him out. He got interested in a girl.

The solution: Dreaming. The answers came in bits and pieces disguised as kangaroos and turtles cheating at games, jumping on clouds, getting acquainted with the person inside the GPS box. Adults it might take you a bit to get into the dreams, but they are as fun as the real people. PS. His dad and friends helped solve the anger problem, too.

What to Love About David Naiman’s Writing

Attention Writers!

Personify a characteristic

Catch the eye-roll when Jake hangs this title on his dad,

“That’s Dad, the King of Understatement.”

David J. Naiman. Jake, Lucid Dreamer (Kindle Locations 72-73). Kwill Books. Kindle Edition.

Write in First Person and Include the Protagonist’s Thoughts

Spoken like a true twelve-year-old. Don’t you love it when the author includes the character’s thoughts? Naiman wrote Jake, Lucid Dreamer in first person.

“We’d swap stories about how our white dads interact with their in-laws. That’s always good material for a laugh. Her mom’s black and mine’s Chinese. Was Chinese. I’m supposed to use the past tense since she’s dead and all. I don’t really get that. I mean, is she no longer Chinese because she’s dead? It doesn’t seem like dying should change your race.”

David J. Naiman. Jake, Lucid Dreamer (Kindle Locations 156-159). Kwill Books. Kindle Edition.

I haven’t used it, but I love this technique.

“Dad and I stare at each other and have a silent conversation.

Thank your sister.


She put a lot of thought and effort into the card.

She drew her stuffed monkey.

What does this have to do with me?

She loves Beenie, and she loves you. In her mind, this makes sense.

Doesn’t mean I have to thank her.

Yes, it does. Do it now. Forget it.

David J. Naiman. Jake, Lucid Dreamer (Kindle Locations 368-371). Kwill Books. Kindle Edition.

Use Humor

“After dinner, we move to the couch. Don’t ask me how I get there without a forklift. I try to sit still so my stomach doesn’t burst.”

David J. Naiman. Jake, Lucid Dreamer (Kindle Locations 838-839). Kwill Books. Kindle Edition.

Even If You Have To Google a Joke or Two

“You’re like a bad vegetable. You always turn up.” “Now hold on,” Conner says. “A turnip is not a bad vegetable. If you sauté it with olive oil, it’s quite tasty. You could say I’m like a root vegetable. I’d give you that.” “You can keep it. I’d never root for a vegetable.”

David J. Naiman. Jake, Lucid Dreamer (Kindle Locations 959-961). Kwill Books. Kindle Edition.

Jake had to call in the “Pun Police.”

Especially for Kids – Throw in Vocabulary

“He’s a bull with bulging biceps, colossal calves, devastating deltoids, erratic eyebrows, fierce forearms, gigantic guts, humongous hips, immense…OK, you get the idea. Let’s just say he’s really big.”

David J. Naiman. Jake, Lucid Dreamer (Kindle Locations 1189-1190). Kwill Books. Kindle Edition.

Teach Your Readers

“Nick’s right,” Brandon says. He yanks me so close, I can smell his cavities. “You’re trying to trick me. Well, you’re not getting out of it this time, you little weasel.” Brandon levels his fist with my face. “Hold up, did you just call me a weasel?” “Yeah.” “No, I don’t think so.”

“What? Yeah, you are. You’re a weasel.” A weasel. Can you believe this guy? “I am definitely not. Weasels are bold carnivores, extremely aggressive when their territory is invaded. They eat up to forty percent of their body weight every day, and they kill their prey by biting its neck or crushing its skull with sharp canines. I want you to think about this. Does that really sound like me?” “Not…really, no.” “So ‘weasel’ doesn’t work.” He lowers his fist. “I guess not.” Nick shrieks. I think his head might pop off. “Stop talking already and hit him!”

David J. Naiman. Jake, Lucid Dreamer (Kindle Locations 1295-1300). Kwill Books. Kindle Edition.

Include a Video?

No, he did not have the video, but he used one that was easy to locate. So I did. Jake watched this for his science group report.

My Rating As an Educator and Writer

Jake Lucid Dreamer

Author Biography

Jake, Lucid Dreamer“After graduating from Wesleyan University, David Naiman obtained his medical degree at New York University School of Medicine and trained in the primary care internal medicine program at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Writing nights and weekends, he published the award-winning #1 Amazon bestselling novel Didn’t Get Frazzled, a work of humorous medical fiction for adults, under the pen name David Z Hirsch. From there, David turned to children’s literature to pursue the themes of family, friendship and the magic of childhood that continue to inspire him. Jake, Lucid Dreamer is his first middle-grade novel. He lives in Maryland with his wife and two sons. Visit his website at http://www.davidjnaiman.com.”

David J. Naiman. Jake, Lucid Dreamer (Kindle Locations 1844-1850). Kwill Books. Kindle Edition.

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How Wired for Story by Lisa Cron Makes Your Story Irresistible

Extensive Reading Doesn’t Generate Great Writing

Wired for Story

What a blow, but get over it. Lisa Cron has some answers that will help. Warning: writing a great book is still hard work.

Twelve chapters took me ages to read because I had to change the first chapter of the book I am writing twelve times. Not surprisingly, changing the first chapter changed everything else that follows. However, the book improved each time. It’s still not ready, sorry to say. Writing fiction is harder than any writing I’ve ever done. I don’t take it personally, though. It seems that as a teacher I’ve been teaching it all wrong, and maybe you are too. (Sorry!)

Twelve Chapters

  1. How to Hook the Reader (from the first sentence)
  2. How to Zero In on Your Point (otherwise you lose them)
  3. I’ll Feel What He’s Feeling (“Emotion determines the meaning of everything.”)
  4. What Does Your Protagonist Really Want (This is key.)
  5. Digging Up Your Protagonist’s Inner Issue (When did her world fall out of alignment?)
  6. The Story Is in the Specifics (And it must pertain to the protagonist.)
  7. Courting Conflict the Agent of Change (We all hate change, and yet change is essential hence conflict, the stuff that makes stories great.)
  8. Cause and Effect (If something happens in the story, there better be an effect in the story somewhere.)
  9. What Can Go Wrong, Must Go Wrong and Then Some (Don’t you hate to hurt your protagonist? If you don’t you’ll bore your reader.)
  10. The Road from Setup to Payoff (There’s always a pattern to what happens, Readers want to try to predict the ending.)
  11. Meanwhile Back at the Ranch (Every story has a backstory that makes the character’s actions make sense.)
  12. The Writer’ Brain on Story (“There’s no writing, only rewriting.)

Why Stories are Essential to Survival So Keep Writing

Lisa asserts that stories are more important to our survival than opposable thumbs. because they teach us what to hang on to. “Story is what makes us human.” Nature seduces us to pay attention to important information that is presented as a story told well. We crave stories in the same way we crave food. We will put aside all the busy tasks in our lives to read a good story. (All night, if it’s really good, and still get up the next morning and get back to work.)

Why It’s Easy to Read and Hard to Write

The catch is “for a story to captivate a reader, it must continually meet his or her hardwired expectations. That is the essence of the book. “The ease with which we surrender to the stories we read tend to cloud our understanding of stories we write… We won’t put up with a bad story for three seconds.: So here’s what happens when we read. “The first job of any good story is to completely anesthetize the part of our brain that questions how it is creating such a compelling illusion of reality.”

So if you want to learn the mechanics of making a good story great, I recommend that you read this book.

Wired for Story

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How to Make the Best Use of James Scott Bell’s Writing Blunders Solutions Even If You Can’t Do Them All

27 Fiction Writing Blunders and How Not to Make Them

Every writer wants to avoid writing blunders. James Bell is my go-to guy when I start writing fiction. His activities inspire me. Twenty-Seven Fiction Writing Blunders is one book I keep coming back to, but I’m not going to list all twenty-seven writing blunders for you, so you don’t have to read the book. It may take you months to read this short book, but let me sneak in a few of my favorite ideas from it.

The reason it takes months to read such a short, fast book is that you have to try the ideas as you go. Then you get sidetracked by writing and forget to read the rest of the book. The good news is that it’s ok to get distracted if you’re writing. Here is what I do to keep Bell’s ideas in my face.

Writing Blunders

List Your Favorite Writing Blunders in the Header of Your Project

It’s ok to change the writing blunders list once you feel you’ve developed good habits, but instead, I find I keep adding to it.

Here’s the checklist in the header of my book Girls on Fire that sprang from James Bell’s advice from one book or another. I recommend all of his books.

  1. Does narrative reflect the character’s inner life – what she thinks, not just what is?
  2. Make sure all characters have an attitude and an agenda. – Having an attitude and agenda is huge! They all have to be a little snarky about their agenda because of tips number three, eight, and ten. You won’t know how to distress your character if he or she doesn’t have an agenda.
  3. Does dialogue forward the character’s agenda?
  4. Dialogue gets bogged down with needless words – so, listen, really
  5. Dialogue should NOT say what both characters already know. This is a relatively easy fix! Or is it?
  6. Check your opening pages for the use of the word had and its derivatives. In first 10 pages – 3 sentences backstory, 2nd 10 pages – 3 paragraphs backstory
  7. Always check your pop culture references to make sure they’re not too dated.
  8. Tension every 100 words (about eight lines) Dialogue works best for creating tension, but Bell insists it can be in the narrative as well.
  9. Is there a story developing? What’s the plot? Structure. Maybe you don’t ramble or change your plot, but I’m struggling with this.
  10. Write to distress your characters. This is extremely hard for me. I want to be kind to the ones I like. You can see this is popular in movies now.
  11. Use Italics sparingly for short internal thoughts. How do you show the character’s inner thoughts? I love Modern Family because they take time to do this regularly with each of the main characters. 
  12. Create a strong bond with the character and an opening disturbance. Imminent danger, Hardship – without whining, Underdog, Likability – has self-deprecating humor and guts, is a dreamer and yet persevering. It is OK to start your character as a wimp, but get them in a fighting spirit. Reject the apparent character as the minors. Instead choose someone who is the opposite sex, skin color, hair color, fingernail color.

Use Bell’s Activities As Journal Writes

Like my blogging, my fiction writing has become an experimental hobby. As I learn, I rewrite. It’s been five years, and I’m still working on this little book. Simple activities may change your life or the life of your characters. These two activities from the book were fun and may have improved my book immensely – or not. At any rate, they were great journal writes.

Pick a Word Randomly Out of the Dictionary

Weave it into a story. This activity was fun. I had to do a little research along with the dictionary. It turns out it fits well. It turned out that I might be able to use this story. Yummy. At any rate, it turned into a chapter.

Word: caber – Scottish pole or beam especially one thrown as a trial of strength a roughly trimmed tree trunk used in the Scottish Highland sport of tossing the caber. This sport involves holding the caber upright and running forward to toss it so that it lands on the opposite end. It so happened that one of my characters is of Scottish descent, so this worked out beautifully. Doing a little more research brought the word to life. Also, it was nice to know that some Scottish guys do wear underwear. I bet this one was glad he did!

writing blunders
Caber toss guy

Choose a News Article

Weave it into the story. Wow, I never expected this to make a difference, but it changed the beginning of the book and gave my character a focus, a chance to shine and a whole bunch of attitude. Practicing the activity in a journal write and not writing the chapter directly into the book freed me. I knew I didn’t have to use this story in my book, but it was interesting to write. Again, I ended up doing a bit more research because I was curious after I read the headlined article.

The story is about an Ohio woman who drew celebrity support for her claims of innocence in the slaying of a teenage girl has been released after 22 years in prison.

WHIO-TV reports Tyra Patterson, now 42, was freed Monday, Christmas Day.

Patterson was convicted in the 1994 murder and robbery of 15-year-old Michelle Lai. She was one of five people charged with killing Lai and robbing her sister and three other girls.

Patterson did not fire the shot that killed Lai, but under Ohio law accomplices can get the same punishment as killers. 

My thought was what if this had happened in my character’s school? As a psychologist, what would she have done?

My husband’s comment, “Wow, that’s a totally different start. I didn’t even recognize it! It’s like a murder mystery now.” The goal of Girls on Fire is the same, but now my character has some real-life clients. Thanks, James!

My Expert Advice: Read all of James Scott Bell’s Books.

You can’t go wrong choosing any of Bell’s books. Every one of James Bell’s books I’ve read is a five-star book in my opinion. Who is your go-to author for writing tips?

How to See the Medial Student’s Perspective Even if You Didn’t Attend Medical School – Didn’t Get Frazzled by David Z. Hirsch

Medical Student’s Perspective

Rarely does anyone write a novel from the medical student’s perspective. In Didn’t Get Frazzled David Hirsch skillfully shared the anxiety and humor that all medical students must face in their journey to be the doctors you trust with your life.

Medical Student's PerspectiveMarsha’s Amazon Review

Seth made it through medical school with the help of his zany friends both medical and non-medical. When he lost his girlfriend mid-book, his personal life satisfaction gauge slipped from half-full to a blinking, dinging EMPTY. The numerous and medically correct sex scenes would Probably not offend a nun, nor excite a 16-year-old male or female. However, I recommend not to drink and read at the same time unless you enjoy the burning sensation of liquid excreted from your nose and the warm spray coating the 20-foot area in front of you.

High school students who might be considering a medical career without researching anything but the salary of a should read this book.

Descriptions That Endear the Protagonist and His Situation As a Medical Student

As an author you will notice Hirsch’s skillful descriptions, mostly journaling his internal feelings. When his girlfriend found another love, he expressed what most people couldn’t.

“This is what keeps me up nights. I don’t have one thought anymore that doesn’t contradict some other thought. I’ve got the blues and hot red rage, green envy and pale blahs. The colors and conflicting emotions have all swirled together with such intensity they’ve become inseparable.”

Eighty-nine percent of readers agreed that this was a creative description. You’ll have to read the book to find out what caught his attention.

“I had to be careful not to look directly at it so my retinas wouldn’t peel off.”

Ninety-two percent highlighted this gem. What could be more excruciating?

“This is like watching paint dry while being burned at the stake.”

Character Descriptions with a Humorous Punch

Hirsche wrote character descriptions I’d love to copy. Can’t you just picture this narcissistic doctor or intern?

“He worked in an alternate universe where time and space bent to his will.”

Another person you might not want to meet was this woman. If you stay out of adult supply stores, you will probably never run into a saleslady of this caliber.

The saleslady blended into the smut behind her like a horned viper in a dune field. Her hair bound into angry spikes, her skin ensconced with piercings and sprawling tattoos, she epitomized reckless titillation to any who dared enter. Yet she carried herself with all the vitality of a three-toed sloth…

As he progressed through the four years as a medical student, he became the team member with the most knowledge. One first-year student, Kara, he found annoying but humbly realized how far he had progressed during the course of study.

“Kara, on the other hand, blinked at me, an empty vessel awaiting the gift of knowledge.”

Kara had a particularly timorous experience examing a prisoner patient, but you have to wait for the end of the book to read it.

Five Stars – One of the Funniest Books I’ve Ever Read, Yet Surprisingly Touching

Hirsch walks you through every phase of medical school relating the medical student’s perspective. Seth hated pediatrics but loved cardiac care. Gynecology nearly ruined his instructor and him. If you are a woman, you’ll cringe as you skim painfully through those experiences.

He used conversations with patients to expound his philosophy, which will warm your heart. One patient wanted only to go home. The charge doctor smoothly kept her so long that her husband was about to lose his job. Seth stealthily shares the words to say that help the woman advocate for herself. She got out, and no one knew how she did it, but those closest to Seth suspected he somehow spoke privately to her with the attending physician in the room.

All the while he’s memorizing and sleeping in shifts, sometimes at the hospital, he’s mourning the loss of his girlfriend. In the beginning, he made a case that showed they had as much in common as an earwig and a NASA astronaut. Nonetheless, she was his earwig and was the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen. You will sympathize, but like his friends, want him to move on instead of acting like a silk moth hovering around a mulberry tree.

Didn’t Get Frazzled was Hirsch’s first book. I hope he will write more books from the medical student’s perspective soon! His rankings on Amazon aren’t braggable yet, but with your help ordering his book and leaving him a review, it will rise quickly. If you want a fun read, Didn’t Get Frazzled is for you.

And don’t forget the review.

Amazon Biography

Even his biography made me laugh.

Read about David Z. Hirsch on Amazon, but don’t get taken in. At first, you will think, “Wow, no kidding?”

Then it hits you.

He uses a pen name. About all you know for sure is that he is a practicing physician. He could be yours.

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