Friday, October 28, 2011

Fridays with Fred: Fredenstein

Hey, minions. I wanted to post Fred in his Halloween costume today.  Frankenstein was the mask of choice since its one of the Creepy Classics I reviewed and it's one of the more popular posts. I'm not sure if you've had a chance to read it, but it's well worth it and the timing couldn't be better.

Anyway, I hope you all have a great weekend.

Can you see Fred's eyes?

Don't forget that my Spooktacular Book Hop runs until October 31st (eod) so be sure and stop by to enter to win.  For this book blog hop, I'm giving away Andrea Cremer's Wolfsbane! Wahoo! 

Be sure and check out Schatze over at Mary’s BookHounds too.

Mina B.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Novel Questions For Readers & Writers

I’m writing this post today with two things in mind.  First, I’d like to get perspective from readers, and then I’d like to hear from my writer friends. 

As for readers, yesterday I was given a survey from goodreads, asking specific questions about how many books I purchased i.e. hard cover, paperback, used, eformat, audio, borrowed from the library, etc…Naturally, I had much to offer.  But then the topic got me thinking...  As a reader, with so many book formats available these days, which ones do you prefer?  How do you like your books?

Two years ago, most people were reluctant to read eBooks, now with the abundant technology platforms/devices available, people are more accepting of them – at least ebook sales certainly indicate so.  As a reader, I don’t particularly care which format the book comes in, only the content.  For me, eBooks are easier to read at night, but that can be a curse when you need sleep. 

As for my writer friends, having all types of formats available for your book is essential.  However, with the demand of eBooks, writers are not only considering their formats or pricing more closely, but also how frequently they publish their books.  I had the pleasure of reading an insightful post from a writer, Vincent Zandri at from House Wife Blues and Chihuahua Stories.  Gone are the days when an author could write one book a year.  Nowadays, writers must strive to write at least 2-3 a year plus more.  I found this and his perspective enlightening, describing how the publishing industry used to be vs. how it is today.   Much has changed in publishing for all sides of the industry.  (On a side note, Vincent also has an excellent blog post about his personal journey as a writer - filled with successes and failures.  A must read)

Overall, the demand is good news for writers, especially self-publishing ones.   Which brings me to my question to my writer friends - whether traditionally or self-published - are you experiencing any of the demand mentioned?  I'm sure all cases vary, but still have you increased your writing to supply for the demand.  Thoughts?   

Mina B.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Hi, minions!  Welcome to one of the biggest book blog hops of the year...the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & The Diary of a Bookworm.  With over over 400 blogs participating, you can bet there will be some amazing giveaways.  Halloween is one of my favorite holidays - which shouldn't be that much of a surprise, huh?  Like most of my giveaways, I've gotta give a shout out to my Free Sh** Fairy.  Once again, he worked his mojo and sourced one heck of a giveaway.    

For this year's spooktacular book giveaway, I'm giving away one (1) copy of book 2 of Andrea Cremer's thrilling YA Nightshade series, Wolfsbane!  If you haven't had a chance to read book 1, Nightshade, take a moment and check out my review.  The series is truly addicting.

To enter…
You MUST be a follower of my blog and MUST fill out this entry form. (And yes, I do check GCF)

Extra entries…
+2 For Becoming my Fan/Like on Facebook/MinaBurrows
+2 Subscribing via email to my blog
+1 if you Retweet this on Twitter (limit 1 retweet)

Again, the giveaway runs from 12:01 AM on Oct. 24th - October 31st, midnight. Contest is open to International participants. 

Want to see who else is participating?  Visit I Am A Reader, Not A Writer or The Diary of a Bookworm and check out all the links and hop on by.

Mina B.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fridays with Fred: Day Dreams

Happy Friday, minions!  I'll make this post short, but sweet.  Fred's daydreaming.  I think he's dreaming of a meaty bone.  That's my guess.  What's yours?
What do you think Fred's dreaming about?
Also, the Spooktacular Book Hop starts October 24th and runs until October 31st (eod) so be sure and stop by to enter to win.  For this book blog hop, I giving away Andrea Cremer's Wolfsbane! Wahoo! #soexcited about that. Thanks Free Sh** Fairy!

Be sure and check out Schatze over at Mary’s BookHounds too. 

Have a great weekend.

Mina B.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Inspiration from Reality TV

With the continuous flood of bad reality TV shows that dominate network and cable television, I thought I’d blog about this sad topic.  Why?  Because there must be some new meaning in this antiquated topic of brainless television.

I find it unfathomable how these shows exist let alone how disturbing they are.  All these reality stars or celeb wannabes beg incessantly for attention, putting their pathetic lives on display and for what?  You guessed it...a feeding frenzy of mass proportions.  These shows feed the insatiable appetites of fame-starved reality show subjects.  They feed a sick amount of couch potatoes and even more so they feed the deep pockets of network/cable executives. 

Thanks, Bravo.
I’m curious about the reality TV icons; those star-obsessed freaks who hog up my television screen.  Talk about being caught in a "whirlwind of stupid." Is your life so remarkable that you have to have a camera in your face, capturing all the mundane or better yet staged moments in your life?  I'm in awe at times and not in a good way, I assure you.  Truthfully, I don’t watch much TV, but when I do, I cringe at all the reality shows.  Oh,  I've watched my fair share. Who  hasn't?  There’s just too many on the air for Christ's sake.  Will it ever end?  Probably not.  

So with all the repulsiveness that comes with reality TV, what can we gain from it as writers? Here’s the “meaning” and possible silver lining I was referring to earlier… characters my friend; flawed, ridiculous, unadulterated and cruel characters.  If you’re lacking inspiration in some of your characters or stories for that matter, try flipping the switch and tune into any reality show.  

I've found at least one positive aspect for reality TV.  Would you agree?  Whether it’s the Kardashians (please God - no more Kardashians), Jersey Shore, Bravo TV's Real Housewives (pick your city) or even a cooking competition, there’s almost always some facet that can inspire something with our writing…right?  

You tell me.  Do you use any of this crap for inspiration?  I sort of did with my Hallucinating Housewives flash fiction series.  What about you?

Mina B.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fridays with Fred: Zombie Fred

Minions!  Fred has been infected.  He didn't have a chance against those zombies from last week.  Oh, well.  Good thing I found this zombie scanner from Max Brooks, which shows how serious his level of contamination is.

Zombies are on the rise with the coming season premier of The Walking Dead.  See the season 2 trailer below.  I guess that’s why we've had zombies on the brain lately.  Anyway, hope you all get a chance to watch it.  The premier is on Sunday 8/9c on AMC.  

Be sure and check out Schatze over at Mary’s BookHounds.    Have a great weekend.

Mina B.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Shadows of Doubt

I found this quote the other day that’s been haunting me since I read it.  It’s from Gilbert K. Chesterton and depicts precisely how I feel about being a writer.
A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.

As a innate marketer, I fundamentally believe that if you create a great product, then  you've given yourself the best possible chance at success.  For me, this is especially true when crafting a novel. And because creating and refining one's writing can be endless, it leaves room for colossal doubt.  At least, it does for me.

Doubt stalks me like it does most writers I suspect.  I guess one could say when you question your writing and have shadows of doubt; you’re stretching yourself to be the best.  That’s not a bad thing, is it?  I once read that bestselling author, Dean Koontz, in the beginning of his career, deliberated over every word, striving to form the perfect sentence, paragraph and ultimately the perfect novel.  He’s one of my favorite authors so you can imagine how surprised I was when I read that.  This somewhat proves my point about Chesterton’s quote and my concern about self-doubt.

The Huffington Post featured a piece from Ann Patchett about on how to avoid doubt which I found extremely helpful.  In her post, she suggests splitting the writer and the critic into two sectors. Basically, write first and judge later.  She’s absolutely correct about that.  I’ll take it a step further and say, “staying focused” is another essential factor.

But what I’m interested in is how do you deal with self-doubt?  Is it something that will forever cling to our subconscious?  Does it ever relent?

And was Stuart Smalley actually onto something when he coined this phrase?  

I'm good enough

Mina B.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Creepy Classic: Treasure Island

This month’s Creepy Classic is Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.  Like most lovers of classic literature, I've read another one of Stevenson’s tale’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. – which is an insanely good read (see my review here.)  Treasure Island was equally as dark and far more suspenseful in a delicious sort of way.  Seriously, this book is one of the finest in classic children's literature, and it’s a shame that more people aren't taking advantage of it's authentic craftsmanship.  But I guess that’s what’s reviews like this are for.
Nevertheless, Treasure Island grips you immediately from the point when Billy Bones one of Captain Flints menacing pirates takes up residence at a village inn.  He siphons the establishments' livelihood by drinking and carousing endlessly to a “Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum.”  The story begins from the perspective of Jim Hawkins; the young boy destined to cross paths with Bones.  Reading the book through Jim’s eyes was the most refreshing and enticing classic book I've read in some time.  He captivated me from the start with his frightened yet curious nature.  After Billy Bones' demise, Jim embarks on an adventure of a lifetime, teaming up with a Captain Smollett, Doctor Livesey as well as a host of other lively characters including the crew of sailors - most of which were pirates.

Although on the surface the story is essentially about hunting for the blasted treasure, I found that was indeed so much more.  There was this undertone of treachery from the beginning and once the ship set sail, loyalties were tested and ultimately, deceit revealed.  There can’t be a pirate tale, unless there’s a mutiny, right?   And reading about the heinous finagling and murderous deeds was so chilling, I swear I’ll never get those pirate thugs out of my brain.  Brilliant.  The suspense and intrigue killed me at times for both the plot and the characters, especially Long John Silver.  I have to say my only complaint was the changing of the narrator.  I didn’t need it nor did I want it.  I understand why it was done, but it vexed me to no end.  Young Jim started out as a small flame and by the end of this tale he was blazing.  He was magnificent as was Silver.  

Since this was published, much of what the general public associates with pirates comes from this story.  I actually read a review recently where someone complained about how Treasure Island was riddled with clichés.  To me, there was an exorbitant amount of originality infused in this tale that I don’t understand how someone could classify it as such.  Between the X marks the spot, treasure maps, parrots, Skeleton Island and not to mention Silver’s relentlessly switching sides (remind you of Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow, eh?), clichés were the last thing on my mind.  It was written in 1883 for the love of Peter!  Authentic would be more precise, but that’s me.  All in all, Stevenson’s Treasure Island’s was a 5; an original from the onset that continues to thrive as a timeless classic today.

Mina B.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fridays with Fred: Zombie Attack!

Well minions, if you saw last week’s post, you’d know that Fred was preparing for a zombie attack.  And guess what?  They’re here! *cue in Poltergeist’s Carol Anne’s creepy voice*  All I have to say is one thing…Run, Freddie, RUN!
I bet that zombie lured him with a tennis ball too.  Poor Fred.  He didn't have a chance if one of them tricked him with a bally.  Come to think of it….a bony, Frisbee or squeaky toy would have worked too.  Oh, well.  It’s curtains for sure now, isn't it?

He may have one more chance at salvation.  If you were Fred, what would you do?

Fred's doomed!
Anyway, I hope you all have a great weekend.  And from the looks of it, stay indoors.  Remember to check out Schatze over at Bookhounds.

Mina B.
Note:  Original brilliant art is from

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lost in Words

Have you ever been lost in someone else's words?  I've decided to blog about this topic, because of a book review I recently read.  Sometimes I’m horrified by the reviews out there.  Hasn't anyone every heard the golden rule: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all?  I have to wonder...  (Read Nathan Bransford's Don't Be a Jerk for further clarification.)  Still, the reviewer had a point.  The reviewer’s chief complaint was how some writers choose to write in an overwritten/grandiose fashion versus artfully crafting a story. 
This is a topic that often plagues me.  So much that I did some digging and found this one blog post from The Literary Lab from a couple of years ago about the "Overwritten Prose" (an excellent post too for newbie & seasoned writers.)  
As a writer, sometimes I worry about perfecting my sentences/phrases, musing relentlessly over word choice or you name it.  I could go on and on, but you get the idea.  Yet, fundamentally, what always comes back to me is….stop obsessing or trying to be so darn clever or eloquent.  Write what comes naturally and tell a compelling story.  Sounds simple, right?  Not on your life.  Call me crazy, but I think the best authors have balance; instinctively knowing when to embellish and when to focus on the plot.   

As a reader nothing irritates me more than being lost in another author’s words.  It doesn't happen often, but when it does, I get frustrated.  And honestly, I can understand that one reviewer's main gripe which brings me to my question…

As a writer, do you get lost in your style of writing?  Be honest.  Newbie or not, we've all been there.  And as a reader, have you ever read a novel where the writing was so beautiful, but the plot didn't measure up?  Let's not focus on book bashing here...I’m only interested in perspective – all kinds. :0)

Mina B.