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Friday, May 26, 2017

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 63
Storm Front by Jim Butcher


Download the .mp3

In this 63rd episode, I review Storm Front by Jim Butcher. Listen to hear why I thought this book was such a fun read. Moody, dark, full of awesome magical detective work that had me on the edge of my seat, scared, and laughing my head off all in the same book. 

Buy the Book on Amazon (Affiliate Link):
Storm Front (Dresden Files)

Check the author's website:
http://www.jim-butcher.com/

Music Attribution:
Music by Kevin MacLeod at http://www.incompetech.com
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Visit my website: www.DanDanTheArtMan.com

Support the show AND get a free audiobook!
http://www.audibletrial.com/DansBookReviews

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week:

Storm Front: The Dresden Files, Book 1 (Affiliate Link)
Written by Jim Butcher
Narrated James Marsters


This episode of Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews has been brought to you by Audible. Visit www.AudiblePodcast.com/DansBookReviews for a free trial membership.

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Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

30-Day Author: Develop a Daily Writing Habit and Write Your Book in 30 Days (or Less) | Book Review

W3Schools
Affiliate Link
For whatever reason, this is the book that helped me to finally start a daily writing habit. There's a ton of great stuff in this book but the best thing I took from it was to write every day. I've heard that advice for years and years but after reading this book I finally put it into practice and low and behold it helped me finish the book I was writing in way less time than it would have taken me with my old writing habits.

I got a lot out of this book. Nothing flashy or fancy, just truthful sound writing advice. It worked too! I'm in my second month of writing every day, and I'll never go back. Time to go read some of this authors fiction!

Pick this book up and give it a read. Your finished books will thank you for it:
30-Day Author: Develop a Daily Writing Habit and Write Your Book in 30 Days (or Less) (Wordslinger) (Affiliate Link)

The author Kevin Tumlinson also has a great writing podcast that I listen to called The Wordslinger. Podcast Check it out too! I've gotten a lot out of it. He has a ton of great interviews.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 62
Looking for Alaska by John Green


Download the .mp3

In this 62nd episode, I review Looking for Alaska by John Green. Listen to hear why I thought this book was amazing for its brilliant writing and authentic coming of age narrative. I'm a sucker for coming of age stories and this one really got to me. I loved it. 

Buy the Book on Amazon (Affiliate Link):
Looking for Alaska

Check the author's website:
www.johngreenbooks.com

Music Attribution:
Music by Kevin MacLeod at http://www.incompetech.com
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Visit my website: www.DanDanTheArtMan.com

Support the show AND get a free audiobook!
http://www.audibletrial.com/DansBookReviews

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week:

Looking for Alaska (Affiliate Link)
Written by John Green
Narrated Jeff Woodman


This episode of Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews has been brought to you by Audible. Visit www.AudiblePodcast.com/DansBookReviews for a free trial membership.

Audible Free Trial Details

Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Writing Update | Haunted House Flipper

This cover is a work in progress.
Hi guys. I just wanted to give you all a little update on how my writing is going on my current novel "Haunted House Flipper." Once I started writing every day the first draft was done in a couple of months. Now, however, it's going slower. One reason for this is that I do a lot of the first draft while commuting by talking into my phone.

I use speech to text and so my phone transcribes everything I say. It's a really fast way to work and it allows me to talk to my phone while I drive and spit out a story. Of course, there's a lot of editing in post to fix the funny ways my speech gets transcribed into the wrong words, but it's not that bad. My phone is surprisingly accurate and speech to text gets words on the screen way faster than I can type. The dialog also comes out very naturally and seems a lot easier to do than when writing on a keyboard.

All this to say that I can't really edit my work in the way I need to while driving. If I was doing copy edits then that's pretty easy. I have my phone use text to speech to read my writing to me and if I hear something wrong I stop and use speech to text in a notes app to write down the typo. Then I can go back later and use the Find feature to search right to those typos and correct them. I'm happy to say that most of the story, even on a sentence by sentence level, isn't changing.

The problem is that over halfway through my book I changed the mentor character into also being the love interest. I'm also not sure if they're just going to develop a friendship throughout the book or a romance by the end of it. So those are parts I'm going to need to rewrite or heavily edit. Once I see how that goes I'll get to the end and write the last scene. Then my book will be through the second draft and ready for Beta Readers. If you just can't wait you can also be a beta reader for me now on Wattpad. Just follow along there as I publish the revised chapters until the whole book is up there. I'd really appreciate any feedback you have for me. Thanks! Here's a little preview of the story below if you want to check it out right now without leaving this page. From here it will take you right to the story on Wattpad too!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Old Man's War by John Scalzi | Book Review

The main character, John Perry, turns 75 and decides to join the army. There he's promised that he'll somehow be made new again like when he was young. He just has to leave all he's known and fight a bunch of aliens. But hey there's no other way to be young again and see the rest of the universe! 

I liked this book a lot, at first. You might love it all the way through. The reasons I sort of lost interest in it just might be the reasons a lot of other science fiction readers will enjoy this book. It was a great book, it just wasn't for me. I liked it, but I didn't love it.

The author's sense of humor helped a lot and made this a really fun read most of the time. Even though it can get dark and scary, the main character jokes his way through it all. That part of the book was awesome and I laughed out loud many times while reading this book. So that was one of its strengths to me.

The story was pretty cool too, that is while there was a story being told. A lot of the book was just a huge info dump to me which is why I grew bored reading it. I loved the scenes with boot camp and the characters getting to know their weapons. Those were some awesome rifles if you can call them that. The way the characters get to interact with their weapons and artificial intelligence was really cool in this book. That's all I will say so I don't give anything away.

The experience the characters had during boot camp came across as authentic. The author did a great job fleshing out that part of the story. It was well done.

Okay, now to the stuff I didn't care for that others might love. There were several scenes that are what I would call "talking head" scenes. Just characters sitting in a room talking. Some of them had the characters describing the science behind some of the futuristic technology in the book. That might be something most science fiction readers will love but I was super bored. I prefer scenes that push the story forward and keep moving. For me, these felt like huge stopping points where the story stopped and I had to push my way through huge info dumps. There was one early on and then a lot in the last half of the book. I lost interest for a while there because I stopped caring about what would happen to the characters. It did make you think about interesting situations that could come up in this crazy futuristic science fiction world.

There also wasn't much description in this book so it was hard to imagine it in my mind. I knew what was going on but could only get a vague picture of it visually. So it was talking heads in a blank white room, which to me was very boring. This isn't a story to paint the picture in your mind, but it's still a fun one with lots of cool future technology in it.

So if you're in for some cool Sci-Fi tech and some laughs check this book out. If you're in for a ton of dialogue and some thought provoking ideas then give this book a try. If you're looking for a fast paced action adventure story with vivid detail and descriptions then you might be a little disappointed. This book has a lot of strengths and I can see why so many people liked it, it just wasn't my cup of tea.

Get the book on Amazon (Affiliate Link):
Old Man's War

Check out the author's website:
http://whatever.scalzi.com/

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Write! App | A Review

Write! App
https://writeapp.co/
I was approached to try out a new app called Write! and I'm here to share my findings on it after using it. It's a cool app. Simple and sleek yet powerful. They got my attention in their email with the idea that it's a distraction-free writing app. I'm all about that. The app has a bunch of great features too. My preferred app for writing first drafts for years has been Notepad because it's literally just the text on the screen. No squiggly lines when you misspell a word. It's just you and the text and that's what I prefer. By the way, in this Write! app you can go to Tools > Turn Spellchecker Off and you get the notepad-like experience I love. All that editing stuff is for after you finish the first draft. This app can look almost as bare bones as that, and it's a great app for writing in and I really like the user experience after writing with it for a while. Let me tell you what I like about it. 

First off, all my stuff gets saved to the cloud. This is a big one for me, and one of the main reasons I moved from using Notepad to another software that's similar but saves to the cloud automatically. If my hardware dies I don't have to worry about losing any of my work. I love this feature! It gives me peace of mind. It also allows me to get to my documents from anywhere.

One feature I found, while digging around in the settings, is Enable Typing Sounds. I thought this was super cool with headphones on. Every time you hit a key you can hear either Mechanical or Typewriter sounds. Both sounded pretty cool and made me feel a little like I was typing on a typewriter or one of those great old computer keyboards that were a lot louder and required you to push down more on the keys. I still love typing on those old keyboards. Nothing can beat the sound. It brings me back to writing when I was young.

It's easy to have multiple projects open at the same time and switch between them with the tabs. This is really great for me when I'm doing things like glancing at my story outline document while writing the first draft of my novel. Other writing apps don't always make it so easy to switch between projects. The tabs feature is great.

If you want to change your user interface they make it super easy. Hate writing with black text on a white background? Use their "Switch to Dark Theme" feature to change it all to white text on a gray background with the click of a button. I'm used to writing with black text on a white background, but after trying the Dark Theme I couldn't go back to the Light Theme. It almost hurt. The Dark Theme is much easier on your eyes.

Have a deadline? You can set daily goals and track productivity stats. You can publish documents from the app to share with others. There's also a whole bunch of preset text styles to give you the look you're after. I've found that using a font I like while writing actually changes the experience for me so I think this is a cool feature.

Last but not least there's a feature unlike one I've seen before called focus mode. This fades out all the paragraphs except for the one you're working on. Don't knock it until you've tried it. It goes one step further in helping you have a distraction-free writing environment. It almost guides your eyes to the paragraph you're writing and makes the rest of the UI fade out of your attention. It's pretty cool.

Check out this awesome writing app here: https://writeapp.co/

Thursday, May 11, 2017

I Finished My Book!


Well, writing every day in March and April rewarded me with a finished manuscript. The first draft of my novel "Haunted House Flipper" is complete! I wrote this in the last blog post but this is more of a hurrah let's celebrate post because it's done! I'm currently going through it to clean it up and change the mentor character into the mentor/love interest character.

Obviously A Work In Progress :)
Other than that I haven't been changing much. Just a few awkward sentences here and there. A bit more description in a few places, but my changes are pretty minimal! I'm very happy about that and Dean Wesley Smith would say that's a good thing too. He's all about first drafts, a little cleanup - and call it good! I'm even more happy that I don't think I'll have the problem with this book that I've had with every other novel I've written. When I got to the end and reread it or gave it to beta readers I could tell the story was broken. No good structure, flow, plot or pacing.

That's because I was new and didn't really know much about story structure or how to outline. My outline is pretty sparse and mostly consists of story beats that are like tent poles that hold up the major parts of my story and it's up to me to fill in all the gaps between. I figure those out as I go, but I like to try and write what happens next with a few sentences because that helps me write way faster. I learned that trick from the book 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron. By the way, if you click on that link and buy the amazing book that really helped me write faster it gives me a little kickback so thanks!

So yeah. It's done! Time to revise it so I can get it to Beta Readers and get some feedback on it! If you would like to be a beta reader just let me know. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, May 8, 2017

A Writing Update and Results from Writing Every Day in April



That's me sitting in the pool drinking a Dirty Monkey. Oh man they're good! I've been gone for a week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with my lovely wife celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary! I didn't have a chance to write up any blog posts, but I'm back and it's time for a nice big update. I had some pretty good writing days on our trip, tapping away with my thumbs on my iPhone. On 5/1/17 I wrote 1,960 words on my phone, and on the 3rd I wrote 818, and finally 1,533 words on the fourth. We headed back the next day.

My manuscript is currently at 59,638 words and I'm calling the first draft done even though I still need to write the last chapter. Let me explain. While over halfway through writing the first draft I realized I needed to change the mentor character into the love interest as well. This means changing the character from a dude to a lady and doing a bit of work on their relationship throughout the story. I'm not really sure where it will end up but once I know that I'll know what the last chapter needs to be.

So, I finished the first draft of "Haunted House Flipper!" I plan on going back through it now while it's somewhat fresh to rewrite little bits with those two love birds and their character reactions. I might not end up changing much because as it stands now they're still just friends at the end of the book. It might take some beta readers to let me know if that is a letdown or not. Either way, I will get this book cleaned up and published sometime this year. Once I finish the illustrations for my children's chapter book that one will be ready to publish too! After that I'm over halfway done writing my novel "Zombie Super Powers" and I have a completed Science Fiction novel called "We're Moving to Space" that needs a huge plot overhaul to fix the pacing. So let's see how many books I can publish this year! It will be at least two. Hopefully 3 or 4! I better get on it. Thanks for stopping by, and check out the data from my Writing Every Day in April below in a nice table and graph:

Here's a table showing how I did writing every day in April:
-->
-->
DateDaily Word CountTotal Word CountAverage Word Count
4/16969508.4
4/21483
4/39171000
4/43471347
4/54291776
4/68742650
4/74463096
4/87253821
4/92904111
4/109965107
4/1110696176
4/125356711
4/133827093
4/148777970
4/1507970
4/163668336
4/179679303
4/1872610029
4/1963110660
4/2028310943
4/2143411377
4/2211211489
4/2361812107
4/248612193
4/25149213685
4/2631614001
4/273314034
4/2825814292
4/2921314505
4/3074715252
-->

Here's a nice little graph: