Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Review: Mr. Monk is Cleaned Out

I recently picked up Mr. Monk is Cleaned Out, hoping that it would be as good as the last Monk book I read by the author. It was! The book starts off with the economic crisis of San Francisco, and Monk is fired from his job while in the middle of an investigation. Monk pursues the investigation without pay, because he was fooled into a Ponzi scheme by the man suspected of murder. Monk's character is enjoyable the entire way through! He works at a Grocery Store, a Pizza Parlor and a Fashion Store in hopes that he will get his job back, and Monk's persnickety attitude is just as well described in the book as it is on the show.

I only have one problem with the book. It is written like a Screenplay, and that is not necessarily bad. It is mostly dialogue, so if you like that kind of thing then you will like this. If you are hoping for an overly descriptive mystery novel, then you will be disappointed. I liked that the book was written this way, it showed Monk's personality better this way.

If you are a Monk fan, then you will absolutely love these books. Since the show has been off the air, I have really enjoyed getting a 45 minute TV episode in my head. The books are fast paced, and most importantly, a very quick read. I finished the book in three days and really enjoyed it. I give the book 4.5 stars.

To see an interview I conducted with the author, Lee Goldberg, click here: http://www.spencerbrokaw.com/2011/11/interview-with-lee-goldberg.html

Sunshine Award!

I got home to receive the Sunshine award from fellow writer Emerald Barnes! Her blog is amazing, check it out here: http://ebarnes23.wordpress.com/

Here are the requirements:


1.  Thank the person that gave you the award. Thanks again Emerald!
2. Write a post about it.
3. Answer the questions below.
4. Pass the award on to 10 bloggers who you think deserve it.
Favorite Color: Blue 
Favorite Animal: Dog, the only animal I feel comfortable letting in my house.
Favorite Number: 7, because it is the luckiest of all numbers (at least for me), and is part of James Bond's classic 007.
Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drink: Grape Juice mixed with Sprite, because it combines my favorite Soda, Sprite, and my favorite Juice, Grape Juice.
Facebook or Twitter? Facebook.
My Passion? Becoming a better writer.
Giving or Getting Presents? Giving. 
Favorite Pattern? I don't know. I never really thought about having a favorite pattern of anything. Let's just say squares repeated across a page (if that is a pattern).
Favorite Day of the Week: Saturday.
Favorite Flower: Rafflesia, probably because it is one of the largest and weirdest flowers I have ever seen.
Five blogs worth your time. Here are five blogs that I think deserve recognition. 
The Musings of a Book Addict: http://www.themusingsofabookaddict.com/

Monday, January 30, 2012

10,000 Pageviews!

I know, yet another thanks to my blog readers, but this is the most deserved. You guys have helped me reach 10,000 pageviews in the few months I have been blogging, thanks! For helping me get this many pageviews, you can get The Impenetrable Spy for free on Smashwords until February 8th, 2012. Make sure to enter this code at checkout:

 KN37N - http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/73511

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Check out my Public Facebook Page!

I recently made a public Facebook page where I will give my writing insight, information about current projects, and my everyday, hectic life! Come check it out and make sure to "like" the page and subscribe to it's updates.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spencer-Brokaw/289339397788951

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Using Dialogue

For me, one of the hardest parts of writing is coming up with clever dialogue that flows and sounds good in the readers head. I normally go over the top with my description (at least I think so), but I lack dialogue. It is also hard for me to write much dialogue on a story about a rogue agent that picks off his targets from a distance. In my latest book, I am focusing on the dialogue more than ever.

   Some of the best writers have complicated dialogue, and others have short sentences that run easily in your head. Dialogue is meant to reveal and discuss events between characters as an exchange of information. You could be complicated and write impossible Shakespeare dialogue, but the best dialogue is written like you speak. You's changed to Ya's and so forth. The one thing to be very careful about in your dialogue is using slang terms and references that may be out of speech in a few years. Also, when writing a book set in the future, refrain from using slang that probably won't be used.

   When writing your next story, remember not to go over the top on your dialogue, and to refrain from using modern slang terms.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Using Character Perspectives

   First and third person are both character perspectives. Which one to pick when writing a story can be simple, or hard. First person should (in my opinion) be used when you want the reader to cope and understand your main character for what he/she is. First person adds a lot of depth to your main character, and thoughts from this character are always shown. First person should also be used when the character is very biased towards a subject, and the story has to do with it.

   Third person is great when you would like to flow from character to character in a chapter, and this is something you can't do with first (you can, but it's a little odd to). Third is also great when you want other characters thoughts and opinions to be shown as well. When writing a story about a psychologically different person, like a psychic, it is to your benefit to write in first person, because this character is different, and his thoughts and reactions might be different and need to be thoroughly explained.

   Third is great when writing a book about a spy, where you might want to jump to the bad guy and to the agency and to the main character a lot. This is not a rule, this is my opinion. Now, when you write, it is up to you to pick a perspective. Some pick the one they are most comfortable using. Others, are clever and figure out that they can weave the story using the character perspective that they chose. When picking your character perspective, think about what advantages and disadvantages it will play in your story.

Friday, January 20, 2012

New Blog Name?

   I need help from my blog readers. My blog name, Writing tips from a 12 year old author, needs to change, because I am turning 13 very soon. I could change the blog name from a 12 to 13, but if my blog readers have an idea for a name, comment and let me know. I'd appreciate it tremendously!

   I do have a real post bundled with this. The power of blog names. Some blog names are boring, while others make you want to click to find out what's inside. Your blog name is the visual before the click, and it will give your reader a picture before they even click on your website. It's like a video game. You might see the cover at the store, and then in turn want to play it, because of the artwork and title. The same goes with your blog, except for the artwork part.

   Your title should draw readers in, and be catchy. Writing tips from a 12 year old author is a bit long, and not very catchy. For some reason, I just never changed my blog name. After a while, it grew on me. The biggest thing about my title is that it should hopefully draw in a reader. The fact that author and 12 are mentioned in the title might attract someone into my website, so they can find out more. When you name your blog, try to make it:

1.) Short
2.) Catchy
3.) Easy to remember
4.) Intriguing

I hope this post helps. Don't forget to leave a comment for me!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rewriting? Or Editing?

There are multiple steps in the editing process. I am just going to cover the aspects of rewriting a passage, or editing it. When your paragraph gets too choppy, it will seem almost not editable. You have to ask yourself, "Can I get this passage flowing and sounding good by editing? Or will I have to rewrite it?"

   Rewriting isn't hard, and it doesn't take any longer than editing. Rewrites are common in my book, because in some points I had been writing for countless hours. After awhile, you will see spots that don't flow, and where description should be added. Sometimes you can't just doctor it and get a satisfactory result, so you rewrite it instead. When rewriting, make sure to read the paragraph before what your rewriting, that way you can get a successful transition into your rewrite. Same with the paragraph after. I have been a lot more picky about my writing, especially compared to my first book, where I only worried on spelling mistakes. There's not a single rewrite in it. Nowadays, I am picking apart my story on my own, along with help from my dad, who points out things I would normally be oblivious to.
   Editing should be done where you just have to "sprinkle" something over what you have already written to improve it. Take this into consideration when editing your next piece of writing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Book Review: Splinter Cell

 
WARNING: Check with your parents before reading this, it has some adult scenes, coarse language, and violence.

I recently read Splinter Cell, a book in the Tom Clancy video game franchise. Splinter Cell follows agent Sam Fisher, an employed NSA agent working for a secret government agency, Third Echelon, in the branch of the NSA. A mysterious man has kidnapped his daughter, and that becomes a side quest to the mission he is already on. Sam must stop insane political leader Nasir Tarighian and the Shop, a terrorist organization determined to ruin the Middle East.

   The book was cleverly written, and I had lots of current knowledge on the main character. I would have liked flashbacks onto his past life though, because his childhood to adulthood is not explained well, or why he became a governement agent in the first place. The book was filled with military information, that if not understood correctly, will highly confuse the reader. Weapons and planes are described not for looks, but for their capabilities and specifications, that would not be known to a large audience. Splinter Cell makes your heart beat, but can get repetitive at some points. Overall, I was pulled into the story, and it was brilliantly written. There is a large variety of enemies that all have their own plans, and it helped bring the story to life. I would reccomend this book and give it a rating of 3 and a half stars. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Working with Multiple Websites/Blogs

   I write for a column on Unruly Guides and manage this website at the same time. Writing for multiple websites is hard, and you have to have the time to do it. I am not talking about writing for multiple websites though. I am talking about, creating, managing, and writing for multiple websites. Some people have a professional website where their book links are shown, along with a biography. Others, have a blog, that functions like that only with thoughts from the blog writer. Some have multiple websites on completely unrelated topics.

   When you work on the websites, try to get your ideas separated in journals, that way you don't have to think of something on the spot. Try out different website creators, such as Blogger and Wordpress, until you find the one that offers the most beneficial widgets and templates for your topic. Both websites should have posting schedules that way you don't post more on one than the other. I try to post at least every other day on here, so if I had a different website, I would work on the other on the days I don't work on this one. These are just a few of my thoughts on operating different websites, and working on multiple ones.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Distancing Oneself

Writing is great. It is a creative outlet that allows you to compile personal opinions and feelings, while telling a story that others will enjoy as much as you did writing it. Although writing is fun, I think that there should always be a distance from it. Write a couple hours a day, but there should always be a barrier between it and your life. Don't write 24/7, because your writing will seem repetitive and not thought out. Writing is a thing that should be done everyday if you want to improve, but should be only a small portion of what you do. I love to write, but I don't constantly do it. Most adults don't have writing as a job, so there needs to be a distance from it so they can focus on something else. Same with kids who write. Don't write all the time, but write at a good pace. It is like running; you should keep a steady pace, but don't fall behind or go too fast.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Simple and to the Point

Ernest Hemingway was once asked to write an entire story in just six words. He wrote, " For Sale: baby shoes, never worn." 

   This "story" has several questions that go along with it. Why weren't the baby shoes ever worn? What happened to the baby? Keeping it simple and to the point is an essential key in writing. Some writers add in pointless description to make themselves look smarter. Others, get rid of the unneeded information during the editing process. Certain information is valuable to the reader, while other information is stuff you threw in while trying to put together a chapter. When you review what you've written, make sure you analyze the information you've put down, and ask yourself if it is needed in the story. 
   Some sentences have too much in just themselves alone. Cut back on unnecessary words too. In a sentence like the following, "He put the red baseball cap over his head, and ran out the door as quick as possible." That could be changed to, "He put the red cap on his head, and sprinted out the door." Both sentences deliver similar information, and the second one is more smooth, and unless the hat being a baseball cap is valuable to the story, it is not needed. When writing or reviewing your next chapter, make sure to keep a look out for information that could be scrapped, and try to keep the sentences simple, and to the point.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ohio Award of Recognition


 I just received a recognition/award from the Ohio House of Representatives. I am in awe and so pleased that they decided to recognize me and send me this letter. I will surely get it framed and hang it next to my desk, where I will be reminded that people like my writing, and that helps me pursue my dreams. Thanks for all of the support!

Endless Ideas

   Ideas are endless. It is as simple as that. Ideas might be endless, but running out of them for a duration is going to happen. There are times when I have no idea what I am going to write as a blog post. When I run out of ideas, it is normally when I am not active at my writing or my reading. When I say reading, I am talking about the writing books I have picked up in the last year. I read a chapter every once and a while, but it isn't something I frequently do. When I do pick up a writing book, you would be surprised at the amount of ideas I get. Almost a fourth of my posts come from reading books about writing. If you would like to come up with more ideas for a subject, work on that subject and the ideas will come. You can't force yourself to come up with ideas, so you have to do things that will result in them.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Guest Speaking

Guest speaking is very hard. A few weeks ago I was privileged enough to get to speak to a fifth grade class about writing. They were genuinely interested, and were fun to talk to. A good guest speaker should have an idea of what they will be covering and going over. I had no idea what I was going to say. It was a rocky start, but I picked up a good conversation. Starting and ending with questions can help get you going. If someone asks a good question, you can start speaking about one topic and end up getting ideas out of it. The fifth grade class didn't ask me about money, which was a relief. I could tell that they were interested in what I had to say, and that they were actually interested about writing. Otherwise, the questions about money would've been asked left and right. Below are five tips for being a good guest speaker.

1.) Know your audience. If you are talking about film, ask about other people's different projects. They like to be acknowledged and know that you aren't only worried about yourself. 

2.) Keep eye contact. Without eye contact, your audience might not be able to hear you very well, and will think you are shy. You need to keep eye contact so they know you are actually listening to them when they ask a question.

3.) Take questions. Guest speaking can be effective without questions, but with them the audience will be able to have certain things answered that you might not have covered.

4.) Know what categories you will cover, and what points you are trying to make. Every good speech should include main points. Successful guest speakers know that their conversation is heading in a certain direction. Without structure, what you are talking about will crumble.

5.) Be social. Talk about your upcoming projects and explain them if the audience is interested. If you can tell the audience is not interested in what you are talking about, change subjects.

Guest speaking can be a lot of fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed the fifth grader's reactions. The teacher told me that they came in at lunch to write and liked what I had to say. I was very happy and a smile broke out across my face. The students kept asking me about specific points in my book, and I got a kick out of every question they asked. When you start your speech, make sure you start quickly. It took me a bit to get settled and comfortable, but that's how it is when you are talking to a group of strangers. I hope this post helps you; please leave comments as they are much appreciated.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Establishing a Mood

Some stories are happy, sad, angry, etc. Every story has a distinct mood, and words show that. In a happy story, sad words aren't going to be used. The author should use words that match the target audience and mood they are shooting for.  Moods can make the reader want to read your book, or completely turn them away from it. Certain readers love to read dark books, and others like to read books with a more positive, upbeat feel. When writing, your word choice will directly affect the mood of the story. Certain genres follow different moods. A suspense, action, or espionage novel will normally have a suspenseful feel. When writing your next story, watch your word choice and try to make them fit for your novel.