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Aisling D'Art "artist and author" RSS Feed (Portsmouth, NH USA)

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CRV - Controlled Remote Viewing: Collected manuals & information to help you learn this intuitive art.
CRV - Controlled Remote Viewing: Collected manuals & information to help you learn this intuitive art.
by Daz Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.79
15 used & new from $9.47

4.0 out of 5 stars Concise, useful information and training, April 8, 2014
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I bought this book because I expected it to be dry and to-the-point, and every bit as confusing as beta versions of training manuals.

I wasn't disappointed. While some of the advice is very specific, other sections remind me that CRV is a very nebulous skill. It's something people either get or they don't, after trying some of the exercises.

On a personal level, CRV has interested me for years. However, the field is fraught with ethical questions and some dangers, so I've never pursued it.

As a writer, I needed to understand the formal, more-or-less codified approach to CRV and this book delivered exactly that. I'm impressed.

What surprised me the most was what gets in the way of CRV. It's the one thing I thought would be the greatest asset to someone considering a CRV program.

This short, concise book is very good if you're interested in trying CRV and want to know what works best, so far.

Or if, like me, you want to include CRV elements or insights in a book you're writing, this is probably the very best book to read. The sequence of training steps may baffle you -- especially the early levels, when the work is deliberately generalized. However, this IS the real manual and it will give you a rich view (no pun intended) of how challenging CRV is, and what it's like to be immersed in that world.

Weird. Fascinating. Insightful. It's the how-to guide for those actually involved in "Men Who Stare at Goats" activities, based on the real exercises used by CRV trainers.

Writing Romance Fiction for Love and Money
Writing Romance Fiction for Love and Money
by Helene Schellenberg Barnhart
Edition: Hardcover
76 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Dated but classic, April 8, 2014
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I remember reading this book back when it first came out and I was writing Regency and contemporary romances. It was the only book of its kind.

Today, it's easy to overlook this gem in the glut of "how to write romance" books, and that's too bad. I wasn't sure how outdated this book might be, so I ordered a used copy. I may still order a "like new" copy to keep, but the one I received... the former owner had underlined sections with timeless advice. It's exactly what I needed to read. I'm delighted!

No matter how old the advice, certain things remain consistent in romance novels. They're the reason -- at a "gut level" -- why we read those books and why some of use write them.

Though some advice in this book is clearly dated, modern writers can glean enough useful tips to make this a smart addition to their writing libraries.

In fact, some of this advice is so good, I wish I could give the book four-and-a-half stars. "Writing Romance Fiction for Love and Money" is dated enough that I don't quite "love" it.

80% of the book may be a yawn for authors familiar with writing in the romance genre. However, I like the remaining 20% well enough to recommend it for all serious romance novelists.

Hoarders Season 5 [HD]
Hoarders Season 5 [HD]
Price: $19.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Okay, but losing the fun, April 8, 2014
I love books. And art supplies. And all things Disney. And... well, the list goes on. So, I'll confess that I like shows about hoarding because they nudge me to weed out and reorganize. I never want my home to resemble what I see on "Hoarders."

However, at a certain point -- and Season 5 of "Hoarders" seems to be there -- the "ah-HA!" light bulb turns on. Instead of the cool, quirky, "Wow... how very weird!" intrigue of the cases featured on the show... well, this season seems sad.

All of these people seem mentally ill. Most have experienced some kind of trauma that triggered the impulse to hold onto everything, or build an insulating wall of stuff around them as a defense, or both. And, all of them have made their own lives a misery and had a profoundly negative impact on people they love.

I'm not sure that should be on the TV as entertainment. Unfortunately, they're not actual documentaries, either. I mean, we all know the problems we're seeing aren't actually resolved in an hour, a week, or even a year, no matter how great the aftercare.

So, while these shows still kick me into gear so I revisit my various personal indulgences (like books and art supplies), the subject -- as something to watch on TV -- has become less entertaining. Instead of taking the show in the direction of weirder & weirder collections and hoarding efforts, this season seemed to head in an unhappy direction. They're featuring more deeply traumatized people with more devastating and tragic impacts on the people around them.

I'll continue watching because I'm hoping the producers realized most viewers aren't there to see the train wreck. We don't turn on the TV to pity others... do we? Well, maybe I'm one of a minority of viewers who watch "Hoarders" (and similar TV shows) for two reasons: To see how very interesting people are when they allow collecting to run wild, and to recognize those impulses we all have, and clean house long before collecting becomes a problem.

Ancient Aliens Season 2 [HD]
Ancient Aliens Season 2 [HD]
Price: $19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good starting point for further research, April 8, 2014
I enjoy selected episodes in this series because I'm a writer. I'm always interested in quirky topics that might become part of a story -- either a nonfiction book about odd phenomena or a novel (fiction) that could benefit from an intriguing detail or real-life, baffling thread.

So, this series has been very helpful. I like that each episode is about one main topic. After an introduction to things familiar to most fans of X-Files, etc., the show often focuses on the most unexplored (or least known) aspect of the topic du jour.

The narration is very good. Often, the videos are superb. They make it easy for me to take notes that capture the essence of the topic and, if I'm including the location in a novel, I get a strong sense of what it would be like to visit wherever-it-is.

This series has a running focus related to aliens. However, instead of limiting itself to the same old UFO topics, these shows bring attention to odd, unusual, quirky, and intriguing peripheral topics. While die-hard UFO fans may not be as dazzled as I am, if you're a researcher who likes paranormal, New Age, and offbeat ("cue the Twilight Zone soundtrack") subjects... I think you'll like this series.

The World of King Arthur
The World of King Arthur
by Christopher A. Snyder
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $25.18
83 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Rich, delicious, evocative, and wonderful!, April 4, 2014
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I bought this as a reference book for my writing (novels) and it's exceeded my expectations. If you want to visit King Arthur's world, this book may be as good as it gets, unless you actually trek to Wales, Glastonbury (England), and related sites.

You'll get a little of everything in this beautiful book. Whether you need a casual reference book or a starting point for more in-depth research, this is one of the best books of its kind. While interpretations of King Arthur's life & times may vary, this book is stylish and evokes a wide range of images -- historical to romantic.

It's an ideal reference for writers, and I think it'd be useful for teachers who want to make the world of King Arthur more real to students.

Honeysuckle Memories: A collection of short stories
Honeysuckle Memories: A collection of short stories
Price: $2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eerie, chilling, and unexpected, April 4, 2014
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Do you like unpredictable stories that practically leave you speechless? You're going to like these short, strange tales.

They're raw. They're beautifully crafted. However, they're not the kind of tales to read in bed before turning out the light. Not if you're expecting happy dreams, anyway.

Ms. Ferry's work is stunning. Pun intended. I'm gasping in admiration of her writing skills, and kind of horrified by how much I like these tales. Who even thinks of these kinds of plot twists? Obviously, the Honeysuckle author does, and she delivers them with understated flair.

Oh, expect to feel ho-hum through most of the first story you read. In each tale, an abundance of precise, mundane details present a very vivid scene. It's stylish, but the kind of thing many of us encounter every day. Where's the story in that...?

Then, you'll reach the final line. If you're like me, you'll pause. You'll wonder if the author really meant to say... well, what the words suggest. And then, as the punch line sinks in, you'll think "oh dear heaven."

At that point, you'll have no choice. You'll turn to the next story to see if it's as jarring, eerie, and captivating as the previous one. It will be.

I'd give this book five stars, except I can't get myself to say I "love" these stories. They're too unsettling to actually love.

However, I definitely love Ms. Ferry's skills as a writer and storyteller. If her other work is like this, I'll be buying everything she writes. It's creepy and breathtaking and utterly fascinating.

I may also be sleeping with the light on, after reading these tales.

Fear: 13 Stories of Suspense and Horror
Fear: 13 Stories of Suspense and Horror
by Jennifer Allison
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.78
73 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Great anthology with a lot of variety!, March 29, 2014
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I was a little uneasy, buying this book. Some of Stine's post-Goosebumps (original series) books have disappointed me, but I love good ghost stories so I gave this a try.

I'm very happy with "Fear." The stories feature a lot of variety, and everything from "good scares" to "gotcha" endings that made me laugh out loud.

In general, this book didn't skimp on the "eeeuuuuwww!" factor, but it didn't make my stomach lurch, either. So, for me, it was a Goldilocks book ("just right!").

If you want a fun book to read at night when the moon is full and the wind makes the house creak, this is a good choice.

When Every Month is NaNoWriMo
When Every Month is NaNoWriMo
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for NaNoWriMo, good for the rest of the year, too, March 29, 2014
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I'm a huge fan of Larry Brooks' advice. In my bookcase of writing references, his books -- and an over-sized notebook of his articles, printed out -- take up half a shelf.

Until he explained it fully, I just didn't GET the concept of First Plot Point, or why it was so important. For me, that was a huge game-changer. So, I'm eternally in Mr. Brooks' debt for explaining the concept so clearly.

This book is about writing for NaNoWriMo, or writing a novel a month at any other time of year. It's not Brooks' best work, but NaNoWriMo forces writers -- deliberately -- to rush through a 50k novel. With that in mind, you won't find advice much better than Brooks', and he's condensed it nicely in this book.

If you're writing fiction, I like this book for many useful tips. Some are kind of "Cliff Notes" versions of concepts he's explained, richly and deliciously, in his Story Engineering and Story Physics books.

If you're a Larry Brooks fan, as I am, you'll want this book so you own the complete set of his work.

And, if you're writing for NaNoWriMo, this book might be the key to winning the challenge. Read it at least two months before you begin, so you have time to follow his planning advice. With that finalized, you should be able to fly through the book.

Ordinarily, I'm not a big fan of books that recommend writing quickly, but since NaNoWriMo is about writing fast... well, this guide contains the valuable tips every writer needs to win the challenge. And, it's a wonderful overview of the deeper concepts Mr. Brooks explains in his other books.

Azon Best Seller: How to Publish a Best Selling Kindle Book
Azon Best Seller: How to Publish a Best Selling Kindle Book
Price: $5.97

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Okay, it's publishing, but it's not writing and it's not helpful, March 29, 2014
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Mea culpa. At social media sites, before I read this book, I said I'd bought it. That may have led people to believe it might be a good, amusing book. In my opinion, it's neither.

Oh, I love Brian Johnson's humor, online. I thought I'd love this book, as well.

Then, I read it and I don't. However, to be fair: I'm a writer and the word "writing" doesn't appear anywhere on the book cover. My expectations may have been too high.

This book does share some good tips about publishing. I'd read most of them in others' reports and courses, but Brian distilled them down to their basic (perhaps lowest) common denominators. Those can be useful if you're a busy author and just need some pointers.

However, the rest of this book...? No. Too many run-on sentences made this book difficult to read. (I actually counted the words in one sentence, and it was 46 words long. Really.)

Other sections were simply confusing. I had to re-read them multiple times to figure them out. Even then, I wasn't always sure what Mr. Johnson was trying to say.

So, I wasn't happy with this book by the 20% point. I didn't like the bold-typed first letter in each paragraph, either. It seemed like very odd formatting.

Then there was Mr. Johnson's heavy emphasis on keywords. His advice might sell niche research software, but I don't think it's the smartest way to predict book success. When you're planning to write a book, by-the-numbers approaches won't give you the entire story. (No pun intended.)

My shoulders really sagged in disappointment when I reached the section where he recommended outsourcing book content. I won't say it's a complete blight on the indie publishing field, but it's close.

Hiring someone who writes articles for $3 - $15, to author your book for you...? Bad advice. (Yes, I once worked for an article-writing service. Among professionals, that kind of writing is called "junk on paper." Those $15 articles weren't our best efforts, and we only wrote them to pay the rent. Pride in our work...? No. We were grateful our names weren't on the finished products.)

Then again, outsourcing may explain things like the 46-word sentence in this book.

All in all, I think this kind of book misleads nice, trusting people with dreams of being published someday. It sells them on a business model that's more about making money than developing career skills as a writer/publisher.

If you're a veteran author who can sort the wheat from chaff to glean a few tips, you may find this book worthwhile at the 99-cent price.

Otherwise, I can't recommend this book.

Writing Steampunk
Writing Steampunk
by Beth Henderson
Edition: Paperback
16 used & new from $33.36

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource for writers, March 27, 2014
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This review is from: Writing Steampunk (Paperback)
If you're writing Steampunk novels, you need this book. Other books can show you Steampunk imagery, but this book conveys the elements every novel in this genre needs to have, and how to write them.

I wasn't sure if I was interested in this kind of writing, but within just a few pages, this book had not only caught my interest, but started the story wheels turning in my mind.

I'm actually planning to modify some of my own books, to include these elements for more fun and style.

If you're writing Steampunk -- or even thinking about it -- this book is a must-own.

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