Guest Post: Cut, cut, cut! Keep Your Writing Brief…


Meet Cindy

If I can give one piece of writing advice, it is: Be brief.

When I started a weekly newspaper column in 2000, I wrote about the pink bike my dad built for me from an old clunker. The hilarious antics of my young kids. My quest to convince my husband that driving an hour to cash in a coupon was worth the cost of the gas – you know, vital stuff that readers loved and couldn’t do without.

And then the economy dipped. The newspaper needed more space for advertising, and do you know what they did? They slashed my space. MY space! And in the course of the next few years I went from no word limit, to 900 words, to 700…and, to make a long story short (and demonstrate my mastery of brevity), I am now at 400.

Funny thing is…it made me a stronger writer. More focused. Even wittier. Turns out, you don’t need 900 words to set the scene, lay out the plot, and pull the punch line. Jump right in, tell the story, and get outta Dodge.

Some easy places to cut:

–          Adverbs. Seriously, if it has an “ly” at the end, get rid of it. Honestly. Absolutely. You don’t need them. Truly.

–          Adjectives. You want to paint a picture with words. Adjectives help. But use sparingly. (This adverb’s okay. No sense going crazy about it!) Try the rule of three. You can say the flowers were pink, purple, white, yellow, blue, and green. But if you say they were pink, purple, and yellow, people picture a colorful bouquet.

–          Do you need to “start?” I started to run. She started to giggle. You started reading this wonderful blog post. Dive right in! I ran. She giggled. You read this wonderful blog post.

–          Don’t give unnecessary descriptions. In the second paragraph of this blog, I could have said, “When I started a weekly humor column on family life and marriage for our local newspaper in 2000, I wrote about….” But see, when I went on to describe a few columns, the reader got the idea. With fewer words.

Readers are in a hurry. Be kind to them. Be brief!


Writing from central Pennsylvania, Cindy O. Herman has had to learn to slash her normally chatty writing style down to the (almost) bare bones and still come up smiling…and you can, too! Check out her Giggles and Grins blog of nice, brief posts at

Book Spotlight: The Caretaker of Imagination by Z.R Southcombe

Thanks to the author for sending us a free copy all the way from New Zealand to Scotland. My 11-year-old son is enjoying the book and appreciates the opportunity to read it. What a lovely surprise to find this book on our door mat! There are some real cool benefits to running a book-loving blog and offering book reviews*. Anyhow, here’s the blurb…


Bored with his normal life, John Carroll runs away with his faithful cat in search of adventure. When he meets a real-life pirate, John realizes there is much more to the world than he’d ever thought possible – magic is real, and in desperate need of a hero.

John must convince the (once fearsome) Captain Simon Peabody to join him on a fantastic and perilous quest to find the only person who can save magic from being lost forever: the Caretaker of Imagination.

This wondrous tale harks back to the style of classic children’s literature. Perfect as a read-aloud, it is sure to delight readers of all ages.


To discover more about this book and the author, please head to


*A review of this book will be published on Amazon once my son gives me his feedback. Typically I read and review the books posted to me, but as this is a kids book, my son is helping me out – a kids perspective is invaluable in this instance. If you have a kids book in need of review do get in touch. I have an 11, 9 and 4 year old at home.

A Friend in Need…

I wouldn’t normally do this kind of post but Carmen has been nothing but supportive to myself and many other creative souls. She is always looking for ways to help out emerging authors. She’s truly a lovely woman and I’m hopeful this post will help.

Carmen and her husband Michael are urgently in need of funds to pay medical bills and living expenses due to being displaced from their home.

Michael was hospitalized for costly emergency surgical procedures while in Belize. After doctors did all they could, Michael and Carmen were forced to leave the island and Michael’s art gallery that they had dreamed of for so long, in order to return to Colorado for Michael’s life-saving care. Some of Michael’s treatment is not covered by insurance. Please help them through this medical and financial crisis. Any amount that you donate is received with gratitude. Your prayers or thoughts for recovery and restoration are also appreciated.

Please head to Go Fund Me for more information on how you can help.

Much love to you both, Alana.

Michael and Carmen

Michael and Carmen

Book Review – Igboland by Jeff Gardiner


Book Blurb: A NEW LIFE THOUSANDS OF MILES FROM HOME Lydia and Clem Davie arrive in an Igbo village in Nigeria in July 1967 just as civil war breaks out, but Lydia has trouble adjusting to life in West Africa: a place so unfamiliar and far away from everything she truly understands. Initially, most of the locals are welcoming and friendly, until one or two begin a frightening campaign of anti-white protests. Lydia’s life is changed irrevocably after she meets enigmatic Igbo doctor, Kwemto, and war victim, Grace. Through them Lydia learns about independence, passion and personal identity. Conflict and romance create emotional highs and lows for Lydia, whose marriage and personal beliefs slowly begin to crumble. Will this house in a Nigerian bush village ever seem like home?

  • Paperback: 358 pages
  • Publisher: Crooked Cat Publishing Ltd (8 Jan. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1909841528
  • ISBN-13: 978-1909841529
  • Price – £9.99 Paperback – Head to Amazon

The Book Review: Upon receiving this book for a fair review I was a little bit hesitant. Why? Initially I was a little bit turned off by the cover and the title. Yes, how ridiculously superficial but I didn’t feel the cover and title grabbed my attention. I had a quick flick through the pages and could see the book had been beautifully edited, liked the style of writing and the blurb at the back did sound interesting, so I decided to give this book a go. I’m glad I let my initial judgment slide.

The book is told from the perspective of a young woman, Lydia, who is only 19 years old and recently married. She follows her husband, a missionary, out to Nigeria. She’s clearly lived a sheltered life and struggles with this alien environment. It’s not easy for her to settle, and to be fair, even the most adventurous soul would struggle when faced with the death, war and daily terror they endure.

What’s surprising about this story is there is a love story that develops amidst all the worry and chaos. It’s beautifully developed and the passion she feels for this new man is very real. She’s coming of age and learning what love, lust and passion is. Her husband is a good man, but he is certainly distracted, committed to God and determined to help people, but he seems to lose sight of his lonely wife.

The characters were all credible and believable. I could relate to Lydia, purely because she is a young woman and I can understand many of her frustrations and fears. I have lived in the Australian outback, a very remote environment, so I can certainly relate to her loneliness and feeling so far from home. She desperately wants to connect with people, and her lover, Kwemto teaches her a lot about herself. There’s no denying the experiences she has in Nigeria change her forever.

I’d definitely recommend this book. I think it would appeal to people who are interested in different cultures, people who love to travel and explore new worlds. It’s actually quite educational, I was fascinated to read about the traditions of these distant tribes. What made this book really zing for me, was the love story. It helps to develop the characters further and shows their vulnerabilities.

In conclusion – Beautifully written, well developed characters, educational but also rather sexy and vibrant. This book could easily be adapted into a movie. I could certainly imagine this book on the big screen. I’d love to see that happen.

*This review will also be published on Amazon to further support Jeff’s work.

Reviewed by Alana Munro, The Author Who Supports.

If you have a book you’d like me to review, please check out what books I am currently accepting before sending me an email. Thank you!

Baby almost here!


Hi guys, just a wee note to say baby #4 will be joining us in about 3 weeks time. I’m at the ‘slowing down’ phase now, where I am struggling to walk, move, sleep, think – you name it! So, do excuse me, but I’ll be taking a wee break. If I have one of your books to review, I’ll be reading your book with my feet up. Please be patient, I’ll still review just be aware of delays my end.

My healths not been too good this pregnancy. My blood pressure is creeping up. I had pre-eclampsia with my last pregnancy, so they are keeping a close eye on me.  I am being induced late April by a few weeks early.

Wish me luck!


Guest Post: Why Reading Books Can Be Good For Your Health

Bliss...taking the time to read.

Bliss…taking the time to read.

I’m definitely someone who loves to read a good book. Nothing beats a book that captures your imagination and helps you escape the mundane of every day. The dirty washing can wait! It helps me to relax, unwind and recharge. Essential in this face-paced, technology crazed world. Personally, books offer me solitude from constant screen time. I’ll hand you over to my guest poster, Edward, who shares just how good reading a book can be for our health. Like, we need any encouragement, right folks?

Reading is good for people in many different ways. According to a recent study, reading a book for 6 minutes diminishes stress levels with 68%. As we age, it’s really important to keep our brains active in order to strengthen our mental abilities and ward off diseases related to our cognitive functions, such as Alzheimer’s for example. Research shows that people who read regularly are less likely to develop dementia than those who don’t like to read. Needless to say, not everything we read is good for the brain and health.

Paper books vs. e-readers

As e-readers become more and more powerful, conventional reading fades away. There will always be a debate regarding which of these two methods is better. Controversy abounds and many people blame the Kindle ever since it was launched back in 2007. While some question that e-readers are emotionless and can’t make readers “feel” the experience, others command electronic reading because it’s a lot more convenient. Whatever you want to read is right there at your fingertips.

Paper books increase comprehension

Apparently, e-readers can’t make the pleasures of enjoying the plot of a book like a hardcover. In a recent study performed in 2014, a number of subjects were required to read a short mystery story on an Amazon Kindle device; the exact same number of people was given a paperback version of the story. The conclusion was that Kindle readers had a difficult time remembering the story’s order of events. The tactile feedback of an e-reader device doesn’t offer the same maintenance level for the mental reconstruction of a story’s plot as a paper book does.

The brain was not meant for reading, but we’ve adapted it and created new ways to understand text and letters. Basically, the brain perceives reading through the construction of a text’s mental representation; this representation is based on words placed inside the covers of an actual book. The process is aided by the tactile experience of holding a book in your hands.

Even though e-readers are trying hard to recreate that unique sensation we have when we turn pages, the touchscreen is limited to a single ephemeral virtual page. Various surveys performed on using Kindles for reading suggest that digital reading affects the sense of control and serendipity of the reader. The inability to turn back pages and look back or have physical control over the text limits our sensory experience. Basically, our brains don’t function long-term and we immediately forget what we just read.

Reading extensive, long sentences is skill you have to master

Reading extensive, literary phrases without distractions and links is in fact a skill you may lose if you don’t apply it as often as possible. Prior to the materialization of the internet, people’s brains were used to reading in a liner manner, thus benefiting from sensory details to memorize the part in the book where the most important information was.

Right now we read on touchscreens, which means our reading capabilities have been tailored to skimming a text and not reading it thoroughly to absorb its meaning. E-reading is often associated with superficial reading; this affects our abilities and we can’t perceive the depth of a text anymore. A lot of people who engage in digital reading have admitted that immersing themselves in a good book has become an incredibly challenging endeavor.

Focused, slow and attentive reading has many benefits for the brain

The more attentive you are when you read the highest chances you have to remember essential information and actually enjoy the story presented in book. Experts recommend us to read 30-45 minutes daily without letting technology interfere with the experience in any way. This helps the brain re-engage in linear reading. Slow ready has lots of benefits for the brain. It reduces stress and improves our general abilities to focus.

Reading print books help boost empathy; the activity was also linked to improved sleep. Apparently, enjoying a paper book 1 hour before going to sleep aids the body enter a different zone, and prepares the brain for a relaxing activity – absolute relaxation. In spite of some clear advantages technology has as far as reading is concerned, some people still agree that nothing can be compared with the simple pleasures of reading a paper book.

Author Bio: Edward Francis is a tech writer basically and he loves reading books. His favourite hobby is to read eBooks and he prefers to get a variety of books at the same place.

How to Write an Author or Writer CV


Recently, I was asked for a copy of my CV.

A UK agent asked me to forward her a copy.

Cue my blood pressure shooting up…

Trying not to hit the panic button, I done some research. Thank you Google! Phew!

I asked some questions…

How to write an author CV? Things to mention in the creative persons CV? What do authors actually need to highlight in their CV?

I found this template – it’s worthy of a share…

Your Name

1234 Address, City, ST    •   •


  • To obtain (fill in the blank: representation, publication, fame, fortune, etc.) for my (fill in name of work being submitted).


  • “Poem 1,” “Poem 2,” “Poem 3,” The Literary Magazine Fall/Winter 2012
  • “Short Story,” Anthology, Publisher, 2011
  • “Flash Fiction,” Fiction Blog, June 2011
  • “Novella,” Small Press, June 2011 
  • “Poem 4,” “Poem 5,” “Poem 6,” Prize Poem Anthology, Big Organization, May 2011 
  • “Micro Fiction,” Well-Known Blog, March 2011
  • “Creative Nonfiction Short,” Prize Winning Anthology, Credible Institution 2010

Work History

  • Freelance Writer (details, dates, clients)
  • Writer at Company Name (dates and details)

Writing Awards

  • 1st place for form poetry in the National Writing Contest, 2010
  • 1st place for creative nonfiction story in Credible Institution Award, 2010
  • 2nd place in Memoriam Name Award, State Poetry Society annual contest, 2010
  • Winner of Sunburst Award, September 2010 

Writing Activities and Memberships

  • member, National Poetry Organization, 2009-present
  • President, Local Writers Critique Group, 2009-present
  • Officer, Genre Fiction Club of State, 2007-present


  • Served as a judge for Such and Such Contest, 2011
  • Key Note Speaker at Nice Folks Writing Conference, 2010


  • Professional horse racer, 2000-2009 (if project uncovers scandalous truth of racing)
  • Master Plumber Certification, Accreditation Agency, 1998-present (writes about pipes)


  • Masters in Creative Writing, The University of State, 2005-2009

Author’s Platform/Social Media Presence

  • Over 5,000 loyal blog subscribers at (i.e., Nathan Bransford)
  • Twitter following of well over 30,000 (Don’t even think of using this unless it’s HUGE)

Credit: Thanks to for publishing this template.


Doing some further research I stumbled on this summary of what to share and also another template,

While writing a resume, the following points need to be taken care of:

Objective statement – This section underlines your objective behind applying for the specific job. This is what the reader will first read in any resume and this is what should impress him. The applicant’s objective should be aligned with the objectives of the company in which he is applying.

Profile summary – This is the part where you write and summarize all the important points of your entire professional career. This, in short, is a part which concisely describes your abilities and USP.

Skills summary – Write a collective account of all your professional skills under this heading. This is used as a precedent by the reader in deciding whether you are capable enough and apt for the job at hand. Use bullet points in this section and don’t over populate it. Make it a point to keep the sentences short and crisp.

Work Experience – In a reverse chronological form, encapsulate the details regarding all your past and current companies and the respective posts you have worked at. Also, mention the important responsibilities handled by you at each job position.

Educational Qualifications – In the same way as the ‘work experience’ section, give the names of all the courses that you have completed along with the names of the respective colleges or universities.

Achievements – As the name suggests, this section is for stating your industry achievements – any awards, recognition, special mention, outstanding work, etc.

References – Include this section if you are asked to include references in the resume by the hiring company.

Here is a sample of author resume for your reference.

John Flynn
123, Utopia Boulevard
Boston, MA, 01234
(123) 422-1234

Objective Statement:

To write good and self-realization books for the readers and reach out to the people in ways that money can’t.

Profile Summary:

  • Published author of 2 titles till date
  • 2 years of professional experience with TIME Magazine, LA as a writer and sub-editor
  • Worked as a professor of economics in XYZ University, CA. Highly motivated individual with great interest in history and economics
  • Extremely driven towards writing good literature for the readers

Skills Summary:

  • Good in English language, both written and verbal
  • Excellent time management skills and ability to finish drafts within the given deadline period
  • Team player – always works with the editors in a coordinated and professional manner
  • Excellent management skills that I used and polished while my stint as a sub-editor with TIME Magazine, LA

Work Experience:

Author of:
The Cassidy Corner of Blueman Burge, 2014
In the Winter of June’s Place, 2013

XYZ University
Professor of Economics

  • Taught the students about macro economics
  • Conducted seminars on various subject related topics
  • Conducted classes for the MBA students

TIME Magazine

  • Handled the editing of business and other related articles such as those related to global markets and stock exchange
  • Worked in close coordination with the senior editor of the magazine
  • Compiled weekly reports for sending them to the higher management

New York Post
(June 2006 – September 2006)

Educational Qualification:

  • Doctorate in Economics, AAA University, CA, 2010
  • Post Graduation in Journalism, FGH College, CA, 2007
  • Graduation in Arts, FGH College, CA, 2005


(Fill out this section suitably with your achievements.)


Ken Smith

TIME Magazine, LA
(123) 332-0234

This is how one writes an author resume. If you have already written a book then, first of all, mention the book in your resume application. This will provide an added leverage to your resume.

Thanks to for this information.

Best of luck with your CV writing.