Monday, July 29, 2013

My Experience at Grammarly.com, a Useful Tool for the Self-Published Writer


I was recently contacted by the good people of Grammarly.com to review their website. They felt that the self-published writers that visit I Blog, You Read could benefit from their website and what they do, and here’s how.

Grammarly is an online tool that corrects and explains those pesky grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes that are bound to find their way into your first draft. Think of us as that second pair of eyes that can spare you the frustrating cost of hiring a proofreader. Our algorithm catches around ten times more errors than leading word processing software and is trusted by three million users.

As a writer myself, I figured Grammarly was definitely worth trying out. It can be expensive to have your creative work taken through the wringer by a proofreader. Grammarly offers decent pricing options to suit their variety of customers that start out at $29.95 per month. That means that you can use Grammarly to proofread more than one piece of creative work. I suggest taking a tour of Grammarly to see what price is best for your budget.

Now for my experience on Grammarly.com. It is insanely simple to use, you can either copy and paste your work on their review page that looks similar to a word document layout or upload it. I chose to copy and paste because I like to get right to the point. When you click the ‘Start Review’ button you are given six options before hand. You will be able to choose from general, business, academic, technical, creative, or casual. I of course went with creative since I was reviewing a short story I’ve been working on. Then in less than a minute Grammarly had a summary of all my needed corrections such as spelling, grammar and punctuation. My spelling was the highest at 35 errors, 37 grammar issues, and 51 punctuation issues. I chose to use a first draft that had never been proofread to keep my test honest.

What I loved:

I got a very thorough summary of what corrections I needed to make and most importantly the why. When working with typical word processing software, you get a brief explanation and maybe an example, maybe. With Grammarly, I received more than one example and a clear explanation as to why something I wrote may be confusing to a reader. I was able to make my corrections on Grammarly.com and simply copy and paste the corrected version and save in my own file. You also get to print a PDF version of the mark up with all of Grammarly’s suggestions. Sometimes I can’t sit in front of the computer looking over corrections and found it handy that I could check my work and then take it with me to read over later perhaps on a lunch break or while the kids watch T.V.

Grammarly’s layout is simple to use and not intimidating to a new user like me. I was able to use it for a 13-page short story, and email, and a book review. Grammarly even offered me my own personal writing handbook on my dashboard that reports my most relevant rules that applied to my writing.

What I didn’t love:

There were still minor similarities between what Microsoft Word on my Mac finds and what Grammarly found. For example, spelling errors that may have been intended for dialogue or character names. But as a writer I knew my material, and it’s intention and just chose to ignore. It was still helpful for narrative parts though.

Grammarly offers a plug in option for your PC, but not for Mac, unfortunately. But they are working on it. But this does to speak to the fact that I found Grammarly worthy enough to use on my computer directly.

Overall I think Grammarly would benefit any writer wanting to self-publish their work. They have fair pricing options that would fit any budget for the casual writer or the serious night and day kind who may have a lot of books they want to proof read. They can also help the writer who wants to find an agent to get their work to a major publisher by using Grammarly to proofread query letters and cover letters.

My final verdict is that Grammarly is worth taking a look at for any self-published author. 

Want to see how it works, test Grammarly now with their free text option by clicking the link below. Copy and paste and see for yourself.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sink or Swim Blog Tour Event: Review and Interview with Jamie Canosa


Today is the massive Sink or Swim Blog Tour event! A lot of great things to share with you guys today. First we have my review of Sink or Swim, a book trailer to reveal, an interview with author Jamie Canosa, and a giveaway. Please be sure to share this post with others only because Jamie Canosa’s books are really special and I want to do anything to get the word out about her fantastic work.




Well readers, Jamie Canosa has done it again. She made me tear up and even get mad while reading Sink or Swim. Her characters Allie and Dean just melt on the page. They have such big hearts and are loyal to their very core. Allie is capable of big love but her self-esteem is wilted behind her big girl facade. Dean might as well have the word sacrifice tattooed on his heart. He is so dedicated to making the people he loves happy and safe. What I look forward to most about Jamie’s work is that she writes in dual POV’s and does it perfectly. Her characters are just so real and are not limited to the page. They have an identity and become people that we may or have known. I think books that get this real are important because they have the potential to help. Whether it is to see the signs of someone in trouble or give power to someone to do something to change a dark situation. Jamie Canosa is a powerful writer that I know we can expect to hear a lot from in the future.




CLICK ON COVER FOR MORE AUTHOR INFO
FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER OR LIKE MY FACEBOOK PAGE
FOR MY SONG PICK FOR THIS BOOK

Summary:

There are some things you just can't walk away from.

When sleeping in vacant warehouses and dark alleys becomes preferable to living at home, something is seriously wrong. But when word reaches Allie that her mother is facing a life threatening illness, she has no choice but to return to the place of nightmares. Leaving wasn't a choice, it was a necessity, and if returning hadn't been equally necessary, Allie never would have set foot back inside that hell-hole.

Dean is no stranger to hardship, but the day Allie walked out of his life, taking his heart right along with her, was hands-down the most frustrating. Six months later, she's back and Dean refuses to rest until he figures out exactly what the hell happened.

Now, Allie's drowning. Drowning in lies. Drowning in the truth. Drowning in pain, and anger, and fear. But there comes a time when every drowning person must decide whether they will . . . Sink or Swim?


I admired Allie’s strength to face her past in Sink or Swim. She has so much to fear but her love for her mother out weighs that. After her dad enters the picture I was able to see why Allie would choose a life on the streets instead of her warm bed back home. Her home life is dangerous and tense to the point of walking on eggshells. Her only light is Dean the boy across the street who she left behind and has to make amends with. Allie’s best quality is her loyalty and yet it’s her curse. She is loyal to her mother and Dean but because of her need to protect them she must live in her own prison. Allie makes a radical choice that was haunting to me and will surprise readers, but I agree with why author Canosa had to do it. All of Allie’s choices no matter how dangerous or sad, you always know that Allie makes them for a reason. She believes in keeping the people that matter to her safe.
   
Dean was my favorite of Jamie Canosa’s characters from his first couple chapters because he doesn’t hide the fact that he still loves Allie. He’s angry sure in the beginning but walks right back in the shoes of Allie’s boyfriend without hesitation. Even when Allie pushes he still wants nothing more but to protect her from whatever secrets she’s hiding. He is the man of the house now since his father’s passing and works while still in high school to help keep food on the table for his mom and sisters. But even though he is written with gallant characteristics he has a mouth on him, which I found funny and real. He is blunt with the ones he loves the most. Everyone needs someone like Dean in their life to push them in the right direction.

There are some graphic details involved in telling Allie’s story but they have to be in the book. They are written realistically and are there to evoke emotion for Allie. When readers find out the complete truth to Allie they will want nothing more than to protect her like Dean. Sink or Swim isn’t just for the people in the exact situation that Allie is in. It’s for the people in our lives that struggle and need someone to tell them that they are worth something and most importantly matter.

Sink or Swim is a story about conquering demons and overcoming the darkness. Allie and Dean are an example of hope and the possibilities of a better life. Their story ended perfectly for me and was my favorite part of the book. It was beautiful, silly and done in my favorite Dean style. 






Author Bio:
Jamie Canosa is a full time author of YA literature, which she absolutely loves. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family, she can usually be found with her nose in a book. She currently resides in Ravena, NY with her wonderful husband and three crazy kids . . . plus the dog, the bird and the rabbit.




Q&A with Jamie Canosa


I am just flat out impressed with you Jamie and your strength as a writer. Just like before in Fight or Flight you’ve managed to write about a real issue that plagues many family households in Sink or Swim. Allie and Dean are so captivating that I didn’t even want to blink between pages. I’m giddy for your return to I Blog, You Read during the beginning of your blog tour for Sink or Swim, Welcome!




Let’s release the questions from the gate!

Q: I have great respect for you as an author because of your ability to write about real issues that have high emotional content. Was this always your goal as a writer?

Thank you so much. Honestly, when I first began writing, my only goal was to write a story for my son. Something I could read to him at bedtime. That’s when I realized what a passion I had for it. I couldn’t stop. It’s addicting. And therapeutic. I’ve written several different genres, but it’s the contemporary works like Fight or Flight and Sink or Swim that really struck a chord with me. I’ve read a few great books that have truly made me feel, and that was my goal for these books. To take what I was feeling for these characters and put it on the page.


Q: It takes a lot of work and sacrifice on Dean’s part to provide for his family. So far he is my favorite character of yours. Where did you draw your inspiration for him?

Dean is something special. There’s no one person or event that inspired his character. In truth, Allie inspired him. I start a book with a single idea and see where it goes from there. In this case, I wanted to tell Allie’s story. We knew about her personality, her father, and the mystery boy in that photo from Fight or Flight. I just asked myself what kind of person would earn that kind of love and respect from Allie. The answer was simply: someone who deserved it.


Q: Allie’s father was extremely dark and had me on pins and needles whenever he was in her presence. Was it hard to go there as a writer and extract that type of fear for your readers?

It was difficult to write several of the scenes with Allie’s father. A few I had to go back and add the details later. As a rule I stuck to everything from Allie’s POV. What and how she was feeling. I can’t imagine having to dig inside the mind of a character like her father and having to try to see things from his POV. It would be a very scary place.


Q: Allie seems to go through stages when dealing with her tragedy. She even tip toes in what seemed to be her mothers previous shoes in a choice that may shock readers. What did you hope to accomplish when you have Allie make this choice?

I wanted to show how possible it is for a person to reach that point. To be so worn out both physically and emotionally that you just can’t fight what feels like the inevitable anymore. I also wanted the readers to see exactly how brave it made her. That she was willing to sacrifice so much of herself to protect the people she loved.


Q: I am in love with books that are written with dual points of view like in Sink or Swim. Why do you feel they work and any tips on how to successfully achieve it?

I love them, too! In a single POV book, it can be difficult to fully understand a secondary character’s motivations and decisions. Dual POVs allow you to see not only a characters actions, but also their thoughts and emotions, and builds a deeper connection between the character and the reader. I wanted the readers to have that kind of connection with Dean, as well as Allie.


Q: Finally, anything you have in the works that you’d like to share and why should readers add Sink or Swim to their TBR pile?   

I’ve written several different things in several different genres from paranormal, to horror, to dystopian, to multiple contemporaries. And, I have several more in the works, including an urban fantasy series and Now or Never, the sequel to Fight or Flight continuing Em and Jay’s story (coming this fall). But, out of all of them, my personal favorite has been Sink or Swim. I fell in love writing not only Allie and Dean, but Dean’s family. The characters from this book will forever hold a special place inside my heart. A place I hope they can share with anyone who reads their story.

Thank you Jamie for making a return stop to I Blog, You Read while on your Sink or Swim Blog Tour. Very excited to here that Jay has more story to tell in Now or Never. If you guys want more info on all the titles available from Jamie Canosa check out the links below and DO NOT forget to enter the Sink or Swim giveaway for a chance at a signed copy or ebook of Sink or Swim.


LINKS! LINKS! LINKS!

Find Jamie Canosa Here


Goodreads

More books by Jamie Canosa
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Friday, July 26, 2013

Caution! Baby & Bump by Brooke Moss Will Cause Extremely Laughter and Your Heart to Melt.


Title: Baby & Bump
Author: Brooke Moss
Received by: Author
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance

Before deciding whether or not to review Baby & Bump I researched what Brooke Moss’ book was about. It falls into Adult contemporary romance but the NA audience could read it too. I read along with the summary in my head and stopped with a brief moment of dread and then laughter at the idea of the main character being attracted to her obstetrician. My first thought was how daring the concept was and loved the fact that it came from a Facebook comment, proof that creativity can spark from the tiniest things.

Baby & Bump was so much fun to read because I made the connection with Lexie, Moss’ lead character. I wanted to defend and push her throughout the story. Lexie and Fletcher were given dialogue that made me forget that I was reading a book because I felt like I was seeing a movie on screen. Every character, no matter how small will forever be locked away in my brain. I looked forward to the family dinner moments with Lexie’s family because of the down to earth snaps they make at one other. Baby & Bump is comedic and romantic gold and I have to get every book that Brooke Moss has written to satisfy my craving until her next book in her This and That series comes out. That’s right, there is more to tell about a certain character in this very book.   


CLICK ON COVER FOR MORE AUTHOR INFO
FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER OR LIKE MY FACEBOOK PAGE
FOR MY SONG PICK FOR THIS BOOK


Summary:

At thirty years old, caterer Lexie Baump has a lot on her plate. With a business to run, she doesn’t have time for any added distractions. But one momentary indiscretion adds a little hiccup to Lexie’s plans. She’s pregnant. With no relationship prospects.

But if Lexie thought fighting morning sickness while running a catering business was hard, enter Dr. Fletcher Haybee. Their connection is instant, and their love of vintage rock tee shirts and Elvis music is enough to bond them for life. There are just two minor problems.

One: he’s dating her oversexed best friend. Two: he’s also her obstetrician.


See that line above? Yeah that had me on the fence about Lexie. Because it states plainly that she will betray a friend, but just throw that right out the window because readers will not have a problem with Lexie. She is a romcom character that needs to happen. Lexie is a caterer that hates to cook at home, she dresses up for important client meetings but needs to get into a pair of jeans and t-shirt at light speed. She makes a huge mistake that ends up pointing her in the right direction but at the worst possible time. The first meeting with Fletcher the obstetrician is awkward to the point were you wish you could rescue Lexie but so belly achingly funny that you need to read more. That’s sort of the tone of the book in my opinion because the pregnancy throws her life off course to only put it on a different course that has even more ups and downs, but feels right to her eventually. Lexie also has to prove to her meddling mother that she can handle a baby. She actually shined the brightest for me when she starts to stand up for her own life and takes control of things like trying to buy a home for her and her baby.

Then something unthinkable happens. I won’t tell you what exactly but Brooke Moss, you had me so tense in this moment of the book. The scene was filled with a level of drama that I wanted to take each person in that room that cared for Lexie and shout, “How could you?” Of course the end of that scene was AMAZING and made up for it. What I’m getting at is that Lexie has moments, real moments that tear her down as a person that will make her real to readers. Moss managed to take a character like Lexie and let me be her friend.

Fletcher will get the buy in from readers as soon as he enters the examining room. He has a past that gave him more stress and is now living the life he wants. It makes him seem more secure of himself but still have that tiny cloud of doubt that pesters no matter how strong the person. He is more honest and real with Lexie during random run in’s, for example the grocery store. But when he is with Marisol, Lexie’s best friend, he’s sort of like a deer in the headlights. There is a lot of great tension when these three are in one place, but even more smart romantic tension whenever Fletcher is close to Lexie. Nothing out of line but author Moss leaves enough innuendo so that readers will feel bad for both Lexie and Fletcher and their situation. He was more likable for me when he catches Lexie in her random embarrassing moments and always acted like a gentleman should.

Before summing up this review I need to talk about Lexie’s family. Even though Lexie dreaded family dinners I looked forward to them. The dialogue was epically funny between this family and I loved every moment. Any time Lexie was with a random family member I always waited to see who would enter the scene next. I adored each of them but I think her mother was my favorite, even though I wanted to shake her at times she was still a great and fun character.

All lovers of romantic comedies buy this book now! It’s so worth it and a great book club selection for people who love to laugh and cringe along with their favorite characters. Baby & Bump is the first in Brooke Moss’ This and That series so if you like the first one as much as I did you may want to visit Brooke Moss’ website to get more info. She has other books out currently, and there listed at pretty good prices so I’ll be adding them to my reading list ASAP. Another big surprise is that Brooke Moss will be visiting I Blog, You Read very soon for an interview and I am just bonkers because I can’t wait to pick her brain. I’ll keep you updated on the official date but until then purchase a copy of Baby & Bump today or gift it to a friend.

Buy Bay & Bump Here 
Coming to Nook Soon