Becoming a better writer

Most of us have heard the saying: Practice makes perfect. In the case of authors, writing does make us better. But what if we are practicing something wrong. Then we carry those bad habits from book to book. How do we improve our craft without relying on our editors to come and save the day?

Luckily there are several different ways.

We can read novels by other authors. This is my favorite option because I love to read. I have read 24 books so far this year. Reading helps us see how other authors structure their stories. Sometimes, I am too caught up in the narration to pause and observe the style. Which is not a bad thing.

You can also attend writer’s conferences or take courses. I have attended a local writer’s conference in the past and hope to take part in one next year when the world returns to normal.

In the meantime, I have been reading a few books on writing. While there is no magic wand, each book I have read has expanded my horizon. You can check out the writing books I have read here.

My most recent book is Characters & Viewpoints. This book is written in an easy-to-read style while imparting a lot of knowledge. I enjoyed the writing samples sprinkled throughout the book that conveyed information more readily.
For my Land of Magadha series, I choose first-person POV because a few fantasies I had read used it. This book discussed all the different POV options and its merits. I might use third-person limited POV for my next series based on what I learned here.
I recommend this book for aspiring writers and current writers.

Book Review – Ship of Destiny

Robin Hobb’s writing is marvelous. This third book of the Liveship traders trilogy concludes satisfactorily while leaving enough threads for us to meet these characters in a future book.

You can read my review of book one and two in my blog.

I read all three books in the last few months while editing and revising my book. That should tell you how this series captured my imagination. I am inspired to write a fantasy series after I complete the Land of Magadha series.

The author has written many books. What order to read the books is a question I asked myself. My answer is in the order she wrote them. I have read Farseer Trilogy and Liveship Traders Trilogy. I will be reading the Tawny Man trilogy next.

Highly recommend these books to any fantasy lover.

Book Review – Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors

I read this book out of sequence. I read Recipe for Persuasion earlier and enjoyed it. You can read my review here. Before reading her new book, Incense and Sensibility, I decided to read the first book of the Rajes series, Pride, Prejudice and other flavors.

I am a huge fan of Jane Austen and have read her novels many times. I made sure I did not compare the characters in this book to Lizzy and Darcy in my head. Once I decided to enjoy this book as is, I appreciated this novel.

The story of the immigrant families resonated with me. Immigrant families and their high expectations for their kids rings true across cultures. The author has a way of describing her food that is magical. So a warning to readers to not read this book hungry. You will be attacking your fridge.


The alternating POV is effective. The story itself is not new. When Wickham arrives as a character, we know how it is going to end. The surprise is in the author’s treatment of this old tale and giving it a new life with plenty of Indian flavors.


Recommend for romance readers and Jane Austen book lovers.

Book Review – The Mad Ship

This is book two in the Liveship Traders fantasy series. You can read my review of book one here.

I hope to one day write like Robin Hobb.

The world-building is mind-blowing.

Set in this world is a rich set of characters, each with their unique voice and arc. From Althea to Wintrow to Malta to Vivacia, this author has masterfully crafted an imaginative and emotionally satisfying story.

Middle books in a trilogy sometimes suffer from a meandering plot. Not the case in this book.

What am I looking forward to in book 3?
Malta’s arc: That child is full of surprises;
Althea and Brashen: Is there a happy ending here?
Wintrow: I want the boy to have peace. Is that too much to ask?
Vivacia: Will I see the ship fly?

Recommend this book to epic fantasy lovers.

Book Review – A Fatal Lie

I normally love to read Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries. This book did not engage my heart as others have in the past.

The ingredients were all present: familiar PTSD, thrown into work, drive to solve the puzzle, and a good murder mystery. But the end result did not taste the same as the other Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries.

This story felt like a memory rather than the real thing. The mystery is still good and keeps you engaged. But the man, Ian Rutledge, lacks his usual presence. He is a mere shadow in the tale.

I want to see him change and experience life, but he is a mere observer in this book. That left me frustrated as a reader.

If you like mysteries, I highly recommend the series. This book, though, is not on par with the others.

Book Review – King’s cage

I finished reading King’s cage, book three in the Red Queen series. Check out my reviews for books 1 and 2.

Reading fantasy is like reading three romance or mystery novels. At over 500 pages, this took me a couple of weeks to read.

We have new POVs in this book, and it made this the best book so far in this series. Mare Barrow is a self-centered teen, and being in her head all through the book can be tiring.

Cal’s arc in this book was good. I cannot wait to find out what our prince will do next. Maven continues to be the most engaging character, and I cannot wait to find what mad schemes he concocts in the finale.

Magic is well thought out, and the author walks a fine line between waving a wand to save our heroes to keeping it real.

The author pulled back the curtain to reveal the command and other players in this universe. What will our red and silver puppets do in the finale under these puppeteer’s strings? Is there a happy ending for any of them? I cannot wait to find out. I recommend this book for YA fantasy readers.

Book Review – Ship of Magic

I recently read Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb. This is book one in the fantasy series Liveship Traders.

I have read Robin’s Farseer trilogy before and loved it. You can read my review here.

This story is set in the same world as the Farseer Trilogy, but the magic is very different. Inate objects exhibit these astonishing magical powers, and there are unusual magical beasts.

The characters are rich and varied and written so well. This is Robin’s specialty. She narrates these intricate tales with many characters, each with well-defined traits and motives. I also love how she gives each character the room to breathe in their own bubble. The reader has time to get to know them, and understand them, and fall in love. As a writer, there are many things for me to learn from her.

I was able to easily keep track of each individual tale, and this novel did a fantastic job of keeping me hooked till the end.

Althea has a stunning arc in this book, and so do Kennit and Wintrow. Vivacia is going to be a handful in the next book, and so is Malta. Brashen, Etta, and Kyle, Ronica, and Keffria add depth to the layered book.

I cannot wait to find out more about the Rain Wild Traders, the serpents, Paragon, and the other who showed up in chapter one. There are some nice easter eggs for folks who have read the Farseer Trilogy.

Robin Hobb crafts these complex worlds with astounding characters that tug the reader’s heart. I highly recommend this book to my fellow fantasy lovers.

Book Review – Glass Sword

This is the second book in the Red Queen series. You can find my review for the first book, Red Queen, here.

What does it say about me that my favorite character in this series so far is Maven. I am drawn to broken characters.

Mare Barrow is our protagonist and our POV character. Somehow, being in her head and reading her thoughts has not endeared her to me.

The story in book two is simple. Find other red blood people with special powers before Maven does.

The author has done a fabulous job introducing so many varied magical elements. There are some intriguing powers among them, more diverse than the silver world.

The various houses all blended in my head, and I did not worry too much about remembering them. I was able to follow the main plot without attention to such details.

This is an epic fantasy tale but not in the scale of Game of thrones or Mistborn. Still, I enjoyed this book and recommend it for fantasy nerds.


Author note: If you are drawn to epic fiction, I recommend my book Heir to Malla, a historical adventure laced with love. It takes place in the fictional land of Magadha, loosely based on medieval India.

Book Review – Digging In

Diggin In is a rare book that emotionally tugged my heart, and the author molded it like clay and breathed new life into it and set it free.

Protagonist Paige experiences a life-altering tragedy, and the story is about how she copes with grief. The author faced a similar tragedy in her life, and her first-hand experience allows her to write with real authority and compassion on this issue.

Humor and hope are weaved skillfully along with grief to create a beautiful tapestry that allows readers to be touched without being drowned in emotions.

I could not put this book down and read it in two sittings. And the story lingers in me still with a pleasant after-taste.

Highly recommend this book for anyone who has lost a loved one and needs a hopeful story to regain your love for life.

Book Review – The Animal Court

Animal Court is featured in the San Diego Library Local Author Showcase, so I was excited to read the book. Author S. Faxon weaves an intricate tapestry of political intrigue in her novel.

Gertrude, the protagonist, is a smart woman who has many ideas to improve the lives of the people of Vitenka. If only the men around her listened to her.

I liked how the author equates the royal court to a court of animals. A weak king Herod, conspirers plotting for their own wealth and success, men waiting in the wings to seize power when the king fails, and a political uprising serves as the backdrop to the tale.

Not only does Gertrude need to unravel the web of treachery. She also needs to listen to her heart. Both are easier said than done.

A weighty set of supporting characters in Galina, Sam, Absalom, Herod, and Breyton keep us engaged and hooked to the story unfolding on the pages. Gertrude is a flawed character with a heart, and that makes her all the more interesting. Plenty of action, drama, and love to get us to turn the pages. Writing a satisfactory ending in a tale like this is not trivial, and the author pulls it off.

Recommend: For readers of political intrigues, historical fiction, and lovers of the game of thrones.