Archives for category: writing

How to choose books for your unique avatar

What would  you choose if you wanted to take a picture of  a few of your favorite books, not more than seven inches wide when stood together? The names of two websites I like,  ‘Books ‘R Us’ and ‘Books Tell Us Why’, gave me the seeds of this idea for a new avatar. It would be right for the task, less random and superficial than a mug shot.

My books are shelved up- and down-stairs all over the house so it was a good exercise. Digital,  thumbed-over, dog-eared, faded, curled, moldy, soiled, frayed, ripped, incomplete, taped, sagging, spineless specimens wouldn’t do. I needed color and titles that would be attractive. What photogenic line-up could be readily assembled ?

After I’d made my choices and taken the shot, there seemed to be some categories and sense to it all. If you want to show who you are  by presenting a few books, for an avatar or any other reason, here are my tips. You have to love them because they are all of these things:

  • Useful: An indispensable reference book for your favorite passion or hobby
  • Fun: An entertaining, exciting novel or fantasy book that carries you away to another world
  • Shocking: A nonfiction exposé that stimulates your curiosity and thirst to get at the truth about what really happened
  • For the mind and soul: A book that is a mentor and idol to give you an intellectual boost and spiritual understanding
  • For social identity: A biographical history of a person or group  who align with your  own career path, background and type of  companions
  • From your family: A history or autobiography written by you or a relative

My books in the photo above are, from left to right:

  1. A collection of recipes which reflect my childhood and perpetual delight in good food, especially when cooked by loving people and served at communal events like harvest suppers, strawberry socials and silver teas. Someone suggested to me that ‘Who Cooked the Last Supper?’ might have been a better title than ‘Eating at Church.’
  2. The Black Tulip by Alexander Dumas. Hundreds of others would have done but only this one had a red cover, gold lettering and the sentimental value of having been a gift from my son when he was a boy.
  3. The Pagan Christ. As a willful (but good) minister’s daughter, I was always interested in the pagan customs and natural images unsuccessfully squelched but peculiarly integrated into Christianity.
  4.  Northrop Frye Myth and Metaphor: Selected Essays 1974-88. My class notes of his lectures are included in those now appearing online for public access at, Robert D. Denham library collection.
  5. Sweet Sixteen, the story of the 16 irrepressible woman journalists who formed the first Canadian Women’s Press Club while on a privileged train trip to the St. Louis World Fair in 1904. I  belong to their renamed club.
  6. A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void (, the 20th century family memoir I wrote about my parents and me.

Are you books? What favorites would win your book contest? We love to get comments and browsers so please make yourself at home!



Here are my word offerings to help solve world dilemmas with a little perspective, humor and reminder of how basic the rules of grammar are. My brilliant Hungarian-born mate jokes that the English always run to the Oxford dictionary when they get into trouble. As a writer I am frustrated and dissatisfied if I can’t find the right word. That’s my job.

  • Why should I call a ‘he’ or ‘she’ a ‘they’ when that’s not what I mean and you, Dear Reader, are no fool?
  • Who am I to insult an LGBT by referring back with a word whose
    meaning we all agree ‘it’ doesn’t convey?
  • I am tired of having to drag the flow of my prose along with the reins of static punctuation marks.
  • I must have a precise word in my tool kit when I need it.

My new word is ‘shey’ (pronounced ‘shay’), a combination of she, he and they (no it) and an alternative to trying to singularize the plural ‘they.’

Tip #1, to Mr. Obama: Until you pinpoint the name of our enemy, you
are not urgent. Make up your own word for it: ‘Mislam’ or some such. Step up. Get into the ring. Let supporters cheer. Mobilize the home front so we civilians will want to help police by telling them what we see, hear or know.
Tip #2 , to you: If there’s no word in the dictionary to express your meaning, make one up. Shakespeare did it all the time. Otherwise, what you write will not be forceful.

I will introduce ‘shey’ in my novel about the journey of a 60-year-marriage but, remember, I said it here to you first! The parents believed in bringing up their children with equality, regardless of sex. This was a modern idea in the 1960’s.


“The pen is mightier than the sword.” Novelist and playwright Edward
“In the beginning was the Word…” John the Evangelist

shalottavatarThe theme of a book can be compared to a diagnosis. I declare my novel is on the conflict between community and individuality. The two protagonists embody that classic divide. They are still grappling with it at the end of living more than sixty years together. My book will present itself as a story about marital love but its trouble-maker is this underlying malady. It will entertain the reader with anecdotes and antics from the fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties. It will also shed light on the all-in-you and the you-in-all.

Some Queries to Stimulate Your Interest in My Theme

  • Do you juggle community and individuality well enough in your life?
  • Are texts from a book versus your own preferences irreconcilable?
  • Do you think the balance should be 50-50? Who knows? Is that integrity?
  • Can you change either the community or the individuality in the one you are with?
  • Is the best society the one with strong individuals in charge of strong communities?
  • How can we make ourselves good heroes and heroines of the battle and not get discouraged? The compromises of my protagonists were successful. See their joy!

Writing Secret #5 from Reclusive Lady of Shalott

Tip: Consider your theme well. Imagine your reader relating it to personal and political problems of their own and the world’s, past, present and future. See it as a change agent.




If you really want to delight your reader, aim to tie up all the details that make for delicious, quirky threads of plot. These will make your book fly out of the luggage and into a compartment inside your reader’s heart. It is never too soon to begin thinking about what you will write in the last chapter of your book. Every novel is a journey to take a reader to a destination. It carries a core message and new ideas they can apply to their own life adventure. 

To get this process moving, I’m taking steps in my novel to make sure nothing is lost and the plot stays exciting and satisfying right up to the end. Try them to see if they work for you too:

  • Click on the square in the upper right of your tool bar so you are typing in a small window. Open a second window, save it as ‘Ending,’ and keep it small too. Now you can transfer copy from one box to the other as you work.
  • Let’s say you work on the left of the desktop and transfer to the right.
  • My book is about a couple’s long marriage, and I begin each day by going back to the beginning and asking myself questions.
  • If you see something that could be swept under the carpet, copy and paste a phrase or two to your right-hand box.

Here are Potential Ironic Trouble-makers

  • A beloved coat. Could this be the root of a tragic downfall?
  • A superficial disagreement. Did they go on arguing about this for sixty years?
  • A joke. Who laughed the last and the longest?
  • A promise. Surely he was kidding!
  • A soloist dilemma. Was it not over until the fat lady sang?
  • A dream. Sounds to me like it had eerie implications.
  • A wish. Oh, oh. Be careful!
  • An unfinished ‘to-do’ list.
  • Favorite color, collectible, fetish, habit — any of these might be significant symbols in the end.

Tip: To make your book dynamic to write and delicious to read, start thinking about the ending right from the beginning and make notes as you proceed.




If you would like your novel to be classy and erudite, help is available at your fingers tips by searching Google and Amazon. The reclusive writer can stay put and, with an easy click or two, find out whatever she needs to know to give her novel exciting, accurate substance and details. These put your book in a higher category of enjoyment for your readers than you can on your own.

Examples of How Google Search Box Can Help You as It Did Me

  • tell you the name of a song or poem containing the one line you remember.
  • tell you who said a famous quote.
  • find an article that sums up what the characteristics of a given decade were.
  • take you to the scene of a famous battle, so you can describe it as if you had been there.
  • give the precise meaning of a word you’re considering using
  • check your spelling and foreign language words.
  • refresh your knowledge of any classic related to  your project. It has been digitized by the Gutenberg project and can be downloaded free from Google to  your computer in 30 seconds

The list can go on and on, endlessly. Older writers, like me, don’t cease to be amazed. We used to have to spend long hours in libraries consulting huge reference books to get such information and were not always successful. We still love and support libraries but don’t frequent them when in reclusion.

Examples of How Amazon Search Box Can Help You as It Did Me

  • compare yourself to your competition by looking in the Amazon ‘Books’ category under your book’s subject, such as ‘marriage.’
  • better yet, just ask for bestselling books on your subject.
  • click on a book cover. Every book has a description and author biography. You will get good ideas not only for what to say in  your book but what to say about it and  yourself.
  • most books have a ‘Look Inside’ feature. I used to assume there was nothing more to it than a sample chapter.
  • if you look closely, most also have a search box. If you want to know what the author has to say, for example, about Hurricane Hazel, you can put that name in and every mention of it in the book will be retrieved.

Writers like myself used to have to write indexes for our books. Due to the miracles of the Internet, the ‘Look Inside’ feature now fuflfills that function.

Tip: Don’t ignore the clicks at the tip of your fingers that will make the novel you are writing classy and erudite.






Definition of reclude



“She left the web, she left the loom …”

Inspired by the mysterious Lady of Shalott who sat in her tower and wove her tapestry while looking into a mirror reflecting real life, I am going into seclusion to give my muse a chance to produce.

In the sonnet by Alfred, Lord Tennyson the people of Camelot can hear the beautiful lady singing her song. She can’t go out and her mirror will crack if she looks out the window.

Critic Harold Bloom’s analysis is that the mirror’s cracking symbolizes the end of the lady’s artistic abilities. “The end of artistic isolation leads to the death of creativity. The artist’s intense loneliness is absolutely necessary, for all great art demands solitude and silent reflection.”

This blog is home to 158 posts which have been viewed by 4,733 visitors from 110 countries of the world. Now is time for me to take a pause and give birth to a novel on the theme of the love that powers a long-term marriage.

Thank-you to everyone who reads my blog. When I come back, I will have new writing experiences to tell you about. In the meantime, please rely on the search terms to bring you a re-read of any of the posts already written.

Happy Reading & Writing from Cozybookbasics

Reblogged on

Source: Wouldn’t It Be Great to Have a Magic Button on Your Keyboard That Corrects Everything? But Editing and Proofreading Need to be Done by a Human Being. Here’s Why!

To find out more, click on the link or image below to read Jane Friedman’s advice: amazon-book-description-optimize/

Source: How Writers Can Optimize Their Book’s Description on Amazon…

green-stepsThrow away your word counters and clocks to get best results for National November Novel-Writing Month. Call up all your sources of inspiration and all else will follow. These eight steps work for me:
1. While other people and chores claim your time during the day, use the spare moments you have to look up facts and research ideas on the Internet, or read a passage from a book yours will compete with.
2. Eat regularly and do not resist naps. This will prevent you from getting up for snacks or losing focus when you do sit down to write.
3. Go to your computer only when the pressure of inspiration ushers you there. It is the only and best motivator.
4. Have a walk; dozens of stray thoughts will energize your head during the exercise here and back from the corner store or beyond.
5. Go to bed when the rest of the household does. Sleep soundly. When you wake up, don’t look at the time but get straight to work. Have a flashlight by your bedside in case it’s dark. You don’t want to stumble or put a light on and awaken someone.
6. Start at the beginning of your manuscript, reading over what you have done for the enth time. Correct mistakes, improve flow and pace, fine-tune word choice and word order.
7. Continue writing where you left off last time. You will know without the help of a word-counting program that your output is charged and prolific. As you go, save each chapter on your computer and on a jump drive, then put it away.
8. Don’t budge until some person or activity (or clock!) claims your attention to real, everyday life. You will have produced a bounty of good work! Start the routine again the next day

Happy reading and writing from Cozy Book Basics

IMG_1461Here it is in a hotel room in Edinburgh.

In World War I Kathleen Ward of the city of Portsmouth, England meets Jack Kell of a farm in Cookstown, Canada. From love letters, journals and photos left to her, the author unfolds their romantic, daring story in A Book of Kells. It starts with William and Mary Kell who immigrated to rural Ontario in 1850 and follows the lives of their most adventurous descendants. The subtitle Growing Up in an Ego Void reveals the other-worldly expectations put on a minister’s daughter in her growing-up years. This book of love is wrapped in a reference to the ninth-century monks who copied and illuminated the famous holy manuscript, The Book of Kells. Generations of the author’s devout family of the same name strove to illustrate the gospels by the way they lived their daily lives. 

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!