Posted in Reviews

Jobe’s November Reads

Howdy Folks!
Did you read much during November, or were you too focused writing for Nano? Either way I hope you had a great month and a great holiday. My attempt at Nano this year fell apart since I was working on revising TWO BOOKS (my YA novel in Novel Revision class and my memoir for Thesis) so I got some good reads in instead. The dates below are from when I posted these in my reading group facebook page, shared for you below.
Keep Reading. Keep Writing.
Did you know that Jack Kerouac’s On The Road received bad reviews when it first came out? Well now you do! The only people more insane than Jack are the people he writes about. This book feels like one huge run-on, rush-rush-rushing drug trip. Which it kind of is.

For a book I owned but had not yet read I read Jack Kerouac’s On The Road Scroll. Think rough draft, more content, no paragraphs. At all.

For a book published the year I was born (1982) I read Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff. Like the original Pooh books, it is silly and simple and lovable. Just don’t go into it looking for an argument. When he says stuff like Knowledge is ruining our planet, it’s like…a parable…

I read The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier but I don’t think it fits any of my remaining categories. I read it for a book club meeting that I then had to miss last minute because I woke up sick. Which was not great, but the book is great. And I got to explain magical realism to friends at a party, so that was fun, too.

For a book by an author who shares my initials I read The Dubliners by James Joyce. I think I only have a couple more years of this (Araby, Exiles) before I’ll have to read the dreaded Finnegan’s Wake.

I’d like to move the book Roswell to the show that became a book or book that became a show category. And my new book for the high school category is Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden. It’s about two girls who fall in love and it was published in 1982, which struck me as really ahead of its time. I discovered it (as you may have guessed) when I was looking for books published during my birth year.

Posted in Reviews

Jobe in Search of a Word Counter

Now of course Microsoft Word will tell  you how many words you’ve got on the page, in the selection, or in the document as a whole. But I don’t know how to get it to tell me that I used the word “little” 14 times, or “different” 9 times, unless I specifically search for that word–then it shows me all the instances. I wanted a tool that would easily point out to me if I’m using any particular words too often.

This was the first useful thing I found. It talks about some macros and scripts…but I don’t actually know how to use those. 😦 It may be useful for anyone who does, and it also has some tips about Word.

The next useful thing I found was this article by Amanda Shofner. She tries several online tools, some of which cost. I wasn’t looking to spend any of my hard earned dough at this point, so I only tried her #4, Pro Writing Aid. If you sign up for a free account, it lets you paste a max of 3,000 words at a time to be analyzed. This tool was really cool! It analyzed everything from average number of words per sentence on through to repeated phrases. It also told me if I started too many sentences the same way in quick succession, such as three sentences in a row that all start with “he.” Nice! This ended up being my favorite.

Another easy, free tool online I discovered was After the Deadline. Just paste your writing and click “demonstration.” This was also a handy, nifty tool to know about it! When you spend so long in your writing looking at story and flow, it’s fun to zoom out and analyze it in a completely different way.

Finally, I stumbled across SmartEdit, and it looks like a very useful tool as well. The cool thing about this one is that it works with Microsoft Word, which I’m already completely familiar with. Sadly it costs a chunk of change, but there is an option to try a 10 day demo.

Keep on Writing!!!



Posted in Random Round Up

Jobe Can’t Take the Credit for These Funny Books

Recently an email went out at work asking for titles of funny books. Once compiled, the list was shared. I don’t think they’re in any particular order and I didn’t fiddle with that. If you need a funny book, you might try one of these!

It’s not easy bein’ me : a lifetime of no respect but plenty of sex and drugs, Rodney Dangerfield

Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher

Anything by David Sedaris or Amy Sedaris

Born Standing Up, Steve Martin

Brief Thief, Michaël Escoffier and Kris Di Giacomo

Bossypants, Tina Fey

GOOD OMENS,  Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Retail Hell:  how I sold my soul to the store: confessions of a tortured sales associate, Freeman Hall

Anything by Celia Rivenbark

The Madwoman in the Volvo: my year of raging hormones, Sandra Tsing Loh

The Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks, Donald Harington

A Dirty Job, Christopher Moore

Are You There Vodka? It’s Me Chelsea, Chelsea Handler

A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole

SEINLANGUAGE, Jerry Seinfeld

YES PLEASE, Amy Pohler

Fortunately the Milk, Neil Gaiman

Travels with my chicken: a man and his companion take to the road, Martin Gurdon

The Compleat Practical Joker, H. Allen Smith

Modern Romance, Aziz Ansari

My Family & Other Animals, Gerald Durrell

Anything by P. G. Wodehouse

Darth Vader & Son // Vader’s Little Princess, Jeffrey Brown

This Is A Book, Demetri Martin

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Chuck Klosterman

John Dies at the End, David Wong

Shark vs. Train, Chris Barton and Tom Lichtenheld

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened // Furiously Happy, Jenny Lawson

The Bible Salesman, Clyde Edgerton

Captain Underpants, Dav Pilkey

Year of Living Biblically, by A. J. Jacobs

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

Ant Farm, Simon Rich

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson

Outrageous Fortune, Tim Scott

What If, Randall Munroe

The Best of Mutts, Patrick McDonnell and Alice Sebold

Meaty,  Samantha Irby

Why Not Me?, Mindy Kaling

The Bedwetter, Sarah Silverman

The Worrier’s Guide to Life, Gemma Correll

Bridget Jones Diary, Helen Fielding

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, Issa Rae

I Work at a Public Library, Gina Sheridan

Suds in Your Eye series, Mary Lasswell

God is Disappointed in You, Mark Russell, Shannon Wheeler

Rock This, Chris Rock

The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer

Stephanie Plum: Between the Numbers series, Janet Evanovich

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened, Allie Brosh

Stuff White People Like, Christian Lander

I Am America (And So Can You), Stephen Colbert

Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes, Cory O’Brien

Riotous Assembly, Tom Sharpe

Posted in Revision

Jobe Reflects on Novel Revision

Well I turned in a major novel revision yesterday, folks, and MAN OH MAN was it some hard work. This draft crossed the finish line with only 46k words, 186 pgs, seven chapters of about 25-30pgs ea. I cut roughly 9k words of scenes that didn’t work–and that was just the balance after adding in new material, too. Is it ready to be published? No. Is it a heck of a lot better than it was before this revision? You betcha.

For grins I decided to plug my novel in to the hemingway editor app. It tells me that my readability is at a 4th grade level. That means it’s easy to read, which is fine by me since I intended it for YA readers. It says the read time is 3 hours (I wonder how they calculate something like that?) and that I used too many adverbs for their taste, but I was way under their max for passive voice.

What else can I say? Novel revision is really hard work that is really worth it. Here’s some advice from the world wide web:

Solicit feedback. This initial step isn’t really part of the revision process itself, but you need to do it before you’re ready to revise…seek feedback from others…Let the book rest before you try to revise it, so that you can come to it with fresh eyes.” — Anne Lyle

Read. (Try Darcy Pattison’s method of shrinking your manuscript!)

“Analyze. After the first read-through, begin to make notes. Answer the following questions. Does my story make sense? Is the plot compelling? Does the story flow or does it seem choppy? Do my lead characters “jump off the page”? Are the stakes high enough?” — James Scott Bell

Focus on big-picture items, such as plot structure, point of view, and pacing, first.” — Corina Koch MacLeod and Carla Douglas, The Book Designer

Outline the book you wrote. The goal is to see what’s there in terms of story beats, character arcs, plot moments. Outline the book you’re gonna rewrite. Have a plan. — Chuck Wendig


Set a completion date for the revision. You need to keep yourself going with deadlines.” — Holly Lisle

When You’re Done, You’re Not Done. Once you have finished your revision, go back and re-read the opening paragraphs (or the whole first chapter) to be extra sure that the feeling and atmosphere you wanted to produce in the opening is still on target…Open strong, end strong.” — James Duncan, Writer’s Digest

Now? REST.


Posted in Reviews

Jobe’s October Reads

Trimalchio by F. Scott Fitzgerald. An earlier draft of The Great Gatsby. Read for Novel Revision class to compare the two. An interesting look into one writer’s process.

Now is the Time to Open Your Heart by Alice Walker. Phenomenal book by phenomenal author. Very spiritual. I opted for the audiobook and the voice acting is beautiful, too.2

Finally finished Acorna’s Quest, the second in the series. I get caught up in the decent writing and decent plot, but I get irked by predictable characters and formulaic happy endings. The rest of the series is co-authored by a different person so I might give the third one a try. Anne McCaffrey, as we all know, is a genius.

The God Engines by John Scalzi. A very short work (only three discs on audiobook) and an extremely gripping tale. I was put off by the chauvinism but the story is worth a ponder. My husband, who loves this author, tells me his other works are very different.


“Roswell” (book 1) by Melinda Metz was written way back in the 90s, and it was the YA paranormal romance series that they based the TV show Roswell High on. But here’s where it gets meta–then they wrote a new book series based on the TV show! Too weird? I’ll give you a spoiler–aliens are definitely involved.


We went on a road trip this month to see a friend married out of state, so we had extra time for audiobooks. This collection, Home Improvement: Undead Edition, was a fun addition to my reads. Short story collections by various authors are a great way to break into unfamiliar territory and get an idea for authors whose longer works you might also enjoy. Plus, I already knew I liked Charlaine Harris.


“Rock Your Revisions” by Cathy Yardley is a little book with a silly title and some terrific revision advise. I read several revision books when I did a summer independent study and this was the one that was the most helpful with the most solid, usable advice.