Tag Archives: Ernest Hemingway

WWW Wednesday, 4-February-2015

4 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading, and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  My husband and I got through a bit of The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway and we have two disks left. Yes, that’s still a lot. Stay tuned.
Audio for The Diviners by Libba Bray is almost over! This book has really wowed me, especially because I’m not normally into paranormal stories. But wow.
One of my resolutions this year was to read a book in Spanish and I’ve picked La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. No progress this week, sadly. Stay tuned.
Read-Along 3 has begun! The book is The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera and I’m in the middle of Part 5 (out of 6). I hope to finish this in the next week or so.
My book club book of the moment is Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat. It’s a really moving (sad) story but I’m loving it so far. It’s a fast read so it might be off this list soon.

Recently finished: Finally! Two books finished this past week. I knew it would catch up with me sooner or later. I finished California by Eden Lepucki last Friday in my determination to finish at least one book in January. I’ll be reviewing it soon but be warned, I was not a fan.
And after months and months I finished The Domesday Book by Connie Willis. This one was a winner for me. I’ll also be reviewing soon.

Reading Next:  I’ve picked my next eBook, which will be Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. A friend told me a while back that this was the only series he remembered reading while in school so I added it to the growing list. We’ll see how it goes.

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Spread the word, WWW Wednesday is back!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 28-January-2015

28 Jan

After speaking with MizB at Should be Reading, I’m going to take over as host of the WWW Wednesday meme! The image has changed but everything else is the same. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  I used National Readathon Day to make progress on The Domesday Book by Connie Willis. It’s getting really good and the stakes are getting high. I might power through this one soon. I renewed it this weekend and my goal is to finish it before it has to be returned.
I listened to California by Eden Lepucki on my phone while cooking during the Readathon. Less than an hour left on this one and I’m glad it’s almost over. This really failed to keep my attention.
My husband and I got through a bit of The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway this weekend but not enough to brag about. I hope we can get through the last three disks some time soon.
Audio for The Diviners by Libba Bray is going well. I’m over halfway and I’m looking forward to long drives so I can keep listening to this one.
One of my resolutions this year was to read a book in Spanish and I’ve picked La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I read a good amount of it during the Readathon (I’m saying 50 pages is a good amount when you’re reading in a foreign language) but I’m still only a quarter of the way done. This may take a bit.
And finally, Read-Along 3 has begun! The book is The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera and I’m almost half way done with the book, at the end of the second stopping point. We’ll see how soon I can get questions from Nicole and get the post about it published.
My book club met on Monday and I got a copy of our next book, Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat. I’m not far into it yet so stay tuned to see how this one goes!

Recently finished: Aaaand I still haven’t finished anything! I’m getting close to the end on so many that it’s frustrating but sadly, nothing to report here.

Reading Next:  None on the radar now. I’ve got to finish the ones I’ve started first! Once there’s an end in sight, I’ll think about what’s next.

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Spread the word, WWW Wednesday is back!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 21-January-2015 (It’s back!)

21 Jan

It’s back! I’m excited to announce that after speaking with MizB at Should be Reading, I’m going to take over as host of the WWW Wednesday meme! The image has changed but everything else is the same. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  I’m making forward progress on The Domesday Book by Connie Willis. I hope I can keep it checked out for a while!
The audiobook on my phone is still California by Eden Lepucki. I’m getting toward the end and losing interest, so this is a bit slow. I hope to get some progress on it soon and just finish it up!
My husband and I are still listening to The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway but it’s slow going when we can only listen to it on weekends when we remember to bring it into the car with us. Oh well.
My audiobook in my car is The Diviners by Libba Bray which I’m really enjoying so far. I’m about half way through now and I hope to finish it soon!
One of my resolutions this year was to read a book in Spanish and I’ve picked La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It’s about 550 pages and I’m about 100 in. Expect this book to be here a while.
And finally, Read-Along 3 has begun! The book is The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera and we’re about 80 pages in at the first stopping point. If you’re interested, you can learn more here and send me an email to join in!

Recently finished: This is embarrassing. I haven’t finished anything lately! I finished so many right at the end of the year and as you can see, I’ve started a good number so I haven’t finished any titles yet.

I’ve done a few reviews! Okay, more than a few. Check out my reviews for The Handmaid’s Tale, Ready Player One, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and Attachments. And for once, I’m caught up on reviews. Winning!

Reading Next:  To be honest, I’m in the middle of so many that I haven’t thought about what to read next for a while. I’ll get a new book club book next week, Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat. I have high hopes.

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Spread the word, WWW Wednesday is back!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 31-December-2014

31 Dec

Time for MizB’s WWW meme yet again! Everyone getting ready for that new year? I’ve got progress and it’s looking like a good push into 2015.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  No progress on The Domesday Book by Connie Willis. On hold.
The audiobook on my phone is still California by Eden Lepucki. I made a small bit of progress on this but I think I’m going to put it aside for the audiobook I checked out from the library. It’s really failed to grab my attention.
My husband and I started listening to The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway during our car trip, but we had so much to talk about that we didn’t even get through the third disk. I’m thinking this one might take a while.
I got a new phone-book as well, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. This has been the top book on my TBR for a long time so I was excited to snag it, but the first few pages haven’t grabbed my attention yet. I’m without a physical book at the moment so I might invest some time in this to see how I like it.

Recently finished: Would you even believe I finished three books this week?! Yes! Three. I’m so proud of myself. I finished Ready Player One by Earnest Cline on Christmas Eve before leaving for my in-laws. I was so geeked to finish this one, I really enjoyed it. I also finished The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. I sneaked away to finish this Christmas day, more to get it over with than anything. Because I was so excited to start Attachments by Rainbow Rowell which I finished yesterday. What a great week for reading!

And reviews! I’ve posted a review for John Green’s Paper Towns so check that out, too!

Reading Next:  My hold for The Diviners by Libba Bray came in and it’s in my car. If I’m ever driving alone I’ll start it, but that might not happen before I go back to work!
The book for my next ‘Read Along With Me’ has been chosen! We’ll be reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. If you’re interested in reading this book along with an on-line book club, send me an email and I’ll count you in! You can read more about my Read Alongs here. We’ll start in early January.
I’m deciding if I want to pick the next book off of my pile. It’s in Spanish and will take me a while to get through, but I think it will be worth it. It’s La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Luiz Zafon (The Shadow of the Wind) which I’ve heard wonderful things about. Let’s see if I’m brave enough!

I’ve got half a week left of vacation and I wonder if I’ll get through anything else. How is your WWW? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 24-December-2014

24 Dec

Time for MizB’s WWW meme yet again! And a very merry book Christmas to you all! Unfortunately, there’s no change here for books this week. Reading fail.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  I’m still on hold to renew The Domesday Book by Connie Willis. This will take a while…
I’ve been working through Ready Player One by Earnest Cline at a good pace. I’m enjoying the story, though there’s a bit more info dump than I would like, but it’s good.
The audiobook on my phone is California by Eden Lepucki though I’m thinking of putting it aside again because my next audiobook just came in at the library and this one is really boring me.
I’m trudging through The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. I feel like my progress through this book is as slow as a retired man walking the length of England but without any kind of adventure whatsoever. I’ll fight to the finish!

Recently finished: Well, this is awkward. Nothing. But I did put up two reviews (go me) so check out These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner and The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

Reading Next:  I was handed a copy of Attachments by Rainbow Rowell on Monday. I hope to devour it over the Christmas holiday!
My hold for The Diviners by Libba Bray came in and I picked it up yesterday. I’m trying to determine if this book is worth abandoning California for a little bit longer.
I’m also in possession of the audiobook for The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. I’ve been wanting to read this one since I read The Paris Wife and the road trip my husband and I are making to Cincinnati for the holidays is the perfect excuse.
The book for my next ‘Read Along With Me’ has been chosen! We’ll be reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. If you’re interested in reading this book along with an on-line book club, send me an email and I’ll count you in! You can read more about my Read Alongs here.

I’m off work for the year and it’s time to power through my big pile of books. How is your WWW? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Library Writers Group: Flash Fiction

11 Jul

Another yay for the library writers’ group! We talked about two things this time; July writing goals and Flash fiction. So, I’ve decided to set a goal for the month. I’ll report on it in my posts and in the monthly wrap up. I’ve started already, so don’t think I got a late start. Here’s my goal, short and simple: EDIT! I have a huge pile of critiqued stories and poems on my desk that are doing nothing for me. I’m going to get through the pile and then start revising my NaNo. If you follow me, you know I finished reading through it a while ago and now I’m going to make it a point to re-write the first 20. Hopefully they come out to more like 35 pages, but we’ll see what happens. The story now is 96 pages, so this will be a good solid chunk of the editing. Wish me luck!

The second thing we talked about was flash fiction. We shared this awesome article from the New York Times. One of the main things we got from it was the Iceberg Analogy. In short, it says that only 10% of the story is written, the other 90% is implied. A good example is the one given in the article, Ernest Hemingway’s story:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

We can get a lot from those five words. Why weren’t they ever worn? Were they the wrong size? Did the baby die? Were they stolen? We can make a story in our heads from that simple beginning.

Nicole commented how a lot of five-word stories like this are more poetic than they are prose. I can see this extending to short works because the Iceberg Analogy has to be used more. Poetry tends to give us less concrete detail and we have to rely on our imaginations to fill in the rest.

A member commented how he’s always been taught every story must have conflict and that in flash fiction, that was hard to do. But is implied conflict enough? There are several ways one could assume conflict in the example story. Does a writer have to state the conflict, or can it be implied?

We took a hand at our own flash fiction. I’ll share a couple here but I’m wondering if I should try submitting the rest to flash fiction magazines. We ere challenged to do stories no more than three sentences in length. Enjoy!

She measures, measures, again, makes a small mark, measures again, marked again, and finally with great trepidation, makes a short cut, defiling the polka-dot pattern with her will; her imposition. Again, again, and once more she repeats the process before she can lift up the perfect shape; the quilters’ ideal parallelogram with sharp edges which will ultimately be hidden in seams. With tears of joy in her eyes she lifts the scissors and ruler again to repeat and repeat and repeat.

Hearing that zipper finally go up makes me cry because the voice in my head is so loud as it screams, “YES! I DID IT!”

Do you write flash fiction? What do you think of mine?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Lots of adjectives and confusing sentences? There’s an app for that.

21 Feb

It seems there’s an app for everything these days and concise writing is just throwing its weight into the pile. But there are apps that are worth our time. It might be a good translation app, or a favorite game (Flappy Bird), but there are apps we hold dear.

And here’s a new one. You’re welcome.

It’s called the Hemingway app and it’s for your desktop, not your phone. I heard about it over on Gus Sanchez’s blog where he talked about it yesterday. The app takes a sample of your writing and calls out some elements of it that need your attention. The name implies it will make your writing more like Hemingway, but I feel it just makes it stronger in general.

It calls out five things: sentences that are ‘hard to read,’ sentences that are ‘very hard to read,’ adverbs, words that can be simplified, and use of the passive voice. If you’re getting excited already, click over to the Hemingway App and follow along.

Sentences that are’ hard to read’ and ‘very hard to read’ are based on the reading level needed to understand the sentence structure. ‘Hard’ requires a college-level reading ability and ‘very hard’ requires post-college level skills. If you’re like me and writing for young adults, it’s best to stick with simplifying these.

If Hemingway and Stephen King tell us to avoid adverbs at all costs, we should consider that this argument has merit. All your ‘-ly’ words are called out, giving you the chance to strengthen your verbs. My favorite feature is that it gives you a threshold to stay under based on your word count. Genius! Words that can be simplified are highlighted and paired with suggestions for a replacement. Passive voice again gives you a threshold and supplies the active form of the verb.

I’m in love with this. What a great tool! I’ve even put this blog post through it so I hope you think I’m using some powerful language.

My final grade: 7/10, Good. 2 sentences are ‘hard to read,’ 0 are ‘very hard to read,’ 0 adverbs, 3 words could be simplified (it’s the word ‘very’ all three times), and five uses of passive voice with a threshold of five. Can you find my two ‘hard to read’ sentences?

Is this helpful to you? Will you use this tool to clean up your writing? Let me know what you think in a comment, I love to hear from you!

Until next time, write on.

Recently Added to my To-Read Shelf

3 Oct

It’s been a while since I added an update to my To-Read shelf and I’ve added a full five books in the mean time!  So get ready to dive in.

  1. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.   I added this after finishing Paula McClain’s book The Paris Wife.  The book sparked my curiosity in Hemingway which I had lost since high school.  I was a big fan of his prose then and I hope I still am!  The Sun Also Rises was written while Hemingway was married to his Paris Wife, Hadley Richardson.  The story follows a set of characters similar to Hemingway and his friends as ex-patriots in 1920s Paris to the bullfighting rings of Spain.  I’m only hoping it doesn’t read too much like The Paris Wife!
  2. Finding Colin Firth by Mia March.  This is not my usual style of read and I even had Nicole comment that she thought it strange I wanted to read this.  I added it because a woman at my company mentioned she had read Dan Brown’s book Inferno as well as this one and much preferred March’s book.  As I enjoyed Inferno, I thought this might be worth an investigation.  The story focuses around three woman in a small town in Maine where Colin Firth is coming to film a new movie.  Each have their own motivation for being in town and they all discover something about themselves in the buzz of trying to find Colin Firth (you see what I did there?  Ha, I’m so funny).
  3. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson.  I told my friend who recommended The Devil in the White City how much I had enjoyed it and he recommended another of Larson’s books, In the Garden of Beasts.  This history focuses on the American Ambassador to Germany after World War I whose family at first enjoy the energetic Germany army and determined Germanic attitude.  The family soon discovers the German prosecution of Jews and the true nature of the Third Reich.  I’m greatly looking forward to this book, assuming I ever get to it on my to-read list!
  4. The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti.  I added this book because I won in it a Goodreads First Reads giveaway!  I never win anything so I was super excited to get this one.  The book sounds pretty interesting to boot!  It’s compared to The Kite Runner for it’s dramatics and it focuses on the Arab-Israeli conflict with a setting in Palestine.  This kind of a summary has me super excited to receive my first free book in the mail!
  5. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.  After I posted my review of Elie Wiesel’s Night, my cousin suggested that I might like Mrs. Dalloway.  Always one to take a suggestion, I’ve added it onto the list!  It focuses on Clarissa Dalloway as she prepares to host a party in Inter-War Era England.  With shifts forward and backward in time, Woolf explores a woman’s life in that era.  (Geeking out right now, great suggestion, Nate!)

So there it is!  My new additions to the To-Read list.  Have you read any of them? What were your thoughts?  Do you have any suggestions for me?  I’ll be more than happy to add them.

Book Review: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

17 Sep

I’m flying through books, trying to meet my Reading Challenge goal of 70 books this year!  I’m currently at 51, 2% ahead of schedule.  This one was an audiobook and not my favorite one at that.  Read on for a review, but be forewarned of spoilers!

The Paris Wife by Paul McLain

I love historical fiction and I love the 1920s so The Paris Wife seemed like an obvious choice.  It was a recommendation of of my book calendar (I’m telling you, that thing is killing me slowly).  McLain’s story is about Hadley Richardson, the first wife of Ernest Hemingway.  If you’re not familiar with Hemingway’s personal life, he is considered to be something like the jock of the writing world.  He was a womanizer who love big game hunting and bullfighting.  I love his no-frills writing and that he writs about Michigan, something I hold dear to my heart.

Hadley doesn’t think much of herself as she reaches her late twenties and has been turned down by the one man she loved.  When she meets a young man named Ernest Hemingway, she’s swept off her feet, despite the warnings of her good friends.  The two marry and soon enough are off to Paris to pursue the writing scene that Ernest feels he has to involve himself in to be the writer he wants to be.  The life in Paris is like nothing Hadley’s ever experienced before.  There are homosexuals, polygamists and of course more alcohol than she knows what to do with.  They begin a wild life and parties, vacations, friends, and love.

As I’ve already discussed with my friends on Facebook, this book seemed to fall flat to me.  Hadley was not a very likeable protagonist from the beginning and never grew on me.  She was foolish in a lot of her daily decisions and seemed overall weak.  What was most memorable to me was the picture painted of Hemingway.  He started off very likable, but when his first stories got good reviews, he stepped on the people who helped give him a shot.  He was unappreciative of all he was given, including Hadley’s love.

I know that some of my frustrations with Hadley come from a difference of almost 100 years, such as her letting the maid raise her child and the focus on wealth and the desire to be so rich that life is a game.  It’s hard for me to relate to this.  I try to focus on the main themes of the novel: devotion, love, and the complications of friendships.

Hadley’s love for Hemingway is undying, as she admits late in the book.  He can offend her good friends, his own mother, even herself, and Hadley will love him and stay devoted to him.  She lets this take control of her toward the end and it’s somewhat sad to see her fall apart.  Throughout much of the novel the two are so strong that when they tell friends that they’re splitting, many are in complete shock that such a solid couple could stumble.  The ups and downs of the friendships in the novel are a very curious thing.  I can’t think of a single character that remained friends with the Hemingways for the whole novel (though I wish F. Scott Fitzgerald had, he was a great character!).  Friends come into your life for a season and a reason before they leave.

The reader can probably tell I wasn’t a big fan of the book and wouldn’t recommend it.  I had The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin next on my list, but in light of this book, I’m going to take a break and put that on the backburner.  I will say that I really want to read Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises now that I’ve finished The Paris Wife.  If it’s the mix of bare boned prose and bull fighting that I’m anticipating, it will be amazing.

One of the themes that McLain beautifully explored was infidelity, which I’ve never seen done so believably before.  Many books will have one character turned suddenly cold or hateful, but McLain has Hadley and Ernest ride out their separation slowly and painfully, the way a couple would.  The ending was very touching and for sure my favorite part of the book.

Overall, I thought it dragged too much in the middle and the ending went by almost too quickly.  The Fitzgeralds were my favorite characters and I loved the historical accuracy of the piece.  The Lost Generation is so often talked of in terms of their writing and not written about so this was refreshing.

Writer’s Takeaways: I think the first person point of view worked well in this case.  Without it, the piece would sound too much like a history without the fiction.  Being inside Hadley’s mind helped me feel that this was as much a story McLain made up on the spot as it was well-researched.  As someone who hopes to write more historical fiction going forward, this is very worthy of note.  As I said before, I think it dragged a bit in the middle and there could have been a bit more ‘fat cutting’ to bring the piece to more bare bones as Hemingway would have done.  But perhaps not doing so is ironic.  Hm.

Two out of five stars.