Pen & Ink Drawing: A Simple Guide by Alphonso Dunn

9780997046533_p0_v1_s550x406My personal copy of this book finally came in the mail yesterday!

I found Alphonso Dunn through YouTube while looking for drawing tutorials. After watching a few of his videos, I saw that he was such a brilliant instructor and I put his book, Pen & Ink Drawing: A Simple Guide, on my wish list.

You can check out his YouTube channel here if you’re curious: Alphonso Dunn. Those looking to learn or improve their drawing skills can definitely find guidance through his YouTube channel but, there’s nothing like being able to take drawing materials out and creating art pieces; sometimes it’s good to get away from a screen to find inspiration, too.

Not surprising, his book is just as great as his instructional videos. It might not work for everyone, but I love his straight-forward guidance. There’s no fluff, and he takes the reader step-by-step to make learning easy. Dunn also encourages artists to understand and question their own drawing methods so that artists are able to get the best output from their work.

Below are pictures of pages within this book but, they really don’t represent all of the good stuff in it. There are exercises, practical guidance for being an artist, and tons of visual references. I also really love that you’re encouraged to draw within the book, too, so it seconds as a workbook.

This book is best for beginners and those just starting out. However, I’m sure that there are techniques in this book worth looking over for experienced artists, too. I especially like the section on texturing. You can see the extensive texture types covered in the first image below.

Definitely worth the buy if you’re a budding artist!




From the bottom of my being by Mihai G. Paulet

“And I discovered something
incredibly therapeutic [when writing]: I saw that the more I released what was
inside, the more I felt rejuvenated and light like a feather.​”
-Mihai G. Paulet, From the bottom of my being

Let’s start with a disclaimer. Disclaimer: poetry is art in words, so you’ll either “get it” or you won’t. And it’s impossible to say that someone’s poetry is wrong or right; poetry–like art–just is.  Instead, the value in it should be determined by what it imparts to another human being.​

This collection of poems, essays and stories is very Walt Whitman-esque, addressing the mystery of exsitence. A profound parallel of this can be found in a poem titled, “A Thought”:

​Light from light, part of
I am everywhere yet only in
a single place.
I`ve been around this realm
from the beginning,
I live in a wink and only in a

I’d love to see Paulet read his poetry live because rhythm is a big part of what takes a poem from just being a set of words, to something that moves. The best person to read poetry is the poet who wrote it.

For the longest, I couldn’t stand reading Seamus Heaney’s work (while studying for an undergrad in English), but after listening to him read his poetry…suddenly, I got it; suddenly, I was awake. The same phenomenon occurred with Walt Whitman. I never fully appreciated Whitman’s poetry until a professor read it aloud and actually showed me how to read Whitman’s work.

Overall, I liked this collection. Of course there were some pieces that didn’t resonante with me, but there were some that did. There’s something very refreshing in Paulet’s passion for life. I think my favorite poem in it is, “The Wish I Wished.” This poem is essentially about looking at a vast night sky and dreaming–something I hope everyone gets the chance to do in their lifetime.






Review on The Art of Fully Living by Tal Gur

Tal Gur gave me a copy of his book, The Art of Fully Living, recently to review. I think his work speaks for itself; it has a near-perfect 5-star rating on Amazon. Maybe it can do something for you, too.

I’m sure this comes as no surprise to say but, I’ll say it anyway: life is complicated so it’s always nice to get wisdom where you can.  We all need a pep talk or help with perspective once in a while. And if you haven’t found yourself in a slump, just give it time.  Trust me. Life’s just around the corner…wearing punching gloves. This book would best benefit those who are beginning their journey toward happiness. If you’re feeling lost or that life has become this impenetrable wall, check this book out.

The Art of Fully Living: 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals is part memoir and part self-help from someone who has done what many are too afraid to do: he didn’t like his life, so he did what he had to, to change it. He even moved to another country (Australia) to pursue happiness. Now, that’s a big jump! His motives are explained in the quote below–a quote too many of us can sadly relate to.

But some longing kept gnawing at my insides. That morning, anger at traffic inspired unusual introspection: is this life truly my dream? Waking up, getting ready for work, driving to work, heading back from work, unwinding from work, going to bed. Rinse and repeat. How did I end up here, in this shadow of a life?

–Tal Gur, The Art of Fully Living

My biggest takeaways from Tal Gur’s work relates mostly to changing one’s perspective. It’s true that your thoughts become actions and actions become your destiny so, it’s important to harness control over your thoughts and how you look at adversity. I think Tal says it best:

“When a setback or a crises happens, don’t think of it as a curse. Maybe it’s exactly the inspiration you needed. When you can see a “negative situation” from a positive angle, you can reflect on what’s important and maximize your growth. The difficult emotions that usually accompany crises are catalysts for dramatic change.”

– E


What’s an Editor?

What’s the one thing you would do even if you weren’t getting paid to? Or what’s the one activity you can see yourself doing forever? For me, it’s editing manuscripts. Over the years, I’ve been lucky that authors and publishers have trusted me with their work; and luckier that I found something that I really like doing. It was a journey finding something I was passionate about and I even made a few wrong turns but, here I am.

For this post, I’d like to define what an “editor” is because there are still misconceptions out there. Also, authors aren’t keeping their editors accountable or are experiencing friction with their editor when their editor is just doing their job. There are also writers out there who, because of a really negative experience with an editor, now poo-poo all over the entire editor-author relationship.

To be honest, a real editor is much more than someone who “red-marks” your work; someone more than a “grammar nazi.” Beyond making sure that your manuscript is as perfect as possible, an editor serves as an author’s beta reader, confidant, and coach.

An editor is a beta reader. As a beta reader, an editor uses their expertise to review manuscripts well-before publishing or approaching a publishing house or agent happens. This can be invaluable because often times, acquisitions editors either flip through manuscripts or just read specific chapters. With enough errors, an acquisitions editor and agent will lose faith in an author’s ability to write and will likely toss a manuscript aside for another one that is better prepared for publishing.

An editor is a confidant. You can share your crazy ideas and the earliest, rawest versions of your work. A good editor listens as much as they read and is open to collaboration. If an author doesn’t feel like they can openly share their ideas with their editor, it might be time for that author to reconsider the relationship. If an editor is consistently dismissed by an author or an author seems to only want their own ideas reflected back at them, it’s time for that editor to jump ship. It’s extremely important for an author-editor relationship to be cohesive because if it isn’t, it’s likely that the editor won’t want to be credited in the book for their work because they don’t feel that it reflects their true abilities as an editor. A big reason to get an editor is to show readers professionalism, that the author took the time to invest in their work by hiring an editor, it’s polished, and worth the reader’s time. Worse, a volatile author-editor relationship means that an author is left with a manuscript that is so-so because it’s difficult to extract the best version of a manuscript when there is an air of defensiveness versus a relationship of collaboration where both editor and author are pouring their best and years of experience into the body of work.

An editor is a coach. When it comes to the editing process, an author has all right to be upset when their editor criticizes, corrects, and challenges what they’ve written but remember, at the end of the day, you can take the advice and grow from it or toss it out. An author is represented by the bodies of work they write. An author’s work is their product and that product should be good enough to pay the bills, right? An editor can’t be afraid to be honest with an author and if they are, it might be time to either check the editor’s motives (do they really care about your work?) or find a new editor. A good editor not only identifies weaknesses in your writing, a good editor reveals your strengths, too.

I hope this helps someone.


Review on “The Secret Apartment” by Natalie Fast



I decided to read The Secret Apartment over the last few days because lately, I’ve been really needing book therapy! My love for books started when I was just a kid and The Secret Apartment is exactly the type of book I would’ve enveloped my brain around when I was younger. These days, I don’t get to read for fun often; I’m always reading to critique at work now or to learn at school.



My copy is an older, decommissioned library book, that I picked up at a library sale last summer. And as you might be able to tell, the book provides very little plot details on the front and back cover. In this case, the cover artist did they’re job; I picked it up because the cover intrigued me. The title and cover design immediately reminded of Hitchcock’s Rear Window, a film I was made to study in college.

20180117_223733It turned out to be a sweet story about a girl named, Jillian Fairly who moves to New York after her father dies and her mother remarries. New step-sister animosity coupled with her father’s recent death and being forced to go to summer camp, initially make the move an unhappy one. Eventually Jillian is asked to house/petsit by a neighbor which gives her a special opportunity: she uses her neighbor’s home as a sort of getaway from her current problems. One day, after looking out the window of her neighbor’s apartment into another, she realizes that the handsome boy in the building over is the kidnapped boy she learned of from the news.
Sure, rescuing the kidnapped boy was an exciting point in the book but I’m drawn to characters that don’t turn out to be what you’d expect. In this book, the unexpected hero turns out to be Jillian’s mean and spoiled new step-sister, Mariella. When it counts, it’s Mariella’s toughness and cleverness that helps Jillian get into the apartment building and into the apartment the boy is being helped captive.
Anyway, this is a solid pick for anyone who needs a break from “adulting”; it really is a kid’s book so don’t expect any complexity or layered, deep characters. It’s also a good pick for anyone who appreciates stories with strong themes of family and friendship.



MASHED: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror

Erotic horror with a culinary twist? Is it possible to do well? Apparently so because Grivante Press just pulled it off. When I was approached to review this book I was immediately intrigued because the theme of this collection is pretty rare. I was craving something new and unique to read and I wanted to see how well this could be done. If not done right, the theme could make the collection a gaudy mess.

Grivante Press did not disappoint, however, and it shows that they really took the time to select stories that would shine. They also have some really creative editor floating around up there because the titles to the chapters are smart and cheeky! “A Woman’s Corn” was pretty clever! I really appreciated the length of the stories, too. It would be easy enough to take the few minutes to read a short story every day over about twenty days.

Most of all, I found Deven Rose’s Succubus’s Parting Gift, Breakfast in Bed to be the most twisted and fun to read. It’s a story about acting when you think it doesn’t matter and it really does. When the main character is dreaming they do something they normally wouldn’t do in real life and wake up to find that the dream won’t be ending–ever.

Sex, food, violence, and stories to get your heart beating! If you’re looking for something different, this might be for you, though I know that it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.



Learn more about Grivante Press here:


Copyright Law in a Nutshell (2nd Edition) by Mary LaFrance

Goodreads review:

Copyright Law in a Nutshell, 2d (Nutshell Series) Copyright Law in a Nutshell, 2d (Nutshell Series) by Mary LaFrance

My rating: 3 of 5 stars.  Note: a rating for 3 stars on Goodreads means, “Liked it”.

LaFrance gives you all the info that you need, but, it’s dry and the info isn’t communicated or formatted in an easy way to understand.

View all my reviews

I had to read this book for a class and though it gave me all the information I needed, it reminded me of how important the interior design of a book is. Book design is extremely important for how readers are able to digest information and plays an integral part in generating enough interest for readers to even look at a book. And with a title with the word, “nutshell” in it, it sure didn’t express major ideas concisely.  LaFrance’s work is still a great resource if you’re looking for a boiled down version of a subject as dense as law, though. The book is also broken down by section per U.S. copyright law so it’s easy to reference a particular section of it if you’re looking for something specific.