Thursday, June 8, 2017

Week of Reading Contrasts

A simple truth: Reading always teaches. What it teaches is a separate inquiry.

This week the pages of two books filled my brain.  Both were book club selections.

The first, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, surpassed the first obstacle of "Oh, here's another book dealing with World War II." Spoiler alert: The hype that this was a "love story" between a French blind girl and a young German Hitler youth doesn't pan out.

The back-and-forth juxtaposition of their two lives transcends. The rich detail of their lives driven home by strong verbs. The horrors of war sketched without becoming all consuming. What is captivating is the inner drives and obstacles of multiple characters brought together by a jewel that strings out the novel's suspense.

The second, Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea, mounted page-after-page of disappointment for its tale of Mexican illegals on a "quest" to recruit men who had crossed the border to return to a Mexican village to protect it against banditos. Billed as a comedy, there was an absence of laughs and many attempts to use crude, boorish, and bathroom references to create humor.

The plot was shallow. Clich├ęs abounded. There were stereotypical characters.

Better one read The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande for a better factual and emotional understanding of illegal immigration along the United States southern border.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Clarity, the writing challenge.

Writing clarity is always a challenge. It's one reason authors have editors. With humility, this writer fills both roles with herculean effort to keep them separate.

This posts harvests true-to-life examples taken from works, if not yet published, then designed to be published. In each example, see if your mind hesitates while it grasps for meaning.

I'll refuse to divulge the names of the authors and their titles. This post is for educational purposes, not shaming. If you chuckle, don't tell me.

Let's go:

Number one:  "He walked haltingly into his walker and turned it off and then sunk into his chair by the window."

Response:  Can you tell exactly what he did?  If he could walk, why the need for a walker? What do we miss? Wheelchairs are motorized, walkers generally not.

Number two:   "The master bedroom was larger, with a deck overlooking the beach and had an attached bathroom."

Response:  Wouldn't it be great if the beach had an attached bathroom? Those pesky connectors like the word "and" always send the wrong signal.

Number three: "Caroline glanced around then bent low and whispered a warning."

Response:  Punctuation can help with clarity. Wouldn't it be a faster read if the sentence said: "Caroline glanced around, bent low, and whispered a warning." Generic words always pose a problem. "Around" is one such example. What if, Caroline glanced left and right before she bent low. If she did go in a circle, the word "twirled" adds more clarity than "around."

Number four:  "Though, if I had to shoot through my purse today, I'd be madder than a hornet." She wrinkled her nose and untucked it from the pit of her arm. "It's new."

Response:  Plastic surgery, anyone? Yes, it's a difficult day when one has to untuck their nose from their armpit.  The purse would be easier.

Number five:  "Well what's wrong then?" Jackson asked, then before she had time to answer ran another question to her on its heels. "You haven't been spotted...?"

Response:  As with the previous example, body parts can be cumbersome to reference. Why not identify the other speaker with greater specificity than a pronoun? Place a period after asked. Insert "Judy's mouth gaped without a word spoken. 'You haven't been spotted...'"

Undoubtedly there's more examples in the world of writing. I'm returning to my efforts to craft words imbued with clarity so strong no reader misunderstands or has to detour into a foggy mist of vagary. My fingers are crossed for both you and me.

Donan Berg's latest literary effort is Alexa's Gold, a romance mystery with extra thrills. Click this link for to obtain a free sample of Alexa's Gold e-book , multiple e-readers supported. The trade paperback arrives at major retailers April 25, 2017.

Author Berg's 2016 First Place Gold Award romance, One Paper Heart, remains available at, libraries, and major book retailers.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Alexa's Gold Arrives April 11, 2017

Author Donan Berg, 2016 Feathered Quill Romance Gold Award winner, releases his latest romance thriller on April 11, 2017.

The new novel is entitled:

Alexa’s Gold

Mystery, Romance, Thrills

 Fall in love with Alexa’s grit. She has it all: pluck, courage, stamina, and the endless farmyard gravel she waits to inherit from her Grandma. Yes, Grandpa’s buried gold coins are hers, if? Multiple BIG IFs. If she sleuths Grandma’s recipe clue. If she outwits those who would steal it. If Grandma’s lawyer fights off her mother’s will challenge.

 As a Chicago probation officer, Alexa witnesses crime firsthand. Her goal is simple: she doesn’t wish to be the lightning rod that attracts harm to her two-year-old son Samuel.

 America’s Heartland poses her biggest risk. Who does she trust? Is she safe? Will romantic love find her? And blossom?

Alexa’s Gold spins an elaborate web of unsuspected twists and turns sprung with gusto.

About the Author

Donan Berg intrigues readers with characters who battle everyday concerns to become truly heroic. He writes an addictive antidote prescription to the blues. His life’s journey has been as a journalist, corporate executive, and lawyer living in America’s heartland with roots in his native Ireland. In 2016 he won the Feathered Quill First Place Gold Award for Romance.

E-book, multiple formats, April 11, 2017 at
or at major book retailers.