Low Stress Self-Editing Techniques that Guarantee Success

Self-editing can be difficult. It can be tough to objectively go through your writing and find its weaknesses. To successfully self-edit you must eliminate your crutches and bad habits, prioritize clarity and readability, get help from a friend, and remember to go easy on yourself. Editing, especially self-editing, can be stressful and that’s not good for your wellness. Use these techniques to successfully self-edit while keeping your stress levels low.

Eliminate crutches and bad habits

It’s easy to accumulate a few bad writing habits, but it’s important that you identify and correct them, especially when self-editing. Let’s go over some common bad writing habits. One thing to watch out for is commonly misused words, such as nonplussed and bemused. Try to use these kinds of words as little as possible. Even if you know how to use them correctly, there’s a good chance your reader does not and may think you are misusing them. In a similar vein, be very cautious when using metaphors. So many of them are overused and cliche enough that they will take away from the point your making. Metaphors are also commonly misused and mixed up so minimize their use and implement them carefully or you will appear amateurish. Try and track your crutches and bad habits so that you can eliminate them from your writing. Doing this will make your editing easier and less stressful in the future.

Write with clarity and aim for readability

One of your main priorities should be to write clearly and concisely. It’s tempting to bust out the thesaurus and jam your sentences full of complicated words, but resist giving in. “Write with your audience’s understanding in mind. Your goal is communication, not to show off your intelligence and vocabulary. Even when you are tackling a complex subject your goal should be to explain it simply,” recommends Jeff Stewart, writer at Assignment Help. A lot of the time when we talk about readability we are talking about the difference between Latinate and Germanic words. Using Latinate words can make your writing piece sound academic or clinical, so unless that is your goal, try to minimize the amount you use. An example is the Latinate word consume versus the Germanic word eat. The latter is a good deal more approachable and sounds like something you would commonly hear, while the former sounds like something out of a research paper.

Use a partner

It really helps to get a fresh pair of eyes when editing. Have a friend look over your work; it is guaranteed they will spot things you have missed. You want your writing to be easily readable without the reasons and explanations you have in your head. You won’t be there to explain your reasoning to the reader, so you want to have someone else read your work to find these sections that need explaining, and rewrite them with better clarity.

Proofreading and editing matter

Here are some resources to help you with your editing process:

#1) State Of Writing & Grammar Checker: Use these helpful guides to ensure your grammar is polished. They take a lot of the stress and work out of self-editing.

#2) Via Writing & StudyDemic: These are useful writing guides that will help take some of the stress out of your work.

#3) PaperFellows & OXEssays: Nobody enjoys proofreading. Use these handy proofreading tools to self-edit your work, suggested by Huffington Post.

#4) Cite It In: Use these helpful resource to make sure you are using citations correctly.

#5) Academized & UKWritings: You can turn to these online writing communities for help and advice with your writing projects.

#6) My Writing Way & Academadvisor: These are interesting and informative writing blogs where you can learn more about your craft.

Go easy on yourself

Self-editing will require that you focus on your deficits and short-comings, but don’t let it stress you out. Just try to see this process as a way to improve your craft and remember to keep in mind all the positive things you did with the piece. Even the best writers make mistakes, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember to watch out for bad habits you have accumulated, aim for clarity and readability, and use an editing partner. Follow these techniques to successfully self-edit while minimizing stress.

About Grace Carter

Grace Carter is a business writer at Resume Writing Service, there she edits CVs and cover letters. Also, Grace is a proofreader at Revieweal, website that reviews online writing services.

How Will Machine-Written Books Change the World of Fiction?

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Writing a novel or any type of fiction writing can be difficult, especially for novice writers. The task of developing a narrative structure and closing it with a logical conclusion several hundred pages later is something that requires talent and patience.

However, some of the more recent developments in writing have proven that these writers have some serious competition to think about. Machine-learning technologies have enabled algorithms to write “new” novels, short stories or even entire encyclopedias based on raw information and no human input.

This development raises concerns about the future of fiction writing as a whole. Will these machine-written books change the landscape of fiction writing or is it just a passing trend?

The ups and downs of fiction writers

Before we talk about machine writing, we need to understand the nature of fiction writing in general. Fiction writers are highly creative, disciplined and persistent people. They are able to dedicate months or years of their lives to developing fictional worlds that can captivate the audience’s attention.

A notable example of this niche is J.K. Rowling with her Harry Potter series which took the world by storm and continues to break sales records. However, the process of writing such a magnum opus is not without difficulties. Writers often face writer’s blocks, depression, self-doubt and in some cases alcoholism or drug abuse. Some of the most famous works by Stephen King were written under the influence of narcotics.

These are only a few notable examples of how fiction writing takes a toll on the person responsible for it. While it can be highly rewarding and enjoyable, it can also be stressful and fraught with pitfalls.

On machine writing

What is machine writing all about? In essence, machine writing represents a process in which a computer algorithm analyzes raw data and creates something new out of it. Let’s take a look at a simple process of machine writing so we can better understand it:

  • Inserting a piece of writing (or several) into an algorithm starts the process of machine learning.

  • As the algorithm becomes “smarter”, it can extrapolate different combinations of words, sentences and entire books in some cases.

  • The algorithm begins writing as soon as you, as the person in charge, give it an instruction. This instruction usually comes in the form of first few words of a sentence.

  • As the process progresses, the algorithm logically continues creating sentences that correspond with what was previously created.

This process means that the machine will only be as smart as the materials you give it. We have mentioned “new” written works being created by a machine algorithm before. The air quotations are there for a reason – a machine will never be creative as a human being.

This means that the machine algorithm is perfectly capable of creating readable works of fiction as long as the human being in charge knows what they are doing. Using some of the top editing services afterwards can make sure that the person in charge of the algorithm leaves a personal touch.

Machine writing can create numerous works of fiction in a matter of minutes. However, the overall quality of those works is up for debate – which brings us to our next point.

The argument of quality and quantity

It’s easy to notice that real-world writers pour their hearts and minds into their writing. Machines are different in that regard and tend to follow logic instead.

If we ask the question of which of these two systems of writing is better, we should think of something else instead. Which one is usually better: A writer that writes a novel every two years or a writer that writes a novel every few months?

Machines are able to write perfectly serviceable fiction books based on the information and context given by their users. However, they are better suited for technical writing, medical books, engineering manuals and similar non-fiction writing.

This type of writing corresponds to their very nature, something that they are unable to achieve in fiction writing. This effectively means that writers and machines can coexist without one harming the other. Writers are still able to create wondrous fictional writing that is closer to art than technical writing.

To put it in the words of Isaac Asimov: “Machines are unable to create art, but are we?” That very question means that we are able to achieve a higher understanding of the world around us than a machine ever could.

The future of written word (Conclusion)

There is no doubt that machine writing will continue to evolve as more data becomes available. However, writers should refrain themselves from using machines to “write” fiction and non-fiction literary works and label them as their own. When it comes to experimental writing and AI development, machine writing should definitely get the spotlight it deserves.

However, abusing this technology for personal gain with very minimal effort can and will backfire eventually. The credibility of a writer is only as strong as their work would suggest. Writers that focus on fiction writing should not be undermined or scared about the future of their profession.

The creative spark that is within each writer will never be available to machine writing algorithms, just like with emotions or physiological needs we experience daily. Seize the opportunity to express yourself in writing anytime you come up with a new idea. Chances are that your spark is very worth pursuing.

Don’t Worry and Get a Cat – What Classics Could Say to Modern Writers

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Writing a novel of your own can be an exhausting task. Pouring your heart and soul into the endless pages of romance, fantasy, crime or horror can be paralleled to childbirth or college graduation. These tasks are hardships in themselves but they let us learn a lot about who we are and what made us come to the decisions that brought us there.

Novelists and future writers alike face the same difficulties when coming across new writing challenges, mainly as to how to breathe life into their new ideas. Classics such as Dickens, Lovecraft and Lee all have something useful to teach us even today, so let’s take a look at some of the tips that these all-time favorites have for modern writers.

Miranda July: “Don’t worry about the bad drafts.”

Coming up with a neat idea for your new novel only to find that you are unable to produce a good draft can be disappointing. Bad drafts will always be there no matter how hard we try to perfect our ideas at first. Miranda July’s advice can come across as preachy to the uninitiated, but there comes a time in every writer’s life when you just have to write no matter what comes out of fingertips.

Bad drafts can always be transformed into beautiful works of writing, just like in Miranda’s case where she struggled with initial pitches for her best-selling novels. Something is always better than nothing, so do your best to work systematically and edit your writing afterwards.

Zadie Smith: “Get offline.”

Writing anything without direct access to internet in today’s day and age can be difficult. Accessing the endless repository of knowledge, information and tools that can help us write better pieces is often impossible to resist. This is especially true for future writers and journalism school students who occasionally turn to professional college paper writers and use their help in formatting and editing.

However, if Zadie Smith is to be believed, being offline can actually be positive for our productivity. According to him, writing on an offline computer with no possibility of going online is the best way to write. There is some truth in his words after all – social media platforms and unimportant websites tend to take away precious hours that we would otherwise spend in writing.

Muriel Spark: “Get a cat.”

Muriel Spark is the feline lover among the classics. Her writing has always been inspired by her favorite cat, meaning that she couldn’t have done what she did without it. Cats have always been a popular choice for domesticated animals as they provide comfort and stress relief when you need it the most. Having any breed of cat sitting next to you or occupying the same living space while you work on your new novel can be just the spark (no pun intended) of imagination and energy you need.

The late nights when you work on improving your writing will be especially serene, since cats will often stay up with you or simply purr happily in your presence, which is all the comfort most writers need in their life. The effects a cat can have on a writing process can be seen in Muriel’s A Far Cry from Kensington, where she wrote the character of Mrs. Hawkins inspired by her own feline companion.

William Faulkner: “Read to write.”

Having an abundance of vocabulary, references and reading experience in general is an important part of being a novelist yourself. The popular writer William Faulkner had a lot to say about reading, mainly because he rarely chose what he read. He liked to read everything from bad popular magazines to classical works of writing and has never looked at either one with disgust or admiration.

Being objective about what you read and analyzing the formatting patterns can help you out tremendously if you are only starting your first novel. Faulkner and his contemporaries have risen to glory not because of their refined taste in literature but because of the open-minded nature of living and breathing as writers. Be open to new ideas and reading materials as they can truly transform your work into something spectacular.

Hilary Mantel: “A little arrogance can go a long way.”

Believing in your own ideas is the most important trait of a novelist. If you can convince yourself that the pitch you came up with makes sense, no publisher will be able to turn you down based on poor excuses. While “arrogance” might be a strong word, self-confidence and personal motivation are everything that stands between you and a blank piece of paper.

Following the advice of Hilary Mantel is as easy as it is difficult – force yourself to do something new and unknown every day. Write a draft based on something you read in the newspaper, send a proposition to three new publishers each week or simply write for several hours each day on a strict schedule. Being sure of your abilities to deliver a good written piece can go a long way in making sure your career starts on the right track.

Summarizing

What most modern authors don’t realize is that classics didn’t become popular overnight. Most famous authors earned their fame posthumously, but that doesn’t mean that fame requires death and literary revival. Take every bit of advice of your contemporaries that can help you get started on your way without losing momentum.

Some advice will work better than other depending on your personal habits and preferences. Do what you can to make the most of the experience of your past examples and strive to create written pieces that would make them proud.

Bio:

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Luisa Brenton is a brand developer in the past; mom, educational blogger in the present. She writes in a variety of venues – academic, business, and online marketing content. Find out more at Facebook and Twitter.

Writing A Book And Everything You Need To Know

Is it true that everyone has a book inside them, waiting to be written? Perhaps not, but you may well think you have a great idea for a story, how to guide, or memoir, just begging to be put down on paper. However, writing is book isn't as easy as it looks. Here's everything you need to know about writing a book yourself.

You need to decide why you want to write

The reason for writing a book will be different for everyone. You need to decide what your reasoning is, as it will inform how you approach writing. For example, you may want to write because you feel there's a gap in the market for your book. Maybe you've been asked to write, or you just feel the need to get it down. Either way, know your reasoning before you start working.

Work out why your book is unique

There's a lot of books being published every day, and there's going to many that cover the same topics you're covering. You need to discover just what it is that makes your unique. Does it look at a subject from a different angle, or give a new perspective on an old formula? Whatever it is, have that firmly in your mind as you write. That edge could be just what you need to get published.

You'll get a lot of rejection letters

Rejection letters are just a fact of life when you're a writer. Mary M. Matthews from Best Australian Writers says 'I hated getting rejection letters at first. However, I found that when I read them carefully, there was a lot of useful information in there I could use. I would edit my manuscript and send it out again, and the improvements eventually helped me get published.'

You need to approach writing professionally

Many would be writers give up, as they see writing as just too difficult. If you approach the process properly though, it's easy to get that manuscript written. Treat writing your book as a professional process. This will be harder if you have a day job, as you'll be working on top of writing your book. However, even if you can only dedicate half an hour a day to your book, do it. Set time aside every day to write, and don't deviate from this routine. Little by little, that book will get written.

Give yourself goals

It's a long hard process if you don't give yourself goals. The best way to keep yourself motivated is to set weekly goals for yourself. Having a set word count to reach is often the best way of doing this. If you can see your progress, it's easier to stay on target and get that book written down.

You'll need a good place to write

As with any task, environment is important. Think about where you can write every day. For some people, they can focus better in a quiet and distraction free office. Others would prefer to work in a coffee bar and have access to hot drinks on tap. Figure out what works for you, and go for it.

Don't give up if things don't go right

Sometimes things won't go to plan. The book may not feel like it's working, or you'll be turned down by publishers. Writing is a tough business, but the rewards are worth it. Take your time and have back up plans in case things don't go your way.

If you have a book in you, it's time to write it. Now you have the information you need, you can write the book you've always wanted to write.

5 Awesome Reads This Summer

When you hear the word summer, certain images come to mind: lazy days spent lounging at the beach, swinging gently in the breeze on a hammock, sipping iced tea by the pool, not worrying about your next coursework writing assignment. What better way to complete the picture than an open book in front of you? It is the perfect time to catch up on your reading and explore other worlds without leaving the comfort of your home. Here are 5 good summer reads you might want to check out.

Rich People Problems, by Kevin Kwan

Have a laugh (or a barrelful) at the expense of the rich in this final installment of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy by Kevin Kwan. It is satire at its funniest, exposing the various dramas of the Shang-Young clan as they scheme their way towards getting even richer at the death-bed of the matriarch that rules them all.  Kwan shows that even when you are one of the richest families in Asia, you are still vulnerable to intrigues and crazy ex-wives. It is a plain but wickedly vivid portrayal of human nature at its worst, when having it all is simply not enough.

A Full Life, by Jimmy Carter

What better way to demonstrate how you can rise from humble beginnings to the heights of power than to recount the life history of someone who did just that? Former US President Jimmy Carter has written well over a score of books, but A Full Life is a fresh and revealing read about his journey from rural life in Georgia with no mod cons to presidential life in Washington, and how that journey shaped his presidency. At a time when Americans have little confidence in their politicians, Carter's anecdotes provide a much-needed fresh perspective on the human side of politics.

The Heart, by Maylis de Kerangal

It is often difficult to appreciate the emotions of the people involved in unexpected death and sudden hope of new life. The story itself is simple: a young man is brain dead as a result of an accident, and his heart is donated to a woman who desperately needs it. However, the strength of the book is in the masterful use of language to provide the reader with a deep insight into the characters, forging a connection to people, and some never even make an appearance in the story. It explores the concept of grief, hope, and gratitude that you would hardly glimpse when you watch it on a television drama. It takes place over just twenty-four hours, yet it will leave you with food for thought for years to come.

Perennials, by Mandy Berman

Coming-of-age stories tend to be formulaic, but Mandy Berman manages to forge a new tract with Perennials by taking the usual summer-camp tripe and turning it on its head. Instead of pushing the idyllic best-friends-forever cliché, Berman explores what can happen when childhood friends grow up, and real-life issues come between them. Perennials centers around the friendship between street-smart city girl Rachel and shy suburban middle child Fiona, who first met as campers at Camp Marigold, and now return as counselors. The story is poignant, the language is witty, and the characters well developed. Camp Marigold will never be the same again.  

How to Fall in Love With Anyone, by Mandy Len Catron

"Summer lovin'" may be a euphemism for a fling, but this collection of essays may just give you pause for reflection. Mandy Len Catron is the author of the essay "To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This" published in the New York Times, which went viral in 2015. In the essay, she posits that you can fall in love with anyone by answering 36 questions and looking each other in the eye without talking for four minutes. She has since been exploring the myths people believe about romance, love, falling in love, and intimacy, and How to Fall in Love with Anyone is the result of these ruminations. If you are struggling with your own romantic aspirations, this is the perfect book for your summer read.

About the Author

Laura Buckler is a freelance writer and blogger who regularly contributes book reviews for various sites. She lives vicariously through books, and doesn't wait for summer to read them, either. She has not put the 36 questions to the test, but plans to do so one day.

Catalyst for Change: Returning Home in Stuber’s What If Things Were Made in America Again

James A. Stuber has recently published his new book What If Things Were Made in America Again: How Consumers Can Rebuild the Middle Class by Buying Things Made in American Communities. In it, the author asks a central question that he desperately seeks to answer: “Why does it seem like everything is made somewhere else, especially China?” (PR Newswire). To even begin to answer it, we must first consider what has changed in the U.S. economy and, especially, how our attitude to our independence as a country has evolved over time. 

When constructing his argument, the author emphasizes our dependency on other countries. We see that in many ways we essentially rely on them for multiple goods. In fact, the author suggests that “… America is becoming dependent on foreign sources for strategic goods such as steel and electronics” (Stuber). We are unable to manufacture those many goods on our own. Hence, our dependency on other countries gradually develops into a habit. Eventually, we get used to relying on others for our resources. If we think about our nation today and its attitude to trade and compare it to what it used to be like in the 19th century, for instance, we would see a world of a difference. We could see that we are no longer the nation whose policy of isolationism motivated it to stay out of many an international conflict until the World Wars. Not only has our policy of isolationism shifted in the nation. We are no longer the country that is so focused on developing her economy on her own without relying on anyone else. 

As he builds his argument about our country’s dependence on other countries, Stuber implies that something must have happened to our independence. In fact, the very idea of independence seems to have slipped away from us. An isolationist policy has nothing to do with it. We have become dependent. According to Stuber, this dependence on other countries has serious consequences for us: “… [it] has led to dependency at home, as individuals, families, and communities have suffered the loss of their economic base” (PR Newswire). In fact, if we think about it, we are not independent in any sense any longer. At this point, our dependence on other countries has transferred to our dependency at home. We do not and cannot rely on ourselves anymore. Instead, ironically enough, having moved away from our fight for independence, we only ended up in a vicious cycle. Independence is now an extinct myth. 

We should now turn to another central issue at the very heart of this book: sovereignty. We can see that, just like with independence, our attempt to achieve sovereignty has backfired. Not only are we not the sovereign or leading power in any sense, but the reality is also much more tragic than that. We did not even get close to achieving real sovereignty. In attempting to compete with other countries and lead the world in the economic race, we have only ended up becoming more and more dependent. The irony of life has played itself out. In the book, Stuber describes how “…, with its newly won status as a sovereign nation, the United States secured its borders and set the terms of trade, intentionally building up its domestic manufacturing capabilities” (PR Newswire). As a nation, we did our absolute best to strengthen our powers on all fronts. After proving ourselves capable not only of securing independence but also of living with it, we thought we finally became sovereign. But there is the catch. Sovereignty is just an illusion set up mostly to fool people. In reality, we have only become more dependent on other countries. 

Besides, as far as dependency is concerned, we are most certainly dependent on many countries in many ways. It is not as though we are completely isolated from the rest of the world and can handle every single problem on our own. And yet, as a nation, we may frequently act as if we do not need to cooperate with anyone in order to solve our own problems. Such a mentality, however, bespeaks nothing more than arrogance. According to the author, as far as jobs are concerned, more and more positions are getting outsourced: “In just the last 30 years, by Stuber’s count, the U.S. sent $16 trillion and six million jobs offshore” (PR Newswire). By glancing at the statistics, we get a clear indication that we are actually in desperate need of cooperating with other countries to keep the job market in a relatively stable condition. 

Consequently, if we think about it, imperialism in the U.S. is in many ways still alive and well. Real independence, the one for which we have fought so passionately, is now no more. Instead, it has sort of disintegrated into a watered down version of free trade. According to PR Newswire, “Stuber describes how, after 150 years, the U.S. then set out on the road of free trade following World War II, with disastrous results.” This free trade may have been a pinnacle that we as a nation wanted to reach. In reality, however, it did not really get us that far. Years and years later, as a result of poor political and economic choices, we are now in $19 trillion dollar debt (Forbes). Instead of being the economically advanced, democratic, and independent nation we want to be, we are desperately trying to hold together a post, post-colonial reality. Our desire to be on top of the world has, like Stuber suggests, led us to disastrous results. Maybe it was inevitable, but the trouble is that if the trend continues, it might cause major problems for us.

Moreover, the issue is that the future does not necessarily promise any positive changes for our nation. Although we may not know what might happen in the next decade, as Stuber reflects, “The future … portends more of the same” (PR Newswire). In other words, he is suggesting that in the future we probably will be experiencing many of the same issues such as outsourcing and no real free trade. Consequently, it is definitely still relative, while our post, post-colonial reality is alive and well. The problem is that in many ways we are still in the role of the colonial subject. Free trade is difficult. We rely on the rest of the world to keep our economy running. Jobs are outsourced.

Ultimately, the book suggests that we are not at all as advanced as we think we are. Stuber opens our eyes to the gray reality that in the light of day does not look all that positive. So, maybe, to make sure that we make progress as a nation, we should come to back to manufacturing all products at home without relying so much on other countries. The time has come for us to become a truly sovereign nation that relies exclusively on her own home-made resources. We must return to being independent and self-reliant. Our history began with a passionate statement of independence. We should continue asserting our independence by acting as the sovereign nation we call ourselves. The book urges us to do our utmost to live up to the name of a great nation. 

A Foray into Geography: Discovering the U.S.A. Map through a Road Trip

I See Me’s new book My U.S.A Road Trip provides children with a fresh and interesting approach to the study of geography. Given students’ gaps in their geography education, what they urgently need is a resource that would boost their performance and improve test results. The book responds to this need, providing young learners not only with a resource but also with a clear roadmap of the learning process. Under its guidance, students can begin their foray into geography. 

An exclusive focus on Common Core standards has deflected students’ attention away from geography. According to PR Newswire, “Schools spend less time on geography education because of their heavy emphasis on testing and Common Core standards for reading, math, and science.” Because schools focus heavily on math and science, students have major gaps in important subjects such as geography. Consequently, geography as a subject gets neglected in schools, and students do not build the skills they need to pass the Common Core exam in geography successfully. 

Educators should encourage students to realize that what they are studying in their geography classes is real. In particular, teachers must help them understand that they are not just looking at an image or model of the globe. The skills they are building in geography are so important to them precisely because they will need to apply them in the real world. In order to orient themselves both locally and globally, students will have to know geography very well. According to PR Newswire, “In [My U.S.A Road Trip], the child receives a personalized driver’s license, hops into a magical car, and learns state names and key monuments during the journey across America.” The book offers a fresh approach that would motivate students to make clear connections between the countries they see on a map and their real-world locations. If they are able to identify the location of states they visited, they would already begin to orient themselves globally. This book presents young students with a powerful and entertaining introduction to their first exploration of geography. 

The book may prove useful to students also because it motivates them to actually learn the subject. Since U.S. education in geography does not prepare them to pass the Common Core examination sufficiently well, children need books that would help them make progress quickly. We learn from PR Newswire that “[d]espite increasing globalization, U.S. children continue to fail at geography” — all the more reason why students need to have access to books such as My U.S.A Road Trip. 

In addition, the new book may encourage young readers to make strong connections to what they are studying. Students should become more and more aware of what they are learning and why. They should know geography well precisely because they would eventually have to orient themselves on their own. Solid knowledge of the subject is thus absolutely indispensable to them. According to PR Newswire, “The book includes a personalized map of the United States and a list of all 50 states.” Students can use the map to virtually drive across the states. Eventually, they would learn all 50 and be able to move around on their own.

My U.S.A Road Trip may also prompt readers to become responsible people. Geography is no longer just a subject that they study in school. They are expected to apply their knowledge of it in real life. If they want to travel when they grow up, they absolutely need to know their way around the globe. The book offers them a make-believe tour of the states, but it also encourages students to use their imaginations. 

The book prompts readers to imagine that they are explorers who are about to make their unique tour of the states. They are their own guides in their new adventure. According to PR Newswire, “Families can personalize this road trip adventure with their child’s name, gender, and current state.” In other words, children can actually go both on a virtual and individual exploration of the states. 

Finally, My U.S.A Road Trip is absolutely indispensable to children precisely because many are very interested in getting a driver’s license as soon as possible and traveling independently. In addition, the book could also help children learn geography much more efficiently. Most importantly, it might stimulate them to realize that a strong background in geography is not optional. They need to know the subject as well as possible precisely because sooner or later they would need to apply what they know. Once they acquire their basic skills in geography, they should be able to use them. My U.S.A Road Trip offers an inspiring nod in that direction.

The Sentinels: Corruption and Deception Unveiled

In his new publication The Sentinels: Voices Behind The Curtain, Gordon Zuckerman  taps into the source of our current political issues. His book unravels not only the corrupt dealings of our government. It also concentrates specifically on the cracks in our free enterprise system. The books calls on us to become acutely aware of the corruption at the heart of the political scene. As intelligent citizens with unique political views, we simply cannot afford to ignore these issues any longer. They naturally disturb us and make us worry, if not panic, about the future of our nation.

Zuckerman emphasizes the issue of trust on our political scene. In a political system that is complicated in itself and involves so many factors to function properly, trust is absolutely critical. We need to be able to trust our leaders if we want to solve complex political issues. According to Zuckerman, however, we seem to be pretty far away from this kind of mentality. He questions the “silent” political leaders: “When will the corruption, conflict of interests, and underhanded dealings in deception by those we are supposed to trust stop?” (PR Newswire). After all, the issue is that we do not trust our leaders. In a way, we are justified, because we regularly witness corruption in the news and the media. We have tolerated deception for too long and are frankly tired of it. The time has come, Zuckerman implies, to express our indignation at the political corruption and bad leadership that we are only too familiar with.

In addition, the author explores what happens when the big machinery of the government is suddenly undermined. In particular, he explains that as soon as we become dissatisfied with the way our government is treating us, we give way to rebellion. We can definitely put up with deception for a while but not for too long. Eventually, according to Zuckerman, a small group decides to oppose “agendas of misdirected concentrations of wealth and influence” (PR Newswire). In other words, little by little, the rebels who oppose the actions of the government form their own political organization. They do not want to put up with the government’s manipulations any longer. Neither do they want to patiently wait for the government to change its  policies in their favor. Rebellion starts brewing.

At this point, we realize that good leadership is absolutely indispensable to us. We absolutely must have strong leaders who would know how to distribute resources and resolve political and economic issues. Zuckerman suggests that “[w]e need more, high-minded, entrepreneurial leaders,’…  ‘who are opposed to those who abuse privileges of free enterprise for their own interests’” (PR Newswire). The issue is that we do not have capable leaders who will be able to lead us forward into progress. Not only should these people be forward-thinking. They should also be wise and know how to make the right decisions at just the right moment. On the other hand, if we do not have good leaders, we must also know how to respond. Otherwise, without a good leader, the complex machinery of our government would eventually disintegrate.

Once we realize how strongly we need a good leader, rebellion actually starts to smolder within us. We begin noticing flaws in our government. If we do not agree with a leader’s policies, we do not just put up with them. We rebel. In his book, Zuckerman sends us a very concrete message. He tells us that there is no need for us to be silent. He uses the power of fiction to communicate to us what we could do to express our rebellion if only we could be bolder. For Zuckerman, silence is no longer an option for us. According to PR Newswire, the author comments on his individual writing process by articulating the purpose of his book: “By using the fictional lives of the main characters as vehicles for the telling of the story, I have attempted to utilize their experiences to speculate what they might have done in opposition” (Mystery Tribune). His message cannot fail to get home to readers. Zuckerman uses fiction to help us identify faults in the system. Even if we cannot actually rebel against the machinery of the government, at least we can speculate, imagine what we could have done if we had the chance to finally express ourselves.

Needless to say, we should be able to hearken to the voice of reason. Those voices, the ones that are behind the curtain, could possibly tell us exactly what we need to hear. We must learn to listen. Perhaps then, we would finally be able to open our eyes to our current political reality. Perhaps then, we would also realize that the corruption we witness is simply staring at us. It has become so glaring at this point that no matter how hard we try we just cannot ignore it. Above all, we should be able to trust our leaders. We cannot tolerate “the looming threat of malignant agendas of misdirected concentrations of wealth and influence” any longer (PR Newswire). Our leaders are supposed to lead the country and help us make progress as a nation. We cannot allow ourselves to live with incompetent leaders anymore. The book moves us to think about political issues that at this point have become too pressing to be tolerated.  

Ultimately, Zuckerman’s The Sentinels: Voices Behind The Curtain can help us open our eyes to our grim reality. It is time for us to stop corruption. We must embrace free enterprise all over again and focus on returning to the values we once had. We must also become economically stable as a nation and believe in the importance of strong leadership. In the end, the book pushes us to become aware of our flawed political reality and presses us to remain vigilant.

Dream vs. Reality in the Post-Graduation World

In his new book Graduates Nationwide Face Growing Challenge, Mike Eltgroth discusses the problems that every college graduate grapples with in today's reality. Objectively speaking, thousands of students across the U.S. graduate from universities every year. Naturally, as soon as they graduate, many of them start looking for work. If many of these graduates fail to find a job after a thorough and extensive search, life becomes quite difficult for them. Of course, some of them may be better off than others, because their families help support them while they look for work. Others, however, may not be so fortunate and are forced to work odd jobs. In his book, Eltgroth motivates us to think very seriously about the growing challenges that students have to deal with as soon as they are out of college.

So many graduates struggle with numerous questions regarding their future plans. Even if they have a pretty clear idea of what they want to do professionally, the process of actually realizing their goals may become a stumbling block. In fact, it may seem daunting to them, if not almost impossible. Eltgroth draws attention to a serious issue that is at stake in many graduates’ reality today. According to the author, most graduates are simply not equipped with the skills they need to survive in the professional world. He suggests that “the lack of a clear post-graduation plan along with a lack of real-world skills can often lead to anxiety and poor decision making with long term impacts” (PR Newswire). This is precisely the issue that confronts many graduates today. At the university, they complete their general education and major coursework and work on getting an internship. If they are lucky, they find an excellent internship and secure their future at a company. For many though, the process of finishing an undergraduate degree or even a Master’s does not necessarily open up more opportunities. In particular, if the student does not finish a degree in a practical field and lacks real-world skills as well, the act of securing a job can be a very trying experience.

The book provides new graduates with the guidance they need as they plan out their lives after college. Notably, the author focuses on the disparity between dream and reality that they encounter as they realize that the career they envisioned for themselves is not that easy to get. He argues that “[w]hile graduates may have dreams of breaking from the crowd and becoming successful, many don’t have a clear picture of what that really means or how to get there” (PR Newswire). We can picture the new graduate fresh out of college and excited to embark on the next stage of professional life. The trouble is, however, that many students simply do not have a clear idea of how they will get to their dreams, to begin with. If they have a variety of resources at their disposal and are able to get concrete advice from someone, the next step will be less of a problem for them.

In addition, the author discusses other factors that new graduates should be aware of. In this way, he actually prepares them to face real-world challenges. According to the press release, the book covers topics including “…dealing with people, learning from failure, what to expect at their first job, understanding emotional intelligence, building confidence and more” (PR Newswire). These are issues that most new graduates confront as they finish college and enter the real world. Even though they have gained valuable academic skills in the classroom, they may not have the psychological stamina as yet to deal with pressure in the real world. In his book, Eltgroth provides graduates with tips they can use as they embark on the professional stage of their lives.

The book may also move us to think seriously about real-life problems that students have to deal with once they graduate. Looking for a job is certainly not their only concern as they leave the classroom. Life pushes them to think about the issues they have to address if they want to have relative financial stability. According to Eltgroth, new graduates must know “what they truly want, how to go after it and what to expect along the way” (PR Newswire). He suggests that being sure of what they want and being realistic about their goals may help them work through post-graduation challenges. Perhaps, new graduates could get started on their careers sooner if they actually adopt such an approach. Instead of having unrealistic dreams, they could  look for opportunities that match both their skill and experience levels.

In conclusion, exposure to resources such as Mike Eltgroth’s Graduates Nationwide Face Growing Challenge might help us become aware of what is at stake for new graduates. The book cautions us to think deeply about securing their professional and financial future. In addition, it spurs us into action, motivating students and parents to work on developing a concrete post-graduation plan that new graduates can pursue. Most importantly, the book makes us keenly aware of the challenges we are now facing as a nation. We absolutely should do our utmost to apply our skills and knowledge in the real world regardless of the major or skill level. It is crucial for students to grow into professionals and earn decent salaries. Consequently, I believe that more and more readers should be made aware of Eltgroth’s new book.

Wildfire and Tragedy: Inside the Inferno

Simon & Schuster Canada has recently published Damian Asher’s Inside the Inferno: A Firefighter's Story of the Brotherhood that Saved Fort McMurray in which he and his coauthors describe the tragedy of the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire in Canada. Those of us who regularly follow the headlines may have heard of this wildfire. Shocked by its intensity, we may have noted the damage it caused, discussed it at length and then moved on with our own lives. Quite naturally, it may have shocked and terrified us. For those of us who only heard about the fire, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to imagine what the courageous firefighters experienced in the process. As we look at Asher’s book, however, we may eventually start redefining heroism for ourselves. What, we may ask, is the definition of a hero? While Asher’s memoir may not necessarily provide us with the answer to this question, it brings our attention to the Fort McMurray tragedy in all of its terrifying intensity.

If we focus specifically on the book’s title, we may become inevitably drawn to its message. Struck by its power, by the awe-inspiring courage of these people, we would begin to feel that we are not just an audience who are looking at people’s fearless, bleeding hearts on a page. Inevitably, we become silent participants in this tragedy. By commiserating with these people, we become part of their tragic experience, get a taste of the courage that burns inside them. As we read, we are forced to stand face to face with real tragedy. According to Simon and Schuster, the brave men and women of the fire department were tasked with a very difficult mission — “to defend the community and to save thousands of lives.” It is a mission that moves us to think about someone other than ourselves, helps us reflect on the bigger and higher purpose of our lives. These people were not afraid to sacrifice themselves for the sake of others. They walked into the fray, knowing that they had already lost everything except for their lives. And yet, they were able to find the courage to ignore their own desires and to work together to defend their community.

As we look at the book, the concept of brotherhood stands out to us. In our modern world, it may often seem that we are pulling further and further away from this concept. Each of us lives in his or her own isolated space. We buy houses, computers, and numerous other gadgets, always eager to claim ownership over some new possession. Only when a natural disaster strikes do we suddenly realize that we cannot hold on to our possessions forever. According to Canada NewsWire, “Inside the Inferno details the courage, strength, and sacrifice of the firefighters and shows what it takes for a city to reunite and rebuild.” In the book’s pages, we rediscover the values of courage, strength, and a sense of bonding. These firefighters would not have been able to save Fort McMurray had it not been for their powerful sense of loyalty to one another. Thus, when reading the book, we inevitably open our eyes to the values that we may have forgotten about in our daily struggles.

The book may also motivate some of us to make connections to literature and films. In particular, I cannot help thinking about Dante’s Inferno. The title itself moves us to make this connection. After all, Dante descended into hell both to cleanse himself and to relieve the sufferers’ pain. He passed through every level of hell and witnessed the suffering of so many souls. In the end, he emerged strengthened and purified both by their suffering and his own. Analogously, the men and women who braved the fire together went through so many levels of hell in order to save their city. According to CBC News, “the story's universal themes could resonate with people whose lives were changed by the wildfire.” All of these people suffered. So many of them lost everything they had, including the homes they worked so hard to build and the possessions they took years to accumulate. Just like Dante, they descended into hell. Like him, they had to descend into an abyss in order to start rebuilding their lives, scarred by suffering but more resilient overall.

These courageous people sacrificed themselves in order to save their community. A spirit of camaraderie bonded them. It was this camaraderie that helped these firefighters eventually emerge from the fray as the heroic group of people who saved the fort and survived the fire. Ultimately, an allusion to the final lines of Tennyson’s “Ulysses” comes to mind precisely because it describes these people’s courage so aptly: “One equal temper of heroic hearts, / Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will / To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”