Great Authors

What The Dickens…?

Frederick Barnard was commissioned by Chapman & Hall to illustrate the works of Charles Dickens.

Frederick Barnard was commissioned by Chapman & Hall to illustrate the works of Charles Dickens.

Whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do it well; whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself completely; in great aims and in small I have always thoroughly been in earnest. – Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens is best known for his popular written works like A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol and Great Expectations. If you’ve ever read his work, you’re probably familiar with his creative knack for developing some of the most memorable fictional characters of our time. After reading more about him, it seems that Charles Dickens began utilizing his talents at a young age which only aided his success as an adult.

Charles Dickens was an English writer and a social critic. He was attracted to theater arts and quickly became involved in acting and playwriting. Shortly thereafter he took up political journalism and covered various stories across Britain to cover election campaigns. Throughout his literary career, he continuously contributed to and edited his journals.  He possessed a passion for writing and had a special skill for dialogue, which transferred from the written page to production with ease.

He also acted as a humanitarian and used his unique skill set and rising fame to raise money on behalf of the Great Ormond Street Hospital during a time of great financial hardship. He loved his line of work, and threw himself into book tours and various appearances across the country. Today would have been the 201st birthday.  If you’re a fan of his work, feel free to leave a comment on today’s blog with your favorite book, quote, or fun fact about this fascinating man that many of us have grew up with (literarily speaking, of course).

At BookRix, we also have a great author from Great Britain who currently resides in Los Angeles. Valerie Byron, or GoodUKLady as our members know her, has been an active member on our site for over three years. She is an active member of our online community and is often the first to help new members joining BookRix. Valerie has a compilation of thirteen short stories in her book called The Man Who Lost His Genius & Other Stories. They are diverse in genre, ranging from a psychological thriller to a fantasy about a simple sponge. Check it out and let her (and us at BookRix!) know what you think!

Good Advice Can’t Be Bad – One Author To Another

As writers, we are constantly looking around us for inspiration. For me, one of the best places to find encouragement, is from other writers. Author quotes, interviews, and advice are always there for me when I need them.

Recently, I read a really great article on the Huffington Post website about a book called “Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do” – where bestselling authors share advice and tips about their success. The Huffington Post shared an excerpt by Jodi Picoult (most famous for “My Sister’s Keeper).

Here is a little taste of her wisdom:

A lot of writers think of the publishing contract as the Holy Grail, but it’s not. It’s a huge mistake to think that just because your book is being printed, your publisher will publicize it. If you’re a new author, it’s much more likely that they won’t. You have to stump yourself and find book clubs to talk to and go to book fairs and set up signings at bookstores and libraries—anything to get word of mouth going. Your publisher’s more likely to pay attention to your book if it starts magically selling. Then they might put some money into promoting it. It’s a vicious cycle.

  • Take a writing course. It’s how you’ll learn to get and give feedback, and it’ll teach you to write on demand.
  • There’s no magic bullet that’ll make you a success. If you write because you want to be rich, you’re in the wrong business. Write because you can’t not write, or don’t write at all.
  • Write even when you don’t feel like writing. There is no muse. It’s hard work. You can always edit a bad page, but you can’t edit a blank page.
  • Read. It’ll inspire you to write as well as the authors who came before you.
  • To read the full article, click HERE.

    Another great article shares some tips from Kurt Vonnegut, from his book “Bagombo Snuff Box”:

  • Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  • Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  • Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  • Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.*
  • Start as close to the end as possible.
  • Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  • Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  • Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
  • To read the full article, click HERE.

    If you’re having writer’s block, losing faith in yourself, or feeling like the only writer out there, just take a look around and you’ll see all the amazing writer’s who are there, ready and willing, to help you along your way. There are lots of great books your can read, such as the one mentioned above in the Huffington article, Stephen King’s “On Writing” (is hugely popular), “Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity” by Ray Bradbury, and many more. And finally, here are a few great quotes, to help you feel inspired and keep you from losing your mind:

    Jeffrey EugenidesStephen KingCharles de Lint

    Anais NinToni MorrisonJ. K. Rowling

    What Would Xmas Be Without ‘A Christmas Carol’?

    Our parents know it as a classic by Charles Dickens; And if you grew up in the 80’s, you undoubtedly know the tale from its film adaptation “Scrooged” with Bill Murray (who doesn’t love that movie?). But no matter how you came to know the story behind A Christmas Carol, you have witnessed a timeless classic that was originally published in 1843. Over the years, children have acted out its part in their school play, and parents have read it to their kids before bed. The story embodies a very meaningful message that deserves to be recognized and shared. And that moral is that it’s better to give to others and demonstrate generosity than only receive. Such a simple message, but something many have a hard time doing on a consistent basis. We all love getting into the holiday spirit of giving, but its important to remember this year round.

    While we’re on the topic of giving and holiday spirit, we’d like to share with you these holiday themed books by our very talented BookRix authors. Feel free to share the love with your friends and family. We know we’re going to!

    Short Story, Love, Christmas

    Short Story, Love, Christmas

    Romance, Holiday, Christmas

    Romance, Holiday, Christmas

    Angel, Family, Blessings

    Angel, Family, Blessings

    Happy Birthday Mr. Twain & Mr. Swift!

    Mark Twain (left), Jonathan Swift (right)

    Mark Twain (left), Jonathan Swift (right)

    Most people don’t like to share their birthday with a friend or family member because they want to keep the b-day spotlight to themselves. It’s understandable, considering birthday celebrations only happens once a year. But something tells us, if Mark Twain and Jonathan Swift (two uber famous authors) had been around during the same time and were friends, they would’ve celebrated together. And if you’re anything like us, you would want to be there too. Imagine the conversations!

    Mark Twain took up writing when his job as a gold miner failed. Who knew? The two books he’s most widely known for, Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, were based in his hometown of Hannibal, Missouri. Twain’s wit and satire earned him praise from critics and peers from around the world.

    Born two centuries before Mr. Twain was Jonathan Swift, an author also famously known for being a master of satire. Two satire styles, specifically: Horatian and Juvenalian. Many remember Swift from his classic Gulliver’s Travels. He was a noted poet, but gained more recognition for his books.

    Today, November 30th, marks the birthday for each of these talented writers. We graciously thank them for their exquisite written work and for paving the way for other writers following in their footsteps. Cheers, men!

    Now what’s a winter weekend without a good read? Well, we have several to recommend! So get into your cozy, comfy clothes, turn your ringer off and settle into that plush sofa for some brain food.

    Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

    Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

    Romantic, Funny

    Romantic, Funny



    We’d rather be in Narnia.

    When I was younger, I used to believe that if I found a wardrobe that was old enough and big enough and filled with enough over-sized fur coats, I just might make it to Narnia. I’m not saying I don’t still believe that, but as time passes, I realize that the best way to escape to Narnia is to pick up one of the books and get reading. C. S. Lewis was born on this day, November 29th, in 1898 which makes today a special day. Without C.S. Lewis, there would be no Narnia, and without Narnia there might not be any Artemis Fowl, His Dark Materials, Lemony Snicket, Coraline, or worse – no Harry Potter.  The Chronicles of Narnia books have inspired and/or influenced many of today’s adult and children’s fantasy authors and for good reason – they’re awesome! The Chronicles of Narnia has sold over 100 million copies in over 45 languages worldwide. If you don’t know about Narnia, then you must be living under a rock somewhere.

    Okay, so we all know about Narnia, but do many people really know much about C. S. Lewis? For those of you who haven’t seen Shadowlands, here is some interesting information about the man behind Narnia. Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast, Ireland. When he was four years old, his beloved dog “Jacksie” was run over by a car and from that day forth he refused to answer to any other name than Jacksie (although later he settled on Jack, which his friends and family called him for the rest of his life). He spent his childhood reading and was really fond of the Beatrix Potter (most well known for The Tale of Peter Rabbit) stories about talking animals, which probably inspired the creatures of Narnia. He was also very interested in mythology, Greek literature, and stories about nature and life in the North; all of which influenced his writing. Lewis studied at Oxford University and was wounded in WWI, but continued writing throughout his entire life. Oh, and he was close friends with J. R. R. Tolkien, who the world knows as the author of The Lord of the Rings.

    Today we’re recommending a series by Aaron Redfern inspired by Tolkien that we think Lewis would have appreciated:

    The Long Way (Part One)
    In a move that defies all logic and likelihood, a young boy named Spiff is called upon to carry out the most important quest that has ever been undertaken. His mission drags him headlong across the face of the world, through a veritable pantheon of hardships and threats that are at once chilling and baffling. Along the way he meets dragons and madmen, and learns that the lovable and the monstrous are two sides of the same coin.
    Conceived as a darkly whimsical loose retelling of the Tolkien saga,
    The Long Way poses the question that high fantasy rarely cares to ask: Why?

    The Forgotten Way (Part Two)
    Two years after the events of The Long Way, Spiff still bears his scars both outside and in. Haunted by his memories, he is compelled to leave the peaceful existence he has known and set out on the second great journey of his life, accompanied by his friend, the Merai girl Miriel. Together they strike out, knowing only that they travel south–to the end of the world if they must.
    Stories never really end.
    The Forgotten Way is about what happens after the world is saved and everyone else has gone home.

    “In the book of life, the answers aren’t in the back.” -Charlie Brown


    Every Saturday morning, from the time I could read, until the day I left for university, I would wake up, run downstairs, and pull the “funny pages” out of the newspaper. I never got tired of reading those little stories, those snippets of life and love and laughter that can always be found in the weekend color comic strips. During my childhood, I was even inspired to create some of my own comics, always complete with a few cute drawings and humorous wording. I thought I was hilarious, and of course, so did my mom. Although I don’t still draw cartoons, I can still find hints of comic style silliness in my writing today, so I would like to take a moment to remember one of my all time favorite comic strip creators: Charles M. Schulz.

    Today I would like to wish Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, a Happy 90th birthday. Although Schulz died 12 years ago, I still want to celebrate his life, because without him there would be no Charlie Brown, or even worse, no Snoopy. When Peanuts was at the pinnacle of popularity, it was published everyday in 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries, in 21 languages and ran for almost 50 years! The final count for strips drawn by Schulz was close to 18,000 strips. And if you can believe it, Schulz only took one vacation during all those 50 years – to celebrate his 75th birthday. That was the only time reruns of the comic were published during his lifetime. Schulz must have really loved his job, and it shows; he created an entire kid universe of whimsical, endearing and beloved characters that have worked their way into the heart of millions of people worldwide.

    There are so many authors who seem to have been influenced by writers like Schulz, and here is one example:

    Lancelot is an orphaned joey growing up on a farm. One day he comes across a kangaroo mob and wants to join it. He escapes from home and injures his arm so badly that it has to be amputated. Left alone in the bush he has to overcome dangerous situations. He is lucky that a girl kangaroo from the mob is curious to find out who Lancelot is and wants to help him.

    A funny, exciting but also heart-warming tale about loneliness, courage – and most of all – true friendship. Based on true events!

    Classic Peanuts: “Maybe I’ll make it into a sport coat.”

    Who is your favorite Peanuts character? Share with us on Facebook!


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