My 2 Cents… Girl (2018)

Would you prefer to watch the video review, instead of reading it? CLICK HERE

GIRLTitle: Girl
Director: Lukas Dhont
Writers: Lukas Dhont and Angelo Tijssens
Stars: Victor Polster (Lara), Arieh Worthalter (Mathias), and Oliver Bodart (Milo)

Writing: ★★★★
Cinematography: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Acting: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4.25)

Lara, a 15-year-old transgender girl who aspires to be a professional ballerina, moves with her supportive father, Mathias, and younger brother to attend a prestigious Dutch-speaking dance academy. Undergoing hormone replacement therapy in preparation for sex reassignment surgery, she is frustrated by the slow progress of the treatment. At school, she tucks her penis with tape during ballet practices and experiences transphobic harassment from her classmates. Since the taping has caused an infection, she is denied the surgery for now, so she mutilates herself with a pair of scissors. The film ends with a shot of Lara walking down a street in the sun.

• Golden Globes Awards – Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film

It’s hard being a teenager. It’s hard being a teenage girl going through hormonal changes, self-doubt, body issues, and so much more. Throw into the mix the fact that Lara, played by Victor Polster, is a 15-year-old girl who was born in the body of a boy that she doesn’t relate to.

I don’t know, nor would I ever presume to understand, what that might feel like. But I can say this, I know it couldn’t be easy.

Although Girl is not a documentary, or true story, it was inspired by Nora Monsecour, a trans female dancer from Belgium. I’m not sure how much of the story was true to Nora’s life or how much was purely fiction, but it was beautifully told.

I’ve read a number of reviews and articles that have criticized the film for its depiction of self-harm and gender-dysphoria, which I recently learned is the distress a person experiences when the gender they are assigned at birth does not match the person’s gender identity causing them to be transgender. Honestly, I can’t criticize a film for something I don’t truly understand. All I know is that the struggle Lara was going through in the film, felt honest, raw, and real.

VictorGirl was actor Victor Polster’s debut role and he did a beautiful job. I won’t lie, I had to look up the film’s IMDB page to find out if Lara was played by a male or female actor. I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know if the director had used a body double for the nude scenes or if the actress was actually an actor. I will say this, I am a bit shocked that the actor was only fourteen at the time of the filming and there were scenes of him with full frontal nudity (with his parent’s permission). That was off-putting to say the least.

Arieh Worthalter, who played Mathias – Lara’s father, was amazing. He was so natural on-screen. He wore his emotions on his sleeve… on his face… in his eyes. Half the time, I just wanted to hug him and tell him everything was going to be alright. You could see that he, as much as his daughter, was struggling just to keep himself together. The love he felt for both of his children was so pure and you could tell he would do anything for them. Enough so that he uprooted his family so that Lara, the oldest of the two children, could attend an elite dance school and be treated by doctors who could really help her. He supported her 100% through the process of preparing for sex reassignment surgery and was there for her every step of the way even though he was worried sick about her.

It was a beautiful story of family, love, pain, growing up, and discovering yourself even when you have to look through the mud to find out who you really are.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

You can watch the official trailer here:

Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson

Would you prefer to watch the video review, instead of reading it? CLICK HERE
Silent Sky

PLAY TITLE: Silent Sky
AUTHOR: Lauren Gunderson

Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4.75)

When Henrietta Leavitt begins work at the Harvard Observatory in the early 1900s, she isn’t allowed to touch a telescope or express an original idea. Instead, she joins a group of women “computers,” charting the stars for a renowned astronomer who calculates projects in “girl hours” and has no time for the women’s probing theories. As Henrietta, in her free time, attempts to measure the light and distance of stars, she must also take measure of her life on Earth, trying to balance her dedication to science with family obligations and the possibility of love. The true story of 19th-century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt explores a woman’s place in society during a time of immense scientific discoveries, when women’s ideas were dismissed until men claimed credit for them. Social progress, like scientific progress, can be hard to see when one is trapped among earthly complications; Henrietta Leavitt and her female peers believe in both, and their dedication changed the way we understand both the heavens and Earth.

Buy it HERE on Amazon!

My 2 Cents: 
This is a beautiful play about one of the first women who worked in the field of astronomy. The reader (or audience if seeing the play life) get to see how she balances, or fails to balance, life while still pursuing her dream of reaching for the stars. It is intelligent, artistic, heart wrenching, and emotionally moving.

I started reading this play with no knowledge of what it was about other than that it had to do with female astronomers, or ‘computers’ as they were called back in the early 1900s. I was happy to find that it was not only beautifully written with humor woven throughout the story, but it avoided the typical traps stories like this often fall into such as only focusing on the negative aspects of women in what is considered a “man’s world”, over dramatizing work and home life balance… or lack thereof, or not sharing all aspects of the story such as family/science/and love… there is room for it all and I believe that Gunderson successfully brought it all together.

CHARACTERS: Through her writing, Gunderson brings to life each of the five characters in such a beautiful way. They each have their own history, their own desires, and their own goals. Life ends up differently for each of them, and as with our lead character, Henrietta, they all experience

  • Henrietta Leavitt
  • Margaret Leavitt
  • Peter Shaw
  • Annie Cannon
  • Williamina Fleming

APPEARANCE: it’s a plain colored cover, in this case blue, with black lettering, typical of a Dramatists Play Service playbook. I personally prefer this style of cover for plays because I want the writing to tell me what the characters look like, rather than an image on the cover.

“I used to think that to be truly alive I needed answers. I needed to know. But all this does not in fact need to be known, does it? We do. Because the real point… is seeing something bigger. And knowing we’re a small part of it, if we’re lucky. In the end that is a life well-lived.” ~ Henrietta in Silent Sky

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Henrietta Leavitt, (born July 4, 1868, Lancaster, Massachusetts, U.S.—died December 12, 1921, Cambridge, Massachusetts), was one of the first female American astronomers. She was known for her discovery of the relationship between period and luminosity in Cepheids, pulsating stars. 

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Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

Typos and Errors in Published Manuscripts

I originally published this article (or a version of this article) as a guest author on another blog, that no longer seems to exist, on August 8, 2014. However, I felt that the information was important enough that I wanted it in my blog feed as well, so I published it here… in 2014.

It has been almost a whole 5 years since the information was first published and it is still relevent… with some minor changes.

<wink wink>

Without further ado, I hope you enjoy my take on Typos and Errors in Indie-Published Manuscripts – in all manuscripts really. I hope you let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.


Are typos in a book a big deal?

Of course they are – to some extent! Typos happen. Let me say that again, TYPOS HAPPEN! Typos happen in books that are self-published and traditionally published. Typos happen to new authors and seasoned authors. Typos happen in eBooks and print books. It doesn’t matter how many people you have edit, proof read, re-read, etc. there is always a chance a typo (or two – or three – or four) is going to slip through. Does that mean the world is over, the author should never write again, or that the author should lose all credibility? NO!

Let me say that again – NO!

It goes without saying, although I will say it, that every author should take the time and effort to make their manuscript the best that it can be. Not only do readers deserve the best product an author can provide, authors deserve to produce their best work – which they can be proud of for years to come!

You might be asking yourself, ‘how do I, as a self-published author without the backing of a traditional publishing house, afford to make sure that my manuscripts are ready for publication?’

Good Question!

Editors, proof-readers, and copy-writing services all cost money! Plus, and here is the catcher, even professional editors, proof-readers, and copy-writing service professionals make mistakes! Yes, they are only human! Even when you pay good money for services like these, you can’t be 100% sure your manuscript is flawless. That doesn’t mean you should just accept the fact that typos happen and therefore you don’t need to worry about them. There are a lot of things you can do to ensure that you publish your best work. I’ve listed some examples of things I do below, but just remember you are never going to please everyone. There will always be someone who finds something wrong with your book.

What can you do to ensure minimal typos and errors in your final manuscript?

Below is a partial list of tools (free and/or low-cost) that I believe all authors (self-published or traditionally published) should be using:

SPELLCHECK – I LOVE spellcheck. No matter what I am working on I have spellcheck set to mark spelling and grammatical errors while I am typing. No, it doesn’t always catch misused words – but it is a great start to catching those words frequently misspelled. You can also add words to your computers dictionary. This is a great way to allow your computer to know that names (or other words) you use frequently are not incorrectly typed.

READING ALOUD – Yes, just like you did when you were in elementary school. One of the reasons teachers have their students read out loud is because we often retain more information when we hear text read out loud. For me, as an author, I like to either read my books out loud to myself or have someone else read them to me as I follow along. The down side to this is that it can be a rather lengthy process, but the upside is that it allows me to catch words that have been misused and dialog that doesn’t sound natural.

FIND / REPLACE – If you don’t use this Microsoft Word tool yet – YOU NEED TO! Microsoft can find just about anything from double commas or periods, extra spaces, repeat words, etc. Once you find them you can fix them. Although, what I really like about this feature is that you can easily replace mistakes with corrections. [Example: FIND: .. REPLACE WITH: .] Don’t get me wrong, you don’t want to just trust your computer to make all of your corrections for you. When I do a search for an error I look at each of the results and decide if I want the correction to be made.

TEST READERS (AKA BETA READERS) – Or as I like to call them guinea pigs! My mom, my sister, and a number of my friends have all been my willing and loyal test subjects in this area. They have read, edited, and re-read all of my books throughout the writing process looking for errors that I might have missed. They are also a great resource when it comes to finding plot holes, unintentional cliffhangers, etc. It isn’t easy seeing your manuscript covered in red edits, but trust me this process makes your final manuscript much better than it would be with only you reading and reviewing it. Just make sure you get test readers who are willing to give you an honest critique. You won’t always like what they say, but try to listen with an open mind because they are only trying to help.

PRO WRITING AID – This is an online writing editor and personal writing coach. It checks grammar and spelling; helps to improve overall readability; finds overused words; improves dull paragraph structure; locates repeat words and phrases; checks for consistency of spelling; hyphenation and capitalization; warns you about clichés and redundancies; and so much more. I learned about this tool through a friend that does line editing as a freelancer. She told me that it was an inexpensive way to help improve writing as you go and that it was extremely user-friendly – SHE WAS RIGHT! I highly suggest trying it out. What is the worst that could happen? Want to try Pro Writing Aid, start your free trial by clicking HERE!

The Hemingway Editor App – You can use the free online version or, for just $19.99 you can down load a desktop (Windows and/or Mac) version. $19.99 is not much for such a great tool. The Hemingway App cuts the dead weight from your writing. It highlights passive voice, adverbs, weak language, confusing language, and lengthy/structurally complex sentences and, in many cases, gives suggestions for changes. For a really great review and comparison to similar products, click HERE! To download your copy of The Hemingway Editor desktop version, click HERE.

ARC – Advance Reader Copies! Okay, once your manuscript is complete, as complete as you feel you can make it, you need to offer advance reader copies. This is a great way to get feedback. You can request feedback in the form of reader notes and/or book reviews. I have even gone so far as providing a list of questions at the end of the advance reader copies I have sent out, this helped me to target key areas of my story, character development, dialogue, and/or editing that needed to be fixed.

EDITOROK, this one costs money, sometimes a significant amount – it depends on the length of your manuscript and the experience level of the editor. All of the tools above are free or can be done at a very low-cost, however hiring an editor is not cheap. If you decide to go this route – which I did – you do not want to skimp! You get what you pay for. however, you still have to remember – Editors are only HUMAN, they make mistakes too! Again, there is no way to guarantee – 100% – that your manuscript isn’t going to have typos or errors.

My novels may still have errors – heck, even award-winning authors sometimes have errors in their novels – but I can honestly say that I have taken all possible steps to ensure that the books I publish are the best they can possibly be. So, if there are still a few errors, as I am sure there are, then I’m OK with that. I’m happy with my finished products and that truly is all an author can ask for.

* Written by: Nina Soden *

Week 6 – #WritingWednesday Challenge

Today is the Sixth edition of #WritingWednesday!!!


Remember, #WritingWednesday is an EASY, STRESS-FREE, weekly writing challenge.

• Read the writing prompt below,
• Spend 5 minutes writing (in your own voice or the voice of a character you’re writing) whatever comes to mind,

The goal is 5 minutes of creativity.

Today I am writing in the voice of Sophie, a main character in my upcoming novel The Beast Within (This is not a selection from the novel, but part of my character development journal.)

Today’s writing prompt:

What did you get into trouble for the most when you were a kid?

I was a good kid. I know, it probably sounds silly or boring, but it’s the truth. My parents set the rules and I followed them. It wasn’t a question of whether or not I liked the rules or I thought they were fair, they were just the rules.

My bedroom was on the first floor of the house and the window reached almost floor to ceiling. I had friends who were jealous. They used to tell me how easy it would be to sneak out at night, “just open up the window and crawl right out,” they’d say.

Why? I wondered. Why would I do that when my parents put a roof over my head and food on the table. Why risk upsetting that happy balance?

The thing is, I wish I had snuck out. I wish, just once, I would have broken the rules. I think kids need to get into trouble every now and then. Nothing big, don’t take it like that. I just mean, when you never get punished… you never get spanked… you never get yelled at… I think you miss the lesson of what consequences really are.

You start feeling like nothing can go wrong, ever.

In reality, the world is an ugly place. I learned this lesson to late in life. After the ring was already on my finger and I was locked into a marriage of lies, abuse, hatred, and pain. I closed myself off… shut down… gave up on my dreams…

But life goes on.

The real world goes on.

It wasn’t until I had a long heart to heart with myself that I realized what I had to do. How I had to pick myself up.

I’m not sure if this really answers the question, but having been the ‘good girl’ my parents told me to be, I guess getting into trouble wasn’t really something that was allowed.

© 2019 Nina Soden

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Alright, now it’s your turn. I’d love to see what today’s writing prompt inspires in you. So, if you are willing, go to the comment section below and start typing. Take 5 minutes and let’s see what you come up with!

What did you get into trouble for the most when you were a kid?

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Are you working on a manuscript, but need a little help getting organized? Check out SO YOU WANT TO WRITE A BOOK ~ An Author Guide to Outlining and Planning Your Next Novel

Author Bullet Journal 8x10 Front Cover

Want help meeting your writing goals? Check out JUST WRITE: The Ultimate Author’s Bullet Journal

Author interview ~ Audrey N. Lewis

I am very excited to welcome Audrey N Lewis, author of Everybody has a story… These are ours to my blog. If you have questions for Audrey, that aren’t covered in the interview, please comment below and she will be sure to get you the answers. 

Let’s start by finding out a little bit about you…

  • What is your name and do you write under a pen name? My name is Audrey Lewis and I am very comfortable putting my own name on anything I write or create.
  • Where do you call home? I live in a Northern Chicago suburb, but any where I am with family or at one with nature is where I call home.
  • Obviously, we know you are an author, but some writers have other jobs as well. Do you have another occupation? Do you believe you’re any good at it? Do you like what you do? Besides writing, I refurnish and repurpose furniture with my family and I love doing it, I also am an artist/creator and while not perfect really do like what I do.
  • What is your family like? I have been married for 42 years and have 2 adult children whom I remain very close to.
  • If it doesn’t bother you, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like? I lived in a red-brick house that was always kept clean and I hated to get anything dirty or out-of-place.
  • Do you have any hobbies, other than writing? What do you enjoy doing? I am a collector, I find interesting and lonely pieces of furniture and or art and repurpose them. It’s a great feeling when I find pieces that call out to me to save them. I like photography and building fairy houses and creating.
  • What is your greatest dream? This is a very difficult question. If I am talking about writing it would be that my written words are read and that good discussion might arise. My global dream is rather trite. It would be for a world without hate.
  • What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you? I think that I am the kind of person I want to be, kind, sympathetic, compassionate and generous.
  • What is the most terrible thing that ever happened to you? Discovering the darkest sides of people I love.
  • What or who inspired you to start writing? And how long have you been writing? I have been writing since I was 4 so it is a difficult question to answer.
  • What is your greatest fear? Losing the people I love.
  • Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hard-covers or audio-books? I personally like paperbacks or hard-cover there is nothing better than the feel of turning a page.
  • Have you ever read a book more than once? Many but the first one I can remember reading more than once was A Wrinkle in Time.
  • Have you ever read a book just based on its cover? Probably at one point or another, but can’t remember what it might have been.
  • What is your favorite film based on a book? To Kill A Mockingbird.
  • What is your favorite book genre at the moment? General fiction
  • What book are you reading at the moment? My grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry. And in what format? Paperback

Let’s shift somewhat and talk about your latest story.

  • What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or fewer words, what would you say? My most recent book is a collection of short stories, “Everybody has a story… These are ours” that are full of everyday events with complex emotional issues that will have you questioning yourself.
  • Is the above book part of a series? It is not part of a series, however I am expanding the first story, “The Closet” and will see where it goes.
  • How did you come up with the cover? Who designed the cover of your book(s)? Creative Designs did the final book design using a photograph I had taken years ago that I felt was the title itself.
  • How did you come up with the title for your book(s)? It came to me, after all it was everybody’s story.
  • What first gave you the idea for your latest book? They were stories that followed me over the years, as if they needed a voice and I was chosen to give it to them.

Let’s talk now about your writing process.

  • What is your writing style like? That is a difficult question, since it seems to change a bit with everything I write. I have just completed my first novella, a contemporary fiction “The Tapestry” and am working on a fantasy fiction as well as a literary fiction. Doing so many different styles at once somehow seems to keep me sane.
  • Have you come across any specific challenges in writing or publishing? I would make sure that I ALWAYS back up my writing!
  • Are you a self-published/Indie author or did you publish through a traditional publishing company? I am a self-published / Indie author.
  • If you’re a self-published/Indie author what made you go that route instead of the traditional publishing route? I think the fear of not completing a project helped make that decision for me.
  • Where can your readers follow you?

#MindfulnessMonday 3/11/19

Today’s #MindfulnessMonday Tip: Stress can affect your body and your health in many different ways; headaches, upset stomach, increased blood pressure, chest pain, insomnia, muscle tension or pain, fatigue, change in sex drive, etc. Stressed caused by pent-up emotions that you don’t express or talk about can lead to what is called emotional constipation. Want to know more about emotional constipation? Check out today’s episode of #MindfulnessMonday HERE!

emotional c

With that little piece of advice, I give you today’s Mindfulness Exercise:

Body Awareness Exercise
The Long, Slow Stretch…

Take a second to just appreciate the sensation of your body stretching. You can do this exercise standing, sitting, or laying down. Move your body, stretching your arms, legs, sides, etc. Notice where your body feels tight and at what point, during the stretch, your muscles relax into the motion. As you relax out of the stretch, ask yourself how you feel. This exercise should increase your awareness of your body. Next, focus on the areas that are more tense or sore and gently stretch them a few more times until they have loosened. Be sure to use caution, not allowing yourself to over stretch or strain the muscles. It isn’t uncommon to feel emotional during this type of body awareness stretching exercise. Allow yourself to open up to those emotions, experience them, think about how they make you feel, and don’t be afraid to cry.

Mindfulness Journaling Prompt: Take 5 minutes to reflect on the Long, Slow Stretch mindfulness exercise. Make notes about what you discovered about your body, what you discovered about your emotional state, how this exercise made you feel both physically and emotionally, where do you hold your tension, what areas of your body took longer to loosen up, what areas wouldn’t loosen up, etc.

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Check out my #MindfulnessMonday YouTube Series and don’t forget to click subscribe so you never miss an episode!

EPISODE 10 ~ 5 Signs You’re Emotionally Constipated!

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Would you like to take the 52-week challenge and experience a more mindful existence? Check out The Invisible You ~ 52 Weeks of Meditations, Activities, and Writing Prompts to Help you Discover You!

*I’m certified in Holistic Stress Management and Mind/Body Fitness. I’ve been practicing Mindfulness for 10+ years and am passionate about helping others in their pursuit of a more mindful existence.

My 2 Cents… A Star Is Born (2018)

Would you prefer to watch the video review, instead of reading it? CLICK HERE

2018Title: A Star Is Born
Director: Bradley Cooper
Writers: Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, and Will Fetters
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, and Sam Elliott

Based on the 1954 Screenplay by: Moss Hart
Based on the 1976 Screenplay by: john Gregory Dunne, Joan Didion, and Frank Pierson
Based on a story by: William Wellman and Robert Carson


Writing: ★★★★★
Cinematography: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Acting: ★★★★★
Singing: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★ (5)

Seasoned musician Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) discovers-and falls in love with-struggling artist Ally (Gaga). She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer – until Jack coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally’s career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jack fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons. Written by Warner Bros.


  • Winner of the 2019 Oscar for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)
  • Nominated in the categories of Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Bradley Cooper), Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Lady Gaga), Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Sam Elliott), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Achievement in Cinematography.


I honestly didn’t know what to expect with this movie… I’m not a big fan of movies where singers, athletes, and wrestlers decided to be actors. I know, that probably sounds bad. However, in most cases it is my opinion that they should just leave the acting to the actors.

With that said, I think this movie really worked. I wasn’t expecting much of a performance from Lady Gaga, but she was really impressive. I’ve always liked her music and although I can’t sing to save my life, I can recognize that talent in others. She is such an awesome performer – bigger than life – that I just couldn’t imagine her bringing her performance down to life-size on the big screen. Then I saw A Star Is Born… Watching her act in A Star Is Born was like seeing her for the first time. She was raw, open, emotional, and beautiful. Her talent not only extends to her musical performances but she is a natural actress. I don’t say that often when it comes to musicians, but she really was a wonder in this film.

Bradley Cooper, who I’ve always enjoyed watching, gave 110% percent with this one. His performance was so real… so raw… and completely heartbreaking. I’m not going to lie, I cried. How could you not. If you didn’t cry during his last scene, then you clearly don’t have a heart.

I was surprised to find out that he not only stared in the film, he helped write the screenplay, and he directed it. BRAVO!!!

Sam Elliott played Bradley Cooper’s older brother, although I didn’t get that connection until well into the film. His performance as great. I’m a huge fan. I loved him in everything from Tombstone to The Big Lebowski, to, most recently, the TV series The Ranch.

“Unless you get out there and try to do it, you’ll never know. That’s just the truth. If there’s one reason we’re supposed to be here is to say somethin’ so people wanna hear it. So you gotta grab it and you don’t apologize. You don’t worry about why they’re listenin’ or how long they’re gonna be listening for. You just tell em what you wanna say.” Jackson Maine ~ A Star is Born (2018)

“You know it’s like, I dunno you… you float out… float out at sea then one day you find a port say, “I’m gonna stay here a few days.” Few days ‘comes a few years. Then you forgot where you’re going in the first place. Then you realize you don’t really give a sh*t about where you was goin’, cause you like where you at.” Noodles ~ A Star is Born (2018)

“Music is essentially twelve notes between any octave. Twelve notes and the octave repeats. It’s the same story told over and over. All the artist can offer the world is how they see those twelve notes.” Bobby ~ A Star is Born (2018)

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

You can watch the official trailer here:

See the 1976 and 2018 movie posters below: