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Book Reviews
January, 2008

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Book Reviews - July

By  Mark London, John Nazzaro, Richard Crowhurst

We present to you only the best of the best in exemplary 'how-to' write books.
une into IN reviews for the best of How-To books about writing -- all genres -- from high adventure to haiku, from fact to fiction, cookbooks to commentary and much, much more. Always check IN to see what's in. We only publish the best and our rating scale below is based upon the values of the three Es: Ease-of-Read, Educational, and Entertaining.

If you have a how-to write book that you would like us to read and possibly write a review about (we only publish reviews of books that we deem are best of the best) please send it to us. Our snail mail address is located in our 'About' area.

Title: Write It Right: The Ground Rules For Self-Editing Like The Pros
Author: Dawn Josephson and Lauren Hidden
Publisher: Cameo Publications
ISBN: 0-9744966-2-6
Reviewer: Mark London
IN Rating:

From the author of Putting It On Paper and The Ground Rules book series, Dawn Josephson teamed up with Lauren Hidden of The Hidden Helper fame and produced another excellent self-help read for writers and authors.

Could poor self-editing skills be a detriment to your career? According to a 2004 survey by the College Board's National Commission on Writing, one-third of today's workers don't have adequate writing skills and if you think this doesn't pertain to you, then think again. It does and you can do something about that now.

The Write It Right authors seek to change this startling statistic by giving writers from all backgrounds and level of experience the tools they need to effectively self-edit their work.

Write It Right is a must read for anyone who writes. Whether you write for profit or for pleasure, business communications, articles or email, you need to project your thoughts and ideas clearly.

This book simplifies the self-editing process by breaking it down into five easy steps for you to follow. It is the perfect reference tool for writers and authors to improve and sell their work.

Each of the five self-editing steps is strengthened and supported by Ground Rules, Real-Life Samples that illustrate the rules in action, Turning Points that guide readers' thinking through each step, an FAQ, and a summary of Key Points. The book also contains an appendix packed with grammar tips and further ways to strengthen your writing.

No matter what kind of writing you do or what kind of writer you are, your readers will always judge you on the quality of the documents you produce. Write It Right will help you refine your writing and editing skills, clarify your message, and enable you to put your best foot forward.

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If you like this review, take a look at 'Our Members Library Of Recommended Reading' for books that have made a significant difference in our members' writing careers.

Title: Word Painting: A Guide To Writing More Descriptively
Author: Rebecca McClanahan
Publisher: Writer's Digest Books
ISBN: 1582970254
Reviewer: John Nazzaro
IN Rating:

Effective description is a meeting of imaginations. When a reader realizes the thing described it becomes a mutual creation. That seems simple, but wait. Description has an image problem of its own.

Rebecca McClanahan begins her book Word Painting: A Guide To Writing More Descriptively by presenting an apple to the student. Then she artfully proceeds to persuade the reader that description gets a bum rap from writers who view it as merely setting or ornamentation. Unfortunately, writers who have waxed on too far from a candle's specific glow have encouraged the assessment.

McClanahan points out there's more than specificity to effective description. It is her emphasis on animating description (with "active verbs and specific concrete nouns") that remains in this reviewer's mind. From the time mother shakes a rattle in front of our darling baby face we instinctively notice things that move.

It is the immediacy of action, its abrupt and urgent nature that gains attention. A rose is rose, but when the writer describes a butterfly flapping its wings on the rim of a withered petal, it is the writer's rose. Active description leaves little room for a reader's reverie. The writer has distinguished the difference between his rose and all other roses.

The reader will also find a gallery of examples of "word pictures," created by well-chosen authors. The exercises are meaningful and many are helpful in self-editing.

The book cover of Word Painting features Claude Monet And His Wife In The Floating Studio. An appealing title and an engaging painting, though the vocabulary of description falls short when compared to the unified expression of a painting.

However Rebecca McClanahan dips into her sensory pallet and paints her words on a broad canvas. She counters painting's supremacy with examples of how the word can express smell, taste and touch -- things that are beyond a painting's frame. Her last chapter is aptly named The Big Picture.

After reading Word Painting I was tempted to alter the old proverb to read, "one picture is worth 700 words." Okay, make that, "...500 words." Rebecca McClanahan is visibly persuasive.

John Nazzaro entered the advertising business as a copywriter and went on to become CEO and COB of an advertising agency and owner of Nazzaro Associates. The recipient of many creative and readership awards. His articles have appeared in a variety of periodicals. His novel "Where Memories Sleep" débuts this fall. Email:

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Title: The Freelance Writer's Handbook
Author: Andrew Crofts
Publisher: Piatkus Books
ISBN: 0-7499-2309-1
Reviewer: Richard Crowhurst
IN Rating:

To me this is more than a book; it's my motivation to keep writing.

Every time I receive another rejection or find myself questioning my own abilities I take it out. Not only does it boost confidence, which it does very effectively, it helps to discover what you might be doing wrong.

Like the very best how-to books, it has a clear structure that allows you to repeatedly reference it quickly when needed. At the same time, it's written in a friendly narrative tone that rewards reading from beginning to end: not just once, but repeatedly.

While convincing you that you really can cut it as a freelance writer, FWH will also make sure that you have your eyes open about this cut-throat business. Unlike other books I've come across, it accepts that editors perceive novice freelancers as the lowest of the low, and that therefore you sometimes need to prostitute yourself for the sake of future success.

There are practical tips on everything from setting up your office and designing stationary to conducting interviews and selling your work. Legal issues, marketing and getting paid are all covered equally well. The main markets: newspapers, magazines, businesses, ghost writing, etc. are each dealt with in a concise, dedicated chapter.

The book is written by an English author, from an English market perspective. This contrasts with many North American books that seem to concentrate on what appears to be a more organized freelance culture. For anyone looking to operate in the British market, this book is essential reading.

Richard Crowhurst embarked on a career as a freelance writer after leaving the fresh produce industry for something more rewarding. He has written many articles and some fiction. He specializes in British travel and local history. More details can be found on his website at . E-mail:

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If you like this review, take a look at 'Our Members Library Of Recommended Reading' for books that have made a significant difference in our members' writing careers.

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Bald Ego
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Writer’s Block
The path to inspiration starts
Upon the trails we’ve known;
Each writer’s block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.

Poetry Is Not
Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

Silent Echoes
A quiet rhyme upon a page
Is what a poet gives;
Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

Bard From Deadlines
What makes a poem finally work
Is not the time it takes;
It’s how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

Be Mused
The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Don’t plant your poem on the page
As though you’re hanging drapes;
It’s shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

Getting It Write
Writers write what they know best,
Their passions, fears, and dreams;
Writers rarely write about
What other call their “themes.”

Double Vision
A writer’s life is paradox,
It’s more than what it seems;
We write of our reality,
The one inside our dreams.

The echo of a promise,
The thunder of a sigh,
The music of a memory,
A child asking why.

Letter Perfect
Twenty six symbols arranged on a page
Can send a soul to heaven or torment it with rage,
Can free a fragile world or hold it in its net--
The power and the magic of the mighty alphabet.

The Write of Passage
The jump from writing just for fun
To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know you’ll never quit.

It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

Photo Poet
Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

Rising Moon
A poem is a rising moon
Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

Star Light
Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

Spider Web
A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

The final draft upon the screen,
At last my poem’s through;
A verse of only four short lines--
I rewrote twenty-two!

Read All Of Charles Ghigna's Poetry at

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