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Book Reviews
January, 2008

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Book Reviews - February
For only the best in how-to
By  Jody Ellis-Knapp

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: Bird By Bird
: Anne Lamont
Publisher: Anchor Books
ISBN: 0385480016
IN Rating:

If writing sometimes seems like an insurmountable task, if the blank page seems threatening and scary, this book is an excellent choice.

While it will not make that blank page any less ominous, author Anne Lamont does point out one very important thing — you are not alone. Less writing manual and more funny, insightful narrative, Bird By Bird touches on all the things that we as writers worry about. From the difficulty of getting the words on paper (hence the chapter Sh*tty First Draft) to conquering our own feelings of self-doubt, Bird By Bird puts a very realistic spin on the discipline of writing.

Lamont assures us that it is okay to feel anxious; it is okay to feel like writing is difficult. It is difficult! It is comforting to know that stressing over getting the words down is a common complaint for most writers. Her advice is to just do it. Bit by bit, page by page, Bird By Bird. Lamont writes with humor and warmth, and just enough sarcasm to show that she doesn’t take herself too seriously.

There are no step-by-step instructions, no blank pages one can fill in with writing exercises, no lists of potential agents and publishers. Instead, it focuses on learning to be a good writer, improving skills and writing for the love of it. This makes it not only an important book for any beginning writer, but is also insightful for the experienced. 
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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: Writing Copy for Dummies
Author: Jonathan Kranz
Publisher: Wiley Publishing
ISBN: 0764569694 
IN Rating:

The cover of the book Writing Copy For Dummies claims that its pages contain “simple tricks that’ll have you writing like a pro.” Simple is the keyword. The information provided is quite useful, and very accurate. But the Dummies books all seem to resonate with the same tone and theme — very basic.

Jonathan Kranz takes you through the writing process step by step (sometimes excruciatingly so) and explains what copywriting is and how to do it. From general copywriting skills, to building business, to finding inspiration, Copywriting For Dummies will provide answers and ideas for anyone wanting to find a niche in the business-writing world. It is not the most riveting of books, but it does provide invaluable information, especially for beginners.

A more experienced writer might find it a bit too simplistic and dry, but if one can get past the textbook feel, this book does offer important tips that are practical for any level of writer, and these tips are what makes the book worth reading. If you want to break into copywriting, but aren't sure where to start, Writing Copy For Dummies is an excellent building block.

It might not leave you inspired, but it may help guide you towards the avenue of copywriting as a career choice, moving aspiring business writers in the right direction and giving them the information needed to find success.

Buy this book from Amazon!

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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Jody Ellis-Knapp is a freelance writer living in Alaska. Her work has appeared in various magazines, including Adoption Today, Balance and Alaska Women Speak. She is also a co-editor and writer at

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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!

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