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Book Reviews
January, 2008


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Book Reviews - January
How-to books come from different directions
By  Mindy Phillips Lawrence

Tune into IN reviews for the best of How-To books from writing all walks of life and 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.

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.

Now, on to some of the best!

The Renegade Writer
Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell
Marion Street Press
ISBN: 0-9665176-8-7
206 pages, $14.95
IN Rating:

How many times has it been burned into writers' heads not to make queries more than one page, not to call editors on the phone and not to start at the top trying to publish in a big time magazine? Well, The Renegade Writer says, "hogwash." In 10 chapters, this book teaches freelancers how to properly break the accepted rules -- and prosper by doing it.   

Subtitled A Totally Unconventional Guide To Freelance Writing Success, the book puts many of the accepted practices in the article writing world in a new perspective. Both authors Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell followed the rules for years until an editor told Linda that her one-page query was too short and needed to develop the topic more. She abandoned what other freelancing books said and began to write two- and three-page queries. Her acceptance rate increased dramatically.  

This book is filled with advice on how to put away old rules and find success. Written with wit and flair, much of the book deals with dragging the query and submission process, kicking and screaming, into the computer age.  

Aside from the writing end, The Renegade Writer also deals with the business end of writing, an area where more writers are weak. Formichelli and Burrell go through the problems of kill fees, stamped, self-addressed envelopes, collecting for work done and how to report delinquent publications thoroughly.   The book contains appendices on writers' guidelines, generating ideas, signing contracts, getting paid and services for freelancers. It also points writers who slave away in their lonely home offices to virtual watercoolers of email discussion lists and Yahoo groups where writers can come together and discuss their stuff.
Buy This Book From Amazon!

This Time I Dance
Tama J. Kieves, Joseph P. Tarcher
Penguin
ISBN: 1-58542-330-0
209 Pages, $19.95
IN Rating:

Layoffs are a fact of life in this tense age of business. Middle managers sweat with every pay period wondering when their turn will come to be downsized. In This Time I Dance: Trusting the Journey Of Creating The Work You Love, Tama Kieves reverses that procedure. She downsizes herself.   

A cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School on track to become a law partner, she quit when she could no longer face the boredom of one more brief. Through her desire to become a writer, she begins the process of learning how to trust her own personal/professional journey.  

Kieves begins exhuming her creative self while her family, friends and former co-workers question the path she chooses. In spite of all the criticism, doubt and reflection Kieves goes through, she reforges herself into a new creative person who becomes a writer, workshop presenter and career coach.

To Kieves, discipline is "being a disciple to yourself." None of her successes come without dedication and experimentation. After trying out the writing schedules of several famous authors, Kieves develops her own flexible agenda. She suggests for all writers to do the same thing -- experiment and invent an exclusive, individual writing time that works.

Kieves' journey is a testament to a life-seeker who follows her desires, steps off the precipice into the unknown and finds an invisible bridge. The bridge is never visible until the seeker takes that first step. Although the writing is often over the top stylistically, This Time I Dance is a great motivator for those who need training in how to dance through life and stop being content with the status quo.
Buy This Book From Amazon!

Journey From The Center To The Page: Yoga Philosophies And Practices And Muse For Authentic Writing
Jeff Davis
Gotham Books
ISBN: 1-592-40068-X
288 Pages, $24.00
IN Rating:

Jeff Davis says, "Writing is difficult." In Journey From The Center To The Page, he offers a path which takes that difficulty and uses it to sharpen writing style, process and practice. Using yogic principles, he teaches writers "to step into the darkness and so begin a journey to the center and then back to the page."

During his 16 years as a writing instructor, Davis developed exercises to combine tools such as breathing, postures, meditation, internal visualization and self-study to lead writers toward an authentic writing voice and style.These principles show readers how to:

  • Overcome writers' block and develop focus and concentration
  • Set an intention for writing and discover what motivates them to write
  • Develop a specific style and a clear writing voice
  • Convert fear, anger and compassion into creative outlets that fuel powerful stories and satire
  • Develop fresh ways of creating characters and dialogue and,
  • Increase personal awareness and wonder at everyday life to enhance imagery, create metaphors and enhance plotlines.

Davis asks writers to begin each session with one vital question, "What am I writing for?" This is the beginning of connecting writing intention to core writing identity.

Each chapter ends with a section called Take a Break. In it, Davis introduces either a simple yoga position, meditation or a form of visualization designed to relax and prime the mind and body. These outlets help writers develop a personal work ritual and develop focus.

The book also contains an appendix that includes photos of simple yoga poses and a glossary of yoga terms.

Journey From The Center To The Page combines practical advise and enlightened principles. It offers inspiration and instruction that are of use to all writers in linking the mind, body and imagination together. 
Buy This Book From Amazon!

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


Mindy Phillips Lawrence, assistant editor of Scribe and Quill ezine, is the author of One Blue Star: Poems About The Military, Families, War And Peace published by Red Engine Press. She has had articles published in several magazines, including Writer's Digest. Her poetry has been published by www.onethousandwhispers.com, www.goodgoshalmighty.com and www.poetsagainstthewar.org. She is now working on two books for Red Engine Press, about her accomplishments since turning 50, and a series on firefighters. She lives near St. Louis.


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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.

Poetry
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.

Pegasus
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.

Re-Verse
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 FatherGoose.com


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