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Book Reviews
Book Reviews - October
By Sylvia Petter, Mark London, Jody Ellis-Knapp
October, 2007, 08:59

Tune into IN reviews for the best of 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: Easy To 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 can be found at Contacting IN.

Title: One Year To A Writing Life: Twelve Lessons to Deepen Every Writer's Art And Craft
Author: Susan M. Tiberghien
Publisher: Marlowe & Company, New York
IN Rating:
Reviewer: Sylvia Petter

Review: My first reaction to Susan Tiberghien's One Year To AWriting Life was to say out loud that this book was the next best thing to actually attending Susan's workshops. I heard her voice and relived the ten-year-and-more nurturing experience of the teaching, that was so important for my own way as a writer. Many of us in the Geneva Writers' Group used to say, "Write a book about all this, Susan." And now she has. This book contains her workshops, to revisit again and again.

Through her unique perspective as an American expat writer and teacher based in Geneva, Switzerland, the twelve lessons blend organically from one to the next, but can also be taken as stand-alones on journal writing, personal, opinion and travel essays, short stories, dreams and writing, tales, poetic prose, mosaics, memoir, the building blocks of dialogue, and rewriting. The final lesson, appropriately deals with "Writing The Way Home" where "home" is your centre as a writer in today's world.

The book contains samples by writers as diverse as Atwood and Capote, Galeano, Rilke, and Woolf, and the host of eclectica in between and beyond. The lessons also contain exercises and are deepened by separate bibliographies and page references to encourage further reading and understanding. And practicalities are not neglected. For example, Lesson Eleven gives valuable advice on Rewriting and includes a checklist, as well as suggestions for marketing and publishing.

With drawings and diagrams in Lesson One (Journal Writing), in Lesson Five (Dreams And Writing), in Lesson Nine (The Alchemy Of Imagination), and in Lesson Twelve (Writing The Way Home), Susan encourages you to think out of your box as you play with mandalas, moodling, and meandering.

Not only is this book a companion for both beginning and more seasoned writers, it is also a Reader. By providing small tastes of good writing from different parts of the world and from different epochs, it adds its light to the writing life.

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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: Your Writing Coach
Author: Jurgen Wolff
Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-1-85788-367-1
IN Rating:
Reviewer: Mark London

Review: Jurgen Wolff has produced an extraordinary writing self-help book based on his successful writing career of 30+ years. He is the author of five highly esteemed books, plus film and television credits including Midnight Man, The Real Howard Spitz, and many more.

In Your Writing Coach, first published in 2007, Wolff surpasses even the most critical judges of how-to-write books and draws upon a wide variety of writing disciplines and approaches to present advice on everything you need to know about writing novels, nonfiction, new media, scripts, and short stories.

Within this volume there is a concise index that can immediately lead you to where you want to go. However, reading cover-to-cover provides an extended wealth of knowledge that can be used in all aspects of your writing.

Each chapter is themed and presented in a step-by-step fashion, and then the chapter reviews recap the key points. It's easy to read, amusing, and entertaining, while providing in-depth insights into all genres of writing.

Anyone reading this book, whether the advanced author using it as a refresher course or the inexperienced or intermediate writer wanting to advance their education, will walk away with more knowledge than they brought to it, and a much better chance at writing well.

Wolff demonstrates how to permanently conquer your fears and get past the self-imposed excuses that many writers are blocked by, how to get started and stay writing. He explains the various niche markets available and how to enter them to earn income. With questions about yourself, he guides you to style and areas of creativity are best suited to your personality.

Within most of the chapters there is a special code you can use on his website that allows access to Chapter Bonuses. Each bonus leads you to further in-depth material, interviews, and articles about the topic at hand that you've just read.

Some of the other topics addressed by Your Writing Coach include:

  • Managing time
  • Motivation, energy, and support
  • Marketing yourself and your work
  • Exploiting the opportunities of new media

Wolff has combined his how-to book with his how-to site offering an infrequently used bridge between print publishing and the Internet to provide you with all the information you need to better your writing. From concept to character, dialogue to flow, pitch to publication, this is a must-read for writers.

Rupert Widdicombe, writer and journalist adds, "This book is the real deal – no fluff or padding, just concentrated insider knowledge. By far the best book on writing I have read."

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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: Make A Real Living As A Freelance Writer
Author: Jenna Glatzer
Publisher: Nomad Press
ISBN-10: 097220265X
IN Rating:
Reviewer: Jody Ellis-Knapp

Review: Freelance guru Jenna Glatzer doesn’t pull any punches about the difficulty of making a living as a writer. Her book opens with some rather disheartening statistics on just how little money most freelancers make. But despite the initial downplay, she goes on to give very encouraging advice that both novice and experienced writers can use.

Make A Real Living As A Freelance Writer not only gives step by step instructions and examples of how to write a pitch and sell a story, there are also sections on interviewing, how to come up with article ideas, as well as the more boring (but equally valuable) aspects of writing as a business, such as taxes and what to do when you don’t get paid on time!

The most important aspect of this book is that it is very current as far as information. Rather than antiquated snail mail proposals, Ms. Glatzer encourages writers to use email as much as possible. Regular mail with SASE’s are becoming a thing of the past (although she does caution to check writer’s guidelines because some editors still want to see hard copies of queries and clips, and want that SASE included). Too many freelance writing books seem to go on and on about mailing queries and the all-important SASE. She helps us step into the 21st century by knocking down those walls and making things as streamlined as possible.

There are plenty of links to websites and potential markets throughout, with some innovative twists on story ideas and queries. This book is a great starting point for the beginning freelance writer. It is clear and concise and takes one through every avenue of the world of freelancing. And as a writer’s repertoire expands, the book remains an excellent tool and reference. Anyone looking to break into the freelance market should make this book part of their library. While it does not make it any easier to "make a real living as a freelance writer, it certainly helps set the stage for 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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Sylvia Petter is an Australian writer based in Vienna, Austria. Her collection of stories, Back Burning is published by Interactive Publications (IP), Australia. 

Mark London is a Toronto based freelance writer and associate editor of IN who has been with the FWO-Int'l from the early years volunteering much of his time in assisting young writers' careers. Email :

Jody Ellis-Knapp is a freelance American writer and book reviewer. PO Box 67091, Chugiak, Ak, USA, 99567

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