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Book Reviews
Book Reviews – October
By Billie Williams
October, 2006, 08:00

une 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: Ease 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 on our Contacting IN page.

Title: Creative Nonfiction: Researching and Crafting Stories of Real Life
Author: Philip Gerard
Publisher: Story Press
ISBN: 1-884910-07-6
IN Rating:

Review: According to Philip Gerard, in his book Creative Nonfiction, there are five hallmarks of creative nonfiction that get your story read and purchased by editors and read and remembered by readers. The writer's foundations are the plot and subplot, or what the nonfiction writer calls the apparent subject and the deeper subject. On these foundations, the timely and immediate story snapshot offered in the headlines is deepened and cultivated, broadening and filling out the larger story.

Gerard identifies the third hallmark as narrative, "it always tells a good story.” There is also the quality of reflection—how we got to this spot—similar in scope to flashbacks in fiction. In the case of creative nonfiction however, the writer makes connections between the subject at hand and his own reading, writing, and life experience.

Finally, the craft itself—the writing—is "elegant, graceful, artistic . . . often informed by other art." A voice that doesn’t get in the way of the story itself is how Gerard describes the best nonfiction story telling.

In Creative Nonfiction, Gerard takes you from finding an original subject to finding the human element. "Every good story," he says "is about a person." He doesn’t stop there; he guides you through methods and means of research with a list of annotated resources to aid your search. He also sites interviews, whenever possible, as an integral part of discovering what you need to know to create a compelling account of person and circumstance.

Throughout Creative Nonfiction, Gerard uses examples and the voice of other writers, editors, and publishers to emphasize and restate his message. Creative Nonfiction, presented in an entertaining, mind-broadening fashion, teaches how to tell a true story that imprints your reader’s mind as unforgettably as any best-selling novel.

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Title: The Write Brain Workbook: 366 Exercises To Liberate Your Writing
Author: Bonnie Neubauer
Publisher: Writer's Digest Books
ISBN: 1-58297-355-5
IN Rating:

Review: You won’t just read Bonnie Neubauer’s book The Write Brain Workbook, you will be drawn to create. Page after page of prompts nudge your sluggish muse into action. Each page is a piece of art itself. At first, you are reluctant to sully the pages with your prose, but in the end you can’t resist writing your prose inside the lines of the sail boat’s sails, or exuberantly using crayons to write outside the lines of a big city skyline at night. The shape and design of the writing space on the page fires your hand with a new energy.

The colourful pages intrigue and tempt you to use coloured ink to enhance the page and make your writing sing. Exercise prompts and Take The Next Step ideas push you. Sitting down to a new page everyday literally ignites a fire between pen, page, and participant.

The book is a work of art and when you get to the last page, you only then realize you’ve actually written a 366 page book. You won’t want to miss this book. It’s exciting, inspiring and beautiful. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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Title: Writer's First Aid: Getting Organized, Getting Inspired, And Sticking To It
Author: Kristi Holl
Publisher: The Writer's Bookstore
ISBN: 1-889715-14-X
IN Rating:

Review: This small book offers exactly what the title promises—help. Resuscitation or band aid, life support or transfusion, this little instruction manual gets you started which for many is the hardest part of writing. Facing the blank screen or the blank page can be daunting. Holl uses many metaphors to help the reader see things in a new perspective—from the cantankerous older car that starts hard and refuses to stay running, to the batter at the home plate who fouls out or has many false starts before getting to first base.

She shows the writer how some of these "busy" projects, though related to writing, are not writing. Holl debunks the excuses, the busy work and walks the would-be writer through a self-inventory to find viable writing subjects eliminating excuses about having nothing to write. From work habits to managing your finances and other practical matters, Holl helps the novice writer take the necessary steps to creating the writing life that she wants.

Kristi Holl is a working writer. She’s been there, done that. With insight and skill, she directs, encourages, and leads you to the path on which your writing dreams can become a reality. You’ll want to pull this book off your reference shelf again and again to reignite the flame she helps you create.

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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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Billie A. Williams lives in Amberg, a small rural northern Wisconsin community. She has published over fifteen novels ranging from Cozy Mystery, Suspense, Romantic Suspense, Young Adult Historical Adventure and more. She writes a “Whodunit?” Column for Voice In The Dark Newsletter for the and is owner/manager of three writing groups. Go to for more information about her writing.

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