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Book Reviews
Book Reviews – November
By Billie A. Williams
November, 2006, 08:50

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: Fast Fiction: Creating Fiction in Five Minutes
Author: Roberta Allen
Publisher: Story Press
ISBN: 1-884910-27-0
IN Rating:     

Review: Roberta Allen says there are no real rules for writing. She says, “Find what works for you. Discover and honour your writing process. This process is not fixed; it is living and moving inside you.” She does, however, give you one caveat: certain qualities do need to be present for a successful story. There are chapters that clearly define these qualities and then give the reader tips tricks to shape and polish the story.

The next section is packed with story starters encouraging the writer to get in the water and swim with prompts like: write a story about a lie; write a story about something that hasn’t happened yet; write a story about color. Another chapter is full of black and white photographs to spark your muse. You are instructed to set a time for five minutes and just write full stroke, not editing or second-guessing yourself, just writing.

The third section leads the writer through writing longer works like a novel. Allen claims some writers never outline or plan ahead. Their stories are not any less viable then those a of a person who outlines ahead of time. She suggests you can use the same five minute exercises if the length of a novel scares you. Write in five minute increments using that time to write pieces of your novel.

Directions for picking character, problem, incident, and setting – which you can use to plan your longer fiction if you prefer – are provided. Allen offers questions you should ask of your chunks of writing so that you can organize, flesh out, and develop a cohesive, exciting, piece of fiction no matter how you started it.

Spontaneity is the key to Fast Fiction. This excellent book presents a new way to tackle your writing. I recommend you pick up your copy soon.

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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: The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step by Step Guide to Writing That Sells
Author: Robert W. Bly
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
ISBN: 0-8050-1194-3
IN Rating:     

Review: Still considered the bible of copywriting by one of the best copywriters, this book comes highly recommended by those in the business. Bly takes the reader from creating persuasive copy to the various types of copy you may be expected to write – with detailed explanations of the goals of each type and how to achieve them. He includes a plethora of examples, anecdotes, and methods that have served him well.

His book is prefaced with this quote by Judith K Charles, “A copywriter is a salesperson behind a typewriter.” According to Bly the goal of advertising, ". . .be it direct marketing via mail, brochure, business card, or whatever, is not to be liked but sell products.”

From creating the headline that grabs the reader’s attention with key words, to the call to action, Bly guides the writer to create writing that sells. No matter what type of writing you do, you will reap the benefits of reading and working through this book.

If you’re a fiction writer, the headline equates to your title, compelling the reader to pick up your book. Your back cover blurb and your first few paragraphs must arouse curiosity. Hook the reader using intrigue, mystery, or humour in much the same way the body copy of a direct mail advertisement works.

Offering a few tips, gentle nudges, some tweaking, encouragement, and road maps, Bly supplies it all. The Copywriter’s Handbook is necessary read for copywriters and a great boon for improving the hook of any writing.

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Title: Women on Writing: From Inspiration to Publication
Author: Edited by Angel Brown & Sheri L. Mc Connell
Publisher:The McConnell Group
ISBN: 0-9714775-0-7
IN Rating:    

Review: Brenda Ueland answered the question why should we all use our creative power with this: “Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold, and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.” And if there were no other reason, that would be enough.

That is what Women On Writing is all about – inspiration from the essays of such up and coming authors as Terri Mrosko and Patricia Fry. Simple, practical ideas like review your goals and set new ones, try something new, clear the clutter, expand your writing into other fields, and educate yourself are a few recommendations to bring a breath of spring-fresh air into your writing.

Mrosko quotes Thoreau, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.” She then proceeds with anecdotes from her own life to illuminate and elaborate on that message.

Chapters of essays by familiar names such as Shirley Kawa-Jump, Angie Ledbetter, Patricia Spork, and more show you inside a writer’s life with personal anecdotes about how many hours are in a typical day of writing, how to work smarter not harder, and how to find the time to pursue that writing dream.

It’s not all about how to write. Some of the essays dip into the business end of writing and promoting: websites, book signings, marketing, and more. The section of resources for writer’s contains a list of websites on journaling, freelance writing, markets, POE sites, organizations for writers, agents, research sites, and recommended reading for writers.

I highly recommend this treasure trove of instruction, ideas, and encouragement written by some of the authors associated with The National Association of Women Writers ( It’s personal, it’s packed with information, and it’s a pleasure to read. What more could you ask for.

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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.

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