Sin and Syntax

Sin and Syntax Constance Hale (Three Rivers Press, pp 306) Rating: ✍✍✍✍ Audience: Fiction and nonfiction writers Scope: Grammar: words, sentences, and the music of fine prose. Overview: I heard Constance Hale speak at the 2015 San Francisco Writer’s Conference. Her talk inspired me so much, I attended every other class she gave that weekend. … Continue reading

Give ‘Em What They Want

Give ‘Em What They Want Blythe Camenson & Marshall J. Cook (Writer’s Digest Books, pp 244) Rating: ✍✍ Audience: Fiction and nonfiction writers seeking traditional publication Scope: Query letters, synopses, outlines, pitches Overview: I’ve talked recently about attending writing conferences. So how do I prepare? I print business cards, read up on the agents and … Continue reading

Beyond Books: Conferences

Reading craft books is important. I wouldn’t blog about it every month if I didn’t think so. You can reference your dog-eared and highlighted pages time and again when a little brush up in POV or scene structure or grammar is in order. But other forms of learning are important too: reading, writing groups, critique … Continue reading

Writing Down the Bones

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within Natalie Goldberg (Shambhala, 171 pp) Rating: ✍✍✍ Audience: Poetry and Fiction writers Scope: Writing inspiration and exercises Overview: Natalie Goldberg is a poet. It’s almost as if she can’t help it. Even this book, a how-to book about writing, is filled with little bits of poetry—both her … Continue reading

Recommended Just for You

What books do agents and publishers recommend to aspiring writers? What novels are bestselling authors reading for inspiration? Writers Conferences are great places to find out. Earlier this month at the San Francisco Writers Conference I took special note of the books these industry professionals discussed and recommended. Most I hadn’t read, but many landed … Continue reading

Revision & Self-Editing

Revision & Self-Editing James Scott Bell (Writer’s Digest Books, 272 pp) Rating: ✍✍✍✍ Audience: Fiction writers Scope: How to get your first draft to a final draft Overview: James Scott Bell has written several writing books, covering topics from plot to dialogue to conflict and suspense. My favorite is Revision & Self-Editing. Broken into two … Continue reading

Geraldine Brooks Book Giveway!

In early November my favorite author, Geraldine Brooks, spoke at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as part of the Black Mountain Institute’s lecture series. The panel discussion she participated in was entitled To Swerve or not to Swerve: How Literature Navigates the Past. After the talk, I was able to meet Ms. Brooks and … Continue reading


Hooked: Write Fiction that Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets them Go Les Edgerton (Writer’s Digest Books, 256pp) Rating: ✍✍✍✍ Audience: Fiction writers Scope: Novel openings Overview: You’ve heard it before: you’ve gotta hook the reader on page one, paragraph one, line one. Hooked by Les Edgerton shows the burgeoning writer how to … Continue reading

Walk in Her Shoes

Originally posted on Rewriting Amanda:
Modern day St. Paul bears little resemblance to it’s 1906-self. Metal skyscrapers glint in the sunlight, casting shadows on the scattered red and beige brick buildings from a century before.  Asphalt and light-rail tracks cover the old stone pavers and iron streetcar grooves. Gone is the horse and buggy. Gone…

The Art of Reading

The Art of Reading Timothy Spurgin, Ph.D. (The Great Courses) Rating: ✍✍✍✍ Audience: Readers and writers alike Scope: How to read well Overview: I’m breaking with form a bit here to review a set of CDs/DVDs put out by The Great Courses Company. This company offers audio and video lectures on a myriad of topics … Continue reading