Sunday, March 22, 2009

Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth

Mary DeMuth,, has a new book available. I attended her workshop last year at the American Christian Fiction Writers' Convention and subscribed to her blog when I came home. I've learned a lot about writing from her blog. When her new book came out, I was eager to read it. I was not disappointed.

Daisy Chain is the first book in her Defiance Texas Trilogy. Daisy Chance, the best friend of fourteen year old Jed Pepper, disappears from her small town. The rest of the book deals with Jed’s search for her because he believes he’s to blame.

Tortured family relationships and friendships with unusual towns people keep this book a page turner as Jed searches for Daisy. Treat yourself to a suspenseful read as Mary draws you into life in Defiance, Texas.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell

If you've heard James Scott Bell speak, you're familiar with his own brand of humor. "Revision & Self-Editing" is written with his light hand and funny way of teaching. If you haven't heard him, you're in for a treat in making study fun. The first half explains the art of self-editing, while the second half talks about revision including the ultimate revision checklist.
Bell uses alliteration or rhyming words often to remind us of aims for our writing. I'm particularly fond of Grit, Wit and It in building my lead character. Each chapter ends with two or three exercises, all of which reinforce what was taught in that chapter. My three favorite chapters are Scene, Voice and Theme. I learned here one of the best tips I've heard to develop voice & style.
Revision assistance provides new thoughts on what to look for in those final read-throughs. Ever want to know the trick to good writing? Bell provides us with insight into "the trick that can't be explained."
Read. Enjoy. Learn. Improve.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Writer's Encyclopedia from the Editors of Writer's Digest

The Writer’s Encyclopedia © 1996 Writer’s Digest Books.

Another powerful tool that I refer to in my personal library is my Writer’s Encyclopedia. This five-hundred page reference is almost a glorified appendix that lists definitions, facts, and figures about every aspect pertaining to the writing craft and business.

The Writer’s Encyclopedia features over thirteen-hundred entries, a thorough bibliography, and a recommended reading list. Included are definitions of various writing terms and trade expressions and explanations of techniques and procedures—everything the aspiring writer needs to know in writing and publishing. For those writers with a mind for the future, marketing and contractual labels are addressed to include advertising, public relations, and broadcasting.

Selections are arranged alphabetically from common grammatical terms like “adjective” and writing jargon like “characterization” to more obscure concepts like “recto page,” a term which may give the reader pause—or, at the very least, prompt curiosity. Also incorporated into the discussion are the particulars of online publishing.

I found the boxed charts and tables especially helpful. The book contains more that sixty such figures which consist of “Fifty Common Usage Errors” that clarifies the contexts in which certain words are often misused. Imply and infer, for example. The speaker implies—the hearer infers. The age old lay/lie application issue is also explained in detail.

Other boxed information includes the unauthorized biography, legal and IRS documents, proof reading marks, and a list of fifty frequently misspelled words. The text contains examples of story boards, resumes, query letters, and various types of scripts. Publishing contracts, sales volumes, and royalty statements may clear up questions in the new (and maybe some of the more seasoned) writers minds.

I have found the Writer’s Encyclopedia to be a very helpful tool in my library. As I review it, I realized that it is one that I don’t use enough. I believe I’ll place it closer in reach for future reference.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Jeff Gerke's Doubleheader

"At last, the two products novelists need to create fabulous characters and the incredible adventures to set them on--together for one discounted price.

How To Find Your Story is the writer’s help product being hailed as "Genius" and "Like a brilliant author and editor at your elbow, helping you plan your story."

Character Creation for the Plot-First Novelist is a revolutionary tool that guides novelists to create realistic, three-dimensional characters readers will love.

So whether you sense that your characters all feel the same or that your story meanders--or you just want to be sure you’re building from a solid base, The Writer’s Foundation Bundle is for you." ~

Here's my problem: I can dream up characters gushing with loads of emotional conflicts, scarring goals, and laughable motivations all day, but when I attempt to pen a plot not only does my story crumble but my self esteem plummets.

Another problem I seem to have is finding a source for creating tight plots. I have read what few books on plot that are available. Some are very good and are listed on this blog, however, they haven't helped me much. Jeff Gerke's system is easy and fun to do. I'm halfway through his system and I'm already beginning to feel my confidence returning.

A little bit about this author, "I’m a published novelist and professional fiction editor. At this writing I am the author of six published novels and the co-author of two nonfiction books. I write under the pen name Jefferson Scott (see more at I’ve got screenplay and short story and writer’s conference and even comic book credentials, too.

I am also a professional editor with, at the time of this writing, eight years experience as an editor for three major publishing companies in the Christian publishing industry. I have extensive experience editing fiction and nonfiction. One novel I edited won the Christy Award for excellence and another novel I edited won first prize in General Fiction at the 2006 ACFW Conference. While at Strang Communications I was instrumental in the design and launch of Realms, an imprint of Christian speculative fiction (

When I’m not writing my own fiction I’m helping other people improve theirs. It’s something I love to do, both as a freelance book doctor and as a seminar speaker at writer’s conferences. While I like almost all kinds of fiction, I have a special place in my heart for the speculative genres (science fiction, fantasy, supernatural thrillers, etc.), which you can clearly see at the other site I maintain:"

I have included both books in this review post because maybe you're not like me, maybe you don't have a problem with plots, maybe your problem is with creating characters? Character Creation for the Plot-First Novelist is equally as good as How to Find Your Story.

So, if you're like me and have been stuck in a rut for weeks...stop now...go to Marcher Lord Press and buy both books at a truly inexpensive price.

Writing Tip of the Day