Have Books, Will Read, Need Time

November 25, 2013

Recently, I’ve had the good luck to acquire a nice stack of new (or new-to-me) writing books.

Writing Books

They are …

Publishing E-books for Dummies by Ali Luke – This is fairly technical reading, but after checking it out from the library, I really wanted my own copy as a reference. I’m about halfway through and plan to use it as my Bible for formatting and publishing Rumpled.

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide by Angela Ackerman – I bought this one because I wanted to bring an Amazon order up to $25 so I could get the free shipping. I read about this book in Writers Digest and put it on my wishlist long ago. It has an alphabetical listing of emotions, along with some common facial expressions, gestures, or other mannerisms that are outward signs of that emotion. It’s not the type of book one reads cover-to-cover, but I thought it might be useful when I feel there’s too much lip-biting or hand-wringing going on. I haven’t used it yet, though … now that I have it, I almost feel as though using it would be cheating. It’s probably a better tool for revision than rough-drafting, anyway.

The Creative Life: True Tales of Inspiration by Julia Cameron – Another one I read about in Writers Digest. I still haven’t even cracked The Artist’s Way, but I’ve got the follow-up ready to go for when I do!

How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy by Orson Scott Card – There are not a ton of writing books out there that are genre-specific, and this is only the second one I’ve come across for sci-fi and fantasy. The other one I’ve read is How to Write Tales of Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction by J.N. Williamson, and that was over 16 years ago when I was writing my first fantasy novel. I’ve written about my ambivalence toward Orson Scott Card, so I feel it behooves me to say that I got this book through Paperbackswap so OSC isn’t making any money from my acquiring it. And when I’m done, I’ll pass it on via PBS again.

Magazine Article Writing by Betsy Graham – My dad bought this for me at a secondhand shop and recently rediscovered it in his basement. It’s over 20 years old, but good writing advice never goes out of style. And as much as publishing has changed and expanded over the past 10 years or so, magazines themselves haven’t changed much — aside from developing robust online counterparts and/or folding altogether.

If and when I get around to reading these, I’ll be sure to post my reviews here. And now that I’ve shared them, it’s time to finally make room for them on my shelf!


Writing Book Review: APE by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch

November 10, 2013

This book makes its point well: that it is possible to self publish a book that is high enough quality to compete with traditionally published books. The writing here is clean, direct, and clear, and the formatting is impeccable — no small feat in an ebook that is being delivered across multiple devices.

The content is useful as well, although I didn’t find a lot here that I didn’t already know. It mostly offers an overview of various terms associated with self publishing, as well as different services and opportunities available for self publishers. The approach the authors take to self publishing is realistic, too, not a “get quick rich” sort of approach, acknowledging the success stories while also cautioning that they are not the norm. I think this book, while being a treasure trove of information for someone totally new to the concept of self publishing, might also be overwhelming to those same people. Still, I expect to eventually incorporate some of what I learned here into my own self publishing plans.

What annoyed me most about this book, and the main reason, aside from the lack of truly “new” content, that I gave it only three stars was its tone. There’s a sort of smugness in the writing, as well as a bit of latent judgment about various writing processes (I ranted a bit about the inherent judgment toward authors who write without an outline here, which is just one example). The shameless promotion of Google, Apple, and Amazon also got to be a little much, especially since it came without any mention of the “darker side” of any of these companies to balance it out (privacy rights, proprietorship, monopolies).

The authors have put together a good resource of which they can be rightfully proud; it’s just too bad that so much of the book, while conveying useful information, also feels like a protracted opportunity for them to pat themselves on the back.