Category Archives: Book reviews for writers

A Few Great Writing Blogs You Should Check Out. A Few Great Reviews You’ll Find There.

A Few Cool New People in Your Writing Life, Too.

First off… please check out my guest post today on Victoria Mixon’s great SITE.  More tough talking truth that will either set your free or piss you off.  Both can be good for the writer in growth mode.

If you didn’t catch it, Victoria blessed us earlier this week with an incredible post contrasting the approach and writing mindset between professionals and, well, someone who is not yet a professional.  Just scroll down to see it, or click HERE

A little karmic ying-for-yang today.

If you’ve ever published a book… when you publish your book… you’re going to relate to where I am these days.  Maybe you’d handle it differently, maybe not.

As most of you know, I have a new book out: “Story Engineering: Mastering the Six Core Competencies of Successful Writing,” from Writers Digest Books.

So far, so good.  It’s spent much of the past three weeks as the #1 bestseller on Amazon’s fiction craft books list (until they switched me into a larger category, leaving the Kindle version back on the first list… an example of the behind-the-scenes machinations of publishers that never seem to get adequately explained).

The initial reviews are… wonderful.  Humbling.  Encouraging.

I’m hoping you’ll pay attention, and tell your writer friends what they say.

And of course, if you haven’t already, I’m hoping you’ll give my book a shot.

I’ve tweeted it.  I’ve pimped it on Facebook, perhaps the most over-rated “networking” venue ever invented; great for friending, sucks as a selling strategy.  Like your neighbor’s kid trying to sell you cookies.

And yet, I’m a bit sheepish about simply publishing the reviews here as a blatant promotional strategy.    

But I’m gonna do just that. 

Sort of.  I’m going to refer you to the websites of the reviewers themselves.

And therein resides the win-win, quid pro quo of it all. 

Because these are folks you should be reading.  Their blogs are stellar, their own books are first-rate, and – gotta be honest – this strategy allows me to rationalize the inward-facing agenda of it all: we all get something here.

A little tip: most of these sites are running a little promo that can get you a free ebook from me (“101 Slightly Unpredictable Tips for Novelists and Screenwriters”).  Even if the so-called deadline has passed, I’ll honor the offer.

Introducing bestselling novelist Kay Kenyon

Kay is a complete and often-proven professional, with ten well-reviewed novels under her belt in the science fiction genre.  She also runs a great website called Writing the World, about the writing life and process.

A couple of her posts (among many stellar windows into her wisdom) to whet your Kay Kenyon appetite:

Learning the biz (March 6)

Scare of the Week (what not to worry about) (Feb 22)

Tell her Larry sent you. 

She’s just posted a rave review of “Story Engineering” – read it HERE.

Introducing Randy Ingermanson

Randy is nothing short of a superstar in the galaxy of those writing about writing.  He is the author of the iconic bestseller, “Writing Fiction for Dummies,” which, if you haven’t heard of it… well, then you haven’t been looking.  He is also known for his brilliant “snowflake” story development model, one of the clearest and most popular of such theories on the planet.

His website and newsletter, Advanced Fiction Writing, has more subscribers than most major magazines and a few good-sized cities, and for good reason.

Read his interview with the author of “Story Engineering” (which he blurbs on the inside cover page) HERE.

Introducing Jennifer of Procrastinating Writers

Jennifer is one of my favorite writing bloggers.  She writes from the inside of the learning curve, as well as from a deep place within the heart, which lends her work a supportive, empathetic context as she explores and shares the journey toward publication.

Read her enthusiastic review of “Story Engineering” (her title: “The Last Book On Writing You’ll Ever Have to Buy”) by clicking HERE.

Introducing Suzannah of Writeitsideways.com

This website is all about craft, which is why we share a lot of overlapping and enthusiastic readership.  Never a dull or negative moment here, yet she pulls no punches about what it takes to write a great story.

Read her “Story Engineering” review HERE

Introducing Patti Stafford

Like Jennifer and Suzannah, Patti is a major voice for the writing community when it comes to process and the marketplace.  A great blog by a very knowledgeable writer.

Read her review of the book HERE.

Introducing Ollin Morales

One of my favorite people on the internet.   Young, smart, sensitive, a wonderful writer.  His blog is kicking butt and getting better with every post.

His review of the book will appear next Monday.  Check for it HERE.   He tells me it’s good… so I believe.

Meet Chuck Hustmyre

Okay, this is a little different.  Chuck is a loyal Storyfix reader and a successful author, one who is living the dream in a way few of us will ever know (which, to date, includes me): they’ve made a movie out of one of his novels.

He hasn’t reviewed my book.  Yet. 

The DVD of “House of the Rising Sun” releases from Lionsgate on July one.  It’s a big time thriller, and you can watch the preview HERE.  Fair warning though – it contains nudity, violence and profanity, so click through to this at your own choice and peril.

My kind of story.  Then again, so was 500 Days of Summer and Bambi, so go figure.

Introducing Amazon.com, and the wonderful blurbs and reviews posted there.

A little outfit operating out of Seattle.  Some of you may have heard of them.

Here you’ll find blurbs by a few famous names in the writing world (Terry Brooks, Christopher Vogler, Chelsea Cain, Michael Hague and Randy Ingermanson), and (at this writing) 7 more reviews, 6 with five stars (out of five), one with four.  See it all HERE.

And, by the way, you can buy it there, too (here for the Kindle version).  The book is available at some bookstores (editorial comment: the ones with any sense), and it if isn’t there they can order it for you.

Thanks for reading this far, and for clicking through to these sites.

Your writing world is about to expand.  Both in terms of these blogs and the cute little book they are recommending. 

If you’d like to weigh in with a comment about the book, I’m starting a log of reader feedback, as well as a page for the next batch of reviews.  Feel free to contribute, on your site or elswhere.  No rules or expectations.  Thanks for your support.  L.

 

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A Book About Writing That Might Change Your Life

You may not feel your life needs changing.  You may be sick of books about writing. 

Both of those feelings, by the way, are warning signs. 

Then again, you may share the belief that we can never learn too much, that we should never stop seeking to improve and evolve (like the word or not, that’s just “change” by another name).

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a book about writing that had the power to change your life?  Or — stated just as validly here — wouldn’t it be great if there was a book about life that had the power to change your writing?

A book that might inspire you to rewrite the story of your life going forward?  And at the same time, showed you the empowering principles of storytelling in a way you’ve never exerpienced before?

Because the pages that remain in our book are still unwritten.  They are blank. Sometimes we forget that.

What if the lines between your life and your work as a writer melted away?  If there was a book that could show how the structure and narrative principles of a great story have much in common with the structure and narrative principles of a rich and happy life?

You are the narrator of your own life.  We forget that, too. Question is, will it be in first person, or third? 

I’ve  found such a book. 

It was a New York Times bestseller, by the way, so I’m not pitching you an obscure little volume from some dark corner of the new age community.  No, this is the real deal.  Especially if you’re a writer.

It’s called A Million Miles In A Thousand Years, by Donald Miller.

What’s your story?

This book asks you to consider an important question, and in two realms: what are you writing… and, what story are you living?

It does it through the author’s experience of having written a successful memoir (also a NY Times bestseller, called Blue Like Jazz) that was optioned as a movie.  When the producer came into Miller’s life to begin the scripting process, the author discovered an empowered writer’s sensiblity and the essential nature of story structure.

Donald Miller was blown away at what he learned.  Not just about making a movie, but about how life parallels a great story in many respects.  And how writing the rest of his life in first person could be the difference he was looking for.

His publisher, Thomas Nelson, wasn’t crazy about a book that showed how storytelling and living life were kindred philosophies.  But being one of their top A-List authors, Miller prevailed, and the book went forward. 

Much of the narrative is a real-time accounting of the process of adapting his book into a movie (that, in itself, is fascinating), and how, in doing so, Miller realized the story he was living didn’t conform to the principles that make a narrative story work, at least in an optimal, rewarding and productive way.

And so Miller began writing a different story for himself, one with spectacular results.

I encourage you to experience this book. 

As a writer, you already know your passion for stories and your passion for life are linked at the very core of both pursuits.  This book aims directly for that very personal place, and when it gets there, it will light you on fire.

Miller is a Christian author — nothing wrong with that — but if that is a yellow flag for you… not to worry.  This is a book for everybody, from any belief system, and it isn’t selling religion.  Not even close.  What spiritual message you’ll find there — and you will find it there — is framed as the author’sown experience, and even the most cynical of readers won’t be put off by it.  Indeed, this book is for them, as well.

Rather that this book being overtly spiritual, it instead reminds us that those remaining pages of our lives remain unwritten, and that we have the power to fill them with whatever story we choose.

Here on Storyfix I’ve many times encouaged you to write with courage and passion.  Maybe it’s time we live our life that way, too.

Also, almost as a delightful sidenote, Miller’s writing is spectacular.  His wit is dry and edgy, his heart open and his narrative as clean and crisp as it gets.  If you’re looking for an example of concise yet compelling voice, an example of how a less-is-more sensiblity and unabashed vulnerability can serve a writer, this is the book.

Writing is life.  Life is writing.  We all fall somewhere on that continuum.  Donald Miller has cast a bright and hopeful light on that path. 

Click the image below to read reviews and the first chapter.

Click here to go to Donald Miller’s website.

Click here to read a cool article about the author on CNN Living.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life
 

Storyfix is an Amazon.com affiliate.

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