“This is really excellent advice and something many authors need. I know it will be extremely helpful not only to beginning writers but to experienced writers as well.” ~Lillie Ammann, Author and Editor at lillieammann.com
The only How-To-Write book that has nothing to do with writing. It’s all about rewriting.
Whittle away what buries the art of your words beneath pulp, no matter the topic, no matter the genre.
Aggie Villanueva is a bestselling novelist, author publicist, blogger and critically acclaimed photographic artist represented by galleries nationwide, including Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ. For decades peers have described Aggie as a whirlwind that draws others into her vortex.
And no wonder. She was a published author at Thomas Nelson before she was 30, taught at nationwide writing conferences, and over the years worked on professional product launches with the likes of Denise Cassino, a foremost Joint Venture Specialist. Aggie founded Visual Arts Junction blog February 2009 and by the end of the year it was voted #5 at Predators & Editors in the category “Writers’ Resource, Information & News Source.” Under the Visual Arts Junction umbrella she also founded VAJ Buzz Club –where members combine their individual marketing power, and Promotion á la Carte where authors purchase promotional services only as needed.
The Rewritten Word is a small book with few pages; and those pages are printed in a large font, making this book a very short read. But sadly it’s not an absorbing read, nor is it an easy one.
Despite telling us that we must cut all extraneous discussion from our work, the author makes most of her own points several times; despite banging on about the importance of ensuring that our writing is crystal clear most of the writing in this book is verbose and confusing; and despite the author insisting at length that we mustn’t allow our writing to be boring… well. You get the picture.
The claim on the back cover copy that this is “the only How-To-Write book that has nothing to do with writing. It’s all about rewriting” sounds clever but it isn’t true: what about Browne and King’s wonderful Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, or Strunk and White’s useful but somewhat dictatorial The Elements of Style?
Ms Villanueva’s attempts to rewrite other people’s rambling paragraphs in a more clear and concise style resulted in text which was almost unintelligible; she provides a long quote from someone else’s website which takes up nearly five pages out of her book’s sixty pages (plus six lines in order to provide a web-link to the original blog—twice); but she provides no acknowledgement of the original author’s permission for her to do so, and I have to wonder if she even asked. I could go on but it feels a little like shooting fish in a barrel.
I read thirteen pages out of sixty, all the time wondering if Ms Villanueva would get to her point or write something sensible: I was disappointed. There are much better books to be had about writing and editing: for example, my friend Nicola Morgan’s fabulous Write To Be Published, which is better than this in all sorts of ways.
of a renegade minister and his controversial journey through depression and religion. This unique story details emotional breakthroughs that will make you laugh and cry. The author has chosen to remain anonymous; thus he uses the pen name — August Stine
If you are down, this will lift you up
If you are up, this will inspire you
If you are in-between, this will stimulate you
Rated PG! Oh Gee! & My Goodness!
I can’t say I much enjoyed The Modern Confessions of Saint August Stine: it contains all the usual subjects—two hyphens are routinely used where em-dashes are required, there are a few oddly-placed ellipses, and far too many jumbled paragraphs; but I’m afraid that the big problem with this book lies in its author’s writing style.
Mr. Stine writes in very short sentences, and he tells the reader everything that happens and almost never shows; and this brisk, expositional style results in a text with almost no emotional depth despite its troubling subject matter of divorce, emotional breakdown, and loss of faith.
What this means, of course, is that the reader is hard-pushed to empathise with the story before her, or with the characters which appear, and without empathy reading is very unsatisfying. We need to be emotionally involved in a book to enjoy it and I’m afraid that this book left me feeling completely disinterested.
How to fix it? Editing won’t be enough. The writer has to slow down, and take more risks with his writing. He needs to explore things more, reveal more of himself, and show us events unfolding instead of telling us everything as quickly as he can. He clearly has a story to tell: but at the moment his rush to tell it prevents the reader from getting fully absorbed in it, and that’s a shame.
I read nine pages out of one hundred and eighty three and felt exhausted by them. I’m afraid I cannot recommend this book.
This review also appears on my bigger blog, How Publishing Really Works. Comments there are closed so if you’d like to discuss this book or my review, you have to do it here. Please do!
Spark Your Creativity with 100 Inspiring Poses
Composition and Visual Pathway
Control Light to Scupt the Figure
Recruit and Interact with Models
Market Your Work
The human body has been an inspiration for artists since before the invention of photography. Naturally, nudes were one of the first subjects of photography as well.
This illustrated how-to guide can be enjoyed by anyone, but is written for two main audiences: the accomplished photographer who wants insight from a peer into the genre of nude photography, and the serious amateur who wants a guided introduction to the field.
The processes are arranged step-by-step. You’ll find more than just a selection of photos and a dissection of each; you’ll see full lighting diagrams as well as a frank discussion of the techniques and pitfalls in the days and weeks leading up to making a nude image. From finding your first nude model to selling your first nude photo, the guide will take you through lighting, posing, and-post processing with Photoshop.
You’ll learn from the author’s twenty years of experience photographing hundreds of nude models.
True Confessions of Nude Photography has fallen foul of the usual problems which trouble most self published books I’ve seen: slapdash punctuation, run-on sentences, jumbled sentences, missing or extra words, and claims which are not be supported by logic. I read just seven of its one hundred and twenty-two pages despite doing my best to be generous: it’s a jerky read made all the more irritating by its frequent repetitions.
I found both its title and the author’s references to “the beauty of the human body” misleading: these terms imply—to me at least—that the book discusses photographing the human body in all its forms; but the only pictures the book contains are of over-skinny, pouting young women. While I can understand that these women might well appeal to the book’s author/photographer, some of the pictures included are quite remarkably unappealing. Some of the poses he’s chosen look extremely uncomfortable; despite this, the two young women who appear together in some of his shots (both of them fit young women, of course) seem very enthusiastic about posing together. I also found some of the advice given on how to find models just a little disturbing: call me prudish, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for anyone to ask young women to pose for them without explaining right from the start that they’ll be expected to strip off their scanties. It reeks of predatory, manipulative behaviour to me, and although that might not be the author’s intention it is a tactic that I find abusive.
If you want to know how to photograph naked people, there have to be better books than this for you to learn from; but if all you want is a poorly-written, poorly-edited book featuring a few competent photos of naked young women, then this is the book for you.
In “Take It Easy: Untangling The Internet,” author Ohad Kravchick guides you through an easy, step-by-step process to using the Internet, by providing:
> An introduction to the Internet and the benefits of using it.
> A detailed walk-through with illustrations for using your computer and connecting to the Internet.
> Real-life Internet scenarios (websites), containing simple and more advanced examples, complete with easy to follow illustrations.
> Directions showing how to find the information you need.
> A list of useful Internet locations for your knowledge, finance, chores, hobbies, and entertainment.
A MUST GUIDE FOR ALL INTERNET NEWCOMERS!
Ohad Kravchick has been a professional computer instructor for more than 8 years; he is focused on ease of learning. He earned his master’s degree in Computer Science from Fordham University. He lives with his wife in New York City.
For more information about this booklet and its publication, log in to: http://www.takeiteasyseries.com
To order more copies call 1-877-377-3311 (toll free)
I use the internet a lot: I use it for research, for networking, and for blogging. I’m not, however, terribly computer-literate: I depend on my lovely friend Clever Andy to rescue me from technical tangles and I’m frequently grateful to him for all his help. Consequently, I was looking forward to reading this slim book in the hope that I might improve my knowledge of all things internet. Sadly, I was disappointed.
This is the single most confusing instruction manual I have ever encountered, and I include in that list the Italian instructions for a fridge which accompanied the DVD player I bought recently.
I am sure that Mr Kravchick is a lovely man; he’s a professional computer instructor and I bet when he talks to people in his classes he helps them enormously. But he has no aptitude for writing. His sentences range from confusing to unintelligible, and his errors in grammar mean that he often make statements which are completely wrong. I’m very sorry to have to be so damning. But this is a terribly badly written book and I can only see it confusing anyone desperate enough to turn to it for help. I read just three of its sixty-three pages, despite my best attempts to be generous.
As the magnitude of trials continue to escalate in the world today, Christians need to understand the seasons of preparation that God has for each of them. In Life Skills 101, Lori Parker identifies why we experience various trials. She offers practical ways to identify and overcome these trials so we will be ready for the Lord’s return.
Lori Parker, is an anointed author, conference speaker, and founder of One Choice Ministries. God has given her gifts of compassion, joy, and boldness. She has a passionate desire to see people develop an intimate relationship with the Lord. Lori preaches Biblical truths that stir the Body of Christ into action.
“I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.”~Revelation 3:18
Life Skills 101 gets off to a poor start. Its back cover copy discusses the trials we will all face in life, and informs us that the book has a strongly Christian perspective: then on the first page of its introduction it tells us that it’s actually about our relationships with money and with god.
It implies that everyone reading the book will have little money and an irresponsible attitude to the little they have; that everyone who appears to be doing well is really hiding a mountain of debt and misery; and that the reason so many people overspend is that they are too proud, and feel they deserve better than they have. The author seems to resent college graduates, especially those who go on to postgraduate education; and she states that Christians should be exempt from rules which apply to non-Christians, as they can depend on god’s guidance. It would have been useful if god had given the author a little guidance on the rules of punctuation and grammar, but perhaps he shares my view that writers should learn how to do these things for themselves.
This book gave me a very interesting glimpse into another world—but that doesn’t mean I think it’s any good. The author attributes all sorts of things to god’s grace but doesn’t discuss why this might be so; she shows no understanding of social or psychological failings, she implies that we have no need to take personal responsibility for our mistakes or problems, and makes no allowance for the fact that sometimes terrible things happen to people which they simply cannot overcome even if they believe and trust in god. And that’s where this book fails.
If the author had attempted to encompass more shades of grey—to recognise that not everyone believes in god, for example, and that often, hard work can be far more practical and effective than prayer and contemplation—this book would have been much better. As it is, it’s a judgemental, disappointing and patronising text which encourages us all to live our lives responsible only to god, and to make no efforts to resolve our own problems or improve our lives other than by praying for god’s guidance: and that means it’s only going to be taken seriously by people who already agree with the stance it takes; and that people like me, who disagree very strongly with most of the claims made in the book, are going to dismiss it.
If I were this writer, then, how would I improve this book? Instead of discussing abstract groups of people who are disappointed in their lives I would write about specific people and tell their stories in more depth; I would stop making insulting generalisations about people who do not share my beliefs; I would learn a little about logic and fallacy and apply what I’d learned to my writing; and I’d stop being so very disapproving about the way other people live their lives.
I read fifteen of this book’s one hundred and thirty seven pages, and won’t be reading any more.
Which is more important: the practical or the sublime? Are you a Doer or a Dreamer? Brad Buettner has over twenty-four years of experience utilizing his physics degree in a wide array of engineering and management assignments. With this background he examines early twentieth-century physics and human relationships observed during his professional tenure to illustrate how Einstein’s theory of relativity pertains to our perception of time and how it explains divisions in our outlook. By applying the theory of relativity to human consciousness, Buettner discovers the motivation for personal inclination toward either the practical or the abstract.
Buettner defines total reality as containing more than the reality our senses perceive. When discussing alternate forms of reality, however, he insists on measurable and observable conclusions, eliminating references to mysticism, magic, or mystery. He outlines an engaging search for the unlikely possibility of interaction with the reality that existed before the Big Bang.
Einstein in Human Consciousness: Eternity is an Instant provides stunning revelations concerning human reality. Does your world extend beyond that perceived by the physical senses? If so, why? Buettner offers the answers to these questions by explaining an aspect of reality that was previously elusive.
Brad Buettner received physics and metallurgical degrees from Benedictine and Lehigh Universities, which he applied to a varied career in engineering and management. He’s lived or worked in New York City, Baltimore, Princeton, and the Chicago area. He has a wife and two sons and currently resides in the Chicago suburbs.
Brad Buettner might have written his book Einstein and Human Consciousness: Eternity is an Instant around an interesting theory, and he certainly has an easy, fluent writing style. But both were spoiled for me by his repeated reassurances that I would be able to understand his reasoning if I only tried, even if I wasn’t very highly educated. I found some of his comments about this patronising, and at times almost insulting.
When Buettner commented, “Dreamers have a different view of reality than Doers, and the reason is that Dreamers concentrate on a different reality altogether. Dreamers have found a peculiar aspect of human consciousness that has different properties than the physical reality that our senses detect” I wonder if he realised that he was casting Dreamers as “other”?
Buettner is at his best when he explains proven, accepted concepts: his account of relative time is clear, elegant and interesting. His writing is good; his text is beautifully error-free. But in trying to reach a wider audience he’s only succeeded in patronising us all; and he’s perhaps revealed more about himself than he had planned to in places. I stopped reading on page nine, when I came across this:
Imagine the ridicule simpler minds must have given Einstein when they first heard his proposal.
I don’t like the implication that anyone less clever than Einstein (which, let’s face it, includes pretty much most of us) would have automatically ridiculed him for proposing his theory: most, I suspect, would have asked him questions and tried to understand it for themselves. The human race is usually more curious than it is judgemental: if we weren’t, we would never have escaped our more superstitious beliefs and reached the moon. Because of that I’m not going to judge Mr. Buettner for apparently thinking so little of his readers: instead I’m going to wonder how much better his book would have been if he’d worked with someone who challenged his ideas and edited out all of his more patronising bits. How good could it have been then?
He Dared to Dream an Impossible Dream.He Risked Body and Soul to Make it Real.
“A VOYAGE BEYOND REASON”
On September 13, 1996, twenty four year old Benjamin Wade set out on a solo voyage in a tiny sea kayak. As he pushed off from the shores of San Felipe, his goal lay 6,000 miles away – and deep within his own soul. The chance discovery of his journals, buried on a Colombian cliff above the sea, uncovered a mystery which took many years to finally solve. His journals tell of misery and elation, of triumph and failure, of insight and insanity. Follow the events which will forge his character, and follow the mind of a young man set on achieving a dream that no amount of misfortune can dissuade him from reaching…on a journey that challenges his survival, and brings him face to face with himself.
Tom Gauthier weaves the word pictures and intimate thoughts of Benjamin Wade into a gripping story of the struggle for survival and the reshaping of a young life in a way that few of us could imagine.
As with so many of the books I’ve reviewed here, Tom Gauthier’s A Voyage Beyond Reason: An Epic of Survival Based on the Original Journals of Benjamin Wade is let down by the writing, which is often overdone and frequently relies on clever tricks rather than on good writing to make the author’s point. I found inconsistencies in the tense used; an intrusive amount of passive voice; a couple of contradictions in the text, and homophone substitutions; there were several missing hyphens and the author would do well to cut his comma-use by half. But what irritated me most was the significance with which Benjamin Wade’s name was used in the early parts of the text: this implied that I should know who he was, but no information about him was given to support that implication.
Despite that, this is one of the better books I’ve looked at here. With a strong edit it could be vastly improved and it has real potential to make a fascinating read if that is done: but as it is, I found my fifteen mistakes within its first seven pages. A shame.
“The Outsider’s Guide gave me the information and insight I needed to better understand my Orthodox Jewish colleagues.”
“This book is the perfect gift for any non-Orthodox friend or coworker. It’ll help clear up many misconceptions about Orthodox practice and beliefs.”
“Clear, concise, informative, and easy to read.”
“After reading The Outsider’s Guide, I don’t feel like such an outsider any more!”
What we have here is a book which is just right for self-publication: it occupies a nice little niche in the market which its author, Rabbi Arnie Singer, is perfectly placed to exploit.
It is not without its problems: the punctuation is somewhat erratic; there are several inconsistencies in formatting and style which are typical of self-published books; and I frequently found myself frustrated by the brevity of the text because despite this book’s rather dry title, it’s a good read. It provides a lot of information in a very small space and while the depth and detail that I’d have preferred is lacking, I can understand why the author chose this route—he was writing a handbook, not a history. I read twenty-five pages out of one hundred and fifteen to find my fifteen problems but I will be reading more and would suggest that you do too: this is a very informative, useful little book for anyone to have on their shelves.
This study of political compassion as viewed within American political history, includes such political leaders and individuals as Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Robert Kennedy and Jane Addams, among others. What does a sense of political compassion imply in terms of it being utilised for the common good as well as how it is translated into effective public policies?
Politics In Compassion: The Future Of American Politics wins the prize for the most confusing book I’ve read for this blog. It’s full of jargon, and the unnecessarily over-complexity of the sentence structure means that it shows a horrible lack of clarity. Take, for example, this:
“… Or an individual in identifying with the pain of another human being(s) is made to suffer as well, so that he or she in identifying with the suffering of the hurting individual, that is forming a common bond, hopes to alleviate that suffering as well, an altruistic kind of compassion. However, in order for an individual to display true human compassion, they should not only do in order to feel good about themselves, or as a way of broadcasting the fact that they indeed are a good and altruistic person.”
It’s jumbled (I suspect that even the title is jumbled and should actually be Compassion In Politics, which would make far more sense), lacking in logic, and incredibly poorly-written: consequently, I didn’t even make it to the end of the prologue. I read two pages out of one hundred and eleven, and I strongly suggest that this writer puts a lot of effort into making his work more accessible before he even considers writing anything else.
John McCulloch’s oldest son received a head injury at birth, re-sulting in blindness. A second injury at age 28, resulted in his being confined to a nursing home for life. This book is about how these afflictions and others led one family to a positive result.
John McCulloch’s oldest son received a head injury at birth, re-sulting in blindness. A second injury at age 28, resulted in his being confined to a nursing home for life. This book is about how these afflictions and others led one family to a positive result.
Refined in the Furnace of Affliction is John McCulloch’s account of both his own life and the life of his son John, who received a head injury at birth and was subsequently disabled. There’s an insistent strand of Christianity and prayer in this book, and a strong focus on the need for family life, and it’s obvious that McCulloch is passionate and devoted to all of these things. Sadly, he isn’t a good writer and that lack of expertise means that this book is a flat, dull read.
Most of the pages reminded me of the journals I used to keep as a child: “I got up and then I had my breakfast and then I brushed my teeth and went to school”. It’s all tell and no show and it’s very disorganised, too: in the middle of what should be a heartbreaking tale of the birth of his disabled son, McCulloch abruptly breaks into an account of how his wife got a good deal on a car.
This is a very badly-written book which I wish I could have reviewed more favourably. I read only eleven of its one hundred and fourteen pages.
Ralphina, the roly-poly is sad because she gets lonely in her garden and wants a friend to play with. But she is so small that nobody seems to notice her. With her mommy’s encouragement, Ralphina digs up a clever solution to her loneliness and in the process learns that she has a lot to offer in friendship. (Did you notice the little play on words there? Get it . . . digs . . . garden? Ha!). Discover how friendship can make your world blossom in all the colors of the rainbow, and also learn stuff that I am willing to venture you don’t know about these adorable little garden dwellers.
I do not want to be sent picture books. I make it clear that I don’t review them, so by sending me Ralphina, the Roly-Poly to review the author already has a strike against her. Nevertheless, here it is in my hands, so I will offer my opinion.
While the press release which accompanied this book states that it was “written to appeal to preschoolers and early readers”, I have not yet found a child in that age-group which finds it attractive, despite taking the book to an infant school and showing it around.
Nothing in this book is quite good enough: there are a few errors in punctuation on the back cover copy and inside this book; the illustrations are fuzzy, and often unattractive; and Ralphina is a particularly unappealing heroine.
The story is predictable and unengaging, and the list of roly-poly-related facts at the end of the book was impossible for either of my sons to read: my eight-year-old, who is dyslexic, was defeated by the fancy fonts which were used while my 13-year-old, who is colour-blind, found that the multicoloured background overwhelmed the words that were printed on it. And it retails at a stonking $24.95, far more than mainstream books of this type: who is going to pay so much for a book of such inferior content?
This is another self-published book to be avoided, I’m afraid.
Horses can’t talk, but they can speak if you listen. And in Straight from the Horse’s Heart: A Spiritual Ride through Love, Loss, and Hope, R. T. Fitch translates what he has learned while listening to horses. In fact, the author is not so much a horse whisperer as he is a horse listener. From the horse’s mouth to our ears, he beautifully captures the essence of the language of horses and the special relationship between horse and human. As dramatic as it is inspiring, his insights on life, love, and survival are echoes of the windswept mane and beating hooves of a wild mare and the calm stillness of a foal. Together these melodic, often poetic stories find blessings in the eye of the storm and celebrate the quietude of reflection and inner peace.
When I started to read this book I expected to dislike it: I don’t do well with sentimentality, nor with those “tragic-about-brave” tabloid-fodder stories that so often form around animals and those who rescue them.
Instead, I found a book which is, at its start at least, heart-warming and full of a very particular charm. It is simply written and very accessible: but the text needs a stiff edit as it’s let down by a good few careless mistakes in punctuation and structure which could easily have been addressed, which prevented me from reading past page twenty-five.
What worries me more, though, is the direction that the book eventually takes. It is episodic, built from thirty-five short standalone pieces: but while the early chapters discuss the author’s work with horses with great simplicity and charm the later pieces are rather more surreal, and take the form of conversations with horses in turmoil, several of which are written from the horse’s points of view. I did not find these pieces convincing or credible: and they let down the rest of the writing, I’m afraid.
I suspect that the author would have had a good chance of finding a mainstream publisher if he had only written a different book: despite the errors that I spotted he writes well, seems to have a natural sense of pacing, and I’ll bet he has plenty of stories to tell. I’d strongly advise him to consider writing a book which describes all the various horses he had helped over the years, and discusses the many challenges that each horse presented, and trying for a mainstream deal next time.