Monday, September 24, 2018

Orality Helps to Bring Literacy to Life


I was a story teller before I was a story writer. I would spend hours late at night spinning stories out of my imagination recounting them verbally for the joy and settling of my younger brother as we went off to sleep. I then became fluent on stage and capable to ‘tell stories’ via several amateur movie productions and video clips. I am a keen oral story teller. I still enjoy sitting around a campfire and telling an adventurous thriller.


 I also enjoy relating well-told testimonials of how good God is. My stories, but especially His story telling from His word or other people’s lives touched by His love are powerful when they are shared orally. I recognised the power of this verbal story telling when I began to utilise my own stories (written) in verbal form as a healing technique when working with troubled young people I have had the opportunity to work with in Indigenous communities. Laying in our swags after a full day of intervention and activity, telling out stories of the fictional characters I have written about helped these often angry and frustrated young men relate their own real stories and helped begin a deeper healing journey.


In his seminal work “Orality and Literacy” (1982) Professor Walter J. Ong explored some of the profound historical changes in our thought processes, personality and social structures which are the result,  of the development of speech, writing and print. He not only emphasized that oral and literate cultures use different types of learning and storing information, He considers the impact of orality-literacy development on our understanding of what it is to be a human being, conscious of ourselves and others. In other words our cultures have developed from oral traditions that are at first powerful, and made more powerful and authoritative via our use of literacy. In my own personal experience, the oral story telling gave foundations for my writing. In turn the telling or re-telling of a written form gained deeper meaning in the contexts and authentic reckoning of audiences I have had the joy of sharing with.


A valuable development for me as a story teller and writer was an instilling and development in my journey of a love for learning words. I came to know words before sentences developed into reasonable literature. I saw the power my Grandfather had with his hold on words. Not only to be a wiz at cross words, he could speak eloquently when called upon, could write script , prose, letters and reports with apparent ease.   He helped enthuse and inspired me to dig deeper. I had already had a formative grasp in word discovery and meaning via empowering English teachers at school, but I dug in deeper, going on my own literacy adventures. Reading. Learning the meaning of words I did not know as they came up in Mark Twain, H.G. Wells, Charles Dickens and others. Learning Latin roots as I studied the scientific nomenclature of the dinosaurs, animals and plants I loved. Putting words into sentences that built into stories as I wrote. My language changed. How I spoke developed. How I lived was influenced. A transformation began as I began to live out of this deeper world-well of words.


Ong notes that Literacy is a necessity for the development and understanding of science, history, philosophy, and art, and indeed for the explanation of language (including oral speech) itself.  There are a “vast complex of powers forever inaccessible without literacy”.  Which seems correct as writers. If our stories stay in our head, or only told around a good coffee with friends, they would not make it to print; and hence would not make it to a wider audience. However this is almost an agony in line with Ong’s recognition of frustrated peoples “rooted in primary orality, who want literacy passionately but who also know very well that moving into the exciting world of literacy means leaving behind much that is exciting and deeply loved in the earlier oral world”.

We are so literature based sometimes as writers that it is very difficult for us to conceive of an oral universe of communication or thought except as a variant of a literate universe. What I attempt to do regularly is to tell out my stories verbally. This simply helps me to overcome my biases in some degree and to open new ways to understanding my own stories, the characters, the settings. The value of this is that it makes my stories resonate with a greater depth and authenticity as it is tested by me and my hearing audience well before it is read at a book launch or recital. There is another beauty with this perspective. It helps others be engaged in our journey.



 Imagine if Tolkien and C.S. Lewis had not had the power of the Inklings to be a sounding board of deepening their stories, testing their script, challenging the logic and narrative depth. In other words “telling” our stories is not only at first a point of clarification. It is vital to our writing construction, but perhaps more importantly our story creativity.


God’s word was first spoken. Genesis (the written form) explains this. But even the scripture before it was recorded was first handed down via an oral culture. In fact the value of our textual scripture is in its power to be received through its preached form. Which in essence is orality. Oh that our communities of faith re-embrace the power of mutual story telling. Where each is submitted to the other to give their testimony. Surely we recognise that ”we overcome by the word of our testimony” and that “Faith comes by hearing”.  But perhaps that perspective is for another time.
Ong noted that for civilization to develop the oral cultures would need to give way to literacy. “We have to die to continue living” is how Ong had related this tension. My conviction is similar yet converse to his tenet. I believe we also have to die to our literacy to continue to live vitally as story tellers. It is interesting that Jesus too had this opinion of dying to live. Loosing ourselves to find ourselves. I will choose to live by dying to self. Within my writing journey I simply aim to die to the cleverness and ability I have to get the story down on paper and continue to revisit the resonating power of orally sharing my journey with trusted people who in turn will inspire my journey and take it to a depth that is honouring of the potential of a greater written telling.


Monday, September 17, 2018

GoodReads

by Jeanette O'Hagan




Social Media has, in many ways, been a boon for writers and readers. As an writer, we can network with other writers and connect with readers and fans. And of course many of us are aware of a variety of forms of social media - particularly Facebook and Twitter, but maybe also Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus, LinkedIn etc.


There is one major social media site that is specifically aimed at Readers as well as catering for Writers - GoodReads.


GoodReads is an online social media for avid readers – a little like Facebook. It has many great functions/features and can be useful for both readers and writers (or writers who are readers). It may take a little while to explore all it has to offer but I think that is time well spent.



Advantages as a Reader




1. An online record of the books you have read, are reading or want to read.




According to Good Reads, I’ve read 852 books – actually I've probably read a few more, but these are the ones I've recorded.


In Goodreads we can shelve a book as Want to Read, Currently Reading and Read (with the dates started and finished reading) as well as add as many other categories we want (e.g. fantasy, mystery, Australian author, Christian fiction, etc).

We can record information about the books (including if we own them, or have lent them out). We can sort them on our own designated shelves, rate them, review them and even send on recommendations to friends. If our Goodreads account is linked to Facebook, we can choose for this information may go on our Facebook wall.

This is also a way to promote favourite authors – as other readers may decide on which books to read on the ratings and/or reviews of books.

I also wonder if there is a way of backing up one’s database of books. What happens if Good Reads suddenly goes out of business and my carefully curated and review lists suddenly cease to exist? Good Reads can (and has) removed reviews and lists that contravene their guidelines.



2. Sort your books in shelves, lists etc.


I’ve started up a range of shelves that categorise my books (e.g. fiction/non-fiction; Christian; children/YA/adult; historical, spec fiction, biography etc).

There are also shared public lists – Listopia – such as “What Every Teen Should Read” or Australian Christian authors or CWD Writers. Goodreads participants can add books or vote for books on these lists (up to 100 books in any one list) or make their own lists in which others can add to or vote. 

Some of the Lists I've voted on


Lists are great when you are searching for a particular type of book. Anyone can start a list, and, in many cases, can add books to a list, though authors can't add their own books.

If you are not sure what to read next, Goodreads is an excellent way of finding new titles to read. You can look up lists like Young Adult Fantasy or Clean Romances, read reviews, ask a members of a group you've joined or see what your friends are reading.



3. Other activities



You can also collect quotes from favourite authors, follow your favourite authors as fans, participate in challenges, quizzes or giveaways or join discussion groups on your favourite genre or interests or comment on other peoples reviews etc..


A news feed keeps you up to date with your friends’ activities.


Since about 2013, I've enjoyed the Goodreads Reading Challenge - I set myself a challenge to read 60 books for the year. Some people have much bigger goals, others have less.



Advantages for Authors



Goodreads was primarily set up as an online group of readers but it also offer opportunities to authors – that is those with published books (whether self-published, indie or traditional publishing). After all, Goodreads is populated with keen readers - just the people authors want to reach.


1. Author page


Authors can convert their user profile to an Author’s profile that can include a bio, photo, a list of published works, blogs, videos etc. They can upload the covers and details of their own books. Link their blog to their Goodreads account. 


2. Connect with Fans


Readers can ask Authors questions, with the responses posted for other fans to read. They can also become followers or fans of authors and will receive relevant updates from Goodreads.


Make sure you are aware of the Goodreads Author policy. In general, it's best not to respond to reviews of your own books, as this can alienate many readers. Always remember that Goodreads is primarily aimed at readers - even though it also welcomes authors.


3. Be part of Groups


Also, Authors have an opportunity to interact with readers through groups though the temptation to over-promote needs to be resisted. As with most promotion, you need to interact and support others, building community and connections. So the best thing as a Goodreads author is also to be a reader, write reviews and participate in groups while being restrained in self-promotion opportunities. While this may seem slow, in the long run it will much more fruitful.

Goodreads provides a useful and enjoyable resource for both Readers and Authors. Unlike some forms of social media, you can have a significant presence without spending screeds of time online – and the more books and reviews you add, the more significant your presence.


While it may not suit everyone, I think Goodreads provides a valuable resource for readers and writers.



So do you use Goodreads? What features do you like best about it? Are there things you are not so keen on? Are there some tips you would like to share? Or, as a novice, are there some burning questions you would like to ask?

My Goodreads page . Put your Goodreads profile in the comments if you want to connect with others in CWD.


Jeanette started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of eight or nine. She enjoys writing secondary world fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. Her Nardvan stories span continents, time and cultures. They involve a mixture of courtly intrigue, adventure, romance and/or shapeshifters and magic users. She has published numerous short stories, poems, two novellas and her debut novel, Akrad's Children and Ruhanna's Flight and other stories. Stone of the Sea is planned to be released in October this year.

Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and a Master of Arts (Writing). She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends, pondering the meaning of life. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.


Find her on:


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Meet Our Members - Rita Stella Galieh

1.Who are you & where do you come from?

 My husband would be the best person to answer that as he knows the real me. A Sydneysider, I always wanted to be an artist so I studied art and joined the family ceramics studio and enjoyed etching Australian flora and fauna exclusively for Prouds in Sydney. I met my violinist husband at a YFC meeting and he challenged me to use my gift for God. After our marriage we attended Emmaus Bible College and then joined Dr Gene Jeffries and American evangelist as his music team. We spent two years in America and then answered the call to be involved in missions in Australia. Each year in December, we minister throughout Thailand with a Thai interpreter, Somchai Soothornturasuk. He arranges for us to use our art and music in schools, prisons, orphanages, hospitals and churches where we explain the real meaning of Christmas. During our many years of travelling over countries in SE Asia, I began to write seriously. Though looking back, I used to spin stories with my grandma and I think the seeds were sown then.
 



 2. Tell us about your writing. What do I write?

I love reading historicals. I also love the extensive research involved in writing these. So my chosen genre is Historical Romance. I have had two published by a Sydney publisher. My next was a trilogy: Signed Sealed Delivered, The Tie That Binds, A Parcel of Promises were Indie published.




3. Tell us about your program, what challenges you most and what helps you most?

As I also write and record radio programs with my husband, I'm always challenged to find the time to write my novels.(I wish I had a maid  and a cook like those in my historicals!) However I can tune out even with the TV on, because when I write, I am not in my room, not in my suburb and not in my time. I read my Bible study and notes each morning and ask the Lord to guide me in whatever I write as I want it to honour Him. My Thesaurus helps me most of all when I am searching for just the right word.

4. What are your writing goals?

I am now writing 3 synopses for a Book proposal of another series I have just completed under the series name: Daughters of Resilience: Book 1.  Speechless, Breaking Miss Sophie's Silence, Book 2. Defenseless, Miss Dengate's Deliverance, Book 3. Heartless, Miss Kate's Great Expectations.( I use US spelling.) The setting is the Edwardian Era. So my goal is to find an agent who likes my work and who will find a publisher who in turn will actually snap up my trilogy! Easy? Nooooo. I'd value your prayers about this.

5. How does my faith impact my writing?

To answer this I'll share what I have written in my Book Proposal:


Resilience - a combination of perseverance and hope - is a universal theme in my novels. When facing difficult issues, today’s Christian woman can relate when facing hard decisions between making a God honouring choice or whatever is expedient at the time. 

I truly want to share my faith in a practical way. Just as Jesus used stories to illustrate a spiritual truth, so I really want my readers to gain something that might help them in their own life.


Rita has learned her craft by making every mistake in the book!  But perseverance is the key. Besides reading fiction and nonfiction,  read plenty of books in the genre you write. Then write your heart out. Write all your doubts and struggles into your characters. And have fun creating your nasty antagonists.

If you feel the Lord has called you to write, just keep at it whatever it is articles, scripts, Sunday school lessons, women's devotionals, there's a need for all of these.
And never give up.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Meet Our Members - Elizabeth Klein





Each Thursday in 2018 we will be interviewing one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals.

Today's interview Elizabeth (Lizbeth) Klein

Question 1: Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from.

Good question. I was born in Mudgee, New South Wales, after my mother almost died carrying me for too long. My parents were refugees from Hungary who settled under the hills of a small village called Charbon. When I was in primary, I didn’t speak English very well and my schoolwork suffered terribly. In those days, there was no outside assistance for kids with language problems like there is nowadays. But it was during those early years that my love for the written word grew with a fierce desire. I loved reading—just couldn’t do it very well—and I would borrow truck-loads of books from our tiny, local library. Ironically, I ended up becoming a primary school teacher and taught in Sydney for nineteen years. I also tutored at four learning centres for nine years and lectured at the Jannali Community College, which I loved. A little over three years ago, we bought a caravan, a new car to tow it with and left that old life behind. Sorry, I think that’s more than three.

 Question 2: Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc).  What do you write and why?

I started writing seriously after I married Malcolm because he generously allowed me great swathes of free time. Plus the Lord kept directing me to leave full-time work, which I eventually did. I began attending the Sutherland FAW and a Monday morning writing group which met at the library. It was at these meetings that I began to connect with others of like mindedness, especially a friend called Jodie. We encouraged each other and as a result, we soon began to publish articles. These small, wonderful steps led to larger successes until finally, lovely Rochelle from Wombat Books contracted two of my young adult fantasy books. At present, she has a third.

Book 1: Firelight of Heaven


 Now, having travelled for just over three years, I’ve published lots of plays, short stories, poems and articles. This year I was contracted by Five Senses Education for my book: Comedy Theatre for Upper Primary, with provision for two more books for lower high school and lower primary, which I’ve almost completed. I’m also occasionally contracted by Blake Education to write for them. 

Writing is in my soul. God placed it there as a seed and it’s growing.

Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it?

Although my two novels were written for young adults, surprisingly, many adults love reading them as well as children as young as ten years old. But I would love more Christians to read them and not reject the genre of fantasy. I see all fiction as someone’s fantasy; mine merely incorporates elves and fantastical worlds and amazing characters that aren’t always human. Fantasy is a lovely language, a language of the deepest part of me. Perhaps I’m dreaming, but it’s impossible to dream without myths and wonderment. 

Tolkien said it this way: “the Gospels contain … a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories. ... But this story has entered History and the primary world; ... It has pre-eminently the "inner consistency of reality."

Book 2: Greenheart of the Forest



Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?

Generally, I set my eyes upon finishing one text at a time—however long and laborious that may be—before starting a new project. Scenes become ‘large’ inside me before I write them or move onto the next scene or chapter. By that I mean that what I wish to write has to be ‘seen’ in my imagination first. I must see my characters, hear their emotions in their speech, feel the terrors and ecstasies of their journeys and perils. I must become one with them before setting out. 

Challenges? There are some. Because we are modern-day pilgrims living in a caravan and travelling all the time, weariness hampers the writing process. Computers, modems and cords all have to be packed away from my tiny workspace here in the van.

                     

Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why?

One book that springs to mind which has been like a gold nugget when, as a young, inexperienced writer, I wanted to know how to show, not tell. That book is called, How to Self-Edit (To Improve Your Writing) by Di Bates. It’s wonderfully filled with practical, step-by-step activities to help a budding, novice writer understand his or her craft. I can’t recommend it highly enough.


Question 6: If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?

One writer I admire is Jeanette O’Hagan, fantasy writer and fellow lover of far-flung places. She has written some excellent fantasy books. Paula Vince’s stories are wonderful too.

Paula Vince



Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2018? How will you achieve them?

My present goal is to complete the lower primary book of plays that I am currently writing for Five Senses Education. I have so many fresh ideas for future projects that I’d love to write, but time and circumstances keep them at bay. I’d love to write a children’s book about Merlin, who is such an enigmatic historical figure of myth and legend. But writing is such a slow process. One must be patient.

Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?

Actually, my love for Jesus is woven easily through my Bethloria series like a red woollen thread of His sacrifice for us all. Writing fantasy allows that thread to be seamlessly melded with other themes that non-Christians can enjoy without being struck by an overly Christian feel. The Holy Spirit can work with the offerings we present. He is in us after all. 



Here is a lovely quote by Tolkien I found today:

“And in that very moment, away behind in some far corner of the city, a cock crowed. Shrill and clear he crowed reckoning nothing of wizardry or war, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn.”


Oh, please check out my website: bethloria.com.au






Elizabeth (Lisbeth) Klein is an Australian author who writes for children and young adults. She loves life, laughing, lounging and lumpy chocolate. Also, fantasy movies that make you cry at the end because they're beautiful. She is the author of the Bethloria series, the first two books Firelight of Heaven and Greenheart of the Forest published, as well as plays, poems and short stories.


Monday, September 3, 2018

Exploring Genre - Young Adult

by Cecily Anne Paterson




Want to start an argument? Ask someone in publishing to define ‘YA’. Don’t know anyone in publishing, but you’re still curious? Just enquire of Dr Google, who’ll spit you back more opinions about what YA is and what it means, than you’ll ever have time to get through.

I have an apparently controversial task ahead of me.

What is YA?


So what is YA? It’s the short-hand term for ‘Young Adult’ books and stories. As to who those ‘young adults’ are exactly, well, that’s anyone’s guess.

It’s safe enough to say that a YA book will feature a teenage protagonist who faces a challenge, learns and grows.

Here’s where it gets tricky: if the character is 12-14 years of age, some people will say it’s a ‘teen book’. They’d argue that a young adult is 14+, and I can understand their reasoning. A kid of 13 is dealing with different life issues than a young person of 16, and that young person is a different creature again in comparison to an 18 or 19-year old.

So within YA, perhaps we have three categories: teen, featuring characters aged 12-14, YA, with a character who is 14-17, and New Adult, following a protagonist who is aged 18-21.





What are YA books about?


Just like books for younger children deal with different issues according to age, you’ll find a huge variety of subject matter – and standards of what’s acceptable - within the YA genre. While you might not find sex, drug and alcohol use or swearing in a book at the younger end of the spectrum (they have to get past parents and librarians after all), you’ll almost certainly find some or all of it as you head up to the New Adult end.

You’ll find in current YA titles a tendency to feature characters from diverse backgrounds, religions and cultures. YA loves to tell tales of ‘outliers’, or the people who don’t fit in. Words like ‘searingly honest’, ‘an unflinching look at life’ and 'achingly funny' sell YA books. They can be brutally honest, sizzlingly harsh, and unbearably beautiful.

Years ago, YA books were often known as ‘coming of age’ stories. A young person can ‘come of age’ whenever they understand themselves or something in their world differently, whenever they cross a threshold or have a significant ‘first time’ experience, and whenever they move out and away from what has constituted safety in their life.




Because we’re dealing with young people, YA titles have all the feels, and lots of them.

My mother once read my (younger) YA title, Invisible, and said, “Well, there was plenty of teenage angst in it.”

“That’s the point,” I said.

The richness of working with a teenage protagonist is that they do have all that angst, and passion, and energy, and terror, and bliss, and wonder. Life is tough, and the first time you deal with it as a young person, you haven’t learned the wisdom older people use to discern truth from lies, shield yourself from unnecessary hurt, or set limits. The passion and intensity of young people is what makes them such wonderful characters.




Additionally, seeing the world through the eyes of a young person means that a YA writer can comment on society in unique ways. If Suzanne Collins had told the story of Katniss’ mother, The Hunger Games would have been an entirely different story. Instead, readers follow angry, idealistic Katniss into the dystopia of the Districts and its lavish Capitol, gaining with her a thirst for justice and peace, and a longing for change. 

It’s no coincidence that some of the best dystopian literature is found in the YA genre: it’s young people who have the passion and energy to make the world better.


Some Christian YA books I've enjoyed


I'd recommend Penny Jaye's Out of the Cages.
I'd also recommend Roseanne Hawke's books.
And Claire Zorn is a multi-award winning writer who is also a Christian.




Who reads YA?


Obviously you’d expect that teenagers would be keen to read books featuring characters of their own age, and you’d be right. But—and this has been a surprising development over the last 25 years— it’s not just young people. Adults are keen readers of YA and New Adult books.

In fact, adult readers make up 55 per cent of the YA audience, for which we have to thank Harry Potter. Before JK Rowling’s ascendency it might have been shameful to be seen reading a ‘kids’ book’ but a YA book in a grown-up’s hand is no longer notable.

Adults read YA because they still relate to the characters, because they still appreciate a challenge, and because a good, well-told story is still a good well-told story, no matter how old the protagonist is.

What about you? Do you read or write Young Adult or New Adult books? Which ones have you enjoyed reading or would recommend and why? 


---


Cecily Paterson writes ‘brave-heart’ stories for girls aged 10-14, which puts her books at the very youngest end of the YA spectrum. Her novel, Charlie Franks is A-OK won the CALEB Prize in 2017. Find her at www.cecilypaterson.com

Monday, August 27, 2018

Some Top Writing Books

by Jeanette O'Hagan





To some extent we learn to write by reading and by writing.  As we read fiction we get a sense of what makes a good story. The more we read, the stronger that intuitive sense develops. Writing also helps us to hone our skills. 

Yet like most skills, we can also learn from mentors, teachers, blog posts, podcasts, and craft books.  Moreover, what readers, publishers and editors are looking for in stories and writing style can and does change over time.

Fiction from the eighteenth and nineteenth century was often narrated from an omniscience (God's eye-view) point of view, included long descriptive passages, convoluted and flowery sentences, authorial intrusions ('dear reader' passages) and unsolicited opinions, and many many pages.

While we can still enjoy such classics, a modern reader has less time and patience than their eighteenth century counterpart. They also have a much wider knowledge of the world (through TV, movies, social media, travel) and don't need scenes to be painted for them in loving and florid detail over several paragraphs or pages.

Writing styles currently favoured usually have a focused or deep first or third person point of view (no head hopping please), less flowery more muscular prose (out with adverbs, too many adjectives, creative dialogue tags, weasel words etc). A modern novel is often expected to be faster paced, with a tighter narrative structure.  And often publishers and readers will make up their mind about a book after the first paragraph or page (and certainly by the first 100 pages).

That in mind, in today's post I will share a number of writing books that I've found helpful along the way. 

Self-Editing for Fiction by Renni Browne and Dave King


Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print


This book is a good starting point for the beginner writer and covers a number of style issues.


Rayne Hall's books for writers 


In particular The Word Loss Diet - brilliant and practical guide at making one's writing taunt and tight. But I also appreciated her books on Writing Vivid Settings and  Writing Deep Point of View.  She includes lots of writing examples. Her excerpts of her own fiction showcases her tips, though are not my preferred genre - supernatural horror.  My review of The Word Loss Diet and Writing Vivid Settings.

K M Weiland  Structuring Your Novel


Weiland's blog Helping Writers Become Authors has a great number of practical tips on plot structure, hero's journey, character arcs etc. which are distilled in a range of books, including Structuring Your Novel. She is a plotter (in a writerly sense), but pansters can still learn a lot about how story works.

Stephen James Story Trumps Structure


James is more of a panster, though his book can apply to both plotters and pansters. I found his book excellent for understanding certain elements that make a story work - such as the need to escalate the stakes as the story progresses. My review is here.

Lisa Cron's Story Genius


I found the psycho-evo-technobabble and black and white claims in this book rather annoying. On the other hand Cron delves deep into the emotional arc for characters which is I think is worth exploring. My review is here.

Blake Synder's Save the Cat


Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need


This is aimed more at scriptwriters but has a ton of good tips on story structure, engaging the reader, drafting the story, as well as story premise and pitching.  It's an easy and fun read.

Stephen King's On Writing


Part memoir, part craft book, this is a well worthwhile read (even if  you don't enjoy King's books). Another panster, he has some great tips on writing style, creativity and process. My review is here.

Margie Lawson


Not a book, but Margie runs Immersion classes, online classes and has lecture packets available from her website. While she doesn't deal with structure, she has a whole raft of tips on how to keep the reader's engagement and make your words sing. Her website is here.

Anne Lamont's Bird by Bird



Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Again, part memoir, part reflection on the writing journey, Lamont has some pertinent insight in the mind-set of the writer. Her book is both witty and poignant. A Christian, she doesn't shy away from hard issues. Here's my review.

Joanna Pen's Making a Living by Writing


A practical look at how one might be a full-time writer - if that's part of your goals then it's worth a read.  Joanna also has other books, a website and podcast with useful information in this area. My review here.


This, of course, is just a small sample of all the writing books and how-to books that are out there. I've got a good number on my to-read list.  (I've included links to some of my reviews, which you or may not agree with :) ) Not every book will strike a chord and with each book, we need to weight what works for us as a writer and what doesn't. 


On the other hand, don't dismiss something out of hand, until you're considered it and maybe even experimented with it. Best of all, understand 'why' something is recommend or the reason for common 'rules' as that helps you know when and if you should 'break' them.

If you have some recommendations for books about writing that you've benefited on, I'd love you to put them in the comments below. Let's share our discovery of gems, in order to help each other.

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Jeanette started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of eight or nine. She enjoys writing secondary world fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. Her Nardvan stories span continents, time and cultures. They involve a mixture of courtly intrigue, adventure, romance and/or shapeshifters and magic users. She has published numerous short stories, poems, two novellas and her debut novel, Akrad's Children and new release Ruhanna's Flight and other stories.

Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and a Master of Arts (Writing). She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends, pondering the meaning of life. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.


Find her on: