Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

How to Plot by Example

July 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Are you a writer who can sit down and have dialogues and scenes stream onto the computer screen with little regard to structure?  If you are, and are happy with your results, you are one of the lucky writers with a gift.  Most writers need to craft the plot through scene summaries and outlines.

I am not so gifted.  I need to plot to make my stories come together in the end.  For many years I let my writing drift.  It was easier and fun, but always when I read it back, the only salvagable sections were description. 

One day a couple of years ago, I found a talented blogger, who writes about the technique of novel writing.  If you feel like a hamster running the wheel when you write, check this website out.  Currently, Larry Brooks is deconstructing the novel The Help.  He shows us how to plot by examining Kathryn Stockett’s plotting strategy and how this is a major factor that catapulted her novel into recognition.  (I read that she had many, many rejections in earlier drafts, but she did not give up.)

He has a book out called Story Engineering: 6 Core Competencies.  You can see a preview on his website.  You can get a better idea by rooting around in his blog archive, because Brooks does an excellent job describing the core competencies individually.

Okay, I took a hiatus from blogging.  You would think when I unexpectedly became unemployed I would have time to blog more.  Instead I used the time to figure out what to do.  I spent most of the day doing job search activities in a very dry market.  Blogging sounded interesting as a public journal on personal impressions when I first began the journey.  I had envisioned it more like the journal I wrote as a pre teen.  Months later, my thoughts have evolved.  My goal for this blog is to make it more content rich.  In the next few weeks, I will be examining the topic blogging for money.



Pro Flowers

I am not in the habit of recommending non-writing retail discoveries, but I can’t resist being a raving fan of Pro Flowers.

Not only do their flowers last longer, but they are delivered in the freshest condition possible. Prices are more than reasonable. Check it out for yourself.

And if you ever want someone to be your raving fan, go the extra mile for your target audience. This includes writing promotions. Pro Flowers has bent over backwards to make me happy. I have been using them over the years, and twice they have stepped up and re-issued my order without a new charge…without giving me a hassle. One a few years ago was a legitimate request, but the one for this Mother’s Day won me over.

Go to for all your flower delivery needs. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed, even if life throws in occasional glitches.

Reading People

March 23, 2010 Leave a comment

I was in the JFK airport a couple of months ago and picked up a book called,”Reading People” by Jo-Ellan Dimitrius and Wendy Patrick Mazzarella. 

Aside from the fact that I am in marketing and the information might prove useful, I was wondering how relevant understanding people and being able to predict behavior might translate into writing more believable characters.

The writing is conversational…and luckily, it doesn’t have the major fault so many of these types of books have…that is repeating the same information in different words.  The content is substantive and I found myself putting post its with messages to myself as possible character development traits for different characters.

Product Details

It is an easy read.  It is a good mixture of casual description and concrete examples.  I liked the first impressions chapter because with fine detail, the authors examined every physical feature, every action, reaction, and verbal utterance to create our first impression.  They also cover why our first impressions could be faulty and how we communicate or miscommunicate with our clothes and body language. 

As we get older, we become more astute at reading people.  We are more analytical and introspective.  Reading People organizes our observations, connects the dots between what we see and hear and what reality is.  This is fertile ground for characterizations.

Let me hear what you think.  Do you have any books that you really liked?

Writing Tip Site Worth Viewing

July 19, 2009 Leave a comment

I love it when I stumble upon a great writing site.  If you are a writer, especially one that is trying to break in the field, this site might get you on track.  Well written, clear and to the point, this site gives you strategies that you can implement immediately. book pile

17 Reasons Book Manuscripts Are Rejected lets us in on the inside of the editors’ heads as they wade through pages and pages of material.  This site is well organized; each post offered something I hadn’t thought of or am now looking at a topic in a different light.

Don’t forget to bookmark this site, because you will not be able to read all the entries in one sitting.  The title of the blog is Quips and Tips for the Successful Writer

Eegaads! My Mom's Got Her Own Website.

June 4, 2009 Leave a comment

While most seniors are coasting in the last years of their lives, my mom., Emma-Jean Chu keeps on learning — about herself, technology, and her art.  Now at the age of 80, she has learned how to share her talent with the rest of the world.  I might be biased, but I think she is a damn good artist. 

Take a look at her artwork and let me know what your first impressions are.

Scenes, Sequels, and Chapters Commentary

May 27, 2009 Leave a comment

If you are new to writing fiction, one of the foundations of writing good fiction is understanding the relationship of how plots are set up.  Many new writers spend hours sifting through books to have this mystery unraveled.  I remember looking for the answer in the 70’s, and I came away more confused as ever.  (I hate to date myself, but there were no Internet resources at the time.) 

Today I read Randy Ingermanson’s blog on Scenes, Sequels and Chapters.  His breakdown and definition were so clear that it was hard not to get an Oprah “lightbulb moment.”   letters-in-book

 This topic generated lots of comments.  Most of them concur that renaming scene/sequel would make the concept easier to understand.  One popular suggestion is action/reaction.

If you are struggling with how to generate the optimum powerful emotional experience (Randy’s term for playing the scene for everything its worth without getting too melodramatic), then as a writer you have to master scene/sequel or whatever you choose to call it.

This is a must read for both the new writer and the seasoned writer:

Be sure to also check out Randy’s free lesson on How to Create the Perfect Scene.  You won’t regret taking the time to do this, even if you already know how innately. Bringing someone back to the fundamentals enhances powerful writing rather than detracts.

Blogging with a Twist

May 25, 2009 Leave a comment

If you thought about it, you could have guessed that the next breakthrough in sharing online is blogging through video.  You don’t have to wait any longer.  You can reach people more personally by video recording what you want to say and uploading it on

You will find that there is someone that wants to talk about almost every topic.  Unlike the written word, seeing the person and watching the mannerisms connects on a deeper level that the written word cannot.

I searched the site for people who spoke on writing.  And voila, there were many people out there sharing their writing insights. 

For busy people, I think reading is faster, but for those who want a deeper connection to personal stories and sage knowledge given, this might be what you have been waiting for.

You can listen to what’s posted or you can start your own talk show.  (How many of us have dreamed of this opportunity, but  never thought we would be lucky enough to reach millions of people.)  Best of all, all this is free.  So, get out your entrepreneur hat.  How can we use this social media outlet to further our writing exposure?  Can we use this on more than one level?

Actually, WordPress has a video upload capability.  I just now noticed it. Anyway, check out and let me know what you think. 
Oh I forgot to mention.  This site is free and you don’t have to download software to view or upload.

Tired of Rejection? — Must Read Book

April 4, 2009 Leave a comment

Front Cover   If you write fiction, everyone tells you rejection is part of the process.  If you were selling a hammer for instance, how is your no name hammer different from the Sears, True Temper, or Stanley model?  What makes yours better?

This is the very same question publishers and agents ask when you submit your novel.  Why this novel and not the next one lying on the slush pile? 

Noah Lukeman is a literary agent in NYC.  He has written a book called The First Five Pages – A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile. 

This is a book for both novices and seasoned writers.  It is about the craft of writing, but unlike Strunk and White’s classic Elements of Style, this book will increase your chances of staying out of the rejection pile.  As a literary agent Lukeman shares with us exactly what agents and publishers look for in a manuscript. 

The First Five Pages covers common manuscript errors, gives solid advice on what attracts agents and editors, and provides writers with the tools to take their craft to the next level. 

The topics range from listening to how a writer puts words together to creating effective dialogue, to designing a more holistic picture of getting all the other elements working together (viewpoint, narration, characterization, hooks, tone, focus, setting and pacing).

What I like about this book is that it is more than just a text defining what constitutes good story telling.  Lukeman isolates the problem, illustrates and defines the writing technique and offers a better solution.  He adds exercises at the end of each section to help the writer identify weaknesses.

Yes, I am guilty of breezing through exercises without doing them.  However, Lukeman’s suggestions were different.  He didn’t burden you with “assignments”.  He asks you to take the work you have already created and examine it from a different perspective. 

Lukeman’s writing style is easy and conversational.  He talks to us in the lowest common denominator, which really helps if you are reading this past midnight.

Perhaps, my only real criticism may not be with the content as much as the publisher. All his excerpts were difficult to read because of the size of the type.  Passages looked as if they are in 8 pt., New Times Roman, italic.  Anyone in the business knows that comfortable reading is  10 pt. or higher.

This book gets a thumbs up from me for its content and usefulness.  Noah Lukeman may not have all the answers to keep your first novel from being rejected, but if you practice what he outlines in his book, your work will surely show promise.

The Sun Magazine needs your support

March 21, 2009 Leave a comment

I like the Sun Magazine.  Yesterday, I was saddened by the fact that The Sun Magazine needs donations to keep publishing.  While this comes as no surprise because the magazine is supported by subscriptions, donations and grants.  Sy Safransky, editor and publisher, produces a composite ofwho believed he could bring to the (Click on this link to familiarize yourself with the online content.)

Read Sy Safransky’s story and if the preservation of a magazine that is honest in its writing because it doesn’t have the pressure of advertisers, please donate what you can.  Thank you.

For Writers

February 14, 2009 Leave a comment

I really don’t know how I connected with this well designed and well written site for writers, but I am glad I did.

Camy Tang,, is a Christian romance writer, focusing on Asian American characters.   She describes her genre:

Nosy relatives, sibling rivalry, and parental angst are the same whatever your ethnic background, and I hope my stories give people a fun taste of Asian American culture.

Although I have not yet read her work, I have read her articles on writing.  If she writes anywhere near her understanding of the mechanics of novel writing, she will no doubt receive due recognition.

I encourage you to read her articles.  They are succinct and supported with great examples.  Her writing is easily digested and punctuated with humor. 

These articles serve not only the novice fiction writer, but the mid-list writer.  If you read Camy’s suggestions, and are able to dissect and analyze your own pieces with a modicum of objectivity, you might find the answer to pushing your writing efforts out of the midlist.

Marketing, perseverence, discipline and talent are the essentials to boost sales.  Read Camy Tang and let me know what you think.