Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

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.

Sy Safransky

January 25, 2009 1 comment

If you don’t know who Sy Safransky is, don’t feel bad. I didn’t either until a few months ago. As a gift, my husband, always encouraging me to find my path, bought me a subscription to a literary magazine called The Sun.

Sy Safransky is the editor and publisher. Although I am not familiar with the details about how The Sun came to be, I understand that Safransky’s vision was to publish a magazine that mirrors our concerns of the present, without advertising I might add. As a magazine, it is a work of art.

The content is creative, inspirational, and sometimes raw with emotion. Some contributors make you chuckle, as they tell the story of what they hold as truth. Some pull at our heartstrings because injustice runs rampant. And some are just great stories. All are well written and teases the intellectual in all of us. Whether it is fiction or non-fiction, we walk away touched by the thought that life represents both black and white elements.

We recognize the human element as reflections of our own lives. The overarching pain and joy resonates in all of us and therefore makes each of these entries powerful.

One can’t help but notice how poignant the black and white photographs are. Each reveals a story, a hidden truth that we must ferret out. The discovery is refreshing and is a tonic for the soul.

NaNo: A Waste of Time and Energy?

December 1, 2008 Leave a comment

Every November hundreds of writers pump out 50,000 words in their computer.  They participate in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNo).  Obviously, participants think this is a great idea.  However, if you examine this more closely, the program is very limiting in its return on investment.

It reminds me of the young student who failed his spelling test.  He was only able to answer one correctly out of ten; yet, his teacher and his parents praise him for the one word he spelled correctly –all in the name of giving the young student self-esteem.

It seems to me that the enabling teacher/parents only prolonged the inevitable.  In fact, they may have robbed him of the very self-esteem they were trying to promote.  Kids are not stupid.  They know that if they missed 9 out of 10 words that that was not good.   They sense that the praise they received from teacher and parents rang hollow.  How does this feeling of false compliments and encouragement bolster self-esteem?

Participation in NaNo is no different.  NaNo applauds the person who generates 50,000 words of mostly ill conceived thoughts and poor use of grammar.  At the end of November the program acknowledges the participating person by sending a certificate of completion.  The participant prints it out and the display is a symbol of his/her achievement.

However, the writer has to know that the novel is most likely not publishable.  Flawed with plot inconsistencies, character development issues, and pacing problems, this rough novel draft is just that…raw notes.  Spending hours cranking out 50,000 words to earn only a self generated certificate of achievement seems pretty meager for the time and energy spent.   What if the writer invested some pre-planning time?  Might that give the writer a greater sense of accomplishment and give a real boost to self-esteem? 

I’m all for freewriting.  It kind of releases the creative juices.  This is only an exercise. Call me crazy, but the end reward as the program is currently set up does not offset the things you had to sacrifice to write 50,000 words in the space of a month.

If you happen to participate in NaNo. good job in executing self-discipline.  Now what are you going to do with your 50,000 words? 

Fun with Faces

September 29, 2008 Leave a comment

Creative, but can’t draw?  Technology has certainly made those who have trouble replicating real life into an artform. is a fun website to visit.  If you have some photos of faces on your computer, you can upload them and dabble with all the tools to give the subject a new look. 

You can add features, change shape, coloring, age, or even blend two portraits.

Their is also a portrait analysis based on the points on your face.  If you are brave enough, you can subject yourself to the computer’s attractiveness scale to see if you are considered one of the beautiful people. (Don’t take too much stock in this.)  However, there is a commentary on the portrait’s personality that you might find interesting.  I found it to have strong threads of truth, but then there were threads that were a bit off.  You be the judge.

Anyway, have fun giving yourself a makeover…or venting the frustrations of work by giving your boss a new look (it is convenient that there are a selection of scars from which to choose.  Try not to be too cruel. LOL)

You get to email it to the person as well.  I just spent about an hour messing with the site, but it has definite creative outlet possibilities.

How does this link to writing?  Create the faces of the characters in your novel.  Really get to know them.


 A Networkers' Goldmine

September 4, 2008 Leave a comment

Are you a writer that seeks the company of other writers?  Can’t find a group nearby?

I came across a great site for people who want to connect with others with similar interests.  Try  Although I have not joined it yet (my cup runneth over), I did surf through the site and read comments.  Since it is a self-directed site, you can be in control.  You either join an existing club or form your own.  You can search by topic or geography. 

Group members often leave their comments about the group.  It seems whether you are there to make new friends in the area or joined to talk about a specific topic, almost all the comments were a strong endorsement. 

Here’s a review from Bryan-Carey on

So if you are interested in spreading your wings, try something different.  Wouldn’t this make a great venue for a mystery novel?