Book Review: The Art of Asking

Let’s start with the personal stuff. When someone asks me, Elise, for help, when they point to something I’m good at and ask if I’d be willing to donate my expertise toward launching their dreams, my answer is almost always YES. But... I’m not talking here about strangers offering to rip off my services in exchange for “experience." On the other hand, I honestly think it’s…

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My Dad’s Dragon

Cross a bridge of alligators and lollipops, braid the tangled hair of a ferocious lion, rescue a blue and gold baby dragon from cruel slavery...isn't this the stuff that a kid's dreams are made of?  Before I started reading books to myself, my dad was reading them out loud to me.  My Father's Dragon was a clear favorite from my childhood, but not just because the story was awesome…

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Learning from Your Own Writing

My best lessons and indicators for what I should improve or refine in my work are sitting right in front of me, plain as day, in my last creation. In my case, this means that directions for improving my writing can be found in the last piece of writing that I completed. I'm in the process of reading Art and Fear, a book that my author friend…

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Fear of New Things

In the art world, and in most places of life, change can come as fast as a tsunami wave--and my reaction to change may be compared to the terror of standing on the beach, watching the incoming wall of water, and wondering if I really am prepared for what's ahead of me. The analogy is imperfect.  A tsunami would likely have killed me.  The changes in my…

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Metaphors in Your Writing

Language works on many levels: literal, metaphorical, poetical.  As writers, we must beware of the breadth of its uses, and it behooves us to be comfortable with all of them.  A strict commercial writer (think freelance articles for magazines) would do well to understand nuances of poetry, for example. This kind of study only makes your writing stronger.  A poet should learn how to lay out a…

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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Review

*SPOILER ALERT!  PLOT AND KEY POINTS IN THIS REVIEW* Cross cultural, forbidden, young love, set against the painful backdrop of World War II and the Japanese internment camps. Henry's family proudly identified themselves as Chinese.  Keiko's family proudly identified themselves as Americans.  Keiko's English was flawless, learned from birth.  Henry still had trouble with many of his words.  They strike up a friendship because they're both…

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The Writer’s Journey: A Review

I have friends who don't want to their writing to be cookie-cutter, fill-in-the-blank stories, thus they hesitate to read books on story structure.   There are many more people who just want to write stories than there are people who want to study how to write stories.  Writing can be fun and exhilarating. A spurt of creativity and words pouring onto the page sometimes trigger a euphoric "high."  However it is an understanding of story structure…

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We Are All the Same: A Review of The Golden Theme

"We are all the same." This is the core principle of Brian McDonald's second book, The Golden Theme, and a fascinating exploration into why certain stories resonate with us as human beings. This book reads differently than his first book Invisible Ink, which at first surprised me.  Invisible Ink feels much like a teaching handbook with insightful exercises and examples.  The Golden Theme spoke on a literary level…

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The Four Agreements of Writing

Universal wisdom should apply universally, thus good advice should (most of the time) apply to good writing.  I stumbled upon this idea in a previous post as I considered the importance of keeping my word when I say I will do something.  Not only does the phrase "keeping my word" include "word" in its phrase and thus hint toward the occupation of weaving and crafting words, but it underlines…

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Hunger Games: A Review

I just finished Suzanne Collin's first book in the Hunger Games Trilogy.  It was a compelling, fast-paced read in an intriguing world with chilling rules and political complications that captivate the reader. I found our main character, sixteen-year-old Katniss, to be a strong-willed, tough and likeable character.  She is not without her weaknesses.  Soon after the story opens, her love for her little sister, Prim,  forces…

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