Writing

Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNoWriMo:  “An Idyllic Retreat, Smack-Dab in the Middle of Your Hectic Life”

Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation by Tom Bissell

Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation

Tom Bissell's Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creations represents the best of what an essay collection can offer: incisive observations about a wide range of intriguing topics, intelligent social commentary that refrains from didacticism, and a good sense of comedic timing. Bissell's essays are characterized by impressive eclecticism. He discusses established cultural figures like Ernest Hemingway, David Foster Wallace, and Werner Herzog, as well as less conventional subjects, such as Tommy Wiseau (the auteur responsible for the cult film The Room), the Underground Literary Alliance, and Jennifer Hale, “the Queen of Video-game Voice-over.” While these topics might seem incurably disparate, Bissell's interest in the process and consequences of creation provides a framework which links them together.

How Not to Write a Novel by Howard Mittlemark and Sandra Newman

How Not to Write a Novel by Howard Mittlemark and Sandra Newman

Have you ever wanted to become a writer and brave the strange and confusing world of trying to sell your work to the publishing industry? Do you feel you might need a refresher course in creating a marketable thriller or romance novel?  If you are curious about improving your writing technique to make your work more compelling, concise, or appealing to publishers, you may benefit from How Not to Write a Novel, a writing guide from Howard Mittlemark and Sandra Newman.  This guide is a compilation of examples of common writing mistakes that can make novels confusing, boring, or unappealing to read.  Humorous and well-organized, this book is both a great educational resource and a good comedic read.

Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Adam Rex

Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Adam Rex

Chloe and the Lion is not about a young girl facing off with a ferocious feline, no matter what the title says. Sure, Chloe's present, saving up her nickels and dimes to ride the merry-go-round. She does, in fact, spin around that ride so many times that she gets dizzy and lost in the nearby woods. It is at that very point that Chloe should meet a lion. Instead, a large, ferocious, winged, burgundy dragon steps out.

Writing a picture book is hard work. You must have a solid story, likable characters, and the right choice of words. What's more, this delicate balance can be completely thrown out of whack by a maverick illustrator who thinks that "a dragon would be cooler."

Listening to the Page: Adventures in Reading and Writing

By Alan Cheuse

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Not how to get the message on your beeper. Fiction writer, critic, and radio book commentator Cheuse collects 21 essays and an interview with him, most previously published, looking back at the thousands of books he has read, reviewed, and loved. He clearly distinguishes between ancient and modern literature, and among the contemporary literatures of various cultures.

Fiction writer and book commentator on "All Things Considered," Cheuse reviews some of the many books he has read over the year; looks at many of the authors of those works; and talks about what makes a good story and gives suggestions on how to write.

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Heroes in the Library

It’s one of life’s ironies that you don’t realize how much someone’s impacted your life until they’re gone. More specifically, you realize that you never told that person how much they meant. It isn’t until they pass that you think, “Oh! I wish I had said something!” You think about how that person shaped who you are, in major or even subtle ways, and sometimes realize that you wouldn’t be you if it weren’t for that person’s influence, guidance, or mere presence in your life.

R.I.P. William Safire: Lord of the Language Arts, 1929-2009

Mr. Safire had no college degree, yet he went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1978 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006. Already in his forties when he joined the NYT staff, Safire had previously worked as a U.S. Army correspondant, as a publicist, and as a radio & television producer. He also wrote speeches for Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew and was outraged to discover that Nixon's administration had been secretly taping his phone conversations.

J.K. Rowling: The Wizard Behind Harry Potter

By Marc Shapiro

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This quick biography of the author draws its insights into her creative process from popular magazine articles.

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Joys of Journal Writing

The long hot days of summer are coming, and with them there will be time for sports, time for camp, time to dream, and time to do. Time to start a diary or journal?

A journal can be written for only yourself, to write down the things that are important to you: lists of favorites (music, t.v., and movies), pictures of friends and family, and, of course, your innermost thoughts. Fun times deserve to be remembered, and sometimes writing about a bad situation can help you deal with it better as you think it through on paper. That kind of journal is personal, and you may not wish to share it with anyone.