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review 2016-11-24 09:13
Book Review: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life - Anne Lamott

Warm, wonderful and witty advice on writing. There were times when the humour was too obviously contrived, but as Lamott explains, humour was her defence mechanism in childhood. On the whole a book every writer should read for its honest look at the writing profession. Even as an experienced author, the emptiness of the blank page had almost overwhelmed me - after reading Bird by Bird I'm fired up with enthusiam again.

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text 2016-11-14 01:02
Wit and sass . . .
Missing Persons: A Writer's Guide to Finding the Lost, the Abducted and the Escaped - Fay Faron

Do you like your writer's reference books to be written by someone with wit and sass? Bonus points for having Oprah's imprimatur? Then Fay Faron is your woman. 


A fun book about a subject I never knew I needed to know about. Fun BECAUSE of the writing style.



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text 2016-11-11 23:57
Why I read it . . .
Deadly Doses: A Writer's Guide to Poisons - Anne Klarner,Serita Stevens
Atonement - Ian McEwan

There's always a reason to read a book. Sometimes, it just takes a while for that reason to emerge. A friend loaned me several reference books for writers. Because they are all geared toward genre fiction, I wasn't entirely sure how useful they'd be to my knowledge bank.


But on page 65 of "Daily Doses," a book covering poisons of all sorts (no, this isn't going where you think it is), I came across an entry for Bryony, a common, climbing plant of the British Isles with poisonous roots and berries. Never heard of it before. 


But Bryony. That's a homophone for Briony, the lynchpin character in one of my favorite novels, Ian McEwan's "Atonement." Her lie poisons the family unit. And learning that her name is that of a poisonous plant, I now have another layer of subtext and meaning for this book I dearly love. So thanks, "Deadly Doses." 


(If I have one quibble with the book, though, it's that the book designer didn't do a great job. One entry runs directly into another without so much as a blank line for white space. Not especially reader-friendly, and too bad because the book is chock-full of valuable information, if this is your bag.)



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review 2016-10-25 00:20
A Lowcountry Heart
A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life - Pat Conroy
Reflections on a Writing Life  
ISBN:  9780385530866
Publisher: Doubleday
A Memoir 
Publication Date: 10/25/2016 
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 4 Stars
A special thank you to Doubleday and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life, a collection of non-fiction writings by the beloved Southern author, we all loved, Pat Conroy, as well as special remembrances from his friends.

Throughout A LOWCOUNTRY HEART, the indisputable power of Conroy’s work resonates, and his influence promises to endure. A sharing of stories. A moving tribute and a cherished keepsake for Conroy fans. To one of the best-loved writers of contemporary American letters.

“A man who loved the written work beyond all measure, and who believed that each of us has at least one great story to tell.”

From Conroy’s famous “hey, out there,” his first letter ever written for his website, his hated word “blog”, his special friends, and his love of the LowCountry—Charleston. From his special journals, letters, interviews, and essays, to his oldest friend, Bernie Schein's farewell letter to the beautiful introduction and acknowledgments by his beloved wife and writer, Cassandra King Conroy. Even includes a Conversation with Pat Conroy, from Beaufort Lifestyles, Oct 2015.

A touching collection of moments and treasures from the man we all admired. From an intimate letter to his grandson about sportsmanship and basketball, Citadel, Andie MacDowell, Beaufort, his books, his writing life, teachers, Vietnam, Charlie Gibson of Good Morning America, Paris Days, A Eulogy for a Southern Gentleman, South of Broad, Penn Center, one of the first schools for freed slaves, (his final resting place-Memorial Garden), birthdays, travels, teachers, his first book, sermons and speeches, plus many more special tidbits from an extraordinary man.

Each fan will have special fond memories of different segments of the memoir. I particularly enjoyed how he metCassandra King , later in life, where they found in their fifties and sixties, a time of joy, productivity, and contentment. Their shared love of books, writing, and life. Their first meeting at a writer’s conference in Birmingham, Alabama. She fell upon his spell. Their twenty years together. People were Starstruck by him and his presence.

“Pat could make the deaf hear and the mute speak. Sweeping you up in a conversation with those intense blue eyes focused like lasers on you and you alone, he had the ability to ferret out your secret self that had been undercover for a lifetime. “

From his musings, critiques, observations, and meditations, his journals, and stories. How a hearing a good story filled him with great excitement. His love of book signings. Stories were a way Pat connected with readers.

It was amusing to read about his resisting modern technology, emails, blogs, tweets, and twitters. However, most of the works in this collection come from the "blog" he began to write when he was between books; when his health began to fail since he was limited to travel.

These were called blog posts or letters. He never learned to type. It was the way he collected the stories he would turn into the books his readers yearned for. He would take your story and make it large and glorious and unforgettable.

From his great love of books, his first, plus some of his favorite authors and friends, John Grisham, John Irving, Richard Russo, Anne Rivers Siddons, Ron Rash, Fannie Flagg, and more– books that inspired him, and his family.

Being a native Carolinian, enjoyed revisiting special places like the Highlands, NC, Charleston and Beaufort, SC, among others. Pat was a great man, a talented author, possessing a rare gift, which is missed tremendously.

A beautiful collection, a treasure, and tribute to his work and his life. His love of the South, food, friends, family, and mostly words and stories. "Our own prince of tides."
Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/07/01/A-LowCountry-Heart
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review 2016-09-25 20:26
Stephen King On Writing - A Memoir of the Craft
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft - Stephen King

I got to know Stephen King on a personal level by reading this short novel. I learned how he made his first buck and I felt like we connected even though we never really personally met. I never expected to get this much out of this small novel and never did I expect to even find this novel to be something that I would recommend to anyone else.   The title of this novel is what turned me off. I am not a writer. I like to express my thoughts about the books that I read but I don’t put myself into the category of a writer so when my daughter-in-law suggested that I read this novel, I was hesitate. So much so, I have shelved the novel for many months. Crazy me! This novel was fantastic, this novel had energy and I can now see why she loves it so. My daughter-in-law adores a novel written by one of the kings of horror yet she hates horror, it’s amazing! As a high school literacy teacher, I can see why she adores it. Inside this novel, Stephen begins by addressing his childhood and you begin to see how his upbringing shapes the stories that he writes later in life. As a teen, he liked the things that excite me: horror movies, movies with teenagers on the prowl and science fiction movies. Reading about his teenage years, you can see his novels beginning to take shape.   He talks about his marriage, how it works for them and how they survived the rough years. No, this book is not all about the writing process yet it is about writing as he talks about how an individual’s life and their journey will shape their writing and this book will show you that everyone has a story to tell. There is a story within you Stephen believes, a story just needs to be pulled together and you, the writer needs to find it and put it all together, the way you see fit. I was excited as I read this novel; I was seeing it all come together as Stephen laid out his own journey/story for us.


I don’t agree with everything that he writes inside this novel but he made me think about a lot of things. I love what he says about fear. He believes that fear makes people write badly. I have to agree with him. Fear of rejection, fear of confrontation, fear of unknowns and fear of uncertainty are things that make people not write as good as they could. He also writes about word choice and how people choose their words. Are you an individual who writes down the first word that pops into their head or do you think about what word to use? I won’t tell you what Stephen thinks but he has some thoughts on the subject. This novel is funny at times; his stories really had me going which I did not expect at all. He is real in this novel and I appreciated his honesty and now I feel a connection to the stories that he wrote and I know that they came from his heart. The second half of the novel he writes more about how to write. He talks more about the writing process. Not being a writer, I didn’t find this section boring. I found what he wrote fascinating and energizing, he gives the reader interesting ideas to think about. Providing excellent examples, you understand exactly what he means, he’s doesn’t preach to you and tell what to do, Stephen makes you think and he offers suggestions. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel as he gives the reader an excellent perspective on his writing and he offers suggestions and ideas hoping to ignite the writer that is within all of us. I, myself liked looking at his novels through his eyes.

“Writing is seduction,” you should write so that the reader feels as if they are not reading at all.

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