Two thumbs up for A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life by George Saunders. Writing.
With the exception of two or three SFF authors, I don’t enjoy reading short stories, which means I don’t write them with any confidence, either. I am always suspicious that they are merely vignettes rather than stories.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for A Book of One’s Own: People and their Diaries by Thomas Mallon. Literary history.
It is a crying shame this book is out of print. After contemplating at length what to say about it, I will have to bow to the supremacy of Phyllis Rose’s review on the back: “This is more than a book about diaries; it’s a celebration of life and the many ways people have of savoring it.”… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson. Literary history.
The publisher Quirk Books’s jawdropping and funny reference to vintage horror novels, Paperbacks from Hell, was one of my favorite books of 2017. When I saw they were publishing a history of women horror writers I got very excited.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Daemon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling by Philip Pullman.
Pullman writes with such clarity of both thought and prose, he is simply a pleasure to read. As with any book of essays, inevitably, certain sections will strike each reader with greater importance. If you are a storyteller of any bent, or perhaps an armchair philosopher, you will find a gem or two of wisdom that speaks to you.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Reflections: On the Magic of Writing by Diana Wynne Jones. Nonfiction/writing.
The problem of a collection of essays and speeches by one person on a single topic is immediately obvious: the content becomes repetitive. The story of Diane Wynne Jones’s early childhood is now ingrained in my mind, because I’ve read it five or six times. But it’s unfortunate that that is what I now first think of when I think of Reflections, because the non-repetitive bits are filled with such wisdom and cleverness and humor.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron. Writing.
Good advice on writing more words, writing better words, and wasting less time doing it. Bullshit-free. My litmus test for a book on writing is: “Does this make me want to go buy the author’s novels”? And this passes with flying colors.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for 5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter by Chris Fox. Writing.
A short but useful little book about how to effectively use timed writing sprints to increase productivity.
Then I read a book by Brian Tracy called Eat That Frog. The strange title is a quote from Mark Twain. I’m paraphrasing here, but the basic idea is as follows.
… >> Read more
The Art of Language Invention: From Horse-Lords to Dark Elves, the Words Behind World-Building by David J. Peterson.
I know the author, so I can’t review this. That said, if you write fantasy or science fiction, please do all your readers a favor and get a copy before you name your main characters X’in’ia and John.
When I get an email from someone who’s eager to create their own language and wants to know where to begin, I have a tough time explaining what it is they should do.
… >> Read more