Monday, June 09, 2008

How-to Writing Books: This one tops the lot

ELizabeth Lyon's new book Manuscript Makeover: Revision techniques no fiction writer can afford to ignore is probably one of the MOST useful AND readable how-to writing books in my seven-shelf writing book collection.

I've read many writing books in my time, and recommended quite a few to my students. This one tops them all.

Not only is it an invaluable resource for anyone who understands that all good writing is in the revision, but it's an immensely readable book in itself.

Elizabeth Lyon offers a wide variety of examples. She sets out practical strategies in a functional format for anyone who might want to read the book through to the end from page one, or to pick it up to help with specific elements of craft.

And it's written in an inclusive, encouraging style that makes the idea of publication not only possible, but likely for anyone who takes its advice to heart.

This is a purely subjective review of this book, despite the fact that EL is a very dear friend, and a wonderful instructor. If you ever have the chance to catch her presentations at the Surrey International Writers' Conference or elsewhere, you'll find them informative and lively, offering useful tips and practical tools to take home and use to help refine your craft.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Fairhaven - a bookophile's paradise

Needing a day out yesterday, DB and I headed down to Fairhaven, just south of Bellingham. It was too rainy to take our bikes out, or we'd have been biking around Vancouver's waterfront.

Village Books has had a refit since we were there last - seems the entire block has been knocked through to make a warren of connected shops. Which means the lovely central staircase that used to be smack dab in the middle of the store has been replaced by a sleeker one. But the old staircase is still there, leading to somewhere I did not need to go (a pub? a bar? - I didn't get very far before I turned back.)

But they carry a wonderful variety of books, and are very active in promoting local literary activities, etc. And it's fun just finding your way around the new configuration, esp. if you end up in the little fair trade store where I bought a trivet made in the Philippines out of recycled paper.

VB has carried both new and used books for a while - now they interfile them, so it may be possible to buy a cheaper copy of the newer title you've been looking for very (too) easily. Don't know what authors might think of that.

But I love used bookstores almost more than new ones, so we went searching for Eclipse, which used to be round the corner and down the street a block. But is now along the street on the same side (I think - I got turned around). And is twice as big with twice as many piles of books all over the floor. (Their bookmark tells me it's at 1104-11 Street.)

Perhaps hard to find exactly what you may be looking for - but still full of a whole variety of books, in a nice setting, managed/owned by a guy who sure knows his stuff.

My great discovery this time, besides a copy of Dorothea Brande's Becoming a Writer and John Rowe Townsend's Written for Children - both of which I will give away as door prizes in my classes - was The Writer's Guide to Character Traits by Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D. The cover says it 'includes profiles of human behaviours and personality types'. A quick flip through reveals that it is very comprehensive. If it does not help me create richer characters, it may help me make some sense of the people I see around me every day, behaving in all manner of wild and wonderful ways!
My copy, in perfect condition with a nice transparent dust jacket, cost a mere $10. US that is. Which makes it $?? Can.

We strolled around the farmer's market just behind V Books (open at 12 every Wed.) and then headed up the hill to check out an art studio/store that has been there for more than 20 years. As usual we found something we could not resist. This time a graphite object in the form of a heron's head that can be used as a drawing instrument. Just perfect for Uncle J who loves birds, and drawing, and has everything - because there's nothing he needs or wants.

It was a breeze gong south over the border, and even breezier coming back early afternoon (only one car ahead of us.) But I can imagine that with all the border construction going on (for 2010, I guess) it will be a madhouse in the summer.