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Review: Booklife

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st Century Writer Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st Century Writer by Jeff VanderMeer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
First, a shout-out to Greg, the owner of Between Books in Claymont, Delaware, who recommended this book. James VanderMeer takes a detailed, informative look at the practical realities of the modern writer. Many books have been written about the writing process, but VanderMeer writes from a business and marketing perspective, with hints on how to go from being someone who loves to write to someone whose works are published and read.

His instructions are inspirational and helpful, not just because of specific tips. He also provides a framework for how to think about what sort of writer you want to be, what kind of career you want, and how to achieve those goals.

In addition to the main book, there are a wealth of appendices picking up side topics. A piece I found especially interesting dealt with the despair of not living up to expectations. Not only are many writers solitary folks, but many of us are also perfectionists who place our expectations too high. This often leads to disappointment and disillusionment. A friend recently told me how proud I should be to have my work in books I can actually hold and show to people. Yet, I am not the success I feel I should be: I feel like I should be supporting myself with my writing, not through other work. Apparently, I am not alone in feeling frustrated, and VanderMeer’s book provides some good ideas about how to transition to the sort of career I want.

This book gets at the core of essential questions and concerns of the modern writer. It is not only a good resource now but will likely continue to prove useful.

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Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein.

Review: This is the Red Door

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

This Is The Red Door This Is The Red Door by James R. Whitley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
James R. Whitley combines richly-textured language with thoughtful introspection for a lyrical journey through heartbreak and loss into acceptance and healing. His poem “Chai Tea, Raw Sugar” once appeared in my magazine,, and it embodies the center section, about a troubled relationship. Ultimately, the poems progress into hymns of hope, as in these lines from the last stanza of “Cantata No. 21”: “And I’m thinking about the coming dawn and how, / despite the nagging hangover I’m sure to have, / that brilliance will flood every dim corner of / my room with its sweetness, like an auspicious / heralding, like a merciful golden revision.”

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