Craft Book Review: Write Your Book In A Flash by Dan Janal

Cover to Write Your Book In A Flash by Dan JanalWrite Your Book In A Flash by Dan Janal published by TCK Publishing is intended to guide professionals through writing a business-oriented non-fiction book, but has many useful tips for fiction writers as well. I recommend this book for everyone who is thinking about writing a book.

Why I picked it up:
I received an email from Maria Inot of TCK Publishing asking if I would be interested in giving an honest review in exchange for a free copy. She said she liked the review I did for How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method (Advanced Fiction Writing) (Volume 1) by Randy Ingermanson.  I’m always interested in books about writing, so I agreed.

My Expectations:
I didn’t know what to expect, but I hoped it would have information that would apply to fiction writing as well as non-fiction writing and provide me with new, actionable information. I was not disappointed.

Intended Audience:
Executives, consultants and entrepreneurs looking to broaden their audience and improve their marketing. He also gears it toward “thought leaders”, as in anyone who has an idea that they want to show or share with others.

What I liked:
I liked a lot of things about the book. First, was Mr. Janal’s voice. He came across as a self-help coach/salesman from the first page. It was the voice of someone who knew you came to him for something in particular and he couldn’t wait to help you find exactly what you wanted.

The structure of the book was (mostly) in a clear building order, so by following his example, you would have a finished product by the end. I liked how he created interactivity by providing free, downloadable worksheets to work along with each chapter and useful links to tools and examples.

I also enjoyed the meta aspect of using how he created this book as examples for how to created a book. Even the parts that were very specific to non-fiction, I found inspiring for ideas for this site, or other aspects of my writing.

What I didn’t like:
I didn’t think the Paint-by-Numbers system was anything more than creating a good outline, which in itself is a great thing to learn, so the metaphor may not have been necessary. In chapter fifteen Mr. Janal uses a different metaphor of bones, muscle and skin which made me think of the writer as Dr. Frankenstein building his monster. That definitely appeals to me more than a paint-by-numbers kit (could just be me).

I felt like a lot of the research section should have come much earlier. One should research the competition before choosing a title, for instance, and using reviews to find out what readers think is missing would be important to know, before writing your outline. Since this book and its worksheets are set up as a step-by-step how-to, I was surprised to find this useful, insightful information so out of place, in my opinion.

There were a couple things I thought could have been changed to make the book appeal to a wider audience. I thought using the story of Papa John’s could have been replaced with a different example and I wouldn’t have said “don’t be a pantser” as many writers identify as such. The explanation as to why was well explained, but finding a way to include pantsers would be more inclusive.

Rating: ♦♦♦♦ 4 out of 5

Overall, I found Mr. Janal knowledgeable and his technique clear and straightforward. I liked that he made the book interactive with downloadable worksheets and useful links. I thought the chapters on outlining could probably have been one chapter or needed more information, especially since his whole metaphor of a paint-by-numbers painting had to do with outlining. However, I really liked this book. I have already explored some of the tips and filled out the worksheets. It is full of useful information. I am going to keep this one on my bookshelf. I recommend it to all writers, bloggers, and people trying to reach a larger audience.

Happy Reading and Writing!

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Poetry and The Fiction Writer

Pictures of books I recently read as a poetry study

Discovering The Art Of series and further study

The collection of books pictured above was inspired by discovering The Art of series at my local library. The Art of discusses different aspects of writing with examples from a great variety of texts. I wanted to learn more about the authors who wrote the series, so I picked up their poetry and essays as well. I’m glad I did. This group of books :intelligent discussion, imparted wisdom and beautiful poetry.

But I’m a fiction writer, why spend time with poetry and poets?

Words are a writer’s tools and poets have to use words in the most efficient manner for maximum emotional effect.

Ellen Bryant Voigt

The Art of Syntax: Rhythm of Thought, Rhythm of Song

Rhythm is what makes Ms. Voigt’s poems so amazing. Her contribution to The Art Of series is my favorite of the bunch. I learned some interesting vocabulary specific to the rhythm of words:

enjambment – the running on of the thought from one line, couplet, or stanza to the next without a syntactical break.

trochee – a foot of two syllables, a long followed by a short in quantitative meter, or a stressed followed by an unstressed in accentual meter.

caesura –

1. Prosody. a break, especially a sense pause, usually near the middle of a verse, and marked in scansion by a double vertical line, as in know then thyself presume not God to scan.
2. Classical Prosody. a division made by the ending of a word within a foot, or sometimes at the end of a foot, especially in certain recognized places near the middle of a verse.
3. any break, pause, or interruption.

fricative

palimpsest – a parchment or the like from which writing has been partially or completely erased to make room for another text.

Headwaters: Poems

I loved these poems. Though completely lacking in punctuation, the message is never lost and the rhythm is clear. Her word choice is beautiful. These poems felt like a magical discovery.

Mark Doty

The Art of Description: World into Word

I enjoyed the idea of “the sensorium”–finding the places of sensory overlap and allowing the senses their complexly interactive life.

I also noted that I should read :

Middlemarch by George Eliot and
Resurrection Update: Collected Poems, 1975-1997 by James Galvin

Deep Lane: Poems

These poems take you on walks with the dog and inspections of the garden. They take you there through lovely description and word choice.

Charles Baxter

Charles Baxter is the editor of The Art of series.

The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot

Full of examples of how subtext is used in fiction.

Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction

Mr. Baxter’s essays get into his thought process. They let the reader into the flow of a writer mind.

Here I also learned a new word: Pusillanimous – lacking courage and resolution

Brenda Ueland

If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

It felt like serendipity when Charles Baxter started talking about Brenda Ueland’s book because I already had it on my bookshelf. It’s a great book for those times you need a cheerleader, which, as writers, we often do.

I just opened to a random page and found this bit of fun:

Now Blake thought that this creative power should be kept alive in all people for all of their lives. And so do I. Why? Because it is life itself. It is the Spirit. In fact it is the only important thing about us. The rest of us is legs and stomach, materialistic cravings and fears.   –Brenda Ueland

Excited to fill up on some poetry?

Here are some links to poetry sites I enjoy, so you can get your fill while you wait for the books you just ordered from Amazon to arrive  🙂

Poetry Foundation

Poets and Writers

Eunoia Review

Tweetspeak Poetry

Are You Thrilled

Joy Write

Happy Reading and Writing

Don’t be pusillanimous. Get out there and explore!

Who is your favorite poet?

What is your favorite poetry book?

What is your favorite poetry website?