24 Oct

Short and Sweet Writing Advice – Writing to the Point by Algis Budrys Review

Writing to the Point by Algis Budrys - Review

Writing to the Point by Algis Budrys - ReviewSometimes you read a book at exactly the right time to change your world. Algis Budrys’ “Writing to the Point: A Complete Guide to Selling Fiction” was one of those books for me.

Writing to the Point is a short (152 airy pages) yet deep (spanning everything from “Chapter 1: The Basic Basics” to dealing with agents and who to format a manuscript) writing advice book. It took me slightly less than an hour-and-a-half to read, and I haven’t come away from a writing how-to book this turbo-charged in a long, long time. Read More

11 Apr

What Type of Writer are You? – Stages of a Fiction Writer review

Stages of a Fiction Writer

Stages of a Fiction WriterSo I’m a stage 2 writer. Or maybe early stage 3. I don’t know. And until I read Dean Wesley Smith’s “Stages of a Fiction Writer”, I had no idea what any of that meant.

Stages of a Fiction Writer is a short book. Very short. It doesn’t have very much concrete content. And yet it’s eminently readable. I should know, I’ve read it twice now. Read More

28 Dec

How To Write and Make Money – Leah Cutter’s The Beginning Professional Writer

Make Writing your Business - Leah Cutter quote

Make Writing your Business - Leah Cutter quoteI finished Leah Cutter‘s The Beginning Professional Writer in one sitting, even though she explicitly wrote not to.

OK, it’s a short book. It’s got a bowl of letter cereal on the cover. It looks like it’s been designed as a junior student essay.

It’s also the most eminently quotable, fact packed book I’ve read in a long time. And I do mean that as a compliment because it is easy to read, too. And it will tell you everything you need to know as a beginning professional writer. Read More

02 Oct

How to Write a Novel without an Outline – Writing into the Dark by Dean Wesley Smith review

Feeling of reading, Dean Wesley Smith quote

Feeling of reading, Dean Wesley Smith quoteI’m a pantser, the type of writer who loves to go off unprepared and discover the story as I write it. Every single work on the technical side of writing I’ve read up to this point has, more or less explicitly, spoken of outlines. Made me feel like an idiot for not being able to use one.

Along comes “Writing into the Dark: How to Write a Novel without an Outline” and it’s all about pantsing, or writing into the dark as Dean Wesley Smith calls it. Reading it was like being six years old and finding the secret hiding place of the cookie jar. Read More

31 Aug

An Overview of the Craft: The Novel Writer’s Toolkit by Bob Mayer, Review

Boost of Motivation, Novel Writer's Toolkit review Quote

Boost of Motivation, Novel Writer's Toolkit review QuoteSometimes you get handed a book that you wouldn’t have bought in a million years and it turns out to contain grains of pure gold. Bob Mayer’s “The Novel Writer’s Toolkit” was one of those for me.

Overview

Bob Mayer is a rather accomplished writer, both in terms of books published (over 60) and money earned (unknown but from what he says “good”). He knows what he’s talking about and he isn’t shy about using himself as an example.

In The Novel Writer’s Toolkit (TNWT) Mayer presents 9 tools (read themes) dealing with everything a writer needs to know, from personal insights (common traits of successful writers, knowing why you write, etc.) to more commonplace advice on plot, theme, character creation and similar.

In some areas The Novel Writer’s Toolkit shines when compared to regular writer’s books, such as the focus on selling and making a career and the key to defining your kernel idea (writing to a premise sentence), which makes the book stand out from the pack. Read More

24 Aug

The Guide to a Professional Writing Career – Douglas Smith’s “Playing the Short Game” Review

Write and submit, rinse and repeat, Douglas Smith quote

Write and submit, rinse and repeat, Douglas Smith quote I can’t tell you what you should write. That’s entirely up to you. But if you are the least bit interested in having a career as a fiction writer then I can tell you what to read: Douglas Smith’s “Playing the Short Game: How to Market & Sell Short Fiction”. From now on this is my go-to book for all things related to starting and maintaining my fiction writing career. Read More

19 Jun

How To Get Your Kids To Play Games – Castle Panic Review

Castle Panic review quote

Castle Panic review quoteI’ve been trying to include my children in my hobby (a fancy way of saying “I’m going to addict the little suckers so I have someone to play with when I’m in the retirement home”). They’re three and five years old and I’ve had various successes with introducing them to games. However, I recently found a game that worked perfectly.

That game was Castle Panic, a co-op with strong alpha player tendencies where you defend your castle from hordes of advancing monsters. Once could call it an extremely simple tower defense game, albeit it doesn’t live up to the tower defense requirements (for me). My kids, however, love it.

I’ve tried other games previously: Memory, Tempo Kleine Fishe, Connect Four, a couple of my own design but they always failed my criteria for a good children’s game as my kids either didn’t like them, liked them but couldn’t play them or could play them but got into fights over them. Read More

10 May

Fight Mediocrity Review: Classic Business Books – in 10 Minutes Flat

Fight Mediocrity logo

Fight Mediocrity logoI’m a fan of business and self-help books. I like the idea of developing myself, of becoming better at what I do, of working more efficiently, knowing more, being happier.

Trouble is, I don’t have the time to read that I would like to have. I snatch minutes here, minutes there (and no, I don’t watch TV). But recently I stumbled across a great YouTube channel: Fight Mediocrity.

This guy is the animaniacs meets Cliff Notes of business and personal development book reviews. He takes an entire book and reduces it to the core concepts – complete with personal stories and explanations thrown in. So now I can speed-read (ok, watch) the classics in 10 minutes flat.

Yeah, you don’t get all the nifty tales and examples from the books. On the other hand you don’t need to spend hours upon hour reading. And his analyses are pretty spot on. I feel that I do get what the books are about from the short overviews and if I want more I can always get the book in question.

To sum it up: it’s fun, it’s accessible and it’s educational. One of those rare moments when what is good for you is also tasty. Go watch.

Here’s a sample:

Linky: Fight Mediocrity YouTube channel

09 May

Ticket to Ride – How Elegance and Simplicity Means More Sales – A Game Designer Review

Ticket to Ride box cover

Ticket to Ride box coverI love the elegance of Ticket to Ride.

Yes, it’s got a beautiful map and nice components to support its theme of building train routes across the USA (I believe that Ticket to Ride calls it collecting tickets for travel) but beneath it’s a great application of the push-your-luck mechanism. Read More

29 Apr

Stonemeier Kickstarter Lessons – The Must Read For KS Advice – Review

Kickstarter badge

Stonemaier Games logoI’ve never launched a Kickstarter campaign in my life. I can’t even begin to know what you’d need to do to in order to launch a successful Kickstarter campaign.

But Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games does. He and Alan Stone have launched several very successful campaigns, funding Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia AmazonViticulture Amazon and other projects via Kickstarter.

Not only that. Jamey, true to his own lessons, shares his experiences through a series of blog posts ranging from how to build a brand (tip: don’t try to sell, help others, and keep sharing) to the intricacies of shipping and fulfillment. Read More