Each month, the Nonfiction Authors Association asks a burning publishing question of our wonderful, experienced members. Here’s what they have to say for June!
NFAA: What are some of your favorite books for writers?
JENIFER NOVAK LANDERS
I have a go-to resource and a top favorite book to keep me inspired and on track with my goals. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron has been on my shelf since 2000 and has supported my creativity every time I read it or do one of the many exercises in it. Writing flows when my creative energy is fed and nourished. This book keeps me on the path of doing just that. I love this book so much I am teaching classes on it. As writers, we are always in a process with ourselves. This book helps me recognize my own process, accept my ups and downs as opportunities to grow, and to embrace my unique contributions without letting my inner critic run my show. I would say it’s the ONE book most influential on my path as a creative.
Jenifer is a Life Coach, Artist, and Spiritual Teacher. She illustrates children’s books, teaches classes on creativity, and works with private clients who are high achievers balancing heart, purpose, and meaning. Her upcoming book, The Ultimate Guide to Your Spiritual Path: A Workbook for Practical People, will be released summer of 2020. She is also the author of Fully Expressed Living: 50 Perspectives from Stuck to Fulfilled. www.fullyexpressedpotential.com
At the top of my pick for memoir writers is Why We Write About Ourselves: Twenty Memoirists on Why They Expose Themselves (and Others) in the Name of Literature, ed. Meredith Maran. The Autobiographer’s Handbook: Ed. Jennifer Traig is also excellent, a collection of popular memoirist’s insights into the craft. The Situation and The Story, by Vivian Gornick, is heady and important, and so is Stephen King’s On Writing—an inspiration not to miss.
On the topic of getting published, joining the trusty standard Writer’s Market and also annually updated is literary agent Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents: Who They Are, What They Want, How to Win Them Over. Another of Herman’s books of note is Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why. A book for every self-publisher is attorney Helen Sedwick’s Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook. I’m a big fan, too, of Patricia O’Connor’s Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English. It’s so useful and entertaining you might want to open it over a cup of coffee in the morning before you head to the writing desk.
Suzanne Sherman is a writer, book coach, publishing consultant, memoir instructor, and editor with almost forty years in the publishing field. Her book Girlhood in America: Personal Stories 1910 – 2010 showcases 56 true stories about young girlhood across the U.S. and throughout a century (www.100yearsinthelife.com). Schedule a complimentary consultation with Suzanne at www.suzannesherman.com if you need help with a memoir or nonfiction book planned, in progress, or ready to publish.
Two of my favorite books is so limiting considering my shelves are overflowing, and I often find so much advice simply in reading well-written books. However, my favorite is from Poet William Stafford and is titled Writing the Australian Crawl. He teaches the writer to let go, as if swimming, and find the rhythm, among other things. I also find inspiration in Steering the Craft from Ursula K. LeGuin, who wrote beautifully in all genres. I think non-fiction writers have as much to learn from other genres as our own. Our own Stephanie Chandler has the best book for non-fiction writers I have found in The Nonfiction Book Publishing Plan. Sensible and helpful and answers every question as we approach the end of the writing process.
Therese’s latest book is The Gifts of Grief: Finding Light in the Darkness of Loss. She is a certified HeartMath Trainer, a grief counselor and, above all, a writer. Her next book is a novel, to be released in June, titled Caught Between Worlds: Tom, Mikhail and Alexander the Great, a book for all ages dedicated to the idea that all cultures have values that can interact and cooperate to make the world a better place. Therese is a mother and a grandmother, and lives with her writer/therapist/editor partner in Jacksonville, Florida.
There are three books that had a huge impact on my writing and my business as a non-fiction editor. Here they are:
- Storygrid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne Knowing how to tell a good story is the foundation of all good writing and especially critical when it comes to writing non-fiction books. I have been trained in this method by Shawn Coyne and is at the center of my approach to writing and co-writing non-fiction books. The method is comprehensive. One takeaway: The need to commit to a single “controlling idea” for the book, which dictates what goes in and more importantly, what gets left out. Bedrock.
- On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser. This book describes in detail what it really takes to write clearly and remove friction from your writing. Essential.
- Break Writer’s Block Now: How to Demolish it Forever and Establish a Productive Working Schedule in One Afternoon by Jerrold Mundis. Jerry coached me through writing my first novel years ago and my clients and I both continue to benefit from what he taught me. This approach works.
Helena Bouchez is a book strategist and co-writer who helps CEOs, entrepreneurs, and subject matter experts write non-fiction business books. She’s working on a book about the history of foods and beverages she grew up with in the Midwest and is researching one on early 20th-century mining life in central Illinois. Website: executivewords.com.
LINDA L. FRANKLIN
I recommend Wired for Story by Lisa Cron. This book’s long subtitle is The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence. Cron teaches us how our brains are wired to respond to a good story and how to write our story so it will activate different parts of the brain that process “the sights, sounds, tastes, and movement of real life” and engage our readers’ attention as if they were really living it. Many of my book’s readers told me they couldn’t put my book down, a comment I think all us writers would consider a sign of success!
Linda L. Franklin, Author of I’ll Always Carry You: A Mother’s Story of Adoption Loss, Grief, and Healing. In her true story, Linda opens her shameful secret from 1964, and unearths the grief and joy of discovering her missing son and granddaughters she’d never imagined. www.lindalfranklin.com.
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