Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Baby Name Survey Book

Welcome to Day Three of my Back from Hiatus Contest. Today's favorite non-fiction book isn't actually a writing book, but it's one of my favorite writing resources. I did a post about this book in the past, but since we're talking favorite non-fiction books, I thought it was worth another mention. Today's book is:

The Baby Name Survey Book

Author: Bruce Lansky, writer of poetry and songbooks. Lansky co-authored The Baby Name Survey Book: What People Think About Your Baby's Name (this is the older version of the book and the one that I own) with Bruce Sinrod. He collaborated with Megan McGinnis on a new edition, The New Baby Name Survey Book: How to Pick a Name That Makes a Favorable Impression for Your Child. price: $9.95

Why I Like It: This book goes beyond meanings and origins found in typical baby name books. The authors surveyed over 100,000 parents to find out what associations people have with certain names. For example, Susan is Hebrew, means "lily", and "is described as an average woman who is wholesome, pleasant, and down-to-earth. Some people, though, think Susan is whiny and fussy." Ouch!

My Favorite Section: The front of the book lists categories (i.e. confident, friendly, wimp) and names that are perceived as fitting that image. For example, do you have a male character who is artistic? Try Axel, Luis, or Vincent. A female character who is well-educated? Try Amy, Cassie, Hillary, or Monica.

Note: The version of the book I have was pubished in 1997 and is somewhat outdated. The newer version of the book was published in 2007. I'm not sure how different the two books are.

Don't forget to enter my Back from Hiatus Contest by commenting on this original post.

Have a great weekend, Everyone!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The First Five Pages

Welcome to Day Two of my Back From Hiatus Contest. Today's favorite non-fiction book is:

The First Five Pages.

Author: Noah Lukeman, literary agent whose clients include Pulitzer Prize nominees, New York Times bestselling authors, Pushcart Prize recipients and American Book Award winners. Price: $10.04

Why I Like It: I've been reading how-to writing books for many years now. I've read so many that it's hard to find one that tells me something new. This book did. I decided soon after I started reading it to highlight sections of the really important stuff. Flipping through it now, it's hard to find a page without highlights. It's that full of good stuff.

Each section starts off with a thorough discussion of the topic, then includes Solutions to common problems, then Examples, and then End-of-Chapter Exercises. It's hard not to understand his instruction after seeing it shown so many different ways.

From the back cover, here's a list of some of the problems Lukeman covers:
A weak opening hook
Overuse of adjectives and adverbs
Flat or forced metaphors or similes
Melodramatic, commonplace or confusing dialogue
Undeveloped characterizations and lifeless settings
Uneven pacing and lack of progression.

This book isn't just for novices. Even experienced authors can benefit from Lukeman's advice on staying out of the rejection pile. I don't know about you, but staying out of the rejection pile sounds pretty good to me. :)

Don't forget to enter my Back from Hiatus Contest by commenting on this original post.

Happy Wednesday, Everyone!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy

Welcome to Day 1 of my Back from Hiatus Contest. I'm going to save my top two favorite books for last, the other three are in random order. So today's favorite non-fiction writing book is:

How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy.

Author: Orson Scott Card, Hugo and Nebula award-winning author of Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, etc. price: $10.19

My favorite section:
In Chapter 4, Writing Well, the first section covers Exposition, which Card describes as "the orderly revelation of necessary information to the reader." Exposition is especially tricky in sci fi and fantasy, since the reader needs to learn the rules of the story world as well as the story background. Card uses Octavia Butler's novel Wild Seed as an example, breaking the first few paragraphs down in a way that really shows how to convery information to the reader without stopping the story to give lengthy explanations. I'd say this section alone is worth the price of the book, though the entire book is amazing. The section on Making Rules for Your World is also a must-read.

Don't forget to enter my Back from Hiatus Contest by commenting on the original contest post.

Happy Monday, Everyone!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Back From Hiatus Contest

I missed you all so much while I was on my hiatus that I decided to throw a contest when I got back. So here are the specs (sorry, that's the engineer in me coming out):

Start Date: Today - Friday, October 22
End Date: midnight, Sunday November 7
Prizes: Your choice of one of my favorite non-fiction books on writing that I'll be highlighting over my next five posts. You'll just have to wait and see which books they are, but I promise you - they're all awesome! For any non-writers, you can choose a $15 Amazon gift card instead of a book.
Who's Eligible: Any of my Fantastic Friends (new or existing followers), inside the U.S. or out

How to Earn Points: (1 point each)
Be a follower of my blog - new or existing (required)
Leave a comment on THIS post telling me how many points you have and your email address (required)
Be my Facebook friend - new or existing - see sidebar for my Facebook link
Be my Networked Blogs follower - new or existing - see sidebar for my Networked Blogs link
Mention my contest in a blog post
Mention my contest on your sidebar
Facebook post about my contest
Tweet about my contest

That's it - easy as pie! Everything's worth one point, so just count up how many you've done and put it in your comment. On November 8, I'll announce the three winners, email asking which book they prefer, and order the books from Amazon to be delivered directly to the winners.

I really did miss you guys while I was away - thanks for being such a wonderful community of bloggers!

What's your favorite non-fiction writing book?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Birthday Boy and Using Cushion Monies to Change the World

By now many of you already know Lenny Lee, the little blogger with a huge heart. Lenny's turning eleven today. I hope you'll pop over to Lenny's World and wish him a happy birthday, like I'm going to do right now:

Happy birthday, Lenny! I hope your day is as awesome as you!

You've probably also heard that our fellow blogger Candace Ganger at The Misadventures of Candyland is working hard to change the lives of women, children, and families in Ghana, Africa. She's supporting Joy2theWorld in their efforts to empower African businesswomen. Her goal is to reach donations of just $355 - a reasonable goal to be sure if we all join together and help her out. $1 is all it takes! We have a great blogging community here, and we can make a difference in the world! You can read all about Candace's latest efforts here. I hope you'll stop by for a visit!

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

Sunday, October 17, 2010


So, my break went on much longer than I intended. I didn't finish my current revision of Killing Kessler, but I did make some good progress. And I missed you all too much to stay away any longer, so here I am! I can't wait to catch up on your blogs and find out what's been going on while I've been away.

Here's what I've been up to:

First of all, I loved Mockingjay! I know this is old news, so I won't say too much, but I had high expectations and was not disappointed.

I won a Big Box of Paranormal on Medeia Sharif's blog and received this awesome box of books. Thanks so much, Medeia!

My family and I spent a week in Destin, Florida. We had a week of perfect weather and fun in the sun. Here's the view from our window:

My good friend Amy Allgeyer Cook's novel The Iron Bodkin was released! It's a wonderful novel and I'm so excited to see it in print. Here's my review from

When eleven-year-old Lux St. Clare accidentally turns his little sister invisible, his problems are only just beginning. As he works to reverse the spell, he learns the truth of his father’s disappearance, deals with problems at school, challenges government Inquisitors, and uncovers family secrets, perhaps even his own destiny. Told with the perfect balance of humor and suspense, The Iron Bodkin features an irresistible cast of characters, edge-of-your-seat adventure, and a whole lot of fun.

You can visit Amy and learn more about The Iron Bodkin on her blog, The Iron Bodkin. I hope you'll stop by and say "hi'!

Happy Monday, Everyone!