Tag Archives: books

Barnes & Noble: Top Ten Books

by Catherine L. Tully


I was loving this resource and thought I’d share–especially since most writers are readers…

Barnes & Noble has this great section on their website where they update the top ten books (for a number of categories) each and every day. Seriously!

Categories include both fiction and non-fiction. This is a great site for deciding what you would like to read next–or for research purposes. Hope you like…

John Updike’s Writing Wisdom (part I): Book Reviews

by Erin Dalpini

I’m working on a new project—a book review of a contemporary novel I recently read; although I’ve done this before, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what makes a fantastic book review.

Last fall, when I was doing some research for a review of Toni Morrison’s newest novel, A Mercy, I dabbled around on the Internet to see what others were saying about this book so that I could join in that conversation. I’d already read the book and had formed an impression of it, but I knew I needed to know what the experts thought.

One of the first pieces I found, a review in the The New Yorker caused me to sit up and take notice—it was an engaging, entertaining, and also gave me some new insight into the novel. When I looked for the byline, to my surprise, it was the literary legend John Updike. Updike, though best-remembered for his extensive body of fiction (short stories, novels, poetry), produced an equally-impressive array of literary criticism and essays. In short: the man was prolific. And he had an extraordinary way of making a book review anything but mundane. This piece was sharp, witty, informed, concise—essentially, it was the best book review I’d ever read and it left quite an impression on me.

So, returning to the writer’s block, I was curious: what did Updike have to say about writing book reviews? And what do modern day writers do when they have an obscure question like that?

Right. Turn to Google.

I was fortunate early on to stumble across a post (from a book blog I promptly bookmarked) pointing to hidden treasure: an older post, from the blog of the National Book Critics Circle, citing helpful tips from the master himself (one that’s so dated it redirects readers to the new host that, from what I can tell, does not have the piece archived). The advice is from Updikes’s Picked Up Pieces, a collection of his assorted prose. Three points (of six) I found incredibly helpful… Continue reading John Updike’s Writing Wisdom (part I): Book Reviews

A Larger Truth

Didionby Mike O’Mary

Twenty years ago, when I got an MFA in creative writing, fiction and poetry were the only options when it came to areas of emphasis. Since then, creative nonfiction has gained equal footing with fiction and poetry in the eyes of academia, and many MFA programs now offer an emphasis in creative nonfiction.

Of course, readers are less interested in the views of academia than in a good read. Consequently, readers have known for decades what MFA programs have finally figured out: creative nonfiction is hot! And there are many places to publish -– everywhere from Harper’s to your local paper. In fact, before I published creative nonfiction “essays” in the Sunday Magazines of the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and others, I got my first breaks with newspapers like the Peoria Journal Star and the Joliet Herald.

In a www.creativenonfiction.org article, Lee Gutkind, often described as the “Godfather of creative nonfiction,” says creative nonfiction “offers flexibility and freedom while adhering to the basic tenets of reportage. In creative nonfiction, writers can be poetic and journalistic simultaneously.”

In that same article, Gutkin quotes Gay Talese, who described creative nonfiction this way: “Though often like fiction, it is not fiction. It is, or should be, as reliable as the most reliable reportage, although it seeks a larger truth than is possible through the mere compilation of verifiable facts.”

There are lots of great examples of authors who sought “a larger truth” in their creative nonfiction. Some of my favorites are Joan Didion (The White Album and Slouching Toward Bethlehem), Michael Herr (Dispatches), Barry Lopez (Arctic Dreams), Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes), Tom Wolfe (The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Right Stuff), Maxine Hong Kingston (The Woman Warrior), and Mary Karr (The Liar’s Club). Who are your favorite authors of creative nonfiction? And when do you plan to join their ranks?

Mike O’Mary is founding dreamer of Dream of Things, a book publisher currently accepting creative nonfiction stories for anthologies on 15 topics.

Dream Catchers and Goodreads

Moon Sun Night - Copyby Mike O’Mary
Two news items this week, one for writers, one for readers:
1. Dream of Things launched a “Dream Catchers” section of its website to highlight authors whose work has been selected for future publication in a Dream of Things anthology. We get lots of great stories at Dream of Things, and our editors are constantly reviewing new submissions. The best creative nonfiction will be published in our anthologies. But putting an anthology together takes months.

Meantime, we’re sitting on all these great stories. Not anymore! Each week, we plan to feature a new story on the Dream Catchers section of dreamofthings.com. This week’s story is “Forever Sharp” by Terri Elders of Colville, Washington, and it will be published in an anthology about great teachers later this year.

2. Goodreads.com: I’m not sure the world needs another online social networking site, but if we have to make room for one more, goodreads.com looks like a pretty good one. It’s basically a place to rate books that you’ve read, share that info with others, and learn about new books you might want to read. Billed as “the largest social network for readers in the world” with 2.9 million members, Goodreads says, “Somehow, reading books seems to have gotten a bad rap. People are working too hard and not making time to read. But every once in a while you run into a friend who tells you about this ‘great new book I’m reading.’ And suddenly you’re excited to read it. It’s that kind of excitement that Goodreads is all about.”

Goodreads also looks like a good place for an author to set up shop. Take a look at the Goodreads Author Profile of yours truly for an example of what an author can do on their site.

Mike O’Mary is founding dreamer of Dream of Things, a book publisher currently accepting creative nonfiction stories for anthologies on 15 topics.

The Book Wars


Strange things are going on in the e-book industry. Amazon had been selling Kindle versions of best-selling titles for what I call freelance e-book prices–9.99 per download–which could be seen as a great equalizer for the whole industry, or a potential game changer in the wrong direction for anybody interested in marketing their own e-books.

After all, if you can get a Stephen King downloadable book for a tenner, why should Joe Blow Unknown be able to charge the same amount for HIS book about writing and get away with it? Or so the logic goes. I don’t subscribe to that concept myself, I think it’s more about effective marketing and having a good product.

But that’s not the point.

Amazon got into a little shouting match with publishers MacMillan and now Rupert Murdoch’s HarperCollins, who both demand Amazon stop selling their Kindle titles for 9.99. Continue reading The Book Wars

Dream Of Things

mikeby Catherine L. Tully

Today I have the pleasure to share with you something really interesting. Editor and writer Mike O’Mary has come up with an idea for writers that I think will go far, and I interviewed him via e-mail so that I can share his ideas with Freelance-Zone readers here today. Let me know what you think, and be sure to sign up for more information at Dream Of Things.

FZ: Tell me a little about your background as a writer/editor.

Mike: I like writing essays, and I’ve also written fiction, drama and sketch comedy. The highlights are the essays I’ve published in various Sunday magazines, and writing and producing sketch comedy in Chicago. As for editing, I’ve edited several books, and I’ve written and edited lots of speeches and annual reports. So I’m a pretty good editor, but to me, writing is more fun.

FZ: What is Dream of Things?

Mike: Dream of Things is a book publisher and producer of videos and whatever else we decide to produce. It’s also an online community where writers and other artists can come together to 1) suggest ideas for books we’d like to see, and 2) write or contribute to books built around themes/ideas that spark our interest. Dream of Things will publish the books, and writers and other contributors will share in the royalties.

FZ: How did you come up with the idea for this?

Mike: I have always enjoyed working with creative people…writing workshops…working with actors, directors and musicians on theater productions…working with photographers, illustrators, graphic designers and video producers on other projects. I am very fortunate to have a lot of very creative people as friends, and I wanted to find ways for us to work together more often. I also hope to make a lot of new friends and to work with many of them… Continue reading Dream Of Things