Category Archives: reading

A Whack on the Side of the Head

whack-on-the-side-of-the-head.JPGThis book is not new, but is pretty valuable. I’ve always loved coming back to A Whack on the Side of the Head from time to time to revisit the ideas and see if they kickstart anything new in my skull–especially if I am suffering a particularly bad dry spell in the creativity department.

Roger von Oech’s most valuable contribution to the fight writer’s block game comes in identifying barriers to creativity you probably don’t even see or percieve as standing in your way. He lists out sets of bad assumptions, limited thinking, and “we never did it that way before” notions, giving suggestions on how to break these unwritten rules to your creative advantage.

A lot of this is reminiscent of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies, but in a more straightforward way. Where Eno would say “Honor thy error as thy hidden intention”, von Oech says “be foolish” and “mistakes are good”. Either way, the end result is getting out of that rut you’re in.

This is an excellent book to pull out when you’re feeling creatively stifled. Just one of von Oech’s great ideas can set your brain back in motion and leave you feeling like you’ve set yourself free from the quagmire. Great stuff, highly recommended.

Buy A Whack on the Side of the Head for $10.87

Writing White Papers by Michael Stelzner

writing-white-papers1.jpgWhite papers can be a great source of income for a hungry writer, but this is a type of writing newcomes shouldn’t take on lightly. If you’re scratching your head at the very phrase “white paper” you owe it to yourself to check out this book by Michael Stelzner on the subject.

White paper writing has been described as a cross between promotional and magazine article writing. You need to be able to make a case without the copy reading like a blatant ad for a particular product, service, or combination of the two.

White papers can be used to present a position, encourage a course of action, argue why one set of products, services or solutions should be used, the possibilities are endless. Stelzner’s book outlines a game plan for white papers (no matter what the topic) that can help you get an outline together and make a strong presentation. Newcomers to this type of writing will benefit from Stelzner’s coverage of research, doing interviews, gathering material and all other aspects of the process.

Of course, those not currently writing white papers may scratch their heads and wonder why this could be a valuable addition to a writer’s toolbox. For my money, it’s just like being able to do your own photography–anything that makes you a better sell as writer is a good thing. Expanding your horizons should be a prime consideration if you want to thrive as a writer.

Buy Writing White Papers by Michael Stelzner for $23.07

Small Business Taxes 2008


Granted, this book won’t apply to many writers out there, but if you’re a professional blogger, writer’s website owner, or have your own small press imprint, chances are you need a book like this even if you have someone preparing your taxes. Not all tax prep services are created equal, and the ones that just want your business might not be motivated enough to look into all your possible deductions and other tax advantages. When it comes to taxes, knowing is half the battle, and that’s where Small Business Taxes 2008 comes in. 

Some writers miss their most obvious deductions. Do you get inspiration or story ideas from television? Do you blog about current events discussed on the talk shows? Are you using your cell phone for business? If you’re not asking about your cable bills and cell phone payments as a tax deduction, you should be. If you’ve reviewed any music or DVDs this year, you could be writing your “entertainment” expenses off as well-within reason. How many photos did you take to submit with your articles last year? How many memory cards and battery replacements did you purchase for the camera? Your wheels are turning now, aren’t they? We thought so…

Buy for $12.21

Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer

jenna-glatzer-book1.jpgIf you want one good book on freelancing and you are just starting out, Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer by Jenna Glatzer is definitely it. Jenna walks through the query process, tells some juicy insider secrets and teaches those who are just starting out a ton about the business of writing. She has penned many an article including credits in Woman’s World, Woman’s Own, and Prevention. Glatzer is a contributing editor at Writer’s Digest and has written several books including an authorized biography of Celine Dion.

There is a lot of information out there for the new freelancer, but you have to dig around in writing forums, magazine articles and books to find it–and it’s very time consuming. It can be difficult at first to tell the good advice from the bad. Glatzer’s book is a good starter resource that can help answer those “newbie” questions all in one place. Jenna has eaned herself the moniker “The Writer’s Writer,” and one of her specialties is helping other writers learn the business. This book is the perfect example.

See Jenna Glatzer’s blog or take a look at her impressive list of titles at her official site

Confessions of a Street Addict

At first glance, stock market genius Jim Cramer’s painfully frank biography Confessions Of A Street Addict might not seem like a writer’s cup of tea. What freelancer has the money to sink into stocks or the time to properly manage a portfolio?

  That’s what I though plowing into this, but I was quite surprised to read about Cramer’s horror stories as a writer–working as a broke, literally homeless crime writer for the LA Herald Examiner. It’s hard to complain about a little freelancer cabin-fever when reading about a writer who lived in the back seat of his car when he wasn’t out hanging out at murder scenes. Jim Cramer learned a great deal the hard way as a writer, including a much publicized scandal that nearly got him indicted for writing about stocks that he also happened to be invested in.

He nearly lost his entire career because of a simple editorial mistake. (He was cleared of any personal wrongdoing, and if the facts as presented in the book are true, he didn’t really deserve any of blame.) Cramer repeatedly tried to walk away from writing as his stock market career took him into millions of dollars in personal success, but his love of the craft brought him back for the creation of, and the rest is history.

In short, this is an AMAZING book to read from a struggling writer’s standpoint. You can learn a lot from Jim Cramer’s mistakes and his successes in and out of the writing game. This is making the rounds at Freelance-Zone, and it’s kept at least one of us up at night, unable to put the damn thing down.

Buy for $10.20 

Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market


Sure, children’s writing is an overcrowded market. Every mom comes up with at least three ideas they’re sure would make a great kid’s book. Don’t get us wrong, we’d never discourage anyone from putting ideas together…but the market is vastly overcrowded. How do you get an edge on your competition? The Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Guide has plenty of information and resources for the beginner. Knowing how things work in the world of children’s publishing definitely gives you an advantage, at least over the clueless competition. We’ll take a wild guess and say that for every person who properly submits to publishers in this genre, at least five people ahead of you at the post office sent manuscripts without a clue on how to avoid the reject pile. Don’t be one of them!

Buy for $17.81