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    An Author's Authority

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    It can be a real sludgefest when it comes to finding the right book to help writers with their writing. Over the summer I've been picking away at updates to our 'Writer' book lists and the publishing niche is just so convoluted that it's nearly impossible to keep up with. There's a lot of people out there trying to get the most out of their literary ambitions and a ton of writers willing to write books to tell them how.

    It's pretty easy, right off the bat, to avoid any books with the words 'SELL', 'BESTSELLER', or 'MONEY' in the title, but that still leaves me with hundreds of books with space in my list for about twenty. After sampling dozens of titles I got a lucky break during a camping trip when I had a chance to finally start reading Tom Bissell's 2012 book of essays, Magic Hours.

    Four essays in I encountered an authoritative voice on the subject of how-to-write manuals. The essay is titled"Writing about Writing about Writing" and anyone considering consultation in the how-to section might want to get their hands on Magic Hours first. In his own insecure search for authoritative guidance Bissell seems to have familiarized himself with many of the classic staple how-to-write books and his perspective on the subject is blunt, honest, and valuable.

    After a discussion of whether writing is teachable, whether how-tos are useless, and declaring John Gardner's On Becoming A Novelist as the book that literally taught him how to write, Bissell usefully separates the different types of manuals into four categories: 1) "The User's Manual", 2) "Golden Parachute", 3) "Nuts, Bolts, Tea & Angels", and 4) "Olympus".

    I'll be going into detail for each of Bissell's categories as I compare his recommendations with our collection, hoping to create the ultimate writer's booklist, but in the meantime here are the most prominent titles from each category...

     

     

    "User's Manual" "Golden Parachute" "Nuts, Bolts, Tea & Angels" "Olympus"
    For a firm, confident grasp on the English language.

    For those focused mostly on success and popularity.

    For a peek behind the curtain of a writer's literary secrets. For opinions, philosophy, and advice from highly-esteemed writers.

    Stay tuned for the final, updated 'Nook booklists. And please leave a comment below to tell us about the books you've encountered that must make the list.

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    Barb Howard

    by Phil - 0 Comment(s)

    The months of September through November are always a glorious time to work at the information desk on the 4th floor of Central library. This is where the literature collection lives, as well as all of our how-to guidebooks for aspiring writers. While our bottomless pool of resources is available year-round to writers looking to hurdle over obstacles, it is only during September, October, and November that we can say: go to Memorial Park.

    At Memorial Park, with financial assistance from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the library has offered Writer in Residence services for over 25 years. Here you will find a professional, critical eye for your work that isn't softened by your friend or family's regard for your feelings. Here you will find consultation and advice on the writing and publishing process from someone at the top of their game. Here you will find a diverse community 'recklessly' honing their craft under the guidance of award-winning author Barb Howard.

    Barb Howard's most recent book, Western Taxidermy, won the 2012 CAA 'Exporting Alberta Award' and is up for the 2013 High Plains Award for short story collection. She also boasts extensive experience as a writing instructor. Read more by visiting Barb's website.

    Here's how to submit your work and book your individual consultation.

    Here's the list of readings, workshops, and events. All free.

    Here's the library's full catalogue of titles by Barb Howard:

    Whipstock Notes for Monday The Dewpoint Show Embedded on the Home Front Western Taxidermy