Book Review: The Writer’s Little Helper

July 31, 2009

LittleWritingBookCoverThe Writer’s Little Helper is the best reference on writing I’ve found. It’s the one book I carry everywhere with me. 

The author James V. Smith, Jr.has published more than a dozen novels. His more recent material is published under the pen name John Harriman.  His objective in the book is to give the technical aspects of writing fiction to readers wanting to write a bestseller. In his words he wants to inspire, answer technical questions, and provide tools to assist the writer. 

The size of the book makes it easy to tote along. It’s 5 x 7 1/2″ and about an inch thick. 

By the way the subtitle is, “Everything you need to know to write better and get published”. There is no doubt in my mind I’m a better writer for reading and using this book. It can be read start to finish or just to focus on areas for improvement in your writing. The reading is easy and straight to the point. He uses excellent examples to illustrate. The book is an easy read. I hate books that use long-winded verbage to illustrate a simple point. 

The entire spectrum of writing is covered from ideas to publishing. Some examples include character, point of view, plot, editing, dialogue, creativity, beginnings and ends, and everything related. If you read this book you will learn something, be inspired, and have fun writing. I highly recommend it. 

The books publishing details are: 

The Writer’s Little Helper by James V. Smith, Jr., F+W Publications, Inc. (Writer’s Digest Books), 2006, ISBN 13: 978-158297-422-4

Today in History – Book Full of Ideas

May 9, 2008

I have an excellent book that I use for ideas and as a reference in my writing and research. It is called,
“A Day-By-Day Review of World Events: Today in History”. Published by DK, 2003. The book is based on The History Channel television series, “This Week in History”.

This is a fantastic resource for a history writer like me who looks for ideas to write about. Along with dictionary, thesaurus, atlas, desktop encyclopedia, and the internet, this is invaluable to me.


Here are just some of the interesting entries for today May 9th:

  • 1754 – first American newspaper cartoon is published in Pennsylvania Gazette (it’s a political one).
  • 1914 – President Woodrow Wilson proclaims a new holiday in the United States, Mother’s Day.
  • 1960 – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the birth control pill (The Pill) for use in the United States.
  • 1962 – The Beatles sing their first recording contract with EMI.
  • 1974 – House of Representatives Judiciary Committee begins impeachment hearings against President Richard Nixon.
  • 1994 – Nelson Mandela is officially installed as South Africa’s first black president.

List of Those Born on May 9th:
1800 – John Brown, American abolitionist
1874 – Howard Carter, co-discoverer of King Tut’s tomb
1914 – Hank Snow, country musician
1918 – Mike Wallace, American news reporter (60 Minutes)
1946 – Candice Bergen, American actress (Murphy Brown, televison series and also movies)

Wait a minute there’s been an omission from this list. Guess I’ll have to write it in.

1949 – Steve Davis, Canadian husband, father, writer, and for an old guy, not too grumpy – yet.

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