Advice from the pros
Barbara DeMarco-Barrett is a journalist, editor, creative writing instructor and host of a weekly Southern California radio program called "Writers on Writing." Drawing upon her professional experiences and the wisdom of many best-selling writers, she has produced Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman's Guide to Igniting the Writer Within. This inspirational handbook is filled with smart counsel for both beginners and those a little further along looking for reassurance. In particular, it benefits from endless anecdotes and reflections from working pros on diverse subjects such as doing research, crafting dialogue, developing good writing habits, finding mentors, approaching an agent, and even some of the stickier interpersonal issues that come with the writing life ("You love him, but can't he see you're trying to work?"). The book's subtitle makes a presumed pitch toward today's harried moms and female executives who might want to add a burgeoning writing career to their full plates. Since finding time to write is a stumbling block for many modern-day wannabes (male and female alike), DeMarco-Barrett offers a series of practical 15-minute exercises designed to prod ideas along and get that writing muscle to flex. Its strictly market-conscious feminist slant aside, this volume offers an informative, wide-ranging and sensible approach to its topic for everyone. Best of all, the author's tone of encouragement is both friendly and sincere.