The Moving Word

Writer, Preacher, Bookworm, Student of the Word

Archive for the category “Non-fiction”

Review of “Dancing on the Head of a Pen” by Robert Benson

Robert Benson

Blogging for Books provided me a copy of “Dancing on the Head of a Pen: The Practice of a Writing Life” by Robert Benson in lieu of a review.

Benson is an experienced writer and the author of several books. This slim volume can be read in an hour or two. In it, he covers the mindset, persistence and imagination necessary to the life of a writer.

There aren’t really any new revelations here but Benson’s passion is infectious and writers can find an infusion of motivation here to help them persevere in the lonely work of writing.

His first chapter refers to writing as “the dark marks on a page,” and I really liked that imagery.



The Informed Writer

Links to various things that I think writers might find interesting. Since we are all different, we will not all agree. But, hey, what can you expect for free. 🙂

See my other Informed Writer posts for a bevy of links.

Why Reading is Good for your Brain

Nine images from Washington Irving books

An African-American young man asks what’s wrong with reading? The culture NEEDS to change

Literary Agent is Attacked by an Author who had his Manuscript Rejected

Ten Surefire ways to Succeed in Publishing

35 Fossil Words

The 2012 Man Booker Short List

Read more…

Review of “Choose!” by J. Randal Matheny

Books come in different forms and serve various purposes. Some books are read, then shelved so they can be retrieved during times of difficulty. Like poems and Psalms, they wrap us in a protective coat and inspire us to persevere. With wisdom and guidance, they offer us a gentle push and help change our perspectives on life.

J. Randal Matheny’s book, Choose! 13 Choices to Transform Your Heart and Soul is one such book. It is a short but powerful book of devotional thoughts designed to spur our thinking and help us develop a healthier outlook on our daily lives.

[Read my interview with Randal]

Matheny writes about personal responsibility, which is desperately needed in our age. Too many people think that our life’s trajectory cannot be changed and we are stuck with misery.

Matheny asks us to choose better climes. He writes, “You have options. Your choices can transform your life. You’re not at the mercy of impersonal forces. The key is the type of choice you make. This book will show you great possibilities within your reach by focusing on choices within your control.”

Choose! is concise and filled with fabulous quotes and well-chosen passages from Scripture to educate us in the choices we should make. We choose how we handle this life and Matheny wants to play a part in helping us make wise decisions. His layered approach is useful with commentary, quotes, Scripture and practical applications.

Make a wise decision and purchase Choose! today.



The Informed Writer 9/17/10

The Informed Writer [formerly Writer’s Thoughts]  contain links, tips and quotes for writers. We cover the art of writing, publishing and social media. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Ten Twitter Safety Tips

How to Master Twitter

Word Games

Dialogue Should be Brief

Five Tips to Strengthen Your Scenes

Ten Ways to Improve Your Romance Novel

Story Structures

How to Write Compelling Blog Posts

Twitter Can Make You a Better Editor

How to Fail At Social Media

Improve  Your Narrative Drive

39 Social Media Tools

Tips to Increase Productivity

Writer’s Guide to Twitter

Write a Better About Page

Should You Publicize Rejections?

Shoot Adverbs on  Sight

Writing Good Online Book Reviews

“The secret of it all, is to write in the gush, the throb, the flood, of the moment – to put things down without deliberation – without worrying about their style – without waiting for a fit time or place. I always worked that way. I took the first scrap of paper, the first doorstep, the first desk, and wrote – wrote, wrote…By writing at the instant the very heartbeat of life is caught. [WALT WHITMAN].

“Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer. He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking.” [JESSAMYN WEST]

Writer’s Thoughts 9/9/10

Tips, Links, Quotes to Spur the Writer Into Action

“Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing” [E.L. Doctorow].

“Please don’t start your submissions letter by telling me how much I’ll love your book. Let your book do the selling” [Laura Anne Gilman].

How to Structure Your Short Story

Write Short, Sharp Blog Posts

Is  Writer’s Block a Myth?

Is Show Don’t Tell a Myth?

Thoughts on Story Titles

Are We an Author or a Writer?

Ten Commandments of Fiction Writing

Five Tips to Polish Your Fiction

How to Write Intriguing Male and Female Characters

The Nighttime Novelist

“If you read good books, when you write, good books will come out of you” {Natalie Goldberg].

“While thought exists, words are alive and literature becomes an escape, not from, but into living” [Cyril Connolly].

If we will think. expand our reading and vocabulary, we can always arrive at fresh ways to say things.

10 Free Writing courses

Unlock Your Writing Through Visualization

How to be a Successful Writer

“…your reader is at least as bright as you are.”  [William Maxwell].

Four Tips to Writing Better Non-Fiction

If we want to write a non-fiction article that will move people to act decisively to improve their lives or correct a shortcoming, we must remember these four basic tips.

We must never settle for mediocrity. Always strive to produce a masterpiece, even if we fall short. Aspiring for greatness pushes us to higher levels of competency.

1. Pithy – Clearly, people prefer shorter, powerful articles.  We place the reader into our ideas quickly and carry them through at a brisk pace, to retain their attention.

Being pithy does not mean that we do not adequately express our ideas. Rather, we do so with the most economical method available to us. Economy of language requires skill and a repertoire of active, visual words. We must let the reader see our ideas so they can catch on quicker.

2. Persuasive – If we wish to move people to action, give them the direction and motivation necessary to make the journey. Every word must advance the cause. Our pet topics may interest us, but if they do not work toward the ultimate goal, cut them.

Persuade a general audience, unless we only want people of a certain segment of society to accept our suggestions. Be clear what we want of our readers, so they will understand and take the right road.

3. Profound – Editing and vision produces a profound piece of writing. Work hard to rise above the mundane articles we see around us. Strive to write the article on the subject. Give the reader something they are not getting anywhere else, even if that is only in our use of illustrations. Ideas come to life with an angle that is fresh to the reader.

4. Portable – Always give the reader something to take with them. Impart ideas that are portable, so they can put them in their pockets and share with others. Crisp stories and anecdotes are memorable. Clichés are the antithesis of portability.

If we will remember these tips, we will produce better work. Writers must care about their readers and respect them and their intelligence. Simple and profound is a challenge that will always stir people’s hearts for good.

Interview with Richard Mansel

I have been interviewing writers, novelists and bloggers. I thought, why would I ask them to do what I am not willing to do? So, I am combining some questions from several of their interviews and interviewing myself.

My purpose is to share my thoughts on writing, so my readers can become more familiar with me. Hopefully, along the way, the readers of this interview will learn some things to help them grow as a writer.

It was a very interesting exercise that I recommend.

1. How did you get started as a writer?

In the fourth grade, I began writing short stories and sharing them with friends. When the sixth grade came along, Mrs. Pierce, allowed me to read my stories to the class. The students requested their favorites and I read them with immense pride.

I continued to write through the years, but I was less serious. When I began preaching, my writing became more important. I wrote religious articles and had some published. One day I submitted an article to Forthright Magazine and they published it and then another. I was asked to be a columnist and over 300 articles later, I am very honored to be a columnist and Managing Editor.

I am humbled that my articles have appeared in several publications, newspapers and websites. I have been privileged to produce chapters in ten books and to be the author of The  Most Important  Question, a book on the plan and purpose of salvation.

All of this and more, hearkens back to a teacher allowing a shy, gangly boy to read his stories to his class. If only she knew.

Read more…

The Vocabulary Dilemma

A writer opens his toolbox and places his tools on the table, to construct a work of art. Words take form and sentences become pages. The writer labors to find the perfect word in his arsenal of vocabulary.

His training, knowledge, study and reading come to bear as he struggles for perfection. His freedom of thought pours onto the page and something special takes life. Writing is a singular exercise built on the shoulders of the ages. The penman fills his toolbox with the best at his disposal. Words are his sword.

Will we allow the artist to perfect his art? Leonardo Da Vinci changed the world with the power of his abilities. We stand in awe at the complex majesty of his work. Millions pay homage to his legacy each year.

No one stands at the side of the masters of art, music and sport, to tell them to restrict their art. Instead, we laud their accomplishments and beg for more.

If we, as a culture, do not place a hobble on musicians, artists and athletes, then why do we do so for writers? The wordsmith pores over books, reading, consuming all that he can of the language. As an erudite person, he turns his extraordinary abilities to paint the story of his mind, so readers can be captivated and elevated.
Read more…

Writer’s Thoughts 8/25/10

Quotes, tips and meditations from the Writer’s Desk

Ten Ways to Write Skinny Sentences

How to handle pronouns in our fiction

The proper way to handle self-promotion

How much does a writer make?

“You have to protect your writing time. You have to protect it to the death” [William Goldman].

Kindle Sales Hit Record High

Ten Habits of Successful Authors

Becoming a Successful Freelancer

Five Tips to Effective Writing

Writing Smoother Sentences

Promote your Blog or Book Through Your Email Signature

Become a Disciplined Blogger

Interview with Allen Webster of House to House

I appreciate Allen cooperating with this interview. He is a busy man.He is the preacher for the Jacksonville Church of  Christ. in Jacksonville, Alabama. They produce the phenomenal House to House Heart to  Heart publication that is read by millions of people.

Their website says:

“House to House Heart to Heart has now passed 100 million copies distributed over the course of the fifteen years we have been sending out the publication. July/August 2009 will mark our 100th issue, but we are still sending out the 1 Gospel.”

Allen is one of the hardest working men in the Church of Christ and the most read.  Therefore, let us consider what he has to say about writing.

1. What kind of writing do you do?

Editor of papers:

• House to House/Heart to Heart (published six times a year; 1.75 M circulation; used by 1100 churches of Christ in local outreach; 50 states, 10 nations; 2 languages).

• Glad Tidings of Good Things (published 30 times a year; 21,000 circulation).

• Author of a series of booklets and pamphlets (c. 175 titles; total circulation, 4,000,000).

• Author of VBS teen literature (Lambert Book House, since 1994-2000).

• Editor of Faulkner University Lecture Books. Edification/edification

• Author of weekly adult Bible class literature (Unpublished, except to our members). Purpose: Teaching

• Author three books: Seven Things a Loving God Hates; Why Not Be a Prodigal?; All the Devil’s Apples Have Worms (due out September 2010)

• I write sermons weekly.

• I also try to write three cards a day (on average) to our members.

Read more…

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