Books Read in August 2021 (a.k.a. What to Do When You Can’t Afford Writing Courses)

I could be the poster child for how hard it is to learn the art and craft of fiction writing. It requires not only reading good fiction to see how certain things are done well but also lots of study and practice.

My first blog every month is traditionally about some of the books I read the month before. Usually, I’ve read five or more novels and I’m eager to write about them; however, in August I concentrated on reading books about the art and craft of writing fiction.

Not being able to afford to take the best writing courses in August, I prioritized the books I needed to read to bone up on such things as characterization and emotion in fiction. Between the books I had purchased through the years (most of them used books or inexpensive e-books) and the books I could borrow from the public library, I identified 18 books and two workbooks I wanted to work through before I attempt to finish polishing the historical novel I’m writing.

In August, I read the following books about the art and craft of writing:

Making It in Historical Fiction, by Libbie Hawker;

Writing Deep Point of View, by Rayne Hall;

Writing the Intimate Character: Create Unique, Compelling Characters Through Mastery of Point of View, by Jordan Rosenfeld; and

The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life, by Noah Lukeman (pertinent chapters);

Breathing Life into Your Characters, by Rachel Ballon, Ph.D.

Also, I’m about 50% through Breathing Life into Your Characters: How to Give Your Characters Emotional & Psychological Depth, by Rachel Ballon, Ph.D. I’m working through a few pages each day and doing the many writing exercises provided. It has helped me immensely in rewriting and expanding my characters’ biographical sketches.

Online Sources

There are also many free resources online. There are bloggers with much more writing experience than I who give wonderful tips and advice. There are free online interviews with authors. Check the websites of independent bookstores for scheduled author events. Some are in person, but most seem to still be virtual.

I hope virtual author events will continue after the pandemic. They’re a wonderful way for readers and aspiring writers to get to hear authors. Many of us wouldn’t get to hear them otherwise. At least one good thing has come out of the pandemic!

Once in a while an excellent opportunity comes along that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Such was the six-hour “Writing from the Heart” free webinar I got to watch several weeks ago. (See my August 9, 2021 blog post, 2 Environment- and History-Related Books to find out some of the topics covered by that webinar.)

Online course: “8 Weeks to Writing a Commercially Successful Novel”

In light of the critique the first 50 pages of my novel manuscript received in July (See my July 26, 2021 blog post, How My First 50 Pages Stood up for Critique), I needed to take C.S. Lakin’s online writing course, “8 Weeks to Writing a Commercially Successful Novel.” I must have read the course description a dozen times, but I couldn’t afford to take it.

Then, out of the blue, on August 4, Ms. Lakin offered a $200 discount on the course. That discount made all the difference in the world. I registered for the course, which starts today!

I’m excited about the skills I will learn in the next eight weeks. I’ll keep you posted. Today’s lesson is about high moment and character change.

Since my last blog post

In addition to the writing books I listed above, in August I read Seven Things That Steal Your Joy: Overcoming the Obstacles to Your Happiness, by Joyce Meyer. It not only helped me with my personal life, it gave insight into the inner conflicts some of my characters struggle with.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have one or more good books to read. Thanks to my cousin, Jerome Williams, I’m reading Maisie Dobbs, by Jacqueline Winspear.

There are many sources of conflict and concern in our world. Let’s all try to find something to be thankful for and joyful about every day.


10 thoughts on “Books Read in August 2021 (a.k.a. What to Do When You Can’t Afford Writing Courses)

  1. Congratulations on matriculating for that online course Janet! It is a great idea and could be a way to consolidate all the knowledge and information you have gained into one concise educational review and you will venture much quicker into your project. And you are right, in this day and age one can find thousands of resources online that are very helpful, however one has to filter them to make sure that they are what one wants. I am glad to hear that you are en route to getting the project started and in the right way. Great post as usual, I’ve greatly enjoyed it and I wish you a great September. Here on the Aegean coast of Turkey where I am the weather has begun to cool off quite nicely, and although this is a summer place and a beach town, it is refreshing to feel the autumn winds and feel the crisp freshness in the air. Hope all is well in NC and that the rain and the awful weather associated with Hurricane Ida has passed. Take good care and all the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Francis. I’m excited about this online writing course. I’ve put many hours into it this afternoon and tonight, watching the three videos and reviewing all the “handouts.” Tomorrow I’ll type up my notes to reinforce the lecture material and then start working on the assignments. This is going to be quite intensive. The instructor said it’s a year’s worth of material in an 8-week course. My brain is fried tonight, but I’ve learned a lot of new things today. I can’t wait to start applying them to my own novel! I’m assuming I’m on the right path unless or until God tells me differently. Enjoy those sea breezes! I haven’t seen the ocean in a couple of years now — before the pandemic. My sister and I had planned a trip to the Outer Banks of NC in May 2020. My broken leg caused us to cancel, but then we would have had to cancel due to the pandemic. It all worked out. Our weather was cooler for a couple of days after Hurricane Ida pulled the humidity out of the air after she passed. The humidity’s coming back tomorrow with the heat index predicted to be 95 or so. The leaves are starting to fall, though, so summer will soon be over for sure. Let that sea breeze and the warm sun inspire some more poetry. All the best. Janet

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well Janet it certainly looks like you are on the right track. The studies are intense but I think you’ll also enjoy going through the course and getting in shape to apply the knowledge to your own work. That sounds exciting! I am sure you will gain much from your efforts and it will show when you begin to write. Wishing you strength and concentration and I know with God’s blessings the novel will be smashing good for sure. Our weather is still quite nice…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s how it works Janet. I always remember one of my Theatre professors at University who said to the class: “Now you’re finished, you’re no longer students but professionals, so forget everything and go and create! The knowledge will filter through without your notice… Best of luck Janet, courage, confidence and determination. And if you run into difficulties or unexpected things, then adapt, improvise and overcome.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Yes they certainly are Janet. Take good care and have a great weekend! I will be back to blogging on Sunday, God willing, as I am taking a little break on holiday with friends…

    Liked by 2 people

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