Smart, savvy, and sensible.

A beginner’s guide to the craft of writing and the business of publishing, from veteran novelist See (The Handyman, 1999, etc.).

“This book is for the timid, forlorn, and clueless,” declares the author, who is none of the above. Her chatty, breezy text aims to build the confidence and coping skills of people who, like the 32-year-old Californian divorced mother of two See once was, dream of making a career as a writer but don’t know how to go about it. Part One, “Before,” offers a framework for getting down to work. The fundamentals? “A thousand words a day, five days a week, and one charming note written to someone in the literary world who makes your hands sweat—five days a week, for the rest of your life.” The charming note, along with the cheerful replies to rejection letters that See also mandates, make aspiring writers human to the jaded New York insiders who determine their literary fate: “like everyone else in the world, [publishing professionals] like to hang out with their friends instead of strangers.” Sound but unsurprising advice on identifying your material, startling but not entirely flaky suggestions about using affirmations (“I’m powerful, loving, and creative”) to bolster your courage, and straightforward guidance on how to send out a manuscript round out this section. Part Two, “The Writing,” covers character, plot, point of view, scene setting and construction, and revisions—it’s helpful if not innovative material presented with the sharp humor and judicious use of personal anecdotes that enliven the whole. Part Three, “During and After,” is a must for first-time authors who don’t realize how much their successful publication depends on their efforts, from throwing their own parties to arranging local bookstore signings, and how short the time frame is. (“Four months after your book is published, it’s dead.”) See’s comments on magazine writing—forget query letters; send notes describing the piece, then send the piece—are equally shrewd. “Living a literary life is a marriage,” she writes: romance is part of it, but so is hard work.

Smart, savvy, and sensible.

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2002

ISBN: 0-679-46316-X

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2002



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

Close Quickview