posted January 10, 2007

How-to Guide Designed for Book Writers

The latest book by Dr. Heather Sellers of the Hope College English faculty is designed to help others who wish to write and publish books of their own.

The book, "Chapter after Chapter: Discover the Dedication and Focus You Need to Write the Book of Your Dreams," is based on her experiences as both a writer herself and a teacher of creative writing. It serves as a companion volume to her earlier book "Page after Page," which was published two years ago and provides inspiration for new authors.

Sellers's emphasis is on suggesting approaches to writing and assisting her readers in pursuing the writing life itself, rather than on telling them what to write or how to structure their opus.

"Many books on the market help writers figure out plot or write a book proposal," she said. "I have worked with students and writers tackling book projects for many years and it isn't plot that causes problems. It's what's going on in the writer's own head. Every writer I know has had to figure out how to work through psychological blocks and counterproductive working strategies. Figure out your writing process, and you will solve the book's structural problems organically, quickly and effectively."

"Chapter after Chapter" is made up of short, direct chapters, such as "Stay in Love with Your Book" and "Not Too Old, Not Too Late." Like "Page after Page," it is written in a conversational tone.

With dozens of workshop-tested exercises designed to help writers at all levels launch a book, "Chapter after Chapter" is meant to teach writers how to keep moving happily towards a complete and polished manuscript. One bit of advice from the book: be deliberate in carving out both the time and space to write. Another: be true to your own voice instead of worrying about the tone that the Great American Novel should possess. Another: if writing for a huge audience of strangers seems intimidating, picture a close friend or two and imagine that they are the reading audience.

Novelist Lorraine Lopez has said, "Heather Sellers has written the Great Mother of All Wise Guides, an indispensable roadmap to authorship for both emerging and experienced writers. This book would have saved me years of meandering off course."

Sellers has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1995. A professor of English, she teaches poetry, fiction and nonfiction workshops, as well as a course designed for teachers who want to write.

In addition to "Page after Page," she has previously published four other books: two volumes of poetry--the chapbook "Your Whole Life," and "Drinking Girls and Their Dresses"; a collection of short fiction, "Georgia Under Water," which won a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award; and, with Amy Young as illustrator, the children's book "Spike and Cubby: Ice Cream Island Adventure!" She also has a new collection of poetry forthcoming as well as a textbook for the introductory creative writing classroom. This coming fall she will take a leave of absence from teaching in order to complete her memoir, "Face First," about her experience with prosopagnosia, or, face blindness.

"Chapter after Chapter" is available in hardcover and totals 242 pages. Published by F & W Publications/Writer's Digest, it retails for $19.99.