First Five Pages by Noah T. Lukeman

The First Five Pages 

by Noah T. Lukeman
A Noteworthy Book--
Not for The Faintheart Writer

Review by Beryl Hall Bray on WOW Women On Writing.com

Noah T Lukeman is correct. A newcomer has a big enough hurdle to overcome when the manuscript doesn't have a name that will make an editor/agent’s bank account overflow. So it becomes important to know what can add or take away from the aspiring writer's impression on the agent or editor.
            Most are aware that he wrote
FIVE PAGES, among other reasons, to help agents and editors do their job, which is a blessing for all. He made the point that it was important for them to know why they were rejecting a manuscript, beyond the fact that it didn't hold their attention. We would like to feel it wasn't just a fight with someone that kept us off the best seller's list.
            Nevertheless, I'm not an agent or editor for a publishing house; so what was I looking for? A mindset. And, that is what The First Five Pages delivers.

            Reflect on this, where in life can you be successful if you don't know how the people you will be working/playing/living with think... 
A football coach knows more than how to play football, he learns all he can about the opposing teams. 
A skydiver knows more than how to fall out of a big opening in the side of a plane, he's learned something about gravity, airflow, etc. 
Five Pages teaches an author how agents and editors think and feel before she sends the fruitage of her labor to them.

            Note: Mr. Lukeman, in the interest of simplicity, stated he would use only the masculine, though it would refer, of course, equally to men and women. In keeping with his good sense, I too embrace simplicity—of course, I will be opting to use only the feminine.

            This is a very good book to help writers understand and believe the unbelievable. Our masterpiece won't captivate every reader, despite the fact that it read so beautifully—before we had the courage to send it to one of them.
            He makes it clear that agents and editors don't read manuscripts to enjoy them. Their desire to deplete their workload can become the driving force for them. Five Pages sheds light on the ways Mr. Lukeman lightened his load. We can be thankful, because this is our opportunity to learn the mindset of the recipients of our genius. We can learn ways to quit shooting ourselves in the foot, as it were.
            He starts with Presentation. He includes, and goes beyond, telling us to make sure we contact appropriate agents or editors and let them know why you contacted them. He's not shy in pointing out specific things that get our work thrown to the side, or can increase our chances of being read.
            He deals with the overuse or misuse of adjectives and adverbs. His succinct description of the results of neglecting his advice should make just about anyone clean up her act.
            Some writers dislike the exercises he puts at the end of the chapter. They feel they are ridiculously tedious. I won't say that I have completed them all. I will say that I haven't done any exercise that didn't improve my writing. It's easy to get lazy; reminders can benefit all.
            There's good instruction on how to let agents and editors recognize how serious we are about our work. There's a checklist to make sure we're putting our best foot forward.
            The detail that the chapter goes into dealing with sound, rhythm and grammar of prose will separate the girls from the women. While on one hand, you may find yourself asking if that is more than you really want to know; on the other hand, if you find you feel that way...maybe writing and getting published isn't all that important to you anyway. This book helps cut through the glamour of being published and takes a newer author into the art of writing better.
            Dialogue, he explains in Part II, not only can get you thrown out—before it's read –but it tells an agent or editor just how skillful you are at writing. All that takes place before she has even read the cleverly written dialogue—now that is sad, but a reality.
            As I read, I was thinking it was a good thing dialogue wasn't a prescription drug, because those serious side effects would convince me I couldn't be sick enough to take the chance.
            Mr. Lukeman only covers five deathtraps for your novel and devotes a chapter to each one. We know well-written authors are sending novels to agents and editors and are rejected, albeit, not as often as a newcomer. Since the new writer has to compete with authors at all levels, it only makes sense to get rid of the obvious signs that say, "I'm really not what you're looking for. You will suffer much more than you should have to in order to discover my great story."
            He points out that an editor or agent may receive two great stories, one that needs a little work and one that calls for a lot of work and handholding of the author; that scenario can make it an easy decision for her.
            Part III covers The Bigger Picture. Since we all want to be in the one percent, this is an important section because he points out that the agent or editor might be even more agitated because she knows that she will have to read it now.
            If you devote as much care and devotion to all your pages, as you did the first five pages, then Mr. Lukeman did his job well and, hopefully, your novel is accepted.
            His reading may get a bit tough at times, but it's a tough business! If we can't read a brutally honest book, chances are we can't live our part.

            I recommend his book for opening the door to quality writing by showing how to overcome the most common causes of rejection. The idea behind the quote, "Gentlemen, this is a football," is applicable here as well; because, in order to be winners we must all return to the basics--periodically.  

Diana Abu-Jaber


By Diana Abu-Jaber

A Compelling Literary Mystery
and Rich Reading Experience

Review by Beryl Hall Bray on WOW Women On Writing.com
      I have a weakness for reading with pen-in-hand anyway; this book didn't help break my habit. The story builds momentum like a train racing to cover every inch of track before it, steady, moving you forward, and then you read: “Which, it now seems, I've been doing all my life--seeing and not-seeing, as if I'm the black spot at the center of my own vision.”

That calls for a stop at Lookout Point, Lena's life filters through your brain and that moment in her life becomes as real as your own. What a wonderful reading experience...but, I must know more; so I underline to come back and enjoy again and again. Nevertheless, I can read on because that phrase will never be lost to me.

Without a doubt, you'll find Diana's ability to describe a well-known feeling, experience, that you never could put words to before now, making this book uniquely written for you. All of that and a mystery with universal appeal unfolds before the movement and intake of your eyes.

ORIGIN reads so well you can't feel all the work that went into it, you just reap the rewards. Read Diana's interview in this issue and learn where she did the extensive research; and surprisingly, where she wrote from her author's inner-sense and couldn't have been more on target if she'd live the experience herself. Intrigued? You should be.

For those of you that need the bones of a good mystery to make you hit the bookseller's shelves; go ahead, put forth the effort. You won't be disappointed. The members of the police force, a frantic grief-stricken mother unable to accept the reason given for having to bury her infant, co-workers that will have you shaking your head, all believably come together forming the universe that holds the answers. Experience unearthing the clues, pull the parka up around your neck, and deal with reporters creating havoc. You'll utilize all of your senses to try and solve this mystery before Lena and the police. Will you accept this challenge and have one of the best reads of your life? We certainly hope so.


By Diana Abu-Jaber

Hardcover:  384 pages
Publisher:  W. W. Norton
Release Date:  
June 25, 2007

Sandi smiles at Tiwa


By Sandi Ault

                                  A mystery solved with love, 
                                courage, fear and excitement


Review by Beryl Hall Bray on WOW Women On Writing.com


     Settle in comfortably with a copy of WILD INDIGO and quickly discover it’s a book for all senses--her descriptions make you aware of Jamaica’s world through temperatures, smell, taste, landscape, touch, and relationships that permeate your heart.  Meanwhile, your comfort zone may put the squeeze on you as other interactions have you wanting to shut your eyes, hold your breath, and run.  Too late.

     You can’t close the book, now you hear the thundering hooves during a buffalo stampede, feel the earth’s movement -- as your heart aches while you powerlessly watch a tragedy unfold before your eyes.  You’ve vacated your comfort zone and now reside within Jamaica’s brain -- registering every impulse received through her eyes, ears, and heart --as she unreservedly searches to unearth the truth.  

     A reader’s rare discovery, the author’s heart’s full of fervor and rich experiences combined with bona fide research integrity and a compelling storyteller’s mind.--obviously, it’s so enriching and satisfying for the author to write it--that it naturally becomes enriching and satisfying for us to read it. 

     This is a work of fiction; but Sandi says if you’re looking for truth, you will find it in her inimitable heroine’s relationship with Mountain, her wolf.  In reality, she offers another truth through Jamaica’s love and respect for the Puebloans, and that makes it easy to glean wisdom from their respect for creation.

     Reading Ms. Ault’s description of the landscape, the people and Jamaica’s beloved Mountain reveals the power in the written word.  The reader profits from the research so diligently and faithfully done.  You can feel the rocks, hear the water, and smell the soil; all this while you’re heart pounds and you try to figure who’s trustworthy and who’s not.

     WILD INDIGO is a unique mystery because the story involves a people unfamiliar to the majority.  Because there isn’t a common pattern of behavior, the twists and turns don’t feel contrived, instead they accepted as surprisingly real.

     This is a book of love, courage, fear, and excitement.  Relationships that grow through the strain of danger and the possibility of great loss enable the reader to experience the reward, the victory, of holding true to one’s integrity.  You will feel pain and frustration balanced with an unexpected laugh, or a ‘you’ve got to be kidding’ moment. 

     The reading experience has your mind running ahead to avert danger, trying to figure out who did what and for what reason he/they did it, as you live in the moment with Jamaica.

     Jamaica is a delightful, complex, and appealing character.  It doesn’t take many pages to get comfortable with this proficient agent for the Bureau of Land Management.  At the same time, she goes places, gets into situations that most wouldn’t volunteer for.  This creates a desire to get your hands on her next escapade in WILD INFERNO, and learn more about Jamaica.

     This is a must-read, must-own and must re-read book.  While unusual for a mystery, it’s true; but there is much more than a mystery in WILD INDIGO.

.......Kane, Construction Supervisor.......

Kane and I apologize for any inconvenience that our construction may cause you.  Be assured that we are doing everything we can to complete this project. And, may I add here that Kane's assistance has been invaluable -- he brings a smile to my face despite any frustration being experienced at the moment.


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