A Book Every Self-Respecting Writer Needs

Welcome to guest blogger, Marik Berghs, an accomplished writer and designer, writing about a new addition to her reference library.


Everyone has their guilty secrets. For me, few things are more enjoyable than lying in bed with a new book.

First I should reveal my ironclad rule: Only Fiction After Five. Sadly, that rule is the result of years of self-discipline required by self-employment.

Now, give me any free time and I will gladly languish with the contents of a new book of fiction: unmarred cover, preferably paperback (easier to handle when lying down) pristine 45 degree corners, crisp, clean pages and unbroken spine.

We all need to escape into the rapture of unexplored, unfettered, mind clearing, spirit-lifting fiction. Some times require escape more than others.

That doesn’t mean I don’t love mining for used books, too.

Especially at the El Cerrito City Recycling Center. They have a corner they reserve for a free book exchange. You never know what you’ll find, just put it out to the universe and hang on to your book bag. It’s like a gently-used, one owner book comes with an endorsement, ready for adoption—and it’s free.

So how come most of my extensive library is non-fiction. Shocks me every time I look around my office—but there you have it—eight tall bookcases, crammed and sagging with non-fiction reference books, minus two shelves of fiction and another two shelves of children’s picture books. There are another four floor to ceiling bookcases in the living room mostly filled with fiction but the ratio of non-fiction to fiction amazes me.

The reason for this is I’m a reader who loves to read but I’m also a writer who wants to write the kinds of books I love to read. This means lots and lots of research, esoteric research.

Even though I increasingly use the web I can’t always find the precise information I need.

Whether it’s How Fiction Works by James Wood or Characters and Viewpoints by Orson Scott Card, I need to cruise the shelves.

A new addition to my reference library is Writing Romance: The Ultimate Guide on Craft, Creation and Industry Connections by the San Francisco Area/ Romance Writers of America.

This little book could replace several of my reference books. The essays are bite sized morsels of inspiration, information and strategy that can be consumed while waiting in the Doctor’s office, on the BART, or in line at the grocery store. Slips in your bag, weighs almost nothing but is crammed with good stuff!

As I am finishing the polishing stage of my first manuscript (eye roll from anyone who knows me) after ten years of mostly dedicated labor, the essay by Lisa Hughey “Perseverance” soothes my battered ego.

Kate Moore’s “Seven Tips For Sizzling Scenes” provides a quick checklist as I go over my chapters.

I’m going to use Beth Barany’s the “Writer’s GMC Worksheet: Know What You Want” with a group of writing friends to encourage us to keep our lifestyles on track through personal or professional disasters—or the vicissitudes of fickle fate.

Some articles resonate more than others but like the El Cerrito Book Exchange, it depends on what I’m asking the universe to provide, the article I flipped past yesterday becomes just the thing I need today.

This is the beauty of this compilation it has something for every level of experience. And experience is a continuum depending on what day it is and your needs. I recommend it. I will use it and maybe even read it after five!


Marik Berghs is a writer and illustrator living in the Bay Area of San Francisco. She has won awards for scripts, short stories, advertising copy and website design. She is finishing her first YA novel.


Other authors blogging about Writing Romance this week:


PS. Writing Romance will be an ebook soon. Stay tuned for details!



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  • Jane George says:

    Hi Marik,

    My shelves tend to be mostly non-fiction titles as well. The fiction gets paid forward to other readers, unless it’s on my Nook. And those titles are growing.

    Writing Romance is a wonderful compendium, and I don’t even write romance! (Romantic elements, yes, but none that meet the requirements of the genre.)

    Best of luck with your YA debut,

    Jane George

  • Beth Barany says:

    Hi Marik,

    Thanks for your article! I too have tons of nonfiction, love sipping from them. Though much of my shelves are filled with fiction paperbacks that I’ve devoured.

    Hi Jane,

    Thanks for stopping by WFZ. And for being a contributor to WRITING ROMANCE.

    Beth Barany

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