In writing, “The real question is: How do you effectively take [your] ideas and convert them to saleable manuscripts?” (xiii)

Kathi Macias, journalist, essayist, editor, poet, and author, delivers a simple and practical how-to book all about transforming ideas into manuscripts that effectively communicate an author’s message to his or her readers.

Building upon a straightforward metaphor, Macias takes the reader on an exciting journey in her “The Train-of-Thought Writing Method: Practical, User-Friendly Help for Beginning Writers” that provides a reasonable and memorable strategy for quite literally putting pen to paper. She begins with an emphasis on “laying the track”—having a clear purpose and vision for writing—and then moves from the cow-catcher to the locomotive, boxcars, and observation car before waving a final good-bye from the caboose. Every chapter is focused on a particular component of a train and a corresponding aspect of writing. From beginning to end the information in each chapter assists the reader through the process of writing a manuscript. Macias is particularly effective in illustrating and amplifying her techniques through the use of clear examples from both her own works and those of more universally recognized authors. Space is provided for the reader to jot down notes and ideas in response to the writing exercises suggested by Macias.

Macias’ book is broad enough that, with only a little creativity on the part of the reader, it can be applied to just about any writing genre—from the novel to newsletter article. Fiction and non-fiction writers alike will find helpful suggestions that will move them past the blank screen or page and into the details of their particular pieces. Taken as a whole, “Train-of-Thought” is a simple primer in writing and will be most helpful to a true beginner—regardless of his or her specific area of writing interest. The more seasoned writer may benefit from Macias’ examples and concise advice, which serve to break the inevitable writers’ blocks into manageable bits and pieces.

The strength of the book is its simplicity and its nearly universal applicability. I would recommend it to any beginning writer and to those who find themselves teaching a course on writing—from the homeschool family to the aspiring free-lance writer or blogger. Four stars for a practical book simply written.

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Posted by Tex


  1. Greetings to you Tex, in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for visiting our church last summer in Altus. I came across your ‘review’ by accident tonight. (re: July 23, 2006) After reading many of your other postings, I can tell that you are a deep thinker and very intelligent. There are a few things that I would like to be sure are clear. First I am about as conservative as a person could be, my views are not liberal as you seemed to think from my sermon. Which gives me much to think about in regard to how I express myself. I have printed your review about our service and will be sharing it with our Sr. Pastor this week. My desire is that anyone who visits our church (as you did) wouldhave a very clear understanding of who we are as Christians and what we believe. Perhaps we should go back to the traditional Apostles Creed that we embrace as a statement of faith, as our weekly confession of faith. You have given me much to ponder. As for the sermon, obviously, my message did not say to you what I intended to communicate. My message was(and I think you said it in your review) that because of Jesus and His sacrifice for us, we as believers in Chirst, should and can live in peace with each other, as an example to those that live in the world. Thank you again for your words, for making me more aware of how I express myself. I was filling the pulpit that morning while our Sr. Pastor was out of town. Preaching is a very important responsibility, that I do not take lightly, and I appreciate your feed back. I invite you to come back to Altus some time and worship with us again.


  2. revmarg:

    Imagine meeting you here so many months after my time in Altus! The internet really is a wonderful thing. Thanks so much for taking the time to read some of my posts and offer your comments. I have two quick responses:

    1. Regarding the sermon: I certainly would like to be charitable and admit that we simply didn’t communicate well. It is very possible. I remember the sermon not being explicitly applied only to unity and peace within the Church but rather being applied to all men. However, I could be wrong and if so I apologize for improperly characterizing you.

    2. My larger point regarding what I consider to be a more liberal, and fundamentally secular, view of peace and tolerance still stands. There is a peace that passes understanding by simply throwing understanding and objectivity out the window. This is a peace that simply denies different ideas the right to possibly be true. This is a peace that is no longer only espoused by non-Christians. It has found its way into the Church, into various ecumenical movements, and certainly into many Christian universities and seminaries. I think it quite possible that, regardless of your intention, the words you used and the way you framed the discussion in your sermon were heavily influenced by this popular secular notion of peace. I point(ed) it out not to condemn you or your church but rather to make a stand for the truth and a distinctively Christian understanding of the notion of peace.

    I hope this helps!

    For any interested bystanders, the link to the post in question is below.


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