The following comments were made by reviewers of The Story Within, New Insights and Inspiration for Writers, (Penguin/Random House) writers, editors and workshop participants. For 34 additional 5-star testimonials please see Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/The-Story-Within-Laura-Oliver/product-reviews/1615641149/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1
“Packed with new ideas and deeply engaging, The Story Within inspires, instructs and entertains. Laura Oliver is an immensely talented writer, teacher and storyteller. This book is fun to read and will make you a better writer.”
--Jon Franklin, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory
Journalism and the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.
"Laura Oliver's stories are tightly constructed, understated and nearly perfect.”
George Packer, The New Yorker.
"Laura Oliver writes with enormous humanity, humor, and a truly keen eye for human emotion. When I read phrases such as our parents being "a choice the cosmos made" I realized I was in the confident hands of a true writer. I love the way she depicts parental love, parental anxiety, and many other things. I would love to see anything else that Laura Oliver writes. She works a territory that I'm very comfortable with and she brings her own considerable talent to this turf."
Jane Rosenman, Executive Editor, Houghton Mifflin
The Story Within, New Insights and Inspiration for Writers: “Oliver's book manages to be simultaneously eloquent, no-nonsense, inspirational, funny, and loaded with truly practical ideas: tantalizing essay openings; cool things to put on a writer's desk; specific ways to make dialogue work better; useful instructions to give people you've asked to read your paragraphs. I envy Oliver's students, who must thrive under her understanding and enthusiasm. I happened to pick it up during a week when I was in a foul mood about writing in general, and by the time I was halfway through, to my amazement, Oliver had made me want to sit down and get back to work.”
--Cynthia Gorney, Graduate School of Journalism, U.C. Berkeley Contributing Writer, The New York Times Magazine and National Geographic Magazine
"Oliver’s fiction is “full of complexity, well-observed detail and emotional force.”
Alice Mattison, In Case We Are Separated, and a former New Yorker contributor.
"I did get to read Laura Oliver's stories. I think she is incredibly talented and was blown away by some of the crystalline sentences. I loved how she captured the mother/daughter relationships. They felt fresh and important. She sure can write."
Shoemaker & Hoard, Publishers
More on The Story Within: "Blunt, witty, relentlessly honest about the hard simplicity of the writing craft, immensely useful, and startlingly thorough. As penetrating and stimulating a craft workbook as I have ever seen.”
-- Brian Doyle, editor of Portland Magazine
"Laura Oliver is an extraordinarily gifted teacher and writer. She brings passion to her presentation, which inspires her students to explore "the story within" and put it in words. Ms. Oliver shares her own stories with her students, encouraging us to do likewise. One of her most captivating qualities is a wry sense of humor that makes every class a joyful experience."
Mary Lou Baker, Annapolis, Maryland
"You have changed the way I look at life…my own, my children’s, my husband’s…and virtually everyone I see throughout my day! Thank you for this…you have a gift that you are passionate to share and I feel so fortunate that you have shared it with me!"
J.W., Annapolis, MD, Workshop Participant
"I found a voice I didn't know I had and I found the courage to use it. Laura's astute insights and suggestions took me beyond where I thought I could go."
Camilla Schwarz, Annapolis, MD, Writing Workshop Participant
" Laura Oliver’s writing, whether fiction or personal essay, is well-crafted and deeply resonant. Laura is also a gifted and nurturing teacher. Her uncanny ability to identify the essence of a story, no matter how buried, is something all writers will find invaluable. If you have the chance to read Laura Oliver’s work, do it. If you have the chance to study with her, rush to do it."
Lynn Schwartz, writing instructor, St. John's College
"On behalf of the Annapolis Area Maryland Writers' Association, please accept our heartfelt thanks for your informative and sensitve presentation at Maryland Hall. The crowd loved you as well. You are so genuine and a great speaker."
Joanne Alloway, Maryland Writers' Association
"Laura Oliver generously shares the tools with which to waken RipVan Winkle memories or to mine apparently insignificant everyday occurrences for gems. In her classes students find themselves creating veritable masterpieces."
Henriette Leanos, St. John's workshop participant
"As a writer and creative writing instructor myself, I find Laura Oliver's "The Story Within" to be a reader-friendly text that offers sound advice on a wide range of topics of concern to the creative writer, from how to establish a unique writing voice to how to deal with publishers. Perhaps most impressive is Oliver's ability to impart her knowledge of how to live the "writing life." Her personal anecdotes, while revealing and inspiring, are always rooted in the practical aspects of writing. I believe this book is especially useful to the beginner. A must-read for those who have entertained the idea of writing but find the process and craft daunting."
Alan Elyshevitz, Assistant Professor of English, Community College of Philadelphia
"Thanks again for such helpful feedback. I appreciate you spelling it out the way you did. We writers look for clear answers when they are available such as "the asnwer is yes!" Until I came to that part, I hadn't realized how interested I was in my options! You are a wonderful teacher."
Jennifer Longhi, workshop participant
"Laura Oliver was my teacher and in this book, she captures what I loved best about her in that role. She blends qualities of humor, kindness, understanding of the writing process and great familiarity with all the the demons that get in the way of that process. Her work here is important for the concrete techniques of getting the better of those demons but more significantly I think, is the way she makes you feel like you've internalized a friend,your better self that she shows you, again and again, is the one who made you want to write in the first place."
Doris Kamenetz, writer, Park City, Utah
"Bottom line, Oliver's new book is chock-full of practical advice for beginning, intermediate, and advanced writers, tempered with her trademark blend of deep compassion, psychological insight, razor-edged wit, and gentle humor. And as you can plainly see, my own natural tendency in prose is to pile up the adjectives sometimes three and four deep; so her advice about culling them to improve the writing falls on ears needing to hear if not always anxious to implement. Why has no one said this to me before? If only I had known, then maybe the Iowa Writer's Workshop....?
Oliver is not nearly as cantankerous or grotesque as O'Connor. She's also not nearly as neurotic or needy as Lamott - thank God. That's not a criticism of either O'Connor or Lamott, by the way. They are, after all, my first favorites. But if you are a writer who cares about the craft of writing, if you would like to hear it straight from someone who has done it well and who continues to share with others how it is done, then go get a copy of The Story Within. Do it now. To paraphrase Oliver from the end of her chapter on making time to write with all the interruptions that inevitably come with a full life: "Read the damn book." And then, go write one. It is, in the end, the thing that matters most."
Daniel Wolf, M.D.
I want to say how fantastic your book is! Reading it made me feel I was back at Bennington. You come so beautifully off the page with all your humor, wit, wisdom, personableness, sage advice, encouragement. Your voice is really great - a perfect blend of professionalism and friendliness, inspiration and practicality - I love it. I've read a lot of writing books, and yours is right up there. Fresh spins on a lot of writerly craft and writerly dilemmas. Great job, I loved reading and rereading it. It's such a generous, thoughtful, smart book!
Linda Woolford, MFA, writer, workshop instructor
Throughout The Story Within, Oliver shows the craft point in such a way that the words on the page are experienced, not solely read. I laughed, cried, was surprised, curious and as each chapter drew me deeper and deeper in, the voice in my head whispered "ah ha, I can use this." If you read only one craft book this year, this is the one to read. It is a roller coaster of emotion, truth, inspiration, and permission beneficial to anyone traversing the path of writer and especially for the dreaming of becoming or the emerging writer.
Victoria Hudson, writer, teacher
This is truly one of the best "how to write" books I have read. Full of anecdotes and sensible advice, this will kick start that writing project you have put off because you were just too damned scared to start.
Carolyn Sullivan, workshop participant