Tag: Lee Child

#amwriting Five Writing Craft Books for Your Favorite Writer

Let’s take a look at five books about writing, any one of which may be perfect for your favorite writer.

Disclosure:  I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

1. On Writing by Stephen King (2000)

Stephen King is a consummate storyteller and it shows throughout this book. Part memoir, part how-to manual, I came away with some treasures about writing. He is a huge proponent of reading as a way to inform your writing. He talks a lot about the “writer’s toolbox,” which are the skills you need to develop in order to write, like expanding your vocabulary and improving your grammar. He is also very candid about how some of his more famous books came together and how some almost didn’t.

Favorite quote:

If there is one thing I love about writing more than the rest, it’s that sudden flash of insight when you see how everything connects.

Stephen King probably couldn’t have written a straight how-to manual without including the memoir portions because writing is so much a part of his identity. That said, he gives very practical advice.

2. The Writing Life by Annie Dillard

This slim volume is a compilation of essays Annie Dillard published about writing over the years. She has had a rich writing life. She has a powerful, commanding voice and she has written some amazing books.

Rather than detailed how-to, the sections are about the writing process and what price tag it might have. It’s more about whether or not to give writing a try.

It is no less difficult to write sentences in a recipe than sentences in Moby Dick. So you might as well write Moby Dick.

She devotes a good number of pages in the book to the physical places where where she has written, such as in a college library after hours, a pine shed in Cape Cod, or a cabin on an island in the Puget Sound. What writer wouldn’t like to get away from it all like that? How many of us can actually achieve it?

Tips more toward intimidating than inspiring at times.

3. This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley

If you are looking for wise, warm, and clear advice on how to get the writing work done — especially for your first novel — this is the book for you.

The process of writing a novel is like taking a journey by boat. You have to continually set yourself on course…It’s not like a highly defined train tracks or a highway; this is a path that you are creating, discovering.

Walter Mosley covers the key points of writing a novel — such as which point of view to choose — very concisely. He also examines the revision process.

His main advice is to read, particularly poetry, and also to write every single day until you have a novel.  Reading this book just might inspire you to do that.

Best for the first time author who is eager to get started.

4. Write Away:  One Novelist’s Approach to Fiction and the Writing Life by Elizabeth George

Elizabeth George is a renowned author of mystery novels. Her ideas and pointers are at a deeper level than some of the others and this book might be better for someone who has some writing experience. That said, she has some wonderful suggestions.

  1. She recommends keeping a writing journal about writing your novel. She’s not the first author I’ve heard suggest this, but she gives actual quotes for her journals at the beginning of each section. Seeing how it works has inspired me to start my own writing journal and I’m finding it highly beneficial. I use it to keep focused, keep organized, and it also helps me to see the progress I’m making. Try it!
  2. George gives many concrete examples of her various points. For example, when she proposes getting ideas for novels from challenges, she gives two examples of novels she wrote when other authors said that format was too hard to pull off, that it couldn’t be done.

In any case, a great reference that you will likely return to again and again.

Note:  authors don’t always agree on all points. For example, Walter Mosley says “dialogue is action.” Elizabeth George writes that “dialogue is character.”

5. How to Write a Mystery: A Handbook by Mystery Writers of America edited by Lee Child and Laurie R King

This is a collection of essays and short pieces by famous mystery and thriller authors about writing in their genre. It is filled with excellent advice, each contribution is a polished gem. Brilliant!

On the other hand, when you have a basket full of colorful gems, it isn’t easy to pick one or two to use. How to Write a Mystery might work best once you have a first draft and you have concrete questions. That way you’ll know what gems work best for you.

#BookBeginnings MatchUp Edited by Lee Child

This week we have MatchUp, the new collection of short stories edited by Lee Child for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!




(*Amazon Affiliate link)

About MatchUp:

This book is a collection of short stories written by twenty-two members of the International Thriller Writers organization. Each short story pairs famous authors, one female and one male, and features the main characters from their respective thrillers.

Sandra Brown and C. J. Box
Val McDermid and Peter James
Kathy Reichs and Lee Child
Diana Gabaldon and Steve Berry
Gayle Lynds and David Morrell
Karin Slaughter and Michael Koryta
Charlaine Harris and Andrew Gross
Lisa Jackson and John Sandford
Lara Adrian and Christopher Rice
Lisa Scottoline and Nelson DeMille
J.A. Jance and Eric Van Lustbader

A short blurb profiling the authors, explaining their process, etc. precedes each short story.

First Sentence:

When Joe Pickett set out that morning, he hadn’t anticipated coming face-to-face with a killing machine.

This sentence is from the first short story, Honor & …


Last weekend a friend and I went to a pre-release book signing sponsored by The Poisoned Pen bookstore. Laurie King (author of the series  which features Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes starting with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice) interviewed Diana Gabaldon. They talked about writing short stories. Some of the highlights:

Diana Gabaldon said she won’t be doing a signing of Seven Stones To Stand or Fall when it releases because she’s expecting her first grandchild around then. That’s why she was signing MatchUp now.

Although Seven Stones is supposed to be short stories, it turns out a short story (usually 18,000 words maximum) for Diana is 75,000 words, which is a full novel by most standards. There were a lot of jokes about this.

Her next book is titled Go Tell The Bees I am Gone. It’s in the works, but not completed yet.

She writes from midnight to 4:00 a.m. That is amazing, but I totally get it. In the early morning the world is quiet and there aren’t any interruptions. Well, except when I try to write in the early morning my cats go ballistic. They say, “Alright! Someone is up when we like to play!” Diana has a dog, but she says he stays quiet, too. Lucky her.

She says she includes bathroom breaks for readers in her stories. Too fun.

I could go on and on.

Have you read Diana Gabaldon’s books? Do you think you’ll read MatchUp?


#amreading Lee Child Night School Interview

This week author Lee Child chatted via Facebook about writing and his newest Jack Reacher novel, Night School, published this month.

Novel Teaser:

Night School travels back in time in the series. It is 1996 and protagonist Jack Reacher is still in the army. An undercover asset overhears a snippet of conversation: “The American wants a hundred million dollars.” Along with an FBI agent and a CIA Analyst, Reacher is assigned to find out what is going on.

Interview with Lee Child:

During the interview, Child revealed some absolute gems about writing and the life of a writer. For example, he said he doesn’t outline, but starts with a general feel. His definition of a feel is  hot, cold, rocky, or soft.  He explains that if the feel is cold, then the novel might be set on the coast of Maine. If it is hot, he might choose the south of Texas. From there he simply writes whatever comes out.

While he was speaking, he made it clear that he continuously thinks of the reader. For example, he writes one book a year because he thinks that is how long it takes for a reader to finish the last one and build up an anticipation for the next. Longer than that and readers might lose interest. More often, and readers might become over saturated.

Even though Lee has little control over the movies that are made from the books in the Jack Reacher series, he graciously answered questions about those as well.

Want to find out more? Check out the archived interview.

Talking about his main character, Child confessed that Jack Reacher wants to settle into a committed relationship with a woman, but he is attracted to smart women. Too smart, in fact, to consider him as a lifelong partner. Awww…

He also admitted he envisioned Jack Reacher to look like rugby player Lawrence Dallagio.



Photograph by zoonabar license Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic downloaded from Wikimedia.

Overall, it was an informative interview and I look forward to reading the book.

Are you a Lee Child fan? Have you picked up Night School yet?

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