Saturday, October 5, 2013

Winterkill by C.J. Box

Today I finished reading Winterkill by C.J. Box.

I enjoy reading Box's novels and am gradually working my way through his Joe Pickett, game warden, series.  This book is the third in the series.

The setting for this book is the Wyoming Bitterroot mountains in the winter time.  The descriptions of snow and cold are so powerful I got cold sitting in my South Alabama chair reading it on an 85 degree day.

This is a good book.  Enjoy.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Vanish by Tess Gerritsen

Today I finished reading Vanish by Tess Gerritsen.

I read Vanish because it was a 2006 Edgar Award nominee.

I watch Rizolli & Isles every week.  Haven't missed an episode.  Absolutely love the TV program.

The book is a good fun read.

But, in this book Jane Rizolli is married to an FBI agent.  In the TV series she can't commit to a relationship with Casey, a soldier, because it will interfere with her job.  In the book she she not only committed she's having a baby.  I hate to admit it but this gave me a problem.  I spent a lot of time comparing the characters on the page with the ones on TV.

I wonder what it is like to create a character and then have a TV series kidnap your character and send them down a different path from the one you chose in your books.  I don't think I'd like it very much.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Miracle Cure by Harlan Coben

Today I finished reading Miracle Cure by Harlan Coben.

This book was published in 1991.  Twenty two years ago.  It is a good book.

I've read that it takes 10,000 hours to develop a skill to a superior level.  This book is a beautiful example.  If you compare a current Coben novel, this one fades in comparison.  It's good.  But, you can see where Coben spent his 10,000 hours.  Getting better.

This is encouraging to me.  I know I can't write as well as Coben today.  But maybe after 10,000 more hours I will be able to.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Enemy of Mine by Brad Taylor

Today I finished reading Enemy of Mine by Brad Taylor.

I don't read very many terrorist thrillers.  I'm stuck in the 60's enjoying MacLain, LeCarre, and Flemming.  Nazis and communists made really good bad guys.

It may be that those threats were/are farther from home and not so threatening as the real time, real life terrorism we live with today.

Taylor writes a good read.  It was very enjoyable.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Guide to Fiction Writing by Phyllis A. Whitney

Today I finished reading Guide to Fiction Writing by Phyllis A. Whitney.  It was recommended by

The book was originally published in 1982.  It was criticized by a few Goodreads reviewers as "dated".  I found it contained a lot of really good advice that was as currently relevant as books published this year.

Thirty-one years before Ms. Whitney wrote, "As a reviewer of children's books, I'd read the best of what was being published, and now I set out to discover what constituted a 'better book.'  I found out: It was nearly always a book that said something worth saying.  Said something.  That was what made certain books stand out over so many others!  Significance, meaning a message, not the obvious, not just the same cliches. . . 

If you don't have this emotional involvement, throw the subject away.  You can't fake conviction.  Whatever you want to say in your fiction must come out of what you believe and feel."

I give the book 4 stars.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell

Today I finished reading Plot & Structure: Techniques and exercises for crafting a plot that grips readers from start to finish by James Scott Bell.

I've resisted reading this how-to book for a long time.  That was a mistake.  I thought that I really understood 3 Act Structure so there was nothing I could gain from this book.

While I probably didn't learn anything new about 3 Act Structure, I didn't waste my time.  I learned many new things.

Back in February I sent my outline for my WIP to two editors for their review of my story.  I was after a development edit.  What I got back from both editors was that my story wasn't ready for prime time.  Editor number one was positive and encouraging while pointing out my weaknesses.  Editor number two was brutally frank.  She commented on only the first act. She said, after you've changed the outline to introduce the protagonist in scene 1 and changed this, and this, and this. (You get the idea.) Then send me your revised outline before we go any further.

I got hung up on her point that my protagonist must appear in the first scene.  I frankly didn't get it.  My big opening scene had my antagonist up to his dirty work.  I had only already revised the opening scene a bajillion times and I liked what I had.   I didn't revise the opening scene or make the other changes.  I was stuck.  I couldn't imagine how to do what she wanted.  The story just had to begin with the antagonist's dirty work.

Then I discovered Bridging Conflict in Plot & Structure.  The answer to my problem.

This book is so much more than just another book on structure.  It has some of the best how-to advice I've read.  Don't miss it.

I give the book 4 stars.