Sunday, December 30, 2012

Schrivener for Dummies by Gwen Hernandez

I've been using yWriter to write my work-in-progress Bon Secour over the past two and one-half years.  I have been very pleased with how it helps me be better organized and how it simplifies the writing process as compared to my previous attempts to write using Word.

I decided earlier this month to write a short story that told Bob Lee's backstory regarding the deaths of his aunt and uncle who were also his foster parents.  The idea being that I'm getting nowhere fast with the novel and maybe actually finishing a story would help motivate me to plant my butt and write everyday.

I've also wondered if the writing software package, Schrivener, might be a better tool.

I've read the reviews on-line comparing yWriter and Schrivener and they were mixed.  Each reviewer had something they liked about each program and similarly something they didn't like about each.

yWriter is shareware and if you don't choose to contribute to the author, it's free.  Scrivener sells for $45.  There is nothing I like better than free, but at $45 Shrivener is a steal.  Scrivener offers a 30 day free trial.  I downloaded the trial and opened the software.  Boy did I feel like a dummy.  Nothing was intuitive.  I couldn't figure out how to do anything.  I confess that I have the same sort of problem with every Mac I've tried to use.  Scrivener for Windows is based on the original Scrivener for the Mac.  And being Mac impaired may be the core to my problems. Anyway, I ordered Scrivener for Dummies by Gwen Hernandez from Amazon and today I finished reading it.

It is a good book in the Dummies series of how-to books.  I also read the Scrivener user manual and followed the Help Menu's tutorial.  Between the three sources I think I've got the basics figured out.  Especially the part about how to use it to write a novel.  The part on how it can compile a novel in an e-book format will require study when that time comes.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Success by K. M. Weiland

Today I finished reading Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Success by K. M. Weiland.

I follow Ms. Weiland's blog Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors.  And I have found her writing advice to be very sound.  So when she published Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Success, I bought and read a copy.

I'm a planner so the idea of planning a novel via an outline is my natural course.  I'm a big fan of Larry Brooks' how-to-write books and his Story Fix blog.  I found Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Success gave me many practical ideas on how to implement an outline.  And while she may have plowed the ground before in her blog, this presentation is fresh.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Becoming an Authorpreneur : Navigating a 21st-Century Career in Publishing by Kris Tualla

Today I finished reading Becoming an Authorpreneur : Navigating a 21st-Century Career in Publishing by Kris Tualla.

It is a short how-to book on building your brand and self-publishing your e-book.  A very interesting read with tons of good advice.  One I plan to re-read.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Innocent by Harlan Coben

Today I finished reading The Innocent by Harlan Coben.

If you like a twisty plot, I can't recommend anyone better than Coben.

I've been studying story structure and plotting for three years now.  I'm getting pretty good a guessing where the author of a thriller is going next with his story.  But, not with Coben.  He fools me several times every book.  And this story is one of his twistiest.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ford County Stories by John Grisham

Today I finished reading Ford County Stories by John Grisham.

I read Ford County Stories to learn more about how short stories are written.  I like reading Grisham novels and I thought this would be fun.  Not.  Ford County Stories is a collection of short stories set in Ford County, Mississippi, the setting for my favorite Grisham novel, A Time to Kill.

I enjoyed two of the stories.  The rest were okay.  Except one, it was awful.

I've been writing a short story that deals with a sliver of my antagonist's, Bob Lee, back story.  Most of the blog posts I've been reading on how to write a short story say that it is actually harder to write a good short story than to write a good novel.  After reading Ford County Stories by John Grisham I believe them.  Grisham can write a great novel.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Today I finished reading Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

You know a story series was good when you are disappointed that there isn't another book in the series waiting for you to read.

Mockingjay continues the high level of storytelling Collins began in The Hunger Games and continued in Catching Fire.

A great read.  Thank you Ms. Collins!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Today I finished reading Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.

This was a fun read.  Collins caught me napping with most of her plot twists.  She's really good ya'll.

Read it.  You won't be disappointed.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Father Night by Eric Lustbader

Today I finished reading Father Night by Eric Lustbader.

This is a novel continuing the Jack McClure / Ali Carson storyline and picks up where Last Snow left off and leads us through another thrilling chase of bad guys.

This is an "OK" novel.  Lustbader usually writes a better story.  I was a little disappointed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Today I finished reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Unless you've been on another planet the last few years you've heard of the book and now movie, The Hunger Games.

I've been turning my nose up at this book for a long time.  After all, I'm a macho man who reads thrillers, mysteries, and action.  I like my books with a liberal dose of sex and violence.  And The Hunger Games, well its a Young Adult book, a kids' book.

When they announced the movie was being released, I decided it was time to read the book before I saw the movie.  I marched down the library and found out there were eighty-four people in line ahead of me waiting to read The Hunger Games.

I signed up on the wait list and discovered in the end it was worth the wait.

This is a well structured and well written novel.  And it is a wonderful story.  I enjoyed it so much I'm going to read the whole series.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

Today I finished reading The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks.

I read Sparks to learn how to manipulate reader emotions.  He is the best author I know for writing emotions.  And he makes a lot of money doing it.

After reading three or so of his novels and having watched another three or four movies based on his novels I'm beginning to notice a familiar pattern.  But the pattern sells books so I'm not going to throw stones at it.

A shout out of appreciation to the folks at for a really funny take off How to Write a Nicholas Sparks Movie.  Go to  to see it full-sized.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin

Today I finished reading A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin.

I'm a huge fan of HBO's Game of Thrones programs so I'm reading my way through the Fire and Ice Series by Martin.

I find Martin to be captivating.  Eight hundred pages, one thousand pages.  I don't care.  I can't get enough of the characters and their world.

Having read three of the five Fire and Ice novels, I do wonder who will be left at the end of book five.  Bring it on!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Field Gray by Philip Kerr

Today I finished reading Field Gray by Philip Kerr.

Field Gray has received considerable critical acclaim.  It was nominated for the 2012 Edgar Award.

"A brilliantly crafted challenge to the stereotypical received history of the Second World War: a thriller that will challenge preoccupations and stimulate the little grey cells." -- The Times (London), selecting Field Gray as a Thriller of the Year.

I must confess.  I missed what the critics saw in Field Gray.  My wife loves the History Channel and WWII.  It was a book for her not me.

Interestingly, Kerr has written a six book series for children called Children of the Lamp.  I was at the pool with my grandchildren this weekend and my eleven year old grandson saw me reading and noticed that the author was Philip Kerr.  He came over and told me how he had thoroughly enjoyed reading the Children of the Lamp series by Kerr.  So while it went over my head there is someone in my family who loves Philip Kerr.

If you are a WWII history buff, you will enjoy this book.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Winter of the Wolf Moon by Steve Hamilton

Today I finished reading Winter of the Wolf Moon by Steve Hamilton.

Steve Hamilton is the author of the The Lock Artist, winner of the Edgar Award.  Winter of the Wolf Moon was Hamilton's second novel in the Alex McKnight series.

Winter of the Wolf Moon is set in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in the wintertime. The description is so good this Alabama boy shivered through most of the book.

Hamilton has an easy to read style, interesting plots and his protagonist Alex McKnight is easy to relate to.  I'll be reading more of this series.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Suspect by L. R. Wright

Today I finished reading The Suspect by L. R. Wright.

The Suspect was the winner of the 1986 Edgar Award.  And I read it as a part of my effort to read all of the Edgar Award winning novels.

The Suspect is uniquely plotted.  It tells the story of an eighty year old man who murdered his eighty-six year old brother-in-law.  It is unique because it deals with an elderly criminal.  The ending is an interesting twist on the theme of crime and punishment.

It is a short novel, 214 pages, well worth reading.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

NSRA Louisville

Tonight I got home from the National Street Rod Association Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky.

I was sick in June and unable to make this years Hot Rod Power Tour from Detroit, MI to Arlington, TX.  So Harold and I made a trip to the Louisville Nats this year's long distance trip in Bobbie Sue, my '51 Chevrolet.

A hot rod trip wouldn't be complete without a few minor mishaps.  And this one wasn't different.  After we reached Louisville and the event registration, the electric fan for the radiator stopped working.  The temperature gauge pegged the Hot mark and steam began to escape from the radiator cap.  We wiggled the wires it started working again and didn't give us any problems afterward.

On the way home we had some oil pressure issues which were solved by adding several quarts and increasing the viscosity from 10w40 to 20w50.

The Louisville Nats showcase hot rods and muscle cars primarily from 1928 thru 1972.  There were 12,000+ participant cars and 50,000 spectators.  The show is held at the Kentucky State Fairgrounds and features 400,000 sq.ft. of vendor displays with everything from A to Z for performance automobiles.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Open Season by C. J. Box

Today I read Open Season by C. J. Box.

Box won the 20  Edgar Award for his novel Blue Heaven.  Open Season was Box's debut novel.  Its protagonist is Joe Pickett, a game warden in Wyoming.

It is not just an exceptional first novel.  It's a great thriller.

"Open season explores an honorable man's love of family and the unflinching measures such a man is willing to take to protect them.  Riveting suspense mingles with flashes of cynical back-county humor . . . " -- Margaret Maron

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What's in a Name

My work-in-progress', Bon Secour's, original protagonist, now antagonist, is named Matt Frazier.

After reading more books in the suspense and thriller genres and thinking about it, I am beginning to wonder if I need a more distinctive name.

Maybe a first name that is usually heard as a last name.  I don't know.  I've been amping up Matt's character so that he won't be a boring 'everyman'.  Do I need to work on his name?

Caught by Harlan Coben

Today I finished reading Caught by Harlan Coben.

I skipped the London Olympics opening ceremony to savor this 2011 Edgar Award nominee.

My wife  DVR'd the ceremony and I was able to thoroughly enjoy an excellent read.  After the ceremony, she showed me the highlights.  I really enjoyed the Chariots of Fire segment.  And the cauldron was cool.

I've commented before about being amazed at the twists and turns in a Coben plot. He must outline.  These twisty plots couldn't come from "pantsing".

I can imagine Coben sitting down and outlining a simple suspense plot.  Then, saying to himself  'now how can I hide that'.  It's wonderful in the truest sense.  As in I wonder how he does it so well.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Quiet Game by Greg Iles

Today I finished reading The Quiet Game by Greg Iles.

The inside book jacket for Ace Atkin's The Lost Ones contained this review quote by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.  "Lee Child's Jack Reacher and Greg Iles' Penn Cage will find a kindred spirit in U.S. Army Ranger Quinn Colson."

I love Reacher and Quinn Colson is a wonderful new discovery for me.  I didn't know anything about Penn Cage.  So I marched down to my Gulf Shores library and checked out The Quiet Game.  If you haven't read it.  Do.

The story is set in Natchez, Mississippi, a wonderfully Southern town.  I've been to Natchez several times and toured antebellum mansions and enjoyed it's hospitality.

One of the things that constantly amazes me is the number of excellent writers who are waiting for me to discover them.  Greg Iles is a New York Times bestselling author and I had never heard of him.   Now I have and I'm going to be reading more of his books.  He's great.

And the review excerpt was correct.  I really liked Penn Cage.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Litigators by John Grisham

Today I read The Litigators by John Grisham.

It's a typical Grisham read.  A great story, some humor, some insight into things legal.  And a very enjoyable reading experience.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

1222 by Anne Holt

Today I read 1222  by Anne Holt.

1222 was a 2012 Edgar Award nominee.

Anne Holt is a Norwegian crime writer of the highest order. Her protagonist, Hanne Wilhelmsen, is an ex-police investigator now confined to a wheel chair.

The story is a locked-room mystery set in an isolated hotel in Norway where guests stranded during a monumental snowstorm start turning up dead.

Locked-room mysteries are not my usual preference.  I read this one because of the Edgar Award nomination.  I'm glad I did.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Lost Ones by Ace Atkins

Today I read The Lost Ones  by Ace Atkins.

I enjoyed his first Quinn Colson novel, The Ranger, so much I couldn't wait to read The Lost Ones.

Atkins' fictional Tibbehah County, Mississippi setting is so very much like the North Louisiana and Alabama counties where I've lived.   Pine forests, and farms.  Populated with the same good ole boys I've known for so long.  Seems like home.

And I loved the subtle humor and home spun wisdom in this story.  Sounded like home too.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

61 Hours by Lee Child

Today I finished reading 61 Hours by Lee Child.

This was the 14th Jack Reacher novel and the 14th Lee Child novel I've read.  You know from previous posts that I am a huge Jack Reacher fan.  This is one of his best.  It received the Steel Dagger Award and NPR listeners rated it #54 in their list of Top 100 Killer Thrillers.

When studying how to increase tension in a thriller, one of the often praised but seldom actually seen methods is the ticking clock.  61 Hours is all about the clock.  As the 61 hours count down, the reader never knows what is going to happen at the 61 hour mark.  Most chapters end with a reference to how many hours are left.  And each time you can feel the tension ratchet up a little more.  You want to know what is going to happen at the 61 hour mark.

A great read.  Don't miss it.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

God Save the Mark by Donald E. Westlake

Today I finished reading God Save the Mark, A Novel of Crime and Confusion by Donald E. Westlake.

God Save the Mark won the 1968 Edgar Award for best novel.  And I read it as a part of my effort to read all of the Edgar Award winning novels.

This edition was the first of three per year reprints per year of out of print Edgar Award winning novels undertaken by Otto Penzler, proprietor of the Mysterious Bookshop.  In the introduction to God Save the Mark, Mr. Penzler describes the comic nature of Westlake's stories.  It's a good story but I think the definition of humor must have changed since 1968 or else I'm having another grumpy day.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Gone by Mo Hayder

Today I finished reading Gone by Mo Hayder.

Gone received the 2012 Edgar Award for best novel.

Ms. Hayder is a British author and sometimes the British police nomenclature threw me.  But once I got to the Hook I was hooked and thoroughly enjoyed being reeled in.  It is a wonderful read with enough twists and turns to turn me green with envy.

You will enjoy this book.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Inside Story by Dara Marks

Today I finished reading Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational Arc  by Dara Marks.

I give this book five stars.  Absolutely the best how to write book I've read.  This was my third read through.  And was done in preparation for revising my work in process, Bon Secour.

If you're interested in being a better writer or screen writer, you need to read this book.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

L.A. Requiem by Robert Crais

Today I finished reading L.A. Requiem by Robert Crais.

L.A. Requiem was nominated for the 1999 Hammett Prize and the 2000 Edgar Award.  I read it as a part of my learn to write by reading program.

This is an Elvis Cole / Joe Pike series novel.  I first encountered this pair of private eyes in The Monkey's Raincoat.  I didn't jump on the Cole/Pike bandwagon then but I'm solidly there now.

Crais delivers a superb read.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Ranger by Ace Atkins

Today I finished reading The Ranger by Ace Atkins.

A few years back I ran across a magazine article listing 100 things you should do before you die.  Some I've done like drive a pick up truck.  Some I haven't like playing cards with someone named Doc.  The list needed to include reading a book by someone named Ace.  'Cause Ace Atkins is 'the bomb.'

I discovered Ace Atkins when The Ranger was nominated for the 2012 Edgar Award.  While Ace didn't win, he certainly deserved the nomination.

Ace Atkins has been chosen by the Parker family to continue Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels.  And after reading The Ranger I can understand why.  He is an outstanding writer.  This was my first Ace Atkins novel but I can tell you for sure it won't be my last.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Today I finished reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

This book is #71 on the National Public Radio Listener's Top 100 'Killer Thrillers' list.

I had never heard of Zafon and would not have read this book if it had not been on the NPR list.  And that would have been my loss.  This is a well written, intriguing story.  I recommend it to all.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Death of a Kingfisher by M.C. Beaton

Today I finished reading Death of a Kingfisher by M. C. Beaton.

I subscribe to Mystery Scene magazine and was attracted to an ad for novels by M. C. Beaton.  A series of novels who's central character is Hamish Macbeth, a police constable, in the Highlands of Scotland.

I had the pleasure of a self-driving vacation in Scotland several years ago.  I'm sure that I must have visited the quaint village of Braikie.

The book is more of a cozy mystery than a thriller like I normally read.  It is a delight.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Drawing the Line by Leonard Critcher

Today I finished reading Drawing the Line by Leonard Critcher.

I blogged about this debut novel last year when Leonard gave me the opportunity to comment on his then unpublished novel.

It was very interesting to me to see how he used the comments of myself and others to craft the final draft, now published.

It is a good read and I recommend it.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Bourne Deception by Eric Van Lustbader

Today I finished reading The Bourne Deception by Eric Van Lustbader.

I absolutely love the Jason Bourne character.  I read all of the Ludlum Bourne novels and have been reading the continuation Bourne novels by Lustbader.   I like Lustbader and have been a big fan for years.

But I'm going to bitch about this one.  (See previous posts [ I, Sniper and Nothing to Lose] reference to me being grouchy lately.)  While I like the wild ride most Bourne novels provide, is it too much to ask for a little character development arc?  It seems to me that with each new book Jason Bourne becomes a bit more of a cardboard movie poster.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hold Tight by Harlan Coben

Today I finished reading Hold Tight by Harlan Coben.

This thriller was nominated for the 2009 Best Thriller Award.  It is a good read and Coben does not disappoint.  The plot is twisty and fun.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Nothing to Lose by Lee Child

Today I finished reading Nothing to Lose by Lee Child.

I read the book because I am a huge fan of the protagonist, Jack Reacher.  I love him.

I'm worried about Tom Cruise playing Reacher in this December's movie.  Tom's not 6'5" and 250 pounds.  I'm not sure how that will work out.

Anyway, I must be in a sour mood from recent personal health issues because I didn't really like this book all that much.  And following my rant regarding I, Sniper by Stephen Hunter it confirms I'm a bit of a grouch lately.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I, Sniper by Stephen Hunter

Today I finished reading I, Sniper  by Stephen Hunter.

I read this book because I have been reading everything written by Hunter for many years.

This is the second book in a row that was a disappointment.  I'm not sure I'll be reading more books by Hunter.  He has the capacity to write a super story.  This wasn't one of them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bad News!

He sat in the examination room and waited for the doctor.  The nurse had been in earlier with her questions.  He glanced at the magazine he had brought with him.  Glancing.  Flipping pages.

The doctor came into the room, sat on his stool and said, "I've got some bad news."

His brain froze.  Bad News!  What Bad News!  No doctor just comes out with "Bad News."

The doctor said, "Last week's CT scan shows that you have an enlarged lymph node on the mesintery where the tumors were taken from.  In January, this lymph node was 2.4mm now it's 3.0mm."  The doctor took out a ruler and showed him how big 3mm was, about the size of a quarter.

The doctor said, "Are you under the care of an oncologist."

"No," he said.  "I know who to see and was going to start going to see one for follow-ups."

"It's time to see him."

As he drove home, a wave of sadness flowed over him.  Drowning him.  "Why couldn't it have waited longer?  I knew it would be back.  Why so soon?  I don't want to go through that again."

When he got home he Googled mesenteric lymph nodes: "With the advent of multidetector computed tomography, routine evaluation of mesenteric lymph nodes is now possible. For the first time, normal mesenteric nodes may be reliably identified noninvasively. Because of the increasing volume of cross-sectional imaging examinations being performed, lymph nodes in the mesentery are being detected with increasing frequency. This is often an unsuspected finding. Although the detected lymph nodes may be normal, there is a large number of disease processes that may lead to mesenteric lymphadenopathy. The most common causes of mesenteric lymphadenopathy are neoplastic, inflammatory, and infectious processes. Many of these causes may also result in lymphadenopathy elsewhere in the body. It is important to recognize mesenteric lymphadenopathy in patients with a history of a primary carcinoma because the lymphadenopathy affects the staging of the disease, which in turn will affect further management. In addition, mesenteric lymphadenopathy may be the only indicator of an underlying inflammatory or infectious process causing abdominal pain. The distribution of the lymph nodes may indicate the exact nature of the underlying disease process, and the correct treatment may then be instituted. Besides neoplastic, inflammatory, and infectious processes, many other disease processes may occasionally result in mesenteric lymphadenopathy."

Oh yeah, that's really clear.  

So, for now, he waits until next week to see the oncologist.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tell No One by Harlan Coben

Today I finished reading Tell No One by Harlan Coben.

Tell No One is number 49 on the NPR listeners list of favorite thrillers Top 100 'Killer Thrillers' and was a 2002 Edgar Nominee.  I read it as a part of my Learn to Write by Reading program.

My expectation was for a fun read.  And because Coben wrote it, lots of twists and surprises.  What I got was a fantastic example of how to structure a story and how to not waste anything.  There isn't a word, sentence, paragraph, or chapter that isn't moving the story forward.  It is a great primer on how to plant back story, red herrings, and foretelling.

I loved this book.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I read a blog that suggested that every author should have a Pinterest page to attract readers.

I couldn't figure out how selecting (pinning) photographs and posting them to my Pinterest page could possibly attract readers to an author.

I talked to my daughter who actively "pins".  She explained to me how it worked and showed me her pages.  I laughed heartily at some of the quotes and sayings she had collected and pinned.

I like quotes and funny sayings.  So, I started a Pinterest account.  I have pages for Hot Rods (my hobby), My Garage (photos of my cars), Humor and Quotes, Gardens (to post my photos of flowers and gardens), Pin Up art, Favorite Places (Places I've been to), Wow! (amazing photos) and My Style (photos of my tropical shirts).  And, I set up a page for Bon Secour where I intend to post photos of people, places and things that will be described in the book.

Maybe this will capture the attention of readers who stopped by to look at photos of gardens or hot rods.  It has a reference to this blog.  Who knows.  They may visit the blog.

What I can tell you is that Pinterest is as addictive as I imagine crack cocaine to be.

The blogger who said we needed a Pinterest account must have decided that if we all had an account he would have less competition because we would all be pinning instead of writing.  Pinning is so much fun, but it eats up all available time.  It's addictive!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Do The Work by Steven Pressfield

Today I finished reading Do The Work by Steven Pressfield.

My work in process Bon Secour isn't getting anywhere very fast.  I am having a problem getting the work done.  Just getting it done!!!   I wanted to know why.

"The enemy is not lack of preparation; it's not the difficulty of the project, or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account.

The Enemy is Resistance.

The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications and a million reasons why he can't/shouldn't/won't do what we know we need to do.

Start before you're ready." 

Knowing more about resistance hasn't made me less susceptible to it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Light of Day by Eric Ambler

Today I finished The Light of Day by Eric Ambler.

I read this book as a part of my desire to read all of the Edgar Award winning novels. The Light of Day won the Edgar Award for Best Novel in 1964.

The story was later made into the movie, Topkapi.

"Eric Ambler is often said to have invented the modern suspense novel.  Beginning in 1936, he wrote a series of novels that introduced ordinary protagonists thrust into political intrigue that they are ill-prepared to deal with.  These novels were touted for their realism, and Ambler established himself as a thriller writer of depth and originality.  In the process he paved the way for such writers as John LeCarre, Len Deighton and Robert Ludlum." - book cover

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver

Today I finished reading Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver.

I read the book out of curiosity.  Ian Fleming the author of the original James Bond stories was the first author that I read everything that they wrote.  Fleming led me to discover MacLean, LeCarre, Ludlum and a lifetime of joy reading thrillers, mysteries, action and spy novels.

Carte Blanche is an authentic James Bond novel.  Just as wonderfully shallow as I remembered from almost 50 years ago.   But, I've changed.  Now, I want the story to have more depth.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child

Today I finished reading Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child.

I read this book as part of my Learn to Write by Reading project.  And because it is a Reacher novel and I can't get enough Reacher.  Now, if I could just write like Lee Child, I might just write something worth reading.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Today I finished reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

"In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"--the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band. 

Brilliant and entertaining, OUTLIERS is a landmark work that will simultaneously delight and illuminate." - Google Books

I'm not sure I'd call the book "stunning" but it is very interesting.

Whether it's 5,000 hours of practice or 1,000 times doing something before you are a master of the skill, my life's experience confirms the principal.

Which means that the odds of a newbie like myself writing the Great American Novel on my first time attempt is about the same as a room full of monkeys randomly producing the same.

So why am I worrying about writing the perfect thriller?  Don't know.  But I am and that thinking is a major roadblock to getting it done.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Feast Day of Fools by James Lee Burke

Today I finished reading Feast Day of Fools by James Lee Burke.

I read this novel as a part of my learn to write by reading program.  And because I read everything Burke writes.  I love him.

This is a Hackberry Holland novel.  Dave Robicheaux is my favorite Burke protagonist.  But, Hack is great also.

James Lee Burke has been described by the Denver Post as 'America's best novelist.'  TheAbout the Author section at the end of this book contains this sentence, "His novel The Lost Get-Back Boogie was rejected 111 times over a period of nine years and upon its publication by Louisiana State University Press in 1986, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize."  Tells me that novels are rejected for reasons other than quality.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Cold Day in Paradise by Steve Hamilton

Today I finished reading A Cold Day in Paradise by Steve Hamilton.

I read this novel as a part of my learn to write by reading program.  A Cold Day in Paradise was Hamilton's first novel.  It was the 1997 St. Martin's Press / PWA Award for Best First Private Eye Novel.  Last month I read his 2011 Edgar Award winner The Lock Artist. 

 Hamilton started out as a good writer and got better. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Poet by Michael Connelly

Today I finished reading The Poet  by Michael Connelly.  This book was ranked #40 by listeners of NPR in it's Top 100 'Killer Thrillers'.

I read the book as a part of my learn to write by reading program.

It is a very good read.