Showing posts from February, 2009

On My Book Shelf

I have a tendency to buy books in stacks, whether shopping in a brick-and-mortar store or online. I can't eat just one potato chip; I can't buy just one book. I love spreading them all out around me, looking at the covers, reading the front flap, stacking them and rearranging them, anticipating starting each one. This week the results of my latest shopping spree arrived and it felt like Christmas. Now they are lovingly stacked on my night table, waiting for me to finish the last book ( Executive Privilege by Phillip Margolin) on my winter reading list The books I'm looking forward to reading as spring slowly --ever so slowly!-- arrives are: The Associate by John Grisham Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor From the Heart: Seven Rules to Live By by Robin Roberts Knit Two by Kate Jacobs And now, if you'll excuse me,

And the Pulitzer Goes To....

My friend Gisele is probably the most well-read person I know. She is one of those people that writers love– she’ll actually go into a bookstore, pick up a hardcover book by someone she has never read before, peruse the front matter, and if she likes it, she’ll buy it. Go, Gisele! She regularly orders the recommendations just because they sound interesting. Again, we love you, Gisele! But recently, this wonderful, literate, adventuresome reader fell into the dark pit of Pulitzer Prize Winners, sucked in by a book club that reads only Pulitzers. I have to give her credit; she stayed with it longer than I would have. She stayed with it longer than I thought she would have, and I have great admiration for her determination. It began with tentative comments, “It’s hard to find a book I enjoy” and escalated to “These Pulitzer books are brutal!” and finally, “Why is it so hard to find a Pulitzer book I can actually read? Who chooses these things anyway? How can a book w

Ten Thousand Hours

Years ago I gave a speech to a writers’ group on the secrets of success in which the recurring theme was “And then you work really, really hard.” Know your material, and work really, really hard. Do your research, and then work really, really hard. Develop your skills, and then work really, really hard. Know your market– and work really, really hard. Seek out opportunity– and then work really, really hard. There was a reason for my fixation on the subject of hard work. At the time of the speech, I was a working writer who had not been out of contract (in other words, I published steadily) for over ten years. I was tired of people telling me how lucky I was. I worked fourteen hours a day, without sick leave, holidays,vacation time or a pension plan, to be so lucky. In my experience, there was no such thing as luck. There was preparation (being good at your job) and then there was extraordinary hard work. Imagine my surprise (and delight) to find my theory validated fift

What Writers Read

What do writers read? Well, if you’re me the answer is-- not nearly enough! As I write this we are six weeks in to 2009 and so far this year I’ve read books on neuroscience and dog training, behavioral psychology and marketing-- and behavioral psychology as it pertains to marketing!--sociology and economics. I’ve read two memoirs, one futuristic fantasy, one horror, one speculative fiction, two mysteries, two suspense/thrillers and one book of poetry. Before the year is out I will have read biographies, women’s fiction, a great deal of “literature” (thanks to a relentless book club that keeps trying to improve me), some Southern fiction, a travel book or two, adventure, a multitude of best sellers, self-help and (thanks again, book club!) at least one Pulitzer Prize winner. And I still will not have read all of the books I should have, certainly not as many as I want to. I consider reading a part of my job. I have my favorites, of course, and I do listen to a lot of the commercia

Books I Remember

Okay, I know. The average person would have published this list two months ago. However, the trouble with being a writer is that sometimes you have to, well, write. So even though I’m a little behind in looking back, here is my list, in order of preference, of the top five favorite books I loved in 2008. 1) The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield It’s been a long time since I read a book so exquisitely crafted. It did everything it promised to do and it did it flawlessly. There were times when I had to actually check the copyright date to make certain this wasn’t a reprint of a little-known classic, so well did this modern author master the Gothic genre. Now this is what I call a novel! 2) These is My Words: the Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine by Nancy Turner I know the tale occasionally lapsed into melodrama, but that was part of its charm. I was absolutely captivated by the character of Sarah, and I wanted her story to be true. There were times, in fact, when I was a