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My Ten Favorite 2020 Reads

My Ten Favorite 2020 Reads

Here are the ten books I enjoyed reading most in 2020. Most of them were published in 2020 also, but some are earlier. I tried to explain what made each book special to me, but sometimes the appeal of a book is mysterious. Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore I reread this, the third book in Cashore’s Graceling series, because a sequel is coming out in January. I enjoyed it more this time that I did the first time I read it, I…

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What makes an outstanding book?

What makes an outstanding book?

Every year, we see a spate of lists of the best or outstanding books for that year. Why do some books land in that category while other perfectly fine books don’t?  What makes a book outstanding? Outstanding can, of course, mean different things. Most easily it means big sales. If that’s the case then a lot of readers responded to that book, which is not to be sneezed at. A second meaning for “outstanding” might be that while the book…

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Teacher’s Guide for FINDERS KEEPER

Teacher’s Guide for FINDERS KEEPER

Finders Keepers is designed for middle-grade readers (10 and up). Given how stressed out teachers are these days, I offer this teacher’s guide. I put the questions together with help from my daughter-in-law who is a reading specialist. I hope they’re useful to you. SYNOPSIS A whisper in the dark draws 12-year-old Cade to a hole in the paving where he finds a beautiful triangular stone. When he takes it home as a gift for Mum, she and his older…

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Doing NaNoWriMo – the right way

Doing NaNoWriMo – the right way

Today’s blog post is once again written by Pamela Merritt, author of the forthcoming The Cat’s Pajamas and host of the Way of Cats blog. Doing NaNoWriMo – the right way Since 1999, increasing numbers of writers have been participating in the drafting marathon known as National Novel Writing Month. With a goal of 50,000 words, NaNoWriMo can be a dreaded, daunting, or delightful experience. It’s about our expectations, and our preparations. Because we have to be ready. My own…

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Writer’s Block Tricks

Writer’s Block Tricks

Today’s blog is a guest post from Pamela Merritt, who offers advice on how to get around writer’s block. Visit Pamela at her popular blog and check out her book on Amazon. Take it away, Pamela! ______________ Yes, we can break a Writer’s Block with tricks. We want to trick our minds into cooperating. Why aren’t our minds cooperating now? Don’t they want to be “on the same page”? Sure, they do. We might be the one blocking them. Here’s…

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Speaking to a Book Club

Speaking to a Book Club

A book club recently decided to read The Wysman and invite me to speak at their meeting. Actually, I should say “our” meeting because it’s a club I belong to. I swear I didn’t suggest the book! Someone else did. The members are all avid readers though, so they decided that having an author to talk to would be interesting. I was, of course, happy to oblige. I love talking about writing. I must say it was a different kind…

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Using Our Own Lives to Write

Using Our Own Lives to Write

I sometimes see people asking if a story a writer tells is based on their own life. I’m not usually asked, though, probably because I write YA fantasy set in a secondary world. So it’s hard to see the connection. However, I’d say a writer always draws on their own life. What else would we draw on? Usually, though, that drawing from life works differently than the question implies. Drawing on Emotion We draw on emotion as much as or…

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On the Need for a Project

On the Need for a Project

I am working on the theory that having a project makes people happier. By “project,” I mean something that requires a person to make plans and carry them out. The plans are for something they do freely rather than being assigned or forced to do. I first thought about this when someone gave Mr. DAW and me a book about wine that took up a different kind in each chapter and recommended some varieties to try. Each week, we read…

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On Book Covers

On Book Covers

Book covers are supposed to serve as little billboards that tell the reader what kind of book they are and invite the reader to pick them up and examine them further. Read the back cover copy, maybe, or browse chapter 1. What makes a good cover? I’m probably not the person who should be answering this question because I’m not very visual and am terrible at telling good covers from bad. I’m so bad that my writer friends laugh at…

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First Drafts: First Paragraph Edition

First Drafts: First Paragraph Edition

On “The Late Show,” Stephen Colbert occasionally does a bit called “First Drafts.” He shows greeting cards and then what he claims were the first drafts of those cards, all of them hilariously wrong. I’ve written before about how often the first draft of a book’s first paragraphs go wrong, usually in ways I don’t find hilarious. So I thought you might be interested in seeing early and final drafts of the openings of some of my novels. I can’t show…

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