Thrillers Worth Your Time: Lee Child’s ‘Jack Reacher’ Series

What is it about Lee Child’s plots that makes his thrillers so much better than most? I think it’s that genuine, complicated problem to work out, that each of his stories promises. Compare that to other thrillers that try to disguise a thin plot with cheap tricks to keep you guessing, such as jerking the reader backward and forward in time for no good reason, or withholding important facts when narrating a scene, in hopes of creating “mystery” …

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The Almost-Great Novel: A True Cautionary Tale

I recently struck up a friendship with a first-time author I met in an online writers’ forum. He had written a YA novel that was soon to be published by a small publishing house. He hoped it would be the first of a trilogy …

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Getting Mad at Your Editor

Every few years I come across a client who responds to a professional edit by feeling offended. They have an emotional reaction to the criticism. The closer the story is to the author personally, the greater the chance that this will happen. Memoirists, for example, share intimate details of their lives. Having those sensitive subjects scrutinized by an editor who gives them honest feedback can, understandably, feel a  bit like having a wound debrided. Even if a doctor is gentle …

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‘Begs the Question’ or ‘Raises the Question’?

No, esteemed author friends. "Begs the question" does not mean "raises the question." What is our language coming to? I sound like a pedant, but honestly ...  the rash of "begging the questions" we're now seeing everywhere, even on news shows and in presumably "edited" books, is enough to drive an editor around the bend. People think it sounds cool ... Read More

Self-Published Book Contests & The Eric Hoffer Award—Horse of a Different Color

Most legitimate book-award contests don't allow submissions by self-publishing authors. There are, of course, the book contests for self-publishers that hand out awards like candy. Nearly every contestant wins something—including a shiny sticker they can display on their book cover to make buyers think they have written something of quality. Fortunately, there’s at least one book contest out there for ... Read More