Friday’s Fun Find: It’s a Booksapalooza!

2013-03-07 04.48.47When I get home from a writer’s conference, I have a slump for a couple days. And I’ll tell you why: I always go with my hopes high and think, Yes! Some editor (or agent) is going to come up and say, “Cathy C. Hall, I simply MUST have your novel! And while I’m at it, let’s make it a three book deal!”

So far, that hasn’t happened. Thus, the slump. But after the slump, I go all Dreamgirls and start shouting, “Okay, people. I’m not going anywhere. I’m getting serious about writing these books now. Next time,” and here I shake my fist in the air, “next time, you’ll see. You-and you–and you, you’re gonna love me.” Er, my books.

Then I get busy. This time around, I had a lovely gift card from the Beneficent Mr. Hall that I whipped out and used to buy a couple books I’ve heard good things about, either at the conference, or from friends, or ’round the Internet.

1. Save the Cat by Blake Snyder…yes, it’s a screenwriting book, but it’s packed with interesting insights for the would-be novelist. Like  the hook and loglines and scenes. And I’m only on page 24.

2. The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson…although, as you may have noticed, I cut to the chase and purchased the workbook. I need exercises and examples to give me a push. But I suppose if I get to a point where I think I should’ve ordered the original book, too, I’ll hit up Mr. Hall for another gift card. St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, right? (Look, I told Mr. Hall it’s a Savannah tradition, so I’d appreciate it if you’d just keep mum.)

3. The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi…who knew emotions could be (sort of) quantified? I am loving this (Kindle) book. (heart pounding,  sharp intake of breath, eyes dilating)

Okay, that’s enough for now. I’ve got some reading to do, and honestly, I can’t think of anything funner I’d rather do on this Fun Friday. (Well, that agent/editor call might be more fun–d’oh. Now I’ve got to sing the song from Dreamgirls again.)

How Good Reading Makes For Good Writing

So I was thinking that the Beneficent Mr. Hall would really enjoy Harlan Coben’s The Woods–plus, it was free, so I brought it home. (I can be beneficent, too, you know.) And wouldn’t you know it? The man had already read it.

So there lay the book on my table…waiting.

Now, of course I’d heard of Harlan Coben, and read a couple writing articles by Harlan Coben, and knew he was all that and a bag of chips. But I’d quit reading mysteries years ago. I love a good mystery, but after years of reading tons of mysteries, one gets halfway into the first chapter and says, “He’s the guy. (Or girl, as the case may be.)” Which sort of defeats the purpose of a mystery, right?

Still, it was New York Times best-seller Harlan Coben and I thought, okay, fine. I’ll read one more mystery. But it better be good.

Oh, it was good. It was real good. It was why-must-you-torture-me-with-your-excellent-writing good.

So. I’m thoroughly chastened. And not just because I’d pooh-poohed mystery reading. I read The Woods through the eyes of a wannabe published author and learned SO much about writing that works… great pacing, authentic character development, just the right mix of description and narrative, true dialogue. And the way he wove so many stories together so effortlessly and organically  was brilliant. (And how in the world can he do that without outlining???).

It was way more than reading. It was an education. And it was there, all along, just waiting for me.

So, how about you? Got a book like that? ‘Cause I’d sure love to read it. (Perhaps the Beneficent Mr. Hall would, too. But he’ll have to wait till I’ve finished it first. I’m not that beneficent. )

P.S. I came across this list of Six Page Turners You’ll Tear Through from Oprah’s book picks. Since I tore through The Woods, I thought I might try one of these, maybe learn a little more. Holy moly, I hope my brain doesn’t explode this summer!

Just a Few Writing/Reading To Do’s

1. If you haven’t commented yet to win a copy of the super adorable picture book, The Smiley Book of Colors, go here now and find out more!

2. Do you know about my friend’s search for wonderful family stories? Linda O’Connell is editing a Publishing Syndicate’s anthology: Not Your Mother’s Book…on Family. You can find out all the details here (plus a little something about Anne Lamott who’s written a book with her son, Sam).

3. Knowonder magazine is now paying $25 to $50 for stories and/or articles. They’ll be back June 1st, but they’re accepting submissions now. Go here to find out how you can get your story in the next issue!

4. Come back here tomorrow to read what author, Lisa de Nikolits (West of WaWa), has to share about “What To Do When Your Publisher Closes Shop.” Besides cry, I mean.

And speaking of what to do, if you finish this To Do List today, just imagine what all you’ll accomplish. It’s mind-boggling (not to mention potentially lucrative).