When You Find a Good How-To Book

Manuscript MakeoverIn my quest to read more nonfiction and improve my writing skills, I picked up a book that was recommended to me several years ago. It was a good decision. Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon is one of the best how-to books on editing I’ve read in a while.

One of the great things I’ve found about how-to books is that they trigger ideas for improving my plots, characters, settings, and so forth. It happened several times throughout this book, which has caused me to go back and make key changes to the second draft of the urban fantasy I’m working on.

Now I find myself with three sets of notes to type up. One for the book review I’ll post. The second is a quick summary of editing tips I specifically need to address in all of my manuscripts. The third is to incorporate all of those notes I scribbled down about the urban fantasy.

The last section is entitled ‘Marketing’, but it’s not about promoting and increasing visibility. It’s about properly preparing your manuscript to submit to publishers. Lyon offers some really great tips on writing query letters and a synopsis. If you’re a fiction writer, I strongly encourage you to read this book. With any luck, new ideas will spring up for your work.

 

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New Reading Goals for 2018

Readingabook[1]As a mystery writer, I read a lot of fiction. This year’s target was 50 books, which I managed to reach in late December. With two part-time day jobs and a busy writing career, it was a bit of a challenge. I read primarily mysteries, but I also read fantasy, historical fiction, science fiction, women’s fiction, and humorous fiction.

The older I get the more I realize how little I know about the world, so I’ve decided to choose a lot more nonfiction material. The plan is to delve into history, geography, politics, business, and as many other topics as I can find.

I’m not sure where to start, so I welcome any recommendations you have for great nonfiction reads. This is going to be fun!

#amblogging: My Top 5 Reads So Far This Year

On average, I read one book a week, so after a full year I sometimes forget what I’ve read, which is why I keep a list. Every December, I also read dozens of blogs and lists about top reads of the year, so I thought I’d start early and post my top five reads of the first half of this year.

After only seven months of reading, it’s been a challenge to pare my list down to the top five. As I read mostly mysteries and fantasies, the genres won’t surprise you:

Escape Clause

Escape Clause by John Sandford. This author has at least two mystery series going. Although he’s been around a while, I just discovered his work and I’m glad I did!

 

The ConjoinedThe Conjoined by Jen Sookfong Lee. This is a different type of mystery, and it’s absolutely riveting. Lee is a superb writer, and the book is definitely on the literary side. It’s not a whodunit, by a whydunit, so to speak.

 

Zagreb Cowboy imageZagreb Cowboy by Alen Mattich is a well-written suspense novel set in the 90’s in Croatia. The setting is so beautifully incorporated into the story that you feel you are there. Incredible!

 

Getting WildeGetting Wilde by Jenn Stark. I’d never heard of this author but the premise appealed to me, so I gave it a try. This action-packed, multi-layered fantasy is amazing! Characters, backstory, pacing, plot are spot on.

 

NightwalkerNightwalker by Allyson James and Jennifer Ashley is another delightful urban fantasy featuring vampires and dragons and a kickass slayer protagonist. Again, the action, pacing, and story are great fun.

 

I’ve love to hear what your best picks of the year are so far!