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The French love him

A Western crime novel popular in France? Hard to believe, but it’s true. Craig Johnson’s first novel, A Cold Dish – he has five out in this country – came out in May in France under the title Little Bird, where the book was voted the best mystery in that country. A week and a [...]

The Hillerman theory

Craig Johnson, in the four years between meeting Tony Hillerman and Hillerman’s death, the two had long, long conversations. While the subjects ranged the world, they often returned to writing. “I think the big thing was,” Craig says, “he told me, ‘Remember, you’re telling a story here. Don’t get caught up in all the detail [...]

Conversations with Craig Johnson

Craig, a rancher and writer from Ucross, Wyoming – population 25 – hit it big about 5 years ago. He had published his first crime novel when he decided to enter a short-story writing contest. His entry won. More important to Craig was the judge: Tony Hillerman, the master of the contemporary Western mystery. Craig [...]

A novel in progress

Picture this. You’re a reporter and your boss says, “Hey, I want you to take four weeks off to write something in long form that has nothing to do with your job. Do it because . . . it’ll be good for you.” That opportunity came to Dahlia Lithwick, a Supreme Court reporter for Slate.com. [...]

A novel finished

There’s that old saw that everyone has a book in him or her. There’s also the new saw, that anybody with a computer can write a novel. So I’ll write me a book. Get on Oprah. Make a million bucks, and trade in my Ford Escort for a Hummer. Even pay cash. Yup, a lot [...]

Writer sans computer

When writing with pencil on paper was high tech for us writers, the worst that could happen was we broke our lead. Solution? Get out our jackknife and resharpen our pencil. Back in business in less than a minute. When high tech now is writing on a keyboard and we break our computer – it’s [...]

Website vs. Facebook group page

You’re a writer like me. We have a book out and we want to get noticed beyond our close circle of family and friends. Because we want to sell books. What to do? Say the pros in the business – agents and publishers – and our fellow writers, we gotta have a website. And, if [...]

A post about blogs

Let’s be honest. Brutally, brutally honest. Most blogs are boring. They are mini-diaries or dissertations on hobbies or they are laced with such uninspiring statements as “last week I had a latte with my friend Jane” and “let me tell you about the cute thing my cat did yesterday.” Then there are the sterling writers: [...]

Some more of Simple Gifts – Part 5

Marge, my wife, had been a nurse during her working career, so we collapsed in laughter as we read writer June Sprigg’s memories of Canterbury Shaker Village’s Eldress Gertrude. Eldress Gertrude was concerned about everyone’s health. She was a tough but grandmotherly old gal of seventy-seven years of age. Wrote Sprigg, “Eldress Gertrude’s greatest passion [...]

Some more of Simple Gifts – Part 4

Lillian, at ninety-six, was the spiritual anchor of New Hampshire’s Canterbury Shaker Village in the summer that writer June Sprigg came to know her. Her power came from inside, Sprigg said, “from God within her, not from anything bestowed from without . . . she was the real item, the water of life in a [...]