A lesson from Jeffery Deaver

Are you anywhere near High Point, North Carolina? Tomorrow, thriller writer Jeffery Deaver and two other pros – ex-cop Lee Lofland and editor Chris Roerden – will teach an all-day session for writers looking to step up to the next level. Deaver’s titled his section “People Don’t Read to Get to the Middle: Writing a [...]

Help for writers

I started out like every other writer who grew up reading James Michener. I was going to write this great saga that would sell books by the tens of thousands. And I wrote it. A great saga. And I got 125 rejections letters from agents and editors. I decided, well, I’ve got to get some [...]

One more shot at the cozies

I can’t write a cozy, a mystery where the detective is an amateur. Yet I know cozies are hot. There are readers out there who love ’em, who devour them like they were M&Ms. All I can conclude is cozies are fun reads. Good wins, the baddies lose, and all is well with the world. [...]

Amateur sleuths and credibility

Chicago crime writer Libby Fischer Hellmann says she’s run out of ways to get her amateur sleuth – video producer Ellie Foreman – involved in a crime. “It strains credibility,” she says. “I could never write cozies.” You know the kind of mysteries Hellmann is talking about, where the sleuth is a beautician, a veterinarian’s [...]

A Wisconsin novel, and a bestseller, too

“In Wisconsin, we’re more interested in weather than sex,” David Wroblewski told his audience at the Fox Cities Book Festival last week. Then he winked at them and added, “Well, fishing is more interesting than sex. Everyone knows that.” The audience convulsed with laughter. They were Wisconsinites. They knew the truth of which Wroblewski spoke. [...]

Novels set in Wisconsin don’t sell

At least that’s the popular belief among the top editors in the New York publishing houses. You want a bestseller? Set your story in New York City or Los Angeles or, if it’s a political thriller, in Washington, DC. But on a small farm at the edge of the Chequamegon National Forest, way up in [...]

A book that shouldn’t be – Part 2

We teach writers that, if they want their books to sell, the story should take off like a rocket on page 1, preferably in the first paragraph. Better still, in the first sentence. David Wroblewski’s The Story of Edgar Sawtelle doesn’t do that . . . exactly. It starts with the history of the Sawtelle [...]

A book that shouldn’t be

By all that we teach writers whose goal is to write popular fiction – books that lots of people will buy and read – David Wroblewski’s 2008 novel, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, never should have been published. At 562 pages, it’s too long for a first novel. We teach that publishers want a first [...]

The Five Star All Stars tomorrow at the Fox Cities Book Festival

Yes, Chicago crime writers Michael Black, Libby Fischer Hellmann, and I – I’m the token Wisconsinite in the All Stars – will do two presentations at the Fox Cities Book Festival. We’re up tomorrow. Our subject: “Masters of the Deadly Genre.” The three of us travel as The Five Star All Stars Plus One, so [...]

Welcome to the Fox Cities Book Festival

Jane Hamilton, Ted Koozer, and David Wroblewski are the star writers at The Fox Cities Book Festival going on now up here in America’s dairyland. I came back to Wisconsin 10 years ago after having been absent for 30 years. I knew we had writers here, but didn’t know we had any who were bestsellers [...]