Next on television

Let’s be honest. We writers, we all want our books to be turned into movies or television series. A degree of celebrity and a lot of money come with it if the movie or the series is a hit. It happens for few of us. Charlaine Harris a couple years ago with the True Blood [...]

What makes a good read

Scott Turow, that Chicago lawyer who has written nine superlative legal thrillers, was first an academic. He studied creative writing at Stanford University. He and his fellow students were expected to come away writing literary novels. “In the late 1960s and early 1970s,? Turow said in a recent essay for the NPR news program All [...]

Lilies of the Field . . .

Wow, what a response a couple weeks ago to my posting of pictures of flowers on Facebook. The Asiatic lilies are blooming here in Marge’s garden in southern Wisconsin, so I shot a series of pictures and put them up in an album I titled “Lilies of the Field.? In the blurb, I said the [...]

Why there are no James Bonds in Alan Furst’s books

After 10 books writer Alan Furst set in the 1933-1942 time period in Europe, he discovered he was writing spy novels. But you won’t find a James Bond or a Jason Bourne in one of them. Furst prefers characters who struggle with huge moral questions, just as his readers would if they were there in [...]

A series that never moves on

Alan Furst has written 11 novels set in the beginning years of World War II. Eleven novels. Most of us who write series work a period for a couple years, a couple books, and move on. We let our characters age because either we’ve mined out the stories of that period or we’ve become bored [...]

A master of description

I admire craft. A lot of books you and I have read are just not very good, and often the failure can be chalked up to the writer having failed to master the craft of writing. So when we read a good one, we say, wow, this story sings . . . it’s a real [...]

Where do book/movie/play titles come from?

I have no imagination when it comes to creating titles for the books I write. I titled my current one – out last year in hardback and now out as an e-book – Early’s Fall . . . Early, from the name of the principal character, James Early, and Fall, from the time of the [...]

Fly-in season

In Wisconsin this is fly-in season. Probably in your state, too. Every Saturday and Sunday during summer some airport somewhere holds a fly-in breakfast. Okay, it’s a drive-in breakfast if you don’t have an airplane. Fact is more people drive in than fly in for these events. A couple weeks ago, my brother and I [...]

Why you should buy this month’s Smithsonian – Allen Ginsberg

Beat poet Allen Ginsberg was a photographer. I didn’t know that. He had an eye for what makes an interesting picture. Now you and I may scribble on the backs of our pictures when we took them and who’s in them, but Ginsberg wrote detailed narratives – captions – in the bottom margin on the [...]

Why you should buy this month’s Smithsonian – the fake William Shakespeare

I’ve read Shakespeare, taught Shakespeare, even acted in and directed a number Shakespeare plays, but nobody ever told me there was a fake William Shakespeare out there, a forger so good he fooled just about everybody around. I had to read it in Smithsonian Magazine. Former book and magazine editor Doug Stewart wrote the book [...]