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Books every serious writer should read …. and study

I just finished reading Daniel James Brown’s bestselling book The Boys in the Boat. I know I’ve read a really, really good book when there’s a kind of sadness when I get to the final page, and I close the book in awe of the writer’s ability to tell the story. I’ve long said that a book …

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The verdict is in …

I love using beta readers as I’m working on a book. They are so helpful, especially to counteract the very real tunnel vision that writers get when they’ve looked at a manuscript—stared at it incessantly—for months and months and months. This time around, I had several beta readers who were quite helpful. But the chief …

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That ONE book …

Anyone who has read about the writing life of C.S. Lewis has, no doubt, come across his references to George MacDonald’s Phantastes. The book inspired Lewis like none other. He writes about how MacDonald's book opened his mind to the world of imagination, which he eventually came to understand was God-given and incredibly freeing.  Recently—out of curiosity—I ordered …

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Late-blooming geniuses

Have you ever known a bonafide genius? Have you ever aspired to be one? I've been reading a book by Malcolm Gladwell—one of the most innovative writers I've ever come across. The book, What the Dog Saw, is a compilation of essays Gladwell wrote for the New Yorker. In one essay, he asks the question of whether prodigy is …

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How to outwit writer’s block …

Talk to any writer or read any number of writing blogs and you will likely find one universal fear: the dreaded phenomenon of writer's block — that moment when your brain goes blank and a great chasm opens up between your head and your fingers. Thankfully, I can say I never have writer's block. Never. …

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Thank you, Southwest Times …

I'll soon be off to my favorite place on earth — Southwest Virginia — to speak to a book club. Today, I'm especially grateful to writer Brooke J. Wood and The Southwest Times for running a great story about my book and the event. With Brooke's permission, I'm reprinting it here: Writer pens novel about historic …

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Tacking with a new wind …

An announcement: This week I'm leaving my job of the past eleven years. My job has been the latest iteration of one I've held off and on for decades. As a staff writer for James Madison University, I've written about international students, philanthropists, autism, dams, archeology, engineering, international affairs, intelligence, education, pioneers, cyclists, museums, business, …

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A little trumpet fanfare, please …

I've hit it—the 100-books-sold mark for my novel, CAIRNAERIE. I am elated and enormously grateful for all those friends and acquaintances who have read it and shared it and reviewed it on Facebook and Goodreads. For a writer, having your work appreciated—even loved—is the epitome of success. Now begins the real work of finding new readers …

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