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#thiswritinglife

It is infinitely instructive for writers to read the first novel written by the writers they revere. This is one such writer and his novel. Michael Gilbert wrote Close Quarters in 1937 and then went off to war, finishing it after he got home from the war (which included his escape from a prisoner of…

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“Hey, dragon.”

One of the all-time classic children’s books. A dragon attacks Princess Elizabeth’s castle, burns up all her clothes, and kidnaps her fiance, Ronald. She decides she’s going to get Ronald back, so she dons a paper bag and tracks the dragon down to his lair. The illustrations are great but it’s the story and its…

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I heard recently from a friend whose sister applied to Storyknife and didn’t get in. I wrote back as follows. Please do tell your sister to apply again. We had 599 applicants last year, it was tough. There are even more this year (our poor adjudication committee). In some ways this is very gratifying, but…

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I was fortunate enough to attend the inaugural WIT, or the Words, Ideas and Thinkers Festival this past week, hosted by the Authors Guild. I heard Dan Brown talk about the intersection of religion and science, and Adm/Amb (Ret.) Harry Harris and Simon Winchester talk about China, and a slam-bang, standing ovation discussion on reimagining…

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Hitching a ride Nile style.

This photo was taken from the Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan during my visit to Egypt in December 2019. And it was the direct inspiration for this snippet from Theft of an Idol: The banks of the canal slipped past. Two boys in a rickety rowboat paddled out to catch hold of the rail and hitch…

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from 7 Tips for Writing Crime Fiction, written for Writer’s Digest. 7. Backstory. Every single character gets one, including the guy who shows up once to deliver the mail. It can be as little as a sentence or as much as a subplot running through the entire narrative. The supporting cast is what makes a great…

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7 Tips for Writing Crime Fiction by Dana Stabenow (written for Writer’s Digest) 5. Never neglect setting.* It’s key to everything that follows. What does it look like, smell like, sound like, feel like? What effect does the setting have on the characters, and why? Once you figure out setting, you can figure out who…

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For centuries Hondurans have told their children the myth of the Lost City of the Monkey God, but myths are often rooted in fact, and in the early Oughts cinematographer and inveterate searcher for lost cities Steve Elkins starts looking for it. National Geographic/New Yorker writer and novelist Douglas Preston, in the way nosy journalists…

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