How to Write a Damn Good Mystery
5 out of 5 stars.
This is the book you need. James N. Frey can write. Like really write. His secret spell book teaches the alchemy of how to structure a mystery while making characters come to life. It is a dense book (almost 300 pages) but written in such a compelling fashion, it doesn’t feel heavy. Frey gives aspiring authors writing challenges and blunt advice. You don’t have to be solely interested in writing mysteries to get oodles of value out of this. This would be my #1 recommendation for those who are serious about genre writing as a craft.
Stephen King | On Writing
4 out of 5 stars. Engaging, sometimes shocking, hard to put down. Yes. Typical Stephen King. Most of this book is about his personal writing journey. And wow, what a story. There is some solid writing advice. I’ve read it three times. But is it a great guide for helping you writer your own novel? Nooooot reaaaaally. But Stephen King talking about drug addiction, poverty, suffering, determination and his eventual success? Incredible story telling.
Romancing the Beat
5 out of 5 stars.
I love this guide by Gwen Hayes. If you are all about actionable items and are purely looking how to structure a love story, this is the best thing I’ve found. It’s easy to use, fun to read, and short. It’s only 78 pages long. And if you are Gen X or Y, it’s full of references to 80’s pop culture. It’s a must have if you are a romance writer, or someone using romance as a subplot. Ps. I enjoyed reading this more than her actual romances.
How I Write: Secrets of a Best-Selling Author
3 out of 5 stars
The entire book is written in a Q & A format by Ina Yalof as she interviews Janet Evanovich. Was it interesting? Yes. Did it have some good advice? Yes. If you are a fan of Stephanie Plum, you will enjoy learning about her character’s origins and Janet Evanovich’s writing process. But it is all that useful in helping teach YOU how to write a mystery? In my opinion, no. Compared to some of the more actionable books in this list? It comes nowhere close. This book was entertaining, and I don’t regret buying it, but it doesn’t work for me the way some of the others do.
How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method
5 out of 5 stars.
At first I was turned off when I opened the book and realized the entire thing was written as a metaphor with Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Once I got over that, I realized the book is PURE GOLD. I’ve been struggling for months trying to outline my first novel. After reading this book I am finally making headway. Randy Ingermanson breaks down the task of plotting (and even sort of pantsing) into manageable, rational chunks. If you don’t have a good process for outlining, try this. You won’t regret it.
MYSTERY How to write traditional & cosy whodunits
2 out of 5 stars.
This book might be fantastic for a writer with a different sort of brain. It is so DENSE. The writing reminds me of the language a university student might use on an essay. I believe the basics are in here and VERY well explained. I would need time, quiet and an uninterrupted environment to absorb and practice what Paul Tomlinson preaches. Unfortunately I live in an open concept house on a farm with a daughter, cats, a dog, and a talkative husband. Not to mention a full-time job. (not writing)
DreamForge Anvil & The Dreamcasters
I’ve joined a group of writers, and it is the single most amazing thing I ever did for my writing. Not only have I found a community of like-minded content creators, but I am learning so much at a very low cost. For a $3 (US) a month Patreon pledge, the Dreamcasters have meetings, do writing assignments and get advice from the greatest minds in the speculative short story business. On January 9th, 2022. Bruce McAllister was the guest host.McAllister is a story genius. His book suggestions led me to buy the next book on this list, Writing to Sell
Writing to Sell
4 out of 5 stars.
The only reason this classic tome by Scott Meredith doesn’t get five out of five stars is because it’s dated. (first edition 1950) However, there is a so much classic, insider information in this book, I feel like I was handed the holy grail of publisher secrets and sage advice. Meredith is touted as one of the most successful literary agents of his time, and he writes candidly about what differentiates the good from the bad. Bruce McAllister says this book helped him achieve success in his writing career. Fingers crossed it does the same for us!
The Ultimate Guide to writing MODERN Cozy Murder Mysteries
5 out of 5 stars.
The book was recommended to me by the Paranormal Cozy Mystery Author group on Facebook. It is so good. I wasn’t really sure what a “cozy” was, but this book gives you clear, salient advice on how to create one if you are interested. I feel like Nina Harrington wrote this specifically for people with brains like mine. Exactly the correct combination of information, actionable items, and writing tasks. The steps she outlines are easy to follow, and she give case study examples from one of her own cozies. She even helps you figure out how to “write to market” for Amazon in one chapter. She dumbed it down nicely.
Write to Market - Deliver a Book That Sells
4 of 5 stars.
There are 100 pages in this book. So it’s short. It is full of actionable items, which I always enjoy. There is some good writing advice. However, this book mainly focuses on analyzing Kindle and the Amazon beast. So, if you need a dive into that, this book is definitely helpful. I am not sure what I think about writing for “paying readers” instead of “following your muse.” We could have a philosophical argument about that for days. I imagine the correct path is a bit of both. Write what you love to read, but also… make sure there is a market for your stuff.
The Writer's Workbook
2 out of 5 stars.
This book was just a bunch of hard work for me. It is really dense, and full of so much stuff, I found it hard to pick out what I needed and what was superfluous. Picture an entire university degree on every facet of writing (screenplays, poetry, short stories, writing for broadcast, marketing, etc) crammed into one book. It’s also full of writing exercises. So maybe for the really dedicated with lots of time…
5 out of 5 stars
Every writer should have a newsletter. When I was told this, it was like someone informed me I had to learn Latin. Trust me, there is a whole other language to this stuff. Absolutely no idea where to start. This book by Tammi Labrecque was amazing, and by following her advice, I now have a newsletter! (Click the HOME button on this website, www.fawns.ca, and when you see my pop-up, sign up!) She has created 130 pages of simple, clear and informative information about how to create a newsletter, figure out how to correctly do the “on-boarding”, and then how to grow your subscribers and deliver content.
5 of 5 stars.
Created by the top mystery writers in America, this book is a worthwhile addition to your library if you are thinking of writing mysteries. (IMO, every good book has a mystery, no matter what the genre.) This book also feels like going back to school, but a school where every instructor is a writing star willing to give you the secrets of their success.
How to Write a Short Story
Christopher Fielden is quite the character. He quit his full-time job, bought a van, and is making a living as a writer. This book is good for authors who like to dissect short stories and what makes them work. He writes comedy/horror (among other things) and is a hoot to read. Christopher Fielden has written a book about selling short stories, and keeps an up-to-date list of writing contests on his website. He is very candid about his journey, finances, and how he manages to monetize his website.
30 Days of World Building
Angeline Trevena is a fellow horrortree.com contributor and a world-building expert! She has several addictive fantasy series and 3 guides to world-building available. I have yet to purchase this book, but it is on my list.
The Guide of All Guides
Now that we are talking short stories, I have written a guide listing all of the top markets for short stories, basically in the order of how much they pay! I did this for myself. When I write a short story, I start with the top-paying, collect my rejections, and then gradually move down the pay scale until someone buys it.