Sunday Smatterings

Smatterings - October 6.png

Hello, October! My favorite month. I’m ready for some cooler temps, cozying up to the fireplace, and all the attendant fall regalia.

I’ve been thinking about something. (I know, I know, the most dangerous sentence in the language, topping “Hold my beer” by just a few ticks...) But I’m at that stage in the new book, where I’m looking at some of the connections that need to come into play down the road, looking at some character motivations, and I realized something was missing. This is nothing new, at this stage of the book, 1/3 of the way in, it finally becomes a story unto itself and I have to come to grips with, yes, this is the story you’re telling, get on with it. 

I was thinking about motivation. What motivates a character to do something? What drives them? In my previous few books, I had a scenario that was very distinct (a missing husband, writers in a bad marriage, Olympic skiing, a private boarding school) and I have one in this as well, but I still feel like there’s a layer I need to dig into that isn’t on my radar yet.

I asked the Literati this week what they are fascinated by, what they would like to do as a hobby, what skill they don’t have that they’d like to. I was surprised by how many people mentioned forensics. That’s utterly fascinating. What’s your answer?

I have a few. Architecture. I’ve always wanted to design houses. Meteorology. Weather fascinates me. I would love to be a conductor, bringing out the best performance of a symphony. Golf, obviously. Astronomy.

I think a good book always hangs on something super interesting about the character. Like Michael Koryta’s IF SHE WAKES -- one of the characters in a stunt driver. A female stunt driver. Obviously that plays into the story in several elegant ways.

Another is Deborah Harkness’s Diana Bishop in A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES. She is a scholar of alchemy. Unique, strange, fascinating. 

Anyway, I’m just noodling about at the moment. I have a character whose background is distinct, but I’m missing her passion. Even her name is being difficult. Whatever her passion, it’s hiding itself at the moment.

I’ll find these aspects of her soon enough, I can feel them circling, wanting to land but not finding any branches to their liking.

I mentioned last week I might try to post some writing advice today. What I realized is something you may or may not know...I have a whole section of writing advice here on the website. If you look up at the navigation, there’s a heading called For Writers. Click it, and you’ll see a series of articles I feel are important for new writers, little bits of advice from that might help you on your way.

One last thing: the newsletter will be coming out in a few days. Be sure to sign up for exclusive content you won’t find anywhere else. Now, let’s check out the links!


50 Must-Read Crime Novels for Fall and Winter 2019. Thrilled GOOD GIRLS LIE is included in this list! Such good company.

Fall In Love With This Ultimate Guide To Bookish Candles. I love a good candle.

Top 10 culinary memoirs. Adding these to my TBR...

Physical books still outsell e-books — and here's why. “Genres that do well in print include nature, cookery and children’s books, while people prefer to read crime, romantic novels and thrillers via e-reader, according to Nielsen Book International.”

The Best Writing Tips from Electric Literature Interviews. Lots of great advice!

15 Of The Best Books Like SHARP OBJECTS. I loved SHARP OBJECTS so this list perked my ears up.

THE OCTOBER BIG THRILL: New column explores the iconic impact of the King, plus interviews with Cornwell, Jance, Gerritsen, Chbosky, Khoury + 30 more. If you're not subscribed, and you like crime fiction, you really should get on this.

Snøhetta’s New Library for Temple University Is a Soaring Ode to Knowledge. Such an incredible design!


THE THIRD WIFE by Lisa Jewell

The Third Wife is my first book of Jewell's but it won't be the last. I love how she can take a story that could be banal in the hands of a lesser writer and make it suspenseful, touching, and complex all at once. I cared so much about the characters that I forgot I was reading a book and felt like I was catching up with distant friends. Super!

What are you reading?

That’s it from me. Share your fascinations in the comments, break out the cider and cinnamon, give a lost grocery store pumpkin a home for the season, and I’ll see you next week.