What We’re Reading in the Humid Summer of 2014

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Yes, it’s Non-Fiction. So sue me.

Still, I thought it might be fun to share the chapters I’m delving into from The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Short Story Writing, Volume II. Copyright is 1988, but I’m here to tell you there’s Solid Gold between these pages, folks. The editor of this book was Jean M. Fredette, and personally I’m glad she took up the cause.

Here’s my review of one chapter (there are 33 all told, all written by different authors) The Carrot and Some (Writing) Tricks by Lawrence Block.

Mr. Block garnered my immediate attention because one of my favorite writing writers, James Scott Bell touted Mr. Block as a mentor, and I believe he’s mentioned his name on one of my favorite writer forums, The Kill Zone. Here’s a link if you want to check out a cool interview between the men. When I saw Mr. Block’s name I sat up and took notice. Thank you Mr. Bell.

Lawrence Block takes up only four pages of space in this handbook, but he packs a punch in those four pages, something every short story writer should strive to replicate.

In summary, Mr. Block starts off saying non-writers (readers) are fascinated about what it is we writers actually do with our time. Well, I couldn’t agree more that my writer’s mind never rests – we’re at it 24/7.  But, and here’s a BIG BUT, that caught my eye last night. Lawrence Block wrote, “Unless I’ve put in my daily stint at the typewriter, and unless I’ve got something to show for it I feel as though I’ve played hookey.”

Those words called me out.
I’ve been futzing around with something odd over the past two months I’ll categorize as Writer’s Block. In retrospect, after reading Mr. Block’s chapter in this wonderful book, I’ve been Gathering Wool. Wasting Precious Time. I’ve been playing hookey.


I dip my head in acknowledgment that I’ve gotten off my daily word-count and started wasting time.

Mr. Block goes on to give a couple of suggestions that made his writer’s life “as guilt-free as possible.”
1. Make Writing The First Thing I Do.
2. I Try to Work Seven Days a Week.
3. I Save Routine Work for Later.

Simple. To the point. No nonsense.

After reading this wonderful chapter I woke up this morning, fixed my coffee, and hit the keyboard immediately before I checked my email.
I wrote 2116 words in under two hours – the best breakthrough in word count I’ve seen in two months. What magic happened overnight as Mr. Block’s words percolated in my sleeping mind? I’m not positive about the answer, but I suspect it has everything to do with his suggestion Number One:

Write First. Everything else is then icing on the cake.

I’m moving on tonight through the Handbook of Short Story Writing, Volume II, to see what other gems wait inside those covers to stimulate my writing prowess.

For the first time in the heat of this Humid Summer of 2014 I’m looking forward to getting to the keyboard fresh in the morning, renewed, and filled with confidence. My WIP needs me.

What great Non-fiction books have you read lately?


 Like! Read! Share! Review! Thanks!

Published by Paula Millhouse

Author Paula Millhouse http://www.paulamillhouse.com Where Fantasy, Romance, and Suspense collide.

2 thoughts on “What We’re Reading in the Humid Summer of 2014

  1. Hey Paula,
    I’m not very good at reading writing books or any other instructional books. I tend to start daydreaming. But I love that about playing hooky. I feel really guilty and my self esteem starts heading down the toilet if I don’t accomplish something.
    I’m so happy your writing again. Maybe it will wear off on me.
    In my writing group tonight, one person mentioned EMDR really helped her so I’m going to try that out.

    Great post.


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