Writing 101: The Mountain as Metaphor

Not many of us wake in the morning and think: “I’m going to climb Mt. Everest.” Ascending a twenty-nine-thousand-foot peak requires a skillset hardened by years of dedication and training. The same holds true for writing a book. It’s not done on a whim. You don’t cast a glance at the Toni Morrison novels on your bookshelf and think, “A Nobel Prize in Literature? Sure, I can do that.” Now, this metaphor might be a bit of a stretch, but I was thinking about it while Continue reading →

Book Clubs: Love ’em or Hate ’em?

Sometimes I finish a book aching to talk about it. You know what I mean: The story has burrowed under your skin, the ideas keep ticking in your head, and you just can’t let it go. At times like these, rather than latch onto strangers on the street or corner them in elevators, it’s nice to belong to a book club. One friend of mine had a book club that left me envious. Not only did their reading list include literary masterpieces, but they had Continue reading →

Judging a Book by its Cover

A or B. Which of these two covers below best addresses the question, “What does an old stuffed bunny have to do with a missing three-year-old and a religious cult?” If your answer is “A” you agree with everyone I asked last Sunday while signing at the L.A. Times Festival of Books at USC. “A” is the fantastic new Suspense Publishing cover for Last Writes, which was the fourth book in my forensic handwriting series (2010). The first four books were published by Penguin, who Continue reading →

Travel on the Horizon

If you love to travel and love to write, you can simply weave together these two urges to create the ideal occupation, right? It makes perfect sense… or so I thought when I first landed in Thailand. My writing implements were at hand and my senses were primed. I would absorb it all, craft pages of sparkling prose, and my imagined career as a travel writer would be underway. By day two, however, I’d yet to write a single useable paragraph. And by the next Continue reading →