John Steinbeck, a Pulitzer Prize winning author (Grapes of Wrath) and Nobel laureate offers six basic tips on writing in his interview it the Fall 1975 issue of The Paris Review.
1.  Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised. (This concept of small daily incremental progress is key to long term writing success.)
2.  Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.  (Self-censorship and a constant reworking of material day-by-day is absolutely antithetical to finishing anything!)
3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one. (This helps to tell a story with real intimacy.  It’s just you and one other person.)
4.  If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there. (Constant forward momentum is the only way anything gets done.  Don’t let any one scene, or sequence stop or stymie you.)
5.  Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing. (Kill kill kill your darlings.)
6.  If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech. (This is excellent advice even for purely narrative passages too!)


Sudden FearSudden Fear by Edna Sherry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

SUDDEN FEAR – A playwright fires an actor as she workshops her play prior to opening night. Sudden Fear by Edna Sherry inspired the movie starring Joan Crawford in 1952. Myra Hudson becomes embroiled in a tangled web of a murder plot, a double cross, jealous rivals, a frame job and a counter attack. With her husband, a bourgeois girl she saves from drowning, her secretary and her financial advisor. This classic novel of psychological suspense novel keeps the reader guessing as the author lets the elaborate plot unravel. This is a must read!

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REVIEW OF WEIRDER BY AMOS LASSEN – “A Carnival Story by Amos Lassen. Chad Schmike’s other novelette is about a side show and what happens to Henry Hill, a young magician who joins it. The show is run by a bearded lady and as the story progresses, each act is tested. We move toward a conclusion that is shocking. Hill is a complex character and we grow with him. Carnival stories are always fun but when you add darkness to them, they become really fun. This is what Schimke has done here.”


DAY OLD BABY RATS – This story, set in the Meat Packing District in NYC, is about a girl who is misguided in just about every way that is possible. She is always losing/ breaking things, carries a flask to help her through ‘emergencies’ and feels the need to monitor who parks outside her building. She spends much of her day checking the news, looking for the time (hence her broken watch), concerns about weather and occurrences that have transpired in her neighborhood. Day Old Baby Rats by Julie Hayden derives its title from a scene in the story where exterminators display milk white baby rats in a pickle jar that were caught in a old vehicle then exterminated. The protagonist muddles through disjointed montages from time to time. Through the subway, a cab, Macy’s and an abortion at her doctor’s office; all the while dressed in a white rabbit fur coat and large black sunglasses.  


The Nine Wrong AnswersThe Nine Wrong Answers by John Dickson Carr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

NINE WRONG ANSWERS – An imposter is framed for murder – where the reader matches wits with the author to dispel the ‘wrong answers’ – and conceals the murderer. The Nine Wrong Answers by John Dickson Carr uses an ingenious device, footnotes that proceed through the novel, to arrive at the final chapter titled ‘The Nine Right Answers’. Evidence builds along the way but the protagonist is outguessed at every turn. Carr is a classic mystery writer, if you are inclined to read a whodunit, don’t miss this opportunity!

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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO – A journalist pairs with a private investigator to uncover the truth of a young girl’s disappearance. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson was published posthumously – he died suddenly of a heart attack – shortly after the delivery of the manuscript to the publisher. This is a locked room murder mystery, where alternate story lines are merged later on, that follows a sprawling cast of characters. The topics are controversial; murder, rape, racism, torture. But the lengthy novel works, because the author takes the time to let the characters and plot unwind naturally.

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4 LESSONS IN CREATIVITY BY JOHN CLEESE – This post contains a snippet from the full article, see below for the link. You may not recognize the name John Cleese, but you are certainly familiar with Monty Python. He talks about tapping into the unconscious and the right side of the brain. As artists we must turn off the editor analyzer tape that constantly runs in our brains.