My Favorite Christmas Books

Christmas is my favorite holiday – it always has been. I love everything about it – whether it’s decorating the tree, wrapping gifts, or just eating candy canes. And reading Christmas books has always been part of the holiday for me. I know that I have read way more Christmas books than are listed here, but these are not only some of my favorites, but they’re also books that I still own.

My Christmas Treasury

I think this was my all-time favorite book (Christmas-themed or otherwise) when I was about five. I distinctly remember asking my mom or dad to read it to me Every. Single. Night. I’m sure they were sick of it, but I loved it. It’s a fun collection of Christmas stories, poems, and artwork, all Little Golden Book style. Continue reading

The Right Way to Write

So many blogs, books, and classes these days tell you how to write. Some offer craft of writing education, others (like mine), offer tips and ideas for genre-specific works. For example, I’ve offered advice from my own learning and writing experience about inventing fantasy words for your epic fantasy or sci-fi story, or researching for and writing historical fiction.

But a bigger, and perhaps more important, question is this: is there a right (and thusly, wrong) way to write? My answer is both yes and no.

First of all, in fiction writing, there are some basics that yes, you need to get right if you’re going to have a marketable (or even readable) book. Stuff like coherent plot, characters, and basic grammar and spelling really do matter. Studying writing crafts books, taking seminars from established writers, and just plain old reading well-written books are great ways to learn how to write right.

But what about the more abstract elements of writing “right”? Does that even mean? Continue reading

How to Write Historical Fiction

For those who don’t know, I am currently writing – and reading – historical fiction. To be specific, I’m currently writing in the historical fiction sub-genre of historical fantasy, retro-futuristic science fiction, or dieselpunk.

One of the key elements of writing historical fiction and its various relatives is, of course, research. And as any writer knows, the very act of doing research can often inspire other ideas – which can be great if you’re just at the start of putting together a book, but can also derail you from a good work in progress.

But anyway, let’s say that you’re wanting to try out the historical fiction genre. Where do you begin? As with most any writing, I believe good historical fiction writing comes from reading books in that genre. Also, most historical fiction writers have a love of history – whether it be a love of a certain place or time in history, or a broader love of anything that is old. So if you love history, how do you start writing a fictional story? Continue reading

The Value of a Writing Retreat

A few weeks ago I took a four-day writing retreat with the members of my monthly writing critique group. Last year we’d decided to try a retreat, and loved it so much that we did it again this year.

We booked a 6-bedroom cabin at a retreat center in a nearby town, and spent four days just writing. Yes, we did other things, too – went for walks or a swim, got together for meals and a movie every evening, and chatted here and there about our writing projects. We all get along really well, and even though we’re all writing different things in different genres, we enjoy talking about writing and even helping one another with brainstorming ideas.

A scenic view near our writing cabin.

Continue reading

Small Town Writing

Two years ago I made a huge change in my life: I left my hometown (the only city I’d ever lived in) and moved clear across the country to a small town that I’d never even visited before.

I haven’t regretted the move at all. Even so, after two full years now, I’m still finding myself periodically marveling at the differences between the big city east coast life I grew up with, and the small-town north-west life I live now.

It’s great fodder for stories, for sure. Even though my current WIP does not take place in a small rural town, I’m filing away my observations for potential future writing use. And now, I’m sharing these little observations with you! So if you’ve never lived in a small rural town, then feel free to take some of these tidbits and use them to inspire your own writing!

A Town of “The”

My town is small enough that it’s a town where many things are “the.” As in, “the post office,” “the Chinese restaurant,” and “the gas station.” It used to be a town of “the traffic light,” but then the light was removed. There is only one other traffic light in the entire county, just past the north edge of town; so my town is officially now a no-light town. Continue reading