Elmore Leonard, RIP

Crime novelist Elmore Leonard, a master of modern noir, died today. He was 87. From his 2001 essay, "Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle,"that appeared in the New York Times:

5. Keep your exclamation points under control.
You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.

6. Never use the words ''suddenly'' or ''all hell broke loose.''
This rule doesn't require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use ''suddenly'' tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points.

Elmore Leonard's author page on Amazon

The Elmore Leonard Website

Hugh Howey's 'Dust,' final volume in the Silo saga

Dust, the final installment of author and indie publishing star Hugh Howey's AMAZING "Silo" series, is out today! Hugh is an American author best known for this popular series which began with "Wool," independently published through Amazon.com's Kindle Direct Publishing system. That book became a sudden success in the Fall of 2011, and Hugh explains what happened next:

Read the rest

"What Cancer Has Taught Me About Writing And Living"

Two weeks after historical fiction writer Anne Clinard Barnhill's debut novel was released, she was diagnosed with stage 3 endometrial cancer. She writes about how the diagnosis changed her, and about what the experience has taught her about writing and living:

Since then, I've done a six-week book tour across North Carolina, had a radical hysterectomy, gone on a blog tour and started chemo. Not exactly what I'd expected in what was supposed to be 'my' year.

At first, I didn't want to tell anyone about the disease, but that quickly became unfeasible; people were contacting me to do readings and I had to explain why I couldn't; my editor had been patiently awaiting my revisions to the second novel and I didn't want him to think I was dawdling; and, I figured it was something my agent should know. So, I went public. As I deal with the gritty life of coping with cancer, I've noticed some similarities between the writing life and living with cancer.

Read the rest here: BOOK PREGNANT: What Cancer Has Taught Me About Writing And Living.

(thanks, Lydia Netzer)

Books by dictators

From Saddam's novels to Gadaffi's rambling political treatise, authoritarian tyrants can't resist the cachet of authorhood. Among the few to attain a degree of competence were Stalin and Khomeini--poets both. [Foreign Policy]

Rebecca Skloot answering questions about "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks"

Last month, I reviewed The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, science journalist Rebecca Skloot's new book about the development of the first immortal cell culture line—and the family caught between pride in the role their mother played in this breakthrough, and anger over the way the medical community had treated her and them.

A lot of you commented on the review and had some really interesting thoughts about the book. If you've still got questions about HeLa, the Lacks family or the medical ethics/legal status of tissue samples, now would be a good time to pull them out. Skloot is taking reader questions—you can email them to her, or leave them in the comments on her blog—and the answers will become the FAQ page of her book's Web site.

I love the interactive approach to this and am looking forward to reading the FAQ that comes out of it!