The Saturday Writing Quote — L’Engle on creativity

01_Barn_Pastel_WEB“When we are writing, or painting, or composing, we are, during the time of creativity, freed from normal restrictions, and are opened to a wider world, where colors are brighter, sounds clearer, and people more wondrously complex than we normally realize.”

— Madeleine L’Engle, American novelist and teacher, 1918-2007)

(painting: pastel on sandpaper, by Leslie)

The Saturday Writing Quote — the power of failure

IMGP1940“In three years, I must have failed over a thousand times, but each failure brought me closer to what I needed to write, and for that, I’m grateful.”

– Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief, on what he learned writing and rewriting the opening pages of his novel 150-200 times, searching for the right narrator and POV. Quoted by James Clear in “How creative geniuses come up with good ideas,” reprinted in Montana State of the Arts, Nov-Dec 2014. I also appreciate this observation by Clear:

“If you find 200 ways to reinvent yourself, to get better at your craft, then luck seems to have a way of finding you.”

(photo: Echinacea, or coneflower, in my garden, by Leslie)

Hey, butter, butter …

A few updates in Book World:



BJ (Barb) Daniels and I had a great time talking and signing at Barnes & Noble in Billings earlier this month. IMGP3159One of Barb’s readers created this amazing model of her characters’ homestead.




My short story, The End of the Line, first published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine in December 2006, is now available in a free podcast. I read, followed by a short interview with AHMM editor Linda Landrigan.

My summer blog tour is now on my website, with links to all my essays. The most recent additions: Writers Read — A few favorite recent reads — or more precisely, recent listens. The Page 69 Test — Just what it sounds, featuring BUTTER OFF DEAD. And Mystery Playground — the Interview!

Coming up: I’ll be at the Montana Book Festival in Missoula on Friday, Sept. 11, talking about how grief, place, and our own experiences influence character and plot, with mystery writers Christine Carbo and Sarah Layden.

guilty as cinnamon


Meanwhile, back at the homestead, Ruff the Cat and I have just finished the final proof pages of GUILTY AS CINNAMON (Spice Shop #2, December 2015) and we’re working hard on Spice Shop #3, KILLING THYME. 

We hope you’re enjoying a summer of great reading, and plenty of BUTTER!

The Saturday Writing Quote


“To travel your journey—that journey that is yours alone—you need to prepare mentally for the unexpected. You need inner stability, inner peace. You need some toughness. You will get scared sometimes. The ups and downs are significant when you live your adventure.”

– Roderick MacIver, in Journal Meditations, November 2011

(photo by Leslie)

The Saturday Writing Quote — Trollope on dialogue

IMGP2188“The novel-writer in constructing his dialogue must so steer between absolute accuracy of language — which would give to his conversation an air of pedantry, and the slovenly inaccuracy of ordinary talkers, which if closely followed would offend by an appearance of grimace — as to produce upon the ear of his readers a sense of reality.”

Anthony Trollope, Autobiography (as quoted in The Writer on His Art 187 (Walter Allen ed., 1949)).

The Saturday Writing Quote

“A real writer learns from earlier writers the way a boy learns from an apple orchard — by stealing what he has a taste for and can carry off.”



— Archibald MacLeish, “On the Teaching of Writing,” in Writing in America 88, 90 (John Fischer & Robert B. Silvers eds., 1960). (Quoted by Bryan Garner, author of Garner’s Modern American Usage, in his weekly blog on usage.)