Note to Self: Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

Book Cover Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass“Inside advice for taking your fiction to the next level.”

Writing the Breakout Novel was written much like a textbook and that format meshed well with my learning style. Most everything covered was general knowledge – for writers who have read other books on their craft – but Maass delivered the information from the “inside” perspective of an agent whose career spans 30 years.

Each chapter focused on a major element of fiction and began with an examination of Maass’s theory on what is necessary to exploit that element to achieve “breakout” success. Oftentimes, an excerpt of published fiction was used to illustrate that “breakout” technique. Lastly, each chapter ended with the “Breakout Checklist,” a must-have bulleted list which summarized the chapter’s key points.
Click to keep reading

Note to Self: The End of the Night by John D. MacDonald

Whoa! The End of the Night by John D. MacDonald grabbed me from the first page and didn’t let go until the last of its 219 pages. What makes that so amazing is, I knew how the story ended from page one. Plus, this book was published in 1960 yet it felt totally relevant to 2010. I’m in awe. And talk about prolific…MacDonald wrote over 500 short stories and 78 books in 40 years! Man, how inspirational is that?

Here’s the blurb from the back cover:
…Click here to keep reading

Note to Self: Stunts by Charles L. Grant

Jacket cover Stunts by Charles L. GrantStunts by Charles L. Grant was published in 1990 and the hardcover edition I was reading had 438 pages. I couldn’t finish this book but I did manage to force my way through 161 pages. Unlike Broken, I was just getting interested in the story when I had to return it to the library on March 12th. And, because my car has decided to give me attitude, I didn’t know when my next visit to the library would be, so I couldn’t check out anymore books.
…Click to keep reading

Note to Self: World War Z by Max Brooks

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks was . . . interesting.

WORLD WAR Z is Max Brooks’s life work. Logging countless hours of travel to capture and preserve first-hand experiences from the Dark Years, Brooks records in great detail the one aspect that has been neglected in all previous retellings of this war: the extraordinary job we did in coming together to thwart our extinction and reign triumphant.

Brooks’ imagination and dedication to zombies is undeniable. The amount of research and planning that he had to do in preparation for writing World War Z is admirable. The book’s format – personal interviews with survivors of the zombie apocalypse – is unique enough to keep most zombie addicts turning the page. Plus, it’s written, quite convincingly, as non-fiction.

However, the 352-page book has its flaws. And those flaws could prove too numerous for picky readers, who might choose to close the book and never pick it up again. …continue reading

Note to Self: Homebody by Orson Scott Card

I finished Homebody by Orson Scott Card on February 10, 2010. How I found this book at the library, I couldn’t tell you. It was possibly on a list of must-reads. Or, maybe, it found me.

Insert spooky music here.

The jacket’s summary was slightly misleading, though, as it described events out of order, which I assume was in an effort to make the story appear more suspenseful or certain events more critical. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good story. But I think the blurb could’ve been more concise and less scattered.

Don Lark was easy to empathize with, and his grief and anger were justified. …continue reading

Note to Self: Return of the Living Dead by John A. Russo

At 180 pages, Return of the Living Dead by John A. Russo is what I refer to as a “quick read,” having done so in just under three hours on February 7, 2010.

A huge fan of the 1968 film, Night of the Living Dead, I was fairly certain I’d enjoy this book. And Return of the Living Dead was a fun reading experience, but it was also plagued by grammatical errors and typos, which are a big pet peeve of mine when it comes to a published novel, especially one I know had to have been reprinted at least once since 1970.

Nitpicking aside, the story delivered what I expected: a rural community under attack from zombies. There was ooey gooey graphic consumption of human flesh, emotional turmoil, and humans actin’ a fool.

Mostly, I enjoyed Russo’s ability to go one step further to make the situation that much worse for the characters just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse. Their desperation and inability to process any of the emotions that would accompany such a situation added to the book’s overall feeling of hopelessness. However, I wonder, did Russo intend to make the looters and rapists come across scarier and more intimidating than the zombies?

Here’s the blurb from the back cover:


They’re back. The terror from beyond the grave returns once more in John Russo’s nightmarish classic Return of the Living Dead. And their taste for blood is as strong as ever.

After a bus turns over in a quiet American town, the entire country is thrown into the grip of the hands of the dead–or undead. No one is safe from the flesh-eating ghouls who have risen from their deathbeds to feed on the living. As the horror spreads, the blood begins to flow. But can their craving for living flesh be stopped?


John A. Russo on IMDb | Wikipedia

Wanna read more zombie lit? I found two lists that may be of interest:

Zombie Book Database | The Ultimate Zombie Book List