What I’m Reading This Week…

Aside from my sweet Writer Friends’ Fabulous Manuscripts, that is…

1. Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

Um, I think I’m going to have to go with Highly Recommend on this one. What took me so long to get this amazing writer-booty-kicking book? Ah, yes. I had to wait for Xmas. Should have bought it sooner. Like, four manuscripts ago. Maass drew my attention to an aspect of the writing process I needed to consider: risk-taking. My stakes are not usually low in my manuscripts, but he’s got me thinking higher. Much higher.

2. An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor

Wow. Practical, mystical, secular, sacred. This is one of those quietly seductive books that keeps calling you back. Easy to read, and keeps you thinking long after you shut it. Don’t check this one out – buy it. You’re going to want to read it more than once, and over the course of weeks.

3. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Just started this one – I’ll let you know how it goes. I’ve heard such amazing things, I had to buy it! Juicy so far.

Yes, I am reading these books simultaneously. I always do that! But you’ll notice none of them are in the same genre. I’m a serial book polygamist. Or whatever. Do you do that? Or does your brain go on overload when you juggle books?

Update on the WIP: I’m halfway through! And doing something I never, ever do: allowing friends to read parts of the MS before the whole is done. I don’t know why,it just felt like the right thing to do. And it’s working – every comment is making my focus tighter, refining the plot… and Donald Maass’ book came just in time to help me think the right thoughts about raising the stakes that itty bitty bit more.

Update on the retreat: I’m sending in my application for A Room of Her Own Writer’s Retreat at Ghost Ranch, N.M.! Thanks for your input. I think a week of writing with just a smidgen of social writerly time will be perfect.

Posted in Children's Fiction, Miscellaneous on 01/20/2011 02:41 pm


  1. Donald Maas’s book is great. I may need a re-read. Since you like that, you might love the Save The Cat books by the late Blake Snyder. They’re for screen writers, but my crit. partners and I are eating them up. So many great reminders about story/plot. I’m reading the third one now, plus a book on archetypes and the hero’s journey, a parenting book and a book on clutter control. Total book polygamy. Can’t do it with novels though. Once I’m sucked in, I don’t cheat.

    Hooray for your retreat choice!


  2. I totally understand reading more than one book. Right now I’m reading SAVE THE CAT, REAL MERMAIDS DON’T WEAR TOE RINGS (thanks for the loan) and MENNONITE IN A LITTLE BLACK DRESS. I’m almost done with all 3 of them. Three very different books. I couldn’t read two YA novels at one or two MGs at once, but a craft book, a memoir, and a novel each take up their own separate space in my head so somehow it works.


  3. I’m re-reading the Donald Maass book. So happy your writing is going well. A writer’s retreat at the Ghost Ranch sounds like a perfect place to work on your w.i.p. 🙂


  4. You know I love Mr. Maas and I, for one, loved Linger though have yet to read the first book Shiver.


    • Nikki Loftin

      Bethany – you’ve met Mr. Maass? What’s he like? I had Shiver on hold at the library for eons, but the other borrower never brought it back! So I had to buy it – at Bookpeople, natch. 😉


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