Category: Sustaining Books

How to Write a Mystery: the Imaginary Writers' Room weighs in

How to Write a Mystery: the Imaginary Writers' Room weighs in
(Editor’s note: What follows is a re-posting of the same thing posted on June 1, in order to repair format glitches which happened then.) “We haven’t heard much from Margaret for a while,” said Agatha Christie. “Have ye investigated, Dame Agatha?” said Robert Burns. “I’ve seen her sitting around with a red book,” said Daphne... Read more »

Why go on writing about mystery-writing now?

Why go on writing about mystery-writing now?
The world is very different from the way it was just last week. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is being talked about as the largest military action in Europe since World War II. But my most recent post was part of my series on the book “How to Write a Mystery.” My next one will... Read more »

Did that book change, or did you?

Did that book change, or did you?
I’m taking up some time on my extra bus trips lately — and reminding myself not to go to bookstores, because there is enough to read — by carrying my bus books with me. All right, one of them is new (Watch this space!), but I am also working my way through a series I’ve... Read more »
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Is quiet the hardest self-care?

Is quiet the hardest self-care?
During Sunday’s loud, stormy night, I turned back to my pandemic-era Sustaining Book, “The *More or Less* Definitive Guide to Self-Care,” which has been the source of many other posts. I found what I needed last night: Quiet. Author Anna Borges describes background noise as “the default” in our lives. There are times lately I’ve... Read more »

'Teller of Tales' and the Imaginary Writers' Room on Conan Doyle's birthday

'Teller of Tales' and the Imaginary Writers' Room on Conan Doyle's birthday
I knew I’d cause a sensation when I walked into the Imaginary Writers’ Room in my mind yesterday. I was holding one of my favorite biographies, “Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle,” by Daniel Stashower (New York, 1999: Henry Holt and Company). Robert Louis Stevenson saw the gold letters on the back... Read more »

The exception doesn't prove the rule -- it disproves it

The exception doesn't prove the rule -- it disproves it
If I hear “the exception that proves the rule” one more time, I just might scream, so I decided to write this instead. I still remember the time when my dad asked me about that expression and what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle may have written about it in a Sherlock Holmes story. (Thanks and kudos... Read more »
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What characters are in your imagination?

What characters are in your imagination?
I’ve been leaving my window blinds slightly open for the past few nights. Closing them completely keeps the coldest of the air from getting through any gaps in my window, gaps which seem molecular at times these days. But the cold air is a slight relief as my over-excited radiator keeps chugging along over 80... Read more »

The last problem of the year: Diary Hunt!

The last problem of the year: Diary Hunt!
Christmas 1974 was a momentous day on my path to becoming a writer. My parents gave me a 1975 Peanuts “Day By Day” book — a cartoon by Charles M. Schulz, a funny caption, and space to write about the day. I suppose that the paperback book might have been used as a planner, but... Read more »

Some 'major' advice from Edwin Newman

Some 'major' advice from Edwin Newman
I’ve kept reading “A Civil Tongue” by Edwin Newman since writing previous posts about it. The only thing slowing me down from its funny and eloquent style is that it’s like rich food — if I read it all in one big clump, other things will seem poorer by comparison. One section I enjoy returning... Read more »
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Edwin Newman on 'the hopefully disease'

Edwin Newman on 'the hopefully disease'
In his lively book about the English language, “A Civil Tongue,” former newsman Edwin Newman describes what he called “the hopefully disease.” Since the book’s publication in 1975, the word “hopefully” has continued to be misused so badly that I have been feeling rather lonely in supporting its proper use — to my way of... Read more »