Thursday, May 27, 2021

Sprinting to the Finish Line from James W. Ziskin

 Do you alter your personal reading based on what you are currently working on?

No, other than reading research materials I need for the book I’m writing, I don’t really change my habits. I realize that research might not qualify as personal reading, but I’m going with it all the same. I try to keep reading to a minimum anyway when I’m in the “sprinting” stage of a project. That’s when I’m fully focused on getting the first draft done, and I have little time for anything else. Typically, my sprinting stage lasts about two or three months, with me writing an average of 1,300-1,500 words per day. Over the course of ninety days or so, that adds up to more than 100,000 words. A novel. My books tend to run about 105K words. That’s a length I enjoy. Enough to tell the tale fully, develop the characters, and describe the scenes I want to, but not so much that it’s hard to chew and swallow.

So what kind of things do I read when I’m sprinting? Historical references, period fiction, advertisements, telephone books, newspapers, memoirs, concordances, etc. When I’m not sprinting, I have more time to devote to reading for pleasure and business. When writers ask me to blurb a book, I call that business, even if it’s enjoyable. Mostly, I read within crime fiction. There’s such variety and so much that’s fresh and changing in our genre that I rarely find it a chore. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve read in the past couple of months. Three of them haven’t even been published yet! 

The Out-of-Town Lawyer, Robert Rotstein

Staged for Murder, Erica Miner

Murder at the Brand-New Jubilee Rally, Terry Shames

In League with Sherlock Holmes, anthology edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger

Murder in Old Bombay, Nev March

Blacktop Wasteland, S. A. Cosby

Implied Consent, Keenan Powell

Next, I’ve cleared the decks to dive into Susan Elia MacNeal’s latest, The Hollywood Spy, the latest in her super Maggie Hope historical series. The Hollywood Spy hits stores July 6. You won’t want to miss it. Maggie Hope is one of my most favorite protagonists in today’s fiction. And Susan’s historical research only serves to inspire me to do my own research deeper and better. Can’t wait.

1 comment:

Nancy Cole Silverman said...

I always appreciate your perspective, Jim. I’ve just downloaded S.A. Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland and looking forward to reading. Also, looking forward to your next.