Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Check out the course I'm tutoring

Kill Boring Plots with Yvonne Walus:

New this year at SavvyAuthors!
Basic and Premium Members Prices
Premium Members $25 & Basic Members $35

*** Register before November 12 and use the coupon KILLPLOTSWALUS for a $5 discount ***
Structure, Plotting
$5 off Early Registration Coupon-expires 1 week before class starts
Learn how to write books that impact the reader and become conversation topics at parties. Make your books count.

They say that a human body can survive 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water, and 3 minutes without oxygen. So how long can a human mind survive when bored? How long can a reader stick with a book that doesn’t carry any meaning?

Meaning is more than goal, motivation and conflict. It’s beyond the plot or the theme. Meaning is how the plot affects the protagonist and how it impacts on the reader’s life.

Don’t kill your story with an empty plot. Come to this workshop to discover techniques that help you translate “First this happened and then that happened” into four-dimensional reader experiences.

Lesson 1 – What's the Big Deal?
Lesson 2 – Generating Ideas
Lesson 3 – Did I Feel This?


Lesson 3 – The Process: from Idea to More-than-Plot
Lesson 4 – Story Outline for Plotters / Story Lake for Pantsers
Lesson 6 – Tips and Q&A

Friday, November 09, 2018

The Lost Man - Jane Harper

Probably my favourite Jane Harper so far. It grips you from the first chapter and doesn't let go. You're not reading, you're living the book: the heat, the heartbreak, the suspense.

Two brothers meet at the border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of outback Queensland, in this stunning new standalone novel from New York Times bestseller Jane Harper

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish. Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he lose hope and walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…

Past Tense - Jack Reacher 23

"Past Tense" is a must-read for all Jack Reacher fans. I probably wouldn't start with this one if you're a newcomer, simply because this book works better once you know the main character and his family, but if this is your first and you want to start now, don't let me stop you.

Great pacing, as usual. An effortless writing style. Ticks all the Reacher boxes without being formulaic.

Jack Reacher plans to follow the autumn sun on an epic road trip across America, from Maine to California. He doesn’t get far. On a country road deep in the New England woods, he sees a sign to a place he has never been - the town where his father was born. He thinks, what’s one extra day? He takes the detour.
At the very same moment, close by, a car breaks down. Two young Canadians are trying to get to New York City to sell a treasure. They're stranded at a lonely motel in the middle of nowhere. It’s a strange place … but it’s all there is.
The next morning in the city clerk's office, Reacher asks about the old family home. He’s told no one named Reacher ever lived in that town. He knows his father never went back. Now he wonders, was he ever there in the first place?
So begins another nail-biting, adrenaline-fuelled adventure for Reacher. The present can be tense, but the past can be worse. That’s for damn sure.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred Year Old Man

Jonas Jonasson has done it again. And just as entertainingly. If you liked "The Hundred Year Old Man Who Jumped Out the Window and Disappeared", you will love the protagonist's views on modern politics: Trump, the Supreme Leader, Angela Merkel, uranium and Kenyan safaris in "The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred Year Old Man".

If you haven't read the first book, this one can be enjoyed as a stand-alone. Chances are, you'll read the other one as soon as you've finished this one, anyway.


The news on Allan’s black tablet had the curious habit of being both big and small. Mostly big, unpleasantly enough. Allan sought out the small and charming but got the rest of it into the bargain. It was impossible to see the molehills for the mountains.

During his first hundred years of life, Allan had never reflected upon the bigger picture. Now his new toy was telling him that the world was in a dreadful state. And reminding him of why he had, once upon a time, rightly chosen to turn his back on it and think only of himself. He recalled his early years as an errand boy at the gunpowder factory in Flen. There, half the workers had devoted their free time to longing for a red revolution, while the other half was horrified at the threat from China and Japan.

Their understanding of the Yellow Peril was nurtured by novels and booklets that depicted a scenario in which the white world was devoured by the yellow one. Allan did not care about such nuances, and he continued along the same path after the Second World War when brown shirts made brown the ugliest colour of them all. He noticed this as little then as he did the next time people converged around an ideological expression.

This time it was more a longing for something than away from it. Peace on earth was in, and so were floral VW buses and, frequently, hash. Everyone loved everyone else, except Allan, who didn’t love anyone or anything. Except his cat. Not that he was bitter: he just was.

The flowery era of life lasted until Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan took over in their respective realms. They thought it was more practical to love oneself and one’s own successes. But if you insisted on disliking someone it should be the Russians. Essentially there were no other threats, and when Reagan killed Soviet Communism simply by talking about sending missiles from space, it was peace and joy for all, except the half of humanity who had no daily food and the several thousand British miners who no longer had a mine to go to.

The new view was that there was no reason to care about your neighbour; it was enough to tolerate him or her. And people did, until the winds of change blew once more. A bit unexpectedly, perhaps, the brown-shirt ideology made a comeback. Not by way of Germany this time, at least not fi rst and foremost. Or even second and middlemost.

But in a number of other countries it was in. The United States wasn’t fi rst among them, but it soon became the most noticeable, thanks to its recently elected president. It was impossible to say how much he really believed in it: that seemed to change from day to day. But the old adage about doing something yourself if you want it done right wouldn’t suffice: it was time to point out external threats to the white Western lives we all deserved to live.

A River of Stars

This is a beautiful novel about a head-strong Chinese woman trying to make it in USA against all odds. Written in an easy, original voice, by Vanessa Hua, this story will captivate your heart and imagination.


When Boss Yeung first told her about Perfume Bay, she’d tossed the brochure onto the dashboard and reached for a slice of dried mango. Shaking his head, he took the bag, but before he could stop her, she snatched a slice of chewy sweetness. During her pregnancy, he’d begun scrutinizing her, prescribing advice—­some backed by science but most by superstition—­to protect the baby. She shouldn’t eat mangoes, as their heat would give the baby bad skin; no watermelon, whose chill would cool her womb; no bananas, which would cause the baby to slip out early. No water chestnuts, mung beans, or bean sprouts, either. The list of traditional prohibitions grew each time she attempted to eat.

As he drifted into the next lane, she told him to keep his eyes on the road. He gripped the steering wheel and told her his plan: he wanted to send her and their unborn child halfway around the world to Perfume Bay, five-­star accommodations located outside of Los Angeles. After she delivered, staff would file for a Social Security card, birth certificate, and passport for the baby. Their son—­his sex recently confirmed—­would give them a foothold in America.

“Eventually he could sponsor our green cards,” Scarlett had responded. “For now, you’ll get rid of me. Clever plan, Boss Yeung.”

At the factory, she called him Boss Yeung, and she kept it up in private, too, a reminder that she was a deputy manager, and not a xiaojie—­a mistress, a gold digger from a disco or a hostess bar. They passed factories covered in grimy white tile, built on land that had been fields when she arrived here as a teenager. People from around the country had moved to the Pearl River Delta, just across the border from Hong Kong, to make their fortunes, and the factory girl you snubbed might someday become your manager.

Boss Yeung reached into the glove box for a brand-­new U.S. atlas that he must have hand-­carried from Hong Kong. Hope unfurled in her chest. She always navigated on their weekend drives, and with this gift, she pictured them traveling across America together.

“Whatever hospital you’d deliver in would be top-­class,” he said.

“The hospitals are good in Hong Kong, too,” she said. Unlike in China, the government wouldn’t hassle her there for being an unwed mother, wouldn’t fine her or force her to terminate her pregnancy. Women there could have as many children as they wanted.

Boss Yeung frowned. Hong Kong was also home to his wife and three daughters.

“It doesn’t matter how good the hospitals are in America, if I end up in jail,” she said.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Nine Perfect Strangers

I love Liane Moriarty, and I love her books. This one may not be in my top 3 Moriarties, but it's still a beautiful read, a page turner with memorable characters and those profound life insights so typical of this author.

Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? In Liane Moriarty’s latest page-turner, nine perfect strangers are about to find out...

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

Thirteen - Steve Cavanagh

"Thirteen" by Steve Cavanagh is a 4th book in the Eddie Flynn series, but don't let it discourage you from reading the thriller as a stand-alone (you can fill in the blanks and read the earlier books afterwards, like I did).

Clever. Original. Fast paced. Lovable main character.

Start reading.

All the evidence points to Robert's guilt, but as the trial begins a series of sinister incidents in the court room start to raise doubts in Eddie's mind.

What if there's more than one actor in the courtroom?

What if the killer isn't on trial? What if the killer is on the jury?