Authors

Tom Clancy (1947 – 2013)

Cover Art: Executive OrdersTo say that Tom Clancy was a creature of his times is not a put-down. It is a sovereign fact that he capitalized in a big way on the resurgence in capital P-style patriotism of the Reagan years, as well as the long-hoped-for healing of the nation’s wounds inflicted by the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal and the rise of the Rust Belt where our Industrial Might once stood. But that zeitgeist booster rocket he rode to vast fame and still vaster fortune would not have mattered one bit were Clancy not a first rate novelist—a master of the military thriller, a genre that if he did not invent, he made his own so thoroughly that he might as well have.

Clancy passed away Tuesday of undisclosed causes at the age of 66. To say he was an industry unto himself is not hyperbole. Seventeen of his novels sat atop the New York Times Best Seller List and one hundred million copies of his books are currently in print, but perhaps most culturally significant is that many of the movie adaptations of his books were not only wildly profitable, they were watchable as well (which probably had as much to do with Clancy's signature tight plotting, complex conflicts and memorable characters as anything the film makers did).

Elmore Leonard (1925 - 2013)

cover art 52 Pickup

I hate that in its obituary for Elmore Leonard, the New York Times felt the need to sniff down its long, blue-blooded corporate nose, and call him “a modern master of American genre writing” [italics mine]. I’m sure no offense was intended, and I suspect Leonard wouldn’t have objected, but still, the qualification is wholly unnecessary. He was a master. Period. And the fact is, he didn’t aspire to the literary pantheon. He preferred to be read, and his influence was not limited to other "genre" writers. There are a lot of people referred to as "writer's writers," Elmore Leonard was a writer's writer's writer. He was that good. He was not only the consummate craftsman, he was a bit of a visionary. Leonard was one of those people who come along when an art form has gone a little soft, become a little too reliant on convention and its practitioners a little too pleased with themselves, who strips the form down and re-imagines it, and in so doing revitalizes the art. Elmore Leonard did that twice, for the western and then crime fiction.

If you regularly write anything more complex than a grocery list and you haven’t memorized Leonard’s 10 Rules for Good Writing, do it now...

No, really. I'm serious. NOW

Carlos Fuentes 1928 - 2012

Cover Art: The Buried Mirror by Carlos Fuentes

Carlos Fuentes who passed away last week at the age of 83 left behind a multifaceted legacy that most writers can only dream of. Up until the very day he died, he was an active, larger-than-life presence in the literary, political, social and intellectual life of his native México, and one imagines his influence will still be felt long after the memory of him as a flesh and blood human being is gone.

He was lionized in his own country, but his influence on the literary environment in this one should not be underestimated. It was Fuentes, along with Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa and Julio Cortázar, who, sometime around 1975, shouldered their way up to that big table in the back of Elaine’s and demanded to be seated.

Canaries in the Coal Mine: Banned Books Week, September 24 - October 1

ALA Banned Books Week 2011 LogoEven as you read this, some nameless canary is sitting alone at a keyboard pecking away at one or another of your dearly-held and unquestioned truths. With time and because of that canary's work, that truth will be shown to be false. And you will be better for it. We all will.

Terry Pratchett Wins the Margaret A. Edwards Award!

terry pratchett The Margaret A. Edwards Award honors an author for his or her significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. Terry Pratchett writes amazing fantasy adventures that are intelligent and humorous. Check out some of Terry Pratchett’s books here @ HCPL

 

 

 

 

If You Liked Dances With Wolves or Avatar, You Might Like This.

buckskin brigades

Buckskin Brigades by L. Ron Hubbard

A Rider On the Storm

Jason Manning, another of our Texas writers of western fiction, may not be a household name like Larry McMurtry, but he certainly deserves to be better known among western fans. With several series and numerous stand-alone novels under his belt, his work reflects a keen knowledge of the conflicts of the western frontier in the 19th century, as well as a thorough understanding of the motivations of human nature.

On the Shelf: The Last Time I Saw You

If you’ve read my blogs, you know how much I’ve enjoyed reading really good books written by first-time-published authors. I also love “visiting” with “old friends” like Elizabeth Berg.
 
I was introduced to Berg by Oprah (not personally – oh how I wish!) and by a good friend, who thought I’d really enjoy Berg’s Oprah book club selection, Open House. I’ve been a fan of Berg’s ever since, not only because she’s a wonderful writer, but also b

Passing Identity on the Western Trail

With his twin Colts, Danny Duggan earned himself a reputation as a dangerous gunman. Danielle Strange, however, just wants to settle down and make something of her Texas ranch. When trouble rides in to town and an old friend is killed, Danielle turns to Danny for help. But there is more to Danny than meets the eye. And just what is the secret of their relationship anyway? Together they set out to bring the roughnecks to justice. Along the way they will find some more surprises to challenge the very core of their bond.

2009 L.A. Times Book Prizes

Last week, the Los Angeles Times announced the 2009 Book Prize winners. This is an annual event that takes place during their Festival of Books and honors authors in ten categories: biography, current interest, fiction, first fiction (the Art Seidenbaum Award), graphic novel, history, mystery/thriller, poetry, science and technology, and young adult literature. Graphic Novel is a new category to the 30-year ceremony.

Listed below are the finalists of the 2009 Book Prize Winners. For a list of all finalists and runners up, visit here.

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