Thoughts on the "B" word (no, not the one that rhymes with "witch")

Killer Hobbies received a double bouquet of great news this week.
I had the honor of being listed, along with fellow author and Killer Hobbies co-blogger Linda O. Johnston, on the IMBA’s Bestsellers list for October. (

Now, as a relatively new author (I’ve actually been published many times before, but always under a pseudonym), I found myself awestruck—perhaps overly so—by the term “Bestseller.”

When my name turned up on the IMBA’s list just one month after the publication date for DYING TO BE THIN, I spent an embarrassing amount of my thought-time “dieseling,” as our Monica would say, over the following questions:

“What is a ‘Bestseller’, anyway?”
“What does it mean?”
“Why am I spending so much time thinking about the ‘B-word’ rather than doing what I’m supposed to be doing, which is finishing up the first draft for A KILLER WORKOUT?”

After misdirecting all that brain energy, I finally decided to observe an old adage (I’m probably misquoting it here): “God arranged man’s arms and legs so that it is hard for him to either a) pat himself on the back, or b) kick himself on the behind.”

Bottom line: I’ve got another book to finish!!!!!

Read of the week

When I’m not thought-dieseling or writing, I’ve been reading an interesting book called WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL, by Donald Maass.

His advice for how write a “breakout novel”—in a nutshell, it’s this: open up your story. Make it bigger. Give it higher stakes, a larger theme, one that impacts many more people than you’d find in, say, the population of Cabot Cove.

I find myself instinctively doing that. In the second book in The Fat City Mysteries, A KILLER WORKOUT, there is an umbrella “theme” of mean girls grown up, but underneath that theme, there are other, larger issues at stake: child molestation and criminal activity in the national forests, plus environmental peril.

So I’m wondering—do you think that books need to “grow” their stories in scope in order to maintain a reader’s interest and loyalty? Authors, do you use any particular techniques to widen the scope of your follow-on works? To make them “bigger”? To achieve a “breakout” novel?

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