I fell in love with books at age six. That is when I read Charlotte's Web and decided that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. Books saved my childhood. Long story, I won't bore you with it. Let's just say that I wasn't one of the cool kids and yet I was never lonely because I always had my head in a book.
I grew up and I did become a writer. I have been a professional writer since 1980. I spent most of my career in television, where I wrote for M*A*S*H, Hill Street Blues, Moonlighting, Northern Exposure, Judging Amy, Third Watch, The Glades, The Good Wife, and more. I also wrote movies of the week, including Toughlove and The Betty Ford Story, and I adapted and produced The Women of Brewster Place.
I took some time out in the middle and wrote a novel called Dark Debts, which was published by Random House in 1996 and republished (a rewritten version) by Simon & Schuster in 2016. (It's still in print and you can buy it on Amazon or, preferably, from your local independent book store, if you are lucky enough to still have one.) Right now I am writing a memoir for Ignatius Press, and I am still dabbling in screenwriting.
From November of 2009 until the summer of 2016, I owned a small independent book store in Boone, North Carolina called Black Bear Books. I loved every minute of it, except for the tax work. What I loved the most was talking to customers about books, and I have been going through withdrawal for that ever since we closed the store. Hence the blog. It was either this or applying to be a bookseller at minimum wage. (And I'm still seriously considering that.)
I'm going to start with the books that were always on my Staff Picks shelf. I read some very good books when I was buying books for the store, and most of the ones I loved were not the ones that you would have noticed. (With the exception of Gone Girl and Girl on the Train.) I am not a fan of books where not much happens. Decades of writing for television have made me want something to happen. So I like mysteries, spy novels, adventures (fiction and nonfiction), etc. I particularly love adventures with female protagonists. I also love classics. My personal experience is that modern books do not have good endings. I don't think modern writers spend enough time to come up with an ending that is both satisfying and, as we say in show biz, "earned." So when I recommend a book, it is frequently a book with an ending that disappointed me, but the ride to get there was fun. There aren't many books being written now that will stand the test of time, but given the state of the world, something that will take me out of it for a few days is, in my opinion, worth recommending.
Who is it for? It is for people who like well-written adventure stories. If you're a guy and you don't like a story with a female protagonist, then it's not for you. If you do like an adventure story with a female protagonist, then this is your cup of tea.
What is it about? It is about a woman who murders her husband (not a spoiler, it happens right away) and then has to flee from his hulking brothers, who are set on revenge. It is set in set in the wilds of Idaho and Montana in 1903, and to me, it reads like a western with a female protagonist -- what a concept!
If you read it, please post in the comment box and let me know your thoughts.
Happy reading! (Scroll below for more recommendations.)