#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller

As I am temporarily between projects, I am devouring new books.  Some, of course, are only new to me–you may well have read them.  Every Tuesday, I head for Audible.com

Today’s listen is “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, though I am nearly through.  On the playlist are: “Drowning Ruth”, by Christina Schwarz, “The Book of Polly” by Kathy Hepinstall, “The House Hunter”, one of James Patterson’s BookShot titles, “The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients”, Theresa Brown, RN, “Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy”, by Nicholas Reynolds, a book about Ernest Hemingway and his adventures during World War II, “Gone” and “Wait for Me”, by Elizabeth Naughten, both of which are romantic suspense titles.  I love suspense, provided it isn’t too violent.  :)  I listen to/read a lot of nonfiction, especially histories, biographies and memoirs, but this week, I’m mostly in the mood for fiction, it would seem.  Since I haven’t read/listened to any of these books, I cannot recommend them–YET.  What I can recommend is “Lincoln in the Bardo”, by George Saunders–spooky, brilliant, and totally addictive, but also dark.  Once again, “The Five-Second Rule”, by Mel Robbins–I’m so impressed with this book that I’ve watched Ms. Robbins’ TED talk (she looks nothing like I thought she would, listening to her voice) and will be subscribing to her videos on YouTube.

On the musical playlist: Josh Turner’s “Deep South”, Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, Michael Martin Murphy–I LOVE this guy’s music and the stories told in his songs, Red Steagall, “Dear Mama, I’m a Cowboy” (again, wonderful cowboy stories told in music), Christian artists Chris Rice, Bebo Norman, and the band, Passion.  I also like Bach, Beethoven and Mozart–brain music; call me crazy, but I can feel those synapses firing when I listen!   It’s a little like having a head full of fireflies–but in a good way.  :)  I often listen to music when I write, but I generally avoid anything with lyrics, as I find them distracting.  Music is also inspiring, however, and I often say I can sit down and write a Western if I listen to Marty Robbins, or Waylon and Willie singing “Pancho and Lefty”.  The movie “Legends of the Fall” has a similar effect–I’m not a huge Brad Pitt fan, but I adore the character he plays in this movie–Tristan.  The John Wayne/Maureen O’Hara film, “McClintock” inspired by historical romance, “The Vow”, and that story is still one of my favorite book-children.

Travel certainly inspires me, as does art–doing my own, or looking at that of others.  Animals, prayer, gardens and bold colors do, as well.

What inspires you?  



Winners and More on the List of 20

Our winners are: Maria Sanchez and Candy Charville.  Congratulations, both of you.  To recap: each week, two winners will be chosen at random from the comment section of this blog.  Each winner will receive an autographed copy of my latest release, and their names will be announced here, usually on Monday.  

I wanted to address a couple of comments that appeared after I mentioned my favorite brainstorming tool, the List of 20.  One lady said that, despite physical challenges, she wanted to get more housework done, and I wanted to address that–from the sounds of things, that blog reader is already doing plenty; in other words, the last thing I wanted was to inspire guilt!  In this case, I would rather recommend another kind of list entirely–“What are 20 things I’ve done well in my life?”  or “What are 20 things I could do to be kinder to myself?”  We are at all different stages of life, which makes us a pretty interesting bunch, methinks.  :)  I use the technique to build a plot and understand my characters better, but I also use it in many other ways.  “What are 20 places I would like to visit?”  or “What 20 things do I most want to accomplish this year?”  The possibilities, obviously, are limitless.

The second comment was actually a question.  Someone wanted a clearer explanation of what the List of 20 is.  My answer is, the List of 20 is a brainstorming tool, a way to generate ideas, and to go beyond the stuff that usually comes up first to get to the good stuff.  I have a notebook for my lists now, as I want to keep things in one place for easier reference later on, but you could just as easily use a single sheet of paper, the back of an envelope, etc.  The most important things to remember are: don’t overthink–write as fast as you can, get it all down on paper, and don’t judge.  The first few ideas I come up with are usually ridiculous, but I put them down anyway, for the sake of momentum.  Invariably, good ideas pop up toward the end.

I use the technique mainly for plotting stories in the first place or solving problems that come up in the writing.  If I find I’ve painted myself into a corner, in terms of a story I’m writing, I can use the technique to find a new direction.  

Questions are always handy–I might ask myself, for instance, “What does the reader expect to happen here?”  I will then look for a twist, something that would surprise you.  (I hope.)  I don’t know about you, but I love it when an author takes me somewhere I didn’t expect to go.  Because I have read a great deal, as have all of you, I see patterns in books I’m reading or listening to, and I start anticipating how things will turn out for the story people.  I often guess correctly–but I still read on most of the time, to find out if I’m right.  :)  Few things please me more than being surprised, as long as the writer has laid the proper groundwork.  If something comes totally out of left field, I get annoyed.  The best books are interactive; the reader is a participant, not merely an onlooker, a game played out on the field of imagination, where the writer and the reader meet and share an experience.

I had a good weekend, spending Saturday puttering around home, playing with the pets, listening to books, etc.  I did a few Lists of 20 for the second historical novel, to follow “The Blue and the Gray”.  On Sunday, I went to see my mom, and we visited for a while.  I brought her potato chips and two new books–at 88, my mother is still an avid reader.  She taught me to love books and I will always be grateful for that–and many other things, of course.

Tomorrow is New Book Day, so I’ll be on Audible.com for sure, checking out what’s on offer.  This week’s favorites are: “The Five-Second Rule”, by Mel Robbins, (previously mentioned), “The Golden Hour”, by T. Greenwood, a suspense novel by an author I always enjoy, and “17 Carnations” by Andrew Morton.  I’m still listening to this one–it’s another story of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.  

I’m still recovering from burning the midnight oil, so I’m mainly making lists and notes and doing a lot of thinking.  

See you tomorrow.  Or the next day.

But soon.



Back in earlier days, a cattle drive would average 10-12 miles a day.