CategoryWriting

What’s in a Title? A Lot

W

The title of a novel isn’t as important as the content of the novel itself, but I want to love my title. I want others to love it. I want the title to draw in potential readers, pique their interest, motivate them to take a look at the book. I want the title to make a promise. That’s a heavy load to carry for just a few words. Some of the greatest titles ever were a single word:...

Six-Word COVID-19 Stories

S

I’ve got a thing for the six-word story form. I wrote six-word memoirs. Here are some six-word coronavirus stories. Locked downOpened upLocked again Craved hug,settled for a nod No mask?Don’t tread on me. More idiocy, more cases, more deaths Social distancing comes natural to me Bartender! A double martini!Sorry, students United States leadsin COVID-19.Sadly. Sanitizer takes over from...

GET WHAT YOU WANT

G

1. It is an early autumn afternoon, the leaves just beginning their brilliant decline. Twice when a cloud passes overhead she puts on her sweater, only to take it off when the sun comes back out. The pale blue cardigan slips easily on and off her narrow shoulders. The cemetery is old and large enough that here, deep within the borders and down an easy slope among elms and maples and rows of...

Latest Novel Now With Agent

L

I’ve submitted my latest novel, THE SUITOR, to my agent, after we’d gone back and forth on some edits. The story centers on three characters: recent college-grad and law-school-bound Anna; the ambitious and scheming Kyle, who loves her; and Anna’s father, Art, who doesn’t like the idea of Anna and Kyle together. Read the first chapter. I’ve got another shot with this...

Where are All the Monarchs?

W

Last year at this time we were seeing butterflies all over our property. We had monarchs and swallowtails, more than we’ve had in years. Harriet gave away forty monarch eggs she found on our milkweed plants, and she raised and released at least a half dozen monarchs of her own. She has fostered a network of butterfly-raising enthusiasts. They have a Slack channel. This year: nothing. I...

THE SUITOR Has My Attention

T

I’ve posted less these last few weeks because my attention is occupied elsewhere. One focus of attention has been finishing my novel, THE SUITOR. I’ve gone back and forth with my agent on some potential changes that might clarify, crystallize, and strengthen the story. I’ve spent hours each day writing and rewriting, trying to solve those nagging problems of narrative and...

My First Novel Was a Disaster

M

I’m on page 38 of 327 pages of a novel I’m reading and I want to put it down. I’m uncomfortable reading. Anxiety is building in me. Anguish weighs me down. Even shame. And yet — I also experience a sense of wonder. The novel is called THE PETTING ZOO, and it’s the first novel I wrote, 30 years ago. I came across the manuscript — wasn’t sure I still had it...

I Must Kill My Darlings

I

William Faulkner said, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” What does this mean? It’s a common piece of advice for writers who must cut sentences, scenes, characters, even entire plots because they no longer work within the story world. They might be beautifully written. You might love them. Still, they must be axed. I’m doing some darling murder these days as I...

4/20 is a Special Day

4

April 20 (4/20) is weed day. The day got its name in the 1970s in California when a group of high school students met after school around 4:20 to get high and 4/20 became a code phrase they could use in front of their parents. Its reputation spread from there. 420 Magazine, founded in 1993, has a mission around creating cannabis awareness. I hadn’t heard of the magazine until its editor...

The Backstory On First Chapters

T

Here’s the backstory on the first chapters of novels posted on this site: My literary agent sold STASH to Random House in a two-book contract, the second book turning out to be CLEAN BREAK.  After years of writing and rejection, I had made it as a novelist with a major publishing house. Everyone was excited about STASH. The publisher at the novel’s imprint, Broadway Books, said it was...

“You Only Live Twice”

&

I corkscrewed down the research rabbit hole today. I got interested in stories of people who faked their own death — the whys and hows of it — and I came across an interview with an expert in faking death, Elizabeth Greenwood, who wrote a book titled “Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud.” This book is now on my to-read list. Turns out that lots of...

Writing in the Time of Covid-19

W

Writers shouldn’t rush to put out a Covid-19 book, according to Sloane Crosby in her recent New York Times essay. Even though every writer in the world is seeing the world through a virus lens at this moment. Even though we’re all sentenced to our desks. Even though we can’t concentrate on writing anything else. At least Crosby understood the irony of her own writing about what...

Quest for Fire

Q

About the only thing I remember from Tom Wolfe’s novel, “A Man in Full” (the much less successful followup to “Bonfire of the Vanities”), was a character who said that when he wanted to make a fire he started with a tree. I liked that. In many ways, I’m like that. Sure, I have a nice fireplace where all I need to do is arrange newspaper, kindling, and firewood...

THE CULLING: A Snippet From the Novel

T

The first time I read Shirley Jackson’s famous short story “The Lottery” I had known nothing of its reputation. As I read, the dread built in me slowly, the reveal astounded me, and the memory was blazed in me. I will never forget the power and audacity of that story. Here’s the original story, published in 1948 in the New Yorker. “The Lottery” helped inspire...

Appropriation and AMERICAN DIRT

A

The fervor over AMERICAN DIRT continues to flame on. I wrote an early review of the novel, which I enjoyed, but found problematic, and then I came across this takedown by the writer Myriam Gurba, who scorched both the book and its author, Jeanine Cummins. Here’s a quote from Gurba’s review: Cummins plops overly-ripe Mexican stereotypes, among them the Latin lover, the suffering...

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.

Novels

Get in touch