Studying the Masters of Detective Fiction – III – Elmore Leonard

Studying the Masters of Detective Fiction – III – Elmore Leonard

This post is the third in a series that I’ve been writing about the individuals that I view as the masters in my genre of choice, crime/detective fiction. I am a firm believer that you become better in whatever field you pursue by following those that excelled and paved the way before you.


Studying the Masters of Crime/Detective Fiction

Part 3 – Elmore Leonard

My introduction to Elmore Leonard was an interesting one. My first book had come out and I had my first review in a literary magazine. The reviewer liked the book and compared my writing to that of Elmore Leonard. I thought that was quite interesting based on the fact that I had never read any of his work.

Being the true book nerd that I am, I started reading his work beginning with his very first book. To my amazement, it wasn’t crime fiction. It was a western. In fact, his first five books were all westerns. They were written over an eight-year period from 1953 to 1961 and truly showed his evolution as a writer. These books seemed to feature a strong, silent, flawed main character. They also had abrupt endings in common.

big-bounceLeonard’s 1969 novel, The Big Bounce, was a crime fiction book that introduced his Jack Ryan character. Ryan is a flawed hero with a checkered past and a very shrewd character. He appears in several of Leonard’s books.

Other recognizable titles you might recognize from Leonard’s writing include Mr. Majestyk, Get Shorty, Maximum Bob. Leonard also created the character of Raylen Givens, featured in three novels, who became the basis for the television series Justified. Overall, Leonard had 26 of his works adapted as either films or television series.


Many of Leonard’s stories feature Detroit as a backdrop. When he was nine, his father moved the family there and took a job with General Motors. Leonard went on to be a Seabee in the US Navy and studied writing when he returned.

Leonard wrote 49 novels over a 59-year career. He also wrote many screenplay adaptations for his work. Key among his works is a nonfiction book from 2007 titled 10 Rules for Writing. In this book, he revealed one of my favorite writing tips, if it sounds like writing, rewrite it. He preaches the practice of leaving out the parts that readers tend to skip.

Leonard’s own work lives by this premise. He writes sparingly. His dialog is crisp and to the point, just as the type of character he writes about would speak. He has masterful twists and turns in his stories and his endings often leave the reader wanting more.

I’ve gone back and have looked at my own writing in view of what the early reviewer said about it. It is quite flattering and I aspire to write like Mr. Leonard and would love to have even a modicum of his success. I also admire the longevity of his career. He died in 2013 at the age of 88, one year after completing his final novel and 50 years after completing his first. That is truly a long and fruitful career.

Travel 101: Pull up Your Big Boy Pants

Here is a great travel tip on pants of choice from Stephen Dennstedt’s blog

Expat Journal: Postcards from the Edge

WB IMG_3790 Stephen F. Dennstedt – Amazon River Basin

I see that a lot of world travellers wear shorts. I definitely do not fall into the shorts camp. For one thing my old-man white, hairless legs look terrible in shorts but I opt to wear long pants for more practical reasons. Mosquitoes are the biggest reason—around the world mosquitoes kill. Catch a mosquito-born fever such as Malaria, Dengue or Zika and you will quickly become a long pants convert.

Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes include: malaria, dengue, West Nile virus, chikungunya, yellow fever, filariasis, Japanese encephalitis, Saint Louis encephalitis, Western equine encephalitis, Eastern equine encephalitis, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, La Crosse encephalitis and Zika fever.

See my post Travel 101: The Shirt off My Back for further details about my experience with Dengue Fever up close & personal. Also, in that post, you will find most of the criteria I use to buy…

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3 Crucial Things YOU SKIP That RUIN Your Story

Here is another great post from Dan Alatorre with writing advice and steps that should not be skipped.

Dan Alatorre - AUTHOR

head shot your humble host After completing the first draft of your story, the next big step is:


Letting the manuscript rest is HUGE, at least to me. And it’s hard to do! Leave it alone? We writer types are constant tinkerers.


After doing so many critiques, I know to let my MS rest a while – and it’s like somebody else wrote it after I do.I can see almost all the fixes and do them. I can be objective. I CAN FORGET THAT I KNEW WHAT I MEANT BY WHAT I WROTE AND INSTEAD SEE WHAT’S ACTUALLY WRITTEN – and whether it makes sense to somebody who’s reading it and does not already know all the stuff going on in my head.

It’s a lot of work and it’s not a perfect system but it works for me.

I hear you. You’re going “Hmm…”

Allow me to explain.

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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Author Update – Hugh W. Roberts, Charles E. Yallowitz and Stevie Turner

Check out this trio of great authors with books on the shelves of Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life


Welcome to today’s author update and to get us off to a flying start another terrific view for Hugh W. Robert’s short story collection Glimpses.. This time by Robbie Cheadle of Robbies Inspiration and author with her son Michael of the Sir Chocolate Books.


About Glimpses

After publishing some of his short stories on his blog, Hugh W. Roberts, who suffers from dyslexia, received numerous requests to publish his short stories in a book. Here, at last, are 28 short stories that will take your mind on a rollercoaster of a ride into worlds that conceal unexpected twists and turns.

‘Glimpses’ allows the reader a peek into the lives of everyday people who are about to have life lead them on an unpredicted path. From a mysterious deadly iPad app, to a hole in the fence that is not all it seems, to a strange lipstick that appears…

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How to Keep Married Fictional Couples Interesting Without Splitting Them Up

Here is a great post by Stephanie O’Brien on Ryan Lanz’s blog on the topic of keeping the interest up in fictional married couples

A Writer's Path

glasses married marriage

by Stephanie O’Brien

You’ve just spent an entire novel bringing an amazing couple together.

They’re passionate, fun and fascinating to watch, and their chemistry has fans raving about how wonderful they are.

They’re so great that you’ve decided to write a sequel starring them… but there’s just one challenge.

You went and let them get married.

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Cover Reveal: Frozen Flames by Lara Whatley

Check out the cover reveal for the book, Frozen Flames, by Lara Whatley, via Rachel Poli’s blog.

Rachel Poli

I’ve had the pleasure of helping author Lara Whatley with the cover reveal of her latest novel, Frozen Flames. This novel is a young adult science fiction and fantasy due for release in June 2017.

My Thoughts:

My favorite color is blue, so anything blue is appealing to me. I love the crack that extends in all directions of the cover showing that something is amiss or broken. According to the blurb (which is down below), things aren’t exactly “normal” anyway. This was a great way to show that.

Plus, the gold spiral symbol in the middle makes you question what that is, what it means, and what it does. It gives more meaning to the cover, to the book itself, making you question what the story is actually about.

Also, the title looks embedded in the ice. For example, the “F” in “Frozen” is staggered a bit as though…

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It’s Writing You’re Worth – Guest Post by JannyC

It’s Writing You’re Worth – Guest Post by JannyC

Check out this guest post by author Janny C. via the Writer’s Treasure Chest blog.

Writer's Treasure Chest

Writing was not my first career choice. In fact, I avoided the career path like the plague. It was not a logical choice, or so I was told.  Being a writer is a dream.  What if being a writer is a destiny and sometimes there are some destines you cannot escape. Hello nice to meet you. Let me introduce myself I am a writer.

The Beginning

To be honest I have been telling stories since I was 4. They were all in my head acted out via Barbie’s, or She-Ra action figures or me with my friends outside on the playground. This made sense for my first step into the writing world was being a comic book script writer. Writing was a destiny I could not escape. I’ve been writing in this business off and on for nearly 8 years. Freelancing writing is the kind of job that is a…

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