Monthly Link Share – How to Write a Thriller

Welcome to February’s link share! Following the John Grisham theme from Tuesday, one of these links is his writing advice, and the other is a list he found helpful. 🙂 Let’s get started!

In 1973, Writer’s Digest published an article by Brian Garfield that included 10 tips on writing suspense fiction. These are the tips John Grisham says he used to help him write The Firm. This article from Writer’s Digest lists the 10 tips from the original Garfield article. I’m sure these tips could be used for other genres as well. 🙂

Tony Vanderwarker had seven unpublished novels until his friend and neighbor John Grisham started to mentor him. With Mr. Grisham’s help, Mr. Vanderwarker wrote a thriller titled Sleeping Dogs. This list of “three must-haves of novel writing” are lessons learned from the great novelist.

Last week, I posted a rant about the large number of paranormal romances in the “Y” section of my library. Another concern I have with “Y” books is whether or not they are clean. I really don’t want to pick up a book and find that there’s a graphic love scene or strong language in there. There are some “Y” books I’ve heard about that I’d like to read but I wanted to make sure they were clean before I read them. Enter! Thank you for writing this blog, Ms. Giard! Ms. Kasey Giard reviews young adult, children, and adult books for language, sexual content, spiritual content, violence, and drug content. Through her blog, I’ve found some really cool “Y” books that are clean and great (and vampire-free). I’m reading one now, and it’s excellent. She reviews not only popular books, like Divergent or The Fault in Our Stars, but also some lesser-known ones. I can’t thank her enough for this resource! 🙂

I love music. I listen to it while writing novels, drawing, and blog writing (I’m listening to my Owl City playlist while editing this post). Well, I’m always on the hunt for good music, and when I found Citizen Way, I found some great music! Citizen Way is a Christian band with two sets of brothers: Josh and Ben Calhoun and David and Ben Blascoe. In April 2013 they released their first album, Love is the Evidence. I first heard their single, “It Should Have Been Me” on Youtube and fell in song love and bought the album off of Amazon. All the songs are great and have a terrific sound! My personal favorites are “How Sweet the Sound” and “All Things.” You can find their website here:

And you didn’t think I’d let you leave without sharing a Citizen Way song …

or two? 🙂

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Author Profile – John Grisham

You’ve probably heard of John Grisham, who is the author of bestselling books like The Firm and, of course, one of my new favorite books, Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer. But did you know that he never wanted to be a writer? In fact, writing was only a hobby for him as a lawyer in Mississippi. So what turned this small-town lawyer into a bestselling author?

Mr. Grisham was inspired to start writing when he heard the testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim in the courtroom. After hearing her story, Mr. Grisham decided to write a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl’s father had killed her attackers. This story would later turn into A Time to Kill, his first novel. In an interview with Bill Moyers (link at the end of the post), Mr. Grisham talked about how he managed to squeeze in writing a novel while still working as a lawyer. I would wake up at 5:00[am], and I’d be at my office by 5:30[am]. That was the only quiet time of the day… And I’d go to the office and make some strong coffee and sit down and start writing. And I didn’t know, I mean, I’d never written before. My goal, when I started the book, was just to finish it. ‘Cause I’m always starting a new project and never finish.” His novel was written on legal pads, and once he finished a chapter, he’d let his wife, Renee, read it. She gave him advice on plotting and pacing the story. Three years after beginning it, A Time to Kill was published in 1984 by a small publisher. Only 5,000 copies were produced, and Mr. Grisham himself bought 1000 of them. In the interview with Bill Moyers which was done in 2007, he mentions that he still had 50 copies or so of A Time to Kill! After publishing his first novel, he knew he wanted to write so he quit his lawyer job and started writing full-time. He published his second novel, The Firm, and it became a NY Times bestseller, staying on the bestseller list for 47 weeks. Mr. Grisham is one of only three authors to sell over 2 million copies of a book in its first printing!

Mr. Grisham went on to publish many more books including The Pelican Brief, The Summons, and his newest book, Sycamore Row, and now makes a habit of writing one book a year, usually writing it from August to November. He uses outlines to help plot out each of his chapters. Mr. Grisham is a self-taught writer, but believes his story-telling talents are God-given. He’s a Christian, and he strives to keep his books clean. In an interview with, Mr. Grisham said, “When I started writing, I made the simple decision to keep it clean. The decision was based on my Christian faith and a certain lifestyle I’m trying to maintain, and I’ve never been tempted or pushed to write otherwise.” His favorite authors are Mark Twain, Pat Conroy, John LeCarre, and John Steinbeck. Steinbeck’s works had a great influence on Mr. Grisham when he read them in high school. He especially loved Steinbeck’s clear style.

I personally admire Mr. Grisham’s discipline in writing his first book and appreciate that he keeps his books clean. I also enjoy his writing style immensely. In fact, I’ve already ordered the rest of his Theodore Boone series and The Firm from the library. I can’t wait until they come in!

Mr. Grisham’s website can be found here:

This was a really helpful biography I found about Mr. Grisham and contained lots of links to other interviews with him:

The Bill Moyers interview I quoted can be found here:

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

What I’ve Read This Month

Today I’m posting a list of the books I’ve read this month. I’ve made it a goal to read at least four books monthly to reach my bigger goal of reading more this year. I made and exceeded my goal this month by reading six books.

The books I've read this month

The books I’ve read this month

Green by Ted Dekker

Green is both the first and last book in the four book Circle series. How does that work? Well, you can read them in this order: Green, Black, Red, White or read them in this order: Black, Red, White, Green. Any way you read them, they are terrific. Green was an absolutely fantastic story, and, truthfully, I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about it. The characters were incredibly well-done, likeable, and made great heroes to cheer for and villains to hate.

Black by Ted Dekker

Black is the official first book of the Circle Trilogy (Green is considered book 0). In this book, we meet Thomas Hunter and learn that he has the ability to travel between two worlds through his dreams. Just like Green, this book was absolutely fantastic!

The Glorious Adventures of the Sunshine Queen by Geraldine McCaughrean

This is the unique story of a group of children, Cissy, Kookie, and Tibbie, with their school teacher, Miss May March, who must leave their town for fear of diphtheria. They travel with an acting company aboard a steamship called the Sunshine Queen. This is a strange, entertaining, wonderful book that I picked up randomly off the shelf at my library, and I’m sure glad I did! The characters are wacky and lovable, and the plot is unbelievable in the best kind of crazy way. I actually laughed out loud while reading this one, and it’s a definite favorite!

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham

Theodore Boone is the son of two great lawyers, and dreams of becoming a lawyer himself one day. Theodore has a chance to help out in a murder trial when he becomes the only person who knows of a secret witness that would prove the right man guilty. Unfortunately, the witness doesn’t want to tell his story, and it’s up to Theodore to figure out what to do so that justice can prevail. The book is for a slightly younger audience, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying it! The mystery was great, and I sped through the book really quickly. I especially liked the fact that Theodore actually worked together with his parents instead of disobeying them. Definitely a good book and well-worth the read!

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

Gulliver’s Travels is the classic novel about a man named Lemuel Gulliver who travels to distant, unknown lands populated with strange inhabitants like men only six inches high, horses who are rational, giants, and people who live on floating islands. We read this one for school. I must say, this is one classic that is not going on my list of favorites. I finished it today, and I was glad to be done reading it.

Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars: The Fall of the Amazing Zalindas by Tracy Mack and Michael Citrin

I wrote a book review on this book last week. If you’d like to read it, you can find it here:

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla