Monday, June 24, 2013

Beach Reads for Writers: Suzanne Enoch & Pauline Baird Jones Provide Masterclasses

From Kate's Writing Crate...

As a reader, I always love finding books that appeal to me. As a writer, I am twice as pleased when the authors also provide Masterclasses within their books.   
          Masterclasses take place when performance artists and musicians work one-on-one with students. Writers don't generally have this option, but I have found some books to be Masterclasses for characters, backstories, plots, settings, voice, and/or creativity.

          When summer arrives, I want to read some lighter stories. But I still want to read Masterclass-level books as my writer side wants to continue learning about great characters, strong plots, and good writing.

The most popular post I have written is about JD Robb's In Death series. (See post dated October 22.) If you enjoyed these books, you will probably enjoy Suzanne Enoch's Samantha Jellicoe series. It is not as gritty and graphic, but still well done.

          While Nora Roberts as JD Robb has written close to 40 books, the Samantha Jellicoe series is only four books—Flirting with Danger, Don't Look Down, Billionaires Prefer Blondes, and A Touch of Minx—a perfect amount for a vacation week.

Like the In Depth series, the male lead, Richard Addison, is a brilliant and wealthy business man, but has no criminal past. Unlike the In Death series, the female lead, Samantha Jellicoe, is not a police lieutenant, but the world's best cat burglar. In both series, people are murdered, crimes need to be solved, and love will win out although there are many obstacles and humorous situations along the way.
          As a writer, I love how these complex characters react when they meet, interact as they get involved in each other's lives, and transform to solve the many dilemmas in the multi-layered plots.

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          I am also recommending two books by Pauline Baird Jones. They have radically different writing styles which fascinates me.

          The Last Enemy is the first in a trilogy, but this one is by far my favorite. The plot: Romance writer Dani Gwynne witnessed a murder and is placed under protective custody. However, the protective custody is not as safe as promised. Marshal Matthew Kirby and his team are determined to find out what happened that left three US Marshals dead and the witness missing. They learn not to underestimate a romance writer hunted by a hit man who is leaving them a trail of gruesome crime scenes.
          Dani makes excellent use of her plotting skills and, with help from fellow writers, fans, and Internet friends, saves herself time and again until the Marshals catch up. But can they stop the hit man or can Dani only trust herself?
          On a much lighter note, The Spy Who Kissed Me is a funny murder mystery. My favorite lines on page 7 introduce the main character and narrator:
Isobel. Picture someone petite, fragile, and blonde, done in soft pastels, lusciously formed—and you'll know how I don't look.
          Isobel Stanley, Stan to her friends, writes children's books about the antics of a cockroach which her mother considers tacky. Stan also plays the organ and gets roped into covering for the regular organist at a church function. Lost in her thoughts on her way home, she takes a wrong turn, witnesses a shooting, and then a dashing young man dives into her open sun roof. What's a girl to do next?
          I admire the author's insightful asides and numerous funny turns of phrases—highly creative.
What beach books do you enjoy?

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