I’m about a third of the way through my latest thriller and have found it a harder slog than usual. It might have to do with spending so much time trying to procure a covid-19 vaccination. Here in Florida, the same people who run the unemployment website apparently run the pandemic website. I think the plan is to have everyone die of old age before they get a check or a shot. Luckily, I rarely suffer from writer’s block. In fact, my fevered brain is almost always coming up with new plots or ideas to fit into an existing one. Often, the ideas occur to me in the most awkward moments. I’ve found myself in the shower when an inspiration or a piece of dialogue hits me. I’m at that age where if I don’t get my thoughts down right away, I risk forgetting them. There have been occasions when I’ve left the shower dripping wet, wrapped myself in a towel, and raced to my den. If I’m lucky, I can sit at the computer and jot something down. If I’m not and I have to boot up the computer, I run the ri


  Like most writers, I love good quotes. Don’t you? “I wish I had said that” is a refrain uttered — or thought — by most people. So, in the spirit of the seasons (Thanksgiving or Christmas, whichever comes first; this year, I’m confused), I will cite some of my favorites, offering attribution when available. Some of the quotes deal with writing and literature. Others are just funny. All come from a marvelous book,  1,911 Best Things Anybody Ever   Said  by Robert Byrne (not THE Robert Byrne). “Though I am not naturally honest, I am so sometimes by chance.” – Shakespeare “The chicken probably came before the egg, because it is hard to imagine God wanting to sit on an egg.” – Unknown “Thank you for sending me a copy of your book. I’ll waste no time reading it.” – Moses Hadad “He who hesitates is not only lost, but miles from the next exit.” – Unknown (Been there, done that!) “Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original and the part that is origina


  When last we spoke, I recommended books to read for those who might be stuck at home during the pandemic. Since very little has changed, I’m going to recommend some more, once again plumbing my bookcase, which is full of books I read years ago and now, occasionally, re-read. Local libraries are reopening — or delivering — and, of course, there are other ways to get older tomes via the internet: Amazon, Barnes & Noble,  Bookshop , etc. I can’t swear that I haven’t mentioned these books in previous columns, so, if I have, shoot me an email. It would be nice to have some new correspondence. Give me something to do other than staring at my bookcase.    The Best of Robicheaux (The Author’s Choice)  by   James Lee Burke . Now, I don’t know if the great Burke actually chose  In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead ,  Cadillac Jukebox , or  Sunset Limited  as his “best” Dave Robicheaux books. His publisher probably just put the anthology together. (Personally, I like Burke’s  Heaven’s


  It occurs to me that it has been a while since I wrote a column in which I recommended books to read. Since many people are presumably stuck at home, now is probably a good time. However, unlike many such lists, I will highlight books that may not be particularly current. Why? Well, mainly, because I am also stuck at home staring at my bookcase, and it’s full of books I read years ago. Some of those that I mention may be hard to find, but heck, that’s what Amazon is for, right? So, here goes, in no particular order:   FICTION   Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. This massive 1985 tome is probably my favorite science-fiction novel. The plot is believable. An alien race consisting of a species (whose members look a lot like pachyderms) attacks and then invades Earth. What makes this story so compelling is that the invaders have their own moral code (we see things from their perspective), and their weapons are not all that superior to ours. I won’t give away the endin


A couple of years ago, I  devoted a column  to the popularity of audiobooks. I recounted how some members of a golf group I occasionally joined were enthusiastic audiobook aficionados. I was asked why my books weren’t part of the “lucrative” audio market. I don’t see many of those golfers much anymore. I’m not the president; I don’t really play all that often. Besides, the pandemic shut down the course for a long while, and when it reopened, only walking was allowed. After 18 holes in the heat (and it’s been brutal), returning golfers look like they were at a casting call for “The Walking Dead . ” I walked only nine holes until golf carts were allowed back. You have to ride alone now, unless you’re with your wife (the rationale being, I suppose, that couples who golf together want to kill each other anyway.) But if I do run into those duffers, I can’t wait to tell them that I now have an audiobook in the works. To recap, there are three ways to create an audiobook: You c


Before I was rudely interrupted by a plague, I had promised to reveal whether some of the following actually happened to me and appeared in my fiction. To recap, in abbreviated form: The Poison Pen : A man is outraged because the poison-pen letter his wife receives doesn’t accuse him of fooling around (as other husbands on the block were) but instead criticizes his yard work. The Log that Wasn’t : A fisherman in Cuba almost steps on a huge barracuda he assumed was a floating log. Religious Experience : A full-service bar below a church sacristy was once a speakeasy and is now used for Rosary and Altar Society meetings. A Head for News : A young reporter with a hangover looks in the back seat of a car and sees the head of its decapitated driver. Well, all these instances happened to me, but only the first three made it into books. Of course, the last incident will eventually make it in, too! In case you are wondering, the Cuba incident occurred at Guantanamo Bay when I was


Wow. It’s amazing how events can overtake us. I promised in my last column to continue my “truth is stranger than fiction” ruminations, detailing scenes in some of my thrillers and asking you to guess which I imagined out of whole cloth, and which actually happened. Seems a bit of overkill now, with what’s going on pandemically. But, just to finish the thought: ALL the incidents I have already mentioned REALLY happened to me. I may have embellished them in my writing, but, hey, that’s my job. I also changed the names to protect the guilty (me). When things calm down, I hope to revisit the topic. The New York Times recently ran an interesting piece by an author who opined that this might not be the best time to start writing a virus-disaster novel. It’s fine to take notes, but perhaps we should let the dust settle to provide some perspective. However, in a similar light, don’t you find it weird that many novelists and screenwriters in the past have written about “unlikely