Writer's Notes

Writer’s Notes: What’s on Your Bookshelf?

By Thonie Hevron

It’s a little late for April Fools’ posts so I thought I’d take a look around my office and develop something that’s been percolating in my brain for months now. It’s called, “What’s on your bookshelf?” The literal one, not your Kindle.

The last fifteen years have held four moves for the mister and I, so paring down the load has been essential. So what’s left? What’s really important.

Upper right: note the pic of my dear horse, Casey with his buddy Bridget-a gift for me many years ago.

Starting at the upper left: My favorite book of all times is Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. This is the second paperback I’ve had—I wore the first one out. I keep books from my favorite contemporary authors—all of PJ Parrish’s mysteries, some of Paul Bishop’s police procedurals, and Mary Stewart. To the right is a family favorite, Uncle Remus stories (from hubby’s childhood), travel books for upcoming trips and miscellaneous literature. Below that (middle right) is big books: high school yearbooks (great for finding interesting and ethnic names), a mythology book my son gave me (I use it for ideas when I get stuck—real inspiration), a few books on riding, several technical books on police procedure, and weather (what kind of clouds precede a storm?). I base all of my stories on actual locations, so I keep map books, but I also use Google Earth.

Bottom right starts off at the right with my Wine Bible. Yes, I’m a wine lover although not serious enough to be considered a connoisseur, hence the reference tome. The rest of this shelf is stocked with books of authors I know. Most are personalized, making them more special. I have more on my bedroom nightstand. Sigh.

The bottom left is my reference shelf. All of these contain information I couldn’t have done without at some point during my writing. I use personality books-Character Traits, The Eneagram, Personality Plus as much for creating a layered character as for naming said characteristics. Sometimes I know what I want to convey but cannot find the right word. These books help. The rest of the shelf is filled with court references, police procedure, weapons, physical trauma, as well as writerly books on scene construction, dialog and plotting. Three books of note that I rely heavily on:

  • Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson-a small book I found by accident and love so much that I give to newbie writers.
  • The Art of Character by David Corbett-Corbett’s creds are amazing. Take a look at his fiction offerings.
  • Make a Scene by Jordan Rosenfeld-Rosenfeld deconstructs scenes and puts them back together in a readable, engaging manner.

Left middle shelf is stocked with more reference materials. My first publisher used the Chicago Manual of Style—so I do, too. It sits next to my thesauruses (I looked that one up. Turns out thesauri is okay, too)—The Synonym Finder and Flip Dictionary. Then, the Random House Dictionary, of course. I also have more technical books: a pair of books on the psychology of killing, a few good grammar books (and one terrific one, The Best Little Grammar Book Ever by Arlene Miller, who happens to be a friend and colleague. It’s a readable grammar book filled with common mistakes presented in a humorous way.

Just so you know, I have other bookshelves in my home. But this is my go-to while I’m working. I’d be hard-pressed to pare down from these.

Care to reveal some of your own special books? I’d love to see what’s on your bookshelf! We can all learn by sharing.

Writer's Notes

The Next Big Thing

 Intriguing title, huh? I thought so, too. It’s a fun way for writers to share their newest works. A fellow Redwood Writers’ Club member, Sunny Lockwood, tagged me for The Next Big Thing blog chain. Sunny is a writer of short stories and essays. Her newest book is Shades of Love: Stories from the Heart. Check out her blog at Onword.

A blog interview of Thonie Hevron

What is your working title of your book? My working title is Intent to Hold, which refers to the kidnapping section 209 of the California Penal Code.

By Force or Fear
By Force or Fear

Where did the idea come from for the book? This is a sequel to my first book, By Force or Fear, which I published on Amazon in ebook form last June. The title, actually both titles refer to elements of crimes. By Force or Fear is taken from the stalking statute, 646.9PC. I like to use crime codes to foreshadow the menace I address in each book. The tension in the first book dictated one of the main characters deal with a family problem that erupts in the second book. I set it in Mexico to have more latitude in plotting, the setting is glorious, and the character’s family is there.

What genre does your book fall under? Fiction, specifically suspense, with a sub-genre of police procedural. It’s unfortunate the tag for police procedural is sounds so boring, but in reality, as a law enforcement veteran, reading fiction that is accurate as well as exciting is very satisfying.

Benjamin Bratt
Benjamin Bratt

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? When I started my first novel, I used Mariska Hargitay of Law and Order SVU as a model for my lead character Meredith Ryan. These days, I tend to visualize Daniella Ruah from NCIS-LA. She oozes the self-assured competence of my young heroine. Benjamin Bratt was my hero Nick Reyes although Reyes is heavily influenced by a friend and former co-worker. Using actors for “models” helps me characterize so much! I use body movements, facial expressions and generally either try the dialog on for size or let the character make their own dialog. That happens only when you have a clear picture of who is talking. 

Daniela Ruah
Daniela Ruah

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Detective partners Meredith Ryan and Nick Reyes sneak into Mexico to rescue Reyes’ kidnapped brother-in-law.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Self-published for now. I plan on continuing to query agents.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? It will take about 8 months to write the first draft. My goal is to have it done for submission to a contest for unpublished manuscripts by May 2013.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? My first book, By Force or Fear, certainly. I would like to think any fiction by Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Harlan Coben and Sandra Brown. I read PJ Parrish, David Corbett and Paul Bishop. I’d love to write like PJ Parrish-wonderful stories, layered characters and snappy dialog.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? First, it is set in Mexico–the mountains above Puerto Vallarta–in the steamy jungle, dark hillside tunnels, and the ocean below. All have inherent dangers.  Second, the two lead characters have a chemistry that makes readers’ guts groan. Within the storyline, I have kept the sex and violence to a minimum yet ramped up the level of excitement to the max. These two are too busy for a romance–or are they?


Sandy P. Baker
Sandy P. Baker

And the Blog Chain marches on: Sandy Baker is a formidable force within the Redwood Writers’ Club (RWC). RWC is the largest branch of the California Writers Club with over 200 members. Sandy is currently a Vice President and will assume the Presidency in the upcoming years and is the co-chair for the 2014 RWC Writers Conference. In her spare time, she writes childrens stories, has a thriller, The Tehran Triangle out and will publish another thriller this  year. She is also a Master Gardener in Sonoma County. Check out her blog at Garden Plots or her site at