Author Archives: Laurence MacNaughton

About Laurence MacNaughton

Laurence MacNaughton is the award-winning author of more than a dozen novels, novellas, and short stories. His work has been praised by Booklist, Publishers Weekly, RT Book Reviews, Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews. He lives in Colorado with his wife and too many classic cars.

Have yourself a very merry doomsday!

Do you know someone on your “Nice” list who would like to receive an autographed Dru Jasper book as a gift? I’m signing and sending out one of each book, and you can help me pick the winners!

Just contact me and tell me the name of the person you’d like to give a book to, and which book they might like:

#1: It Happened One Doomsday,
#2: A Kiss Before Doomsday, or
#3: No Sleep till Doomsday.

No matter what you celebrate this season, I’m wishing you peace, joy, and the warmest of holiday greetings! Ho ho ho! : )

Very best,
Laurence

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6 Best How-To Books for Writers

Countless best-selling authors have told me that in their early years, before they were published, they relentlessly studied the craft of writing. Consequently, I’ve had hundreds of writing books recommended to me.

Here are the very best of them all, the books I always keep within arm’s reach of my writing desk.

#1: Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody

Way back when I worked for a book distributor, Michael Wiese Productions sent me a sample copy of the original Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. I devoured that book, and it helped launch my career as a novelist.

The original Save the Cat! book series was aimed at screenwriters. This brand-new version by Jessica Brody seamlessly adapts Blake Snyder’s methods for novelists. It’s one of the best “how to write a novel” books of the decade.

Get it. Read it. Follow it. You’ll be glad you did.

#2: The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

Whenever you or I write the first draft of the story, our characters tend to exhibit the same cliche body language: nodding, shrugging, grinning. Pretty uninspired stuff, really.

Solution? Crack open this book, which contains more than 150 pages of body language, internal sensations, and mental responses to every imaginable emotion.

Is your character determined? Show him rolling up his sleeves. Is she mortified? Show her covering her face with her hands. Instantly, this book will have your characters winking, swaggering, leaning closer, tapping their feet, tightening their fists — and coming alive on the page.

While you’re getting this book, pick up the rest of the books in this series. Believe me, you’ll use them.

#3: Writing Screenplays That Sell by Michael Hauge

Michael Hauge is a storytelling genius. He’s not only a best-selling author and inspiring speaker, he’s also one of Hollywood’s top story experts. He’s worked on projects starring Will Smith, Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise, Reese Witherspoon, and Morgan Freeman. This book is packed solid with practical, nuts-and-bolts techniques you can use to write a better screenplay, novel, short story, or any work of fiction. It’s no exaggeration to say that reading that book forever transformed the way I look at stories.

Plus, Hauge is a super, super nice guy. Every time I talk to him, I come away wiser. So check out his books.

#4: Scene & Structure by Jack M. Bickham

You really should read all of Jack Bickham’s books on writing, but this one in particular. It is packed with masterful techniques to keep readers hooked throughout a story.

Perhaps the biggest revelation in this book is the way Bickham breaks down cause and effect. Stories are told not just in scenes, but also in something he calls “sequels.” A sequel is a moment (or even a whole chapter) when the lead character emotionally reacts to the previous scene, revisits the big story questions, works through a dilemma, and decides on a new course of action.

If you want to become a successful author, you need to master the scene and sequel technique. This book shows you how.

#5: The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics by Dennis O’Neil

Even if you don’t read comic books, you can’t deny their enormous impact on popular books, movies, and TV shows today.

Best-selling novelist and comic book legend Dennis O’Neil breaks down the elements that make comic book stories work.

It’s also a fascinating primer on solid storytelling techniques that can benefit any writer.

#6: The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines by Tami D. Cowden, Carol LeFever, Sue Viders

I happened to pick up this book at the Tattered Cover bookstore nearly 20 years ago, and I have never since found a more practical guide to character relationships.

Aimed at romance writers (but useful to anyone), this book divides male and female characters into eight broad archetypes. Male types include The Chief, the Bad Boy, the Best Friend, etc. Female types include the Nurturer, the Free Spirit, the Librarian, and so on.

This is not in-depth psychology, here. But it works. Take a look at my Dru Jasper urban fantasy series. I have a Librarian named Dru and a Bad Boy named Greyson. They fall in love. By and large, the critics love them.

The genius of this book is that it shows you how the archetypes interact with each other. For example, how do the Bad Boy and the Librarian drive each other crazy? How do they work together as a team? How do they eventually change each other for the better? Read the book and find out.

What are your favorite writing books?

I’m always on the lookout for new books to add to my shelf. What titles have you found to be especially useful, interesting, or inspiring? Let me know.

By the way, for more free writing tips (and other cool stuff), why not subscribe to my newsletter?

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8 Secrets to Pitching Your Novel Like a Pro

8 Secrets to Pitching Your Novel Like a ProWhen it comes to publishing a novel, the actual writing is only half the battle. In order to get the attention of a publisher, you have to know how to “sell” your book.

I think we can all agree that most writers are not natural-born sales professionals. So it’s easy to understand why the idea of sitting down across the desk from an editor and pitching your novel might make you break out in a cold sweat.

No worries. There are basically eight big pitfalls you have to avoid — all you have to do is navigate around them, and let your story shine through.

I’ve explained how to do it here, on Fiction University.

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The real life inspiration behind No Sleep till Doomsday

Perhaps the most popular character in my Dru Jasper series is Hellbringer, a black 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona that is literally possessed by a speed demon.

In my new book, No Sleep till Doomsday, our anti-hero Hellbringer has a brand-new nemesis, a 2018 Dodge Demon named Soulbreaker.

If you’re even thinking about reading my book, you’re going to want to watch this video.

Whoa!

Man, that’s tough to beat. But yeah, that’s pretty much the essence of my book.

There’s another video I’d like to share with you that reveals a second big inspiration behind this book, but — SPOILER ALERT! — it hints at a major plot twist. So if you want to avoid the spoiler, stop reading now.

(By the way, if you haven’t signed up for my author newsletter yet, and you want to be entered to win free books and other cool stuff, click here.)

But if you DO want to read about this big mysterious inspiration (and you can’t say I didn’t warn you), here it is:

Continue reading

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Meet me at Tattered Cover on Friday 11/9/18 at 7 pm

No Sleep Till Doomsday book signingIf you’re in the Denver area, come meet me this Friday at my very favorite bookstore: Tattered Cover. I’ll talk about the stories behind No Sleep till Doomsday, read my favorite pages, answer questions, and sign books.

After the signing, head through the “secret door” into The Goods restaurant next door to join me and mingle with other book lovers like you. Hope to see you there!

When:

Friday, November 9 at 7:00 PM

Where:

Tattered Cover on Colfax
2526 East W Colfax Ave
Denver, CO 80206

Can’t make it? Still want to get a signed paperback—or even win one for free? You’ll be automatically entered for a chance to win when you subscribe to my author newsletter.

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Writers: Outline Your Novel the Incredibly Easy Way

Every day, I’m thankful to have the opportunity to write for a living. Seriously. Every single day.

That’s why I share my tips and techniques to help aspiring writers navigate the pitfalls of the writing craft.

One of my favorites is a method for outlining novels that is super simple, quick, and (dare I say) fun. Here it is.

P.S. Get even more writing tips (plus other cool freebies) when you subscribe to my author newsletter.

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Talking monsters on Beyond the Trope podcast

Just in time for Halloween, Colorado’s best podcast for nerds had me on to talk about the secrets to creating bloodcurdling monsters, and other spooky fun.

Direct Download  |  iTunes  |  Spotify  |  Stitcher

Writers: Get a free copy of my workbook 7 Secrets of Writing Bloodcurdling Monsters when you subscribe to my author newsletter.

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Yours Truly rocks the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers podcast

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers podcastTrue story: at the RMFW conference this year, I bumped into my good friend Mark Stevens, an award-winning author and host of the Rocky Mountain Writer podcast. Somehow, we got to talking about weird musical instruments.

I’ve just started playing one of the weirdest of all, the theremin. It’s the original electronic instrument, one that you play just by waving your hands at it. It’s been featured in plenty of old black and white science fiction movies.

Mark was like, “Why don’t you play it on our podcast?”

And I was like, “Wow! That’s a terrifying idea! Let’s do it!”

(And also, somewhere in there, we talked about my writing, too.)

Listen to the Rocky Mountain Writer podcast. 

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My Favorite Things on Speculative Chic

Speculative ChicWhen the wonderful Shara White invited me over to Speculative Chic to talk about a few of my favorite things, I jumped at the chance.

Read about my favorite movie villain on four wheels, underground music to write to, and my secret addiction to a retro gamebook series more than 60 books long.

P.S. She’s doing a book giveaway, too!

It’s all on Speculative Chic.

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No Sleep till Doomsday is here at last! Don’t miss it.

Dru Jasper book 3 - No Sleep till Doomsday

I’m so excited to announce that the wait is finally over. No Sleep till Doomsday has just been released in bookstores everywhere!

Can crystal sorceress Dru Jasper save her boyfriend Greyson’s soul, salvage her troubled friendships, and find the apocalypse scroll in time to stop doomsday?

“Sharp action scenes, crisp characterization and pinpoint plotting keep the pages quickly turning. A terrifying, unforgettable world.”
—Publishers Weekly

“A high-octane thrill ride.”
—Starburst Magazine

“A different kind of urban fantasy. If you enjoy quirky humor and action-packed fun, then this one’s for you.”
—Bibliosanctum

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Books-A-Million | Kobo | IndieBound | Powell’s | Tattered Cover | Goodreads 

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