Writing Process, Book 2 (Part 2)

With the help of my critique group, I improved the setting, description, and physical cues of my second book. But they still complained that the first third was too slow. (By the time we reached halfway, there were no brakes on the story and no complaints about pacing.) I tried this and that to increase the tension and the plot movement, and it improved, but people still complained.

After rewriting things several times, I wanted to tear out my hair. Yeah, being an author is sometimes not much fun at all. Then I had to go out-of-state to help my parents declutter–again. Since I knew I’d be too busy to actually write, I decided it was a good time to do a lot of brainstorming and figure out how to fix my pacing at last. One advantage is that my mom is very familiar with my stories and characters and is willing to talk to me about them.

We went over each chapter, one at a time. For some of them, we figured out small things to increase the tension and pacing. Then we got to chapter six. Plot: inadequate. Chapter character goal: missing and unfulfilled. Dialogue: lots and lots of that… Pacing: very, very slow. We tried to fix the poor thing, but eventually decided it was just broken.

*We will pause for a moment of silence for a dead chapter.*

I hate broken chapters. I really do. This wasn’t my first one and probably won’t be my last. Still don’t like it.

We talked it over for two days and still got nowhere. Though Mom knows my stories and characters, she’s a novice with story structure and beats and other writerly jargon. Then one of my author friends kindly offered to call and chat about the problem. We brainstormed several bad solutions (okay, not bad, just not very workable for the rest of the story) and then finally hit on something I hope works.

Yes, I still have to rewrite the entire chapter. No, I’m still not happy about it. Yes, I’ll do it anyway. And again, and again, and again, until it’s finally good enough to share with the rest of you.

What are the lessons here?

  1. When you get stuck, ask for help.
  2. Don’t give up.
  3. You won’t succeed without lots of hard work.
  4. Don’t call a book finished until you’ve fixed everything you can possibly fix and polished it until it shines.

My brain died on my “vacation,” but as soon as I get it back in working order, chapter six is up for a complete remodel, and I have a page of other edits to incorporate. (That doesn’t sound as bad, but they aren’t simple “change this word” things. Nope, more rewriting all over the book.) Once I finish (*pause for hysterical laughter*), I hope to have it ready for beta readers. Or at least alpha ones. My publisher would still like me to get it out in a reasonable amount of time after the first one.

(Update: That chapter passed my critique group. Another chapter still has to go through the process. Sigh.)

Wish me luck, and good luck in your own writing,

M. C. Lee

Lifelong Reading

I hear some of you like to hear personal things about your favorite authors. I have a pretty big space bubble around my personal life, but I thought maybe you’d like to hear about my reading experience. After all, I have been recommending books to you, as well as writing books FOR you.

I’ve been reading (fluently) since I was four years old. Yes, really. My mom says I was reading at 7th-grade level before I even hit kindergarten age. Since I am not one of those people whose memories go back to toddler-hood, I literally can’t remember I time I couldn’t read. I’m pretty sure it’s had an impact on my view of the world. 😉

I started reading “big-people” books very quickly, and by the time I was eight, I was reading Lord of the Rings. No, I didn’t understand all of it; I was only eight! But I read it about once a quarter every year for many years, then dropped to twice a year, then annually. When my sister dropped her book and lost her page, she called me on the phone. “Quick, tell me what page I’m on!” “What just happened in the story?… Okay, here’s your page.” No, I didn’t have it memorized. Yes, that’s about how long it took me to find it.

Junior high was the first time I attended school (lousy timing!), and people started asking me how many books I read a year. Well, I don’t know! The library only lets me check out ten at a time, and I go every week. But I read books from home, too… So I started tracking. For three years, I wrote down every book I read that had at least 90 pages and wasn’t a textbook. Back then, there was no electronic way to do this (not much internet, folks, and the school computers could put their entire hard-drive on a single floppy drive!), so I did it all by hand. Decades later, I typed it all up so I could analyze it. Yep, I’m a nerd.

Three years. An average of 620 books/year. Lowest year was about 430, highest was a bit over 800. Yes, I realize that’s almost two a day. No, most of them did not have 90 pages; most of them had several hundred pages. Yes, that included some repeats, but most of them were new. You can also assume I read that many books every year until I had kids. (Children require attention, go figure, so I dropped down to only 300 or 400 books for a while.) Even now that I’m writing, I still manage to read over 200 books. Guys, that’s a LOT of books.

No, I don’t read sixteen hours a day. When I was seven or eight, I asked my mom what speed reading was. She gave me the 30-second explanation (or less), and I promptly forgot about it. I apparently started using some of the techniques, though, because my reading speed kept going up until it hit borderline-speed-reading. Not real speed-reading, just borderline. My family thinks it’s amusing to watch my eyes when I read. When they’re really bored, they’ll add pinball-game sound effects. They’re not as funny as they think they are.

By now, you might think I’m bragging. I’m not. I’m just pointing out that I have a lot of experience in the field. 😉 By now, I’m pretty good at picking out fun books. My tastes might not match your own, but if they do, then you’re probably fairly safe taking recommendations from me. Handy, isn’t it? Go ahead, search my posts for all the different lists… I’ll wait for you here. 🙂

As for writing, being a good reader doesn’t necessarily make one a good writer, but it certainly helps! I hope you decide my books are good enough to make your list of recommendations.

Happy reading,

M. C. Lee

LTUE 2019 Business Class Notes

Every year for several years now, I’ve gone to the Life, the Universe, and Everything sci-fi/fantasy conference in Utah. It’s sort of a writing conference, and sort of not. They also have art classes, and a game room, and presentations of academic papers, and meet-and-greets.

But I mostly go for the writing classes. And the business classes. And the worldbuilding classes. And the oh-that-sounds-super-cool classes. Two of my family members got to attend a weapons class with real weapons. They raved for weeks.

I wrote about my other classes here, and now I’m moving on to the business classes. If the class was a panel, I didn’t list the speakers and I didn’t keep track of who said what.

Finances
Rules to pass audits: Keep mouth shut. Answer questions clearly and succinctly. Don’t volunteer anything.
One-time sales tax must be paid right after. Regular sales must have license.

On the Road
Road stuff is no fun
Write what you love, and lots of it

Video trailer
Stock video sites for video clips
Kaden live free software or Adobe premiere
Sony Vegas good for beginners $50
DaVinci resolve free

Tools of the Trade
Scrivener is good for disorganized
Storyoriginapp.com, Prolifwords, and Mybookcave for reader magnets
Bundle rabbit
Kdp rocket

Working with Reviewers
Be polite & professional
Try to build a connection
Kirkus reviews are useless

What I Wish I Knew When I Started Indie, by M.A. Nichols
Don’t wait for book to be perfect
Income is the goal, not sales
Write more books!

Realistic Self-Publishing (all notes for rest of page), by Keary Taylor
Smashwords is a common source of piracy
Publish 2nd book before spending money on ads
She spends $60/day on ads
Be organized

Are you willing to:
Find & hire editors, proofreaders, cover artists, & formatters?
Manage your own marketing & PR?
Learn a lot of new skills?
Get creative with books AND entrepreneurship?
Treat this as business?

Average costs:
Editor/proofreader: $300 for 70K book
Format: $175 e & print
Cover designer: $150+
=$600-1000 to launch book that has a chance

Series starter marketing:
Only book: launch $2.99-5.99 depending on genre/length (pref 2.99-4.99)
Once established, first-in-series:
Full price= more cost to marketing
$0.99= charging a little helps pay for marketing
Free= no risk for readers

Follow-ups in series:
Increase by $1 each book (2.99, 3.99, 4.99)
Same price for each in series
Same price until last book, then increase $1

Backmatter:
Immediately after The End, have lead-in to next book with LINKS
Also by with LINKS
Thanks for reading, ask for review
Author bio
Social links
Follow on Amazon
Newsletter signup
CHOOSE SOME, NOT ALL. Keep it clean & simple.

Don’t get caught up in swag or book signings. They’re fun, but not profitable.

2000 books published/day on Amazon
WILL have to pay for visibility
Readers WILL forget you
Market constantly changes
For full-time, can’t take this casually

Set up social media sites, Goodreads, BookBub, Amazon Author Page, website.
Study what other authors are doing

Places to advertise:
Facebook
Amazon Ads
Bookbub
Other paid sites (in order of effectiveness)
eReader News Today
FreeBooksy
BargainBooksy
Free Kindle Books
RobinReads
FussyLibrarian
BookBarbarian
BookAdrenaline
BookSends
ManyBooks

Schedule sales around book releases
Stack ads (same day or close together)
Cycle ads, including backlist
Plan at least 6 weeks ahead (sites fill up early)
Mailing list advertisers WILL list permafree books

Downfalls: Genre bouncing, not interacting/getting personal with fans, not collaborating with other authors

Whew! I feel overwhelmed now. How about you?

Happy writing,

M. C. Lee

Books That Should be Made into Movies

This list is totally my opinion, but here are some books I think would make good movies. Hollywood, are you listening to me?

In random order:

Devil on My Back, by Monica Hughes. Dystopian sci-fi with a “big brother” hooked right into you.

The Shattered Stone, by Robert Newman. Fantasy with a touch of mystery. Who betrayed the truce and broke the stone?

Winter of Magic’s Return and Tomorrow’s Magic, by Pamela F. Service. Fantasy-in-the-future and the return of Merlin as a teenager with amnesia.

The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley. Dragons and a strong heroine with brains.

Knee-Deep in Thunder, by Sheila Moon. An underground world of fantasy with larger-than-life animal characters.

Silver Woven in My Hair, by Shirley Rousseau Murphy. A Cinderella story with a more satisfactory romance.

Crown Duel/Court Duel, by Sherwood Smith. Magic, rebellion, and court intrigue, with a touch of magic.

The Gammage Cup, by Carol Kendall. Five ordinary Minnipins become heroes in spite of themselves.

The Great and Terrible Quest, by Margaret Lovett. A quick-witted orphan eludes his evil grandfather to help a wounded knight on a quest he can’t even remember.

The Masqueraders, by Georgette Heyer. A Georgian romance with intrigue and compelling characters who sometimes cross-dress to disguise themselves.

Have Space Suit–Will Travel, by Robert A. Heinlein. Two kidnapped children must convince a galactic council not to eradicate Earth.

Code Orange, by Caroline B. Cooney. Contemporary suspense. Don’t ever advertise on the internet that you might have a source of biological warfare. Don’t ever say you might BE a source of biological warfare…

The Queen’s Thief series, by Megan Whalen Turner. Fantasy. Don’t believe what you see, because you probably misunderstood, even without magic. This is one series where I can imagine the camera angles without even trying.

Dragon Slippers series, by Jessica Day George. A brave girl defends dragons. Yes, I got that in the right order.

Knight and Rogue series, by Hilari Bell. Knights errant have been a legend for 200 years, until Michael decides to resurrect the obsolete occupation and drags a reluctant thief with him.

The False Prince series, by Jennifer A. Nielsen. Fantasy and intrigue, and another case of not believing what you see. When the royal family is killed, who will step up to impersonate the lost prince?

What’s on your Make Mine a Movie list?

M. C. Lee

Writing Conference Report: LTUE 2019

Every year for several years now, I’ve gone to the Life, the Universe, and Everything sci-fi/fantasy conference in Utah. It’s sort of a writing conference, and sort of not. They also have art classes, and a game room, and presentations of academic papers, and meet-and-greets.

But I mostly go for the writing classes. And the business classes. And the worldbuilding classes. And the oh-that-sounds-super-cool classes. Two of my family members got to attend a weapons class with real weapons. They raved for weeks.

First, a little practical advice.

Wear good shoes and comfortable clothes/hairstyle. Take food to eat, especially if you aren’t going to take an actual lunch break. Look for a freebies table. Talk to people–lots of people. If weight bothers you AT ALL, slim down your bag to lighter than you think you can carry all day. Ask experienced attendees which bathroom tends to have shorter lines, and use it immediately after class. Drink lots of water (if you lightened your bag, take a small bottle and refill it every hour). If you have business cards, bring them. If the class you want to take is full, try something else or find someone for a conversation.

I’m going to have to split my best take-away advice from the classes I attended this year. I’ll put the business notes in a different post. Here’s the worldbuilding and craft notes. If the class was a panel, I didn’t list the speakers or keep track of who said what.

Foraging, by Cedar Sanderson
Some plants are topically poisonous (absorb through skin).
Never test edibility by tasting.
Blue-colored berries are probably fine, red be cautious, white avoid.
Some things will slowly make you sick, so just because you ate it once and didn’t die doesn’t actually mean it’s safe.
Animals are a better source of emergency food than plants.
Predators are usually not yummy.
Some animals have poison glands. Even deer have scent glands that can spoil the meat if punctured (same for gut).
Fuzz/hair is usually toxic /nasty.
Just because an animal ate it doesn’t mean it’s safe for you.

Objective Correlative  (accent on the second syllable of Correlative), by Rosalyn Eves
Telling emotion is worst, showing is better. Putting the reader inside your characters to feel the same emotions themselves is better.
5 ways to do that:
Objects (readers must understand importance)
Metaphor
Situation (setting, events, etc)
Chain of events (action-reaction)
Movement or gesture
Build up moment until reader is immersed and feels like the character.
Don’t overuse; save for important moments when you can slow down.
(I left the class thinking, “THIS. I want to learn to do THIS.”)

Suspense
Every chapter should have conflict. Some should still be rest chapters
Ticking time bomb + obstacles
Switch from high tension to low and back again to reset the tension
Reader knowing something character does not, creates tension
Don’t withhold information the pov character knows

The Beginner’s Guide to Self-Editing, by Kelsy Thompson
A great class, but since she offered her slides to attendees, I didn’t take notes. Also, it was a two-hour class and she moved fast enough through enough material that taking notes wasn’t very practical. If you get the chance to take the class, I recommend it. She covered development editing first (big-picture story items) and then moved down to line editing (actual language) and proofreading (typos).
I did like her encouragement to aim for professional but forget about unattainable perfection.

Beats & Microbeats, by Devri Walls
For intense speed, shorten sentences.
Slow beats use longer, more descriptive sentences.
Do not overdo or everything will be flat
If action or romance scenes are lacking, slow down!
Dialogue: speech tags and action slow scenes. Cut for faster scenes.

4-part Pacing, by J. Scott Savage
Plot is events, pacing is timing
Use foreshadowing for something ELSE and your true twist will slip through.
1st quarter draws interest.
2nd quarter delivers on promise.
3rd quarter is heart of story.
4th quarter is climax.
There is a turning point at every quarter.

Backstory
Give the minimum your reader has to know, in time for them to use it. Not Tolkien!
Walk through as the character would, and be subtle.
Skip As-you-know-Bob (conversations held only to explain things to the reader)

Showing vs Telling
Boil things to the most important showing details.
Naming an emotion is usually telling.
Which parts do the reader need to feel (show) VS just know (tell)?
First draft is worry-free zone. Go ahead & tell, & edit it later.
War That Saved My Life (book): look for showing.
First chapter of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Foreshadowing
If you disguise the foreshadowing as something else, it can hide your real purpose.
Mix truth and lie to confuse readers.
Using multiple techniques is trickier.
Let some red herrings be true to throw readers off balance.

Sagging Middle
If you aren’t having fun anymore, back up and make a different choice.
The middle is the main part of the story.
Use MICE quotient to determine what kind of obstacles you need.

Books That Need Sequels

Don’t you hate it when authors stop a series you like before it’s actually finished? I do! So here are some books that I think the authors should hurry up and sequel already. (I’m excluding relatively new releases that might already have unannounced sequels planned.)

If there ARE sequels for these, tell me, would you? I’ve been waiting…

The Nascenza Conspiracy, by V. Briceland.

Ordinary Magic, by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway.

Perception, by Kim Harrington

Timekeeper, by Alexandra Monir

The Darkness Dwellers, by Kirsten Miller

A Cold Black Wave, by Timothy H. Scott

Dragon Run, by Patrick Mathews

Freaks, by Kieran Larwood

The Watcher in the Shadows, by Chris Moriarty

Treecat Wars, by David Weber.

The Last Enchanter, by Laurisa White Reyes

The Seers, by Julianna Scott

Tristi Pinkston’s mysteries

Silent Starsong, and The Earl’s Childe, by T. J. Wooldridge

The Black Stars, by Dad Krokos

The Tree of Water, by Elizabeth Haydon

Silver in the Blood, by Jessica Day George

The Sign of the Cat, by Lynne Jonell

(editor’s note: I stopped in 2016, so updates should pick up there)

If you have any pull with these authors, tell them to get on the ball! 😉

What books do YOU want to have sequels?

Happy reading,

M. C. Lee

 

Emotion Thesaurus, Second Edition

I’ve been using the original Emotion Thesaurus for a year. My critique partners recommended it when they got tired of trying to explain how to add emotion to my story. And they were right; it’s a great resource anytime I think, “Now, how can I show what my characters are feeling? How can I make my reader feel their emotions?”

So when I scored an Advance Reader Copy of the second edition, I was intrigued and excited. What would the difference be? Would the authors add new emotions? Would there be other changes?

Yes, there are new emotions. Yes, there are other changes. And they’re great!

Besides the old sections of effectively mixing verbal, physical, and thoughts, and a reminder about moderation, there is now an intro section on baseline behavior and personalities, to remind you that different characters will respond differently to the same events, depending on their inherent traits. There’s a section on speech patterns, so your characters don’t all sound alike. There’s a section on subtext that I desperately needed…

Within the emotion entries, there used to be a “Could escalate to” reference that is still there but expanded. Now there is also a “Could de-escalate to” reference that would have made my life a lot easier if it had been in the first edition. Another new section in each emotion entry is a list of associated power verbs. Yes! Now I don’t have to strain my brain trying to think of action verbs to fit the emotion, because the authors have already done the hard work for me! I’m so excited. You might have noticed…

A few of the old emotions have been split to differentiate between subtly different feelings. Some definitions have been improved. A lot of new emotions have been added. I won’t list them all, but some of my favorites include:

  • appall
  • apprehension
  • betrayed
  • certainty
  • despair
  • devastation
  • discouraged
  • grief
  • homesick
  • horror
  • hysteria
  • moved
  • obsessed
  • pleased
  • powerlessness
  • self-pity
  • shock
  • stunned
  • unappreciated
  • validated
  • valued
  • vengeful
  • vulnerable
  • wanderlust
  • wistful

For several of those, I sighed. Why didn’t I have those when I was writing my last book? At least I have them for my works-in-progress. *rub hands together with glee*

Thanks, Angela & Becky, for making my stories better and my writing easier. And thanks for the sneak peek.

Now, all you writers out there, I’m not going to tell you to buy the book, but if you struggle with expressing emotion on the page, or if your readers say they don’t FEEL it, maybe this would be a good tool for you. It is for me.

For  more information, you can go here.

M. C. Lee

Favorite Religious Books

Here are some of my favorite religious books, not counting the scriptures, which would come at the top of the otherwise random list:

Bad Guys of the Book of Mormon, by Dennis Gaunt

Your Happily Ever After, by Dieter F. Uchtdorf

12 Keys to Developing Spiritual Maturity, by Richard G Moore

Finding God in the Land of Narnia, by Kurt Bruner

Brent L. Top

Standing for Something, by Gordon B. Hinckley

Repentance, by Ezra Taft Benson

Divine Signatures: The Confirming Hand of God, by Gerald N Lund

My Soul Delighteth in the Scriptures, by H. Wallace Goddard

Created for Greater Things, by Jeffery R. Holland

House of Learning, by Richard M Walker

Talking with God: Divine Conversations That Transform Daily Life, by Robert L. Millet

To Lead as Jesus Led, by Eric G. Stephen

A Quiet Heart, Patricia C. Holland

Jesus the Christ, by James E. Talmage

Believing Christ: The Parable of the Bicycle and Other Good News, by Stephen E Robinson

C.S. Lewis (some are religious books, some are not)

The Legal Cases in the Book of Mormon, by John W. Welch (density warning)

Men of Valor: The Powerful Impact of a Righteous Man, by Robert L. Millet

The Cost of Winning: Coming in First Across the Wrong Finish Line, by Dean Hughes

The Infinite Atonement, by Tad R. Callister

Robert I. Eaton

Amazed by Grace, by Sheri Dew

Brad Wilcox

Raising an Army of Helaman’s Warriors: A Guide for Parents to Prepare the Greatest Generation of Missionaries, by Mark D. Ogletree

John Bytheway

Mary Ellen Edmunds

Covenant Hearts, by Bruce C. Hafen

What Would a Holy Woman Do?, by Wendy Watson Nelson

Consider the Blessings, by Thomas S. Monson

Michael S. Wilcox

Hard Times and Holy Places, by Kristen Warner Belcher

Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, by John W. Welch

How?: Essential Skills for Living the Gospel, by John Hilton

Great News!

It’s been a long time getting here, but I’m pleased to announce the publication of my first book! You can find more information on Goodreads, Amazon, Kobo, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Google Play, and more. You can find links for the ebook at many of the stores here.

The ebook is available for libraries on OverDrive, if you’d like to encourage one to stock it. 🙂

Print copies will be available in a couple of months. If you want a signed copy, contact me in person for now. (Later, I’ll figure out another way to get signed copies on a broader basis.) You can also buy an unsigned copy directly through me, if you like. (Same price for you, more profit for me.)

Should you buy the ebook or wait for the print version? And how soon? That depends– do you want an ebook or a paperback? Buy the one you want (ebooks give better royalties, so don’t let the cheaper price bother you). If you love reading YA fantasy, buy it as soon as you’d like. If you’re just trying to help me, please wait 2-3 months until fantasy readers have created appropriate other-people-liked-this connections. If you really want the marketing lecture, let me know. 😉 Another way to help me, if that’s your goal, is to ask your library to order it, and then check it out.

I dream of having an audio version someday, but my publisher says that will have to wait. I’ll let you know when it happens. 🙂

So what’s the bad news? Well, the ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) are no longer available, although you can still sign up on my list for an ARC to the next book. And the print copies aren’t quite ready. I think the balance is definitely on the side of the good news.

And if you like the book, please give it a nice review and refer it to a friend. 😀

Happy reading!

M. C. Lee

Favorite NonFiction Books

Here are my favorite non-fiction books and authors (including biographies), in random order. For favorite writing, family/parenting, religious, or personality/behavior/cognition books, please see separate posts. I didn’t include homeschooling books, but if anyone is interested in that list, let me know & I’ll make a post.

Miscellaneous Books

Biblioholism: The Literary Addiction, by Tom Raabe

Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings, by Diana Pavlac Glyer

The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief, by Clair Davies

Foam Rolling Guru, by Jason van den Berg

The Naturally Clean Home: 101 Safe and Easy Herbal Formulas for Nontoxic Cleansers, by Karyn Siegel-Maier

Business, Careers, and Finance Books

What Color Is Your Parachute? 2009: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers, by Richard Nelson Bolles

Built to Last; Good to Great; and Good to Great & the Social Sectors, by James C. Collins

The Mormon Way of Doing Business: Leadership and Success Through Faith and Family, by Jeff Benedict

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness, by Dave Ramsey

The Making of A Well – Designed Business: Turn Inspiration into Action, by LuAnn Nigara

The Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting and Running a Business, by Steve Mariati

Start and Run a Profitable Home-Based Business: Your Step-by-Step, First-Year Guide, by Edna Sheedy

Start Your Own Business: The Only Start-Up Book You’ll Ever Need, by Rieva Lesonsky

AMA Complete Guide to Marketing Research for Small Business, by Holly Edmunds

Do-It-Yourself Direct Marketing: Secrets for Small Business, by Mark S. Bacon

Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting an Online Business, by Frank Fiore

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business, by Barbara Weltman

Camping Books

Beyond Backpacking: Ray Jardine’s Guide to Lightweight Hiking

Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers’ Companion, by Leslie Mass

Backpacking: Essential Skills to Advanced Techniques, by Victoria Steele Logue

The Appalachian Trail Backpacker’s Planning Guide, by Victoria Steele Logue

Trail Safe: Averting Threatening Human Behavior in the Outdoors, by Michael Bane

Cookbooks

Pressure Perfect: Two Hour Taste in Twenty Minutes Using Your Pressure Cooker, by Lorna J. Sass

How to Repair Food, by Marina Bear (the only one of these cookbooks I actually own…)

What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained, by Robert L. Wolke

The Thru-Hiker’s Handbook: Georgia to Maine, by Dan Bruce

Backpack Gourmet: Good Hot Grub You Can Make at Home, Dehydrate, and Pack for Quick, Easy, and Healthy Eating on the Trail, by Linda Frederick Yaffe

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking, by Jeff Hertzberg

Not Your Mother’s Food Storage: Store the Food You Use Every Day, by Kathy Bray

Science & History Books

And Then You’re Dead: What Really Happens If You Get Swallowed by a Whale, Are Shot from a Cannon, or Go Barreling Over Niagara, by Cody Cassidy

Packing for Mars, by Mary Roach

Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle, by Douglas J. Emlen

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, by Randall Munroe

The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic – and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World, by Steven Johnson

Seven Miracles That Saved America: Why They Matter and Why We Should Have Hope, by Chris Stewart

The Miracle of Freedom: Seven Tipping Points That Saved the World, by Chris Stewart

Biographies

The Boys in the Boat: The True Story of an American Team’s Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics, by Daniel James Brown

Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness, by Eric Metaxas

Richard Feynman

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, by Chris Hadfield (which actually had a strong influence on my decision to be a “real” author)

The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom

Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery, by Eric Metaxas

Unlikely Heroes, by Ron Carter

To the Rescue: The Biography of Thomas S. Monson

A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park

Let It Go: A True Story of Tragedy and Forgiveness, by Chris Williams

Faith: Behind the Fences: A True Story of Survival in a Japanese Prison Camp, by Kelly Dispirito Taylor

 

What non-fiction books have made a difference to your life? Tell me in the comments.

M. C. Lee