Lawrence Block’s Blog

Okay, gang, if you don’t know who Lawrence Block is, let me simply say you have a lot of wonderful reading to catch up on.  And I hope you do. His newest Mathew Scudder book is just flat fantastic.

Now like me, he’s been around a long time, longer than me, actually, by a decade or so. And he makes me look like I can’t write. And I’m fine with that, honestly. I hope to some day be as good as he is.

I have met him a number of times, but I am certain he has zero memory of meeting me, since I could hardly stammer out a word. (Yup, even writers have fan moments.)

Actually, I sat beside him for about three hours at a Edgar Awards dinner and ceremony a number of years back and couldn’t manage to say anything either.  I was the spouse of Kris, who was up for an Edgar and we were sitting at the Ellery Queen table. He was friendly, I said I was glad to meet him, and even though at that point I had over eighty novels published, I felt like a kid sitting next to him and couldn’t say a word. He just thought I was some poor husband who had been dragged to a stupid dinner.  Little did he know I could barely choke down my salad because he was sitting RIGHT BESIDE ME for heaven’s sake.

So as you can tell, I have fantastic respect for Lawrence Block and now I must thank John Locke for getting Lawrence Block to blog. He says how in his most recent blog.

Trust me, folks, it is worth reading. Go, now, read.

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33 Responses to Lawrence Block’s Blog

  1. K. W. Jeter says:

    Thanks for pointing to that. You’re right, well worth reading. And funny.

  2. Kevin K. says:

    Thanks, Dean. Terrific stuff. I am a major Block fan (and would probably have fared worse than you if I’d met him). Now have his blog on my browser toolbar (right after yours and Kris’s). And interesting concept: sincere manipulation. Have to give that some thought.

  3. Nancy Beck says:

    That was a great post; thanks for pointing it out.

    What I took away from it was something Mr. Block said in the comments (as a reply to someone else):

    All I know is two years ago I thought I was ready to retire, and I find myself busier than I’ve ever been in my life. And thats not a complaint, as I can’t remember ever having had this much fun.

    FUN. Yes, FUN! I wrote a short a couple of weeks ago (rejected by one mag, but that’s okay). It just came to me, and I wrote it in two days’ time…which now has me thinking about a follow up of sorts…which now has me thinking I’d like to put it up as a two-fer collection.

    Now that’s a lot more FUN than having to endure the query writing/submitting process, and having to write exactly to someone’s subjective idea of what the story should be.

    Did I mention this is FUN? ;-)

  4. JW Manus says:

    Done, read and thank you. I’ve loved Lawrence Block’s books for years (more than I care to recall).

    re star struck: reminds me of the time I stepped into an elevator with Carol Nelson Douglas. I didn’t exactly scream her name, but I’m pretty sure I squeaked. I’m pretty sure that afterward she asked security to keep an eye on me.

  5. Dean, what a sweet and generous post! I want to thank you for it. And the next time our paths cross, we’ll have to have a real conversation.

    • dwsmith says:

      Lawrence, thank you.

      (The sad sight of me, an old pro with over a hundred novels, stammering off into the corner…)


  6. Wonderful stuff. I was impressed to find that Locke could teach Block a new trick or two!

    • dwsmith says:

      Stephen, the learning never stops for any of us. This workshop this last weekend on “Think Like a Publisher” that Scott William Carter and I taught ended up teaching me pages and pages full of notes. I ended up feeling like I took the class as well because when you get 25 professional writers in the same room working on the same stuff, wow do the ideas flow. Great fun and one thing I love about writing and this business. The learning never stops and you get the knowledge where you can.

      Another reason I do these blogs. I learn too. From all of you.

  7. Dean, FYI, Larry’s on Facebook and very interactive with his fans. If you’re not connected to him there, you should.

    • dwsmith says:

      Michael, I couldn’t talk to him while sitting beside him for three hours, what makes you think I could talk to him on Facebook? (grin)

  8. James A. Ritchie says:

    Lawrence Block affects me the same way, and I love his writing. His Matthew Scudder books are some of the best out there. Just intimidatingly good.

    He also got me off to my start in writing, though there’s no way on earth he remembers doing it. I’d sold one short story, but still lacked all confidence, and wrote a letter to Block, asking whether he thought I should take a couple of very expensive writing courses, or maybe just find some other way of making a living.

    He actually read my story, and sent a return letter telling me to forget the classes, and just keep writing. He said I had what it took, and his sense was that I could be as successful as I wanted to be.

    I still have that letter, and you’d better believe I puffed up like a rooster when my favorite writer took the time to be so kind to a brand new writer.

    But he’s like that. I met him once, very briefly, and he’s not only a wonderful writer, he’s just a flat Good Guy all the way around.

    He impresses me even more now than he did back then. There used to be an E. F. Hutton commercials that went, “When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen!”

    For me, Lawrence Block is the E. F. Hutton of the writing world, and when he talks, or blogs, I listen.

  9. Not only has Mr. Block written a lot of great fiction but his book Telling Lies for Fun and Profit is really, really good as well.

  10. nathan says:

    For whatever reason I never much got into LB’s books as a general rule. With this caveat: SUCH MEN ARE DANGEROUS is just about one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read in my life.

    I have kept a copy of that book with me for well over a decade and a half, re-read it about once every 12-14 months and will, frequently, go in look at the cover, sigh, and despair, then go type and hope practice will somehow get me in the general stratosphere of SUCH MEN ARE DANGEROUS.

    It’s one of those books that both make you want to be a writer–then makes you laugh at yourself for thinking you can be a writer. It’s like Robert Parker and Lee Child sat on LB’s knee and said “is this how we do it, Papa?”

    Plus, I’m going to get Locke’s book now, too, LOL.

  11. Gary Speer says:

    Hey, Dean, I share your love of all things Lawrence Block. I first met him when I took a writers’ workshop he was touring the country with. (That was at a weekend session in St. Louis, MO.) The workshop, with accompanying “textbook” which he wrote was called “Write for Your Life.” (Which he’s now selling, I note, via Kindle.)

    For whatever reason, probably because I was near the front looking young and dumb (I’m much older and looking much dumber these days.), he grabbed me to pair off with him for a couple of the workshop group activities.

    He’s an incredible writer, and, during that and one other brief meeting I’ve had with him at a book signing, a pleasure to be around as a human being.

    Thanks for sharing that blog post and directing me to his blog.


  12. Camille says:

    I’m really looking forward to the blog. I remember reading all those columns in WD every month. (I still have a couple of the book collections.)

    I guess I can thank John Locke for getting another of the formative influences of my youth on to the web!

  13. Jeff Ambrose says:

    Thanks so much for pointing us to LB’s blog. I never would’ve thought to even look for one by him. He’s one of my favorite writers. Wow, so very cool.

    So, have you read John Locke’s book that LB says got him blogging?

    • dwsmith says:

      Yup, read it. Parts I agree, parts I think are just flat silly. But what do I know? I’m just sitting and watching and learning from anyone I can learn from.

  14. Jeff Ambrose says:


    I’m about 50% through John Locke’s book on e-publishing, and I’m not sure what to think. It has all the buzz words — branding, platform, name recognition.

    On the other hand, he talks about the need for content and that trying to market if you have less than five novels up is a silly idea. I think there’s some truth to that, too.

    My plan is to use the methods that make sense to me and seem like fun, and to dismiss (in the short term) the rest. Simple fact is, I have more fun writing and publishing my fiction than the other things. And since I want to be in this for the long term, I think I’m best served by focusing on the long term. Parts of what JL says seems too focused on the short term.

    My own personal take is that when one finishes this book, one should read what Kris says about promotion. JL knows marketing, and he knows how to market his ideas. Balance seems to be needed.

    Just my thoughts, and I certainly don’t want to this become a point on contention in your comments. If you think it will, don’t allow it to go through.

    PS — Looking forward to seeing the 2012 workshop schedule — that is if you and Kris are planning on doing any workshops.

    PPS — One last thing. You’re distinction between “writer’s block” and “project block” a few posts back has really, really helped me over the past month. Been able to keep writing despite having a project or two go “cold” on me.

    • dwsmith says:

      Jeff, I like your attitude. No right answers in this new world. Just lots of ideas and there are ways to try them all. Kris and I are going to have book cards at WorldCon to show people, some as just giveaways and some in card holders (meaning basically a book cover with no interior but the book card. Great fun. (And if you folks don’t know what I am talking about, read the last three or four chapters of my “Think Like a Publisher” series under the tab at the top.) So I will report back toward the end of August with pictures and how it went. I will be showing it to bookstores to get their reaction as well.

      As for the 2012 workshops, we have our schedule and it’s got a bunch of workshops from January through July. I’ve got the list out to those who have been here before and are on the big e-mail list and in a week or so I’ll post it here for everyone. Stay tuned.


  15. Dean —

    Glad to hear you’ll be at WorldCon. The mini-master class you and Kris and Adrian Phoenix gave me last November over dinner at McMinimens has paid off handsomely for me. I’ll be on the lookout for all of you there–dinner and drinks are on me this time.

    And thanks for pointing to Block’s website. Amazing writer, gonna be a pleasure to follow his online adventures in between writing shifts here.

    • dwsmith says:

      When in doubt trying to find me, I’ll be in the poker room. (grin) Worldcon at a casino. Doesn’t get better. (grin)

  16. Louis says:

    Yep it was.

    Worth reading that is. My thanks also Dean. I’m going to be spreading the link to his post around.

    No if I could get him or you to do a guess post on my blog. :)

    And I think his post sounds like he is a nice guy who would be worth listening to.

  17. K. W. Jeter says:

    From the discussions I’ve been in elsewhere, I’d say that the part of John Locke’s “how I did it” book that’s getting the most raised eyebrows is the whole bit about what he calls “Loyalty Transfer” and blogging about Joe Paterno in order to sell your thriller novels. That being said, there’s some other stuff in the book that seems pretty solid.

  18. Chris Abbey says:

    A bunch of years ago, I was at a really small con. I slipped into a room to listen to my friend read, but as I was late, I politely stood at the back wall. At some point, I turned to my left and saw I was standing next to Forrest Ackerman! Now, understand that during the con I had the privilege of hanging with Straub and Ellison and many more folks on the high end of great. But for some reason, it was FORREST J. FREAKING ACKERMAN!!! I had to flee the room. Never got to meet him.

  19. Written a hundred novels? Sheeesh! I’m not sure I’ve read a hundred novels in my life … I’ll take my two and slink off now.

    • dwsmith says:

      Christopher, oh, I’ve written far more than a hundred. More like 120 when I actually stop and count. Just over a hundred have been published by traditional publishers. Not sure how I’m going to count, if I even bother, once I start putting new novels up indie published.

  20. Camille says:

    “Loyalty Transfer” is just a cynical take on something I’ve always thought was what you should blog about anyway: write about things that interest you, and people with the same interests will find your blog and like it.

    It may work as a marketing “trick” but it’s really just a matter of writing about appropriate subject matter — the blogging equivalent of writing a darn good book.

  21. Rob Cornell says:

    Lawrence Block is the reason I’m the writer I am today. He has had the largest influence on not only my writing, but what I read, too. I never went near a detective novel until I read A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES. Changed my freakin’ life.

    PS – How does one get on the “big e-mail list?” I want in. :)

    • dwsmith says:

      Rob, attend a workshop here on the Oregon Coast. That gets you on the big list of other professionals who have attended workshops here. Right now the list has over 140 professional writers on it. Great fun.

  22. Joan Reeves says:

    Lawrence Block? OMG! Squeal, squeal, squeal. Big Fan Moment because I probably would never have tried for publication if it hadn’t been for his Affirmations for Writers. Love his fiction! Love his nonfiction for writers.

    Thanks, Dean, for this alert.

    Best wishes,
    Joan Reeves

  23. “Michael, I couldn’t talk to him while sitting beside him for three hours, what makes you think I could talk to him on Facebook? (grin)”

    Dean: well, that’s a point. I never had the same nervousness when approaching Lawrence Block as I did Asimov, say, probably because Block always seemed so approachable. (I think it’s because I got to know him through my high-school friend Charles Ardai, who now publishes some of his books.)

  24. Steve Spohn says:

    I will convince you to do an online workshop yet, Dean. It’ll happen. ;)

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