How do you write a mystery novel? Charles Finch, author of the Charles Lenox, says that plots don’t come naturally to him, so he has a trick: I start by writing a brief, extremely dull short story. No one will ever see one of these if I can conceivably prevent it; it’s usually only about […]
Long before the term “visual learning” came into being, Emma Hart Willard knew what it meant and how important it was. So important, she believed, that constructing the tools to put it into effect was well worth time and effort. In 1846, she drew a chart titled The Temple of Time (below) in which she attempted […]
In 1903, 20-year-old Newell Convers Wyeth, an aspiring illustrator, boarded a train and headed west. Actually, he could claim more than the adjective “aspiring.” He had just pulled off a coup in the world of illustration that had eluded artists who were two or three times his age. His illustration of a cowboy on a […]
This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,653) on Friday, October 25, 2019. We got rain again this weekend, and we got more on Monday night. After a two- to three-month stretch with almost no rain at all, the world is beginning to feel good again in East Tennessee. In the […]
The paragraph below comes from J.K. Rowling‘s website, so if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’ll want to check out the site and especially this page. This is especially for younger writers. You can’t be a good writer without being a devoted reader. Reading is the best way of analysing what makes a good book. […]
If you were a young reader, you know that Carolyn Keene wrote the Nancy Drew mysteries. And if you remained aware of that into adulthood, chances are that you found out that Carolyn Keene didn’t exist. So who was Carolyn Keene? The creator of Nancy Drew was Edward Stratemeyer, about whom we have written before […]
Just how revolutionary was the American Revolutionary War? Pretty revolutionary, according to historian T. H. Breen, who has written a recently-published book examining the thinking that went on behind the American colonies’ break with the mother country. What we call the American Revolution cannot be linked to a single moment such as the signing of […]
The woman who created Nancy Drew, the Ratline podcast, and reader reactions; newsletter, October 18, 2019
This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,665) on Friday, October 18, 2019. Rain finally arrived in East Tennessee this week after an absence of about 45 days. It was greatly welcomed. There wasn’t a lot of rain but enough to begin turning the ground from brown to green. The hope […]
There’s something about a book that doesn’t die — even in a regime as authoritarian as Nazi Germany. In the 1920s, one of the most popular authors in the Weimar Republic of Germany was Else Ury, who wrote a series of children’s books known as the Nesthäkchen series. These ten books featured a fiesty, blond-headed girl Annemarie […]
Author Philip Kerr got very bad news in July 2017. He had stage 4 cancer, and the doctor gave him between one and two years to live — although, she said, she had had a patient in his condition that lived for five years. “I’ve got five years,” Kerr said to his wife, Jane, when […]
Philip Kerr’s last book, the difference between dogs and cats, Else Ury’s books: newsletter, October 11, 2019
This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,6xx) on Friday, October 11, 2019. When does a dry spell become a drought? In East Tennessee, we have had only one good rainstorm in the last two and a half months. But no one yet is calling it a drought, probably because from last October through […]
Emma Hart Willard’s visual learning, N.C. Wyeth’s trip west, and JK Rowling on what it takes to write: newsletter, October 4, 2019
This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,6xx) on Friday, October 4, 2019. The continued record-breaking heat and dry weather in East Tennessee threaten to disrupt our fall gardening plans. Last year, we had so much rain that there was never a chance to sub-soil and till our garden plots […]
Alan Furst and ‘the death of Europe,’ readers’ reactions to Joseph Campbell and Frances Glessner Lee, and a podcast recommendation:newsletter, September 27, 2019
This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,6xx) on Friday, September 27, 2019. Without giving it too much thought, I seem to have shifted my main medium this week with lots of pen and ink drawings showing up in my sketchbook, on my art table, and in this newsletter. Sometimes that happens, and […]
Malcolm Gladwell talks books, banned books, Beatles books, and the godmother of forensic science: newsletter, September 20, 2019
American Watercolor, an e-zine begun by Kelly Kane, has a short feature on my watercolors — thanks in great part to you, my faithful newsletter readers. I was named ambassador of the week and got into the running for that title because, several weeks ago, I asked those of you who were interested to sign up […]
When Mark Lewisohn published the first volume, Tune In, of his trilogy about the Beatles (The Beatles: All These Years) six years ago, it turned out to be massive: 390,000 words, which is about four times the length of a good mystery novel and at least twice as long as most nonfiction books. It took […]
Jennifer S., my good friend, valued colleague, and fellow reader and writer, responded to an item in last week’s newsletter about Joseph Campbell’s concept of “A Hero’s Journey” with this: I enjoyed encountering the wonderful Joseph Campbell within the virtual pages of your newsletter! Campbell’s work was very eye-opening to me as a young reader, […]
Julie K. Brown, the reporter for the Miami Herald who would not let the Jeffrey Epstein story go when just about every other reporter and prosecutor would, has a just-out series of podcasts about this sad and sorted tale. Epstein recently committed suicide rather than face a trial for his multiple assaults on underage girls, but his name […]
We’re coming up on the annual Banned Books Week, a celebration of intellectual freedom sponsored by the American Library Association. This year’s theme is Keep the Light On. If your local library is having an event, be supportive and take part. If not and you have other means of promoting this idea (a website or […]
Malcolm Gladwell (The Outliers, The Tipping Point, David and Goliath) is an author who has achieved fame — and a good bit of success — by examining parts of society that don’t often get attention or by casting a new light on things we thought were familiar. He’s just published a new book titled Talking to […]
Anyone who knows anything about book publishing knows that the genre of the romance novel is one of the most lucrative in the industry. Thousands of titles are published each year, and these books sell in the millions of copies. The reputation of these books is not, well, high-minded or intellectual, to say the least. I doubt […]
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Since 2004 JPROF.com has been providing journalism instructors and students with material and ideas for teaching and learning journalism. Jim Stovall is the site's creator and operator.
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