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Spring Fling: Books that are inspiring writing ideas

Updated: Jun 14

In March, I am sharing the things I am absorbing right now that are fueling my writing fire.

Whenever I talk to other writers, or even readers, they will ask me if I have read this, or that, and my answer is almost always no. Like everything else, my book selections are often old, weird, or unpopular.  

Sometimes it seems like I do everything except read actual, legitimate books. 

I love podcasts and watch TV or limited run series all the time. But I never feel like I can replicate the aesthetically perfect readers vibe that inspired a million Pinterest pins. Chair, warm beverage, and a book (purring cat optional). 

A stack of books on top of an open notebook with writing on the pages.

But I do read. I read a lot, actually. I have piles of books around most places where I rest, plopped open in the middle of wherever I left it. Sometimes I will want to see how a character is presented or study a particular scene. And luckily with a pocketful of Audible credits, I can listen to books as I drive around Atlanta, going to teach, dropping off kids, or fighting traffic to get to my hairdresser’s salon. 

And when I read something, I find myself drawn to nearly all subject matters. I read horror books, self-development, mystery, true crime, history, teen coming-of-age, noir, romance, poetry, action-packed adventure, classics, speculative, and tightly scribed literary heroes. Even though I spend most of my time these days reading mysteries and noir, all types of stories will inspire writing ideas.

Among the variety, there are a list of books that have nearly permanent residence on my desk because I am always referencing them for inspiration, ideas, or wanting to learn from certain passages. 

The books that are inspiring writing ideas:

Paint it Black by Janet Finch – I was fortunate enough to meet Janet Finch at my first AWP Writer’s Conference, and made an ass out of myself when I cried while she signed my copy. This is yet another reason why I no longer allow myself to converse with famous writers. But I love this book. It’s dark and twisty, heartbreaking and raw. It is full of women who are incredibly flawed, selfish, emotional, and cruel. Mentors have warned me that I hold back when writing my characters: that I want to protect them instead of allowing them to face any real consequences. Finch does not have that issue. This book is full of bad choices and bad consequences.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – Everyone focuses on the twist of this book, but Flynn has the capacity to write with a snideness that I have yet to develop. Because of my tendency to hold back, I struggle to write characters with Amy’s superiority. The main reason it stays on my desk is because I love Detective Boney. I have marked all of her sections and reference those when I am writing my detectives. 

Page by Page by Heather Sellers – This one is the book I pick up whenever I need a little writer’s motivation. It’s full of mini essays to keep me motivated to start and keep up a writing routine. 

In the Woods by Tana French – I am obsessed with this book. I’ve yet to read a Tana French book that didn’t have me riveted. This one is my favorite because you have these two officers with this amazing chemistry who come close and also break apart, all along the backdrop of this strange creepy case that echoes back to one of their childhoods. This is the last book I have stayed up until 2 a.m. to keep reading because I had to finish it.  

Just Kids by Patti Smith – Okay, it’s not on my desk. It’s in my night stand. I like to read passages of this before I go to bed. The audacity of youth: these two moving to New York alone and once they find each other operate solely under the ethos that art is all that matters. I have never once been in a situation where artistic expression has been loved and valued on that level, and I am filled with this romantic longing when I read it: a longing for the youth and idealism that no matter how broke you are, as long as you made something that day, it was a good day. Overly romanticized? Probably. But I don’t care. 

If you like hearing about the books I am reading, be sure to sign up for the Monthly Newsletter. It includes my Currently Loving list, which is everything I am reading, watching, listening to, and loving. Sign up at

Read Books. Wear Boots.



And don't forget, the detective inspired by Boney is featured in my short story, "Local Monsters". Download a sample at


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