Want a good read? Check out Brian Freeman

Brian Freeman write outstanding thrillers. He’s written fifteen such books, including Spilled Blood, which won the best hardback thriller of the year award by the International Thriller Writers. He excels in depicting complex yet relatable characters. He makes the reader care about the detectives who are his protagonists. Here’s the link to his homepage. 

As a writer, I greatly respect how quickly and distinctively he introduces a new character. Here are some examples:

  1. He was gangly and tall, and his uniform was baggy at the shoulders. His blond hair was cut as if his mother still sat him in a chair and clipped him with a bowl over his head. He kept picking at his long chin as if he had a pimple that wouldn’t go away. Serena didn’t think he could be more than twenty years old, and she realized that he was both terribly earnest and terribly nervous.
  2. Like Serena, she was in her midthirties. Her blond hair was cut in a short bob, a functional cut for a stay-at-home mom, quick out of the shower and off to Peter’s soccer practice. She didn’t need much makeup, but she wore silver earrings and a slim silver chain around her neck. She had on a stylish Kuhlman shirt with the cuffs folded back.
  3. Stride turned and looked up into the olive-colored face of a very tall man who wore silver sunglasses even in the middle of the night inside a casino. His black hair stood up, a flattop cut to a perfect one-inch height….Gerard wore a navy suit whose fabric glistened under the lights. A burgundy handkerchief, embroidered with the Oasis logo, peeked out from his breast pocket. When he shook hands, his skin felt like the smooth leather of a hundred-dollar wallet.
  4. She spotted Tierney in the baggage claim area, standing apart from the crowd, a cell phone wedged between her shoulder and her ear. She was stick-thin and pretty, with a loose pink top that let her breasts sway and rose-colored tight pants, but other than her Vegas body, she wasn’t making any effort to look glamorous. Her brown hair hung limply to her shoulders in a mess of curls. She hadn’t put on makeup or jewelry, except for a gold bracelet that she twisted nervously around her wrist with her other hand. The whites of her eyes were lined with red

Test Mania Punches Novels in the Nose

Maybe some of you remember a time in grade school when you and your classmates read a whole novel–Charlotte’s Web, Where the Red Fern Grows, The House on Mango Street, The Outsiders–the list goes on. You took your time, several weeks or longer. You had discussions, small group and large. You wrote journal entries about the characters. You staged debates. Sometimes you even drew pictures or wrote songs.

Not anymore, particularly for students who attend schools with sizable populations of students with challenging “socio-economic” profiles–the kinds of schools that tend to score lower on one-shot sit-and-deliver tests every spring. Under immense pressure to improve their students’ scores, most of the teachers in these schools don’t have the time for novels. Fiction in general has been relegated to a lesser status. Non-fiction is what the policy-makers have deemed most indispensible in order to prepare our youth for the world of work, a readiness which is now determined by whether or not our schools are whipping Singapore’s ass on standardized test scores.

Instead of whole books, what constitutes “reading” has become a frantic race to cover as many short pieces as can be crammed down a kid’s throat as possible, and every damn one of them followed up by a quiz that will be added to a chart that theoretically measures progress or a lack thereof. A widely-used curriculum, Fountas and Pinnell, features 58,743 books submitted by over 300 publishers. Every book is meticulously reviewed and leveled by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell in conjunction with their team of hand-selected levelers using the F&P Text Level Gradient™.”

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry!

Wait a minute. That’s a whole book. It’s about racism, and the reader experiences it through the voice of Cassie Logan, a fictional nine-year-old in rural Mississippi. What she and her family experiences is horrible. In a vicarious way the reader undergoes the same injustices, and feels the pain and fear and outrage. A lot of kids growing up in pre-test-mania America got to feel those emotions in the safety of a classroom, and that had to effect a lot of White kids in a way that was much deeper than someone telling them racism is bad.

That kind of power can’t be duplicated by a twenty-minute stand-alone non-fiction or even a fiction piece, followed by a test. The purpose of reading becomes moving up a chart. The reading of a novel, especially before grade seven, has become a rare or non-existent occurrence.

This is not the choice of the teachers. Many of them love novels and have fond memories of reading them in school. They hoped to share that same experience with their own students. But they have too many other things to “cover,” and when the principal asks about students’ growth, it will refer only to their comprehension scores.

Bummer, huh? This is not a good trend for authors, unless you happen to be cranking out short non-fiction with vocabulary choices that are easily leveled.

Recent Google Searches

If for some reason Homeland Security is monitoring my computer usage, I hope their agents understand I’m an author. Fellow writers, you know what I’m talking about. Here’s a partial list of my recent search items: women’s hairstyles, handbags, & wallets, how to avoid flinching when shooting a pistol, japanese surnames, Missing Persons Database California, newspapers in Camas/Washougal, general hunting season dates, krav maga martial arts, seattle elliott bay, hotel lobby, za’atari refugee camp, first aid for near-drowning victims, tractor beams… 

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