Hats Off to Writing Heroes

I re-scheduled the post I had originally written for today after I heard that James Scott Bell had been presented a Lifetime Achievement Award at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference over the weekend.

Congratulations, Jim!

There are many award-winning writers who contribute and comment here at TKZ, but a Lifetime Award is surely special.

JSB’s Plot and Structure was one of the first two craft-of-writing books I read when I decided to write a novel. (Many thanks to my friend Rachel Hills for recommending it.) His book taught me not only the elements of structure, but the very first chapter convinced me that even if I didn’t have the elusive writing “talent,” I could still be an accomplished author by studying and applying the craft. It was a lesson I took to heart. My bookshelves groan under the weight of a lot of craft-of-writing books, many written by Mr. Bell. Those books have served me well, like having a writer’s GPS to show me the way.

But Jim has done more than provide us with great craft books. He writes fiction, teaches courses, posts on TKZ and other blogs, and has provided many of us with encouragement and mentorship. As a newly published author in 2019, I asked him to be my interview guest on my blog. I expected him to reply that he was too busy, but he graciously agreed and has been an annual guest since then, spreading wisdom and knowledge to my readers.

Please join me in a round of applause for TKZ’s own writing hero: James Scott Bell.

* * *

So, TKZers: Who are your writing heroes? Tell us about them.




51 thoughts on “Hats Off to Writing Heroes

  1. Asimov: prolific
    Bradbury: ultra-creative
    Poe: Brilliant, prescient
    Heinlein: Fun to read
    Stevenson: a psychologist
    Pears: Literary fiction
    Dickens: Classic
    Wodehouse: Light-hearted
    Leiber: A spell-caster
    Keith Roberts: A master of lyrical description
    J. Watson, M.D.: A great biographer

      • That’s how I find my potential reviewers: I have a long list of books and authors who have influenced my writing, and I look for those readers who have a significant overlap.

        They often turn out to be well read in many genres, educated, and have written well about the books they read. Sometimes they are also authors, but often they are whales.

        If I present an individual case for why they might like my books, based on their own words and reading history, and they have the time and are currently reviewing, I get the most amazing reviews.

  2. That’s fantastic, Jim! Like so many others, I appreciate all your books and posts have done to increase my writing knowledge and skills. Thank you for your dedication to our craft!

  3. Congrats on the Lifetime Achievement Award, Mr. Bell. Well deserved!
    I believe your books on writing were some of the first I was ever pointed to and my shelf is full of them.

    I’m very thankful for all the people who have contributed to my writer education. Writer’s conferences (I think the first was way back in the early 2000’s-a novel writing overview with Jack Cavanaugh), books on writing, blogs. The writing community is so giving in sharing what works, what doesn’t, and the trials and pitfalls along the way. As time has gone on & life has become more and more hectic, I’ve had to whittle down to just 1 writing blog–TKZ. A wonderful writing community and awesome resource. The one blog I stick to no matter what.

    One other shout out for JSB–I wish people across ALL fields would learn the art of NOT overmarketing with excessive emails–something which he handles beautifully. I’m much more prone to give my business to someone who DOESN’T beat me over the head with a flood of emails.

    • Good morning, BK. Like you, I am grateful to so many people who have poured their wisdom and experience into me over the years. The writing community is special.

  4. Congratulations, Jim!

    The first book I read on the craft of writing was Plot and Structure. My dog-eared, highlighted, underlined, and autographed copy sits front and center on my shelves. And, like you, Kay, what captured me was Jim’s assertion that we could learn to write.

    Thanks, Jim, for all the teaching you’ve done here at TKZ, on blogs, and conferences, and through your many books!

    • Morning, Steve. I’ve heard other authors say the first pages of Plot and Structure gave them the confidence to move ahead with their writing.

      Have a great week!

    • Even though I think of you as an on-line friend, that was presumptuous of me to address you as “Jim.” Thanks for all the pleasure and knowledge you’ve given me through your fiction and craft books, Mr. Bell.

  5. Yaaay, Jim!!! Sunday after Sunday, year after year, you hit it out of the park. Comparing TKZ to baseball, you’re in league with Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken, Jr. for the most consecutive great posts.

    Congratulations and a virtual standing ovation from TKZers!

    • Good morning, Debbie. I like that: “most consecutive great posts.” I agree.

      Maybe we should come up with our own TKZ awards.
      Best comment in 2023
      Longest post in 2023
      Best analogy in 2023

  6. Aw, Kay…thank you…and thanks everyone for the kind words. I’m touched. It’s a pleasure to share the craft with like-minded fellow travelers on this winding, writing road we’re all on. Carpe Typem!

  7. Congratulations, Mr. Bell!

    My writing heroes —
    Mary Connealy
    C. S. Lewis
    John Eldredge
    Karen Witemeyer

      • I’m a member of the So Cal C.S. Lewis Society. I attended Paul Ford’s lecture series on Lewis at Ventura’s Community Presbyterian Church in 1999. Another writer of note.

      • I haven’t read everything he’s written, but he’s certainly inspiring. My favorite writing quote from Mr. Lewis…

        “What you want is practice, practice, practice. It doesn’t matter what we write (at least this is my view) at our age, so long as we write continually as well as we can. I feel that every time I write a page either of prose or of verse, with real effort, even if it’s thrown into the fire the next minute, I am so much further on.”

        This, more than any other quote, has kept me going when I want to quit writing.

  8. Congratulations, Jim! Richly deserved. You are one of my writing mentors, and also, someone who has shown us how to be an author, whose insights, wit and encouragement have helped so many. Jim’s “Plot and Structure” helped me on the path to craft, and his book “Write Your Novel From the Middle” unlocked the power of the midpoint for me.

    Another writing hero of mine is my late friend, mentor and editor, Mary Rosenbaum, whom I’ve mentioned here before. Mary was an award winning science fiction author who switched to writing mysteries in the early 2000s and then became a writing teacher and editor, continued to publish award winning SF. I took a one-on-one class with her through the Long Ridge Writers online school, and later hired her to be my developmental editor.

    She was also farmer, who raised sheep, taught cheese making, single mother to two incredible sons, and became a pilot late in life, flying me to Pacific City on the Oregon coast after I finished my class with her.

  9. Congratulations, JSB, for your well-deserved recognition. You are one of my fiction heroes, and I’ve learned more from your Sunday posts on craft, culture, and the state of the publishing markets than you know. You weave the influence of earlier fiction writers and film into your posts in a way I deeply appreciate.

    My first fiction hero was Randy Ingermanson, who gifted this dummy with a basic vocabulary and the Snowflake method, and I’ve learned immeasurably from all you wonderful contributors to TKZ.

    I’m a huge fan of K.M. Weiland, too 🙂

    Those who’ve commented before me have listed many awesome writers, and rather than repeat, I’ll add others who have influenced me:

    – Jack London
    – Ken Follett
    – Jodi Picoult
    – N.K. Jeminson

    • Good morning, Louis!

      Thanks for mentioning Randy Ingermanson and K.M. Weiland, both of whom have been enormously influential to my writing.

      And thank you for adding to the list of great authors.

      Have a great week.

  10. Congrats, Jim! I attended your class at Ridgecrest, NC many years ago and loved it! You were so warm and kind to us wannabe writers. I’ve read many of your fiction and non-fiction books. You are a great inspiration! Well deserved!

  11. Congratulations to JSB. Well-deserved award, and I might add it’s appropriate that it’s from a Christian organization because Bell exudes the virtue of Charity when it comes to aiding all writers.

    • It was a privilege to take one of your classes at Glen Eyrie (back in 2010??) and to briefly meet you when you did an impromptu tour of the castle.

  12. Great post, Kay!

    (Virtual Deb is clapping her fingers off!)

    Well done, JSB! You are way up at the top of my writing heroes. Thank you for all I’ve learned from you. I remember meeting you at, I think, the Renewal conference on the west side of WA state once. I sat way in the back. But I did get to shake your hand… 🙂

    Other heroes: James L. Rubart, C.S. Lewis, K.M. Weiland, Laura Christianson, Joel Rosenberg, our own Brother Gilstrap, and from my middle school years-Dame Agatha.

    I learn from these folks every time I read what they’ve written.

    Happy Monday!

  13. Congratulations, Mr. Bell! Well deserved.

    I love Mary Stewart (her mysteries, not the Merlin stuff)
    Dick Francis (introduced to me when we were in Japan by our next door neighbors, a horse vet and an ex-jockey).
    Sophie Kinsella – the Shopaholic books made me laugh.
    Erma Bombeck (love her – shortly after she died I got an award from our local paper and was asked to give a short talk. I did it on what she taught me.)
    Dean Koontz – anyone who loves goldens is a good guy no matter how scary his stuff is.
    Too many more to count.

  14. Indeed, How To Write Pulp Fiction by JSB was the first craft book ever I bought and it’s right on the top shelf of my reorganized bookshelf.

    In fact, I was formerly friends with a literary type and I mentioned that I thought it was a pretty good craft book and that’s when she stopped talking to me forever.
    I guess she figured I was beyond reclamation and not worth salvaging for the literary world. All of which was fine because I discovered my muse was definitely not of the James Joyce/Vonnegut Mill on the Floss mold.

    My writing heroes? Ernest Hemingway, John O’Hara, Irwin Shaw, Raymond Chandler, George V. Higgins, Chris Offutt, Daniel Woodrell, John Dufresne, Michael Connelly, James Scott Bell, and a cast of thousands/

Comments are closed.