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A literary-minded witch gives you a choice: with a flick of the wand, you can become either an obscure novelist whose work will be admired and studied by a select few for decades, or a popular paperback author whose books give pleasure to millions. Which do you choose?

No question about it, the latter. That doesn’t mean I would aspire to writing trashy romance novels, but I’d emulate James Patterson, John Grisham, Catherine Cookson, Mary Higgins Clark, Janet Evanovich, Sue Grafton and many others who sell well. Is it obvious that my favorite books are historical fiction and/or mystery.

I’d like an example of “an obscure novelist whose work will be admired and studied by a select few for decades.” Can someone give me a name?

I’ve tried to read War and Punishment, because I thought I should, and couldn’t get past 50 pages. Tolstoy is considered to be a great author, who probably is truly only fully appreciated a limited audience, but he’s not obscure.

The thought of reading a Sylvia Plath novel depresses me because of her sad and short life. I think she’s too introspective for me. I know she has something of a cult following, but is her fame based on her unfortunately struggle with depression and writing about it, or is she genuinely a great writer?

As part of my attempt to write for children, I have been reading a lot of kid lit. There are some really super authors for children. One of the best I’ve read was Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson about a yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia and how a teen-aged girl survives and triumphs in making a new life for herself. The whole young adult genre is quite inspired, with many gifted writers who are great researchers as well as story-tellers.

I want to have something to say that many people would enjoy reading; something that resonates with a lot of people. If I am able to include historic events in an interesting way, all the better.