Is it better to read the book or see the movie first? If you chose “read the book,” here are two recent novels to read now, before the movies come out.

“Whiskey When We’re Dry” (Viking, August) by John Larison is the story of Jessilyn Harney, a girl who lived on a struggling ranch in the West with her father and brother, until her brother left and, four years later, her father died. Unable to keep the ranch up on her own, at 17 years old, she goes in search of her brother, who is now a famous outlaw. She disguises herself as a boy and lives by her ability with a six-gun. Her search leads her to the territorial governor, who is determined to rid the land of Noah Harney and his gang.

The book is in development for a feature film by Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa, the couple who brought out the three latest “Planet of the Apes” installments and wrote sequels for “Jurassic Park” and “Avatar.”

In “The Perfect Mother” (Harper Collins, May), Aimee Molloy’s first novel, a baby disappears while his mother and her friends, the May Mothers, are enjoying a first girls’ night out since their babies were born. When members of the mothers’ group decide that the police are not doing enough, they try to unravel what became of Baby Midas on their own. It becomes a particular obsession for Francie, and she drags Collette and Nell along as their own lives begin to unravel because of negative publicity and someone who is trying to undermine their efforts.

This book is being developed for production by Amy Pascal and Kerry Washington, who will have a starring role. Pascal has produced “Ghostbuster” and “Spiderman” movies; Washington starred in the TV show “Scandal.“

VALLEY WRITERS

To get a good sampling of C.B. Mosher’s writing, go to his website, www.greaterstory.com. As a high school student, he hated history, but later changed his mind, which is evident in the stories he writes. Also evident are the many places that he has lived, from South America to New York City to the Sierra Nevada. One of the stories on his site, “The Ghost of the Gold Coin,” tells of how he and a biker go looking for the ghost inhabiting the Gold Coin Saloon in Mariposa. His novels are “A Greater Pox” and “Songs of the Guayaki.”

A recent post to his blog on the website tells of a young boy in Guatemala in need of a prosthesis for his congenitally incomplete left leg. Also on his site is a feature called Dr. Pannicattackus and readings from his stories on KVPR.

WRITING CONTEST

Entries for the Glimmer Train Family Matters contest will be accepted through Jan. 2. The magazine is looking for stories about all manner of families. The stories may be based on experiences, but should be written as fiction, and winners will be published as fiction. Most entries run from 500 to 5,000 words, but up to 12,000 are acceptable. Fee: $18. First place receives $2,500 plus publication. Second and third place receive $500 and $300, respectively, or $700 if published. Details at www.glimmertrain.com.

WRITING WORKSHOP

Writing By Writers is a nonprofit organization dedicated to rigorously assisting writers in improving their skills. The group conducts several types of workshops throughout the year. Open for application now is the Draft Workshop, which will begin March 1. The deadline for application is Jan. 15. This is an intensive two-year program that includes four in-person retreats held In Boulder, Colo., and Mill Valley, Calif., online forums and more. Tuition is $6,250 per year. Application fee is $25. Only 15 applicants will be accepted. Details at writingxwriters.org.

VISALIA LIBRARY

The ongoing activities at the Visalia Library include Toddler Storytime from 10-11 a.m. Tuesdays. (Library closed on Christmas.) Infants and toddlers through 2 years of age, with their caregivers, can enjoy stories, songs and play.

THE LAST WORD

“There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!” – Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)