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Showing posts from April, 2016

Ten Things Writers Need to Know

This is a guest post by Heather Weidner. I was asked recently what advice I would give to someone who wants to write. Here’s my list…
1. Read. Read. Read. 

Read everything you can get your hands on. Learn about the genre. Learn about techniques and style. See what works and what doesn't.



2. Seek out writers like you. 

Find a writers' group. I write mysteries, so Sisters in Crime was a perfect fit. I am also in the online community, Guppies. They have tons of resources and advice. And they are so supportive and helpful. 
3. There are a lot of books out there on the craft of writing. 
My favorite is Stephen King's On Writing. Invest in books that help you. But use your library too. FREE is good.



4. If you are serious about writing, find a critique group. 
It's an investment in your time to read the submissions. Make sure that the feedback is helpful. Critiques need to be constructive and not personal. My critique group specializes in mysteries and crime fiction. And that works fo…

The Night Circus | Erin Morgenstern

"The finest of pleasures are always the unexpected ones.”

Genre: Fantasy.  Number of Pages: 387. Perspective: Third Alternating.  Location: Various.
The Night Circus is a fantasy novel about a mysterious traveling circus. It is run by two dueling magicians who are in a competition that was set up for them when they were just children. For a complete summary, you can go here.
This was a hard one for me to get through just because of its length and the amount of detail. Once I could focus on it, I could appreciate the detail and the world-building that the author did. But it was definitely tedious at times. I felt like I could have used more story and less description. 
Don’t expect an action packed adventure. This is a very slow-building, slow-moving book that takes place over many decades. Some cool things happen, but the best part of this book is the details. You can really picture every event and setting. That truly takes writing skill. 
I would recommend to someone who really enjoys d…

The Nightingale | Kristin Hannah

“It is easy to disappear when no one is looking at you.” 
Genre: Historical Fiction.  Number of Pages: 440. Perspective: Third Alternating.  Location: France.
The Nightingale is a story about two sisters during World War II. They play very different roles in the fight against the Nazis, but both are forced to show extreme acts of bravery to survive and end the war. For a complete summary, you can go here.
So I want to start out by saying that I usually do not like historical fiction books. I have read a lot of World War II stories, and sometimes it can feel redundant, but this was different. I thought it was more about bravery and how that can be portrayed in different ways. Isabelle is originally known as being immature, but she is quickly seen as being very brave. Whereas Vianne does not think of herself as brave at all until the very end.
This book reminded me a lot of The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. But I thought The Storyteller was much more depressing, even though it didn't make m…

My Favorite Place: The Library

It’s rare that someone can easily find a free place where they can be surrounded by their favorite hobby and item at the same time. For me, that place is the library. When I walk into a library, I usually feel joyously overwhelmed. The selection of books and genres can engulf even the most avid reader. I try to put blinders on and quickly walk to the shelf neatly packed and labeled with books on hold. I urgently find my last name, but I cannot help but be persuaded by the table of one dollar used books. Some are brand new with crisp spines, some are torn and ragged. 

After picking out a book or two to make my own, I am enticed by the elaborate color-coded or themed displays of books to check-out. I pick up books to examine one-by-one. They are covered in crinkly plastic that helps protect the books from any disasters in the homes of the borrowers. Some smell musty or smoky, others smell like freshly cut paper and book glue. There is no doubt that these books have been loved by many peo…

Book Chat: The Night Circus | Erin Morgenstern

**WARNING: This is for people who have already read this book. There will be spoilers! If you do not want the book's wonderful surprises to be ruined, read my review of the book, read the book, then come back to read our chat. Thank you!**


Amber: So let's start with overall thoughts of the book. It was a hard one for me to get through just because of its length and the amount of detail. Once I could focus on it, I could appreciate the detail and the world-building that the author did. But it was definitely tedious at times. I felt like I could have used more story and less description. What were your thoughts?
Melissa: I agree with that completely. I'm really not super into tons of words. Even my own writing I seem to be pretty concise. So some of the details in a long drawnout descriptions are tedious for me as well
Amber: I was also confused at first about what was happening. We aren't really given background information. We experienced things as the characters did. Wha…

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl | Jesse Andrews

“One thing I've learned about people is that the easiest way to get them to like you is to shut up and let them do the talking.”
Genre: Young Adult.  Number of Pages: 295. Perspective: First.  Location: Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is exactly as the name suggests. A high school senior, Greg, is forced to become friends with Rachel because she has cancer. Greg and his “coworker” Earl love to make horrible movies. So they decide to make a movie for Rachel. For a complete summary, you can go here.
There has been a trend of death and dying in young adult fiction lately, especially cancer. Books like The Fault in Our Stars made it big and to the cinemas. In order for a young adult book about death and dying to be successful, it needs to be funny and emotional. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl attempted to be only funny and not emotional, which caused it to fall flat. 
I liked that the formatting resembled a movie script since the narrator loves to make no-budget films…

Wonder | R.J. Palacio

“I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.”
Genre: Children’s Middle Grade.  Number of Pages: 315. Perspective: First.  Location: Upper Manhattan, New York.
Wonder is the story of Auggie, a young boy who has been homeschooled his whole life because of his severe facial deformity. At the age of ten, he decides to go to public school. He is called a freak and shunned, but all it takes is a little kindness to turn things around. For a complete summary, you can go here.
I have heard so much about this book. All my elementary teacher friends read this book aloud to their fourth or fifth-grade classes. One of my younger sisters also read it in her class. Simply put, this book is a phenomenon. So I had my hopes up pretty high for this book. 
I was a great book, so I was surprised how long it took me to get through. I figured that I should be able to get through a middle-aged children’s book in a day, maybe two. Nope. It too…

It’s a Writer Thing -- Let’s Talk About Feedback

This is a guest post by Jessica Bayliss.


Anyone notice all those pitch contests taking over Twitter lately (”Pitch Madness”, “Pitch to Publication,” etc.)? They’re hard to miss, and who would want to miss them? They serve as awesome opportunities for authors to advance their careers, plus they’re super fun. In contests like these, along with hashtags like #tenqueries, little hints of feedback are tweeted as the agent or editor reads the submissions, and these little hints can be very helpful. Plenty of authors stalk the #pitchmadness, #p2p16, and #tenqueries feeds for gems that can enhance their work. And now that I’m in the “Pitch to Publication” contest, feedback is on my mind more than ever.
Receiving feedback is an essential part of being a writer, but it’s not necessarily the easiest or the most intuitive thing to learn. How did this inspire today’s blog post? There are way too many things that can knock a writer off the path. The only way to succeed is to keep going, to practice o…