From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"The Writing Life" part 2 - Interview with Susan Gee Heino

Regency romance author Susan Gee Heino is with us again for the second installment of “The Writing Life.” She will share some writing advice and tips with us. You can find Part 1 of the interview here. Susan has a new book coming out in August (Damsel in Disguise (Berkley Sensation)) so we really appreciate the time she is taking to be with us. Susan, thanks for joining us.

Thanks for having me, Michele. I love it here!

When and why did you begin writing? Did you just sit down one day and say “I’m going to write a book to be published?”
I’ve been writing fiction since I was a little kid. Seriously, I love stories and I love make-believe. But I hardly ever told people I wanted to write novels because I thought it was something so far out of the realm of possibility that talking about it would only lead to disappointment. Still, it was a dream that just would not go away. In college I studied theatre and turned my focus from acting to playwriting. I had some success with that, but not enough to pay the bills. After graduating, I went out into the real world and got a “normal” job, but just couldn’t shake the writing bug. I took correspondence classes, I wrote plays for church, I submitted short stories to magazines, and I filled journal after journal with story ideas and scene drafts. Still, though, what I really wanted was to be an author. And what I wanted to write was Historical Romance. So, I finally came out of the closet, joined a professional writers group, and put all my eggs in that basket. It was still several years of determined work, but finally I’ve seen that dream come true.

Do you have a specific writing style?
Yes, but I’ll be darned if I can define it! I think every writer has their own “voice”, or style, but generally we can’t see it as clearly as others can. I’ve been told my style is witty, quirky, emotional, unpredictable, and even farcical. Since those are all characteristics I love when I find them in other authors, I’m hoping this is an accurate description of my style! I think it’s very important for writers to understand what fires them and what they do well. Highlight those things and make sure they are front and center in everything you write. That is your “voice”.

Do you write an outline before every book you write?
I do now because my publisher requires it. Years ago I didn’t—I just started writing and let the story go wherever it wanted. The problem with this is that sometimes the story rambled into a place I like to call “Stupidville” and it was quite a bit of work and effort to drag it back out of there and carve it into something more closely resembling a readable plotline. Now that I’m on deadline, I don’t have that luxury. I need to keep things going full steam ahead without drastic detours into dumb stuff that just has no place in this particular book.

We talk about writers being either “plotters” or “pantsers”. The Plotters are the ones who plot and outline and do character studies, etc. before they even begin their book. They revel in their plans and love setting goals. These are usually the OCD neat freaks who are convinced Pantsers must be insane.

Pantsers are the ones who fly by the seat-of-their-pants, just making stuff up as they go along and dreading the idea of outlines or plotting charts. For a Pantser, the thrill of writing a book is gone if they already know details of how it will end. The Pantser usually has 45 unfinished manuscripts tucked under her bed and thinks Plotters are weirdo control freaks.

I am a recovering Pantser. I realized that 45 unfinished manuscripts won’t help me much until I can find a way to get them finished. This century. So, I’ve learned to embrace the outline. In fact, I’ve discovered that I like having an outline! It helps keep my ADD brain focused on where the story is going and I’ve actually come up with a really cool Excel spreadsheet that I use to help me with plotting and keeping track of things like Goal, Motivation, Conflict, and whatever the heck I named the butler in Chapter three.

Do you ever experience writer's block? If so, how do you get through it?
I really don’t get writer’s block. I love writing and I always have many, many more ideas than I have time to write them. I do, however, get very, very tired of working the same idea for months on end. Long about page 200 I’m generally soooo sick of these characters and this plotline that it’s hard to get my head into my work. How do I overcome that? By pure, torturous plugging away at it day after day. I muscle myself into my chair, I wrestle my brain into working order, and I force myself to stay away from email and Facebook. Then I write the darned book until it’s done. Then I go back through it and rewrite. And rewrite. And proofread. And edit. I think writers must have some serious masochistic disorders to do what we do.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your novel to life?
I think the biggest challenge was to believe that what I was doing had value even though I had nothing to show for it. Writing is very solitary. It’s just you and your keyboard. In my early years, it seemed like the only feedback I was getting was rejections. But I’m stubborn and pretty self-centered, so I kept on writing because I wanted to and it didn’t really matter that no one was interested in buying it. I realized that I wrote for ME and that I was a better person when I was writing. I gave myself permission to continue. I learned to navigate the logistics of spreading my braincells out between mothering, house-wifing, and writing. And I had fun with it. It’s good to be challenged. It gives you a target to shoot at.

Have you ever had to put a project away because you couldn’t write it?
Yes. Some years ago I sat beside an editor at a luncheon and she told me there was a specific type of story she’d been looking for but it seemed no one was writing it. The next day, I went home and started writing that kind of story. A few months later I had something pretty good and I submitted it to her. She liked it, but requested a few revisions before she could consider making an offer. Her suggestions were right on the money and I could have easily made those revisions and sent the manuscript right back to her, but I didn’t.

The more I thought about it the more I realized I did not want to write in that genre. I didn’t write this book for ME, I wrote it for HER. Did I really want to sign a contract saying I would publish this book and then write more like it? Did I love this type of story enough to spend the next couple years at it? No, honestly, I didn’t. That very day I put that manuscript aside and began working on the one that eventually won the Golden Heart and became my first sale. Guess I owe that first editor a big thank you, don’t I?

Have you ever hated something you wrote and why?
Oh heavens yes! Practically every day. I always thought this would go away, that once I got published I would somehow magically no longer need my delete key. Wrong! But I have learned that this is just one of those things I have to live with. I am getting better at recognizing what works and what doesn’t, even if I’m having an “I hate everything I write” day. It’s never really as bad as it seems.

What was the hardest part of writing your first book?
Realizing when I made a wrong turn and deleting the stuff that just had to go. I’m getting much better at recognizing when my hero is acting out of character or when a scene I love is going to bore readers to tears, but I still find myself having to cut things I really wish I could keep. But the sad truth is that most manuscripts don’t need stuff added to them, they need stuff cut from them. Embracing that truth was not so much fun, but it has helped immensely.

Does it get easier to write the second book? Third?
As with just about any skill, the craft gets easier the more you practice. However, once you’ve made a sale and now have deadlines and contractual obligations and promotional opportunities, things get really tricky. My writing time now has to include not only writing a book that is better than the last one, but managing the business and marketing aspects of my career. That’s hard work!

Plus, I decided to write connected stories, so my second and third books all have plot elements that must fit a pre-established storyline. My characters have to fit the mold I made for them in previous books. I thought this would make things easier, but really it makes it a lot harder. Instead of a big, blank page to color on, I have to be very careful to stay inside the lines I’ve already drawn. Ugh.

Do you see yourself writing something other than regency romance in the future?
Regency is my fave, but I also have a couple really fun contemporary romances that I really, really want to see in print someday. I would totally love to write more contemporary. Also, I’m working on a proposal now for a non-romance YA Paranormal series (yeah, I know—who isn’t?) that my agent is really excited about. Hopefully we’ll see something coming from that before too long. Oh, and I’d love to see Westerns get popular again. I looooove cowboys and it would be so much fun to write one.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
I just met author Heather Graham at a conference and she said something immeasurably profound. I think I’ll steal it from her: “Read read read. Write write write. Live live live.” That’s the best writerly advice I’ve ever heard and I don’t think I could possibly give any better. What about others? What advice has helped you in your writing journey?

Susan, again, thank you so much for joining us today.

Readers, we want to hear from YOU! Tell us what advice has helped you in your writing journey. Plus, do you have more questions for Susan? She will be hanging out with us today, so leave your question in the comments section.

Also, check out the Tuesday Contest, where we are giving away an autographed copy of Mistress by Mistake (Berkley Sensation) to one lucky follower.

We'll conclude this series of interviews with the next segment of "The Writing Life" in 2 weeks. Susan will be discussing rejection - how she deals with it and how it's affected her writing. Check back with us then. Click here for Part Three.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Contest Tuesday - Mistress By Mistake

Mistress by MistakeA few weeks back we gave away an autographed copy of Mistress By Mistake by Susan Gee Heino (see my review of the book here). Surprise!! I have another copy of the book to give away to some lucky follower this week.

In addition to the book giveaway, the second installment of  "The Writing Life," my interview with Susan, will be posted tomorrow. In the first interview, Susan discusses how she got started writing and who has influenced her writing. You can read that interview here. Tomorrow, Susan will be talking about writing tips and advice, so be sure to check back with us.

All followers – with the exception of contributors and those who have won prizes within the last thirty (30) days – will receive one chance at winning. Contest will remain open until midnight (EST), Friday, July 2, 2010. Winner will be chosen by random drawing and results posted July 3, 2010.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Miscellaneous Monday - Craft Writing Books

How many books on writing fiction do you own? Do you read them? I must confess, I have acquired quite a collection, thinking that each will possess that little secret needed to push my writing to the next level.

The truth of the matter is, books on writing are meant to be a help in your writing, not replace it. I have been writing fiction for a little over eight years, and the best tip I have ever received on writing from a writing book write. We can improve our writing skills by simply writing. Even if it's only one page a day, it will keep your skills sharp.

That being said, here is a list of my top five favorite writing books. Please comment back and share a few of yours.

Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell
Writing For The Soul by Jerry Jenkins
On Writing by Stephen King
Self Editing by James Scott Bell
Hooked by Les Edgerton

Happy Writing!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

It's Sunday Snippet Time!!!

Humble Creek Holler
Beth Zellner

Chapter One

I lingered on the bank of the creek. The cold water slapped the soles of my feet. The ground was cool, too, though the places where the sun kissed me – my shoulders, one knee, an elbow – were warmed and so balanced the chilling effect, and I felt quite comfortable standing there. The birch leaves had yet to fully fill out the spring canopy, and through their patchwork pattern, I could see out across our mountain, many miles distant. Slowly, I inhaled the deep green air.

This was the place I came everyday to draw our water, and I should not have been dawdling. Still, my thoughts hung heavily in the bright spring morning, and I didn’t much feel like returning to our homestead. The watering hole rested upstream of our place, and small bits of the day’s festivities were carried up to me, wafting by on the breeze. I could faintly hear a child’s cry of glee, a parent’s reprimand. I could smell the pig that turned on the spit, and despite my foul mood, my mouth watered at the flavorful scent. I sighed. I hefted up my buckets and began to weave my way back down the well-tramped path to our cabin. My feet, often bare as they were today, knew well the path home, the feel of each pebble under each toe.

I passed beneath the “thinking tree,” the place Daddy would send me or Sis to consider both our childhood indiscretions, as well as our earthly sin. It was an enormous white cedar tree that stood proudly alone in a small clearing between stands of other, less self-assured varieties. Some folks called the cedars the tree of life, and the trees often dotted the landscape within our local cemeteries, intermingled among the squat square tombstones, equal signs of both hope for the departed, and last ditch desperate attempts to make amends.

Mam had no use for Daddy’s tree, however. Sin or the overzealousness of a little girl were both exactly equal reasons for the switch. I had learned – probably somewhere around my fifth or sixth year, as I recall – that the more slender the sapling, the more memorable the punishment. Mam would send us, me or Sis, off to choose our own stick, you see, then apply the necessary punishment. The slightest wisp of a twig could leave a raised welt that prevented sitting, or sitting comfortably, at least. But a more substantial branch provided more wallop. In the end, we discovered, it was really a losing argument either way one went in their choice.

Off in the thick underbrush somewhere behind me, I heard a twig snap. Too loud to be merely a squirrel, or even a deer, yet I thought little of it. I assumed it was Montrose, and continued on. We still thought him to be harmless back then. Folk do love a good story, and there were plenty surrounding Montrose. He had lived here - out here - in the seclusion and wildness for all of my years on earth. Some said he had lost his mind when his mother died and left him an orphan. Others whispered it was the shame of not having a father that drove him finally mad. And there were a scant few who blamed his condition on a woman, some unknown, unnamed vixen who had stolen his heart and possibly his sanity. Somewhere in there truth might be found, or not. But the known facts were simply that one day Montrose arose, like any other seemingly normal day, packed himself a bedroll, and strolled out of his house, never again to know the feel of a soft goose down pillow under his head, or the glow of a welcoming hearth at his feet.

A group of my young cousins, the infinite offspring of my father’s four sisters, played in the side yard. They had, in the center of the group, a chipped yellow pottery bowl full of soapy water. With a small wooden hoop, they made large and small luminescent bubbles, which now floated lazily in all directions, and lended preciousness to the scene. I remembered playing the same game when I had been their age. Percy, one of the especially naughty little boys, ran around with a stick, trying to harpoon as many innocent orbs as he could. A great wail went up from one of the girls, and one of the aunties dispersed the group, rambunctious children running in all directions away from the interloping adult, and reforming in smaller groups at the edge of the lawn. The family gathering had officially begun.

For more from writer Beth Zellner,

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Who's your favorite Vampire? Poll results

Thanks to everyone who voted in our unofficial "Who's your favorite vampire?" poll. The results are in. And apparently all the Twilight fans are in line somewhere waiting for the opening of Eclipse, because in a surprise win ANGEL beat the competition. Wooo Hooo!

ANGEL: 60%



Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Review: Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz

If you are looking for a great summer read...look no further. Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz is a Historical romance set in the Kentucky. The author has an amazing way of drawing the reader in both with deep characters, and settings so beautifully described you feel as if you are there.

What a pleasure to see Morrow change from a frightened young woman into the confidant woman you see at the end of the novel. Red Shirt is a hero that you won't soon forget. Rugged, brave and a man of action. I found myself rooting for the unlikely couple right from their first meeting.

Packed with adventure and romance, I found this book hard to put down.

Laura Frantz's ancestors followed Daniel Boone into Kentucky, and she still has family that resides there. Her debut novel The Frontiersman's Daughter is also set in Kentucky.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Creating Characters: Encourage Reader Participation!

Last week for our “writing prompt Thursday” exercise, we discussed creating characters. If you did not get the chance to read that post, and would like to, you may find it here:

One of the most important aspects of creating a memorable character is to give your reader the opportunity to participate. When I am reading truly good writing, I feel as though the author and I are working together in a partnership. He or she is providing me with a breadcrumb trail to follow, guiding me down a particular path, but allowing me to stop and look around from time to time, to take in whatever scenery I might conjure along the way. The truly accomplished author does not tell me everything – nor should they. If a detail is especially important for me as a reader to be aware of, then the writer should provide that information. Otherwise, let my reader’s imagination fill in the blanks. Trust your writing enough to know that you don’t have to include every single detail.

Ernest Hemingway called this the “iceberg theory” of prose, and he discussed it in his book, Death in the Afternoon:

If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.

In High Five, by author Janet Evanovich, we are introduced to a character by the name of Randy Briggs. As it turns out, Randy is a "little person." This is a crucial fact to share with the reader, because a good deal of the slapstick humor that Ms. Evanovich is so adept at writing comes from the juxtaposition between bounty hunter Stephanie Plum and the ways in which Mr. Briggs manages to outmaneuver her attempts to capture him.

I recently read a novel (which shall remain nameless) where a potentially critical piece of information was withheld from the reader. As I began to read this particular book, I was introduced to a strong, but aging, woman executive. She was upset about being pushed out, and after a good many pages, I felt like I knew the character, and that she and I were fighting the good fight together. Then, out of nowhere, the author just happens to interject the fact that this lady is also African-American.

This character must have encountered any number of critical, life-changing moments in her climb to the top, especially as a woman of color. What offended me was not only the fact that I wasn’t told this detail sooner, but that it wasn’t mentioned again in the entire book! If this fact was important enough to tell me in the first place, then surely it was important enough to explore. But that author dropped the ball, as though adding this particular character trait was just a quaint afterthought. It’s simply not nice to play tricks like that on your reader.

As I promised, I used some of my own prompts and came up with a character introduction. In order to keep today’s post a reasonable length, I have continued with more over on my personal blog:

Feel free to visit me there and comment/share what you come up with!

As ever, Happy Writing!

Writer Beth Zellner is currently finishing her first novel
and is excited to begin on the journey to representation!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesday Poll - Vampire Fave?

To celebrate (capitalize upon?) the upcoming opening of Twilight: Eclipse, I thought we would do something fun today with a very 'unofficial' poll.

So who is your all-time favorite vampire?

Polls close Friday June, 25 at Midnight. Check back Saturday morning to see the final results.

Want to know who MY all-time favorite vampire is, and why?
Read about it at  Blogging with a Passion

Monday, June 21, 2010

Show Me Your Genre

Being a pretty conservative, straight-and-narrow reader, I tend to read literary fiction, historical fiction, commercial fiction, and an occasional mystery.  I'm living on the edge right now by reading Angelology, by Danielle Trussoni.  Gasp...I deals with a subject beyond tangible reality.  I'm enjoying the novel thus far, and it makes me wonder what I've been missing by keeping my reading list so "vanilla."

While I can't imagine myself writing anything outside my traditionally preferred genres, I think that reading other genres might help me be a more creative writer.  I've fallen into a genre rut and I can't get up!  My next book needs to be from a genre I don't usually read.

What genres do you like to read and why?  Do you tend to stick with one or two genres?  What book best represents the genre you like to read?  Help a girl out here, will you?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Haily Twitch is Not a Snitch - Friday review

Do you like to step outside your comfort zone? I mean, it's called a comfort zone for a reason, right? Because you've found something that works for you, so why change? Today, I decided to not only step outside my zone, but to blow my comfort zone up completely. Today, I am reviewing a middle grade book.

So what's the big deal, you might ask? Well, let's start with the fact that I don't have children (unless you count my two cats and we won't go into that.) There was an advanced reading copy of this book going around our group (thanks Annie!) and I decided, What the heck?

Hailey Twitch is a normal seven-year-old girl. Sort of. While she loves pink sparkly pencils and bending the rules, she also has a secret. She's friends with Maybelle, a sprite that's visible only to her. And Maybelle is on a special mission to help Hailey have fun. The problem is that Maybelle keeps getting Hailey into trouble.

Hailey likes having Maybelle around, but soon things are a big mess. She's about to lose her newest friend at school and she finds herself being blamed for everything Maybelle does. Can Hailey keep her secret, even if it means losing her friends?

I found this book quite charming. There is such an innocence in the characters and the story. This isn't Harry Potter. Maybelle, the sprite, just wants to get back to her job. And Hailey just wants everyone to be her friend. I can see young girls reading and identifying with Hailey (and of course, wanting a sprite of their very own.)

There was only one thing I found mildly annoying - and I will admit this is probably because I'm not seven myself - and that was the word repetition. Throughout the book, words were repeated in threes. I understand that for a seven-year-old, that feature wouldn't be as irritable, but for me it was overdone a bit.

The story ends in a cliffhanger, so there is sure to be another book featuring Hailey coming out soon. This was released in May, so you will find it in the stores.

Hailey Twitch is Not a Snitch by Lauren Barnholdt

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Writing Prompt Thursday

Here is my confession: writing prompts leave me f-l-a-t. They don’t work for me, and let me tell you why. Suppose you have a “prompt,” something along the lines of:

You are trapped in a burning building. What do you do?

Um, personally…get the hell out. Ta da! End of story. Probably not going to sell a lot of copies, that one.

Oversimplified, yes, but hopefully you get the point. Prompts don’t work for me because they leave out the most integral ingredient of story: character. Now let’s look at the prompt in another way:

Rachel Ray is trapped in a burning building…what does she do? (Toast marshmallows?)

Bear Grylls is trapped in a burning building…what does he do? (Put out the fire with his own urine?)

Joan Rivers is trapped in a burning building…what does she do? (Melt like the Wicked Witch of the West?)

Cesar Milan is trapped in a burning building…what does he do? (Use a super secret, super sonic dog whistle to summon a band of rescue dogs?)

Each one of these public personalities would act in a unique and individual way. And so should your character. There are lots of writing tips to get in touch with your character, and they are all equally good. In the end, though, you must know more about your character’s quirks and ticks than you do about simply their hair or eye color, height or weight. You should even know more than what they would do if they were trapped in a burning building.

So, for this week’s writing prompt, I am going to present you with some questions that you should be able to answer about your Main Character. If you can’t answer them, then take some time over the next week and reflect on how you think this person might react/answer to the situations presented below.


And please be sure to return to the blog on Wednesday, 6/23/10, when I will share what MY Main Character has to say about all this.

Would your Main Character commit perjury? For a friend? A family member?
How does your MC react when people laugh at him/her?
Would your MC attend a public execution? Does he/she believe in capital punishment?
Would your MC donate their body (after death) to science?
Would your MC shave their head? How about for $100? $1,000? $10,000?
Would your MC rather have power or knowledge? Security or love?
What is your MC compulsive about? Does he/she struggle to break bad habits?

As always, Happy Writing!

For more from writer Beth Zellner, please visit:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Writing Tip Wednesday: On Site Research

Having just returned from vacation, I am sad to report that I didn't write a bit over that entire week, save for one blog post.  The good news is that I was able to squeeze in some on-site research for my novel in progress.

On our way home from the beach we stopped at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. A pivotal scene from my novel-in-progress takes place at the Monticello Cemetery.  I had traveled to Monticello about 6 years ago, but only saw the cemetery from the bus.  When writing the crucial scene involving the cemetery at Monticello, I drew from my memory and from pictures that I was able to find online.  I thought I had the scene as accurate as could be until I actually visited the cemetery this week.  I looked at Jefferson's burial plot from every angle, noticing the kinds of trees surrounding the grave, the thickness of the iron fence surrounding the cemetery, and the enormity of the obelisk-shaped monument on top of Jefferson's resting place. 

As it turns out, the way I had written the cemetery scene would not really be plausible, and it took an on site visit to realize it.  The way I had originally written the scene involved flooded ground and an uprooted tree causing the monument over Jefferson's grave to shift.  After seeing the grave in person, I'll need to rewrite the scene with a lightning strike causing a tree to fall into the monument, knocking it over.  A few displaced tree roots could not cause the damage to the monument required by the plot of the novel. 

Another benefit of my visit to the place where much of the action in my novel occurs is that I will be able to add in another layer of accurate detail, allowing my readers to feel as if they were there.  If readers actually do visit Monticello, they'll be able to see that I've done my homework.  Take, for instance, the imposing crest adorning the wrought iron fence surrounding the cemetery, pictured below.  This formidable --dare I say "haughty"-- crest plays right into one of the themes of the novel, the duplicity of well-intentioned aristocracy.

Yet another detail gleaned from my visit will serve to highlight issues of race in my book.  Only the descendants of Jefferson by his wife, Martha, are permitted burial in the plot.  Though the Thomas Jefferson Foundation finds it it highly probable that Jefferson fathered at least one if not all of his slave Sally Hemings's children, the  Monticello Association, the descendants who own the cemetery, is not so convinced.  They do not permit the Hemings descendants cemetery privileges.  See the picture below.  The sign doesn't announce "no Hemings allowed," but it's no secret either, as made clear by the shuttle bus driver on our way down the mountain to the visitor center. 
I don't consider my novel to be historical fiction, though many details from American history do come into play.  I owe it to my readers to be as accurate as possible when describing real places and people.  Research online can certainly get you headed in the right direction, but there's nothing like investigating your topic in person to get it just right.  Additionally, actually being there gave me inspiration and ideas to propel my book further than would have otherwise been possible.  It's good to put away your laptop and take a road trip every once and a while.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

You Are What You...Read?


Perhaps if you are Kobe Bryant, Venus Williams or Derek Jeter, you might live by the adage, “You are what you eat.” As writers, I believe that we should amend that to, “You are what you read.” (And trust me, this is a really good thing, or I would officially be the world’s largest peanut M&M.)

When it comes to writing, there are a number of factors that propel us. First, and I believe foremost, we write for ourselves. We write because we are compelled to do it. Some days, I believe that the writing chooses us, and not the other way around at all. I suspect that you know exactly what I am talking about. It’s a little like a narcotic – if you go without for too long, you begin jonesing for that moment when you can sneak away to your private little cubby with pad and pencil, or iMac, or trusty laptop at your fingertips, and tap out a few good paragraphs.

But let’s face it. We also write because we want to be READ. We long for an audience. Whether that audience is our mother, or the review board of a short story competition, or Suzy Consumer, we want to share what we have labored over, the fruits of our pens, so to speak. No matter what your goal – to be a published author with sixteen bestsellers under your belt, or just mom’s favorite – you need to KNOW your audience. What better way to find out what the people want than to be one of the people?

In our writer’s group, we are fortunate to have a wide variety of writers. The gal who writes suspense reads James Scott Bell and Stephen King. The ones who write romance read Nora Roberts and Julia Quinn. Our YA author gobbles up new Stephenie Meyer releases nearly as quickly as I scarf down crunchy candy-coated chocolate pieces. No, she’s not about to become a blood sucking, winged night (or other) creature. However, with every YA novel she reads, she gets closer to her audience.

In order to be a better writer, you must become a better reader. You must read voraciously – the good, the mediocre, and the bad – especially the bad. There is truly no other way to learn and grow, both in and out of your genre. Occasionally, I encounter folks who tell me they don’t read. I can hardly fathom this. Just yesterday, a friend of mine confided that her mother never read until her later years, when she could no longer cross stitch! God bless her little heart, better late than never, I say. But when writers tell me that they don’t read, I find that to be particularly abominable. Not only are they denying themselves and their potential audience the very best story they are capable of producing, but they fail to support their fellow writers. If you don’t know and respect the people you are writing for, you deride what all authors everywhere strive so assiduously to achieve. That’s simply not fair to you, your readers, or all the rest of us writers who do.

Consider it research, a release, or a reintroduction to your readers, but treat yourself to the gift of reading. And try to do it everyday! To support you in becoming a better writer (and reader!), FOLLOW THIS BLOG and you will be automatically entered for a chance to win a $15 Barnes and Noble gift card.

All followers – with the exception of contributors and those who have won prizes within the last thirty (30) days – will receive one chance at winning. Contest will remain open until midnight (EST), Friday, June 18, 2010, at which time Bijoux will randomly pick the winner. Happy writing – and happy reading!

For more from writer Beth Zellner, please visit:

Monday, June 14, 2010

"The Writing Life" Interview with author Susan Gee Heino

Today, I’m interviewing romance author Susan Gee Heino, in the first of a series of interviews on “The Writing Life.” Susan will be sharing her knowledge of the writing and publishing world over the next several weeks. Susan is a member of our critique group and our first published author. We are so proud of her! Susan, thanks for being here today.

Thanks, Michele. I really appreciate you taking the time to let me ramble here.

Tell us a little bit about your background. Where are you from?
I’m from Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. None of that gives me any right to write about early 19th century England, but I do anyway. In college I studied Fine Art, Education, English Lit, and then finally graduated with a very practical degree in Theatre. That did give me the right to be an actress, director and playwright, but that didn’t pay my bills very well. Aside from the theatre, I’ve done youth work, catering, retail, legal research, pet-sitting, switchboard operating, real estate sales, statistical documentation, and been an administrative assistant. Oh, and I’ve shoveled giraffe poo. Personally, I prefer writing about early 19th century England.

I live in rural Ohio with my minister husband and two school-age children. And lots of pets. When the kids were little I decided to get serious about writing romance. After six years and several hundred diaper changes, the kids went to school and I managed to sell my sixth completed manuscript, MISTRESS BY MISTAKE, a steamy Regency Historical romance. In 2008 this manuscript won the prestigious RWA Golden Heart Award and in December of 2009 it was published by Berkley Sensation.

Tell us your latest news?
I’m very excited that my next book will be on the shelves August 3rd. It’s titled DAMSEL IN DISGUISE and features Lord Rastmoor, one of the characters from MISTRESS BY MISTAKE. It’s Rastmoor’s turn to get a happy-sexy-ever-after with a fun, feisty actress who just can’t seem to quit changing her name or her costume. I love their story.

Also, Berkley has contracted for two more books with me and I’m just putting the finishing touches on my next story. This one features Sophie Darshaw, who was mentioned frequently in the first book but we never actually got to meet her. Now I finally get to dive into her story so we can find out just what’s been going on with this missing miss. She’s not living at the brothel anymore and her hero is a drool-worthy earl who’s hiding a pretty big, er, secret.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
No, I really don’t. I’ve loved stories all my life and started trying to write them long before I could even read. I knew my alphabet, so I’d sit at the kitchen table and have my mother spell things for me as she worked around the house. It must have driven her nuts back then, but I’m so glad she did it. I was hooked for life.

What inspired you to write your first book?
Reading stories that took me away from my dull, Midwestern existence and made me imagine myself living the life of an important, adventurous and sophisticated heroine. Yes, I was all about escapism and big dreams. I was in high school when I wrote what I would call my first “book”. It was—surprise surprise—a historical romance. It was awful, and thank heavens I don’t recall where I put it, but it was a full 40,000 words long and had all the makings of a real, honest to goodness plotline. I still remember the basis for the story, so maybe someday it will reappear in some new and (please God) improved version.

How does your family feel about your writing?
My kids think it’s cool because maybe this means I’ll be famous someday. (Dream on, sweeties!) My husband is very supportive even though he can’t understand why anyone would want to waste their day reading fiction, let alone writing it. My parents are proud, of course, but they were proud of me even when I was just a kindergartner making Mommy spell out words at the kitchen table. I have two brutally honest sisters, though, and they’ve both actually read my work and claim they like it. Now that’s something to be proud of!

What books have influenced your life most?
Is it too cheesy to say The Bible? But it’s true. I used to love to read the Old Testament as a child. Seriously, it was amazing, with all those stories of blood-thirsty kings stealing someone else’s concubine, secret babies, orphaned virgins, miraculous happenings, love and vengeance—it was like a Harlequin Presents on steroids. And my mother approved of it! I loved the whole concept of right conquering evil and the hope that no matter how awful things seem, there might eventually be a happy ending on down the way. That’s what I love about romance novels—there’s always a happy ending.

What is your favorite book?
You mean, like, out of ALL of them in the whole world? LOL. Okay, I can answer this. My very most favoritest book ever is “Emma” by Jane Austen. Love it love it love it!

What book are you reading now?
“A Midwife Crisis” by Lisa Cooke. She’s a new author and a really great friend. I truly love her stuff—makes me all warm and fuzzy and I laugh. A lot.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I love Jane Austen (duh). I love how she makes the mundane so darned interesting! Her characters are really fun, too. She’s so good at revealing types without resorting to stereo-types. And that whole humor thing is a big seller for me. Yes, I think I want to write like that, with a little P.G. Wodehouse thrown in for some extra fun.

Now, as for contemporary (meaning, not dead yet) romance writers: I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Kristan Higgins, and Julia Quinn. And about 500 others. I love complicated plotlines, quirky characters, unpredictable twists, romance you can feel in your gut, and heroes that make you sigh even when you don’t want to.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Gosh, I’ve had so many people helping me along my journey! I’ve found that romance writers are amazingly caring and eager to reach out to each other. My good friend Donna MacMeans sold her first book two years before I sold mine. She’s been such a support to me, sharing what she’s learned and even helping me polish some chapters of the manuscript that eventually sold. She writes Victorian-set romance and you should totally check her out!

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Easy: Romance Writers of America (RWA). Positively. I would not be published today if not for that group. It’s the largest professional writers’ organization in the world and is just as helpful for published authors as it is for those still aspiring. There are local chapters in most major cities and I am connected to the Columbus chapter, Central Ohio Fiction Writers. Through this organization I’ve learned about craft, I’ve made friends, met editors and agents, but most importantly I learned about the business of writing for publication. I learned how the industry works and I learned what publishers want.

I cannot say enough good about this group, although you might notice by the title that it is for Romance Writers. Not everyone writes romance. Fortunately, there are similar organizations for other genres, so if you write YA or mystery or sci-fi or whatever, you can probably find a group to help you out, too. However, there are all these sub-genres within romance, too, so if you’ve got an inkling of romance in what you write, I would highly advise you to consider joining RWA. (And no, I’m not a paid spokesperson for them.)

What would your ideal career be, if you couldn't be an author?
Zookeeper. Anyone who knows me could have answered that. (Heck, anyone who’s driven by my house could have answered that!) I love animals. I did work at a zoo one summer, in fact. But once all the habitats were clean and everyone was fed, I sat under a tree and wrote stories.

What are your current projects?
TEMPTRESS IN TRAINING is another Regency Historical that will be out sometime in 2011. Following that will be another Regency that I’ve briefly outlined and I’m already getting eager to write it. It’s got such a fun premise and I’ll get to research Egyptian archaeology for it. Also, I’ve been working with my agent on a new project that would be geared for a middle-grades audience. She loves the proposal I sent her, so we’ll see where that goes. It would be great to actually have a book out there my kids could read. (Mommy’s grown-up books are off-limits for a few years yet.)

Do you have anything you want to say to your readers?
I’d like to say that I really hope they enjoy my books. That’s what they’re for—just for fun. And then I’d like to ask, “What book do you want to read that nobody seems to be writing?”

Well, that does it for today's questions. However, if there is something you want to ask Susan, she will be answering your questions throughout the day. Post your question in the comments section.

Also, check back in two weeks for Part tTo of "The Writing Life," when we will talk to Susan about her advice on writing. Click here for Part Two.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Snippet Sunday - Children's Market Snippet

Typically I write Inspirational fiction, leaning towards the Romantic Suspense genre. Today however, I am feeling a little young at heart. I thought I would share a children's piece that I had written several years ago. It is one of three that I have in my writer's file, waiting patiently to be published.

Hope you enjoy it.

When A Dog Does The Dishes

When a dog does the dishes
He'll make quite a mess.
He'll get suds on the ceiling
and sauce on your dress.

He'll lick the spoons and the
the bowls till they shine.
So you'll think they're clean
the next time you dine.

Then he'll drink all the water
so you'll think he is done,
but that is really when
your work has begun.

You need to redo all the
word he has done.
Re-doing the dog's work
is never much fun!

So next time your dog
says, "I'll do the dishes."
Just let him outside to
avoid all the messes!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Review: A Timely Vision by Joyce and Jim Lavene

At the beginning of my vacation this week in Duck, North Carolina, on the Outer Banks, I visited the Island Bookstore at the Scarborough Faire shops in the heart of Duck.  Knowing I was scheduled to write a book review today, I wanted to pick a new book that I would be able to read in time for today's review.  A display of books having local interest caught my eye.  "A Timely Vision," by Joyce and Jim Lavene is a cozy mystery set in my vacation spot, Duck, North Carolina.  Published by Berkley Prime Crime in May 2010, I knew I had my "victim."

The main character, Dae O'Donnell, is the single, thirty-something mayor of Duck.  As in reality, the novel accurately portrays Duck as a quaint tourist town on the narrow strip of land that runs parallel to the coast of North Carolina.  Dae also is the owner of a shop called Missing Pieces, which features a mish mash of antique pieces, collectibles, and souvenir items, what some might call junk.  Dae has a particular gift for finding lost items by holding the hand of the person who lost the item.  This paranormal talent comes in handy when a local woman, 90+ year old Miss Elizabeth, is found murdered and buried in the beach dunes.

When the Duck police ultimately implicate Miss Elizabeth's cantankerous older sister, Miss Mildred, for the crime, Dae knows they have charged the wrong person, but she has nothing but her intuition and her skill for finding lost items to assist her in identifying the killer.  A cast of characters, mostly local shop owners and police, are introduced to either help or impede Dae in unraveling the murder mystery.  Kevin Brinkman, the new owner of the run-down Blue Whale Inn, comes to Dae's aid as both a former FBI agent and love interest. 

History, both real and fictional, plays a leading role in the novel as well.  The Outer Banks has 400 years of European history in its sands, which the authors weave into the novel, particularly with the pirates who used the land as sanctuary.  The history of Miss Elizabeth and Miss Mildred comes to the fore as well, when the skeletal remains of Miss Elizabeth's lost love are found in a locked room of the Blue Whale Inn.  The sleepy town of Duck now has two murders to investigate.

Miss Mildred is declared incompetent to stand trial because she reports seeing the ghost of her dead sister who brings her a purse with bloody gloves for safekeeping.  After Miss Mildred is taken to an "institution," her valuable house and land are quickly put up for auction along with the property of her dead sister.  Knowing that Miss Mildred is innocent, Dae must solve the mystery before the properties are sold at the auction block and Miss Mildred loses her ancestral home.  Immediately, Dae suspects Miss Mildred's grand nephew, who is responsible for rushing the properties to auction, of the crime.

In the end, the mystery is solved of course, and Miss Mildred's property is saved in the nick of time.  Dae and Kevin have not hooked up as a couple yet, but certainly that will follow in the next book or two of the series.  "A Timely Vision" is the first in the Missing Pieces series by the authors. 

Aside from some implausible probate and property transfer issues (OK, that's the paralegal in me talking), "A Timely Vision" is a delightful mystery and a quick read.  Distinctive characters in the small town setting are sure to develop further as the series continues.  Dae O'Donnell is a strong, smart lead who can carry her townspeople through a crisis or two.  The authors successfully captured the feeling of Duck and the Outer Banks, at least from this tourist's perspective.  This is a light, fun read, perfect for an afternoon at the beach.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rejection Thursday - Face-To-Face Rejection

Last week I shared with you a copy of a rejection letter I received for my first novel, Come As You Are. (See last weeks post if you missed it.) Honestly, it took a little time to recover from that one, but in the end, I looked at what I could improve, and learned from that rejection.

Today I want to talk about face-to-face rejection. Sitting in front of an editor or agent, presenting them with your "elevator" pitch, only to see that look in their eyes that says they have absolutely no interest. While this experience is uncomfortable, resist taking it personally. Instead, turn it into an opportunity to ask questions.

Questions like, What projects are you currently looking for? Could you give me a little feedback on my writing? And most importantly, Do you know anyone in the industry who might be interested in this project?

While getting rejected in person is more difficult, use every opportunity you have as a learning experience.

Happy Writing!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Journal Entries

Pick up most How-to books about writing and somewhere within that book you will find this helpful tip: Keep a Journal. The author will recommend writing in it every day or writing for a specified number of minutes, but the underlying message is - writing in a journal will help your writing. Goodness knows, I can use all the help I can get with my writing, so this is a no-brainer, right?

Although I admit to 'mostly' agreeing with the advice, I cannot seem to force myself to do it with regularity. At least part of the reason is that every time I sit down to journal I have flashbacks to writing in my diary around the age of 10. You know the kind I'm talking about - it has a red cover with gold edged pages and - most important - a lock! I got the diary for my birthday and in the beginning I wrote in it every day. I cataloged the events of my (somewhat boring) days as well as my joys and tribulations, with satisfaction. Here, I thought, is where I can put down my most secret thoughts and desires and no one else will know.

Ha! It took about 6 months for me to realize that the so-called lock on my diary was definitely not pick-proof. In fact, it didn't even require a paper clip to jimmy open without a key.  My older sister made this fact known to me by commenting on one of my entries - in writing. Seeing her words on the page - MY PAGE - felt like such a violation. Ok, so I HAD written about her - and NO, it wasn't very flattering. But still, the magic was gone. Knowing that anyone could read what I had written took away that secret place just for me. This is, I'm sure, where my journal-phobia began.

Over the years, I have tried journaling several times, with some success. My most recent attempt has involved using a Word document. I figure that at least on my computer I can password protect the file. I guess I'm still trying to find a place that's just for me.

If you, like me, struggle with keeping a journal, there are some ways to make journaling a habit, rather than a miracle. For example, pick a word and write about it. Choose a place you want to travel to and write about that. Or write about a hobby / dream / problem you have. In my case, I find myself journaling about some of the issues I have about my writing - which I guess is a subject also.

Do you keep a journal? What are some of the things you journal about?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Snippet Sunday - First Pages

We've all heard it...when writing a novel your first page must grab the reader (or editor) if they're going to read on. Today I'm going to be posting the first page of my novel Healing Springs. I entered this piece in the ACFW Christian fiction contest, and did not final, but the good news is, I did get two requests for the full manuscript from different publishers.

Feel free to leave me your feedback.

Chapter One

Breaking and entering, Jackie Stevenson knew it was against the law, but the risk would be worth it. She just had to get her laptop and flash drives. Although her women’s safety advocate had advised against it, she didn’t care. Her soon to be ex-husband Nick had something that belonged to her, something he knew she would come looking for.
Law or no law, she was breaking into his home. She had been waiting for the perfect opportunity, a time when Nick would be gone for a long stretch of time. He would never expect it. Bet he thought she didn’t have the courage.

He was wrong.

Nick’s shift at the Chicago Police Department started at three o’clock. The afternoon sun was warm on her shoulders. She had been watching the house from a distance, just waiting for him to leave. She took her eyes off the door for a brief second to check her watch. Two-fifteen, he should be leaving any minute.

No sooner than the thought formed in her head, she looked up, and saw him. Tall and lean in his police uniform, he looked so handsome. It was what had attracted her to him in the first place. Little did she know the ugliness that lay deep within his soul.

She shuddered.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

And the winner is.....

Congratulations to ccboobooy (charity). She is the winner of this week's contest.  Charity will recieve an autographed copy of Mistress By Mistake by Susan Gee Heino. 

Thanks to everyone who follows Fiction Flurry and a big WELCOME to anyone just joining. We invite you to PARTICIPATE - post a comment, send us your suggestions and tell your friends about us.  Fiction Flurry will improve because of YOU! So don't be shy - let us know how you feel.What do you like, what irks you beyond belief and what would you like to see us do (or do better)?. We love feedback.

Check back next Tuesday for a new contest or poll.  You never know what we'll give away next.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Book Review Friday: The Fiction of Geraldine Brooks

Geraldine Brooks is an Australian born journalist who has written three novels, one of them capturing the Pulitzer Prize. While none of her books are brand new to the marketplace -- the most recent of them published in 2008 -- all of them are worth your while. Brooks develops exquisite characters, uses historical backdrops to add tumultuous depth, and writes beautifully. Each book has it's own feel as if different authors might have penned them. I think that's what makes her a wonderful writer...the ability to re-invent herself from novel to novel.

     Year of Wonders is set in a small English village in the1600's.  The story centers around a young widowed mother of two boys, Anna Firth, who finds that the plague has entered her town through a contaminated bolt of cloth brought into her home by her tenant.  The plague spreads quickly through the town.  While the wealthy flee the town's borders, the regular folk decide to quarantine themselves, letting no one in or out, hoping to stop the spread of the deadly disease.  After losing those dear to her, Anna finds herself aiding the townspeople, assisting a local woman with herbal remedies.  Out of desperation, villagers turn on one another with accusations of witchcraft, theft, and in-fighting.  Despite the death all around her, Anna can't help her deep feelings for the religious leader of the village, though his wife is Anna's dear friend.  This novel is deeply emotional, but a hopeful ending to the story offers relief.  The themes of the book are heavy, but the character development, prose, and historical detail are top notch.  This is my favorite of the three books.

March is the Pulitzer Prize winning novel set in America's Civil War.  In a way, this novel is an eloquent piece of fan fiction, for the main character, Mr. March, is taken from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women.  I'm embarrassed to say that I had never read Little Women.  However, I did not feel too deprived for back story.  Brooks weaves in real historical figures as tertiary characters such as John Brown and Henry David Thoreau. Mr. March, from the abolitionist, intellectual town of Concord, Massachusetts, volunteers for the Union because he feels so deeply for the cause that he is willing to leave his family.  Mr. March finds himself a guppy in a pool of sharks as a Union chaplain and covert reading teacher to freed slaves.  The ugliness of racism on both sides of the conflict weighs heavily upon him, though he filters the garish details from his flowery letters back home to his little women.  After March suffers a near fatal injury, the story takes both he and his wife, Marmee, to Washington D.C. during his convalescence.  There, the point of view turns to that of Marmee, who feels some bitterness over March's sacrifices because his decisions forced her to make sacrifices of her own.  She discovers a relationship that March shared with a lovely mulatto woman.  Both characters are strongly drawn, though March sometimes seems more womanly than Marmee.  Still, they are each well defined.  The use of language in this book seems to be plucked right from the 19th century, though it is not cumbersome.  If you are interested in the Civil War, race relations, or 19th century literature, this is your book.

People of the Book follows the path of an ancient Jewish illustrated manuscript from the circumstances of its creation in medieval Spain to present day, though not in linear fashion.  The unifying character is Hanna Heath, a specialist in the restoration of ancient texts, as she discovers unexpected tiny artifacts in the book's binding:  an insect wing, wine stain, cat hair, and sea salt.  Hanna's narrative pauses while the reader is taken to centuries past to find out how each artifact wound up in the religious text. Because Hanna's story stops and starts amid the digressions to centuries past, I found it a little difficult to establish a connection with her.  The fact that she's fiercely independent and a bit jaded didn't help either.  Regardless, some of the characters in the sub-plots, from Spain to Venice and Vienna to Sarajevo, are strong and sympathetic.  People of the Book is more akin to a series of interrelated short stories, though the stories are masterfully stitched together through Hanna's narrative.  The good and evil of the world's three major religions is a theme throughout. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rejection Thursday - Holding Nothing Back

Today I am going to share a copy of a rejection letter that I received for my first novel Come As You Are. I have removed the publisher/editor information. Although this rejection is a little harsh, I was able to learn how to improve my writing, and I hope you will find it helpful as well.

I have read COME AS YOU ARE and am sorry that I must pass on this project.
We have saying in romance, SHOW, don't TELL. Much of Mary's story is told to the reader, which distances them from getting to know the characters. By showing us Mary's feelings and emotions, the reader can identify with her character more and learn to love her, which makes them want to read more and more of her story. Reader's are escorted through Mary's day from start to finish, without any development of the relationship between the hero and heroine.

Mary also comes across as passive, in allowing others to tell her what she is feeling and only wanting to please Paul. A heroine is just that - heroic. She should be more proactive in her own life, expecting much of herself and others. She has not given any clue what she wants from life. Her life revolves around attracting Paul, up to and including changing her body type in case that is what is so displeasing to him (although he's not said anything). The reader is invited into Mary's quest to capture Paul with details on how she plans to take on a new diet and exactly what food she can eat.

There are issues with points-of-view. I realize that many modern writers head-hop in their novels, but I am an editor who prefers one POV per chapter. It allows the reader to get to know the character very well.

The secondary characters, unless they are important to the developing relationship, do not need to be mentioned by name. I was confused as to why Mary was attending a Singles church meeting, when she is in a committed relationship. Unless Paul goes, too? However, she doesn't go with Paul, nor is there a mention that Paul will be there. I would expect them to attend together, if at all. During her thoughts, the reader is informed of all Mary's good ideas concerning what the Singles plan to do...yet nothing about Paul, who is her almost-fiance.

If Steven is the hero, the story should being there. There is no need to go into Mary's past history with Paul. Romance is about the developing relationship between two people who will eventually work their way to a Happy Ever After. There is no need to tell the stories of the people in their past, except as a paragraph, at most.

Although I was quite disappointed when I received this, I can honestly say I have grown quite a bit from the process. How about you reader? Are you letting rejection hold you back, or are you learning from it and moving forward?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

It’s all been done before. Well, kind of.

You sit down in front of your blank computer screen, and you begin: “Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy finds girl.”

No, no, no, you groan as you bang your head against the keyboard. It’s all been done before. Well, kind of. Let’s face it, a lot of what we as writers do is tell many of the same stories over and over again. What keeps the readers coming back for more, though, is how we tell these stories.

Did you grow up as a single child or in a family of five? Were your folks affluent, or did you learn the value of a penny at an early age? Inner city or Marysville, Ohio? Go to church every Sunday/only on the “high holidays”/or never? Move on immediately to college or drop out of high school?

As you can see, every writer’s journey is different and therefore every story we have to tell is different. Sure, the plot may have been around the block a few times, but it’s in the telling – your own, unique perspective – that the work really gets its wheels under it and speeds the reader off into exotic unknown, or else reassuringly familiar, places.

Back in the mid-1500’s an Italian writer by the name of Matteo Bandello was penning novellas (never mind that he lifted his ideas from French, Eastern and classical tales before him). One of these pieces caught the eye of English poet Arthur Brooke, who figured he could give the piece a spin, and so he loosely translated Bandello’s work into a little ditty he entitled, “The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet.”

Now, I just bet you know where we go from here. Along comes this cat named Shakespeare. Like a master chef, he takes a smidge of Bandello, tosses in some comedic relief and a couple ne’er do well sidekicks and you have a Romeo and Juliet soufflĂ©.

But it doesn’t end there! Not even close. Fast forward to America about four hundred or so years later. In this incarnation, a writer by the name of Arthur Laurents revisits our friends, Romeo and Juliet, only this time, it’s the 1950’s, the feud is with newly immigrated Puerto Ricans, and did I mention it’s all set to music and danced (thanks to the vision of Jerome Robbins). Voila! West Side Story.

Been there, done that? Hardly!

What does your version look like? Is Romeo bald? Ride a Harley? How about your Juliet? Does she resemble the barista at your favorite coffee house, piercings and all? Maybe smoke clove cigarettes? Where do they meet and fall in love? Is it at the bowling alley? Or maybe on a cruise for Senior Citizens? (Hey, I kind of like that last one…)

In the end, interpretation is often just as important as idea. So is “boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy finds girl,” the end of the story? Nope, it’s just the beginning.

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Contest Tuesday - Mistress By Mistake

Here at the Fiction Flurry blog, Tuesday is the day we reward our faithful followers. Sometimes that reward will be in the form of a Poll - where you can share your opinion by voting on a relevant topic. Other times, today for instance, that reward is in the form of a free gift.

If you read the blog last Friday, you caught the review of the romance novel Mistress By Mistake, by Fiction Flurry contributor Susan Gee Heino. If you didn't read that review, you might want to check the archives because today you have the opportunity to win an AUTOGRAPHED COPY of Mistress By Mistake. It is a great book and I highly recommend it - you should pick it up even if you don't win the contest.

CONTEST RULES:  Everyone who is a follower of the blog (contributors are not eligible) will be entered once for a chance to win an autographed copy of the book Mistress By Mistake.  Here's the twist - if you send someone new to Fiction Flurry and they become a follower, both you and new follower will get an additional entry in the contest.  To get credit (and the additional entry), the new follower must leave a comment on this post telling me who sent them to the site.

This contest will close Friday, June 4, 2010 at midnight (EST). The winner will be posted on Saturday, June 5, 2010. If you have won something from the blog in the last 30 days you are not eligible for this contest.

Good Luck!!!

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