From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tuesday's Winner Announced

And the winner is.......Shallee. Thanks to everyone for your comments. Shallee, please email me your snail mail address to: and I'll put your book in the mail.

Happy Writing

Friday, July 30, 2010

Shadow Bound - Book Review

Shadow Bound

Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison
Summary: Adam Thorne has devoted the last 6 years of his life to researching and tracking beings called wraiths, possessed humans who feed on human souls, and who have taken control of his brother Jacob. He finds Talia O'Brien, the half-fae daughter of Death himself and the key to destroying the wraiths. Her ability to move within the Shadow world has kept her alive, but now the wraiths want her for themselves. As they are pursued, allies become enemies and safety comes at too high a cost. Despite the danger around every corner, Adam and Talia cannot resist the growing attraction between them. For this unique woman, Adam will sacrifice everything he has, including himself.

This book surprised me and that's hard to do. I'm a big fan of paranormal romance and consequently, I've read a lot of them. After awhile, they tend to blend together, with similar themes, similar character types and similar conflicts. Shadow Bound surprised me by different from any of the books I've read lately. Although the author uses a familiar creature, the fairy, she does so in a way that separates her from the likes of Laurell K. Hamilton's Meredith Gentry. (note to Erin: Thank you for not once using the the term "Seelie.") Other paranormal romance writers should take note, Erin is the future voice of this genre.
I was blown away by the evocative prose in the prologue and initial chapters. It reads like poetry - not something I expect to find in a romance novel. I just wish there were more of this type of writing throughout the rest of the novel.   
In typical romance style, the story is told from alternating viewpoints of the two main characters. This doesn't bother me because I like seeing the story from both sides, but if you are used to another genre, this could throw you.  I found the story intriguing and the pacing fairly well done. It does lag a bit in the middle, but I can forgive that when the story still keeps my interest.
I highly recommend reading Shadow Bound. The follow up, Shadow Fall, was released a few days ago. I haven't read it, but I will. Erin Kellison has a unique voice and I eagerly await her upcoming books.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Relationships and your Writing

Unless you are an extremely imaginative hermit, you use your relationships as material for your writing.  At a minimum, writers draw upon the emotions they experience in their day-to-day lives with spouses, children, parents, siblings, and friends.  Your character might be based completely on someone in your life, or perhaps your character has personality traits pulled from several people with whom you share a relationship.  There's no escaping it.  People you know end up, in some form, in your fiction.

If you create a character with your mother's soft heartedness, your sister's bad habit for buying too many shoes, and your best friend's organizational skills, there's not a huge chance that any of your relationships will be damaged.  What if your writing muse leads you to craft a character based completely on your egotistical, lazy, no-good boss from her turned up nose to her hammer toe that juts out when she wears sandals?  Sometimes, the passion of a relationship, good or bad, is the also the passion that fuels your writing.  How do you separate the two, or should you?

Sometimes, you might just need to write a story about a character based on someone you know to help you process your own feelings. Someone close to you has disappointed you, made you angry, or makes you constantly worry, and you want to write about it.  Perhaps that piece might never see the light of day, but it saved you several hundred dollars in psychotherapy fees.  But what if you're really proud of what you wrote and think it's publishable?   You got some thinking to do before you market the piece.

The simple answer, if you want to try to publish the piece, is to allow the person on whom your character is based to read the story to give his or her blessing.  Certainly, you'll want to explain that it is fiction, but there are strong similarities between the character and the person in your life. If you've written about a strained relationship that remains that way, it might be a challenge to get the "all-clear" at best, but it might further test the relationship at worst.

The other alternative is to revise your character just enough so that it doesn't destroy the integrity of the story or the real-life relationship.  Regardless of whether your real life "character" consents to the character in your book, there should be plenty of  differences between the two.  But if your real life character is the type to get angry or even litigate, extra revision to your fiction may be required. Yes, this might be easier said than done, but it's important to put the relationship first...unless it's your boss with the hammer toe and you already have a new job lined up. 

What about you?  How do you use the characters in your life in your fiction?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Who Inspires You?

How many times have you "discovered" an author? Someone you had heard about but never read before or someone you've never heard of but can't put down. Somehow you end up at 3 am trying to finish the last chapter so you can finally get to sleep. And before you know it, you're on Amazon ordering their entire backlist. For me, this has happened more times than I can count.

I received my first Nancy Drew book for my 7th birthday and I was hooked.  No, not on reading - that came at a much earlier age. For the first time, I was hooked on an author. I read every Nancy Drew book I could find in the library - eventually reading them all. Ok, so it wasn't until years later that I learned those books were written by several people under one pseudonym, but I think the point is still valid - once you like an author, you read everything they write. I'm pretty sure the entire publishing industry counts on this.

But beyond a few hours of escape into the book-world, I find that my favorite writers - those that I read again and again - inspire me.  Now, I'm not saying that I want to become the character in the book (although at age 7, I seriously wanted to be an amateur detective). It's that I'm inspired to become a better storyteller.

For example, the way Janet Evanovich is able to take seemingly random events, knit them together and make them an integral part of the plot leaves me stunned every time. I realize that every action counts - from where Stephanie Plum parks her car to the doughnuts she eats. I can see that there is no room for filler and that inspires me to make every action in my story count.

Jonathan Kellerman inspires my writing in other ways. As I'm swept into the world of Alex Delaware, I'm noticing how he gets into (and out of) dangerous situations. It takes a delicate touch to put a MC into danger without seeming contrived or ridiculous. Jonathan Kellerman is a master at this and he inspires me to look more critically at the situations I put my MC into.

Since I consider myself more of a romance author (albeit an unpublished one), you might ask why my examples aren't from the romance genre? Although I read a lot of romance (including all of the sub-categories), I don't limit myself to only reading romance. As an author, I believe in the advice to read as much as you can from all genres. I find inspiration in the most unlikely places.

So now you know who inspires me. Leave a comment and tell me: Who inspires you? 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Contest Tuesday - Book Giveaway

One thing I love about writing is other writers. Since I've started this journey to publication, I am amazed at the willingness of others to share their experience and knowledge with less experienced writers.

Todays contest is simple. Simply leave a comment telling what the best writing advice or tip is that you have received. You must be a follower to be eligible.

The prize? I'll send a copy of Always Watching by Brandilyn & Amberly Collins. It's a great read filled with suspense. Brandily Collins is known for her trademark "Seatbelt Suspense."
Always Watching (Rayne Tour, The)

I'll announce the winner on Saturday....good luck!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff ARC review

The Replacement

Title: The Replacement

By: Brenna Yovanoff
Published: September 21st 2010 by Razorbill
Details: Hardcover, 352 pages
Special Note: ARC Review

Mackie Doyle seems like everyone else in the perfect little town of Gentry, but he is living with a fatal secret - he is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now the creatures under the hill want him back, and Mackie must decide where he really belongs and what he really wants.

A month ago, Mackie might have told them to buzz off. But now, with a budding relationship with tough, wounded, beautiful Tate, Mackie has too much to lose. Will love finally make him worthy of the human world?

My Thoughts:

The entire town of Gentry knows that their human children are stolen and murdered by monsters, but they seem to be okay with the sacrifice in order to keep their town the happy place it is. This novel creates a intriguing world that is full of mystery.

Mackie Doyle is one of the creepiest main characters I've come across in a while, but I will say he is very likable and he won me over very easily. Mackie has this venerability that makes you root for him even though he's not quite human and placed in a crib to replace a human baby that had been stolen and sacrificed. While the creatures under the hill may be evil, Mackie isn't, and strives to just be "normal". Iron, even the slight amount in blood, causes Mackie to go into a toxic shock type syndrome, which adds to the struggle to live in the human world.

This novel is a great YOUNG ADULT (YA) mystery. The kind where you have to figure out exactly what Mackie is why these creatures under the hill suddenly want him back.

If you like creepy YA told from a male first person point of view with a little bit of romance sprinkled in, this one's for you.
**See More YA ARC and Book Reviews at my blog READING, WRITING and WAITING**

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Snippet Sunday - First Lines

Go to any writing class, and they tell you have one page to grab your reader. Some will even advise that it is the first line that tells whether or not your reader will continue reading. That's a little intimidating....or challenging, depending on how you look at it.

Fiction writing books will tell you that the first line must introduce the character, and action, and emotion. One of my favorite first lines comes from a novel by Julie Lessman entitled A Passion Most Pure. It begins, 'Sisters are overrated.' That's a fantastic first line, and the rest of the book didn't disappoint.

Feel free to leave the first line from your current work in progress, or a favorite first line from a novel you are reading in the comments section.

Happy Writing!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Winner - Damsel in Disguise

Congratulations to

Charlie Courtland

winner of the autographed copy of
Damsel in Disguise by Susan Gee Heino

You can find out more about Charlie at her blog

And a big THANKS! to Susan Gee Heino for her generous support of Contest Tuesday. Susan, you are the best!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Writing Space of One's Own

I've been struggling with finding the perfect place to do my writing.  I like to write at home, but between the kids, phone, temptations of surfing, and the beckoning piles of laundry, I find that I'm not productive there, let alone prolific.  The library is a good place to write for a while, but it lacks some of the creature comforts I need when I'm writing.  A lot of people write in coffee shops, which I'm not at all opposed to, but haven't tried.

Here's my ideal environment for writing:
1.  Mostly quiet with low background noise or music, preferably classical.  (Music with words messes up my train of thought.)

2.  A comfortable chair with some kind of cushioning or padding.  The ultimate seating arangement also allows me to put my feet up as desired.

3.  At least some natural light.

4.  Coffee, iced tea, or water nearby.

What about you?  Where are you most productive or creative?  What do you need in a writing space?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Contest Tuesday Giveaway: Autographed copy of Damsel in Disguise

Damsel in Disguise (Berkley Sensation)

Damsel in Disguise by Susan Gee Heino isn't out in stores yet, but you can win an autographed copy of the book this week, just by being a follower of Fiction Flurry.

If you've been following the blog recently, you may have seen the three-part interview series with the author called "The Writing Life" (If not, check it out - Part One, Part Two and Part Three are here). We are wrapping up the series with this awesome gift to our followers.

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 23, 2010. Winner will be chosen by random drawing and results posted July 24, 2010.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Time For A Little Fun

I must confess that I got the idea for today's posting from one of my favorite blogs. Rachelle Gardner, a literary agent has an excellent blog for writers called Rants & Ramblings. She is an agent with WordServe Literary agency, and I find her website to be both informative and fun!

On Friday, she relayed a few of Jeff Foxworthy's "You might be a redneck if..." At the end of the post, she challenged her readers to fill in the the following statement, "You might be a writer, agent or editor if...."

So readers, I challenge you to do the same, I'll get the ball rolling.

You might be a writer if you hear the cashier at the store say to the person in front of you, "That's a beautiful name." And you can't resist asking what it is because it could be a great name for a character : )

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Winner of THE WISH LIST signed by author Gabi Stevens is...

Teresa from Colorado!  Contratulations, Teresa, and THANK YOU to Gabi Stevens for offering a copy of her book as a giveaway.

We hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"The Writing Life" part 3 - Interview with Susan Gee Heino

Regency romance author Susan Gee Heino is with us again for the third installment of “The Writing Life.” Today she is talking about Rejection, how she has dealt with it in her writing career and how she got her big break in the publishing world.

In Part 1 of this series, Susan discusses how she got started and her writing influences. Then check out Part 2 for Susan's advice and tips on writing. Susan's second book, Damsel in Disguise (Berkley Sensation),  hits stores August 3rd so mark your calendar. However, a little birdie told me that Fiction Flurry blog followers will have a shot at winning an autographed copy - So keep checking back!

Susan thanks for being with us again. I've enjoyed working with you so much! 

Thanks for having me, Michele. I've really had fun!

Tell us about the querying process for your first novel. Did you query a lot, a little?
I wrote my very first “real” novel in the 90’s. I was so proud of it and popped the whole thing off to a publisher, just waiting for them to call with rave reviews and a hefty offer. Finally, year later, they sent it back with a rejection. It was a form rejection without so much as a signature and I had the distinct feeling my wonderful manuscript had not even been read. It was at that time I decided if I was going to be serious about getting published, I might need a little help. I joined a writers group and realized just how much I didn’t know about writing and about the publishing industry. It was a bit daunting and I’m sorry to say, made me decide to give it up for a while. So no, I didn’t query on that first one. At all. I should have.

Was there a process in deciding who to query?
When I came back to writing about 5 years later, I decided to be much wiser about it. I looked at what was out there on the market and realized the type of book I’d written was a sub-genre that had basically died. At that time, only one publisher was still putting out “Traditional Regency” and they were closed to submissions. If I wanted to write romance set in the Regency time period, it would have to be more like a Historical Romance, which is longer and generally sexier than that first manuscript I had. So, I decided to do it. I wrote a different book, aimed it at the marketplace, studied the editors who were publishing this sort of book, and I sent out query letters instead of the whole unsolicited manuscript. I actually got one request for the full and was over the moon happy about it. A year later, I got that rejection, too. But at least this time I knew the editor had read my manuscript because she actually gave a couple comments.

Did you do any revisions based on feedback from your queries?
There was only one time when a rejection came with suggestions for revision that made me believe the editor would possibly be interested if I made them. I didn’t. I decided that the book was not really the type of story that would interest me enough to make me want to build a career around it so I put it aside and chose not to go that route. I think it’s very important we, as writers, don’t let ourselves get pigeon holed into a career we don’t want. I’ve known writers who signed contracts for too many books at one time and then had to spend the next 18 months of their lives slaving at their computer. I’ve known authors who signed with publishers who did not offer adequate pay or marketing and they found themselves stuck having to spend all their writing time doing all their own marketing and promotion. I’ve known authors who felt pressured into writing a certain genre when they would really prefer to be writing something else.

I think it’s very important that when we send out our queries they not only represent our book well, but us as an author. If the editor suggests she’ll look at it again if you are willing to make certain changes, by all means consider that! This editor is a professional who knows what works in the marketplace. If you want to be published, you need to acknowledge that. But you also need to know who you are. Will you be happy enough just to see your book in print that it’s okay to sign with a publisher no one has ever heard of and who can’t pay an advance and who will rely on you do all your own marketing? Will you be happy letting your name become known for this type of book? I think the whole querying process is as much about us studying publishers as it is about us getting to know ourselves. Figure out what you really want, research it, then go for it.

So how did you get your big break?
Along with querying agents and editors, I was also entering contests. I found that to be a very helpful way to glean useful feedback and get my work in front of industry professionals. It turns out I’m very competitive and learned pretty quickly what contest judges were looking for. That helped.

In one contest I’d entered, my manuscript finaled and was sent on to a New York editor for final ranking. She loved it, ranked it in first place, and requested the full. I quickly polished up the full and sent it on to her. Then I waited and sent it out to more contests. I got another request from another New York editor so I sent the full off to her. And I waited, and entered another contest.

Meanwhile, a friend of mine kept raving about her agent and suggested I query her, using her name as a reference. So, I did and the agent asked for the full. I sent it, and waited. (Do you see the pattern here? Lots and lots of waiting in this business!)

Then my manuscript finaled in another contest. This was a big one, Romance Writer’s of America’s Golden Heart Award. So I sent word to the two editors and the agent that the manuscript had finaled in that and they all agreed to look at it right away. I waited some more and then headed off to RWA’s national conference in San Francisco. There I actually won the Golden Heart Award.

Some people jokingly call it a Golden Ticket Award because it does seem that getting into that whole Golden Heart whirlwind makes stuff happen. It did for me. I met with the agent and really liked her, but by then I had three other agents very interested in my Golden Heart manuscript. Three more editors asked to have a look at it. I fretted and worried over selecting an agent, then decided to go with the one who was most excited about my book even before I won that award. I’ve been with Cori Deyoe of Three Seas Literary Agency for two years now.

The day after I got home from San Francisco my editor called with an offer. I referred her to my agent who was working with the other four editors who were also interested in my book. After a couple days we had two more offers so my editor had to increase their offer and we accepted that. My first book, MISTRESS BY MISTAKE [Mistress by Mistake (Berkley Sensation)], came out with Berkley Sensation in December of 2009. My next book, DAMSEL IN DISGUISE, will be released August 3rd and I’m getting all excited for that. Plus, now I’ve got a contract for two more, so I’m pretty busy these days.

My success story really is out of the ordinary in that not everyone wins a Golden Heart or ends up with multiple agents and editors to choose from. However, the path to get here was very ordinary. I wrote, I studied, I went to conferences, I queried, and I got rejected. The encouraging part of it is that if it could happen to me, it could happen to pretty much anyone. Just keep at it!

How many rejections did you get?
I’ve never been one to keep count of my rejections. And truthfully, I’ll admit to not having as many of them as some authors. I was not a serial querier. I was very selective which agents and editors I queried and therefore didn’t get the mass quantities of rejections. Still, percentage-wise, I got a lot more rejections than I did offers! Naturally, we should all expect this.

It’s a tough business and there are thousands of reasons for an editor to reject something, and very few reasons for them to accept. I’ve had friends who were rejected because their storyline was too similar to another book the publisher was just releasing, or because it was a time period that the editor felt was over-used, or just because the publisher didn’t have any open slots for a couple of years. Those rejections had nothing to do with the quality of the book or anything the author could have controlled, or even known about. However, if there is something you can control (word count, hook, strong premise, believable characters, etc.) then by all means control that! Our goal is to present the editor with as few reasons as possible to reject us.

Did any one rejection hurt more than another?
About seven years ago there was a real lull in the market for historical romance. It was sagging. I wanted to write historical romance and met an editor at a conference who said she loved historical romance and was determined to bring the market back. At that time, many long-time historical writers had switched over to writing paranormal or suspense or other sub-genres that seemed to be selling well. So, when this editor announced that she was eager to find new authors to write historical—and then she requested mine!—I thought I’d hit the jackpot. When she rejected me, I was a little disappointed. I worried that if this one didn’t want it, no one would. It definitely hacked away at my hope.

Did you ever think about giving up?
I’ve always known that the surest way to never get published is to never submit anything else. So I never really gave up, but there have been a couple times where I took a break. I did the Scarlet O’Hara thing and decided not to think about that “today”. I put the manuscript aside and did other things, telling myself I’d get back to it “on another day”. Fortunately, I did. And I think sometimes we do need to take a break and make sure this is what we want, that ready to face the possibility of rejection again.

But when you’re a writer, you just can’t quit writing. It’s who you are. It’s what you do. You need it. So if the rejection is taking you over, then it’s okay to step back and catch your balance. But don’t ever give up. Just take a break, put on some more emotional Band-Aids, and get strong again. You are worth it and you do have something valuable. Please don’t give up.

How do you handle rejection?
I really and truly see it as a challenge to prove the rejecter wrong. I know that sounds hokey, but I think rejection can mean two things: 1) it can be advice I can use to help me improve, or 2) it means I’m right and they’re wrong. It’s up to me to decide which is which, and that can be the tricky part and I’m sure I’ve gotten it wrong as often as I’ve gotten it right. But we should never, ever think rejection means “I suck” or “I will never make it”. Because that is truly wrong.

Just think of it as if you are walking through the mall and one of those kiosk workers stops you and says, “Hey, how would you like to try our wonderful new make-up products?” You can say yes or you can say no and I’m sure you’ll have a perfectly valid reason for either. Maybe you’re in a hurry, maybe you just bought make-up last week, maybe you’re a guy and you don’t wear make-up. In those cases, you’d just say “No thank you” and keep on walking. You weren’t saying, “Ick, your product is horrible and you should go sit in a corner and cry!” (However, if you did say that, you might want to work on your people skills a little bit.)

Sending out query letters is about the same. You tell Mr. Editor about your product and he says, “No, thank you. Not today.” And he’s got his reasons and they may truly have nothing to do with you. Take it at face value and just go on. Maybe the next “customer” will say, “Sure, I’ll try your product!” Then they’ll either fall in love and buy the whole package, or they’ll realize it’s just not for them today. Either way, you can’t let it mean more than it does. Yes, we hate rejection, but rejection doesn’t mean anyone hates us. Just keep slogging through the No’s until you hit a Yes. As they say, all it takes is one.

What about critique groups?
I completely endorse being involved with other writers at whatever level works best for you. If you love to dig into the phrasing and sentence structure of each other’s work, then do that! If you prefer to be a lone wolf and just need an occasional pat on the back, then do that. But the best help I’ve ever gotten—on lots of things in life—is from other writers. We “get” each other and that’s priceless.

What advice do you have on handling rejection for new authors?
Don’t “handle” it. Just put it in a drawer and walk away. Too many writers like to take it out and chew on it, over-analyzing it and making themselves miserable. All rejection means is that this editor (or agent) can’t work with you on this project at this time. Now, if they’ve given you some feedback, thank God for that and decide whether or not their suggestions ring true. If you’ve gotten the same feedback from someone else, then by all means consider it!

But just chalk it up to part of the learning process and part of the journey. We all get rejected. It’s a part of what we do. I know lots of successful authors who get rejected still—they turn in a proposal telling their editor what they’re going to be writing next and the editor says, “Uh, no, I hate that idea. Do you have something with vampires in it?” Rejection is just a part of life, especially if you’re a writer. Embrace that fact!

But don’t ever let it defeat you. It takes a special person to write their heart on the page and then send that out into the world for inspection. That takes courage, so if you’ve done it—even if it was rejected—you are still amongst a very select group. Be proud of that! Give yourself a hug and take pride in your accomplishment. How many people do you know who’ve actually been rejected by a real editor? A real agent? A real magazine publisher?

Love yourself for trying, and then go right back to trying again. There’s no shame in rejection, only disappointment. Let your friends help you through that and then get back up on that horse again tomorrow.
Personally, my favorite way to defeat rejection is to start a new project. There’s nothing to light my jets like sitting down and dashing off an outline for a new story, one that will be sooooo great no one will reject it.

Now, I’d love to hear how others “handle” rejection. Chocolate? Good wine? Getting out with friends? Dancing naked around a bonfire of rejection letters? What do you do to get you over rejection and onto hoping again?

Susan, again, thank you so much for taking time to do this series. I know I have learned so much from your experiences and I've really enjoyed this whole process.

Now Readers, we want to hear from YOU! Tell us how you handle rejection. Plus, do you have more questions for Susan? She will be hanging out with us today, so leave your question in the comments section.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Art of Rewriting

Do you like revisions or do you resist them like you would a pushy used car salesman? The truth of the matter is, if you want to be published, you are going to have to learn not only how to revise your manuscript, but how to self edit.

In this competitive publishing business, authors are having to sharpen their editing skills. Here are a few tips that might help you along the way.

  • Be open to critiques. Try not to fall into a defensive mode about your writing. If more than one person from your critique group is pointing out an area that could improve...take notice!
  • Acquire a book on revising and self editing. The libraries and book stores are full of books on this subject. Devour the book, then apply what you've learned to your manuscript.
  • If finances permit, hire a good copy editor to give your manuscript a thorough editing.
Those are just a few suggestions to help make your manuscript shine. Once you have your manuscript in tip-top shape, you'll feel more confident submitting it to agents and editors.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Contest Tuesday Giveaway: Signed copy of THE WISH LIST

The Wish List (Time of Transition Trilogy)
If you didn't catch Monday's interview with author Gabi Stevens, scroll down and check it out!  Gabi has been kind enough to offer one of our followers a signed copy of her book, THE WISH LIST! 

All Fiction Flurry Followers will be entered for a chance to win the book, and the drawing will take place at noon on Saturday, July 17, 2010.  So if you're already a follower, you're good to go.  If you're not a follower, well sign up already!  You might win!

We'd love to see your comments or questions, so feel free to chat with us.   Have a great day, everyone!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Interview with Gabi Stevens, Author of THE WISH LIST

Fiction Flurriers, please welcome author Gabriella Anderson, writing as Gabi Stevens.   Her current novel, THE WISH LIST, was released in May 2010.  The author has graciously taken time from her busy schedule to answer a few questions for us about her new trilogy,  "The Time of Transition Series," published by Tor Books. 

Fiction Flurry: Thank you so much for taking time to chat with us, Gabi!

Tell us about your trilogy. I noticed your main character will change for each book, but all three characters find themselves in the same basic role, that of newly tapped fairy godmother. Will Kristin from The Wish List play a role in the next two books in the trilogy?

Gabi:  The trilogy covers the Time of Transition, the time when in the Arcani world, a change in leadership happens along with a change in the fairy godmothers, who are a connection to the Groundling world. The outgoing godmothers retire from the job and new ones take over. This time someone is trying to take advantage of the Arcani world’s vulnerability to establish his own power. And since the godmothers work in threes, I needed three heroines to finish the story. THE WISH LIST is Kristin’s story. She appears in the second book, but SPELLBOUND is Reggie’s book, and TOIL & TROUBLE is Stormy’s although everyone will play a bigger role in the third book to finish out the story that arcs over the three books.

Fiction Flurry:  How long have you been with your agent, and how did you establish your relationship?

Gabi:  Marlene Stringer of the Stringer Literary Agency has been my agent since February 2009. She is a savvy woman with great connections in the publishing world. I queried her—you know, followed her guidelines, and sent off a cold query— and she asked to see the complete and loved it. She sold it by the end of March 2009. We talk on the phone and e-mail each other.

I’m excited to say that she pointed me to a publishing opportunity in a book about GLEE. My essay will appear in FILLED WITH GLEE in November of this year. Yeah, Marlene’s pretty cool.

Fiction Flurry: What are your writing habits? How do you keep focused on your writing while balancing the needs of your family and a teaching career?

Gabi:  It isn’t easy, I’ll tell you. Now that it’s summer, my days are devoted to writing (I’d like to say I was disciplined, but, hey, I’m the creative type). But seriously, I try to write every day. Unfortunately. my most creative juices flow at night. I am such a night owl and the world doesn’t work that way. During the school year, I get up at 5:30 just to get my daughter off to school and myself ready for the day. I’m at school at 7:30 every morning. And I’m a sleeper—I need lots of sleep. So by 8:30pm I’m starting to get ready for bed. I want Winston Churchill’s schedule. He’d work until 2 am every day and wake up at 10 am. I could do that. But enough whining.

I make writing a priority. Even when my children were small they knew I was a writer and needed time to work. My family supports me one hundred percent. I couldn’t do it without their encouragement and willingness to suffer through a less-than-immaculate house and pizza for dinner. There are times when I have to put the writing aside to grade essays (Why do I assign those things?) or tests, but I try to do something professional every day. Every single day. When I don’t I start to miss it.

Fiction Flurry:  Your most recent novel represents a change of direction in your writing, doesn't it? What was your motivation to change genres from historical romance to paranormal romance?

Gabi:  Actually it isn’t much of a change. I was a Golden Heart finalist in paranormal romance years ago. I have two favorite genres in romance: paranormal and historical. Many people believe that once an author is published her career is made. It isn’t that easy always and sometimes you have to start over. While I still hope to get back into historical someday, I had to restart my career and doing that in a different genre seemed to be a better idea. But I’ve always written paranormal.

Fiction Flurry: When conceiving a new novel, would you consider yourself more plot-driven or character-driven in the initial stages?

Gabi:  I don’t believe you can separate the two. The plot much have a compelling character to carry out the action, and a character must have a plot or we’re stuck with a book about navel-contemplation. Having said that, I love plot. I don’t like books where the characters ponder their fate, examine their emotions overmuch, wallow in self-pity. My favorite stories are high-adventure—think The Princess Bride, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, etc. At the beginning of writing I focus more on the plot, but I go back and do character work.

Fiction Flurry:  Do you read your reviews on Amazon? (They look really good for The Wish List!)

Gabi:  I do. I know I shouldn’t, but I do. But honestly, I don’t want my voice to appeal to everyone. I’d rather have some people (okay, a lot of people) really like my stories and a few people not get my appeal at all. The reviews that really bother me are the ones that are in the middle. Sometimes the readers have good comments, and I’m not egotistical enough to believe I have nothing to learn.

Fiction Flurry:  Who are your favorite authors?

I have so many that I can hardly answer. I always leave someone off, but here goes: Mark Twain, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Agatha Christie, Jasper Fforde, Julia Quinn, Connie Brockway, Teresa Medeiros, Christina Dodd, Jill Barnett, Jennifer Crusie, Jodi Thomas, Celeste Bradley, JK Rowling…oh the list goes on…

Fiction Flurry:  What advice do you have for writers just starting out?

Gabi:  Read. Write. Repeat. Seriously. Read everything and anything, If you don’t like something, analyze why you don’t like it; if you like it, examine why. But read. And read more. And write. You can’t be a writer without writing. So write. Oh, and learn grammar. Sorry. I love grammar and language. You have to understand how English works and how to construct a sentence. And then you can learn to break the rules.
Other items of importance:

Join a writers’ group. Great wisdom is out there. And you are not alone.

Remember that this is a business. A creative business, but a business nonetheless.

In the words of my first agent, there are three things you need to make it in publishing: talent, luck and persistence. You only need two of the three, but one must be persistence.

Read everything you’ve written aloud at some point.

Thank you so much for having me here today. I’ll be hanging out, so if you have any questions for me feel free to ask.
 Fiction Flurry:  Thank you again, Gabi, and we wish you much success!  Check out Gabi's websites and blog at:
Please leave a comment or ask Gabi a question.  We'd love to hear from you.  Also, come back to Fiction Flurry tomorrow to get details on a special giveaway from Gabi!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Puppy's Name Is....


I was rooting for the name Scout, and Pippi is a fun name, too.  It's kind of similar to what we picked.

Bartelby  (Bartelbie)  is a cute name, too, if it didn't sound so boy-ish, Duffy Moon.

The most original name goes to Amy for her Hester Prynne nomination.  I liked the tie-in with the SCARLET Letter and our RED puppy.  I'll be contacting you to send you the gift card.  Congrats!

By the way, her eyes are a soft, deep brown, not blue as shown above.  She is an excellent napping partner, I can attest to that.  She's also newspaper trained already, which is nice. 

Have a great weekend, everybody!  Stop back in on Monday, July 12 for an interview with author Gabi Stevens, whose novel THE WISH LIST came out in May.

Friday, July 9, 2010

What's In YOUR Beach Bag?

Summer is officially here, and it is HOT HOT HOT! We hit 100 degrees in Central Ohio yesterday. The only thing to do? Head straight for the beach (or nearest municipal pool) with the “have-to-have” accessory of the season: a great summer read! So, what’s in YOUR beach bag this year?

To me, the essence of a great summer read is that it is fun, casual, and not too taxing on my poor little brain cells. C’mon, they are already working overtime trying to keep me cool! Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the great literary classics, but sometimes it’s fun just to kick back and not have to think too hard. With that in mind, here are three of my favorites:

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik. This novel follows the five neighbors of Freesia Court through forty years of friendship, laughter, and the tribulations of life – and death. The gals meet each month to read a book and eat dessert. Landvik does a great job of bringing all the women to life, without any of them falling off into the land of caricatures. Plus, there is a huge BONUS – each chapter begins with the title of the book the women are reading, so it’s a little like having a built-in reading list (the recommendations are top notch!)

Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner: Plus-sized Cannie Shapiro opens the pages of Moxie magazine only to find that her ex-boyfriend has written a piece for their “Good in Bed” column entitled, “Loving a Larger Woman.” About her. Ouch! Not to worry, as we follow Cannie through her heartbreak, we are soon rooting both for her and with her – and you can be sure that this full figured gal will come out on top by the end of the story!

ANY of the Stephanie Plum Numbered Mysteries (One for the Money all the way up to the most-recent release, Sizzling Sixteen) by Janet Evanovich: Evanovich’s prose is witty, fast-paced and truly laugh out loud funny. Not really the best bounty hunter out there, Stephanie tirelessly pursues her folder of FTAs (Failure to Appear) with her sidekick Lula (a former ho). It doesn’t hurt matters that she’s got two hot men in her life to assist her – Detective Joe Morelli and co-worker and Bounty Hunter extraordinaire, Ranger. Be prepared – Evanovich is irreverent and potty mouthed, and absolutely hysterical. You don’t need to follow these books in sequence, as each one is a stand alone title, with enough information and background that you won’t be left guessing – except as to which guy Stephanie will end up with!

So, now’s your chance to share. What will you be reading this summer? What’s on your list?

Happy Reading!

For more from writer Beth Zellner, please visit:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Shiny New Idea: Do Your Stakes Standout?

When some writers get a shiny new idea (SNI) they sit down and type up an outline for the entire story. Me? I so can't do that. I attempted an outline one time, but it didn't work, so I went back to what I do best. Wingin' it. Okay, well maybe not completely wing it, since I type up a rough query first before I start on the manuscript, but I definitely sit down with an open mind.

In my rough query, I try to come up with a blurb of my idea that shows the stakes and plot. If it sounds good--something I'd pick up and read off the shelf, then I move on. It helps me to write a short blurb before I get going and pass it on to my trusted beta readers to see if it's a story that intrigues them before I put too much time into something I realize completely sucks (I have been known to write a 50k MS in a month.)

When you query, a lot of times you'll hear things from agents like plot holes and stakes. That's why it is so important to establish these things when you start your manuscript, because they may make or break your chances at getting an agent. So don't be afraid to talk with your beta's about SNIs. They may be able to help you establish a soild plot and stakes.

So my writer friends, care to share how you establish plot and stakes for a SNI?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

To Plot Or Not?

Are you a plotter? When you sit down to work on your novel do you pull out your carefully written plot, check where you are, and write? Or do you sit down and let your characters and story take you where they will?

In James Scott Bell's book Plot & Structure, he has a test in the appendix to find out which type of writer you are. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. If you plot out your whole novel you are less likely to leave any loose ends. On the other hand, to let your story and characters take you where they will is very nourishing to the creative mind.

Me? I'm actually a little bit of both. With my first novel, I had a chapter by chapter outline. My second novel, I used what I like to call a "plot-line". I laid out a long piece of paper horizontally, and put in major points and events. Somehow, the characters always made it there, and even surprised me along the way. With my current work in progress, I am letting the story unfold as it will. I have a general idea where it's going, but even I am surprised by what is happening.

How about you fellow writers?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Contest Tuesday...Name my puppy!

Saturday is the big day...

My daughter and I picked out this female, red, long-haired daschund in early June from a breeder about an hour away.  She'll be ready to come home with us on Saturday, but my family has not been able to agree on a name! 

I would love to have some kind of "literary" name for my sweet puppy.  I suggested "Virgina Woolf," as a name, but my family didn't see the humor in that. 

What better group of people to have help me with a name than a bunch of fiction writers?  You come up with names for your characters all the time.  Some of you even research your character names extensively.  Take a look at that adorable face and tell me what name comes to mind.  If the name of one of your favorite characters or authors might also make a good name for a dog, let me know that, too.

If my family picks the name you suggest, I'll send you a $10.00 gift card from Starbucks!  Okay, even if my family doesn't agree with any of the names the Fiction Flurry audience suggests, I'll still send a gift card to the person who comes up with the most original name.

This Saturday, I'll post a new picture of the puppy once she's home and let you know what name we picked along with the winner's name.  Good luck!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Writing Muses: Where Do You Find Yours?

All writers seek inspiration for the next big story. The next thing that will trigger the next big idea. Sometimes, it's something as simple as new song found during a quick radio scan in the car. Other times, it's seeing the right celebrity picture at the right time and things just sort of click.

For me, most of my story ideas come to me when I'm driving in the car listening to music. My brain will just kind of take the words from the song and spin them around until new ideas come from them. Since most of my writing tends to linger on the dark side, I am a huge fan of rock music, but every now and then an old song will blast out of my speakers and give me the most amazing idea. So, in my car you will find a little notepad and when I get to wherever it is that I am going I write down the song (so I can find it again) and my idea.

So here's my question to you fellow writers: Any personal muses you are willing to share?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Snippet Sunday - Short Story by Rachel Dilley

He came back into my life during my regular Saturday morning trip to the library. I had not seen him in 25 years, having graduated high school, not turning back once to encourage any links to my past. Christian had been brilliant, beautiful, special to everyone who knew him, everyone who knew he would be one of the few to break out of our small town. He could have chosen any college, any profession, any girl. He chose me, and then he changed his mind. Christian was my high school sweetheart.

Browsing through the new release section at the library, I caught a glance of a glossy book with the author's name in large bold font sprawled across the lower third of the cover. My eyes, making efficient use of the precious little time I had for my library trip, skimmed right over Christian's book to scan the remainder of the books on the shelf. As soon as my brain registered the message from its optical partners, my eyes jerked back to Christian's book with spasmodic motion. Come Back Home, a novel by Christian Ford, sat boastful on the center of the shelf. The letters of his name were embossed in bright gold, outlined in black. I brought my hand up to the book and let it glide lightly over his name, my wedding ring catching the fluorescent light. Instinctively, almost shamefully, I pulled away from the book, my hand seeking the safety of my coat pocket.

I paced in front of the gold and black literary idol, not committing to picking it up, yet marking my turf to prevent some other bookworm from picking it up. Rationally, I knew that reading Christian's book was not so different than reading any other novel, but my pounding chest told of a deeper truth within me. I hadn't realized until just then that I had never completely let go of him, even after decades apart. Maybe I needed to finally face that still-open chapter of my life, even if it just meant reading a book. Checking the time on my cell phone, I grabbed the book and flipped it over to see if Christian's picture was on the back cover. My first love's smile gleamed on the back of the book, his black-and-white photo flanked by recommendation blurbs from the likes of John Grisham and Tom Clancy. The crisp smell of the new book combined with the piercing gaze of Christian's eyes caused my stomach to flip. My decision made, I headed straight for the circulation desk, a curved Formica® station staffed by Jeanette, a lean, pinch-nosed woman who was the regular Saturday librarian.

“No books for the kids this week, Ellen?” she said, taking Christian's book to scan its bar code.

“That's all I have time to look for this morning, I'm afraid. I'm running late to pick up Caroline from dance class.”

“Well, at least it's a good book. This author is wonderful. Do you know he's a brilliant Pentagon defense strategist by day, novelist by night?”

“No, I didn't know that,” I replied.

“Well, if you enjoy the book, you should come to the library's author event on Tuesday. Christian Ford will be our featured speaker. We were really lucky to get him here since it will be his only book tour stop in Ohio.”

“Yes, that sounds interesting,” I said, picking up the book and holding it to my chest to conceal the effects of my thrill or trepidation, I’m not sure which. “Thanks for letting me know about it. See you next week, Jeanette.”

As I pulled the car into the garage, Caroline hopped out nearly before the car was stopped. The neighborhood kids were out playing next door, beckoned by the first day of the spring season above fifty degrees. Caroline ran to join them, which was just as well with me. The book on my lap weighed heavily on my mind. I just wanted a few hours alone to read.

Like a teenager trying to sneak her first beer, I tucked the book into my purse and opened the door from the garage to the laundry room. Awaiting my return just inside the door was a dog turd, standing on its end like the leaning Tower of Pisa, left by our faithful dachshund. The pile of laundry that I asked my husband, Mike, to run through the washer remained undiminished, apparently a mountain only I am capable of conquering.

“Mike? Curtis? We're home,” I yelled through the door to the family room as I grabbed a Lysol wipe to clean up the dog's mess. ESPN, the network of choice for the testosterone-inclined half of my family, blared on the television. I stuffed the dog's mess into a plastic grocery bag, tied the handles together, and peeked my head into the family room to see my husband and son, both of whom were still pajama-clad. Frustrated and annoyed, I threw the crap-filled grocery bag at Mike, which landed on the floor beside him.

“What's this?” he grunted.

“It's dog poop from the laundry room floor. Did either of you bother to let the dog out this morning? How about that laundry? How's that coming along?”

“Sorry. Curtis and I just got wrapped up basketball. I'll get to it in a minute,” Mike said, not taking his eyes off the T.V.

I started to fume, and at least Curtis had the good sense to get up and leave, grabbing his glass of milk from the coffee table as he left. I turned my back on Mike and stepped back into the laundry room to begin the first load of wash. As usual, if I waited on him to do it, it would never get done. As I stuffed the dirty laundry into the washer, not caring if Mike's tighty whities come out pink from my red sweater, my head spun with thoughts about how taken for granted I am, how ignored I am in my own family, how things might have been so different for me.

After starting the washing machine, I stomped in front of the T.V., which still displayed big-footed Amazons running mindlessly up and down the basketball court, but Mike paid me no attention. When he didn't alter his gaze from the screen, I walked to the front door, called to Caroline, who whined at having to come in, and climbed the stairs to read the book written by the man I would have married in a second, had he given me the chance.

It took me four days to read it. Really, I stayed up most of the night and devoured it in one day, but I re-read it slowly over the following three days to let Christian's words soak in. Come Back Home had suspense, mystery, and humor, but most of all it had a love story fraught with missed opportunities. Had Christian been thinking of me when he was writing the book? I scoured the pages for clues, snippets of our high school years together, impressions of our romance.

The scene in the book, for example, when the main characters fought over a job offer that would take the protagonist to another city caused me to flash back to my battle with Christian about his plan to attend a different college than I. The female lead in the novel was a teacher, while I was an education major the last time Christian and I spoke. Was Christian's use of a petite red-headed love interest in his book really just a remembrance of me? I tallied up the similarities between the book and my past with Christian, and there were too many to make it a coincidence, I told myself.

I let my mind wander at the possibility of seeing Christian at his book signing, having him take me aside and ask me out for coffee afterward, confessing his eternal regret at breaking it off with me all those years ago. What might it be like to be with him again, such an interesting, provocative, intelligent man? He probably lived a fast-paced life with connections in high places, so different from my mundane suburban existence.

I understood why he wanted to break up during our freshman year of college, but it wounded me regardless. It wasn't that we weren't compatible or not in love. We did end up attending different colleges, me at the state university and him on the East Coast. We rarely saw each other, and he was being groomed by his professors for big things, professors who recognized the same potential in him that I did. In a tug-of-war between his brain and heart, I was the casualty.

I began agonizing over my decision whether or not to attend the library's author event to see Christian. Thoughts of him sweeping me off my feet were fantasies, dreams of an overworked, under-appreciated soccer mom, I knew. Mike would have been so hurt if he knew I went to see my high school sweetheart behind his back, even if it was in a public forum. As imperfect as my marriage with Mike was, I thought about the life we had built together, and that he had chosen to be with me. Christian had made his choices, too. Doubt crept in, and I convinced myself that I wanted to see similarities between the book and my relationship with Christian that weren't really there.

I heard my kids downstairs, clanking dinner dishes, wedding gifts that had survived my twenty-year marriage. Tucking the book under my bed, I left it behind and head downstairs to begin preparing supper. When I entered the kitchen, Mike, Curtis and Caroline were scurrying about, setting the table, making a salad, and pulling a casserole out of the oven. I could not ever recall a time that dinner had been prepared without my involvement or prompting.

“What's the occasion?” I asked, surveying the spread.

Mike looked up at me with a faint smile on his face. “We were hungry,” he said with a shrug.

“Well, it smells great. Is there anything you need me to do?”

Caroline pulled out a chair for me and said, “No, Mommy. Have a seat.”

We sat down at the kitchen table save for Mike, who served as waiter, dishing out some sort of chicken and rice concoction. We didn't have much conversation. I think they were testing the waters of my mood. Finally, Caroline announced, “I took the dog out twice today, Mommy, because I don't want you to throw a bag of poop at me.” I buried my head in my hands in humored embarrassment while my family chuckled around me. I guess my message of frustration was finally understood, served up with a side of dog poop.


I returned Christian's book to the library the following Saturday. Sliding the book through the slot at the circulation desk, Jeanette caught my eye. She was helping another customer, but looked at me, holding up her index finger to request that I wait for her to finish. I stepped aside and scanned through the books waiting to be re-shelved. After several minutes, she approached me with a quirky grin on her face. “Ellen, you didn't tell me that you knew Christian Ford. Why didn't you mention it last week when I was raving about him?”

“How do you know, if you don't mind me asking?”

“I went to the authors’ event on Tuesday and during his presentation, Mr. Ford mentioned to the audience that he knew one of our hometown ladies and mentioned your name. I think he was disappointed that you weren't there.”

“Why do you say that?”

“When he mentioned your name, he scanned the crowd for any signs of recognition. I had an opportunity to speak with him after his discussion and mentioned that I knew you, and that I had told you about the event. He asked me to tell you hello.”

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The envelope please......

We have a winner!

Congratulations to

Barbara Goodwin

winner of an autographed copy of
Mistress By Mistake by Susan Gee Heino.

You can find more on Barbara at her website

Check back every week for more writing tips, book reviews and, of course, more CONTESTS!!
You never know what we'll give away next.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Book Review Friday: "Angelology" by Danielle Trussoni

Danielle Trussoni's first work of fiction, Angelology, caused a bidding war among publishers with film rights sold immediately.  Is it worth all the fuss?  If done well, I think the story will make a really good movie. The book was hard to put down, though belabored at some points.  Angels may be the new vampires.  I know, I know...fifteen years ago, angels were everywhere. Everything old is new again, I guess.

Angelology is an epic tale of the eternal battle of humankind versus Nephilim, which are the spawn of male fallen angels and human women.  The book has a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" kind of feel to it because the good humans and evil Nephilim race to find a powerful golden lyre, once used by the angel Gabriel, just as Indiana Jones raced against the Nazis to find the ark in the 1930's.  In fact, a good portion of Angelology takes place during the same time period as "Raiders." 

I have never read much paranormal or sci-fi fiction because I have a need to have the plot at least somewhat plausible.  Though a plot involving multiple orders of angel spawn isn't what I'd call realistic, at least the author explains that this race has kept itself hidden from humanity, the Nephilim can appear as human, and she also weaves in plenty of Biblical references to the miscegenation of heavenly and earthly creatures.  I wasn't too disturbed by this suspension of reality.

The lead character, Sister Evangeline, is a young nun at a convent in rural New York.  Even though she's in her early twenties and separated from society, Evangeline is a bit too naive to make a strong lead in the novel.  Evangeline operates the convent library, which contains a vast collection of material regarding angels, and she often turns away researchers seeking access to the library's materials.  However, a letter from a scholar, Verlaine, who suggests that the wife of John D. Rockefeller Jr. had correspondence with the abbess of the convent in the 1930's, piques Evangeline's interest.  She helps Verlaine confirm his suspicions.  However, Verlaine has been hired by the Nephilim ring leader to research Abigail Rockefeller, for she was the last known person to have had possession of the magical lyre.  And so the race begins. 

The pacing of the book slows when the story turns to pre-WWII France when Evangeline's grandmother, Gabriella, and Celestine, Evangeline's present-day mentor,  were students at an underground academy devoted to the study of angels,  Nephilim, and their generations-old conflict with humanity. The reader is forced to sit through lectures along with the characters, all for the purpose of revealing back story through the professor's ramblings.  As if that weren't bad enough, the author occasionally uses one sided dialogue to reveal even more back story, but the dialogue reads as if it were literary prose, not a conversation.  Picture an information dump with quotes around it, essentially. 

Even with the book's faults, though, the suspense is strong enough to carry the day.  That's what might make Angelology a good movie.  The Nephilim, despite their angelic ancestry, don't hesitate to lie, cheat, steal, and kill...even nuns. Evangeline and Verlaine are drafted into the academia and action of angelology, leaving their past lives behind to pursue, protect and study the lyre. 

The premise of Angelology is intriguing enough to outweigh the rookie mistakes of this first-time novelist.  The author does have a literary style to her writing, which makes the language rich and tactile.  I have no doubt that a sequel is on the way, so I'm hopeful that this talented writier will have worked out some of the kinks by then.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hunting Wabbits

Be vewy, vewy quiet. I’m hunting wabbits.      
                                                                                     - Elmer Fudd

Two remarkably simple lines of dialogue. And yet, you have immediately imagined a character; haven’t you? A man short in stature with an impossibly tall forehead, and not enough hair for a respectable comb-over. Wearing a brown tweed suit with a shotgun slung across his shoulder: one Elmer Fudd.

Would you have had the same mental picture had the character said, “Hush, for I seek to capture a hare”?

Nah, just not the same zing. Not only that, but the fellow who might say that sounds like he might have a hair up another place, so utterly unlike our daffy, befuddled Fudd.

One way to capture the essence of a character and really bring them to life for the reader is through the use of realistic dialogue. You’ve got to get into the character’s space and “talk the talk.” A character in medieval England will speak differently than one from the streets of present day Chi-town. A character living in New England will have a different dialect with different emphases than one that lives in New Mexico. Even here in Ohio, we can tell the difference between a Portsmouth native and a Clevelander.

A great master of dialogue of our time is Stephen King. In fact, in his book, On Writing, he talks about receiving letters, even hate mail, from people who mistake his characters and/or their opinions for his own. He has so thoroughly stepped into the persona of his literary players that some readers have a difficult time establishing fact from fiction.

Are you writing your dialogue truthfully? One way to help determine if you are is to have someone that you trust read your dialogue aloud to you. When I write, I constantly hear the words as they are being put on the page. I love the lyrical quality of language, the allure of alliteration. Still, in someone else’s mouth, the same beautiful passage that sounded so perfect in my mind may not translate into a realistic monologue or discussion between characters. No matter how lovely the words, if they don’t fit my character, if they do not resonate with what he or she would honestly say, then they are simply no good.

Language is one way in which to take a two dimensional character off the page and into three dimensions. Too many times, a truly gifted author will make the mistake of crafting an engaging story, plotting the action, even showing the reader the character up close and personal. But just as soon as he/she opens their mouth, the magic is over. Poof, gone up in smoke, all because you know the character really wanted to exclaim, “Holy shit,” but the author has cleaned their mouth out with soap.

Trust your characters to talk to you. Just be sure to listen carefully to them when they do.

Happy Writing!

For more from writer Beth Zellner, please visit:

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