From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Contest Tuesday: Win a copy of "A Timely Vision" by Joyce and Jim Lavene

A Timely Vision (A Missing Pieces Mystery)
As we wind up the summer, why not indulge in a light, quick read, compliments of Fiction Flurry?  See my earlier review of A Timely Vision here.

We love to reward Fiction Flurry followers!  If you're not already a follower, please climb aboard.  The winner will be anounced this Saturday, September 4.  All you need to do to enter is be a Fiction Flurry follower.  The complete rules are in the sidebar.

Now, tell me,what was your favorite book that you read this summer? 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Interview with author of The Outer Banks House, Diann Ducharme on Friday

The Outer Banks House: A NovelMark your calendars for Friday, September 3.  Diann Ducharme, author of The Outer Banks House, has given us a thoughtful, beautifully written interview regarding her book, the writing and publishing process, and other tidbits of information about the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Diann was very gracious in taking time to do the interview, so please do stop by Fiction Flurry on Friday.
If you want to check out Diann's website in the meantime, click here.

Guest Blog Winner

Congratulations to

Angela Carlie

winner of the Guest Blog post at Fiction Flurry.

Angela's guest post will be coming soon, so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out Angela's blog at

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Review: Blast from the Past!

I thought it would be fun to take a look back in time at what were the most popular novels of ten, twenty, even fifty years ago.

Did you know, for example, that in 1963 the best selling book was The Shoes of the Fisherman by Morris L. West? If you happened to drop into your local bookseller’s back in 1991, you were most likely looking to pick up a copy of Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley. In 1979, everyone was clamoring for a copy of The Matarese Circle by Robert Ludlum.

What’s that? You say you’ve never heard of some of these books – let alone read them? As with any consumer-driven product, the world of literature is subject to trends. Just like fashion (bell bottoms or low rise jeans), hair do’s (the Farrah or the Dorothy) and color schemes (brown and gold or pink and green), what’s hot today will more than likely be cold as the arctic tomorrow.

Sure, vampires may be all the rage this year, but I kind of doubt there will be the same fervor for them ten, twenty or fifty years from now.  To predict the future, just look to the past.

Of course, there are the marvelous exceptions: The Grapes of Wrath, The Scarlet Letter, Pride and Prejudice – all the stuff that makes up the curriculum of Freshman Lit. These are the timeless classics and their messages translate well beyond their own eras. Sure, it’d be great to leave a legacy like that. But let’s face it – most of us would be thrilled simply to see our name on the cover of a book at the local Wal*Mart.

In the end, if vampires are your thing, then by all means, write about vampires. Otherwise, it would probably be prudent to follow this sage advice: write where your heart leads you.

Bestselling Books from
Ten, Twenty, Fifty Plus Years Ago
(How many of them have YOU read?)

1950 – The Cardinal by Henry Morton Robinson: This novel traces the development of one man's vocation from young Roman Catholic priest in New England through his elevation as cardinal in the early part of this century. Along the way, he faces many moral dilemmas and heartbreaks.

1960 – Advise and Consent by Allen Drury: A political novel which explores the Senate confirmation of a controversial figure.

1970 – Love Story by Erich Segal: Oliver Barrett IV is a rich jock from a stuffy WASP family on his way to a Harvard degree and a career in law. Jenny Cavilleri is a wisecracking, working-class beauty studying music at Radcliffe. Opposites in nearly every way, Oliver and Jenny immediately attract, sharing a love that defies everything ... yet will end too soon.

1980 – The Covenant by James A. Michener: Adventurers, scoundrels and missionaries. The best and worst of two continents carve an empire out of the vast wilderness that is to become South Africa. For hundreds of years, their rivalries and passions spill across the land. From the first Afrikaners to the powerful Zulu nation, and the missionaries who lived with both--all of them will influence and take part in the wars and politics that will change a nation forever.

1990 – The Plains of Passage by Jean M. Auel: The saga continues the cross-continental journey of Ayla, her mate Jondalar and their menagerie to his homeland. En route, they encounter a variety of problems, yet manage to find panaceas for each. Their enlightened compilation of skills, inventions, therapies and recipes transforms the voyagers into spirit-like personas providing The Others with constant awe.

2000 – The Brethren by John Grisham: Three former judges, doing time at a federal prison in Florida, concoct a lucrative mail scam that goes awry.

The Winners Circle

Here at Fiction Flurry, we L-O-V-E our followers! So we give away great stuff every Tuesday! Just ask any of the lucky folks on the list below.

But that’s not all! We also believe in promotion and the notion that writers should help their fellow writers. So be kind and check out their links. Help us share the love!

8/29/10:  Angela Carlie (Angela Carlie) won a Guest Blogger Column PLUS a link to her own site from our Homepage for an entire year!

8/22/10: J.S. Wood won an autographed copy of Mistress by Mistake by Susan Gee Heino

8/15/10: Marjorie won a copy of A Slow Burn by Mary E. DeMuth

8/7/10: Bee (Dreamcatcher's Lair) won an autographed CD, Plainsong, by Susan Enan

7/31/10: Shallee (Life, the Universe and Writing and All the Art of Living) won a copy of Always Watching by Brandilyn and Amberly Collins

7/24/10: Charlie Courtland (What's Charlie Talking About?) won an autographed copy of Damsel in Disguise by Susan Gee Heino

7/17/10: Teresa won an autographed copy of The Wish List by Gabi Stevens

7/10/10: Amy won a $10.00 Gift Card to Starbucks

7/3/10: Barbara Goodwin won an autographed copy of Mistress by Mistake by Susan Gee Heino

6/19/10: Brianswifey05 won a $15.00 Gift Card to Barnes and Noble

6/5/10: Charity won an autographed copy of Mistress by Mistake by Susan Gee Heino

5/29/10: V.M. Pettingill (My Perspective) won a $15.00 Gift Card to Starbucks

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Do Writers Ever Rest?

I've just returned from an eight day family vacation. Although I didn't bring my laptop with me, I didn't completely rest from my writing. At first I was a little anxious to be away from my work in progress for that long, I knew I would miss my characters.

I learned a few things though from taking a "rest". Resting and procrastinating are two different things. This resting time actually allowed my brain the time it needed to work out a few plot problems that had been simmering in my mind. I just brought along a good old fashioned notebook and pen, and all of my thoughts were easily recorded.

The time away from my story also allowed my mind to drift over to the next project which has been stirring around in my mind for a few months now. So while I was technically resting from my writing, my mind was still working. Whatever the reason, sometimes it helps to take a step back from your work in progress.

Happy Writing

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to School

It's Back to School time!

No, not that kind of school.

I thought I was finished with school when I finished college. Hah! The more I write, the more I find myself in search of instruction. Whether it's an introduction to something new - a class on writing for magazines, for example - or brushing up on the basics, it seems I am always on a quest for knowledge. No matter how much I've learned or how much I've written, I want more.

What about all of you? Are there any writers out there that feel the need to take a class or two? Are you brushing up on basics or learning something new? Whatever the reason, there is a class out there waiting for you. So today, we'll explore some links to online classes that can give you the knowledge you've been in search of.

This list is just a sampling of what's out there. Fiction Flurry and it's contributors do not endorse nor do we have any relationship with any of the listed courses.

Writer's Digest - Classes such as Fundamentals of Fiction Writing and 12 Weeks to a First Draft will help you on your way to finishing that novel.

Absolute Write - Several workshops are available and are being taught by published authors - always a good thing. - has been offering online writers classes since 1995 and bills itself as the first writing school on the Internet. The list of course offerings is extensive.

The Writers Workshop - Although based in Seattle, this workshop has many online classes as well. Introduction to Travel Writing and Introduction to Poetry are just the beginning.

Holly Lisle - Holly is the author of over 30 novels and her site has huge resources to help aspiring authors. How to Think Sideways and How to Revise Your Novel are the two major courses, but there are more - as well as many freebies.

Dramaquill's Weblog - in what could be called kismet, Dramaquill's Weblog just posted a marvelous piece on FREE online courses. There is lots of information here so be sure check it out.

If you are looking for a class, hopefully these links will point you in the right direction. And, of course, do your research before giving anyone online your hard-earned money.

Has anyone taken an online writing class? Did you love it? Hate it? We want to hear from you.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Calling all Bloggers

We are doing something a little different today here at Fiction Flurry. It's Contest Tuesday time again, but instead of giving away something physical, like a book, we're giving the gift of forum. That's right, you have the opportunity to win a Guest Blog spot right here at Fiction Flurry.

Do you have a writing or publishing topic you've been dying to talk about? A discussion you want to have with other writers? Have you been wanting to blog but aren't sure where to start?

This is your chance to shine!

The winner of this week's contest will win a Guest Blog spot here at Fiction Flurry at a date of your choosing within the next 60 days, plus you will receive a permanent link from Fiction Flurry to your blog for a whole year.

Please keep blog subjects within the writing/publishing world.

To enter, leave a comment below describing the topic you would like to blog about. Originality is encouraged.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Finding the Time to Write

So here it is, Sunday night, and two heaping baskets of unfolded laundry are taunting me, "Fold me, or I'll get wrinkled and your kids will look like slobs."  That's not all.  I have clients flying in from Atlanta tomorrow for my day job, so I actually have to iron what I'm wearing to work tomorrow.  Ugh.  It's not as if I frittered away my weekend, either.  We painted the family room, did a week's worth of laundry, shopped for new curtains and school clothes, grocery shopped, swept, and dusted.  And tomorrow, it's back to the churn that is my week-day life, akin to the movie "Groundhog Day."

 I don't have time to do all the things I need to do, let alone the things I want to do.  For example, here are the things I wanted to do this weekend:  exercise, put a coat of polish on my nails, and write.  I really didn't do anything I wanted to do this weekend, save for attending my writers group meeting on Saturday morning.  In fact, it's been about 6 weeks since I've submitted anything new to my wonderful writers group members for critique. ( Hello, my name is Rachel, and it's been 6 weeks since my last writing session.)  Admitting it is the first step to recovery.

In fact, several others in the Fiction Flurry writers group have been finding it difficult to sit in the chair and write, whether it's due to lack of time or motivation.  Consequently, we decided to make writing goals and report to each other whether we achieved our goals every week.  Blog writing does not count toward the goal.  The goal could be word count, time spent writing, pages, submissions, or chapters.  My goal for the next several weeks will be to write 2 hours a week and submit a personal essay to two publications.

I think the act of reporting my progress will be the equivalent of a weigh-in at Weight Watchers.  (Also something I want to do...lose some lbs.!)  Not that my writing buddies would have their day ruined if I didn't meet my goal, but I feel as if I would be letting myself down publicly if I don't meet my goal. It's like eating that Oreo when no one is watching doesn't add another lump to my thighs, but eating the Oreo in front of others makes my butt pop out two inches further.

If I'm accountable, I will find the time to write.  Perhaps I'll write over my lunch break at work, or take a half hour after dinner each night before I clean up the kitchen and help my daughter with her homework.  The point is, if I wait until all the things that need to be done are accomplished before taking time for myself, it will never happen.

What do you do to make time to write?  We'd love to know!

Sunday, August 22, 2010


The winner of the Contest Tuesday autographed book giveaway is (drum roll please):

j.s. wood

Congratulations J.S.!

Please email us with your information to claim your prize. Contest information is posted on the right of our home page.

Thanks to all of our followers and check back Tuesday for another chance to win.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Shadow Fall - Book Review

Shadow Fall

Synopsis: Custo Santovari accepted pain, blood, even death, to save his best friend. But a man with all his sins just isn't cut out to be an angel. One moment he's fleeing Heaven; the next, he's waking up stark naked in Manhattan. In the middle of a war. Called there by a woman who's desperately afraid of the dark. The Shadowlands gathers around Annabella as she performs, filled with fantastic images of another world, bringing both a golden hero and a nightmare lover. The Wolf pursues her relentlessly, twisting her desires even as she gives herself to the man she loves. Because each of us has a wild side, and Annabella is about to unleash the beast.

This is the second book in the Shadow series (see my review of Shadow Bound here) with the same basic premise of fighting the wraith war. I like the Custo character - he's everything an alpha male should be - dark, hot and sexy. Annabella is fragile yet strong and the ballet that she dances is described beautifully. Both of them make for a hot, sexy read. Although I enjoyed reading this book, I will admit that the plot is somewhat convoluted.  There is talk of Annabella needing to "master her magic" yet no one seems to know what the magic is that allows her into the Shadowlands, nor is there any plan on how she will accomplish the mastery. She has worked for 17 years to become the lead ballet dancer, yet she is willing to give it up without a struggle. This just doesn't track. The reasons for keeping Custo and Annabella apart in the first half of the book also seem a bit contrived. He thinks he is such a bad person that he couldn't possibly be with her. She runs hot and cold on whether she wants him to touch her. And then there's the "bad guy"- which in this case is a creature from the Shadowlands who is hunting Annabella. It's never fully explained if he is a shapeshifter or just possesses peoples bodies or both. Nor do we know how Annabellas magic will benefit him. And the way Custo disposes of the Wolf seems a bit too convenient.

The beautiful, moving prose that was part of the first book is gone in this one, but the writing itself is strong. The characters are fully developed and make you want to care about their problems. If you can read this without asking why the characters do what they do, it's a good book.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

BookMarks: What Our Writers Are Reading

Michele Downey: Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts

Synopsis:  Wedding baker Laurel McBane is surrounded by romance working at Vows wedding planning company with her best friends Parker, Emma, and Mac. But she's too low-key to appreciate all the luxuries that their clients seem to long for. What she does appreciate is a strong, intelligent man, a man just like Parker's older brother Delaney, on whom she's had a mega-crush since childhood.

But some infatuations last longer than others, and Laurel is convinced that the Ivy League lawyer is still out of her reach. Plus, Del is too protective of Laurel to ever cross the line with her-or so she thinks. When Laurel's quicksilver moods get the better of her-leading to an angry, hot, all-together mind-blowing kiss with Del-she'll have to quiet the doubts in her mind to turn a moment of passion into forever...

Why I picked this book: The book actually came out a few months ago, but I've been waiting for it to be available at the library. I've read the first two books in this series and really enjoyed them. I love Nora Roberts writing and will read -or re-read - anything she publishes.

Annie McElfresh:  Well, I just finished The Ghost and The Goth.  I love the cover and I met the author and she gave me signed Swag - how could I resist?  As a matter of fact, I'm now doing a giveaway of this book over on my blog: Young Adult Bookworm (be sure to check it out!) 

Synopsis:  After a close encounter with the front end of a school bus, Alona Dare goes from Homecoming Queen to Queen of the Dead. Now she’s stuck here in spirit form with no sign of the big, bright light coming to take her away. To make matters worse, the only person who might be able to help her is Will Killian, a total loser/outcast type who hates the social elite. He alone can see and hear her, but he wants nothing to do with the former mean girl of Groundsboro High.   Can they get over their mutual distrust—and this weird attraction between them—to work together before Alona vanishes for good and Will is locked up for seeing things that don’t exist?

My thoughts:  I finished this novel in about two days. I literally got sucked in and had to find out what the connection was between Alona and Will. I like the fact that Will isn't a true Goth, just different, and Alona started noticing little things about him that made him cute. Things, she would've overlooked when she was her alive "bitchy" self, like his perfect smile.  This book has duel points of view in first person. Alona feels a little abrasive and shallow in the beginning, but as time goes on she stops hiding behind her stuck up mask and lets Will know her true self. Also, I thought it was so cute that Alona was, like, Will's dream girl and he finally gets some one on one time with her.  This was a really cute book. So, if you like ghosts, and snarky characters that redeem themselves, this ones for you.

Rachel Dilley:  I'm currently reading The Doctor's Wife by Elizabeth Brundage. There have been so many best sellers with titles involving someone's wife that I figured I'd better jump on the bandwagon...The Time Traveler's Wife, The Pilot's Wife, The Senator's Wife, The Zookeeper's Wife, The Kitchen God's Wife...  Anyway, I selected this book because it was the author's debut novel, and I am always interested in the work that causes an author to break through the publishing barrier, even if it is with an overused title formula.

Here's the book review from Amazon:  A suspense novel crossed with a literary exploration of infidelity and marital rancor, Elizabeth Brundage's ambitious debut, The Doctor's Wife, provides more than the usual kick of adrenalin for readers. In a small town in upstate New York, urban transplants Annie and Michael Knowles--he is a rising OB/GYN, and she is a once-trailblazing journalist who has settled into a teaching job--hope to escape the noise and bustle of the city. But both are drawn into danger: Annie begins an affair with an infamous (and married) painter, Simon Haas, and Michael is coaxed into helping an ex-lover at her family planning clinic. He performs abortions for poor women, and tries to ignore the cars that follow him home and the increasingly threatening phone calls. Sometimes Brundage perfectly navigates the twisting, overlapping elements of her complicated story line, but other times gives us too much at a time. And one of her characters, Simon's disturbed wife Lydia Haas, is so fascinating that she puts the others in the shade. Nevertheless, this is a rich first novel and a promising beginning for its author.

Beth Zellner:  On deck for me is Made in the USA by Billie Letts. 

Lutie McFee's history has taught her to avoid people, to places, and to almost everything.  With her mother long dead and her father gone to find his fortune in Las Vegas, fifteen-year-old Lutie lives in the godforsaken town of Spearfish, South Dakota, with her eleven-year-old brother, Fate, and Floy Satterfield, the three-hundred-pound ex-girlfriend of her father.  While Lutie shoplifts for kicks, Fate spends most of his time reading, watching weird TV shows, and worrying about global warming.  As if their life were not dismal enough, one day, while shopping in the local Wal*Mart, Floy keels over and the two motherless kids are suddenly faced with the choice of becoming wards of the state or high-tailing it out of town in Floy's old Pontiac.  Choosing the latter, they head off in search of a father who has no known address, no phone number, and no particular interest in the kids he left behind.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More Online Resources

Last week Colleen shared some of the online resources that she uses and I want to continue that theme this week. These links are about the basic, nuts and bolts of writing. I don't know about you, but when I'm stuck in the hell of writers block, I start back at the beginning. Many times, reading about the basics of writing will un-stick my brain and let me get back to business.

Writing World - giant resource of how-to writing articles

Caro Clark -  this author wrote a series of articles for the online publication NovelAdvice

Randy Ingermanson - a physicist and author with a unique voice and lots of information. He has a second page called the snowflake method which showcases his writing method.

Brenda Coulter - she is a romance author and therefore her tips are skewed toward the genre, but I think there is something here for everyone

Writing Tips article - this article is long but has some good advice

Wild Rose Press - a publisher of romance but the writing articles could be for any genre

Liz Fielding - a romance author with some great tips

and, if you are still stuck - or if you are more of a visual person - take a look at this page.

Inspiring pictures - you are guaranteed to find something here that will inspire your writing

What are your online resources? Websites? Blogs? References? Tell us why you like it and how it's helped you. Don't forget to add a link.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Autographed book giveaway

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

Also, if you would like to learn more about the author, see my 3-part interview The Writing Life.

Contest rules are posted on our home page.

Good Luck to everyone!

Monday, August 16, 2010

5:00 A.M.? Must Be Time To Write…

When I first had the idea for this post, I thought I would simply go out to the web and poke around into writer’s routines. I wanted to excavate what specific daily agenda they set for themselves in order to be productive, get published, and be successful. What I discovered, however, was something entirely different. You see, no such formula exists. Finding time for writing is something that most writers must consciously create. Much like the way in which we devise our stories, plots and characters, we must purposefully work to carve out that precious slice of time from our daily lives to practice the number one tenet of writing: BIC (butt in chair).

Thomas Hardy worked in architecture and wrote from 6:00 p.m. to midnight; Kafka’s government position left little time for writing or for family, and he often began writing at 11:00 p.m., sometimes working through the night until 6:00 a.m. and heading back to the job by 8:30; attorney John Grisham could only write from 5:30 a.m. until he had to hustle off to the courthouse; both Alice Monro and Toni Morrison wrote while raising young children (the most demanding job of all!)

The flip side to all of this are those authors who have risen to the level of “full time” writer: William Styron, Stephen King and Roald Dahl are all examples of those blessed to be able to pursue this profession as their official occupation. Then there is Emily Post, who would lounge, writing, in bed until noon or later.

As for me, I will continue to daydream about the time when I get to spend my days and nights doing the one thing I love most – writing. Until then, I will continue to steal snippets from the stopwatch at irregular intervals – and enjoying every single second of it.

 So what about you?
What would your ideal writing day look like?

Beth Zellner

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Contest Results Announced

Tuesday's winner is.......Marjorie. Congratulations. I'll send you an email with instructions on how to claim your book. Happy Writing!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Book Review: The Outer Banks House by Diann Ducharme

The Outer Banks House: A Novel
Being a long-time vacationer on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and an American history buff, I thoroughly enjoyed Diann Ducharme's debut novel, The Outer Banks House. 

The story is set in 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War.  Abigail Sinclair, a seventeen year old daughter of a North Carolina plantation owner, moves to her family's new summer cottage on the beach at Nags Head on the Outer Banks.  She's lived a privileged, sheltered life, despite the fact that the war has taken its toll on the family's plantation.  Abigail's mother is distant and aloof, her father is a man's man, consumed with hunting, fishing, and unbeknownst to Abigail, involved in a manhunt motivated by racism and revenge.

As a favor to his hunting guide, Ben Whimble, Abigail's father insists that she teach him to write and read each afternoon after the day's hunt has concluded.  Ben, who is dirt poor, filthy, and unrefined, disgusts Abigail at first.  Eventually, however, Ben's down-to-earth sensibility, kindness, and broader view of the world wins Abigail's affections.  Abigail's parents approve of and encourage a match for their daughter not with Ben, but rather with Hector, a medical student from their hometown of Edenton.  Hector turns Abigail off since he is interested only in having an attractive wife to compliment his future career in medicine.  Social and familial pressures cause Abigail to maintain her relationship with Hector, despite her distaste for him.  Abigail finds herself sneaking out to spend time with Ben, though she knows her parents would disapprove. 

Meanwhile, Ben is assisting Abigail's father with more than just hunting and fishing.  Though he is angry with himself for doing it, Ben helps Abigail's father locate a runaway former slave of a plantation owner associated with Mr. Sinclair.  Roanoke Island is home to a large number of freed slaves, and Ben, being intimately familiar with the land and the people of the Outer Banks,  is the best person to infiltrate the colony of freed slaves to locate the subject of the manhunt.  The act of helping Abigail's father with the manhunt goes against Ben's nature, but he's been promised a good paying job building the Hatteras lighthouse in return for the assistance.

Abigail soon becomes intertwined with the Roanoke Island colony by teaching former slaves to read and write.  She is unaware of the clandestine activities of both her father and Ben, but the ugly truth eventually reveals itself, forcing Abigail out of her innocence.

I appreciated the descriptions of the land and the historical accuracy that Ducharme lovingly weaved throughout the story.  For anyone familiar with the Outer Banks, the author hit all the major historical draws of the area including the wild horses, life-saving stations, Jockey's Ridge, and the rich heritage of Roanoke Island with the Lost Colony and the Freedman's Colony.  Of course, the Wright Brothers' first flight did not take place until a few decades later. 

I also enjoyed the exploration of racism and race relations in the post Civil-War era.  In some respects, freed slaves had a more difficult way in life than before the war, without the benefit of education, business networks, and established communities.  The book is told from the points of view of both Abigail and Ben.  Ben's voice, in particular, is very strong, reminding me a bit of an older Huck Finn.  The plot line itself was solid, but the layering of setting, history, and social issues made the novel that much more rich. 

Check back with Fiction Flurry in the coming weeks for an interview with the author, Diann Ducharme!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Writers Conferences

I am in the process of preparing for the ACFW National conference to be held this September in Indianapolis. Each year I try to set aside time to attend at least one writing conference. As I have been preparing, I have thought about the many benefits I have received by attending a writing conference. I've settled on my top three to share with you.

* The opportunity to meet with editors and literary agents. Many of the conferences offer one-on-one appointments, giving you fifteen minutes to sit down and start making those necessary networking contacts.

* The opportunity to meet and form friendships with other writers. Let's face it, writing is a lonely business, and many of our closest friends and family, (although we love them) glaze over when we start talking about writing. This gives you an opportunity to meet with other crazy people...I mean writers.

* The opportunity to improve in your craft. I love the classes I have taken. Each class helps me bring more dimension to my writing, and improve. My favorite class was taught by James Scott Bell entitled, How To Write A Novel They Won't Put Down. The class was extremely helpful, and the instructor shared so much information that I'm taking another one of his classes this year.

I know conferences can be costly, but I have always found them to be worth the investment.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Online Resources for Writers

It seems there are endless websites, blogs, and online communities to assist writers in getting their work published.  Many Fiction Flurry Followers have very helpful blogs of their own that you might want to browse.  Magazines like Writer's Digest regularly publish feature articles highlighting the best websites for writers.

One drawback to the ease with which this vast amount of writerly information is available is that the web can suck you in, stealing time that should be used actually writing.  (I'm terribly guilty of this!)  Nonetheless, I'm going to offer up a few online sites that I find particularly useful, and I encourage all of you to do the same in the comment section.  What sites do you find useful to your writing?  Here are a few of my faves:
Query Tracker allows you to search for agents who are acquiring for the kind of manuscript you have written.  You can keep track of your queries and the responses (or lack thereof) from agents.
Duotrope's Digest offers a free database of publishers of fiction and poetry.
National Novel Writing Month is November...get ready to write 50,000 words in one month.  Even if you don't get to 50K, you still get a lot more written than you would in a typical month.
This writer specializes in helping writers who are also moms (like me).  I'm thinking about taking one of her online classes.
This is a place where you can find a group of people interested in your genre, you can get critiques of your writing, ask questions, establish relationships.  There are a bunch of great writing communities, but this is the one I've settled into.

What are your favorite writing websites?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Contest Tuesday - Another Book Give Away!

It's contest Tuesday again...we love giving things away! On Thursday, I'm going to be blogging about writer's conferences. What's good about them, how to prepare for them, and what to do if you have a bad experience.

This week I'm giving away a free copy of A Slow Burn by Mary E. DeMuth. It's a fantastic read! In order to be eligible, you must be a follower of Fiction Flurry, and leave a comment on what your opinion is of writer's conferences.

A Slow Burn (Defiance Texas Trilogy, Book 2)

Happy Writing!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Short Story: "Cole's Heart"

Cole has been dead for six months, four days, and 13 hours. I'm not really sure how or why I've survived since that horrid day, other than the fact that I have another child to care for; it wouldn't be fair for Chelsea to lose a brother by drunk driver and a mother by suicide. Chelsea seems to have adapted to life without her brother with a quiet dignity. I've been taking her to counseling with me every week, but she doesn't talk much. The counselor says we shouldn't push her to share how she's feeling. It's hard enough being a high school freshman, let alone one who's just lost a sibling.

As for me, there's only that split second when I wake each morning when I'm not thinking of Cole, or that waste of a human being who now lives comfortably on house arrest while my son lies in his grave. Every other waking moment, Cole is with me as a flash of memory, a burning in my stomach, an ache that cannot be soothed. I try not to talk about him much when I'm with my friends at work, though I know they would understand if I did. The fact is, I really can't talk about him at all, lest the lava of my emotion bubble through the slender fault line caused by uttering his name.

People will tell you, when you lose a child, that the best thing to ease the pain is the passage of time and the return to the routine of daily life. The problem is every part of my routine is affected by his absence. In the mornings, I don't have to enter his room multiple times to convince him to get out of bed. At the grocery, I no longer buy the cherry pop tarts or dill pickles that only Cole would eat. Chelsea always does her homework without prompting, but I used to sit with Cole at the kitchen table every evening to make sure he finished his school work. Routine daily life brings nothing but fresh reminders of the ornery, challenging, charming boy that was my son.

“Mom, you worry too much,” he would say every quarter when he would bring home his report card. “I don't need good grades to play in a band. You know I'm not cut out for college, don't you? I don't need to have a lot of things to be happy. I'll get some crap job during the day and play guitar with the band on the weekends. I won't even ask you for money all that often.” Cole's self-assured grin would somehow win me over, if only for a few minutes while my temper dampened.

Looking back, I'm not really even sure if he was serious about not going to college, or if he was just trying to push my buttons. Cole's guitar still sits in the corner of his room. Every once in a while, I'll run my fingers over the guitar's taut wire strings, thinking maybe there will be some minuscule bits of his DNA, his essence, that will rub off onto my fingers. It's the closest thing I can think of to holding him again.

Last night, Chelsea caught me holding the guitar. “Mom? Are you okay?” she asked, leaning her upper body on the door frame while keeping her feet planted firmly outside the boundary of Cole's room.

“I'm okay, sweetheart. I just like to come in here sometimes when I'm thinking about him. How are you doing?”

“You're still pretty angry, aren't you? I mean about the kid who was driving drunk that night? I haven't seen you relaxed since Cole died,” she said softly.

“I suppose I am still angry. That kid has no idea what kind of destruction he caused in so many lives just for a few beers. I fantasize about making him feel the pain that I feel, but I don't think he ever will. I'm trying to be a bigger person than that, honey. I really am. It's just so hard to let it go.”

Chelsea stood quiet for several seconds, processing what she had just heard. “Mom, I think maybe it would do us both some good to meet some of the people who received Cole's organs. What do you think?”

“I think you are wise beyond your years. I've been doubting whether I was ever going to be ready to meet any of Cole's organ recipients. But if you think you are ready, I can be ready, too.”

Chelsea gave me a gentle smile and disappeared into her bedroom. I'm not sure how I'm going to approach this challenge, but interest in meeting the organ recipients is the first time Chelsea has opened up about Cole, so I need to do this for her. Maybe I need to do this for me, too. Tomorrow, I will ask the hospital for the paperwork I need to seek the identities of people who received Cole's organs who are willing to meet with us..


I pull into the driveway with Chelsea in the passenger seat. I put the car in park and grab Chelsea's hand and just sit there, silent, trying to muster the courage to walk up to the door and ring the bell. The house is a white craftsman-style structure with beds of red and white tulips lining the sidewalk. I see a child's face peering out the curtains from the front window. I have to go in now, since we've been discovered in the drive. They are expecting us, after all. Chelsea says, “Are you ready?” I nod and open the car door, stepping out into the spring air to meet the keeper of Cole's heart.

The front door opens before I have a chance to ring the bell. A slender, petite woman greets us both with a warm smile. “You must be Elizabeth and Chelsea. I'm Kate. Please come inside. I am so grateful that you made the drive to meet us. You must have had a long trip. Can I get you something to drink, or do you need to freshen up?” she says.

“Thank you, but no. We stopped a short while ago to grab a bite to eat and drink. You have a lovely home. It's very peaceful here,” I say, hoping to dispense with the pleasantries and get on with the business at hand.

“Oh that's very kind of you to say. Please come into the family room and have a seat. I want to learn about you. Tell me about yourselves, and about your son.” Kate sits on a love seat across from Chelsea and I, leaning in with sincere interest.

I've got to talk about him. I feel my muscles tighten, hoping they might put a layer of insulation between my emotions and my exterior facade. “Well, there's not much to tell about me, really. I'm just a single mom, working to support my kid. Chelsea is a freshman in high school and very smart,” I say, noticing my hand nervously patting Chelsea's leg. “Cole was a senior in high school. He was a very laid back kid, very funny, and loving. He wasn't much for sports, but he did love music. He started a band a couple years ago, and he loved composing songs. We miss him, every day...”

Chelsea, sensing that I was struggling, picks up the conversation. “Cole liked everyone to think he was just nothing special, but he really was pretty talented with his music. I brought a CD with some of his band's music. Cole wrote most of the songs on here. I thought you might like to have it.” Chelsea passes the disc to Kate, who accepts it without hesitation.

“Thank you, we would love to listen to it.” Kate sits quietly for a moment. Finally, she says, “I won't pretend to know what you are going through. I've never lost a child. But I almost lost a child. Doctors didn't think that Zoe would last through Christmas without a new heart. I hope you know that out of your pain, Zoe's life has blossomed. I really do wish that you never had to go through losing a son and a brother. But since I can't change it, I can at least let you know that your decision to share his organs saved my daughter's life. Thank you.”

“If that simple decision during the worst time of my life saved another parent from having to go through the same thing I was going through, I'm glad to have done it. Would it be possible to meet Zoe?”

Kate smiles. “Of course. She's eight, and I didn't think she was quite mature enough to hear our conversation to this point, but I'm happy to have you meet her. I'll be right back.”

I take in a deep breath, grabbing Chelsea's hand as I exhale. “Are you alright, Chelsea?”

“Kate's very nice, Mom. Everything is going to be okay.”

I lean back into the couch, noticing a myriad of photographs flanking the red brick fireplace. Pictures of two girls dominate the collection, though there's also a formal photograph of the entire family, with Kate and her sandy-haired husband standing behind the two seated girls. One picture stands out and my eyes linger there. One of the girls, blond and pink faced, looks swollen with her blue eyes bulging out from her face. Though clearly ill, the girl's smile is cheerful, as if she's just been laughing at a joke.

Kate returns to the room with her husband and two girls. I stand to introduce myself to Kate's husband. “I'm Elizabeth, and this is my daughter, Chelsea. Thank you for having us here today.”

“Hi, I'm Jack. It's our honor to have you both. These are our daughters. The younger one is Amy, and this is Zoe,” he says, guiding his older daughter by the shoulder to stand in front of him.

“Zoe, I'm so glad to meet you. You are such a pretty girl,” I say trying to make her feel comfortable with me.

“Thank you,” she says shyly, backing up into her father.

“Let's all sit down. Zoe, why don't you tell our guests about school and your teacher, Mrs. Miller?” Kate prompts.

Sitting on her father's lap, Zoe hesitates. He puts his arms around her and whispers in her ear. Zoe says, “My teacher is really nice. I'm still in first grade because I missed a lot of school. But Mrs. Miller didn't get mad at me for being gone so much. She helps me a lot.”

“That's so wonderful that your teacher is so understanding,” I say. “I'm sure you are catching up on all your work quickly. How are you feeling after your surgery?”

“I feel a lot better. I'm not so tired all the time. I still have to take medicine everyday, but Mommy lets me mix it up with chocolate milk,” Zoe says with a grin. She starts fidgeting at her father's fingers laced around her middle.

“Well, taking medicine every day isn't such a terrible thing. This is my daughter, Chelsea. She takes medicine everyday too, because she has allergies that make her sneeze.”

Chelsea smiles, and says, “Yeah, medicine's not so bad if it makes you feel better. What kind of things do you like to do when you're not in school, Zoe?”

“Well, when I was really little, I liked to dance. But then I had to stop because it made me too tired. So, I like to listen to music and pretend I'm dancing. Mommy says I can start dance class again in the fall.”

“Have you ever thought about about playing music yourself? Like the piano or a guitar? It wouldn't make you so tired, plus, you could record your music and then dance to all the music you've recorded once you're strong enough to dance,” Chelsea suggested.

“That would be neat,” Zoe gleamed. “I could dance to my own music! That I made! You wanna come up to my room and see my CD player? I have my own MP3 player, too.”

Chelsea looks to Kate for approval, and with Kate's nod, Zoe and her new friend escape upstairs.

“She seems to be doing very well,” I say to Kate and Jack. “You have a lovely family.”

Kate rises from her seat and walks toward me, taking Chelsea's place on the love seat. “Jack and I really cannot express to you how thankful we are to you and Chelsea...and Cole. Our girls mean everything to us, just as I know Chelsea and Cole mean everything to you. I wish I could bring Cole back for you. But I want you to know, if there's anything at all we can do for you, we will absolutely do it.”

“This may seem odd to ask, but if Zoe expresses an interest in learning to play music, would you ask her if she would like to play guitar? Cole loved to play guitar, and in some small way, it would do me good to know Cole's heart is doing what it loves to do best.”

“I think that's a wonderful idea. Jack used to play guitar; he could teach her if she wants to learn it.”

Jack asks, “Would you like to join us for dinner? We bought enough food, hoping you would.”
“Chelsea and I would love to stay for dinner.” And we did.


It's Christmas again, our second one since the accident. The year passed so slowly without Cole. In the creeping days that followed our visit with Zoe, I grew to know that Cole still dwells not only in the heart that beats within a young girl's chest, but also within Chelsea's heart and my own. Chelsea recognized this fact much earlier than I.

Kate and I have kept in touch, and she sends me pictures of Zoe on occasion. Today, I'm carefully packing up Cole's acoustic guitar and sending it to Zoe for Christmas. She's been learning to play, apparently having quite a talent for it. It's no surprise. After all, her heart is really in it.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Winner of the Signed Susan Enan CD, Plainsong

Congratulations to...


PlainsongShe is the winner of the autographed Susan Enan CD, Plainsong!

You can visit Bee's blog here.

If you love YA, then go there...STAT!!!

(Bee, please send us a line at
with your address, and we will drop that CD in the mail to you!)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Book Turned Movie

What a coup for an author to have his or her book made into a movie, huh?  When it's done right, it can enhance the reader's experience of the book.  When done poorly, a movie adapted from your favorite book is maddening.  It makes you wonder if the film maker even read the book!

I've been thinking about this topic lately because one of my favorite books, The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett, is playing as a miniseries on cable right now.  Thus far, I'm really pleased with the film interpretation of the book.  See my review of the miniseries here.
  On thinking about the kinds of books that convert well to movies, thrillers, suspense, and horror genres come to mind.  The books of John Grisham and Stephen King have done very well as movies.  More difficult, though not impossible, is turning books that are highly character-driven into film.  The movie Bridget Jones's Diary, because of the heavy use of the main character's internal dialogue, was nicely done. 

Some of my favorite book-to-movie conversions are oldies:  To Kill a Mockingbird, The Wizzard of Oz, and Gone with the Wind.  These movies just seem grand, boosting up the already impressive status of the underlying books.  What are some of your favorite books that have been artfully turned into film?  What about books you loved but did not work so well as a movie?  I'd love to hear your opinion!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

BookMarks: What Our Writers Are Reading

We thought we'd like to share with you today what a few of our Writers are Reading...

Rachel Dilley: I am currently reading The Outer Banks House by Diann Ducharme. The title caught my eye because my family has vacationed on the Outer Banks of North Carolina since I was a kid. The novel is set in the post-Civil War and takes place in and near a vacation cottage in Nags Head, North Carolina. Abigail Sinclair is the 17-year-old daughter of the former slave-holding plantation master and his wife who have built the cottage for summer hunting and relaxation. Abigail is pressured into tutoring her father's hunting guide, who does not know how to read or write. Despite the pressures to fit into the "society" of her parents, Abigail finds herself drawn to her "unsuitable" student and learns of the ugliness of discrimination.

Michele Downey:   Deception by Jonathan Kellerman:  Lt. Milo Sturgis is assigned a sensitive murder case involving a teacher at the exclusive Windsor Preparatory Academy.The victim is found dead in in a bathtub full of dry ice and despite having left a DVD accusing three fellow teachers of repeated sexual harassment, there is no shortage of suspects. The investigation leads to a boyfriend, students, teachers, and administrators all of whom have secrets to keep—and who will stop at nothing to keep them. As usual, psychologist Alex Delaware is by Milo's side as they navigate the delicate politics of upper crust education and discover that in this world of the rich and powerful, a perfect grade is worth killing for.

Why I chose this book: I have read almost all of Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware novels, so when I saw this at the library, it was a no-brainer. Kellerman tells intricate stories interwoven with psychological insights that make his stories compelling and hard to put down.

Colleen Scott:   I am reading (just started) She Walks In Beauty by Siri Mitchell. Here is a short bio from the book:  "Clara Carter knows her family's future and her marriage prospects depends on the reception she receives during her social debut. Her family wants her to pursue eligible bachelor Franklin DeVries, But Clara questions whether she wants a high society life - especially when she meets a man who loves her for herself. Will duty or heart prevail?"

I picked it cause it's her new title, and I love everything she writes!

Beth ZellnerAsleep by Molly Caldwell Crosby: In 1918, a world war was raging, and a lethal strain of influenza was circling the globe. In the midst of all this death, a bizarre disease appeared in Europe. Eventually known as encephalitis lethargica, or sleeping sickness, it would spread across the world, leaving millions dead or locked in institutions. Then, in 1927, it would disappear as suddenly as it had arrived.

I am a great believer in the adage, “truth is stranger than fiction,” and I read tons of non-fiction. I find it to be highly entertaining! I actually picked this title because it is a subject that just fascinates me. Also, I thought it would be a great backdrop to someday write a fictional piece about!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Writing Critique Groups

This Fiction Flurry blog was birthed from the labor of a writers critique group in Marysville, Ohio.  Our little group has been meeting every other week for a year and a half, sharing successes, rejections, and or writing.  In the process, we've developed friendships and sharpened our writing skills, I'd like to think.  If you are not part of a critique group, let me explain why you should be.

The act of writing is a solitary endeavor, introspective and thoughtful, until you're finished.  What then?  If you write for yourself, that's it.  You lock it away, perhaps re-reading it yourself from time-to-time.  If you're writing for an audience, you had that in mind during the writing process. Who should your first audience be?  What's the best way for your manuscript to dip its virginal toe in the publishing pool?  You could have your mom read it, but come on.  She's going to love it even if it is a steaming heap of dung.  Do you want an agent or editor to be the first to read it?  Hardly.  What about all those errors you missed?

A writing critique group, preferably one that meets in person, provides the perfect coming out party for your manuscript, short story, essay, etc.  This group of writers doesn't care if your writing has a few blemishes.  Your critique group's very existence is centered on finding those pimples on the otherwise flawless skin of your manuscript.  But  the group doesn't point and laugh at the huge zit on the nose of your writing.  Your group will offer suggestions for ways to get rid of that unsightly flaw, assisting you in making your writing the best that it can be.

But enough with the puss-filled metaphors. It's best that you find a writing critique group that meets in person.  Online critique groups are better than nothing at all, but your online partners might not have the sensitivity that your in-person group will have.  Just as unintended "tone" can come across in e-mails, the same is true for online critiques of your work.  We writers can be a sensitive lot.

A relatively small critique group works well.  You want to have enough people to get a variety of perspectives and opinions, but not so many that it's overwhelming.  A group of eight to ten people is a nice size, at least in our experience.  If you can't find a local writing group, start one.  Put up flyers in your library, book store, or church.  Post something on an online community website.  You'll find that there is interest.

If you live in Central Ohio and are looking for a critique group, let us know.  We'd like to add a few people.  Do you already have a critique group?  What value has it brought to your writing? 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Rare Opportunites (Win a Susan Enan CD)

Tall and willowy as a reed, Susan Enan takes her seat. Her dark hair pulled back into a snug ponytail, she shows no amount of pretentiousness but is, perhaps, the slightest bit self conscious. She picks up her guitar and gently eases into an acoustic number off her first CD, entitled Plainsong. In a long, hot summer chockfull of family health crises and personal disappointments, Susan Enan, it seems, is my proverbial drink of cool water. If ever I should find myself trapped on earth, I only pray that my remaining time be spent thus: on a comfortable summer’s eve, in a candlelit room, a fragrant glass of wine at hand, with the melodic, lilting melodies and haunting lyrics of such a fine singer/songwriter as this to soothe me.

Through a fortuitous unfolding of events, this past Sunday I was invited to attend a House Concert. These intimate occasions are popular in certain parts of the country and are (rightfully so) gaining in popularity. It was a welcome, rare opportunity for me. This evening was attended by perhaps two dozen or so people, and was hosted by a writer acquaintance of mine, Julie Nelson. Julie has been raving about Susan Enan for months, and will quickly tell you that Enan’s music is at the top of her play list. Julie creates a unique play list for each of her works of fiction, and from the first moment she heard one of Enan’s songs, was enraptured with the music of this gifted “new” talent. In point of fact, Enan worked on her album for five years, and jokes that she hopes to have the second one out within the next five years from now.

Perhaps you have heard of her. One of Susan Enan’s songs, "Bring on the Wonder," was recently featured on the hit television series, Bones.  If you are not yet familiar with Susan Enan, then I predict that you soon will be. She is an artist whose passion for performance has not been adversely affected by what she herself will tell you is the perversion of the business: the labeling, packaging and auctioning off of the arts – as well as of the artists themselves.

Eschewing the bright lights – and nail biting negotiations – Enan has taken on the music world on her own terms. To date, she has logged over 8500 miles plus on this “tour” giving concerts in the homes of individuals. After a total of twenty-two stops, she estimates she will have seen about 11,000 miles of the United States and Canada – all by car!  From here, Enan will continue on her pilgrimage with dates booked across numerous countries well through 2011.

I have to say that I fully and completely concur with Julie: Enan’s evocative and thought-provoking music is indeed a fine accompaniment to writing. And so here is your rare opportunity: you can experience the wondrous sounds of Susan Enan for yourself just by following the Fiction Flurry blog. Every follower will be entered to win an autographed copy of Susan Enan’s CD, Plainsong. Even better, answer the following with a comment and you will receive TWO entries to win:

So, I want to know: what’s on your play list? Who are you listening to right now? And who do you turn to when you need to get your creative juices flowing?

(Contest will remain open until midnight EST 8/6/10. Winner will be announced here on 8/7/10.)

For more information on Susan Enan, or to view her upcoming House Concert dates, you should check out her official website.

Special thanks to Julie Nelson for graciously opening her home and sharing with all of us her inspiration (you can visit Julie's blog here). Julie, your house is, indeed, a place beset by positive energy, creativity, and welcoming muses. I wish you much success on your writing journey!

Beth Zellner

Stat Counter