From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

Thursday, March 31, 2011

COVER LOVE: Temptress In Training by Susan Gee Heino

Get ready to be excited all you historical romance junkies, because Susan Gee Heino's next novel TEMPTRESS IN TRAINING hits shelves July 5, 2011. Susan's books are some of my very favorite romance novels. I was privileged enough to read the intro to this one and the first line made me giggle because of it's sheer naughtiness. It's also my favorite cover out of her novels so far, and I'm excited to see this one in print. Mark this one down on your to be read (TBR) piles guys! You'll love it! :)

From Amazon:
A handsome earl and a beautiful seamstress are looking for answers. Both are willing to do what it takes to get them-even if it requires a little seduction. After the Earl of Lindley's search for the double agent who killed his family leads him to Miss Darshaw, he decides bedding her is the best way to get some answers...

Congrats Susan on another awesome novel!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Let the Music Move You

I'm always fascinated by the different habits writers have. I think it has to do with the fact that we all have different ways to reach the same goal--tell a story. Some writers need their writing space to be neat and tidy, others need it to be cluttered. Some write out of sequence, others have to write chronologically within the story. Some of us have to have background noise when we write, others need complete silence.

I fall into the background noise camp. Granted, most of the time the background noise is whatever random thing I can find on TV. I've been known to write while watching Grey's Anatomy, NCIS reruns, and various Food Network shows. Sometimes during NaNoWriMo, I'll write while watching old Gilmore Girls episodes, because they talk so fast and so much it somehow gets me to write the run-on sentences I need to write that many words in 30 days.

And when there's not something that interests me on TV, or if I need to write a particularly difficult scene, I listen to my novel's playlist.

I first got introduced to the concept of making playlists to write to only a couple of years ago, and I've gotten hooked. First of all, it's a great way for me to procrastinate. When I hit that rut that I can't get through, I have a tendency to use making a playlist for said rut as an excuse to not deal with it for a short bit of time while I think it over. But, more than that, playlists are a great way for me to get into the emotional heart of the story. I don't usually make separate playlists for different characters--typically, I only have one playlist for the whole novel. However, there was one time when writing the end of the novel I'm currently revising that I needed a separate playlist just for those scenes. They were particularly emotional and I was having trouble getting into that mindset. So I made a playlist just for those scenes and it worked wonders.

I know many people can't have songs with lyrics in their playlists, but I'm quite the opposite on that one. Most of my playlists consist of songs with lyrics. Musicals, movie soundtracks, random things I hear on the radio or that people recommend...all of these types of music end up on my novel playlists. My iTunes library is pretty eclectic anyway, because I like most everything, and I find this is incredibly helpful when it comes to putting together a playlist for whatever I'm writing--a novel, a scene, a character.

To give you an idea of what kinds of things end up on my playlists, here's a short list of songs that are on the playlist of the novel that I'm currently revising to get ready to send out:

1. We're Not Gonna Take It--Twisted Sister
2. Our Lives--The Calling
3. A Little Hope--composed by Scott Alan, performed by Shoshana Bean
4. O Children--Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
5. The Call--Regina Spektor
6. I Stand--Idina Menzel
7. Sing--My Chemical Romance
8. Get It Right--Glee cast
9. Do You Hear the People Sing?--Les Miserable
10. American Elegy--composed by Frank Ticheli
11. Totally F***ed--Spring Awakening
12. 21 Guns--Green Day
13. Hope--Idina Menzel
14. The Human Heart--Stephanie J. Block
15. A Thousand Beautiful Things/A Beautiful Day--Julia Murney

Plus, a good half of my playlist for this novel consists of clips from a podcast called Smart Mouths, much like the clip right here (warning, there is some language involved).

What kinds of things do you like listening to while you write? Do you make playlists? What songs are on yours?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Accio Books!

Spring is in the air. (Well, only sometimes for us here at Fiction Flurry, because Ohio can't make up its weather-related mind.) And, for some people, spring means it's time for spring cleaning. To be honest, I don't do spring cleaning, because I'm the kind of person who is happier with piles of junk all over the place. But more power to those of you who DO participate in the spring cleaning ritual.

If you do the spring cleaning thing, I have a suggestion of something you can do to clear out some of that clutter on your bookshelves. Yes, you. I know you have cluttered bookshelves, because you're a reader. And as readers, we tend to have too many books and not enough space to put them.

If, as you're doing your spring cleaning, you come across a bunch of books that you can't remember why you bought in the first place, or that you or your kids have grown out of and intend never to read again, or whatever the case may be...stop! Don't throw them out! How about you donate them? Hmmm? Crazy idea? I beg to differ.

In the limited free time I have between the day-job-working and the how-can-I-possibly-revise-this-more-but-clearly-I-can novel writing and the oh-my-God-Dublin-Irish-Festival-is-in-five-months-will-we-possibly-be-ready Irish dancing, I also have a volunteer job with the pure awesome that is a nonprofit organization called the Harry Potter Alliance. I get to write copy and edit copy and spend my free time talking to people as nerdy as me, which is great. My team is a bunch of English literary geeks.

And right now HPA is running an annual campaign that was MADE for literary geeks.

In true Harry Potter spirit, the campaign is called Accio Books! Never heard of it? That's quite alright. I shall elaborate.

The short version is that Accio Books! is a book drive. HPA wants people to donate their gently used books to communities or organizations that have a need of them. And, while people are certainly encouraged to donate to local organizations, HPA also selects a partner group so books get sent to people who really need them. In 2009, the partner group was Agohozo Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda. In 2010, half the books were distributed to communities in need in the Mississippi Delta.

This year is particularly exciting--HPA is, literally, building a library for the Bedford-Stuyvesant New Beginnings Charter School in Brooklyn, NY. They opened in 2010 and they don't have a library yet, which is nothing short of tragic, in my opinion. Last weekend, HPA worked with Borders for a fundraising drive to buy the school shelves. But now it's all down to the books that people will donate.

The library is for K-5, so people are being urged to donate books that fall into that age group. Picture books, early readers, the younger side of middle grade. Non-fiction, fiction. Any and all topics. If it's something YOU read when in elementary school, then these kids need it!

Now, there may be some of you who are like me and can't imagine parting with any of your books, even if you haven't read them in years. I hear ya. It's something we'll probably regret in five years when we're drowning under piles of books, but I'm with you on that one. So here's what I've been doing. I've been buying books second-hand or on sale. I bought several books during the Borders Days fundraiser last weekend that I had shipped directly to the school. I've been taking a little too much advantage of my local Borders going out of business and hitting up the liquidation sales. And all those books that I've been collecting over the last few weeks...they're going to be sent off to Bedford-Stuyvesant in the next week or so. I encourage you all to do the same. You can find the school's address here.

And once you send some books off to Bedford-Stuyvesant, enter the number of books you donated on the form at the bottom of this page. This will help the HPA keep track of the donation numbers and you can give your "points" to whichever house you want to support in the House Cup. (In case you're wondering, I've been giving my points to Gryffindor!)

So help out and donate books! Help HPA build a library! Because if there's one timeless thing we can pass along to these kids, it's the gift of a story.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fatal February - A Review

"It's John Grisham in spiked heels." Was the quote from another reviewer. As a fan of John Grisham I was too curious to let this review request go by. When I review a book I look at it in three different levels. First, the opening line...does it draw me in? The second thing I look at is the I care enough about them to keep reading? Finally, I look for plot and how the characters are woven into the plot.

Fatal February is written by Barbara Levenson. It is set in Miami-Dade, Florida, the author has lived in Florida and has experience as a prosecutor and and with the circuit courts. This experience shows throughout the entire book.

Now...onto the review. The opening line was fantastic. I immediately wanted to know more. Her
lead character Mary Macgruder Katz was a fun and intelligent woman. I found myself cheering for her throughout the whole book. The plot was nicely woven, and even surprised me a little in the end.

If you want a good mystery, filled with fun characters, that is an easy read, I would highly recommend Fatal February.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Unfinish Manuscripts: How Many Do You Have?

Let's be honest, most of us writers get shiny new ideas (SNIs) that we start off gun-ho about when we open that new document, but soon we let them fizzle. We close out the document when we run out of steam and leave the story sit, sometimes forever. I'm guilty of this myself. I have a whole folder of stories with only one chapter. Why do we do this to ourselves? I've often wondered how the idea seems so brilliant and then when I go to write it, blah, nothing great ever comes out. I guess you could say that's a form of writers block or maybe the idea truly wasn't as fantastic as I thought it was. Who knows. On the other hand, I've started a couple different stories where I couldn't sleep until they were completed. They kept calling to me and the characters kept talking to me (You writers know what I mean. To everyone else, I swear I'm not completely insane. It's just a writers thing.) I would get aggravated that there wasn't enough time in the day to get it finished. I once competed a first draft in roughly 3-4 weeks. Yeah, crazy. I know. That story stayed/and is still on my mind ALL THE TIME.

What I'm wondering is: What are the elements of a SNI that grabs you to where you feel like you have to finish or you just might die if you don't get it out? And what makes us fizzle out on great ideas? What can we do as writers to keep ourselves motivated? Shout it out! Maybe something you do will work for someone else. :)

Happy Writing!!

For YA Reviews:


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fiction Flurry Blog Make-Over Giveaway!!

Welcome to Fiction Flurry!! If it's your first time here, WELCOME (insert full-on welcoming committee here), feel free to pull up a chair and join us. We are a writing critique group out of Marysville, Ohio and our members include just about every genre of writing there is: Romance, Christian, Young Adult, Non-Fiction, Historical, Literary and any other type of writing that peaks our interest. We welcome it all.

What's awesome about all those different genres in the same group is the array of new ideas that turn up when we brainstorm together. A critical eye from someone outside your own genre may pick up things you've completely over-looked or assume is standard knowledge.

With all that said, we hope you'll hang out with us a bit and discuss your writing and/or your favorite books. To get us started we have two books to giveaway to go along with our blogs fresh new face:

Silent KillerSeventeenth Summer    

To Enter: Comment and tell us YOUR genre and email address and you are entered to win the romance title SILENT KILLER and the young adult title THE SEVENTEENTH SUMMER. It's not required that you follow us on Google Friend Connect, but we can't tell you how much we enjoy having a new Storm Member!!! Contest closes April 2, 2011 at 11:59pm and is open to US only. We will select one winner, and announce that winner here on FICTION FLURRY on April 3, 2011.  GOOD LUCK!!!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Writing Suspense: Use of Red-Herrings

Definition of Red-Herring: a false lead, assumed outcome or obvious solution that a writer plants in a story to fool the audience from guessing the real outcome.

This technique introduces one or more suspects or sets up false possibilities to add more tension and conflict in the novel and, in the process, prolongs the suspense and confuses the reader. These suspects will have motive and opportunity to have committed the crime.

Secondary characters are often used as red herrings. Though they might have a legitimate goal in the plot, they can also be set up to mislead the reader to think they have a part in the criminal action. Remember, a Red-Herring must always have some kind of motivation and opportunity. Suspense has to do with anticipation and expectation which helps create anxiety and tension.

Examples of Red Herring Uses
  • Distracting the main character
  • Appearance of lending support but tendency to send momentum awry
  • Get in the way of resolution intentionally or not
  • Cause of new events though not always helpful towards solution
A word of caution, never place something in your story simply to mislead your reader. You must always have a reasonable explanation for your misdirection that will come to light or be explained later in the story. Furthermore, don't incorporate too many Red-Herrings, this will be overly frustrating to your reader. And lastly, there is a difference between misleading your reader and misleading your investigator. Readers enjoy following the crumb trail with the investigator, they are especially drawn in when they know something the investigator does not.
As with all things "Practice makes perfect". Pull out your favorite suspense or mystery author and examine what it is about their style that draws you in. Don't forget...enjoy your trip through a good book!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Book Review: ROOM by Emma Donoghue

Room: A Novel  Perhaps I'm a little late hopping on the bandwagon, but I recently finished the audio book version of Room, by Emma Donoghue.  If you subscribe to Writers Digest Magazine, you'll see the author on this month's cover.  Room explores the fictional life of Jack, a five-year old boy born into captivity to a mother who's been held as a sex slave for 7 years.  Think Elizabeth Smart or Jaycee Dugard

First off, the subject matter is unquestionably intriguing.  What happens in the mind of an innocent girl or young woman kidnapped for the purpose of being someone's sex slave?  More interestingly, what's the perspective of a child resulting from from such a disturbing union?  Donoghue tells her story in first person from the son of the captive woman.  Jack has never known anything outside the 11 foot square room he and his mother share, which is really a sound-proof, locked down prison of a shed in their captor's back yard. 

If you don't have children, I do have to caution you as to Jack's "voice."  Having a four-year old myself, I can attest that the author's mastery of diction, syntax, and thought content of a preschooler are spot on.  The entire book is from Jack's perspective, in his five-year old voice. Just as a child can't always verbalize what's causing him stress, Jack, put in stressfull situations, is simplistic in his expression and literal in interpretation.  If you're not used to how children think and speak, I'm guessing it might slow down the flow of the book for you.  The audio book version was particulary helpful in that respect. 

I was particularly impressed with the range of emotion and depth of character that the author explores in Jack's mother's character through Jack's eyes.  We can see, through Jack, his mother's anxiety at keeping him safe from their captor, at her desperation to get themselves out of their situation, and her despair in not being able to have given him a normal childhood.  Even though Jack might not realize it, the reader can see his mother's strength and understandable vulnerabilities. 

Finally, Donoghue takes what would ordinarily be a heavy theme and makes it lighter somehow by telling the story from  kid's point of view. If you're not distracted by the voice in Room, I think you'll find it a worthwhile read.  After all...we came to embrace young Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, didn't we?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What are your writing goals for March?

You can't see or feel it, but time is slipping away.

February has all too quickly become March, so take a moment to evaluate the progress you’ve made on the writing goals you made in January.

I have discovered that if you don't take a step back once in a while, months have a way of disappearing without any visible progress. Before you know it, December has arrived and your book still isn't finished.

The best way to make sure that you make consistent progress is to cultivate two habits:

1. Track your progress at the end of each month.
2. Create deadlines for finishing specific tasks for the next month.

It's easy to do both of these things if you list your accomplishments during the previous month on a sheet of paper and hang it on your wall where you can glance at it (often) and feel good about what you’ve accomplished. Likewise, commit your upcoming month’s writing goals to paper and hang them on the wall next to your accomplishments.

How you do this is up to you...use a calendar (online or printed), type out a list or jot it down on the back of a napkin. But make sure you keep them so you can look back at the end of the year to see how far you've come.

Don't let 2011 slip by, take control of your goals now.

Leave a comment and let use know how you stay on track with your goals.

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