Recently, I attended the “Ready Set Fun! Bookfest” hosted by the local PBS station. There were lots of children and adults, and many booths. I brought my own children, who loved the afternoon.
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When Elizabeth Fournier was eight, her mother and grandparents died. She spent a lot of time in funeral homes as a kid since her family were frequently found in caskets. Fournier family members didn’t have the best longevity record.
As a young girl, Elizabeth found cemeteries a place of peace and tranquility. As a teen, she’d attend funerals of people she didn’t know. Not surprisingly, she eventually headed into the local funeral home and asked for a job, any job. She landed the position of live-in night keeper, where she resided in a trailer in the far reaches of a large, hilly cemetery. She slept with a shotgun near her bed, experiencing the scariest summer of her life.
The following guest post is by novelist E. Rose Sabin, (Seduction of the Scepter, WiDo Publishing 2012), originally appearing on her blog at erosesabin.wordpress.com. It deals with a typical writerly issue: how much character description to include? The post is re-published here with Sabin’s permission.
Today’s blog raises a question I don’t have an answer for: How much description is too much, and how little description is too little?
When I write, I tend to be spare in regard to description. I think it’s largely due to the fact that when I read, I prefer to use my imagination to visualize a character’s appearance and dress. Also, I don’t like reading a story that pauses the action to give lengthy descriptions unless those descriptions are vital to the plot. In some stories the setting plays such a vital part that it must be described in detail. In all stories some sense of place is necessary, but the amount of description needed to provide that sense of place varies according to the type of story it is.
In my book Seduction of the Scepter, I set the novel in a fictitious country, but I located that country in our world in a specific historical time and in a specific region of the world: eastern Europe in the mid 1700s. Although using a fictitious country allowed me latitude to invent the political system and certain customs, those had to at least fit into the time period. Although I used no actual historical events or personages, I researched the styles of dress and hair, the popular foods, the music and dance, the religious and social customs of the era and drew on that research to make the story believable.
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Life without faith is a precarious way to exist. This was the position of a wannabe believer, Kerry Parry, who grew up in a family that believed religion was like sex. It was something you had to figure out on your own.
Her parents, who had left their own faiths of Mormonism and Evangelicalism, believed they were doing a favor to their children by shielding them from the trappings of religion. While skipping church had its benefits growing up, it left Kerry feeling adrift. She had no faith to hold onto during times of trouble. Even as a young girl, she envied those who were grounded within a community of believers.
SALT LAKE CITY, UT May 16, 2017
An award-winning playwright also acclaimed for her short stories, Joanell Serra has a love for writing… just not novel writing. At least that was the case, until her characters practically begged her to bring them to life in a full length novel.
Serra says, “The characters [from my short stories] kept popping up in each other’s stories. After one editor read my stories, she gave me the bad news: it really needed to be a novel! I dug back in and rewrote the story, tying all the storylines together.”
As a family therapist, Joanell Serra has keen insight into the theme of identity within the family, a theme she explores in her writing. She also draws on her love for her home region in Sonoma County, California. Serra states, “I love the interesting layers of community here, across cultures and socioeconomic divides. The landscape is so lush and stunning, it literally inspires one to create.”
The following post is by author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo (The Fourth Wall, WiDo, 2014). It originally appeared on her website, and we are reprinting it here with her permission. Although we encourage our authors to stay visible via social media if it’s what they enjoy, there are certain times and sites that can be more of a burden than a joy. Elizabeth’s blog post on quitting Facebook is timely, thoughtful and will no doubt strike a chord with many.
Last May, with a deep sense of relief, I quietly deactivated my Facebook account. Since that day one year ago, I have not logged back on. This is not a self-congratulatory post; I’m writing it because I know many people are overwhelmed with Facebook and have considered quitting it for good too, and if you’re one of them, I want to help if I can.
If you absolutely love Facebook or have never considered walking away because it’s a great way to stay connected to distant family and old friends or you need it for your job or you are too involved with groups that only operate there etc., it’s fine. You don’t need to justify that to anyone. This post isn’t for you.
If, however, you often find yourself weighing the pros and cons of the site and wondering if you could do without it because most of the time you actually hate it or you hate the way you feel about yourself and/or people you like/love when spending time on it, this post is for you.
Here’s what to expect when you break up with Facebook:
SALT LAKE CITY UT May 10, 2017
“What is the story that haunts you; that you don’t know how to tell?” This was the question presented to Linda González at a writing retreat. “My gut balked,” González recalled, “but I wrote down my father’s story of leaving one family to start another.
“While I listed other possibilities for the assignment, this story had the scent my nose wanted to follow. It held decisive truths about my current life — my wish to grow up-and-beyond my past and stop the chain reaction of secrets.”
While Linda is always writing, this assignment – this family secret – compelled her to pour her heart and soul into a new project: seek healing by telling the truth of her family in a memoir.
(The following post originally appeared on Lisa’s website. We are reprinting it here in its entirety with her permission.)
Because I make my living as a writer, people might be surprised to know that I have a hard time reading. While the act of writing feels as natural to me as breathing, moving my eyes from word to word on a page sometimes feels akin to pulling a heavy cart uphill.
When I was twenty-five, I asked my eye doctor why, when I read, the white spaces between the words on a page sometimes pop out at me, and why, when I reach the end of a sentence, I often have trouble finding my way to the beginning of the next sentence. I also read slowly and—as demonstrated by my SAT and GRE scores—I suffered from poor reading comprehension.
He said I have a reading disability. “You mean, like dyslexia?” I asked. He shook his head and said there was no real term for my imperfect brain-to-eye connection, but if I wanted to focus better I should 1) move a black sheet of construction paper down the page, sentence by sentence; or 2) trace along the sentences with my finger or a pencil eraser.
I used those strategies to propel me through graduate school—a piece of black paper was always sticking out from the scholarly texts I lugged around Brown University’s campus. I also was quick to join study sessions, where I would glean from conversation all that I’d missed from my readings.
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Dr. Persephone (Seph) Smith is a psychologist with enhanced empathy, allowing her to feel the emotions of others. But her gift comes with a price. Plagued by nightmares and insecure in her work, Seph absorbs the suffering of her patients by day and swills tequila by night.
When Seph is deployed to an abandoned air hangar turned medical shelter during a massive hurricane, one by one, as the wind howls overhead, staff and evacuees disappear into the dark recesses of the vast space. The missing return as mutilated corpses. The living, trapped in the shrieking metal structure by the storm, descend into varying levels of paranoia and madness.
|Genre: Political Thriller
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When a devastating explosion kills the new President’s young son, her administration seeks to finally end the war on terror. CIA black-ops agent Justin Raines is among the recruits in a new program that targets for assassination U.S. citizens suspected of radicalizing Muslims.
Haunted by a botched assignment overseas, Justin is determined to redeem himself through the program. But when he is assigned to kill a mysterious Muslim educator that he believes is innocent, he grows disillusioned. Now he must find a way to prove her innocence and derail the program before they both are assassinated.