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Lessons in Storytelling From a Musical Theater Nerd

I’ve loved both performing in and attending live theatre performances for years. I hadn’t considered the great lessons that authors could take from the theatre before — but this writer is correct! A Writer's Path by Cristina Fernandez I am a huge musical theater nerd. It’s something that’s been a part of my life since I was two years old and Grease was my favorite movie. However only recently have I become aware of the part of me that is absolute trash when it comes to Broadway shows. Over the past year I’ve only seen three professional productions: Something Rotten, Fun Home, and Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical. I was in a school production of 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling B...
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The Personal Rejection: Backhanded Compliment of Publishing

While I freely admit to spending far too much time to pouting over the very detailed rejection letter I got for my first novel, I eventually took a look at it again. I knew I wasn’t going to resubmit to that publisher, so I read the advice with a more open, less angry mind. There were some criticisms with which I wholeheartedly disagreed (e.g., they wanted me to change it from first person narration to third person — and that wasn’t right for the story), but others I could take on board. So, I made the changes that made sense and went back to the drawing board. That led to that same book being traditionally published in both the US and the UK. The rights on that book, “In The Eye of The Beho...
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Music Monday: “Summer in the City”

It reached 104 degrees F. at our house yesterday.  We live in a mid-century home that is not air conditioned, so you can imagine how warm it was.  We shut everything down during the day to hold in cool air we let in during the night and most of the time that works.  Other times?  Well … let’s just say I think of this song often during those circumstances. Original link

A Lesson I Learned From Dad

When I was three years old, Loving v. Virginia was decided.  I was, as you can imagine, blissfully unaware of this. I was unaware of it four years later as well.  That was the year that Joe and Christine got married. Joe was one of my dad’s students at the Job Corps.  My mom and dad often had the Job Corps kids over for dinner; many of them were far from home, or had troubled home lives that were not safe to go home to.  Joe, like many of the other students, was African-American. After Joe graduated from Job Corps, he still came to visit us regularly.  He was originally from Mississippi, and had a deep Southern accent that I thought was interesting.  His family was far away (we lived in Oreg...
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Bonus Track: “Somebody to Love”

This weekend is the 50th anniversary of the Monterey Pop Festival, which is the event that ushered in the Summer of Love.  Here’s a video of the Jefferson Airplane performing at the festival.  Enjoy! Original link

Sample Saturday: “Last Stop: Storyville”

Today’s sample is from a first draft, so it will most likely be tweaked a great deal.  I’m working on a short story collection called Bayou Non-Standard Time, and this snippet is from one of the tales.  Enjoy! Afterward, Jimmy fell asleep. He was embarrassed when he woke up and found Lucy sketching him. “May I see?” “Course you can, when I’m done.” She took a few more minutes to complete her drawing and then turned the pad around to show him. “Lord-a-mercy,” he said. “I really do look almost exactly like my Uncle Amos.” She’d captured his cheekbones and slender nose perfectly, his hair mussed as he slept with an arm under the pillow. “He must be one helluva handsome man,” she laughed. “The l...
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Three Steps to Prioritizing Your Writing

Some good basic advice here. I need to regain some enthusiasm myself! Making time to write is part and parcel of that. A Writer's Path by Monique Hall When I sat down to write this blog entry, it was going to have a different title. I started listing all the reasons why it’s been nine months since my last post, why I failed to cling on to the enthusiastic optimism I found at last year’s RWA conference and why I have not achieved even a tiny portion of the goals I set for myself. And then I hit the delete key because I’m sick of listening to my own excuses, so why on earth would I want to bore you with them all. We all have shit going on and I need to get over myself. We both know it. View or...
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Weekend Reads: “From Panic to Power”

From Panic to Power: Proven Techniques to Calm Your Anxieties, Conquer Your Fears, and Put You in Control of Your Life
I usually pick something fun and fictional for my Weekend Reads series, but this time I felt truly moved to share some non-fiction.  You’ll also learn a little bit about me from the review; I seldom discuss the days when I suffered from agoraphobia.  It was very much real and debilitating … and I now know that it is possible to get past it. From Panic to Power: Proven Techniques to Calm Your Anxieties, Conquer Your Fears, and Put You in Control of Your Life by Lucinda Bassett My rating: 5 of 5 stars I don’t talk about it often, but there was a time in my life when I was rendered agoraphobic by panic attacks. I have a number of friends who deal with anxiety, whether it be high-functioning or ...
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10 of the Best Children’s Novels Everyone Should Read

I have read all of these except “The Railway Children.” I should probably do something about that. Interesting Literature The best children’s books What are the top ten greatest children’s novels ever written? This is going to prove a contentious list, but below we’ve compiled what we think are ten of the best works of children’s fiction in all of English literature. We’ve had to make some (regrettable) omissions, but we think these are all classic books which children of around the ages of 5-11 would especially enjoy (though, being classics, they’re for ‘children of all ages’). They span from the 1860s until the 1990s. We’ll offer some interesting background trivia about each book as we go....
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Shopping with Character: Diana Corbett

M&M frt Verson 1
It’s been a while since I wrote my first “Shopping with Character” post , so it’s definitely time for another one.  Today, I want to talk about Diana Corbett, who is the female protagonist in Bayou Fire . Diana has to travel a lot for her job, so her Seattle condominium is fairly spartan.  She doesn’t have plants or pets, and we learn that she doesn’t even have much in the way of art on the walls.  She sees herself as a practical person; if she’s not around often enough to take care of the plants, let alone a pet, or enjoy the art, she doesn’t see the need to have it. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t like those things; in the course of the book, we see how much she enjoys spending times with pe...
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Frequently Asked Question: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

The subject for today’s article is the Question of the Month for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group … and it’s one I get myself from time to time.  So, here’s the unvarnished truth. First, let’s get this out of the way:  this question is not about feeling discouraged.  I have confirmation from a best-selling author that this happens to every single one of us .  This is about throwing in the towel.  For me, the short answer is yes, I did. What happened was this:  I was a newspaper editor, which was the job I had aimed for with my career since I was 18 years old.  I had just written my first book, a work for hire called Born of War … Dedicated to Peace .  I had been assured that my role on th...
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Why We Compare Ourselves to Other Writers (and How We Can Stop)

I couldn’t agree more. Not all of us work the same way, manage our author businesses the same way, etc. Great advice on avoiding the comparison game here. A Writer's Path by Lauren Sapala For writers, there are two proven harmful effects of engaging in too much social media. (And let me say first that I’m guilty of overindulgence myself—it’s easy to start out with the intention of quickly checking Facebook and Twitter and then get sucked into a black hole and come out dazed and woozy on the other side.) But if you can keep these two harmful things in mind before you even go in, your chances of coming out unscathed are much better. View original post 968 more words Original link

How to Research a Location You Haven’t Actually Been To

While primary source research really is the best way to go, there are a lot of really good methods you can use to research a place you haven’t been to. I’ve used several of these myself. A Writer's Path by Helena Fairfax If you’ve been following my blog for a while, or read any of my books, you’ll know how important setting is to me in my writing. In this post about Richmond Park , for example, I wrote about how I tried to combine the setting for The Antique Love with the theme of the book, and how I used the setting to reveal the strengths and weaknesses of my characters. So far I’ve been able to visit most of the locations I’ve used in my books. My settings range from Edinburgh to the sout...
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Sample Saturday: “Bayou Fire” … and a Bonus Track

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As most of you know, I love music across just about every genre.  Many of my stories incorporate music elements, either directly or by reference.  Please enjoy today’s sample, from Bayou Fire , and the accompanying track.  It’s the song Amos sings in the wee hours of the morning, Van Morrison’s “Tupelo Honey.” Diana woke to the sound of quiet guitar playing, and Amos singing an old Van Morrison song about a girl as sweet as tupelo honey. She got up and grabbed Amos’ discarded tuxedo shirt from the night before, slipping it on and buttoning it up. Then, she went into the living room to watch and listen. Amos was wearing jeans, playing with his eyes closed as he sat on the floor. His voice was...
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Here’s something else you don’t know about author events and signings

This is often the hardest part for us, as authors. At my last signing, I had been under the weather for approximately two weeks before the event, and I know that my energy was extraordinarily low as a result. This had an impact on my sales. The good news is that we can all learn from this article, and do better either next time or the first time. Dan Alatorre - AUTHOR pre-scheduled vacation post When you finally get up the courage to do an author event in person, you want it to be successful. That’s a pretty big leap, I know. Most of you like the idea of an event but don’t necessarily want to do one yourself. You would much rather stay in your happy place and not stick your head out of your ...
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The French in the Spanish Borderlands: Part II

This article summarizes some of the deep background information I studied when researching Bayou Fire. Enjoy! History Imagined Prologue THIS is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks, Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight, Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic, Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms…… Ye who believe in the beauty and strength of woman’s devotion, List to the mournful tradition still sung by the pines of the forest; List to a Tale of Love in Acadie, home of the happy. Evangeline Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Boston: Ticknor & Company, 1847 The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was so enthra...
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Weekend Reads: “Mycroft Holmes”

Mycroft Holmes
Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar My rating: 5 of 5 stars I am a long-time Holmesian, and I love to see what different authors do with the spin-offs. Some are better than others, of course … and this is one of the best. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, himself a long-time Holmesian, has made Mycroft Holmes his main character in a story about human trafficking during the late 19th Century. With his friend Cyrus Douglas, a free Black gentleman business owner, he goes to Trinidad to investigate disappearances in Douglas’ home town … and becomes embroiled in intrigue at all manner of levels. Abdul-Jabbar’s authorial voice is entertaining, and it’s obvious from this work that he takes the Doyle canon ver...
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How To Get More Facebook Author Page Likes

You can go right here to like mine: Dan Alatorre - AUTHOR pre-scheduled vacation post Even though I’m on vacation in Merry Olde England, I’m still thinking of you guys. For example, you should all have a Facebook author page . It’s free and it’s easy, and since Facebook is pretty much the most popular social media in the civilized universe, if you’re only going to do one… that might be the one to do. But here’s something you might miss out on. If you have a book that you are about to release, you could do a post about it on your Facebook author page. Get ready! Here it comes! People who have liked the page will then see it. Also, if you do advertis...
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10 of the Best Sherlock Holmes Stories Everyone Should Read

I’ve read the entire Holmes canon (and a few of the non-canon tales as well). “Silver Blaze” is my absolute favorite, and every one of the tales listed here is brilliant. Interesting Literature Conan Doyle’s finest Sherlock Holmes stories Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 60 Sherlock Holmes cases in all: 56 short stories and four full-length novels. But where is the best place for the reader who is new to Sherlock Holmes to begin exploring these classic works of detective fiction? We offer our selection of the ten best Sherlock Holmes cases below. The Hound of the Baskervilles . Of the four novel-length adventures Conan Doyle penned about Sherlock Holmes, this is the most satisfying (and the best...
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In Honor of D-Day

Today is the 73rd anniversary of D-Day.  In commemoration, I am sharing a download link to the first book I ever wrote.  It’s a military history entitled Born of War … Dedicated to Peace, concerning Sixth U.S. Army.  The book was written in honor of the unit’s decommissioning, and was given as a souvenir at the closing ceremony. Today, please think of those who gave all. (function() { var scribd = document.createElement("script"); scribd.type = "text/javascript"; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = ""; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })() Original link