I’m Going to See Margaret Atwood!

I’m trying to calm down, but it’s difficult. Margaret Atwood is my idol. She is just amazing. Her writing, her knowledge, her ability to share amazing ideas with the world… I’m all flustered.

Front row, center. Yep. That’s me. I can’t really stop dancing right now, so I’ll have to tell you more later.

Oh, wait, if you only know her because you have hulu, that’s cheating. Go read the books.

 

YA Author Interview from the Verge: Kama Falzoi Post

InHuman, Kama Falzoi PostI love to introduce new authors! Kama Falzoi Post is here for the first of a two-part interview in preparation for her upcoming YA novel, InHuman. With Nanowrimo in full swing, it’s great to find out that a newly published author wrote her novel during Nano. In other words, don’t give up. I’m thrilled to introduce Kama Falzoi Post.

Kama, tell us a little about yourself.

Someone told me, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” I chose writing and stuck to it. My stories have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines, including Inkwell, SmokeLong Quarterly, and most recently in the anthology Outliers of Speculative Fiction. My first Young Adult novel, InHUMAN (BookFish Books) is scheduled to release in December of 2016. I live in the cold Northeast with my husband, son, step-kids, and a plethora of animals.

This all started with NaNoWriMo? How did you get involved in it? Was this your first time?

The idea for the story was pretty solid in my head. Since NaNo lurked just around the corner, I took it as the stars aligning, and decided to go for it.

What did you think of Nano?

It was helpful in so many ways. Fifty thousand words can seem daunting, but when you see others experience the same hardships and successes as you, it becomes doable. And borderline fun! Because in order to get that many words on paper in that short amount of time, you have to pretty much trample your inner editor and leave her writhing in a ditch. As a writer, that’s a difficult thing to do. Without that constant voice telling you how much you suck, you’re free to unleash whatever you have inside. Nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment when you hit that goal.

Are you a planner or a pantser?

I am a recovering pantser. NaNo was pantsing it all the way. I learned the hard way that pantsing doesn’t work well for me. I would rather take the time upfront to brainstorm a skeletal structure, theme, and some character arcs, because going back to the manuscript afterwards and cleaning up fundamental plot and character issues is a monumental chore.

What was your prep method?

It was very complex. I sat at my computer and started banging out words.

Do you use a novel writing software (Scrivener, etc.)

Nope. I used Microsoft Word and a notebook that I carried everywhere in case inspiration struck.

Give us an idea of your thoughts at the beginning, middle, and end of Nano.

Looking back, it was analogous to a race. I started at the gun with a lot of energy, hit my stride, smiled into the wind and so forth. Halfway through and thousands of words behind, I began to doubt myself. Times like that you have to rely on discipline. It’s a dangerous time but it doesn’t last long. I powered through it, got out the (mostly terrible and completely unusable) words, and headed for the final stretch. The last week or so I was just looking at word count. I think I had actually finished the story and had no idea where to go with the rest.

After Nano, what was your first instinct – how did you feel about the novel and did you think it would get published?

Frankly, the novel was an embarrassment. But that was okay! Because as I found out later, the REAL writing starts when you begin to revise. My initial stab gave me a great foundation for what was to come, but it would take a lot of work to get there. I didn’t think it would ever get published. I moved on to the next thing.

How long did it take to get the book in “publishing shape?”

Years. Years and years. Like I said, I had a foundation, but it needed refining. I had to chip away at everything to figure out what I wanted to say. Then rewrite, and rewrite, and rewrite. Each rewrite took me a little closer to my goal. Eventually, I felt like maybe I had something.

What venues did you pursue to get your book published?

I queried agents for about a year. I had NO idea what I was doing. With each rejection, I polished the manuscript a little more, and polished the query even more. I did a few Twitter contests. Finally, a publisher (BookFish Books) showed interest and asked for a synopsis and my first ten pages. After about a week, they requested a full. I signed the contract a month later. The full story of my road to publication is published on my blog here, with a nice call out to NaNo! https://kamafalzoipost.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/the-road-to-publication-is-not-paved-at-all/.

What was the most difficult thing about the Nano? About the entire process?

For me, the most difficult thing is always finding time. I have a demanding full-time job, two teenage step-kids, and a five-year old. What may traditionally be a months-long process for some becomes a years-long process for me because of my obligations. I’m working on that…

Will you come back to tell us more about your book, INHUMAN?

I would love to!

Watch for Part 2 of our interview with Kama Post and get ready to purchase InHuman from Amazon on December 15!

 

 

If I Fall, If I Die

I put off reviewing this book because I wasn’t thrilled by it. A mother with crippling agoraphobia who basically cripples her son’s ability to live a normal life…  It was put-downable, and I almost never give up on a book.

I was really  hoping for more, based on the description, but I was disappointed.  I just can’t recommend this one.

Meet “The Widow”

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I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of The Widow by Fiona Barton. You know that I don’t like to give spoilers, so let’s just say this: If you like mystery, enjoyed Girl on a Train, and need a good read if you happen to snowed in (me), this is a great choice.

No spoiler summary: Nobody knows what really goes on behind closed doors… except for those behind them.

Meet author Fiona Barton on her website to find our more.

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Author Fiona Barton

Unicorn Writers’ Conference: This Weekend!

I am so excited to attend the Unicorn Writers’ Conference this weekend! Those of you who know me, know that I love to learn new things and this conference should offer a lot of opportunities.
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If you happened upon this page by scanning the QR code on my card, welcome to the Writer on the Verge site.

However you arrived here, take a look around. Kick up your feet and stay awhile.

Go Set a Watchman and Get Over It

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To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book in the world. It is told through Scout’s young eyes and expresses how she saw her father as a hero when he defended a black man accused of raping a white woman and took on a mob at the jail when they tried to lynch the man. It is critical to remember that this is all told through a child’s eyes as SHE sees the world. This is not necessarily how the world is.

Atticus Finch. Assigned to defend an innocent man. His acts may have given the impression that he was not racist. But he did live in racist times. TKAM was set in the 1930s, and he could not have avoided the culture if he wanted to.

Twenty years later, Scout, now called by her proper name, Jean Louise, returns from New York to find the racism that she never saw as a youth in its pure form. A form she could see, but not understand. Atticus has attended meetings of the KKK, supposedly to see who was involved, and continues to go to other such racially charged meetings because it’s just the way life was right then. Scout is angry, just like we are. Where is our Atticus? Why, he was there all along. Watching, staying stable, and eventually becoming a human instead of a hero in his daughter’s eyes.

The book was written many years before TKAM, and might have never been printed. Would you have been happy then? With your beliefs untarnished? The title, Go Set a Watchman, comes from the King James Bible: “For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth” (Isaiah 21:6). This seems to indicate that the town needs a moral compass to watch over things. Is that what Atticus has been doing or what Scout will do? I’m not sure, but we all know that finally, things change in our world.

I think Atticus Finch was an essentially good man, living in a time when racism was a way of life. I’d like to think he set himself apart from it, but it would have been a chore and possibly a source of infinite loss if he did. He did what he had to do to survive the times and maybe he agreed with some of it and maybe he did not. He said that black people were “coming of age” during this era. He seemed to understand that racial equality was in it’s infancy, but would eventually move forward.

Parts of the novel hurt. Parts educate. Parts enlighten. Scout is growing up. Atticus isn’t as perfect when viewed from an adult’s perspective as a child’s. What did you expect?

It will never be TKAM, but I still believe in Harper Lee and her decision to illuminate fairness, loyalty, and moral conundrums. Stop ranting and railing and read the book as it is written. Would it REALLY have been better if Atticus was a hero for racial equality? Is his character really different or is it simply that Scout never saw all of her father – only the parts she wanted to see and could understand? Calm down. We lived this history.

Are you more angry that Atticus was more than you wanted – a hero with human flaws, just like the rest of us? Or that it reminds us that a few short decades ago this was part of our history?

Opinion is subjective. Please share. But… if you are going to comment, be sure you have read the book. That way your comments will have a basis in the book.

A Mini Spoiler Free Review of Summer House with Swimming Pool

Well, I forgot all about this book and was reminded that I had promised to blog about it. I read it, but my life has been crazy and I haven’t been a very good blogger so… here’s your review:

The protagonist, Dr. Marc Schlosser, is in trouble. His patient is an actor with an enormous ego and a lovely wife.

There are several elements at play, some vague reference to abuse to Marc’s teenaged daughter while on holiday at the summer house, and the death of the actor. We know from the beginning that Dr. Marc is accused of being involved in the actor’s death. None of this is spoiler.

The overall story was good, but it moved slowly, at a pace all its own-one too slow for me.

If you generally prefer your mysteries less literary and more action packed or at least less obtuse, read something else.

Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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Full disclosure: I read this book because it was on a list of books “to read before you see the movie” even though I have no intention of thinking of considering seeing the movie. Period.

I liked the cover. Shallow, but true. Little did I know it was about cancer. The thing is, this wasn’t super depressing. I like Hazel and Augustus. Their illnesses were sad and shaped them into amazing individuals. It was a story of love and intelligence and a book that links characters together.

A movie will never be able to capture the significance of “Okay”. A movie will never be able to capture the essence of the characters, the situations, the little joys and victories, or the deep sadnesses.

I won’t see the movie. I’m very glad I read the book. You probably should give it a try. It would be a great book for a discussion group.

Enjoy.

Book Review: Odd Apocalypse by Dean Koontz

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I love Odd Thomas. I really do. The character has charmed me from the first book in the series… until now. Suddenly, he has an enigmatic sidekick… and I don’t like her. She seems to serve no real p

This entry in the series relies on intricate science theories and horror instead of Odd’s talents as one who helps the dead with their unfinished business so they can “cross over”. urpose and is incredibly annoying and distracting for both Odd and the reader.

If you’re a fan, you’ll like it but not love it. Come on, Koontz. Ditch the chick and give us back the old Odd. We love that fry cook.

A Heavy Heart

daveNot long ago, I announced that my brother would be writing book reviews with me. i added his recent photo without telling you that his bald look was not a fashion statement, but the result of chemotherapy for a particularly aggressive neuroendocrine tumor in his lungs that had spread to his bones and lymph nodes. At the time of my post, he was eager to share his views with you. Unfortunately, cancer had other ideas. His extreme pain did not allow him to write for me. We were led to believe he still had options until recent blood work indicated that his body was shutting down and there was nothing to be done. He was put on comfort care, or hospice, for pain management. I am blessed that my brother and his wife asked me to be there in their home as a co-caregiver during his last days. I stayed up with him at night, reading to him and describing bad horror movies to him when he was unable to watch. He loved those movies… He passed away on January 23rd shortly after 12am in our arms. It was incredibly sad. Even knowing it was coming, it was not easy watching him draw his last breath. He was an amazing man and I wish you had been able to read his views. I put his favorite book, A Confederacy of Dunces (Pulitzer Prize winner) in his casket. So, with a heavy heart, I must announce that David won’t be writing for us. I will, however, post some of his recent favorite reads for your enjoyment.