Tag Archives: Karen Brown

Wednesdays with Writers: Abandoned insane asylums, ghosts, lush prose, a mystery, writing amidst chaos, a brief tutorial in short stories and linked novels, and so much more from Karen Brown. Oh, and her new novel, THE CLAIRVOYANTS.

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By Leslie Lindsay 

Lush, descriptive, wholly original psychological mystery in which one woman’s desires and abilities are put to the test.

Flattened-199x300THE CLAIRVOYANTS is the second novel of Karen Brown (her first, THE LONGINGS OF WAYWARD GIRLS came out in 2013. Be sure to check out my interview with her here.

Karen’s prose is complex, vivid, and poetic. THE CLAIRVOYANTS is a hot, roiling simmer encased with erotic undertones, complex layers, a highly Gothic vibe that will have you wrapped in a hypnotic dream-state questioning your own reality. 

Martha Mary and her slightly unstable younger sister, Del (Delores) claim to see ghosts. They are the charlatans of their small coastal town, offering seances and readings of the dead in exchange for a few bucks to buy lip gloss and drug-store flip-flops.

But maybe she *can* see ghosts after all?

Martha Mary leaves that coastal town and settles in Ithaca, New York in attempt to be a bit more ‘grounded,’ to attend college. There she falls in love with photographer/professor William Bell and together, along with her sister and other friends try to piece out the mystery of a missing, presumed dead girl, Mary Rae.

But dark, twisty things happen. More deaths. More ghosts. More mystery and intrigue. THE CLAIRVOYANTS is one of those books that will linger long after you’ve closed the cover for the last time.

Please join me in welcoming Karen Brown back to the blog couch.

Leslie Lindsay: Karen, it’s been a few years! It was 2013 when we chatted last—about THE LONGINGS OF WAYWARD GIRLS, your debut novel. I can only imagine you’ve been busy writing and teaching. Can you fill us in?TheLongingsofWaywardGirls

Karen Brown:  I wish I could say that I’ve done some world traveling, but you’re pretty much spot on: Since we last chatted I’ve been mostly teaching and writing. I teach at the University of South Florida—my alma mater, where I first decided to become a writer, and where I produced my first short stories. Each semester I teach three sections of the same fiction writing courses I took myself years ago. Being a teacher means that each semester I am dropped into the fictional worlds of my students while trying to maintain the fictional world in my own work. Since LONGINGS appeared I’ve revised two novels, and have begun work on a new one—still tentative and very incomplete. The revisions can be just as time-consuming as starting from scratch—every small change can present entirely new plot directions. For me, revising is very close to drafting—I am always open to making big changes, and each version—for THE CLAIRVOYANTS it was twelve—takes the story further away from the original.

L.L.: I’m always, always intrigued about what sparks a writer into action on a particular title. I have to know, what was it for THE CLAIRVOYANTS?

Karen Brown: THE CLAIRVOYANTS started as a short story, “Galatea,” published first in Crazyhorse, and reprinted in BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES.  As I expanded the story into a novel it became three sections—one set in Ithaca, NY, one in Florida, and one in the Caribbean. Martha Mary was the main character in each section, and the sections represented three different time periods of her life. The book was very long and convoluted, and after getting some initial reads I decided to simply focus on the Ithaca section. There are aspects of the other sections that I held on to and worked into the Ithaca story—Owen, Martha’s nephew and Anne, with her glioblastoma. Even the yachties in the Caribbean get to play a small role in the new version. The novel began as a story of a young woman with a troubled past who is seeking love. The addition of the ghosts and the spiritualist camp came about after I reconnected with a childhood friend whose parents bought a house in Pine Grove, a small spiritualist community in Niantic, CT. I was intrigued with the spiritualists and the mediums, and I wanted to add this component to the novel. Martha Mary is named after her great aunt, a nun, who dies in a car accident, and the themes of doubt and belief play into her sighting of Auntie Sister as a ghost when she is a child. In Ithaca, it seemed natural to give her a ghost to draw her into the ongoing mystery.

L.L.: One observation I made while reading THE CLAIRVOYANTS is that it could very well be any time period. The names of your characters: Martha Mary. Anne. Randy. Del. William. Mary Rae. Geoff. Well, they all seem kind of Nancy Drew-ish. Yet, they have cell phones, so it’s not exactly a period piece. But it could have been. Was this intentional on your part?

Karen Brown: I lived in an area similar to that of the novel for a year while I attended graduate school—a  small, rural town thirty minutes from the closest movie theater, mall, and Pizza Hut. The drive in to the university was on a road that cut through a vast, open area of fields, the roadside dotted with occasional small businesses—a place that sold garden statuary, a bridal shop. Little kids wore blaze orange caps when they played outside and the big thing for girls was baton lessons. Guys drove muscle cars or trucks, and the professors lived in farmhouses down long wooded lanes. Isolated settings tend to create a sense of timelessness, and I wanted to capture that feeling. I like old-fashioned names (and I love Nancy 20150827-38-Westfield-New-York-21922691918-700x525Drew), and perhaps subconsciously the names seemed to fit the setting. The novel focuses on a quirky group from a small, isolated town that gathers around an artist—Anne. Though they aren’t off the grid, the traditions they follow—the New Year’s Eve hunt, the recipes from old cookbooks, the games of Bridge, the Aaron Copland music—seem things borrowed from another time and recast as part of their small community. The addition of cell phones was practical—I needed the story to be set in a time long enough after the asylums were closed down—most in the 1970s—to have the one in the novel deteriorate.

L.L.: I have to say, I loved the old, abandoned places that creep into the narrative. There are at least two, though there could be more, depending on your read. Are these real places, what was your inspiration for them? Having been a former psychiatric R.N., I’m especially taken with the abandoned asylum.

Karen Brown: I became interested in artists whose work focused on abandoned places, particularly abandoned asylums. Shaun O’Boyle’s asylum images, particularly those of Northampton and Buffalo State hospitals, formed the basis for the asylum in the novel. I was drawn to the colors in his images, and the way he made the deterioration of the buildings seem so beautiful. Many of the details of the asylum in the novel are from O’Boyle’s images. The area in central New York state where the novel is set is filled with abandoned houses and trailers, but for the

abandoned cottage in the woods, I relied on a fellow student in my MFA program years ago, who told us about hiking in woods in the Ithaca area and discovering an abandoned cottage with dishes still on the table, as if the people had just risen from their places and left. Her description stuck with me.

L.L.: There are definitely some twisty-turny moments in THE CLAIRVOYANTS. Are you a pantser or a plotter? What’s your writing space like?

Karen Brown: I almost always start with a setting, and then decide what sort of people I might put there. Once the characters are established, I like to live in the world a bit with them and see what kind of trouble they can get into—mostly creating scenes, which I do even when I am not writing. I sit down in the morning to work for as long as I have time. On teaching days that is usually until noon, but on other days, or like now, in the summer, I’ll go as long as I can stand to sit still.

I don’t have a desk—I write sitting on a couch in the middle of the house. At any given time there is passing traffic on the four-lane boulevard, my husband on the phone in his office, my son asking would I please, please make some eggs for breakfast. Today, a cat we’ve taken in is in heat, a man is sanding our old windows outside in preparation for painting, my son is watching a movie in an adjoining room, just returned from morning class. I’ve always written in the midst of a kind of chaos, but I must admit I prefer a quiet space—early mornings before the late-sleepers in the house awaken are my best days.4

L.L.: You have two collections of short stories. Of course the novel and short story are two totally different forms. In your opinion, what are the similarities, the differences?

Karen Brown: Most of my short stories contain one novel, at least. When I write a story, I know far more than I ever reveal about the setting, the characters, and the events that have shaped the conflict they find themselves struggling with. There are backstories and histories and scenes in the characters’ lives that simply aren’t needed to build up to the pivotal moment a story depends on. The art of the short story is choosing what to leave out and deciding which moment will be the one to highlight as most revelatory. Novels do the same thing, though they use a handful of moments that necessarily rely on each other to accomplish the same feat—give a reader a world inhabited by people whose thoughts and actions reveal something vital about our own lives.

L.L.: In a related question, a form I’m super-curious about is a linked novel, a novel in short stories. Can you educate us on that, too?

Karen Brown:  Some of my favorite books are novels in stories, or linked short stories. Sherwood Anderson’s WINESBURG, OHIO, for example, or more contemporary books like Jennifer Egan’s A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD or Elizabeth Strout’s OLIVE KITTERIDGE. I’ve always been attracted to the genre, and wrote my PhD dissertation as a novel in stories. From a writer’s perspective, this genre provides the best of both worlds. You get to use the short story to capture a particular moment in a character’s life, yet by stringing stories together—ones that explore other characters’ perspectives, or the same character at another point in her life—you can reveal the hidden parts of the larger story that must necessarily, by the nature of the short story form itself, be left out. These leaps between characters through time present a sense of a larger picture—that of a community or a family or a set of characters whose relationships alter and change through time. The stories in these books are linked by character or place—or both. One of my favorites, OUR KIND, by Kate Walbert, uses a communal narrator. Often, the setting becomes a character in the story, as in Rebecca Barry’s excellent LATER, AT THE BAR. Just talking about the form makes me want to write another one.

L.L.: What was the last thing you Googled? It doesn’t have to be literary.

tumblr_nm8ud2wGzR1qm7imdo1_500.jpgKaren Brown: I’m working on a novel set in Tampa. When I first moved here in the early 80s, I bartended in a rock club, and I remember a customer talking about Drew Park girls,” the classification clearly derogatory. The club was located on the edge of Drew Park, whose boundaries included two busy thoroughfares and Tampa International Airport. I was in the middle of a scene and wondered what I might find out about Drew Park if I looked it up: “The core of Drew Park is occupied by light industry, adult entertainment establishments, and several homes, due to its mixed-use zoning.” The area has been the focus of police raids for prostitution, operating without a license, and the illegal selling of alcohol. So, if you actually grew up in Drew Park, it might be in a house across the street from the Pink Pony Showgirls, or Buddies Adult Video, or Redline Express Couriers. Those poor Drew Park girls couldn’t live down their reputation if they tried.

L.L.: What should I have asked but may have forgotten?

Karen Brown: Last time, you asked me what I was reading, and since I’m always reading, I’m always eager to share the books that are intriguing me now. I just started Edan Lepucki’s WOMAN NO.17. I’m enthralled with California and noir, and this book brings all of that to life through the darkly funny voice of its narrators. I’m also reading Jan Marsh’s CHRISTINA ROSSETTI: A WRITER’S LIFEmy work-in-progress deals with an artistic sister and brother and their correspondence, and well, the Rossetti’s! For my upcoming classes I’m checking out Benjamin Percy’s THRILL ME: ESSAYS ON FICTION. Students are in love with genre, and I want them to write what they love, but write it well.

L.L.: Karen, it was a pleasure! Thanks so much for popping over.

Karen Brown: Thanks so much for having me, Leslie!

For more information, to connect with Karen via social media, or to purchase a copy of THE CLAIRVOYANTS, please see:

Personal Branding Photography for EntrepreneuersABOUT THE AUTHOR: Karen Brown was born in Connecticut. She is the author of a novel, The Longings of Wayward Girls (July 2013), and two short story collections, Pins & Needles (July 2013) and Little Sinners and Other Stories, winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize, and named a Best Book of 2012 by Publishers Weekly. Her work has been featured in The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories, The New York Times, and Good Housekeeping,and in many literary journals. She teaches creative writing and literature at the University of South Florida.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, through these various social media sites:

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[Cover image retrieved from author’s website, as well as other covers of previous works. Author image courtesy of Henry Holt and used with permission. Image from Westfield, NY retrieved from onlyinyourstate.com, images of interior abandoned asylum retrieved from Shaun O’Boyle’s website, woman on laptop/couch retrieved from shutterstock, reading in field from rebloggy.com, all on 5.23.17]

Write On, Wednesay: Special New Series (1/5)–Defining HOME featuring Caroline Leavitt

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By Leslie Lindsay  (image source: www.alphabetart.com 9.4.13)

I have a giant grin on my face today.  Other than the fact that I have the house to myself, a laptop, brain (let’s hope), and basset hound at my feet, I have a new series to share on Wednesdays!  It’s all about the concept of HOME. 

Ever notice how nearly every book you read has some element of home buried deep within the words on the page?  Your reading material may have something to do with big green monsters eating every chocolate chip cookie and then running off to school, but I would wager that those monsters began at say…home?!  The book I just finished reading (Tanya Chernov’s A REAL EMOTIONAL GIRL) had almost everything to do with home (but was largely masked by her grief over her late father).  The next book I picked up, BRAIN ON FIRE (Susannah Cahalan)  might really be about her lost month of insanity, but delve into the pages, and you see an underlying theme of home…her junky New York studio, her childhood home, it all makes an appearance. 

So, I’ve gathered up a handful of great wordsmiths to tell me, in their own words, what defines “home.” 

Each week, I will share a new passage on home.  So, gather ’round, make yourself comfortable and get ready for Caroline Leavitt, Amy Sue Nathan, Karen Brown, Tanya Chernov, and Matt Wertz to tell us their ideas of home…

Today’s featured author…Caroline Leavitt!!  Caroline is a New York Times bestselling author of ten red shirt gardennovels, her most recent IS THIS TOMORROW?  (Which revolves mostly around the concept of ‘home,’ in 1950’s suburbia).  She hosts a robust blog in which she features many authors and their books.  And now…take it away, Caroline!

“For many years, the word home to me meant my parent’s house. Stuck in Suburbia. The rooms coldly silent or torn apart by arguments. I couldn’t wait to leave, to live a life as different as I could imagine. I rented a tiny shoebox apartment in Manhattan, with a slanted floor and barely a kitchen, and when friends gamely said, ‘You could do something with this to make it homey,’ I laughed, because I had no desire to be domestic. As long as my dwelling looked nothing like my family’s, I knew I was safe.

Ah, but then I fell in love. Jeff was the kind of person who took one look at my fridge, with its one carton of yogurt and one loaf of bread, and made a date of shopping, assuring me that it could be fun. Falling in love was a surprise, but suddenly, my tiny apartment wasn’t big enough for us, the rents in Manhattan were too high for the three bedroom we wanted, and we began to look elsewhere. I wanted to look for apartments in Brooklyn or Hoboken, but In the early 90s, you could buy a whole brownstone in Hoboken for 200,000. You could buy a three story 1865 brick row house for $125,000, one with fireplaces in every room, with rosettes on the ceiling.

Houses. I knew what that meant. My parents’ life had unraveled in a house.ITTUSE

I was terrified to move in. I thought that we’d start to argue, that I’d be tied down and domesticated.

Instead, something else happened. Jeff filled the kitchen with food, the rooms with furniture, and my life with love. I began to like having people for dinner, having a kitchen big enough for two to laugh and cook in it. And slowly, I began to realize something. That I didn’t have to turn out to be my mother. That family is not always genetic. And that love can make the house you were most afraid of into the home you love.”

For more information on Caroline and her writing, please see her website:  http://www.carolineleavitt.com/home.htm

[Special thanks to Caroline Leavitt for providing this piece, photos, and her literary enthusiam.  This is an original work by the author and not to be taken as your own.]

Write on, Wednesday: Author Interview & Book Give-a-Way–Karen Brown!!

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By Leslie Lindsay

Write on, Wednesday:  Decontrusting a Novel

I am super-excited to welcome Karen Brown to Write On, Wednesday.  Ms. Brown is the debut novelist of THE LONGINGS OF WAYWARD GIRLS (Washington Square Press, July 2013).  She has written several books of short stories in the past and teaches creative writing & literature at the University of South Florida. Without further adieu…

Leslie Lindsay: As a first time novelist, how did the writing process differ from writing compilations of short stories?  In what ways were you particularly surprised or challenged by the creative process at hand?

Karen Brown: “The short story is all about compression—how much of a world can you create in as few words as possible. You have to reveal a conflict and have something happen to a believable character in a scant twenty pages or less. I’d gotten used to this form, adopting a particular lyrical style—and I enjoyed hinting at things, letting the reader guess or intuit the characters’ motivations. The novel is so very different. I still feel I’m struggling to make the transition, and I have to prod myself to tell more, to show more, to expand scenes. I feel I’ve had to abandon the style that depended on the reader—this worked for a handful of pages, but what reader will spend three hundred pages trying to muddle her way through prose that only hints at things? I’ve found that readers want characters they can identify with intimately, and sometimes this means showing parts of their lives that would be a waste of words in a short story. It’s as if I’d set up my own rules, and now I have to break them!”  

Leslie Lindsay:  THE LONGINGS (of Wayward Girls) is a complex story teetering between the past (1979) and the present (2003) of Sadie Watkins-Stahl’s life.  Sandwiched between the past and present is the disappearance of a young girl who has yet to be found, twenty years later.  As the story unfolds, Sadie recounts various summertime moments that trigger a certain sense of nostalgia.  How many of those summer memories were uniquely yours?  What advice would you give writers so they don’t clog their manuscripts with too many personal asides?

Karen Brown: “The neighborhood of Sadie’s childhood is my own—we did create a “Haunted Woods” and charge admission, and a friend and I did once trick a younger girl by writing a letter from a “farmer boy” and leaving it under a stone. I’ve taken these events and amplified them. Our “Haunted Woods” wasn’t nearly as elaborate, and of course the neighborhood girl never went missing. I used the Haunted Woods in the book because it was an odd, eerie event, and it created a certain tone—one of manipulation and fear. As a child I did write a play, “The Memory of the Fleetfoot Sisters,” and attempted to put it on. I remember being very invested in the show, and when everyone quit I got my first sense of real disappointment—though with what exactly I wasn’t sure. I gave this part of my past to Sadie because she is struggling to keep the creative side of her childhood, and yet knows she is moving past it. So, while I drew on details of my own childhood summertime activities for the novel, I knew I had to pick and choose those that did the job I needed them to.”

Leslie Lindsay: In reading THE LONGINGS, I was particularly struck by the ease and accessibility of Sadie’s affair with Ray.  Without giving too much away, what is it about those old loves that have us wanting to relive the past? 

Karen Brown: “In Sadie’s case, Ray represents a particular summer in her past—one in which things changed irrevocably for her. But I think she latches onto who she was before things went awry. Ray seems unchanged, and she wants to reinvent herself as the person she might have become. It’s as if she is able to re-do her life with him. There was no real relationship between them in the past—there was only what she imagined. Ultimately, they both use each other for their own selfish purposes.”

Leslie Lindsay: Are you a pantser, or a plotter?  What advice would you give a panster who doesn’t like to plot, and a plotter who must have things “just so” before even taking pen to paper?

Karen Brown: “I’m not sure how anyone could keep things straight without writing something down, but I’m a firm believer in letting the story unfold naturally. It’s so much more fun! If I’d known everything that would happen beforehand it would seem tiresome to write it out. I guess for me the writing is a form of discovery. That said, once I knew where I might want to head I did keep notes for myself. “Sadie finds Bea’s love letters” for example. I have a file called “Notes” for each project, and I write things down as reminders. I think a happy mix of notes and fearlessness is necessary.”

Leslie Lindsay: A hot topic—even in fiction—has to do with a writer’s platform.  Can you describe what a platform is, and why it’s so important, anyway?

Image of Karen BrownKaren Brown: “I knew that I needed to have social media in place if I wanted to publish a book, so the basics—Facebook and a website—have been a part of being a writer for me for a while. I added a few other things—Twitter, for example, the summer my book was on submission. I’ve also published stories in magazines, and won a few awards, which gave me something to stand on. It’s always been difficult for me to be an outgoing social media participant. Writing is work I do alone, and I’m not always eager to share anything related to it. But as a teacher I’m trained to be supportive, so I like to think I am a supporter of other writers and of work that I find admirable. Occasionally I will sneak in something about my own process, but rarely about my personal life. In this sense a writer’s platform is a sticky subject for me. Some do it so well—their personalities are open and engaging, and they feel comfortable sharing themselves. Or, their newest project has a basis in a topic that’s historical or cultural, and they use this as a way to project themselves. I do believe publishers want writers who have established some connection with the world—even if it’s just one part of it.”

Leslie LIndsay:  What are you currently working on? 

Karen Brown: “I’ve been revising a novel draft I’d set aside a few years ago. Part of it was set in the Caribbean, and while I’d never been there before I wrote it, I did travel there this spring. I decided to read the draft again, and I discovered I had captured that world pretty well! I also found I still liked the draft—so I thought I’d continue work on it.”

Leslie Lindsay: What are you currently reading?

Karen Brown: “I used to read one book at a time—I wouldn’t even consider reading another before I finished it. But lately I find I’m reading a few books at once—partly due to the variety of ways I’m reading things now. As an ebook, Submergence by J. M. Ledgard, in print, Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead, and online I’m reading Clairvoyance by C.W. Leadbeater.”

Leslie Lindsay: Can you share your social media and other ways to reach you? 

Karen Brown: “Certainly!

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Karen!  Very insightful and inspirational!

The Teacher is Talking:  Saying Bye Bye to Binky

And now….give-a-way details:  Karen has graciously agreed to provide one lucky winner a signed copy of THE LONGINGS OF WAYWARD GIRLS.  Here’s what you have to do:  Comment on the blog or send me an email leslie_lindsay(at) hotmail.com about one of your favorite summer activities as a child.  That’s it.  It can be as long or as short as you’d like.  Winner will be drawn at random next Wednesday, August 21st.  Open to U.S. residents only.  Please check your junk mail as winner’s will be notified via email.  Thanks and good luck!! 

Up next: Karen, along with authors Caroline Leavitt, Amy Sue Nathan and singer/songwriter Matt Wertz will be joining us later this August to share their ideas of “home.” a common, yet complex theme in many literary subtexts.

Write on, Wednesday: The Benefit of Book Trailers

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By Leslie LindsayWrite On, Wednesday:  Creating a World So Believable Your Critique Partners Think You're Having an Affair

No doubt you’ve heard of a movie trailer, right?  The commericial-style blurb about an upcoming or already-showing movie–a sneak-peak of the funniest/most romantic/endearing/action-packed segments that leave you eager for more.  But a book trailer?!?  What the heck is that?!

Simply put, a book trailer is another means of bringing attention to a book and/or the author.  We live in a media age–from iPhones to streaming videos and music from our laptops, reading is now becoming a little well–mainstream.  Not that I agree with the novelty of it, but I do agree that there is something to say for the efficiency of electronic devices.  Again, it’s still a concept I struggle with. 

If you’re into book trailers, then great!  It’s yet another avenue to reach potential readers.  Here’s a list of “fantastic book trailers and why they are so fantastic:” http://therumpus.net/2013/06/fantastic-book-trailers-and-the-reasons-theyre-so-good/ 

One of my favorites is from Deb Caletti’s HE’S GONE (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sz-n4-TSDGA Wow–this one starts out almost exactly like the book (see Deb’s interview from last week’s post).  Yet, it’s different–I “saw” Dani differently in my mind’s eye and seeing her in the book trailer through off my perspective and shook my imagination.  While the HE’S GONE trailer had me wanting more, I know, from past experience that movies are hardly ever as good as the book. 

If multimedia platform development speaks to you, consider yourself lucky.  Writers and authors today are expected to do the lion’s share of marketing and promotion of their work–even with agents and publicists on board.  Making connections, reaching out to (potential) readers, and being personable is all an added value to the busy author. 

Are  you a luddite when it comes to technology?  Would you rather just hole up and write your All-American novel while someone else markets your book?  (Son’t worry–I’m right there with ya). Try this writerly assignment instead: 

  • If your book were to be a movie, who would direct it? 
  • What about cinematogrpahy?  Would you have it documentary style?  Close panning of the camera?  Wide-shots? 
  • What soundtrack might you give your “movie”/book?  (a favorite on-going excercise for me to to download songs from iTunes which I think are inspirational for my story &/or character)
  • Who would play the part of your antagonist and protagonist?  What character traits (in movies or TV) do they embody?  Perhaps they are a conglomeration of several characters?  (My “Steve” is Dr. Gregory House mixed with Jerry Seinfeld; my “Joe” is Pierce Brosnan, “Beth” is Claire Danes).
  • Create a collage of your book.  Pull from magazines, catalogs, even on-line images.  Print ’em off develop a “story board” collage.  Images often help create flow.  (I’m actually planning to make “character cards” with an image I think resembles my character along with vital data and goals, fears, etc.  I may even laminate them so I can carry along when I work remotely). 

For more ideas on book marketing and promotion–and making you own book trailer, see:

Coming up Next Week:  Interview with debut novelist Karen Brown on THE LONGINGS OF WAYWARD GIRLS.

Coming up!

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By Leslie Lindsay Write on, Wednesday:  Decontrusting a Novel

I love “coming up” posts!  It means I am excited about something–and life is unfolding in a really nice fashion. 

So, thought I’d share a few upcoming posts I have lined up:

  • Author Deb Caletti pops over to talk about her newest book, HE’S GONE (July 31st), a suspense thriller for adults (she has quite a following for YA, this is a bit of a genre shift).  Have you ever wondered….”What if?”  Seems that’s the basis for this book.  What if he just never came home?  What if you just won a million bucks?  Those what if questions  often spin themselves into great fiction.  By the way, Ms. Caletti’s book has a great trailer.  Ever heard of a book trailer?  We’ll talk a bit about that in the following weeks, too (think August).
  • Another author, Karen Brown will be with us later in August.  THE LONGINGS OF WAYWARD GIRLS is her first novel, but Ms. Brown has published anthologies of short stories in the past.  Reading the book now and I find the language lyrical, the dilemma’s authentic, and the descriptions of summer’s past alluring.  Keep your eyeballs peeled for a mid-August interview with Karen.
  • More tips and ideas from singer/songwriter Matt Wertz
  • Symbolism, theme, and setting for your novel. 

As always, if you have ideas or suggestions for posts, or would like to submit a guest piece, give me a holler at leslie_lindsay(at)hotmail.com

Look forward to hearing from you!!

Fiction Friday: What are YOU Reading this Summer?!

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By Leslie Lindsay

Instead of throwing out another excerpt of what I am writing today, thought I’d share a few of my must-read summer selections.  Whether you’re going away to a tropical location or just sitting comfortably in an air conditioned library, I am sure you, too have a love for reading. 

Here goes!

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan.  Who doesn’t love J. Courtney Sullivan and her epic stories of girlfriends in college (Commencement), East Coast Irish-Catholic families (Maine) and now her lastest, THE ENGAGEMENTS?  This one is a slice of American–and Product DetailsFrench–marriage.  Cascading through time, going back as far as 1947 and ending with “present-day” 2012, we meet a host of characters, from Frances a single woman in the 1940s-50’s who coined the phrase, “A diamond is forever” to 1972 and the scandal of divorce, moving right along to 1987 and the world of paramedics and a family struggling financially…to 2003 where we delve into a world of music and all things French and finally wrapping things up with a gay wedding of 2012. 

Caroline Leavitt’s IS THIS TOMORROW also hits my Summer reading list.  Loved this portrayal of a single Jewish mother raising a son in the 1950’s suburbs of Boston.  When one of the son’s friends goes missing, the entire community is baffled.  Part history, part suspence, part women’s fiction, we are thrust into a world of secrets, lies and Product Detailsdisillusionment.  The books transcends time and culture with the advent of a male nursing assistant in 1963, as well as single–and dating–Jewish mothers of the 1950’s.  According to Ms. Leavitt, “I was an only Jewish kid growing up in the Christian suburbs and I wanted to write about that.” 

HE’S GONE by  Deb Caletti truly resonated with me.  Wow.  This book was packed with wonderful description and imagery, gritty and compelling language, and with a Product Detailstwist I didn’t really see coming.  Well, parts of it I did.  What would happen if you woke up one morning and your spouse was just gone?  This is what Dani Keller experiences one Sunday…a day turns into two and then a week.  Where is her husband?!  This one reminded me a lot of last summer’s GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn (which, is another must-read). 

THE LONGINGS OF WAYWARD GIRLS by debut novelist Angela Brown.  While this author has published short stories (and poetry, I believe), she now has her first novel coming onto the scene July 2nd.  This one is also set in New England summer suburbia  where the days are long and the longings are…well, it’s all about the split between adolesence and childhood.  Looks captivating. 

SISTERLAND.  A new book from author Curtis Sittenfeld.  A to-be-released any day book, this one is definitely on my to-read list.  Twin sisters just happen to be psychic.  One of them is named Kate (my daughter’s name) and it takes place in the St. Louis area (my hometown)

 To See what the Editors of Writer’s Digest of Reading this Summer, Click here: 

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/what-are-you-reading-this-summer?et_mid=623617&rid=233613076