All posts tagged: writing craft

Elizabeth Brundage discusses her fabulously dark and mysterious new novel, THE VANISHING POINT, how she enjoys investigating conflict from several angles, stylistic choices, existential questions & more

By Leslie Lindsay A spare, unflinching, gorgeously rendered tale of intersections and cross-sections of our lives, the memories, jealousies, secrets, and more. I am swooning over THE VANISHING POINT (Little, Brown May 18 2021) by Elizabeth Brundage. It’s eerie, evocative, entangling and pulls at a knotted thread of mystery. Here it has all of the hallmarks for gorgeous prose: it’s emotionally resonant leaving the reader with residual feelings and thoughts while at the same time generating forward momentum, it’s stunning. Julian Ladd and Rye Adler are photography students–and roommates, briefly—during a time while attending an exclusive workshop, mentored by Brodsky, a photography great. It’s mostly men, but there’s a woman, too, Magda, a Polish immigrant who has spent most of her life in the U.S. Both men are fascinated and captivated by her, but no one can seem to ‘have’ her. Julian and Rye’s lives diverge; they take different paths. Julian becomes ensconced in the pharmaceutical industry and Rye pursues photography. In fact, he’s at the top of his game, snapping photographs of celebrities and the like. But now someone’s …

Tori Starling talks about her debut, CRAZY FREE, traversing three generations of women, postpartum depression, anxiety; plus a defunct mental health institution, how we need more resources, the healing power of energy medicine, more

By Leslie Lindsay What if the story you had always been led to believe about your family was shaken with a new, devastating truth? ~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Spotlight: Motherhood & Mental Health What if the story you had always been led to believe about your family was shaken with a new, devastating truth? That’s the overarching question in CRAZY FREE (Juniper Ray Publishing, April 20th), a debut by Tori Starling. I was immediately entranced with this stunning cover, but what’s more: CRAZY FREE focuses on issues that are near and dear to my heart: motherhood and mental illness. Emily Sharp has always known there were holes in her family history. Her mother, Pam, a high-strung attorney, rarely speaks of her father she despises and her mother died when she was a baby. Emily is a journalist with an assignment from Southern Speaks, a local magazine, to investigate a defunct mental institution known as Hamilton Meadow. While there, Emily discovers more about the institution and Pam reluctantly opens up about her sordid family …

Deborah Shepherd on unearthing a 30-year old manuscript, re-writing it, character development, mental health, gardening, first loves, being creative at all ages and more in SO HAPPY TOGETHER

By Leslie Lindsay  Completely engaging and totally immersive read about a woman’s journey to find her long-lost love, but what she finds is completely different from what she imagined. ~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ May Spotlight: Mothers & Mental Health/Illness  When Carolyn Tanner flees her unhappy marriage for a cross-country trip to find her long-lost ‘true love’ Peter, she’s in for a bumpy ride. I loved SO HAPPY TOGETHER (published by SWP April 20 2021). I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one–would it be sappy? Sad? Mysterious? Too light? I was completely gobsmacked with SO HAPPY TOGETHER, which is told from the POV of a smart, feisty, and instantly likable wife/mother/writer. Carolyn Mills-Tanner’s stultifying marriage and life as a harried mother is wearing thin. Her three children–ranging in ages from 8 to 14, are heading to summer camp and Carolyn now has the opportunity to travel cross-country to find her first love, Peter MacKinley, from her days as a drama major at the University of Arizona. She leaves a ‘Dear John’ note for her …

Hugely moving and tragic memoir, EVERYTHING’S FINE about mothers, sons, & brothers…one with severe mental illness, a horrific tragedy, healing, more–Vince Granata and I chat about this and more

By Leslie Lindsay An extraordinarily moving memoir about a family ripped from balance at the hands of a severally mentally ill individual, EVERYTHING IS FINE (Atria, April 2021) is about grief, mental illness, mothers and sons, and so much more.  ~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS |ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Memoir Monday: Mental Health Awareness Month An extraordinarily moving memoir about a family ripped from balance at the hands of a severally mentally ill individual, EVERYTHING IS FINE (Atria, April 2021) is about grief, mental illness, mothers and sons, and so much more.  I finished this book last night and I am so moved and yet, simultaneously disturbed. It’s one of the most gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, authentic memoirs I’ve read in a long time. This family will stay with me. Vince Granata recalls standing in front of his suburban home, chalk in hand, as he greeted his mother and father and three siblings (triplets) home from the hospital. The family had just doubled in size. He was ecstatic; finally: playmates, siblings. But twenty-three years later, one of those siblings–Tim–will develop severe mental illness–likely schizophrenia. He’s plagued by paranoid delusions, …

Is there a WRONG WAY TO SAVE YOUR LIFE? Maybe our experiences are so widely varied that there is no wrong—or right way? Megan STIELSTRA talks about thiS, motherhood, feeling stuck, being seen

by Leslie Lindsay Raw, bold and ravishing memoir loosely hinged on the concept of fear. ~MEMOIR MONDAY|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS Book of the Year Award, Nonfiction, Chicago Review of Books, December 2017 Best Books of 2017, Chicago Public Library, December 2017 Best Books of 2017, Chicago Magazine, December 2017 Best Books of 2017, Heidi Stevens for the Chicago Tribune, December 2017 2017 Favorites, The Rumpus, December 2017 Best Nonfiction of 2017, Vol 1. Brooklyn, December 2017 Best Books by Women in 2017, Bustle, November 2017 Great Essay Collections of 2017, Book Riot, November 2017 Finalist, Book of the Year, Nonfiction, Chicago Writer’s Association, October 2017 Is it instinct, or distinct? I am not sure and I think both apply in THE WRONG WAY TO SAVE YOUR LIFE by Megan Stielstra (Harper Perennial, 2017). Here, we dive into so many topics that are forbidden at the dinner table: feminism, the perils of academia, the writing life, postpartum depression, childhood cancer, motherhood, sex. And fear. There’s so much fear under these words, it’s palpable. These essays–or stories–snapshots, …

Inspired by a time of isolation & distance from her family, prolific and award-winning author Sebnem Isiguzel pens a story of about coming of age during a violent political unrest in THE GIRL IN THE TREE

By Leslie Lindsay  A young woman climbs the tallest tree in Instanbul’s centuries-old Gulahane Park, determined to live out the rest of her days there, what follows is her story.  ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Şebnem İşigüzel is a prolific and much-lauded writer in her native Turkey, and with publication of THE GIRL IN THE TREE (Amazon, April 17 2020), American readers will discover a fresh, memorable, and extraordinary voice in contemporary literature. Amnesty International’s website describes the Gezi Park protests this way: “On 30 May 2013, police cleared Gezi Park in central Istanbul of a small group of protestors opposed to its destruction. The denial of their right to protest and the violence used by the police touched a nerve and a wave of anti-government demonstrations swept across Turkey.”  What really happened in Gezi in 2013? In Şebnem İşigüzel’s THE GIRL IN THE TREEthe author gives voice to that world in a powerful debut about a girl’s coming of age amid violent unrest and her unexpected escape. Perched in an abandoned stork’s nest in a sanctuary …

Colette Sartor talks about her sublime collection of linked stories in ONCE REMOVED, but also how she never intended to write a collection; the grittier side to L.A., a study in storymapping and so much more

By Leslie Lindsay  Stunning collection of interlinked stories featuring strong, yet vulnerable women, exploring fears, desires, earned raw emotion, and so much more. ~FICTION FRIDAY|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ FLANNERY O’CONNOR AWARD FOR SHORT FICTION I am literally swooning over this collection of interlinked stories by Colette Sartor. ONCE REMOVED: Stories (University of Georgia Press, September 2019) and winner of the Flannery O’Conner Award for Short Fiction, shimmers with radiant, but unsettling characters in authentic situations. It’s mostly about intimacy–and I’m not talking about sex here–it’s the voids and turns of life brimming with emotional complexity. It’s about babies and meals, traditions, and customs. It’s about houses and homes; leaving and going; about love and grief, fierce natures and grudge-holders. It’s about disillusionment and estrangement. The prose is pounding with pulse, and yet, there’s a lyrical restraint here, too. Sartor strips away the facade we fallible humans hide behind, revealing the (sometimes) crumbling foundation. She excavates the fears, desires, secrets in ways that are surprising and while troublesome, are also delightful. The emotion here is raw, but it’s …

Twisty courtroom drama about special needs, medical exploration, lies, secrets, immigration, and so much more in Angie Kim’s fabulous debut–now in paperback–MIRACLE CREEK

By Leslie Lindsay  A literary courtroom thriller about an immigrant family, a fascinating medical exploration, secrets, lies, and more. *NATIONAL BESTSELLER* NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK! ~Pub Day Spotlight | ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ May IndieNext Pick ♦ April LibraryReads Selection ♦ April Book of the Month Club Pick ♦ Amazon Editors’ Pick ♦ Apple Books 2019 Top Ten Debuts ♦ Time Magazine 11 Best Fiction Books of 2019 So Far ♦ Washington Post Summer Reads ♦ Good Morning America Hot Summer Read ♦Entertainment Weekly April Jewels ♦ ELLE April Reading List ♦ Real Simple The Short List ♦ Southern Living Best Spring Books ♦ July Junior Library Guild Adult Crossover Selection (Grades 11 & Up) PLUS, named a Most Anticipated 2019 Book by BuzzFeed, Nylon, The Millions, Electric Lit, BookRiot, CrimeReads / LitHub, GoodReads, Vulture and more ~NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK~   MIRACLE CREEK (April 2019) is such a powerhouse of a novel from Angie Kim, I was seriously questioning whether it was truly a debut, it’s that good. In rural Miracle Creek, Virginia, Young and her husband, Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment, hyperbaric chamber known as ‘the miracle submarine.’ It’s a pressurized oxygen chamber patients enter for therapeutic reasons–the ‘dives’ could potentially cure anything from autism to …

WeekEND Reading: What if an Orthodox Jewish New York man was somehow displaced to Alabama? How do authors express hope for our country in these new political times, and so much more in J.J. Gesher’s A NARROW BRIDGE

By Leslie Lindsay  Blazingly original debut by co-authors under the pen name J.J. Gesher, A NARROW BRIDGE seeks to bring cultural, religious, and racial groups together through music, grief, and more.  After a childhood of rebellion, including drug abuse, Jacob Fisher has come to terms with his demons. Living as an Orthodox Jew in Brooklyn, his life is one of comfort and peace. Until the unthinkable happens and Jacob’s world crumbles under the ruins of anguish. What’s a man to do but flee? He finds himself in a completely different world from his ‘norm,’ in the heart of the Alabama south…in the basement of a Baptist church. His life and presence is shrouded in mystique, but Rosie is determined to get to the bottom of Jacob’s secret. At once a psychological mystery and also a personal coming-to-terms novel. (It’s not really suspense or thriller, but much more literary in terms of ‘what’s going on with this guy,’ but we, the readers know). A NARROW BRIDGE merges the teachings of the Talmud with Christianity, intermingling with race, …

Write on, Wednesday: A Second Grade Intro to Fiction Writing

By Leslie Lindsay At then end of this past school year, my newly-minted little 3rd grader came home with a bag full of stuff from 2nd grade.  In it, I came across this cute little construction paper project which must have been created in her Word Study unit.  I just had to share!  My second-grader was learning all of these wonderful writing terms like:  The main character:  The Girl in Gooney Bird Green, a book they were reading as a class. Secondary character: the parents…. Flashback Flashforward Suspense   I was totally impressed!  Did you learn these components of fiction writing as early as 8 years old?  I don’t think I did!  Just think of what kind of jump-start our youngest little authors may have over those who didn’t get started this young…that is, if she wants to be a writer!  Looking at these school papers got me interested in looking at my own work-in-progress, as elementary as that may be.  Ask yourself these questions:  Who are my main characters?  Secondary ones?  Teriatry characters?  What …