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Pseudonyms July 25, 2011

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in chick lit, multi-cultural fiction, mystery, non-fiction.
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Samuel Clemons had Mark Twain. Charles Dodson had Lewis Carroll. The Bronte sisters had the Bells. Pseudonymns. For reasons public and private, long-speculated and tossed glibly in gossip, these and thousands of other authors through the years chose to publish their writing under different names. The reasons they chose pen names are many, varied from author to author and era to era. This week in #litchat we’ll discuss authors writing under pseudonyms.

We have a treat in store this week with two guest hosts. On Wednesday, July 27, Carmela Ciuraru joins us to discuss her new book, Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms. Friday, July 29, a mystery novelist will share why she chose to publish her debut novel, A Good Excuse to Be Bad, under the pen name Miranda Parker.

Carmela Ciuraru, Nom De Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms

Nom De Plume is an engaging glimpse into the lives of 18 literary icons who published under pen names. Rather than try to psychoanalyze why these complex individuals chose pen names, Ciuraru draws from scholarly sources, first-person anecdotes, diaries, and public record to contrast the authors with their alter egos. Ciuraru asserts that the choice of pen name and how the author employs—or lives within—the pseudonym reveals as much about the person as the words he/she writes. The secrets alluded to in the book’s subtitle aren’t new author scandals, conspiracies or mysteries, but overlooked details that distinguish the character of the author from the alias. Nom De Plume unites rigorous research with witty and playful prose, resulting in a book writers will be putting on their holiday gift lists for years to come.

Carmela Ciuraru does not write under a pseudonym. In addition to Nom De Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms, Ciuraru’s anthologies include First Loves: Poets Introduce the Essential Poems That Captivated and Inspired Them (Scribner) and Solitude Poems (Alfred A. Knopf/Everyman’s Library). A graduate of Columbia University’s Journalism School, she is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and PEN American Center. She has written for the  New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, O, The Oprah Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, and other publications. She is a 2011 Fellow in Nonfiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA).

Follow Carmela Ciuraru on Twitter: @CarmelaTheTwit.

Miranda Parker, A Good Excuse To Be Bad

Miranda Parker may or may not reveal her real name during her visit to #litchat. She will, however, share why she chose to write under a pen name. Her debut novel, A Good Excuse To Be Bad, is the first in a series featuring drop-dead gorgeous bounty hunter Evangeline Crawford. When her brother-in-law, the high-profile pastor of an Atlanta megachurch, is murdered and her twin sister arrested for the crime, Evangeline uses her brains and her beauty to reveal the killer. Evangeline, nicknamed “Angel,” flirts and flaunts while on the job, but off duty, the girl walks a mean straight and narrow.

After graduating from Agnes Scott College, the author known as Miranda Parker began working as a features editor for various magazines and spent many years as a publicist for national recording artists, actors, ministers, and authors. However, writing fun, fiesty, redemptive bad girl gone good stories is her passion. She resides with her family in Georgia near a horse ranch and her daughter’s Girl Scout Troop. On a perfect day she can be found curled up with a good book or in a movie theater with a bucket of popcorn.

Follow Miranda Parker on Twitter: @MirandaParker2.

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Memoir Masquerade May 15, 2011

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in chick lit, fiction, novelography.
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Dana Precious

Fiction is made of lies sprinkled with truth. Or is it made of truth written as lies? Either way, some novels are referred to as veiled autobiography, or as #litchat has tagged them, novelography. Why do some writers couch their life stories in fiction, rather than memoir? What about memoirs later exposed as fiction? This week in #litchat we’re discussing memoir masquerading as fiction.

Joining us on Friday, May 20, is Dana Precious, author of Born Under a Lucky Moon (William Morrow). A debut novel released in February, Precious admits much of the storyline is derived from her real life.

“The novel Born Under A Lucky Moon, while fictional, is based on real life events in my life,” writes Precious in the novel’s website.” The story that takes place in 1986 is inspired by some things that happened in my life.  It noodled around in my head for decades until I knew I had to write it down just to stop thinking about it.  I did compress some events to fit into a specific time frame.”

Born Under a Lucky Moon is the tale of two very important (but distant) years in the lives of Hollywood studio executive Jeannie Thompson and her colorful family members to whom zany things just seem to happen. From the Great Lakes of Michigan to Los Angeles and back again, it is a story of unexpected marriage proposals, surprise marriages, a renegade granny, a sprinkler system cursed by the gods, and myriad other factors Jeannie blames for her full-tilt, out-of-control existence.

“Why I felt I had to write part of Born Under A Lucky Moon also as a present day love story was not self evident to me for a long time.  It just kind of kept inserting back itself into the book – much like it kept inserting itself into [character] Jeannie’s life.  It started as a tale of two confused lovers with the most vague of a Hollywood setting.  Gradually it took form and I’m pleased with the results.”

As an advertising executive for a Hollywood studio, Precious draws the line about the reality of much of the Hollywood hijinks occurring in the storyline.

“Other than the fact that I worked (and still work) as a film studio marketing executive, this part of the story is completely fictional.  Maybe I was inspired by the behaviors, excesses and eccentricities that I witnessed in the film business but no character, event or place is true. ”

Follow Dana Precious on Twitter: @danaprecious.

Quick Change Authors: Writing in Multiple Genres January 15, 2011

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in bestsellers, chick lit, children's literature, coming-of-age, commercial fiction, fiction, historical fiction, YA fiction.
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Lauren Baratz-Logsted

It’s been said that a good writer can slip between genres without leaving tracks. Ken Follett made his name with action-packed cold war suspense, but turned the clock back hundreds of years with his medieval historical fiction. Margaret Atwood’s science fiction holds its own against her literary work, while Joyce Carol Oates writes in several genres using two additional pen names. The bard himself wrote comedies, tragedies and sonnets.

This week in #litchat we’re discussing what it takes to write well, publish and be read in multiple genres. Joining us on Friday, January 21, 2011, is Lauren Baratz-Logsted. One of the most prolific authors of our day, Baratz-Logsted has successfully published children’s early readers, young adult, chick-lit, adult suspense. Just last week Baratz-Logsted wrote “the end” on the ninth book in her popular children’s series, THE SISTERS EIGHT.

A graduate of University of Connecticut at Storrs, in 1994 Logsted-Baratz left her job at a bookstore to take a chance on herself as a writer. Success did not happen over night. Between 1994 and May 2002 – when Red Dress Ink called with an offer to buy THE THIN PINK LINE – Lauren worked as a book reviewer, a freelance editor and writer, and a window washer, making her arguably the only woman in the world who has ever both hosted a book signing party and washed the windows of the late best-selling novelist Robert Ludlum. Since Red Dress Ink’s call in 2002, Baratz-Logsted has been very busy writing novels and checking her Amazon ranking on a daily basis. She still lives in Danbury, with her husband and daughter, where she has lived since 1991.

Follow Lauren Baratz-Logsted on Twitter: @LaurenBaratzL

Note: There will be no moderated #litchat on Monday, January 16, while we observe the Martin Luther King holiday in the United States.

Read chatscripts from this week’s #litchat:

January 19, 2011: Quick Change Authors

January 21, 2011: Quick Change Authors, Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Reinvention July 5, 2010

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in Books Are Great Gifts, chick lit, commercial fiction, fiction, women's fiction.
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July 5-9, 2010

Claire Cook (photo: Diane Dillon)

We begin as children—-sons, daughters—-and through the years we assume additional titles by natural growth—-wife, husband, teacher, doctor, etc. Other titles are thrust upon us without consent, but stick just as well: single mother, ex-thisorthat, widow, survivor. What do we do when these titles define us in ways we don’t wish to exist? We reinvent ourselves.

Claire Cook‘s latest romcom novel, Seven Year Switch, plays with the theme of reinventing oneself. The notion that every seven years you become a new person drives the theme of Seven Year Switch, but don’t expect a deep, introspective search on the part of Cook’s protagonist. Jill Murray is an entrepreneurial mother singling it with sass when she’s faced with the options of two men—-her long-lost husband come home from the Peace Corps, or a wild young inventor who aids in Jill’s reinvention of herself.

Cook is the author of seven novels, Seven Year Switch, The Wildwater Walking Club, Summer Blowout, Life’s a Beach, Multiple Choice, Ready to Fall, and Must Love Dogs. She wrote her first novel in her minivan outside her daughter’s swim practice at five in the morning. It was published when she was 45, and at 50, she walked the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of the adaptation of Must Love Dogs which became a Warner Bros. movie starring Diane Lane and John Cusack.

Follow Claire Cook on Twitter: @ClaireCookBooks

Chick Lit is Alive and Well February 21, 2010

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in chick lit, weekly topics.
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Topic of the Week: February 22-26, 2010

Jill Amy RosenblattRecent releases by pop authors Sophie Kinsella (Shopaholic) and the writing team of Emma McLaughlin/Nicola Kraus (Nanny Diaries), as well as dozens of other books with sassy heroines in wild situations, indicate that chick lit is certainly not a dying breed of novel. The term “chick lit” may be considered passé in some circles, yet devoted chick lit readers love the term and can’t get enough of these saucy stories. Join us this week in LitChat as we discuss this often misunderstood genre.

Guest host on Friday is Jill Amy Rosenblatt, author of two chick lit novels, Project Jennifer (August 2008) and For Better or Worse (August 2009). For Better or Worse drafts the life of three women through madcap adventures in business, romance and marriage.

Rosenblatt lives on Long Island. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Writing and Literature from Burlington College in Vermont.

Moderating this week’s chat is Mariana Blaser. Follow her on Twitter at @mariblaser

Follow Rosenblatt at @JillARosenblatt

Getting the Scoop January 10, 2010

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in chick lit, weekly topics.
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Topic of the Week: January 11-18, 2010

What would you do to get what you’ve always wanted? Would you out a friend in the closet to get a promotion? Would you write a derivative trendy novel to get a book deal? Would you sell your father’s prized collection of Marvel Comics to fund a breast augmentation? This week in LitChat we’re discussing Getting the Scoop–What would you do to get a story (or the thing you’ve always wanted).

In her novel, Spin, author Catherine McKenzie takes you on a fast-paced journey of self-discovery in this wickedly candid and genuinely funny story of a woman who must make a Sophie’s Choice for her career. McKenzie’s protagonist, a 30-year-old journalist named Kate, blows an interview for her dream job at a trendy music magazine when she shows up hungover from a bender the night before. All is not lost when they dangle a second chance at the spot if she goes undercover in a posh rehab lodge to get the scoop on the latest celebrity party girl. What Kate learns about herself while in rehab drives the character development, and though the ending is fairly predictable, the battle of scruples and schemes within Kate and how she triumphs will make Spin one of the hottest beach reads of 2010.

Catherine McKenzie was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, where she now works as a litigator. When not serving on many professional associations, she sits on the board of the Montreal Children’s Library and Bishop’s College School, and teaches part-time at McGill University’s faculty of law. Spin is her first novel. We hope it’s not her last novel.

Topic of the Week: Plots, Places & Protagonists September 14, 2009

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in chick lit, fiction, literary fiction, weekly topics, YA fiction.
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Where do the ideas for fiction come from? Is there an idea factory where plots are hatched, protagonists are conceived and places are drawn? How do prolific authors produce one book after another without becoming stale and hackneyed? Join us this week in #litchat as we discuss “Plots, Places & Protagonists.”

Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Lauren Baratz-Logsted may be one of the most prolific authors publishing today, with novels spanning the range from adult suspense to chick-lit to children’s, with a good dose of YA thrown in. Her latest novel, Crazy Beautiful, is a YA retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story set for today’s teens. Her Sisters Eight series of children’s books (co-bylined with her husband Greg and nine-year-old daughter, Jackie) have received widespread acclaim.

In addition to writing fiction, Lauren is a freelance editor and can be contracted for independent editing projects through her website. She blogs regularly through several sites, including Red Room.

A graduate of the University of Connecticut at Storrs, Lauren has worked as a buyer for a major bookstore, a book reviewer, a freelance editor and writer, and a window washer. After her first novel, The Thin Pink Line, sold in 2002, Lauren devoted herself to writing more novels and checking her Amazon ranking on a daily basis. She lives in Danbury, Conn. with her husband (author Greg Logsted, @GregLogsted) and daughter.

Follow Lauren on Twitter at @LaurenBaratzL