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MediaMonday: Reading Fiction Opens the Mind June 17, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in MediaMonday.
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According to this Pacific-Standard piece by Tom Jacobs, new research suggests that reading fiction—literary fiction in particular—may lead to more sophisticated thinking and creativity. We’ll discuss this idea in today’s #litchat MediaMonday.

“…while reading, the reader can simulate the thinking styles even of people he or she might personally dislike. One can think along and even feel along with Humbert Humbert in Lolita, no matter how offensive one finds this character. This double release—of thinking through events without concerns for urgency and permanence, and thinking in ways that are different than one’s own—may produce effects of opening the mind.”–Tom Jacobs

Also this week in #litchat:

WritingWednesday for June 19, 2013

Necessary Conflict in Fiction

Guest Host for June 21, 2013

Josh Hanagarne, author of The World’s Strongest Librarian


Guest Host: Brian Sweany June 13, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in guest host.
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Brian Sweany in #litchatYou’ve likely heard or read someone’s claim that life was more simple before mobile phones, texting and Facebook. But was it? Brian Sweany draws a compelling argument against that notion in his debut novel, Exotic Music of the Belly Dancer.

Imagine a literary Bart Simpson and his wild and wonderful family. Call them the Fitzgeralds. Set them in South Bend, Ind. in the late 1980s when hair was big, jeans were tight, and SUVs were called station wagons. A for-sure set-up for comedic nostalgia, but Sweany slips in a couple of serious sidelines that suck your breath away.

Swing by #litchat on Friday, June 14, 4 p.m. E.T. to catch author Brian Sweany discuss his novel, Exotic Music of the Belly Dancer.

exotic_music_of_the_belly_dancerHank Fitzgerald is your average hormone-drenched teenager in a comfortable middle class home. He has all of the things most teenage boys dream of—a car, a sexy girlfriend, good looks, indulgent parents, and a younger sister to tease. His parents don’t though. They want another baby. As Hank parties his way through high school, he keeps gimlet eyes on the bedroom highs and miscarriage lows of his parents. When the unthinkable happens, Hank is forced to accept that life isn’t what happens to you, it’s what you make from what happens.

Exotic Music of the Belly Dancer may not feature exotic music, nor a belly dancer, but its vivid voice, wry asides and satirical winks make up for it.

From Sweany’s website bio:  “Since 1999 Brian Sweany has worked for Recorded Books, one of the world’s largest audiobook publishers. Prior to that he edited cookbooks and computer manuals and claims to have saved a major pharmaceutical company from being crippled by the Y2K bug.

Brian has a BS in English and History from Eastern Michigan University, from which he graduated magna cum laude in 1995. A former semi-professional student, his collegiate tour included stop-overs at Wabash College (the all-male school that reputedly fired Ezra Pound from its faculty for having sex with a prostitute), Marian University (the former all-female school founded by Franciscan nuns that if you don’t count Brian’s expulsion has fired no one of consequence and is relatively prostitute-free), and Indiana University (via a high school honors course he has no recollection of ever attending).

Brian is about halfway finished with the sequel, Making Out With Blowfish. Brian has spent most of his life in the Midwest and now lives near Indianapolis with his wife and three children.”

Follow Brian Sweany on Twitter: @briansweany.

WritingWednesday: Transitions in Fiction June 11, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in WritingWednesday.

Characters moving through time and space is the essence of fiction. How they pass through story is done through scenes and transitions. Transitions can be as simple as a double space break to indicate a new scene, or they can be one paragraph—even one sentence—expeditionary passages. Transitions can imply the passage of time, unveil a change of setting, or introduce new characters. In this week’s WritingWednesday, we’re going to discuss transitions in fiction. Listed below are some resources to support your knowledge of transitions.

Ask the Writing Teacher: Transitions
Edan Lepucki, The Millions

Scene Transitions and Hooks
Shirley Jump, shirleyjump.com

Mastering Scene Transitions
Beth Hill, The Editor’s Blog

Anne Rice on Transitions (video)
Anne Rice, Bedford/St. Martin’s Facebook

Transitions: Getting Your Story Through Time and Space
Caro Clarke, CaroClarke.com

Passages of Time and Transitions
Scott G. F. Bailey, The Literary Lab

A. J. Humpage, All Write – Fiction Advice

WritingWednesday discussion begins at 4 p.m. E.T. in Twitter using #litchat hashtag. See you there.

MediaMonday: Female Authors and the Great American Novel June 10, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in literary fiction, MediaMonday.
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This piece in Salon, Rachel Kushner’s Ambitious New Novel Scares Male Critics, by Laura Miller in Salon, is just too good not to discuss in #litchat. Here’s an excerpt:

The deliberate pursuit of the Great American Novel has always been a peculiarly masculine endeavor. It is a book, in Mailer’s words, designed to “seize the temper of the time and turn it.” To attempt to write the Great American Novel is to surmise that you can speak on behalf of an entire, fractious nation.~Laura Miller, Salon

Join us today at 4 p.m. E.T. to discuss the Salon piece and the mystique of the Great American Novel.

Later This Week in #litchat

Writing Wednesday for June 12, 2013

Transitions: Moving Your Fiction from One Scene to Another

Guest Host on Friday, June 14, 2013

Brian Sweany, author of Exotic Music of the Belly Dancer.

Guest Host: Chris Cleave June 6, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in commercial fiction, weekly topics.
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Chris CleaveThere are athletes and there are Athletes. Chris Cleave portrays a trio of athletes of the capital variety in his latest novel, Gold. Kate, Zoe and Jack met on the same day in an elite training program for promising young cyclists. They’re each 19, fit, and fabulous on their bikes and off. Though they are all bound for Olympic glory, rivalries and relationships follow them through years of training, competition and everyday life.

Chris Cleave is guest host of #litchat on Friday, June 7, 2013, 4-5 p.m. E.T.

As the novel slips up and down through time, we learn that Jack, the unwitting hub of this trio, is married to Kate, but has a complicated history with Zoe, who becomes Kate’s best friend. This history greases the gears throughout the story as Kate and Jack make sacrifices on behalf of their critically ill daughter, Sophie. Kate misses her first Olympics when she must stay home with infant Sophie, still in the danger zone from her premature birth.Gold Zoe, wild and tuned for trouble, goes on to compete and wins her first two gold medals. Four years later, Zoe gets the gold again in Beijing after her closest competition, Kate, leaves the games early for a health emergency with Sophie. Shift forward four more years and Zoe and Kate must go wheel to wheel again to see who gets a chance for London’s gold.

The complicated backstories of each character—including the wonderful child Sophie—transform Gold from an ordinary tale about Olympic success, to one of sacrifice, surrender and satisfaction.

Chris Cleave’s debut novel Incendiary won a 2006 Somerset Maugham Award, was shortlisted for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize, and won the United States Book-of-the-Month Club’s First Fiction award 2005. It had an unusual start in life, being a novel about an imagined terrorist attack on London that was published, by awful coincidence, on 7th July 2005.  His second novel, published in 2008, is titled Little Bee in Canada and the US, where it is a New York Times #1 bestseller. It is titled The Other Hand in the UK, where it is a Sunday Times bestseller. It was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award. Cleave is working on a new novel set in London and the Mediterranean and inspired by the lives of his grandmother, who drove ambulances during the war, and his grandfather, who was part of the fledgling SAS and who was once assigned to Randolph Churchill with the order: “Look after him, David, and if at all possible keep him out of trouble.” Cleave lives in London with his wife and three children.

Follow Chris Cleave on Twitter: @ChrisCleave.

Summer Reading Round-Up June 3, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in guest host, MediaMonday, WritingWednesday.
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June is here and summer is just a few paragraphs away. This week in #litchat we’re celebrating the books of summer with our annual Summer Reading Round-up. Check out what’s going on this week and then pop into our chats to share news about your summer releases or discuss the books you’re looking forward to reading.

MediaMonday for June 3, 2013: Summer Reading

Today we’re discussing this piece in the New York Times“What I Read That Summer,” by Louise Erdrich, a compilation of 12 authors recalling their favorite summer reading experiences. Read the piece, then join the conversation with your own summer reading memories.

GoldWritingWednesday for June 5, 2013: What’s New This Summer

We’ll have authors, editors, agents and others chatting about their summer books.

Guest Host for Friday, June 7, 2013: Chris Cleve

Novelist Chris Cleve, author of the critically acclaimed Little Bee joins us from the U.K. to discuss his newest novel, Gold.

Guest Host: Rebecca Lawton May 30, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in commercial fiction, guest host, Uncategorized.
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Rebecca Lawton - Melinda Kelley

Rebecca Lawton connects the powerful forces of human understanding and environmental action in her debut novel, Junction, Utah. Protagonist Madeline, “Mad,” Kruse is more at home on a river raft than a conventional home. Her father was shot down and went missing during the Vietnam War and her mother’s a peace and environmental activist. She gets by as a river guide—think raft pilot—for rich people wanting whitewater rafting thrills.

Rebecca Lawton and literary agent Sally van Haitsma visit #litchat on Friday, May 31 to discuss publishing Junction, Utah. Follow #litchat in Twitter to follow the chat.

When Mad and her river guide friends discover an energy company threatening the pristine wilderness they love, Mad reluctantly draws on her mother’s activism experience to fight Big Oil. Mad expects to go head-to-head with her cancer-stricken mother, endure flame fights with her ex-boyfriend, and suffer the antics of her raft passengers, but what she doesn’t expect is to fall in love. With a town, with a farm, with a farmer. Rebecca Lawton in #litchat Enter Chris Sorensen, a widower and a cowboy as rooted in the land as Mad is home on the river. Unlikely partners, Mad and Chris join forces against the encroaching oil rigs for a conclusion that will have you turning pages back and forth to fully accept.

Junction, Utah opens with a hair-raising whitewater ride down the Yampa River and never lets up as it explores the wildness within a person as well as the wilderness without.

Rebecca Lawton was among the first women whitewater guides on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon and on other rivers in the West. Her essay collection on the guiding life, Reading Water: Lessons from the River (Capital Books), was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and ForeWord Nature Book of the Year finalist. Her essays, poems, and stories have been published in Orion, Sierra, The San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, Shenandoah, THEMA, More, and other magazines. She blogs about writing and environmental issues at Writer in Residence.

Lawton’s writing about the West has won the Ellen Meloy Fund Award for Desert Writers, three Pushcart Prize nominations (in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry), and other honors. She has received residencies at The Island Institute in Sitka, Alaska, and Hedgebrook Retreat for Women Writers in Langley, Washington.  Her debut novel, Junction, Utah, set in the resource-rich Green River valley, is available as an original e-book from van Haitsma Literary.

Lawton works as a writer and scientist and serves on the Board of Directors of Friends of the River.

Follow Rebecca Lawton on Twitter: @LawtonRebeccaC.

Follow Sally van Haitsma: @SallyJVH.

Photo of Rebecca Lawton above by Melinda Kelley.

WritingWednesday: Pacing in Fiction May 29, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in WritingWednesday.
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Pacing is the time measure of a story. Some writers compare it to the rhythm of a musical composition, with high notes and low notes, fills, trills, and thrills. Finding the right pace for a story isn’t as easy as it sounds. Slow pacing can stall a story for readers, while excessive speed page after page can exhaust readers. This week in WritingWednesday we’re discussing pacing in fiction. Take a few minutes to review the following resources to help you understand the importance of pacing in fiction.

7  Tools for Pacing a Novel and Keeping Your Story Moving at the Right Pace
By Courtney Carpenter, Writer’s Digest

Pacing, Dialog and Action Scenes — Your Story At Your Speed
By Holly Lisle, hollylisle.com

Techniques to Establish Pacing
By Gerry Visco, Writer’s Store

By Dr. Vicki Hinze, Fiction Factor

Pacing Your Story
Fiction Writer’s Mentor

Writing A Page-Turning Novel: Pacing With Words
By Kathy Steffen, The How to Write Shop

Pacing Anxiety: How to Stop Padding and Plot
By Caro Clarke, caroclarke.com

No LitChat Today May 27, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in Uncategorized.
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In observance of the Memorial Day holiday, there will not be a moderated #litchat today. Please join us for WritingWednesday to discuss pacing in fiction.

Guest Host for Friday, May 24: Suzanne Palmieri May 22, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in paranormal, women's fiction.
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Suzanne Palmieri in #litchatIn Suzanne Palmieri’s charming debut, The Witch of Little Italy, young Eleanor Amore is called by “The Sight” to return home to her estranged family in the Bronx. Single, pregnant, and hurting, Eleanor feels drawn to the Amore women who recognize more than just a child growing within her. She has only been back once before when she was ten years old during a wonder-filled summer of sun-drenched beaches, laughter and cartwheels. But everyone remembers that summer except her. Eleanor can’t remember anything from before she left the house on her last day there. With her past now coming back to her in flashes, she becomes obsessed with recapturing those memories. The Witch of Little ItalyAided by her childhood sweetheart, she learns the secrets still haunting her magical family, secrets buried so deep they no longer know how they began. And, in the process, unlocks a mystery more than fifty years old—The Day the Amores Died—and reveals, once and for all, a truth that will either heal or shatter the Amore clan.

Suzanne Palmieri (AKA Suzanne Hayes) is an author, a teacher, and the mother of three. Her debut novel The Witch of Little Italy (Saint Martin’s/Griffin) is in stores now. It has sold internationally (publication dates in Italy and Brazil TBA.) Her co-authored novel, I’ll Be Seeing You (written as Suzanne Hayes with Loretta Nyhan) will be published by Mira books on May 28, 2013, and has also sold internationally. She lives by the ocean in Connecticut with her husband and three darling witches. Suzanne is represented by Anne Bohner of Pen and Ink Literary.

Follow Suzanne Palmieri on Twitter: @thelostwitch.