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This Week in LitChat April 29, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in Uncategorized.
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Monday, April 29, 2013

We’re on a break today, so there won’t be a MediaMonday discussion this week. We’ll be back with MediaMonday on May 6.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

WritingWednesday: Setting in Fiction

Friday, May 3, 2013

Guest host: Laura Bates, author of Shakespeare Saved My Life



Guest Host: Jon Clinch April 25, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in indie authors, literary fiction, self-publishing.
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Jon Clinch (photo by Michael O'Neill)

Jon Clinch (photo by Michael O’Neill)

Jon Clinch‘s new novel, The Thief of Auschwitz, departs somewhat from his first two critically acclaimed novels, Finn and Kings of the Earth. Whereas Finn and Kings of the Earth dealt with American stories and voices, The Thief of Auschwitz is set primarily at the Nazi death camp notorious for its atrocities against Jewish people. Furthermore, Clinch chose to self-publish The Thief of Auschwitz, rather than go through a traditional publishing house as he did with his first two novels. The result is the first literary novel to receive critical acclaim with reviews in leading media.

The Thief of Auschwitz begins with the voice of octogenarian Max Rosen: “The camp at Auschwitz took one year of my life, and of my own free will I gave it another four.” A provocative opening sentence for sure. The Thief of AuschwitzMax goes on to describe himself as, “the last believer in looking at things the way they are, and reporting back.” He’s a renowned painter now living in New York and reluctantly organizing a retrospective of his work at the invitation of the National Gallery. He’s cantankerous and critical, taking frequent swipes at Andrew Wyeth and his Helga.

Unfolding through Max’s craggy impressions of today’s art world come his reflection of the years spent at Auschwitz. Some of the story is told by Max, yet the majority of the story rolls out in cinematic third person.  After evading Nazis for more than a year, Max and his sister, Lydia, along with their parents, Jacob and Eidel, are captured and taken to the Auschwitz work camp. It’s known at the camps that children cannot contribute to the work, so they are immediately exterminated like unwanted pests. Lydia is only 12 and is sorted into the children’s death queue immediately. The women are separated from the men. Max, tall and sturdy for his age of 14, takes his father’s advice and tells the registrar he’s 18.  This is where the story begins.

Throughout his life Max is haunted by the camp, but even more so by self-comparison of his work to that of his mother. A talented and self-taught painter, Eidel carries with her to the camp only one painting—a beautiful portrait of Lydia. This portrait plays a crucial role in Max’s survival, while forging a secret he carries with him forever.

Many authors have written about Nazis and death camps and memorialized the people who died there. Each of those novels have their place in the canon of Holocaust literature. The Thief of Auschwitz rises to the top of that canon, painting the horrors of camp life and survival with elegiac strokes, while portraying shades of humanity behind the Nazi masks.

Unmediated InkHaving had his first two critically acclaimed novels top-listed by big publishing houses, Clinch has a rare position within the crossroads of traditional and indie publishing paths. Clinch reveals his indie publishing process and offers seasoned advice in a new book, Unmediated Ink now available on Amazon.

Born and raised in the remote heart of upstate New York, Jon Clinch has been an English teacher, a metalworker, a folksinger, an illustrator, a typeface designer, a housepainter, a copywriter, and an advertising executive.

Jon has lectured and taught widely, in settings as varied as the National Council of Teachers of English, Williams College, the Mark Twain House and Museum, and Pennsylvania State University. In 2008 he organized a benefit reading for the financially ailing Twain House—enlisting such authors as Tom Perrotta and Stewart O’Nan—an event that literally saved the house from bankruptcy.

Jon lives with his wife, Wendy—founder of TheSkiDiva.com, the internet’s premier site for women who ski—in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

Follow Jon Clinch on Twitter: @JonClinch.

WritingWednesday: Dialogue in Fiction April 24, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in WritingWednesday.
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WritingWednesday for April 24, 2013: Dialogue in Fiction

Do you ping-pong your dialogue? Do your characters laugh out their lines? Does your dialogue progress your plot or reveal character? We’ll discuss these fiction writing concerns today in WritingWednesday. Take some time to read through the following links and then join us for #litchat at 4 p.m. in Twitter.

Editor’s Opinion Blog by William H. Coles: Creating Effective Dialogue

The Guardian/Books: DBC Pierre on How to Write Convincing Dialogue

WordServe Water Cooler: Writing Believable Dialogue by Megan DiMaria

Fiction Writer’s Mentor: Dialogue Tags

The Editor’s Blog: Punctuation in Fiction (US)

BBC: Punctuation and Layout of Dialogue (UK)

Writer’s Digest: Writing Gender Specific Dialog by Rachel Scheller

If you know of a good resource (book, video or blog) for writing effective and convincing dialogue, please share the link in the comments section.

MediaMonday: Book Snobbery April 22, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in Uncategorized.
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MediaMonday for April 22, 2013: Book Snobbery

Today in MediaMonday we’ll discuss author Matt Haig’s April 19, 2013 essay in BookTrust: 30 Things to Tell a Book Snob, published April 19, 2013 in BookTrust. Excerpt:

One of the reasons people are put off [from] reading is snobbery. You know, the snobbery that says opera and lacrosse and Pinot Noir and jazz fusion and quails’ eggs and literary fiction are for certain types of people and them alone?

WritingWednesday for April 24, 2013: Dialogue

Source links to come

Guest Host Friday: Jon Clinch

More about Jon Clinch here.

Guest Host: Dana Sachs April 19, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in multi-cultural fiction, women's fiction.
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Guest host for Friday, April 19, 2013: Dana Sachs

Dana SachsWho wouldn’t want to drive across country in a classic Rolls Royce? In Dana Sach‘s aesthetic novel, The Secret of the Nightingale Palace,  Anna, a young widow still grieving the leukemia death of her husband and her feisty octogenarian grandmother, Goldie, do just that.

Comfortable in her widow’s weeds, Goldie can’t understand why Anna is still reeling from the harsh, drawn-out death of her husband two years before. However much she wants to move on, Anna has armored herself with undesirability and unworthiness—two attributes for which Goldie has no sympathy. When Goldie recruits—practically demands—Anna to drive her from New York to San Francisco to return a portfolio of rare Japanese prints to a friend sent to the Manzanar Concentration Camp during World War II, a fascinating tale of two widows of different eras unravels across the miles. The Secret of the Nightingale PalaceSachs deftly examines multi-cultural issues in romance, politics, and life.

Just when you think the book is going one place, The Secret of the Nightingale Palace turns a corner and goes an unexpected direction for an ending both unexpected and delightful for both of the women.

Sachs began her writing career as a journalist, publishing articles, essays, and reviews in, among other publications, National GeographicMother JonesTravel and Leisure Family, and The Boston Globe. Her first book, The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam (2000) was chosen as an American Booksellers Association Book Sense Pick (the precursor of the Indiebound Next List). Her first novel, If You Lived Here (2007) was also a Book Sense Pick and was chosen for inclusion in Barnes and Noble’s Discover Great New Writers Program. Her nonfiction narrative The Life We Were Given: Operation Babylift, International Adoption, and the Children of War in Vietnam (2010) resulted from a Fulbright Foundation Fellowship in Vietnam. She is the co-author, with Nguyen Nguyet Cam and Bui Hoai Mai, of Two Cakes Fit for a King: Folktales from Vietnam (2003) and co-translator of numerous Vietnamese short stories into English. With her sister, filmmaker Lynne Sachs, she made the documentary about postwar Vietnam, “Which Way is East.”

Follow Dana Sachs on Twitter: @DanaSachs.

WritingWednesday: Verb Tenses April 16, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in WritingWednesday.
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WritingWednesday for April 17, 2013

Until recently, most novels were written in past tense. It was the way of the storyteller, the scop, the bard—to recite a story that has already happened. Early fiction authors drew from such heritage, writing novels as if the stories had already happened. In recent years, novels and short stories, both literary and mainstream, have eschewed the past tense in favor of the present tense. Is present tense fiction a fad? Is past tense the best way to tell a story? Can past and present tenses be mixed within the same story? We’ll discuss these and other craft concerns in WednesdayWriting.

Resource links to verb tenses and preferential uses:

The Editor’s Blog: Narrative Tense, Right Now or Way Back Then

Grammar Girl: Present Tenses

House of Verbs: Past, Present and Future Walk into a Bar

Purdue University Online Writing Lab: Verb Tense Consistency

Indiana University of Pennsylvania Writing Center: Shifty Tenses

Grossmont College: Verb Tenses in Creative Writing

Salon: The Fierce Fight Over the Present Tense

The Guardian: Philip Pullman Calls Time on the Present Tense

The Horn Book: Present Tenses, or It’s All Happening Now

MediaMonday: Book Prizes April 15, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in MediaMonday.
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MediaMonday for April 15, 2013

The 2013 Pulitzer Prizes will be announced today at 3 p.m., reminding us that last year’s Pulitzer Prize for Fiction was not awarded for the first time in 35 years. Today in MediaMonday we’ll discuss book prizes and their importance to readers, writers, educators, publishers and booksellers. Leading source media from April 14, 2013 New York Times, Booksellers Hope for a Pulitzer in Fiction, by Julie Bosman.

Additional links to major book prizes:

Pulitzer Prize (US)

Man Booker Prize 2012 (UK)

Man Booker International 2013 Prize

Nobel Prize for Literature

Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize, UK)

PEN/Faulkner Award

National Book Critics Circle 2013 Award

National Book Award (US)

Commonwealth Prize

WednesdayWriting for April 17, 2013: Narrative Tenses

Resource links to follow.

Guest Host for April 19, 2013: Dana Sachs

Dana Sachs is author of the novels, THE SECRET OF THE NIGHTINGALE PALACE and IF YOU LIVED HERE.

Friday Guest Host: Karen Pullen April 11, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in mystery.
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Karen Pullen in #litchatAuthor Karen Pullen is a PhD-toting engineer turned bed and breakfast owner whose first novel, Cold Feet, launched from Five Star Publishing/Gale in January.

In Cold Feet, special Agent Stella Lavender has a stressful‚ adrenaline-fueled job: buying drugs undercover from paranoid drug dealers.

So one afternoon she’s grateful to be relaxing at an elegant outdoor wedding. But as the guests wait‚ then grow restive‚ the satin-clad bride is dying most horribly. Who would kill a bride—an “angel” according to the groom—just minutes before her nuptials?

Cold FeetJoining the investigation‚ Stella discovers the bride’s surprising history and that jealousy‚ depression‚ and grief colored her relationships.

In Cold Feet‚ Karen Pullen draws the reader into a riveting story that alternates between Stella’s life as a drug agent and her determination to untangle a complex knot of secrets‚ harmful emotions‚ and questions of identity in order to find a killer.

Karen Pullen left a perfectly good job at an engineering consulting firm to make her fortune (um, maybe not) as an innkeeper and a fiction writer. Her B&B has been open for 12 years, and she’s published short stories in Every Day Fiction, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and Spinetingler. Her first novel, a mystery called Cold Feet, was released by Five Star in January 2013. She lives in Pittsboro, N.C. with her husband, her father, and four spoiled cats.

Follow Karen Pullen on Twitter: @KarenWPullen.

WritingWednesday: Narrative Point of View April 9, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in WritingWednesday.
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WritingWednesday for April 10, 2013

Fiction relies on character point of view for presentation of story. There is no right or wrong POV, but how it’s used can affect character sympathy, urgency, plausibility and other emotive elements. This week in #WritingWednesday we’re discussing POV from a broad perspective. Posted below are some helpful links to understanding POV in fiction:

The Fiction Writer’s Mentor: Point of View

Grossmont College: Narrative Point of View

Writer’s Digest: Point of View

Writer’s Digest: What Point of View Should You Use in Your Novel?

The Editor’s Blog: Deep POV—What’s So Deep About It

Annie Grace: Point of View

Foremost Press: Vicki Hinze, What is Point of View

MediaMonday: The Slow Death of the American Author April 8, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in MediaMonday.
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Today in MediaMonday: The Slow Death of the American Author by Author’s Guild president and bestselling author Scott Turow, in the New York Times, April 7, 2013. Excerpt:

“…authors already contend with an enormous domestic market for secondhand books. But it is the latest example of how the global electronic marketplace is rapidly depleting authors’ income streams. It seems almost every player — publishers, search engines, libraries, pirates and even some scholars — is vying for position at authors’ expense.”

Join us for this discussion at 4pmET in Twitter, using hashtag #litchat.