Category Archives: novels

Author of the Week, Jeff VanderMeer, July 19

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   July 19

 

Jeff  VanderMeer

(Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Weird Fiction, Novels and Short Stories, Literary Critic, Editor, Publisher)

 

“Imbuing fiction with a life that extends beyond the last word is in some ways the goal: the ending that goes beyond the ending in the reader’s mind, so invested are they in the story.”

“A dream inspiring a story is different than placing a description of a dream in a story. When you describe a character’s dream, it has to be sharper than reality in some way, and more meaningful. It has to somehow speak to plot, character, and all the rest. If you’re writing something fantastical, it can be a really deadly choice because your story already has elements that can seem dreamlike.”

“Trust your imagination. Don’t be afraid to fail. Write. Revise. Revise. Revise.”

“It is the nature of the writer to question the validity of his world and yet rely on his senses to describe it. From what other tension can great literature be born?”

“Fiction is in constant conversation with itself.”

Jeff  VanderMeer (born  1968) is an American author, NYT bestselling writer, called “the weird Thoreau” by the New Yorker for his engagement with ecological issues. Initially associated with the New Weird literary genre, VanderMeer crossed over into mainstream success with his bestselling Southern Reach trilogy. He also wrote the world’s first fully illustrated creative-writing guide, Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction.  Among VanderMeer’s  novels are Shriek: An Afterword and Borne. He has also edited with his wife Ann VanderMeer such influential and award-winning anthologies as The New Weird, The Weird, and The Big Book of Science Fiction. His nonfiction appears in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, and the Atlantic.com.

Interview with Jeff VanderMeeer (7 minutes):

 

 

The Fictive Imagination in the Dusk of the Anthropocene. Sonic Arts Festival:

 

 

Detective John Finch is about to come face-to-face with a series of mysteries that will change him and Ambergris forever. Why does one of the victims most resemble a man thought to have been dead for a hundred years? What is the murders’ connection to an attempted genocide nearly six hundred years ago? And just what is the secret purpose of the occupiers’ tower? A three-book series.

Visit VanderMeer’s Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Jeff-VanderMeer/e/B000APJW4U

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on

Mondays at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors. Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors.

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Author of the Week, Anne Morrow Lindberg, July 12

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   July 12

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

(Aviation Pioneer, Diarist, Fiction, Nonfiction, Inspirational Author)

“The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere. That is why so much of social life is exhausting; one is wearing a mask. I have shed my mask.”

“I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable.”

“It is only in solitude that I ever find my own core.”

“I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.”

“Only love can be divided endlessly and still not diminish.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906 to 2001), an American author, aviator, and the wife of Charles Lindbergh is the author of the book, Gift from the Sea (considered required reading for every woman in modern society), a bestseller filled with raw emotions on love, happiness, solitude,  contentment, and the path to spiritual harmony. Becoming whole is a dominant theme in many of her works.

“Don’t wish me happiness
I don’t expect to be happy all the time…
It’s gotten beyond that somehow.
Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor.
I will need them all.”
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

She wrote  five volumes of diaries and letters from the years 1922-1944.  North to the Orient and Listen! the Wind, Anne Lindbergh is the author of 11 published books (including children’s books). They include Earth Shine, in which she wrote of being at Cape Kennedy for the first moon-orbiting flight and how that Apollo 8 flight and the pictures it sent back of Earth gave humankind “a new sense of Earth’s richness and beauty.”

Interview with Anne Lindbergh at NPR:

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5232208

 

Podcast by Reeve Lindbergh, Anne’s Daughter:

 

Fiction:

 

Dearly Beloved (A June wedding sets the scene as the family and guests follow the familiar marriage service. They are stirred to new insights. But for the mothers of the bride and groom, and for friends and relatives, the sight of the young couple and the words of the minister evoke more troubling thoughts and deeper questions.)

 

 

 

 

 

 The Steep Ascent (Etched in the pattern of flight over France, the Alps, Northern Italy is the story of a young couple, an English flier, and his wife, who is pregnant. One shares first the mother’s last-moment doubts and regrets as she faces last things, particularly the last evening with her five-year-old son).

 

 

 

 

 

Visit Lindbergh’s Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Anne-Morrow-Lindbergh/e/B001H6S0UI

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on Mondays at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors. Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors.

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Author of the Week, Richard Matheson, Feb. 22

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   February 22, 2020

 

Richard Matheson

(Bestselling Author of Supernatural, Ghost, and Horror)

“That which you believe becomes your world.”

“I think we’re yearning for something beyond the every day. And I will tell you I don’t believe in the supernatural, I believe in the supernormal. To me there is nothing that goes against nature. If it seems incomprehensible, it’s only because we haven’t been able to understand it yet.”

 

Richard Matheson  (1926 — 2013) was an American author and screenwriter. He is best known  for his novel What Dreams May Come, and I am Legend, a 1954 horror novel that has been adapted for the screen four times.  He sold his first story, Born of Man and Woman to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1950, followed by Third from the Sun (later adapted for the television series The Twilight Zone). From 1959–64, he wrote 14 episodes for The Twilight Zone, with two more adapted from his stories; also contributed to many Western and fantastic television series including Star Trek (The Enemy Within, 1966), His Collected Stories was published in three volumes in 2003–05. Matheson won the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1984 and was inducted into Science Fiction Hall of Fame 2010.

 

 

 

 

Readers, Somewhere in Time is one of my favorite ghost/time travel/romances.  Even today, this novel can hold up as a fascinating study in mystery, love, and the power of desire. The film is also an excellent choice with Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, Christopher Plummer.

 

View all Matheson’s books at Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Richard-Matheson/e/B000AQ285E

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author every week at Reading Fiction Blog! Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors.

Once a month I feature a FREE short story by

contemporary and classic authors.

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Author of the Week, Colette, Feb. 1

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   February 1, 2021

 

Colette  (Sidonie-Babrielle Colette)

 

 

“Books, books, books. It was not that I read so much. I read and re-read the same ones. But all of them were necessary to me. Their presence, their smell, the letters of their titles, and the texture of their leather bindings.”

 

“It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer… and everything collapses.”

 

 

Colette (1873 – 1954) was the pen name for Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. French writer of the first half of the 20th century whose best novels, largely concerned with the pains and pleasures. Her greatest strength as a writer is her sensory evocation of sounds, smells, tastes, textures, and colors. She is known for her novel Gigi (1944), the story of a girl reared by two elderly sisters to become a courtesan, was adapted for both stage and screen. She wrote the influential Claudine books. The novel Cheri is considered to be her masterpiece. Her first husband, the nefarious Willy (Henry Gauthier-Villars), took the credit for her novels and the earnings.  From 1949 she was increasingly crippled by arthritis. She ended her days, a legendary figure surrounded by her beloved cats, confined to her beautiful Palais-Royal apartment overlooking Paris.

 

 

Read more about this author at The Guardian: ‘She wrote novels, short stories, essays, memoirs and as a journalist reported on everything from domestic violence to the front lines of the first world war, from anorexia to literature, from fashion and cooking to fake orgasms.’

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jan/07/colette-french-novelist-movie-keira-knightley

 

 

 

Join me in my reading nook and discover an author every week at Reading Fiction Blog! And browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors.

Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors.

 

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Author of the Week, Charles Yu, Jan. 11

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   January 11, 2021

 

Charles Yu

Charles Yu is an American writer, born in 1976,  author of four books, including Interior Chinatown, winner of the 2020 National Book Award. He has been nominated for two Writers Guild of America Awards for his work on the HBO series, Westworld. He has also written for shows on FX, AMC, and HBO. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The New YorkerThe New York TimesThe AtlanticThe Wall Street Journal, and Wired, among other publications. You can find him on Twitter  @charles_yu  

 

“You want to tell a story? Grow a heart. Grow two. Now, with the second heart, smash the first one into bits.”

 

Read his interview The Adjacent Reality at Sonora Review:

The Adjacent Reality: An Interview with Charles Yu

 

 

Discover an Author Every Week at Reading Fiction Blog!

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In Memory of My Publisher Phil Martin

A Memorial …

Philip Martin

For those of you who know my novels, it is with deep regret that I write this memorial for my publisher Philip Martin of  Crickhollow Books, Great Lakes Literary, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He died on March 3, 2019. All three of my mysteries were published under Phil’s imprint  Crispin Books. He was a dear man with a love of literature, appreciation of good writing, and dedicated to discovering and promoting emerging authors. Just recently he celebrated ten successful years of his publishing company. His book How to Write Your Best Story is one of the most valuable books on my shelf. One of his best pieces of writing advice was not so much about writing as it was to letting the story stretch and to listen, “Listen to what the story needs.  Listen to what the characters need. Listen to what the readers need.”

Phil believed that stories connect us. He believed there was magic in storytelling and that storytelling helps to make us whole.  “Good storytelling is like a beautiful melody or an appealing fragrance.”

Phil discovered me on Linked In and contacted me in 2013 after reading my ghost story The Dazzling Darkness. He went on to publish Night Sea Journey and Greylock. He knew about my fourth novel and was anxious to hear about it, ever encouraging and supportive. Over the past six years,  I was among many writers he brought into his circle.  His legacy, his wisdom, will endure in all of  us.  Thank you, Phil for all you’ve done for me and for my stories. You made a tremendous difference in my life, my creativity, and my stories.

Philip Martin Obituary

 

Rest in peace.

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On Writing. Fiction

On Writing. Fiction

Book Review and Commentary,  January 21, 2016

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41O3ebvsQSL._AA160_ On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King is #15 (at this time) on the Amazon Best Seller List in Reference/Writing Fiction paperback books. With over 2300 reviews (3% having 1- and 2-star reviews posted by disappointed and angry readers), I found this book to have little value in “how to” actually write, but great value in the thinking behind King’s writing processes. By reading this book, you will not learn to write effectively or how to write horror stories, but you will learn King’s perspective on how his stories emerge and what he values for his creative writing adventures.

I have over twenty writing books on my shelf—twenty-five editing books. I’m always reading and studying writing books on story, plot, characterization, themes, narrative, and the mechanics of creating stories.

So, what is writing? King says it’s telepathy. He believes that writing is the purest form of telepathy of all the arts. He advises not to “come lightly to the page.” Serious business? Absolutely. The act of narrative is a creation after all. King speaks of his Muse (and yes there are muses—believe). My own muse is unlike King’s who is a “basement guy” that inspires him. Mine is a woman and she exists outside my windows. I can’t see her but the light and the sky stream thoughts to me and without a window or a walk outside, I wonder if I can write at all without her.

It’s true that King addresses vocabulary, grammar, passive voice, nouns, verbs sentences, adverbs, description, and the mighty pace and beat of a story. Sure he recommends Strunk & White’s Elements of Style. Most writers know these basics; what is more helpful is how King speaks about the seduction and magic of writing—about letting go of the fear and self-doubt.

I love that King is more of an “organic writer” than a planner and plotter. Probably because that’s how my writing process works as well. “Stories pretty much make themselves,” King says. I agree. He prefers the “situation” of the story to flow from his intuition. “The story is the boss. Write fast to outrun the self-doubt.”

King advises against writing out plotlines, story outlines, and all that predestination. In The Secret Miracle, The Novelist’s Handbook, edited by Daniel Alarcon, Stephen King is quoted as saying he “never” outlines. Some people believe the old axiom that ‘plotting and spontaneity of real creation are not compatible.’ For organic writers this is often true.

Another book on writing is Steven James’ Story Trumps Structure. Here, Steven James echoes King’s standard for organic writing. James tells us to ditch the outline and follow the rabbit trail. “Let scenes evolve … trust the narrative force to reveal the story.” Steven James believes that using “uncertainty” is an essential ingredient if you desire to make art.

On Writing is friendly and inspiring with common sense advice. I loved King’s philosophies and creative perspectives, but there wasn’t a lot new or progressive and was rather thin on character development. A favorite writing book of mine on creating characters is David Corbett’s The Art of Character, Creating Memorable Characters for Fiction, Film, and TV.  “Without an intuitive grasp of the characters, you can all too easily fall into the trap of reducing them to simplistic automatons or “plot puppets,” acting in accordance with ideas or story necessities rather than behaving with the complexity of intention that real individuals possess.” That makes sense to me. King seems to agree with this approach when he says that he wants his characters “to do things their way.” I like that he lets go of controlling his characters to live and breathe themselves into the story.

The reason I read On Writing was because I thought there might be some insight about writing horror vs. suspense or writing horror vs. mystery. King had nothing to say on this. Author Steven James points to a difference between suspense and horror. James sees suspense as “always emotional” and makes the reader afraid to look away. “A murder is not suspense. An abduction with the threat of a murder is.” In horror, the reader is full of fear to look at the action but wants to see it (Do we really want to see this guy beheaded? Horror readers do and enjoy that fear. Interesting paradox ). A horror writer awakens the readers’ inner violence but within the safe confines of fiction.

I’m not a horror writer; my stories are supernatural suspense, ghost stories, and mysteries. And while I like the threat of murder, I don’t want to witness the bloody stabbing in gory details.

So, what did I get out of King’s On Writing? King’s prime rule is to read a lot and write a lot. Learn from the master storytellers. Not newsy advice, since most successful writers tell you to learn from the best writers and read, read, read and write, write, write. King emphasizes a writer must have razor-sharp honesty, discover your muse, and follow your intuition. Dispel self-doubt and run with your stories. Here is his most valuable point about writing in just two words: “getting happy.” I think the gift in this memoir of King’s is telling writers to discover your own true path to your stories and have fun doing it. There are no magic tricks to successful writing, horror or otherwise, but writing in itself is magic. King is famous for saying “Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

Clearly, if you as a writer are feeling the magic as you discover your stories and write them out, then your readers will too. Storytelling is an exertion of power, isn’t it? To write fiction is to allow characters to live in our psychic space. And then they live in the readers’ psychic space. Telepathy, as King describes.

I think the last word here goes to Ray Bradbury because it’s so true: “First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!”

Zen and the Art of Writing, Essays on Creativity by Ray Bradbury is next on my to-read list and review.

 

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My favorite list of the best writing books I read:

Writing Fiction, A Guide to Narrative Craft, by Janet Burroway. All the basics of how to write: the writing process, show vs. tell, characterization, fictional atmosphere and place, story structure and plot, point of view, theme, and revision.

Story, Robert McKee

Story Trumps Structure, Steven James

The Fire in Fiction, Donald Maass

The Art of Fiction, John Gardner (I reread this book once a year, it’s that good)

Making Shapely Fiction, Jerome Stern

The Art of Character, David Corbett

Getting into Character, Brandilyn Collins

The Secret Miracle, the Novelist’s Handbook, edited by Daniel Alarcon

Becoming a Writer, Dorothea Brande

The Faith of a Writer, Life, Craft, Art, Joyce Carole Oates

If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland

Reading like a Writer, Francine Prose

Elements of Style, Strunk & White

 

Best Editing Books for Writers:

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne & Dave King

A Dash of Style, Noah Lukeman

The Grammar Bible, Michael Strumpf & Auriel Douglas

Line by Line, Claire Kehrwald Cook

Chicago Manual of Style

The Careful Writer, Theodore M. Bernstein

 

Here’s the famous Rolling Stone Interview with King.

Ten Writing Tips from Stephen King, from MentalFloss.com

StephenKingOfficialWebsite, StephenKing.com

StephenKing.com/Library

 

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Rossetti: Pia de’ Tolomei

If you have a writing or editing book you’d like to add, please feel free to comment.

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Stephen King Fans. Rankings From the Worst to the First

Wednesday, January 13, 2015

Many here at Reading Fiction Tales of Terror Blog are Stephen King fans, so I’m sharing a blog post from Horror Novel Reviews.  How would you rank his novels from the worst to the first, 50 to No. 1? Take a look at this fun video (6 minutes) on Horror Novel Reviews.

For myself, I’m not an avid King fan. To be honest, I think he overwrites his prose, but his early novels were far better structured than his later ones. I will say that King is certainly a master at creating stories with high suspense. I did love The Shining and The Dead Zone.

At the moment I am reading King’s On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft. Watch for my book review next month.

For now, hop over to Horror Novel Reviews blog at this link below, and see if you agree which novels are the top five.

http://horrornovelreviews.com/2016/01/13/ranking-every-stephen-king-novel-from-worst-to-first/

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Thriller of the Day at Kindle Nation Daily: Night Sea Journey

Thriller of the Day

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

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NIGHT SEA JOURNEY, A TALE OF THE SUPERNATURAL

Do dreams have the power to live beyond nightscapes? Night Sea Journey ia a fast-paced read with the mystery of angels and demons, psychological and spiritual twists, romance, and murder.

An Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner, 2015  

Night Sea Journey on KND:   http://kindlenationdaily.com/2015/12/157588/

Paula Cappa on BookGorilla.com: http://www.bookgorilla.com/author/B009P2HZ7A/paula-cappa

 

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U.S. REVIEW OF BOOKS “Stunning and absorbing plot on par with—if not better than—a Dan Brown novel. Truly an outstanding read.”

SAN FRANCISCO BOOK REVIEW ★★★★★ ” Readers will be taken on a continual thrill ride, impossible to put down, a fast-paced thriller.” 

★★★★★ Grady Harp, Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer. “A talent that will draw even those who are not keen on supernatural stories into her fold.”

 

Trade paperback published by Crispin Books, Milwaukee, WI.

Amazon.com

Amazon UK 

Barnes & Noble.com

Smashwords

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In the Shadows of the Guillotine, a Love Story

Solange: Dr. Ledru’s Story of  The  Reign of  Terror by Alexandre Dumas (1850s)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror,  July 23, 2013

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During the Reign of Terror, did you know that a skilled guillotine executioner could behead two victims per minute? The death toll ran in the tens of thousands. It was thought at the time that the victim would likely only feel a quick cold chill tingling rapidly at the base of the head, as the blade struck the flesh. And what if the executioner was not so skilled? I’ve got a wicked stabbing at my neck just thinking of it!

Some of Alexandre Dumas’ fans might know that this author was more than just a little interested in beheadings of the era. Dumas often speculated if a guillotined person suffered pain during the beheading, so of course these beheading themes runs through some of his stories.

Solange reflects this theme but is actually a little love story. However, don’t underestimate the horrific executions  in this particular fiction  because it carries a riveting reality.

We are in the streets of terrified France, at Rue Tournon, when a beautiful young woman called Solange is about to be hauled off to the guard house for not having a pass (which surely meant death on the scaffold).

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Pale and trembling, “with feet like a child’s,” Solange is saved by M. Albert, our gallant and generous narrator. Albert is a physician/scientist investigating beheadings by examining and testing the severed heads and trunks of the victims. A gruesome task beyond the imagination. Albert is of high devotion to his work. He soldiers on to his goal of convincing the lawmakers that capital punishment must be abolished “for the good of humanity.”

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To this effort, Albert acts not only to save Solange from the guardhouse and guillotine, but he falls wildly in love with this very pretty young thing.  With the revolutionary police ever present and aggressive, escape or hiding was Solange’s only hope.

While their tears mix with their kisses for Solange and Albert, the plot takes a wicked turn that you may or may not find predictable. I was nearly breathless at the end expecting the worst for these two lovers. And the worse was certainly fulfilled for Dumas doesn’t spare you a moment’s relief. This haunting ending will not fade away easily and is truly a tale of terror and woe.

Read it at OnLine Literature.

http://www.online-literature.com/dumas/3175/

Are you a Dumas fan? What other stories/novels would you like to suggest here for the readers?

Maybe, if you are up for more about beheadings, you might like Horror at Fontenay. I couldn’t find the text as an online read but the novel is on Amazon or likely at your local library.

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http://www.hellhorror.com/links/

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