One Fictitious Moment — Writing Tidbits

Angela Misri is the up-and-coming Canadian author of the new mystery series, A Portia Adams Adventure. The first book in the series is called Jewel of the Thames and is actually featured on Kindle at the moment for $4.60. But what I really wanted to share with you is the adorable Fiction Writing series that Angela has started on YouTube. The one minute videos feature in-motion illustrations along with her writing tidbits commentary. These are an excellent way to introduce new skills on writing and the writing craft in your already busy lifestyle. The channel is called One Fictitious Moment and it looks like she uploads a new video every few weeks. Here are the first four to get you started. If you subscribe to her channel then you will get an email update when she uploads a new one:

Episode 1: Writing Detective Fiction

Episode 2: Writing a Great Villain

Episode 3: Writing Dialogue

Episode 4: Creating Tension

There you have it! Four minutes of writing tidbits in 1 minute intervals and don’t you feel a little smarter already?

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* Subscribe to Angela Misri’s One Fictitious Moment
* Purchase Jewel of the Thames on Amazon

About Maureen Wood

M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario with her husband of fifteen years. She has been moderating BIW for over nine years and works on the Internet. You can learn more about her projects on her official website.

Women Authors Q & A

When I used to write for the Literary Fiction site at BellaOnline I asked a few hundred readers what question they would ask their favorite author if they had the chance, I picked the best from the lot and created a standard author Q & A to use with guest authors. Bascially a “Q & A” is a quick and easy way of allowing an author to interact with readers without ever leaving their home — the internet has opened up accessibility for all of us.

Even though it has been a few years since these interviews were first taken they still offer valuable insight into the world of writing from different perspectives. I have divided the authors into alphabetical order using their last names under the following headings:

Women AuthorsA – E
F – J
K – O
P – T
U – Z

I hope you enjoy getting to know these authors and their novels as much as I did.

A – E

Janet Aylmer – Mr. Darcy, from Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, continues to be an icon for many readers and writers but most only know him from the perspective of Elizabeth Bennet. Wouldn’t it be nice to know Mr. Darcy’s point-of-view?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted – Look out! This full time writer from Danbury, CT is raiding the bookshelves. Lauren has been writing since the tender age of twelve but she didn’t hit what most writers deem the big time (publication) until 2003 when her off-color…

Sarah Bird – How perfect is it that a former military brat would find herself stringing together words as a novelist/screenwriter/magazine writer? Sarah Bird had been supporting herself entirely from her writing since 1980 having published six mid-list…

Kate Braverman – She likes it HOT. She can take eight hours of August Tucson sun and still want more. Me, I’d be a stain on the cement within thirty minutes. Born in Philadelphia, raised in Los Angeles, Kate Braverman is…

Catherine Bush – Toronto, Ontario native Catherine Bush has three novels under her belt, the latest being Claire’s Head. All three of her books have won awards. She has had the opportunity to teach what she loves at a wide array of Universities…

Teresa de la Caridad Doval – After twenty-nine years in Cuba Havana, Teresa de la Caridad Dovalpage lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she is a Ph.D. student and Spanish instructor at the University of New Mexico.

Megan Chance – For most of her life Megan Chance has written short stories, poetry and novels. This Washington native has written professionally over the last 14 years and has produced ten novels, most recently, An Inconvenient Wife.

Sally Cooper – Imagine living communally on a farm with other artists. Sally doesn’t have to imagine, she’s done it. Now she’s living in Hamilton, Ontario with her boyfriend, Newfoundland dog and a cat.

Elizabeth Crook – Austin, Texas is the home of this full time writer who has been writing for “as long as I can remember”. Her husband, two “terrific” children and a Korean exchange student are a delightful distraction from her writing.

Ronlyn Domingue – The Mercy of Thin Air is Ronlyn Domingue’s first book although she has been writing for 28 years “in one capacity or another”. Things are looking promising for this full-time writer who resides in Louisiana.

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Featured Author – Lisa See
I first heard about this superb author through her mother, Carolyn See. I sent her a short note of appreciation about her non-fiction book Making a Literary Life and she responded in kind and put me on her mailing list. A few years later I received a lovely postcard introducing her daughter’s lovely book, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Since then I’ve been hooked.

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F – J

Karen Fisher – A Sudden Country, Karen Fisher’s first book, was recently a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. In 2005 it was the Mountains and Plains Bookseller´s Association choice for Best Fiction. What a wonderful way to start off a publishing career.

Golda Fried – Nellcott Is My Darling is Golda’s second book and a finalist for the 2005 Governor General´s Literary Award for fiction. Her first was a collection of short stories titled Darkness…

Tess Fragoulis – Writing and teaching seem to go hand in hand for many writers. This Montreal based writer/teacher has written her whole life, professionally since 1993 and has three books published (two she wrote and one she´s edited).

Stephanie Gayle – My Summer of Southern Discomfort is Stephanie Gayle’s first novel. This Somerville, Massachusetts native is a MIT Administrative Assistant at Massachusetts Institute of Technology by day and…

Gail Godwin – Twelve novels, two short story collections, a non-fiction book, and one of a two-volume project on Becoming a Writer stand as an honorable reflection of this author’s career. Gail Godwin, a three-time National Book Award nominee, has been writing…

Beth Gutcheon – She has seven novels in print as well as two works of non-fiction. Her most recent novel is Leeway Cottage with Good-bye and Amen coming soon. To keep things exciting, between novels Beth has worked as a screen writer. You might recognize the Lifetime TV film The Good Fight starring Christine Lhati and Terry O’Quinn.

Joyce Hackett – If you have one passion in life, you’re lucky. If you have two you must be blessed. Besides being a full-time writer Joyce Hackett is also a community activist with “emphasis on the active”.

Albyn Leah Hall – This writer / psychotherapist has been honing her skills as a writer since childhood and currently has two novels published, Deliria (1993, Serpent´s Tail) which was published in England only, and The Rhythm of the Road…

M. J. Hyland – Even though her first short story was published when she was seventeen Maria Hyland didn’t follow the writing bug until after she went through the trouble of becoming a lawyer. Recently recognized on the Man Booker Prize for Fiction shortlist…

Ursula Le Guin – The 75 year old writer of novels, children’s books, poetry, non-fiction, translations, and essays has received numerous awards for her writing. Ursula took time from her writing schedule to share a bit about her writing life and the art of writing.

K – O

Carrie Kabak – Discouraged from following her artistic talent and desires at an early age, Carrie Kabak was educated as a teacher. It wasn’t until two years ago she gave in and followed…

Katrina Kittle – Emotional realism is a necessary element of Katrina Kittle’s writing. She has three books to her name; most recently, The Kindness of Strangers. With the encouragement of her mother and father…

Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer – One has to wonder how a married mother of three who works as the editor of a literary website and teaches creative writing at two universities in Toronto still finds the time (and energy) to write. It may have taken some excellent time management but…

Caroline Leavitt – Residing in a 1865 brick townhouse in Hoboken, NJ, “New York City’s unofficial 6th borough,” seems to be the perfect setting for Caroline Leavitt to write.

Pearl Luke – Nestled in the Southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia on Salt Spring Island you’ll find Pearl Luke and her partner of ten years Robert Hilles (author, poet) and their children. Pearl has been writing for twenty years and works full time as a novelist…

Marsha Mehran – Marsha Mehran was born in Tehran (an Iran province), grew up in Argentina and currently divides her time between New York and Ireland. Her first release, Pomegranate Soup…

Maureen O’Brien – It’s funny but I feel akin to every woman named Maureen and often relish in any success they may achieve. This one is no different. At the moment Maureen O’Brien is celebrating the successful publication of her first novel, B-mother, with…

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The Chick Lit Controversy — Fluff or something more…

I talked to three writers about Chick Lit and its role in literature. To each of them I posed five questions:

What does Chick Lit mean to you?
Why do you like Chick Lit novels?
Is Chick Lit real literature?
Does all Chick Lit live by the same format?
Is Chick Lit becoming a loose term to categorize all women’s literature?

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P – T

Kathy Page – Nestled on the west coast of British Columbia in Salt Spring Island lives writer, Kathy Page with her family. Page has been writing professionally for twenty years. She also teaches writing one day a week, does the occasional workshop

Elizabeth Ruth – Her first novel, Ten Good Seconds of Silence garnered the Writer´s Trust of Canada Fiction Prize, the City of Toronto Book Award and the Amazon.ca First Novel Award. With two novels published and an anthology she compiled and edited, it´s obvious…

Lisa Selin Davis – In 1999 freelance writer Lisa Selin Davis started writing “seriously”. The result? A continuous flow of article and prose publications. It seems only natural that the next step for this Brooklyn, New York writer would be commercial publication with…

Joanna Scott – Joanna is married, has two lovely daughters, works as an English Professor in upstate New York and has managed to have nine publishable books served up to the public. And some horse back jumping thrown in for fun.

Lisa See – Lisa See obviously loves her craft, a truth that can be seen on the pages of two of her most popular novels, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love. Over the last thirty years she has developed a successful niche for her writing.

Rochelle Shapiro – is a writer. If that isn’t interesting enough Rochelle is also a phone psychic. In her debut novel she has meshed her experience as a psychic with her creative talents to craft Miriam the Medium…

Amanda Stern – Her writing (fiction, non-fiction and poetry) has appeared in publications such as Swink, Venus Magazine, St. Ann´s Review and NY Today. The Long Haul is her first novel. She lives in the historic Fort Greene area of Brooklyn, New York where she´s working on…

Indu Sundaresan – was born and raised in India. She came to the United States for graduate studies and has been a full-time writer for the last thirteen years. The Splendor of Silence is her third novel. She makes her home in the Seattle…

Laura Elise Taylor – Creative talent usually comes with more than one outlet. In the case of Laura Elise Taylor, she divides her time between writing in the winter and photography during “wedding season”. This Canadian author slash photographer was born…

U – Z

Patricia Wood – Imagine working as a writer full time on your sailboat in Honolulu, Hawaii. Patricia Wood doesn’t have to use her imagination. She is living this dream. Her sailboat? A 48 foot ketch called Orion. This hasn’t always been the case. She’s also been a medical technologist, professional horsewoman, educator, diver, sailor, and PHD student.

About Maureen Wood

M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario with her husband of fifteen years. She has been moderating BIW for over nine years and works on the Internet. You can learn more about her projects on her official website.

Interview with Beth Gutcheon

Beth Gutcheon, author of Gossip, is the critically acclaimed author of eight previous novels: The New Girls, Still Missing, Domestic Pleasures, Saying Grace, Five Fortunes, More Than You Know, Leeway Cottage and Good-bye and Amen. She is the writer of several film scripts, including the Academy Award nominee The Children of Theatre Street. She lives in New York City. She took some time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions for Book-in-a-Week readrs:

Michele Brouder: After writing nine books and numerous screenplays, how do you still manage to come up with great storylines?

Picture of Author Beth GutcheonBeth Gutcheon: I read all the time, lots of biographies and volumes of letters. I read the papers, I listen to my friends, and I’m always sifting, watching people, looking for details or character tells or plot twists. There’s something metabolically necessary to me about taking the chaotic material of real life and re-forming it into patterns that have meaning. We’re all searching for meaning in our various ways; storytelling is mine.

Michele Brouder: What do you ascribe your staying power to?

Beth Gutcheon: I love to read. Love it. But I’m too much of a Calvinist to just settle down and read in broad daylight, unless I’ve got a fever over 101, or if it’s for work. Starting a new novel is like starting a college course expressly designed to match my curiosity. Gossip gave me a delicious excuse to read about the fashion industry from the 50’s on, and the careers of various professional gossips. Walter Winchell, anyone? I love the research phase of any book. Hate the actual writing, but it does sort of go with the job description.

Michele Brouder: Where do you get your ideas from?

Beth Gutcheon: Everywhere. Travel. For a year after a trip to Madrid, I thought I would write about Velazquez. You should see the research stack from that. So far all that’s come of it is that Avis, in Gossip, is an expert in Old Master paintings, but maybe I’ll come back to it. Reading, listening, studying fiction I admire to see what it sprang from and how it was done. But really, from everything.

Michele Brouder: What is a typical writing day for you?

Beth Gutcheon: I write five days a week; my office is at home. When I’m in the writing phase of a project, I read the paper, I take care of email, then I work until I’ve done a minimum of 500 words. Some days, I do more, but I never do less. I don’t answer the phone, and I don’t go out for lunch or anything funny like that. When the word count is done it’s time for exercise, a long walk or gardening, depending on the season, or yoga and Wii Fit at home if the weather is gruesome. I try not to go back into the office until the next morning, and I never reread one day’s work until I’ve slept on it.

Michele Brouder: From start to finish, how long does it take you to write a novel?

Beth Gutcheon: They’re all different. How long it takes to accumulate critical mass so I can begin a first draft depends on serendipity and the subject. Once I actually start to write, I think it’s usually nine months until the end of the first draft. After that I edit and rewrite and polish until I have a draft I don’t hate. Then it goes to two readers, I get their notes, then do what I have to do. When I either think I’m done or don’t know what else to do, it goes to new readers. Then I polish and squeeze out every bit of fat I can find. When I start adding things back in, I know it’s time to stop and send it to my agent. Two years is probably the average.

Michele Brouder: Do you have any unpublished or unfinished manuscripts in the bottom of a drawer?

Beth Gutcheon: No. I only write long fiction, and I only have come completely apart in the middle of one once. It was a terrible experience, and frightened me for years. Then finally after three more novels and some screenwriting that went well, I went back to the one that had blown up and was in a sufficiently different place in my life – being older helped a lot – that I could see what to do. That became More Than You Know, a book that really found its audience, so I can’t say I regret what went into it, but do sincerely hope it never happens again.

Michele Brouder: What do you find helps when you are writing a book and you have become stuck?

Beth Gutcheon: I used to go to the gym with my friend Laurie during writing hours, against all my rules, and we’d wear ourselves out and then laugh in the steam room. Once I think I took a week off and didn’t talk to anyone and exercised all day and read all night. But the real answer is that I don’t start a novel until I know enough about it that I’m pretty sure I can make it work, and after that I’m not allowed to be stuck. It’s 500 words a day, even if I know I’m going to have to throw it out the next day. Somehow, you inch forward. I’ve supported myself as a storyteller almost my whole adult life, and put my son through college on my own. It was and is my day job. And every day’s work is in some way homage to all the books I’ve loved, and it is privilege enough to be labouring in those vineyards, that I feel a duty to get on with it.

Michele Brouder: What amount of preparation do you do beforehand (i.e. outline, research, character analysis) or do you write spontaneously?

Beth Gutcheon: Tons of research on the background, place and period, reading both fiction and non-fiction. Tons on the working worlds of characters. I take notes all along on plot ideas, turns of phrase, character traits. When it gels, I do character outlines for all the major players, so I know exactly when and where they were born, what they eat, what they read, where they went to school, their birthdays, wedding days, etc. I can’t imagine writing long form fiction spontaneously.

Michele Brouder: What, in your opinion, is the one quality an aspiring writer needs to succeed?

Beth Gutcheon: An ability to spend a great deal of time alone. The woods are full of really gifted writers who couldn’t hack that part and took up other, more sociable professions.

Michele Brouder: What advice would you give an aspiring writer in today’s publishing climate?

Book Cover for Beth Gutcheon's GossipBeth Gutcheon: Be sure you are writing in the right form for your talent. Many beginning writers learn the short story, because it’s easier to fit a short form into a teaching curriculum, but it’s a very difficult form, and not suited to all talents. Be wary of memoir and of first person narrative; they seem to come naturally but in fact are very hard to handle effectively. And your agent is your most important professional ally. You want someone who is really invested in your career, who hopes to rise with you, whose tastes you trust, and who is well enough established to get her phone calls returned.

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About Michele Brouder

After living for seven years in Ireland, former Buffalonian, Michele Brouder now calls Florida home. Her first book, a YA paranormal, is due to be published sometime in 2014 for Harlequin E, Harlequin’s new digital format. Learn more from her contributor page.