Write On! Crafting the Novel, Creating Imaginary Lives

Let’s start at the beginning, in that place From Where You Dream, at the first flash of a place, a line or a face.  Start, precisely, there, Creating Characters as you continue to construct, in your mind, the Architecture of the Novel you will write.

Ok, maybe, you have to start at that other beginning. Perhaps, you’ll  take the time to learn How Fiction Works and discover How Not to Write a Novel. Prepare yourself to go through multiple Beginnings, Middles & Ends before, really, coming to The End (it will be worth the trip)! Continue reading “Write On! Crafting the Novel, Creating Imaginary Lives”

Short and Sweet: Stories to Savor while Social Distancing

As is the case for most folks these days, I am spending a lot of time alone. Under normal circumstances this would be the perfect time to tackle my to-be-read pile, but between phone and video catch-ups with friends and family and a seemingly endless amount of news to absorb, I’ve been finding it difficult to fully immerse myself in novels.

If like me you find yourself simultaneously sheltered in place but short on attention, it might be time to check out some short story collections. From standby classic authors to exciting contemporary voices, there’s enough here to give you a temporary break from current events, or at the very least, from social media.

Continue reading “Short and Sweet: Stories to Savor while Social Distancing”

Nightstand Reads with author Sara Donati

Where the Light Enters is the latest from Sara Donati, a bestselling author known for her riveting and well-researched historical novels. We asked her to share her own reading list with us:

I read a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction out of personal interest and professional necessity. My novels are deeply researched, so I spend a lot of time reading medical texts and government reports written before 1890.  But I also read contemporary and historical fiction of all stripes, from noir crime to romance to short story collections. Ancient Rome, modern-day Detroit, Victorian England, WWII China are all welcome.

If I continue thinking about a book long after I’ve finished it, I consider it time well spent. Here are some of my recent discoveries.

Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger
by Rebecca Traister
There is a lot to be angry about. Traister’s book came out just after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified, and it reminded me that women’s anger, once focused, is hugely powerful. It has launched movements and revolutions that have changed the world for the better. Continue reading “Nightstand Reads with author Sara Donati”

Holiday Reads for the Rest of Us

To get into the holiday spirit this year I’ve been cranking up the Christmas tunes, decorating the Christmas tree, and drinking hot cocoa while watching Home Alone, but when it comes to books I need something a little less sparkly and bright. I like to read realistic fiction – nothing against a good cozy mystery or a holiday themed romance, but I enjoy the struggle of real life in my reading. It helps me recognize what I’m thankful for and helps me feel less alone if I’m having a hard time. Here are some fiction reads, for however you spend the season, to bring some empathy, understanding, and maybe a little chaos.

Disgruntled: A Novel by Asali Solomon: “Kenya is teased mercilessly by her Philadelphia grade-school classmates for her Kwanzaa-celebrating family’s odd ways—and they don’t know the half of it.  Her father preaches “black anarchy” as the volatile leader of the Seven Days, a group he and Kenya’s mother, Sheila, who grew up in the projects and who supports her family as a librarian, has pulled together. Preternaturally observant and mordantly funny, Kenya is a hypnotic narrator coping valiantly with an increasingly bewildering life.” (Booklist) Continue reading “Holiday Reads for the Rest of Us”

Bringing Women’s Stories to Life

For Women’s History Month this year, I’d like to highlight the way fiction can take a real person’s life and help fill in the gaps about what we historically know, using imagination in order to bring that person’s story back. In particular, since the historical register generally focuses on men, women’s full lives were often elided or ignored in the historical record, and thus in history class and history books. Here, then, is a small sampling of novels by women writers bringing back to full, bright life women from history.

Jubilee by Margaret Walker
Grounded in decades of research, Walker tells the story of her great-grandmother Vyry, the child of a white plantation owner and an enslaved woman on his plantation. Through Vyry’s experiences the reader sees life in pre-Civil War Georgia, wartime deprivation, and the promise and hard reality of Reconstruction. Continue reading “Bringing Women’s Stories to Life”