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The next chapter is due to be posted on May 6. Teasers are posted on Fictionators (Teaser Monday) and A Different Forest.

Enjoy your day!

- Raum
Have you ever met a selkie

(For those who are asking "What's a selkie?": they're mythological creatures found in Faroese, Icelandic, Irish, and Scottish folklore.)

I haven't met any selkie (so far), but I've met an author who can write amazing stories featuring them. 

The first one is a fanfic, suitable for readers who love a very, very well-researched historical tale:
Summary: Set during the reign of "Bloody Mary" Tudor. Bella is captured by Edward to raise his daughter. He promises to release her one day, but will he? Court intrigues and danger around every corner. Can they, and their new-found love, survive? Rated M/OOC/AU. Complete.
Bella as a selkie
The second story is an original novel, the third by Lissa Bryan -- author of Ghostwriter and The End of All Things. It's scheduled for release in 2014, but you can already enjoy a sneak peek:

Knowing how talented Lissa is, I'm sure Under These Restless Skies will be a new, captivating novel that will have me hooked.

Stay tuned!


Today's guest is Brian Sweany, author of Exotic Music of the Belly Dancer.
This novel's title sounds intriguing, doesn't it? Here's a full summary:

Hank Fitzpatrick’s life is what you might expect from a man-child stumbling his way through and beyond adolescence in the late 1980s in small town Indiana: hypersexual, drunk, stoned, prone to fits of spontaneous masturbation, occasionally Catholic, and accidentally well-intentioned. His life is in perpetual conflict as he confuses sex for love, heartache for passion, desperation for honesty, and abuse for affection.
Caught in the crossfire of raging hormones, bad decisions and family tragedy, Hank is just a boy not yet ready to be a man. And like many boys growing up, Hank is desperate to impress his father. The impossibly perfect patriarch of the family, John Fitzpatrick decides at age forty-two he wants to have a vasectomy reversal. Is Hank ready to be a brother again at age seventeen? What about his mother’s narcotics and gimlet-soaked uterus? A child will come of this, but not without consequences.
Laura is Hank’s first true love. From their stolen nights together as high-school sweethearts to their final encounter as twentysomething adults, they never figure out how to stop hurting one another. Beth, the girl who loves Hank unconditionally, can only wait for so long before longing turns to regret. But everything will be okay as long as Hank’s best friend Hatch is there to help him exorcise his demons with a half-gallon of bourbon and a bottle of cough syrup.
Exotic Music of the Belly Dancer is more than just a tribute to the last uninhibited pre-9/11, pre-Facebook generation. It’s a comedy. It’s a tragedy. It’s a love story. It’s a subversive yet empathetic, warts-and-all portrait rooted in real-life that kids will read behind their parents’ backs. And if somewhere along the way we can all share in the redemptive power of a belly dancer’s love…well, that’s okay, too.

The author has accepted to describe his writing process.


Writing a "Coming of Age" Novel About the 80's, by Brian Sweany

I don’t know if my approach to writing the book ever amounted to a conscious process; rather, the process was a by-product of the writing itself. I’m a child of the 80s. Growing up, John Hughes was God in my world, as he was to many kids my age. Hughes had this insight into the adolescent condition that I wanted to emulate as a writer. His empathy for their emotional fragility and self-absorption is something you can’t fake. I have this quote from Hughes that I keep framed in my office. It reads, “I think it's wrong not to allow someone the right to have a problem because of their age. People say, 'Well, they're young. They have their whole lives ahead of them. What do they have to complain about?' They forget very quickly what it's like to be young.” Maybe there’s your answer.

The real key to writing a coming of age novel is to write in that moment, to not let hindsight prejudice your perspective. I have a fourteen year old daughter, and that day she gets her heart broken for the first time will be the worst day of her life, and I will not minimize her pain by saying something trite or dismissive like, “Someday you’ll look back on this and just laugh it off.” Maybe she will look back and laugh, but right now she has a hole in her heart. She’s that very same gutted, broken-down, universe-of-one teenager you were when your high school sweetheart came back from spring break with another dude on her arm and you cried yourself to sleep for a month. And the last thing she wants her father to be is just another dickhead.

I recall a scathing review of Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons by Slate editor Jacob Weisberg in which he said Wolfe’s sex scenes read like “anatomy lessons” and that the “seemingly accessible world of [young people] is more difficult to explicate because of the way the nuances of youth culture turn invisible, if not utterly incomprehensible, across the barrier of generations.”

That is exactly right, Mr. Weisberg, and as writers we can’t fake it.

What did you want to have in that was left out, and what did you editors want to leave out that you refused to compromise? 

As for what was left out of my manuscript, that’s a sensitive subject, and by “sensitive” I mean if you have a delicate constitution you might want to skip down to the next paragraph. There was an intensely graphic masturbation scene in an early draft in which the protagonist propped himself like a tripod over a toilet and went into some fairly precise and disgusting detail about what was going on. What I loved about the scene, which happened very early in the book, is that it plunged you headfirst into the protagonist’s nihilistic, hyper-sexual world. It was gross and uncomfortable, just what any book about teen sexuality should be. Plus, I was reading a lot of Chuck Palahniuk at the time, I had that Tyler Durden quote “We're a generation of men raised by women” in my head, and I think this scene is where I tried really hard to just punch readers in the face, metaphorically speaking. 

Long story short, my editor thought I was trying too hard, and I reluctantly agreed. Beyond this particular scene, there were very little wholesale changes. 

My editor did what a good editor is supposed to do: She made me look at certain superfluous scenes or characters that didn’t move the story along and asked what their value was. If I could find something meaningful or thematic in these situations, they stayed. If not, they were cut or else absorbed into another scene or character. The author-editor relationship is a constant give and take, however, and I did win my share of battles. The thing I fought hardest to retain were all the 80s pop culture references in the book—140+ by my final count. 

There was a concern Exotic Music of the Belly Dancer might be seen as too generational, and the suggestion that maybe I should delete some of the more obscure references. I made my case by taking a page from my old high school German teacher who in four years never spoke English to me inside the classroom. For the reader’s sake, I would settle for nothing less than full immersion. I wasn’t just writing for—to quote my book jacket—“that vast swath of nostalgic, pop-fueled Gen X and Gen Y adults who migrated from John Hughes in the 80s to the reality TV voyeurism of the new millennium” and wanted “to see the homecoming king fall flat on his face, implode in spectacular fashion, dust himself off, then do it all over again.” I was writing for their “sons and daughters who inexplicably think Reagan was cool, buy crimping irons, and wear popped-collar Izods and off-the-shoulder sweatshirts.” If I was going to present a John Hughes-esque time capsule of a world before AIDS, before 9/11 and before Facebook, I couldn’t be half-ass about it. 


Thank you, Brian Sweany!

Are you curious about the novel? You can purchase it at the following link:

Since 2000, Brian Sweany has been the Director of Acquisitions 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 from Eastern Michigan University, from which he graduated magna cum laude in 1995. He's a retired semi-professional student, with stopovers 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 has spent most of his life in the Midwest and now lives near Indianapolis with his wife, three children, and a neurotic Husky/Border mix named Hank. He’s currently working on his next project, Making Out with Blowfish, which is the sequel to Exotic Music of the Belly Dancer and the second book in a planned trilogy. For future details, check out the author’s website at: www.briansweany.com


After last chapter's cliffie, the 8th installment is ready for you! http://www.fanfiction.net/s/8955111/8/

Camilla's short poem (SatinCoveredSteel helped to translate it):

Ora Edward vuol parlare
ed a Bella rivelare
chi a sua madre fece male
era uomo o era immortale?

Now Edward wants to spill,
and to Bella he'll reveal
who caused her mother harm most fatal —
was he human or immortal?

This scene from the movie The Silence of the Lambs is behind the Latin motto Edward mentions in this chapter:

The new chapter is due to be posted in less than two weeks.
Reviewers get a little gift.


Gabriel's Redemption is the third book of a trilogy that has fascinated readers all over the world.

Today we can show you the cover and the summary of the last book featuring Gabriel and Julianne.

Summary: Professor Gabriel Emerson has left his position at the University of Toronto to embark on a new life with his beloved Julianne. Together, he’s confident that they can face any challenge. And he’s eager to become a father. But Julianne’s graduate program threatens Gabriel’s plans, as the pressures of being a student become all consuming. When she is given the honor of presenting an academic lecture at Oxford, Gabriel is forced to confront her about the subject of her presentation – research that conflicts with his own. And in Oxford, several individuals from their past appear, including an old nemesis intent on humiliating Julia and exposing one of Gabriel’s darkest secrets. In an effort to confront his remaining demons, Gabriel begins a quest to discover more about his biological parents, beginning a chain of events that has startling repercussions for himself, Julianne, and his hope of having a family.


The book will be released at the end of the year (December 2013), but it's already available for pre-order!
If you want to know more about the author and his books, you can visit Sylvain Reynard's Website: www.sylvainreynard.com -- or you can find SR on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/sylvainreynard.

Have you read Gabriel's Inferno and Gabriel's Rapture? Did you enjoy them?

Gabriel's Inferno has been reviewed on MyReadingLounge.


Today I'm offering you new quotes by famous writers about writing:

"Write about what makes you different." 
-- Sandra Cisneros 

"If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." 
-- Toni Morrison 

"Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers." 
-- Ray Bradbury 

I particularly like the one by Toni Morrison. It's one of the most important reasons why I began to write in the first place, and I'm very fond of fanfiction because I enjoy how it gives you the opportunity to write the story you wanted your favorite characters to have. 

I've found some of these quotes thanks to Creative Writing Now, http://www.creative-writing-now.com/. This website offers online writing classes. I've tried only the free online course: http://www.creative-writing-now.com/free-online-writing-courses.html. It's good!

Do you know other free writing courses or books available online? 

Your comments and suggestions are always welcome! 

- Raum


This is a beautiful trailer for an amazing book!

Lissa Bryan: New Book Trailer for "The End of All Things"

The End of All Things is recommended by My Reading Lounge: read the book review.


Some of the best authors ever provided today's writing advice. Just tell me if you have ever applied their suggestions and if you found them useful.



“Write what should not be forgotten.”
-- Isabel Allende

“Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I'd have the facts.”
-- Harper Lee

“Don't say it was delightful; make us say delightful when we've read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers Please will you do the job for me.”
-- C.S. Lewis

“Write without pay until somebody offers to pay.”
-- Mark Twain

“I don't think anybody can teach anybody anything. I think that you learn it, but the young writer that is as I say demon-driven and wants to learn and has got to write, he don't know why, he will learn from almost any source that he finds. He will learn from older people who are not writers, he will learn from writers, but he learns it -- you can't teach it.”
-- William Faulkner

“Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.”
-- Ernest Hemingway


Do you have any quote you'd like to share?

Why do you write?

I enjoyed this passage by Stephen King: "Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well. [...] Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up."


Edward and Bella are back. The 7th chapter is ready for you! http://www.fanfiction.net/s/8955111/7/

Camilla's short poem (SatinCoveredSteel helped to translate it):

Mentre Bella sta dormendo
Il vampir va ricordando
Un momento di passione,
ma non n’ha consolazione.

While Bella is sleeping,
the vampire is recalling
a moment of lustfulness
but it brings him no solace.

This scene from "Forrest Gump" plays a role in the chapter


I'd like to recommend two articles about humor and writing.

In the first one, How to Write Better Using Humor, I particularly enjoyed "The Rule of Three":

Writing comedically usually requires establishing a pattern (with the setup) and then misdirecting the reader (with the punch line). One simple way of doing this is to pair two like ideas in a list and then add a third, incongruent, idea. The reason we use a list of three, and not five or 27, is that three is the number of things we can most easily remember (two if we haven’t yet had our coffee or been tasered awake by our boss). Here’s an example of a sentence using the Rule of Three: Losing weight is simple: Eat less, exercise more and pay NASA to let you live in an anti-gravity chamber.
This is one of the most flexible ways to naturally incorporate humor into your narrative. It’s particularly useful in crafting catchy article ledes, like this opening paragraph from Jean Chatzky’s “Interest Rates Are Going Up. Now What?” in More:

Let me predict a few things that will happen in the next year. Brad and Angelina will add another baby to their brood. The day you spend $175 getting your hair done is the day it will rain. And the variable-interest rates—on your savings account, mortgage and credit card—will go up.
Here she uses two amusing, less important ideas as the pattern and throws in her point at the end, as the “punch.”

In the second one, How to Write Funny, I like the way the author uses famous quotes. Here's an example:
In the following chunk from a Woody Allen short story, please locate the plausible that plops out of the implausible:

“The Walt Disney Company shareholder suit over the severance package paid to departing president Michael Ovitz was jolted today by the testimony of an unexpected witness, who was questioned by counsel for the entertainment giant.
“COUNSEL: Will the witness please state his name.
“WITNESS: Mickey Mouse.”

Do you use humor in your writing? Do you enjoy it as a reader? Your comments are welcome.

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