#YEG Reads – What are Moms Reading?

© Calimero | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Calimero | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Just in time for Mother’s Day, a list of what some moms have on their night stand:

Lori The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
RitaThe Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
MaryThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
StephanieA Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy
Michelle- The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

Guest Post – Pauline Holyoak

Pauline1I grew in Southeast England, in a coal mining village lovingly nicknamed, “The place that time forgot.” Go to my website, click on ‘Articles’ and find out why.  I immigrated to Canada when I was 21 in search of adventure and a new life.  I currently live in Alberta with my sports crazy husband, adorable sheltie dog and cantankerous ginger cat. I am the proud mother of two grown children and one adorable grandchild.

Natasha has asked me to write a post on what defines my genre. I remember struggling with this before I started to look for a publisher for my first book. My story contained elements of romance, lust, fantasy, horror, suspense and humor. How was I going to choose a genre for a story that fit into so many categories? Since the publishing industry is segmented by genre, I knew it was essential for me to find my niche before I offered my manuscript to a publisher.

After much research, I decided that my trilogy fit the thriller/suspense genre, with a paranormal subgenre.

This is what defines my genre.

Pauline2The dramatic conflicts of thrillers/suspense are fraught with peril; a life-threatening danger that jeopardizes the protagonist, his or her loved ones, or even the whole world. The stakes are often large—death and destruction to lives, the downfall of an entire nation, an ecological disaster. However, thrillers can also simply portray riveting psychological tension between two opposing characters. Thrillers and suspense fiction are paired together because thrillers often utilize suspense elements in the development of the story—evil lurking just around the corner that motivates the protagonist to hunt down and capture the villain-at-large.

Although both thrillers and mysteries often involve the protagonist solving a crime and bringing bad guys to justice, the central conflict of thrillers/suspense focuses on developing an urgent sense of imminent jeopardy rather than solving a mystery or the detection of a crime. Thriller/suspense protagonists must win at all costs against a menacing, pernicious threat—or else things are going from bad to worse, and fast. Thriller/suspense is also included in the general grouping of “genre fiction,” “category fiction,” “mainstream” fiction,” or “mass market fiction.”

Paranormal stories are set in the real world, the world as we know it…with a little extra thrown in. Vampires, shape-shifters, fairies, elves, witches, demons, gargoyles, ghosts, psychics, mediums, telepaths, time travelers…these all belong in the paranormal world.

The pros and cons of writing a trilogy.

Pauline4Writing a trilogy or series is not an easy task. You have to keep your story line alive, long enough, to warrant three or more full length novels, and make sure that your characters do not perish from exhaustion, before they arrive at their destination. Each book must stand alone for readers who haven’t followed the previous books yet and you can’t bore those who have, with repetitive details of earlier events. You have to make your first book so compelling, that your readers will be anxious for the next one, and get the second one finished, published and out there, while the first one is still fresh in their minds….Writing a trilogy or series does have it’s advantages though. One already knows the characters, has done the research, established tone, point of view and motivation. ‘And’ if your first book is successful it’s almost a guarantee that your publisher will accept the next one.

Merryweather Lodge – A quaint little cottage, steeped in history, shrouded in secrets, its aura a paradoxical essence of heaven and hell. Come with me to the West Country in England and experience my protagonist’s strange and eerie journey there.

PaulineMy books are available in print or eBook format at http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com  or  www.amazon.com Book three of my trilogy will be released on July 1st.

Please come visit me at http://www.paulineholoak.com  read about my fascinating life and view my videos.

Writing For the Senses: Why is It Important?

cat on typewriter

Have you ever read a piece of nonfiction – a newspaper article, blog or magazine story – that felt dry?

Dry as a dish-scrubber, dry as grandma’s turkey, dry as an Edmonton winter? It’s likely because the writer wasn’t playing to your senses —  your fingertips, nostrils, ears, tongue and especially eyes.

On Tues., May 7 at EPL Whitemud Crossing, I’ll take you through the importance of writing for the senses, as well as how to do it well. Nobody likes a laundry list of details, but if you can find truths and metaphors in those details it only enriches the story. This event will be especially valuable to anyone aspiring to do feature writing. (The event is free, requires no registration and begins at 7 pm).

Although my focus will be on creative nonfiction, namely magazine writing, these tips could apply to all writing. Here’s some of what I’ll go over:

Writing for the senses gives your story and its characters life. Creative nonfiction readers have different (ie: higher) expectations. They want a well-rounded experience. Give them that. Find the sensory details, especially imagery, that expose unseeable truths about your story.

Think of yourself as a filmmaker – what would you describe to suggest a closeup? The five senses are your mise-en-scene. Sights and sounds are crucial to creating memorable, powerful scenes, and texture, taste and smell can be just as effective with teleporting your reader to that set. As the writer, you are the proverbial director, the authority on where our thoughts should go.

In interviews, ask your subjects dumb questions. Lots and lots of dumb questions, about their memories, possessions, dreams and more. Scrape out the details from their anecdotes so you can recreate it vividly and tactually. (It helps to warn them ahead of time.)

Look and listen harder in your environments. Good imagery is so subtle the reader doesn’t notice it, but feels it. What is around you right now that makes you feel as you do? Try to recreate that in your writing. Imagery is especially the most powerful technique in all writing, so always pay attention and try to interview people in their homes or other “natural habitats.”

Write for the ear. Read your work out loud and pay attention to cadence and rhythm. Good writing shouldn’t feel much different from a natural conversation when it’s read aloud.

May Writing Prompt

You’re walking down the beach when you come across a magical lamp. The genie will give you three wishes but at a terrible price…

Things to consider:
1) What is the terrible price?
2) Is there a way to get around the cost of your wishes?

June GiftAnd up for grabs this month: Charmaine Hammond’s On Toby’s Terms (a must read for all dog lovers) and Pamela McCallum’s book on Jane Ash Poitras’ art: Cultural Memories & Imagined Futures.

To enter the draw, email your name to regionalwir (at) gmail.com, or stick it in the designated boxes at the EPL/St. Albert/Fort Saskatchewan/Strathcona Library. Winner will be announced on June 1st and will have a month to collect the items from St. Albert Library. If they don’t collect the books by June 30, the prizes will go to the next name drawn.

PLEASE NOTE: You do NOT have to enter the writing prompt to be entered in the draw. However, those who submit a writing prompt will be automatically entered to win.

Writer in Residence Retrospective – Monica Hughes (1988)

Monica Hughes has the great distinction of being the first Writer in Residence for the EPL (according to the EPL’s website: “The Board initiated and applied for funding from AFLA for a writer-in-residence program, featuring Monica Hughes, as an anniversary project.”)

A prolific author, she penned over thirty-five novels, won the Governor General’s award twice, and was made a member of the Order of Canada.

She passed away in 2003.