Guest Post: Another Side to the Story

This week I bring the second Historical January guest, Bryony from Re: Read Pages.

Another Side to the Story

Historical fiction is my go-to genre when I want a good read. A good historical fiction can take you to a place far away but familiar or make the past feel more immediate as you immerse yourself in a different time. The details – language, clothing, social customs –that make historical fiction great are difficult to pull off. Doubly so if an author decides to build off of an established, and often beloved, story or character. This literary sub-genre is one of my favourites.

My first brush with historical adaptation came with the reading of Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. First published in 1966, the novel is a prequel to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and tells the story of the madwoman in the attic, Rochester’s first wife. Rhys gives depth and life to a character that was otherwise just a stumbling block to true love. Brontë is only one of many authors whose works have inspired adaptation.

Understandably, one of the writers frequently hit up for adaptation is Shakespeare. With his memorable characters, layered plotlines, and unforgettable language, Shakespeare provides a strong, well-known foundation on which other writers can build.

Over the holiday, in addition to some great meals, I devoured the novel Juliet’s Nurse by Lois Leveen. As the title indicates, Leveen’s novel takes place in the story of Romeo and Juliet (no pressure) and tells the story Angelica, the bawdy Nurse in the famous tragedy.

18773488Angelica enters the service of Juliet’s house as a wet-nurse after losing her own daughter, stillborn, the same night as Juliet enters the world. The first part of the novel covers the first three years of Juliet’s life and shows the bond forged between woman and child as well as revealing Angelica’s history and love-filled marriage to the kind Pietro.

Shakespeare’s play is a tragedy and so, too, Leveen’s story carries tragedy and by the second part of the novel, Angelica, in one form or another, is left with only Juliet to love and to be loved by. This fierce and desperate love is tested as Romeo enters the story.

Juliet’s Nurse hits all the sweet spots: interesting original story, good use of source material, and wonderfully integrated historical detail. One example of all three of these achievements is Leveen’s use of the plague throughout the novel. The famous line, “A plague a both your houses!,” said by Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet after being stabbed by Tybalt, is given full weight in Juliet’s Nurse.

In the first half of the story, it is revealed that Angelica and Pietro lost six sons to the plague years before Juliet (and their surprise last daughter) was born. At one point Leveen writes a beautiful passage about the emotional experience of living, while others do not, through the plague. The full passage is heart-wrenching, but here is a small excerpt:

“I still catch sight of Donato or Enzo or any of my boys, out of the corner of my eye. Sometimes I see them at the age they were when death snatched them, and sometimes as the age they’d be now, every one of them grown tall. Sometimes they’re some age in between, so I’m not certain from the fleeting features which son I saw, those beautiful last faces blending one into another.”

In passages such as the one quoted above, Leveen’s writing and storytelling shines. She makes good use of the snippets of information Shakespeare provided about the Nurse, who, in the play, has the third-largest number of lines behind only the title characters. Seeing Juliet’s life from the one closest to her provides an interesting companion read to the famous play and is a wonderful addition to the genre of historical adaptation.

If you want try more authors who have tackled this genre, you can check out Geraldine Brooks (March), Jo Baker (Longbourn) or John Updike (Gertrude and Claudius). And please come visit my blog, re: read pages, to discuss historical fiction, writing, and more. Happy reading!

***** About the Blogger *****

 ~ Bryony Lewicki ~

~ Re: Read Pages ~

I can’t remember not having at least one book on the go, whether being read to by my mother when I was little or picking out books on my own as I got older. Reading is part of my lifestyle. Books come with me wherever I go.

Writing is something I do hidden away. I have non-fiction published but fiction, the stuff from my own imagination, that has stayed firmly in my own head.

I studied journalism and English literature with a side of creative writing and film studies. I am currently writing a novel set in 15th century Italy about a young girl who wanted to join a convent rather than get married but gets caught up with Borgia family (the real life papal family) after meeting Lucrezia Borgia, the pope’s daughter.

Guest Post: What Makes a Successful Historical Fiction Novel?

I am excited today to bring the first guest on the blog for January’s feature focusing on historical fiction. Today, blogger Melissa Beck from The Book Binder’s Daughter is taking over!

What makes a successful historical fiction novel?

One of my favorite genres to review on my blog is historical fiction.  I started reading historical fiction several years back when I picked up Phillipa Gregory’s novels about Henry VIII and the Tudors Dynasty.

What, exactly, constitutes an historical fiction novel?   For me it is really any book that puts the reader in the mindset of a previous period of time and era.  Some books are obviously historical fiction, like those set in 19th century Britain, or during World War II.  But what about a book that is set in the 1980’s or 1990’s?  Would that be considered historical fiction as well?  I would answer yes to this question because during those two decades there were no cell phones with texting, no computers with internet, or e-mail.  Without all of these advancements, especially in technology, we are indeed reminded of a different era in time.

What makes an historical fiction novel a great read?  Like any other book, an historical fiction novel should have interesting characters with which one can sympathize, no matter what the setting.  The plot should also be interesting and contain themes that will keep the reader thinking long after the last page is finished.   An historical fiction novel will stand out, in my mind, if it makes the reader want to know more about the time period in which it is set.

21894404For example, this summer was the anniversary of the centenary of World War I, so I decided to read and review a series of historical fiction books set during The Great War.  I chose 6 novels, all with different settings that also highlighted various countries that were involved in the conflict.  I learned a great deal about World War I and I kept researching various aspects of the war which these books brought up.

One of the best I read was The End of Innocence by Allegra Jordan.  It focused on a group of Harvard students from different countries who were called to fight when war broke out.  Even though these young men were friends and classmates at school, when they were called to fight for their respective countries they became enemies on the battlefield.  History books tend to focus on dates and numbers and facts; but this novel gave me a deeper appreciation for the sacrifices that these soldiers, these human beings, made when going off to war.

I have to end my post with a mention of the best historical fiction novels I have ever read.  It is actually a series of two books written by Stuart Shotwell:  Edumund Persuader and Tomazina’s Folly.  They are both set in England in the early 19th century.  These books are the perfect storm of historical fiction greatness with memorable characters, engaging plots and interesting themes.  They explore topics such as love, marriage, redemption, forgiveness, and pride just to name a few.  They will not only make you appreciate the setting of 19th century England, but they will also make you become more contemplative about your own life in the 21st century.  I invite you to stop by my blog and read the full reviews of these books as well as the plethora of other great historical fiction novels I have reviewed.

***** About the Blogger *****

 ~ Melissa Beck ~

~ The Book Binder’s Daughter ~

profile-picture2-e1403752257961I am a High School Latin/Ancient Greek/History teacher, avid reader, N.Y. Giants fan, and Rush (as in Canadian Prog. rock) fan. Some might say that my reading choices are rather eclectic.  I enjoy reading a wide range of books from Classics to historical fiction, to history and travel writing.  I especially like to support small press and indie authors.

I read serious literary fiction with well-developed characters, mellifluous prose and an interesting plot.  The philosophy behind my blog is threefold; I spread the word about books through my reviews to readers who are likeminded, I give away books to my readers to spread around the enjoyment of good books. Lastly I believe it is important to help authors connect a bit more with their readers through interviews and guest posts.

The best way for me to enjoy a good book is with a cup of Chinese black tea, steeped with the correct temperature of hot water and for just the right amount of time and finished off with a splash of raw milk.

My father was a book binder for 44 years, so yes, I actually am the “Book Binder’s Daughter.”

Find Melissa: Blog | Bloglovin | Facebook | Twitter

Guest Review: The Paper Bag Christmas

Hello everyone!  My name is Krystal and I’m the blogger behind Books Are My Thing.  My favorite genre is fantasy, but I like to read a little bit of everything.  When Charlie posted that she wanted to do a Christmas theme for December, I knew just the book to write about.

I picked up The Paper Bag Christmas at the campus bookstore when I was in college, say 5 or 6 years ago, and I’ve read it a couple times since then.


The Paper Bag Christmas by Kevin Alan Mine:

Dr. Christopher Ringle is the last person you’d expect to find moonlighting as Santa Claus at the mall on the day after Thanksgiving. But it is there that he meets a young man named Molar Alan, who desperately needs a new perspective on the underlying value of Christmas. Dr. Ringle recruits Mo and his older brother as volunteers at a nearby children’s hospital for the holiday season. At the hospital, Mo is tasked to help bring holiday cheer to the young cancer patients on the fifth floor. His biggest challenge is befriending a decidedly angry girl who is so embarrassed by her scarred appearance that she hides her face behind the safety of a paper bag. Almost in spite of himself, Mo finds that Christmas joy emanates from a source far greater than the North Pole, while the young girl learns that she is more beautiful than she had ever imagined.

The prologue and epilogue make it sound like the story in this book might be real, and I think that really adds to the rest of the story.  After the prologue, we start out with Aaron and Molar being drug to the mall to sit on Santa’s lap, only to find out this isn’t your typical Santa Claus.  They end up getting volunteered to help out at the hospital that Santa, or Dr. Ringle, works at.  This is where they meet Madhu and Katrina, who will forever change how they view Christmas.

Aaron’s role is mostly a back-up character, with Madhu, Katrina, and Molar taking front and center, despite the fact that Aaron is Molar’s brother.  I think it would have been nice to hear from him a little more. Molar, whom the story is told in the point of view of, felt like a genuine 9-year-old boy, from filling every single space on his wish list to accepting a dangerous gurney racing challenge.  Molar grows a lot during his time volunteering at the hospital, and despite only being 9, it really felt like a coming-of-age thing for him.

I felt Madhu was stereotyped as the “typical Indian boy”, which kind of irritated me, but also lent itself to a great lesson at the end of the book since he doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Katrina was, well… she’s hard to analyze.  If you can picture a little girl who has lost all of her family and is dying of terminal cancer, well, that’s her. She’s afraid to open up to anyone at first, and I don’t blame her.  Kids can be mean.  Still, she grows during this story as well, and is given the one thing she never thought she’d get.

Despite some of the stereotypes (Madhu isn’t the only one), there’s a lot of good messages in this book. At one point the kids are making fun of Katrina’s paper bag during the Christmas pageant rehearsal, and Molar contemplates that the other kids are “behaving completely un-Christ-like.” When Katrina is afraid to go on stage for fear that the adults will laugh at her paper bag, Molar tries to console her by saying that they won’t laugh. He goes on to think to himself, “But I knew better. People always laugh when they don’t understand.” How TRUE is it that when we are uncomfortable with something or don’t understand, we make fun of it or laugh it off?

Madhu and Katrina’s gifts to the baby Jesus are what brings tears to my eyes when I read this story. Children can be so profound when you least expect it. These kids really did understand the meaning of Christmas.

The Paper Bag Christmas is a joyful and sad story all in one.  It makes you reflect on what Christmas is really about. It’s a great coming-of-age story, showcasing a little boy’s realization that there’s more to Christmas than just Santa and presents. I’d recommend it to anyone who needs a reminder of what the holiday season is about.  4 out of 5 stars

Guest Post: Recipe for Crime

Recipe for Crime

~ Madhvi Ramani ~

unnamed (2)When Charlie told me she was dedicating October to books about crime, murder and mystery, I was thrilled! (yeah, I know that sounds sordid – or even morbid…)

​I love crime fiction (Gone Girl!), true crime shows (48 hours!), crime dramas (How to Get Away with Murder!), killer films (Psycho!), books about real-life psychos (The Devil in the White City!) – you get the picture. Love crime.

Crime fiction can hold a mirror to society and tackle important subjects – life and death, morality, revenge, desire, greed…

Plus, it’s about story-telling. Crime fiction is all about penetrating surface impressions and character lies to get to an underlying truth. The detective, or reader, collects pieces of a puzzle, shuffling and re-shuffling them, until they arrive at a narrative that fits. As a storyteller, I find this fascinating.

As I’m currently working on a crime novel, I’ve been thinking about what makes a great crime story. These are my top five ingredients:

An Interesting Investigator

1497356The original private investigator was Chandler’s smart-talking, hard-drinking Marlowe, who came up with lines like, “From thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class. From ten feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from thirty feet away.” – The High Window

Of course, now, this type of lone male investigator has become a cliché and writers must find ever-more interesting characters to delve into the world of crime.

There are down-and-out actor sleuths (The Charles Paris Mysteries), computer-hacking troubled Swedish girls (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), homely Botswanan women (The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency) and 4’11” French Commandants with artistic talents (Alex).

An original, interesting investigator to accompany us on our journey is essential. Who’s your favourite investigator?


18241646Whether it’s the bleak Swedish town of Ystad in the Wallander novels, American Psycho’s New York, or The Weight of Blood’s Ozark wilderness, setting is key to crime, murder and mystery novels. Just consider the creepiness evoked here:

“The land was rocky and gummed with red clay, the thorny underbrush populated by all manner of biting, stinging beasts. The roads twisted in on themselves like intestines. The heat sucked the breath from your chest.” – The Weight of Blood, by Laura McHugh

As well as atmosphere, the setting provides clues about what happened, why, and mirrors the psyches of characters.

Keep Us Guessing

Don’t you just hate it when you’ve sussed everything out halfway through a book?

I want to be kept in suspense until the very end.

Even if I know who the murderer is, there must always be unanswered questions to keep me reading, like:

Will the investigator figure it out?

Will the culprit get away with it?

Why did he /she commit the crime?

And why was that giraffe-shaped balloon left at the crime scene?

Simple Plots, Complex Characters

Plots that are overly complicated, with constant twists and turns, are tiring. I prefer simpler plots that focus on character psychology, the intricacies of relationships and the grief of victims, thus giving the story more depth and making it seem more plausible.


If something is badly written, it jolts me out of the story.

On the other hand, when the language is rich and subtle, like in the novels of Tana French’s, or when it leaps off the page, disturbed and unusual, like in Joyce Carol Oates’ Zombie, which is told from the point of view of a serial killer, it adds so much to the reading experience.

What do you think? Which essential ingredients do you think make a good crime story?

Top Ten + Giveaway: Into the Arms of Morpheus

morpheus banner

Title: Into the Arms of Morpheus
Author: Jessica Nicholls
Release Date: July 2014
Length: 166 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Dark Fantasy

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon 

Woman Looks Out At Storm As If Life Is Just To MuchSylvia has always harboured a solitary obsession with Morpheus, the Greek God of Dreams. She’s brought it with her from her adolescence in a village of Northern England where she grew up, to the university in Manchester where she now studies.

Nyx is the Goddess of Night, and has spent the centuries stewing in an ancient, unrequited love. Not easily pleased, her attention is drawn to a voice chanting its devotion and desire for her, and she seeks the source of it.

She is not the only god playing in the realms of men, however. When the God of Death, and Morpheus himself become aware of Sylvia and this new devotee, the stage is set for the gods to secure their worship, or for a mortal to become one of them.

*****Top Ten List*****

 Top 10 Favorite God/Goddess Stories. 

  1. Tales from Ovid by Ted Hughes. For me, this breathes life into some very old stories.
  2. Prophecy of the Most Beautiful by Diantha Jones.
  3. Prophecy of the Setting Sun by Diantha Jones.
  4. Prophecy of Solstice’s End by Diantha Jones. – I absolutely loved these. I really don’t normally go for YA but I found these imaginative, unique and interesting.
  5. Lover, Divine by A. Star. I will never look at Apollo and the sun in the same way again.
  6. A Touch of Greek (Out of Olympus Series 1) by Tina Folsom.
  7. A Scent of Greek (Out of Olympus Series 2) by Tina Folsom. Okay, so this is ‘guilty pleasure’ reading but if you are going to do it, Tina Folsom is pretty damn good.
  8. Accidentally In Love with…a God? by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff. Again, bit of a guilty pleasure read. In fact, it’s ludicrous at times. BUT its hilarious, sexy and creative.
  9. The Year God’s Daughter by Rebecca Lochlan. Admittedly, this is more about the characters who worship her, more than Athene herself but it just brought ancient Greece to life for me.
  10. Ice Land by Betsy Tobin. This is worth reading just for the depictions of the landscape, let alone enjoying the POV of a Norse goddess.

*****About the Author*****

Author PictureJessica Nicholls is originally from Northern Illinois.  She lived in Manchester, England for just over ten years where she studied and had her children.  She now lives in the Middle East with her husband and two children.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


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Guest Post: Mysti Parker

The author I’m featuring today is one who I have had such a great blogger-author relationship. I reviewed her Tallenmere series in the spring, and I loved the final book. You can read the reviews for the books here, here and here. This is her second guest post on G1000W, and I love having her over!

She is part of September Sizzlers and I am so glad to have the sweet Mysti Parker here again. 🙂

Let’s Get it On: Love Scenes from One Author’s Perspective

 “…love scenes that were described with creatively written clean taste that left you with all kinds of erotic visions to imagine.”

 “…way too much explicit sex in this book.”

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00074]Above are two conflicting statements from two different readers concerning the love scenes in my first book, A Ranger’s Tale. As with every aspect of fiction, love scenes are subjective for both author and reader. Opinions and preferences vary widely. From no mention of physical affection to no holds barred, writers and readers reside all along the spectrum.

Readers are generous with their opinions of sex in literature. Yet, we don’t often hear much from the author’s side of things. So, let’s explore this topic with a question I was once asked:

 How can you, as a Christian woman, justify writing graphic love scenes?

I have it on good authority, being a mother of three, that Christian people have sex. They have sex both in wedlock and outside of wedlock. Sometimes they have good and healthy sexual relationships. Sometimes they don’t. Sex (whether it’s good, bad or non-existent) is an important aspect in an adult’s life, whether they’re Christian or not. I see no reason to gloss over it.

20628483Most Christians will agree that God ordained sex as a beautiful thing in the Bible. And many of them will argue that it’s meant to be left a private and holy thing between man and wife, and therefore should not be mentioned in books. Quite honestly, an all-out omission of sex in adult literature seems as forced as the archaic traditions of chastity belts.

Even the Bible doesn’t shy away from vivid descriptions of sex, and one of the most famous books of the Bible was written by a king who didn’t stick with one woman for life. A few years ago, during a study of sex and all the symbolic, though quite erotic, references from Song of Songs, I had to wonder which of Solomon’s 700 wives and 300 concubines he was writing about. His story wasn’t exactly the best example of a monogamous relationship.

Elsewhere in the Bible are depictions of sex in both lovely and manipulative situations. And I’m left with the impression that although God did mean sex to be a special, beautiful thing, we as humans often screw that up (forgive the pun). The compilers of the holy text left both the good and bad encounters intact. Look up the story of Lot and his daughters if you’re not convinced.

So, why not include sex in fiction? If we’re diving deep into the psyche of adult characters, into their deepest desires and inner conflicts, why not include their sexual relationships?

I do have my personal limits. I don’t write a story solely to titillate a reader, rushing through the plot to get to the sex. Instead, it’s part of how they interact. Sometimes it’s joyous and wonderful, sometimes it’s not very pretty—just like real life. My heroes and heroines are flawed, passionate about many things, and face consequences when they make bad decisions. Even though they might not be human, you’ll find their struggles both in and out of the bedroom to be very real. My intimate scenes tend to swim in the shallows of eroticism with enough detail to make it vivid, but not so much that we can identify our hero’s penis in a lineup. *ahem* I think I’ll keep leaving room for the reader’s imagination to fill in those parts.

My series is written for adults who understand sex and the joys and consequences it can bring. They are complex stories with heavy themes, and if you’re not seeing past the lovemaking, you’re missing the boat. The Hunger Games, for instance, isn’t just a story about kids killing each other for a sick TV show, but if you only look on the surface, that’s what you’ll see. There are real messages in there of unconditional love, sacrifice, and standing up for what’s right. I hope readers walk away with similar messages when they close one of my books.

Your personal preference as a reader or writer may vary greatly from mine. But, however you like your romance, or don’t, I hope that at least this author’s philosophy has been enlightening. And, if and when you read your next romance novel, I hope you’ll walk away with something more than the need for a cold shower.

About the Author

2014-07-28 21.52.37Mysti Parker (pseudonym) is a wife, mother of three, author, and shameless chocoholic. She is the author of the Tallenmere standalone fantasy romance series. Her writing has been likened to Terry Goodkind’s ‘Sword of Truth’ series, but is probably closer to a spicy cross between Tolkien and Mercedes Lackey.

Mysti’s other writings have appeared in the anthologies Hearts of Tomorrow, Christmas Lites, Christmas Lites II, The Darwin Murders, and EveryDayFiction. She serves as a class mentor in Writers Village University’s seven week online course, F2K. She’s just finished her first historical romance and has two children’s books represented by Steven Hutson of WordWise Media Services.

When she’s not writing, Mysti reviews books for SQ Magazine, an online specfic publication, and is the proud owner of Unwritten, a blog voted #3 for eCollegeFinder’s Top Writing Blogs award. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband and three children.


Subscribe to Mysti’s blog, Unwritten 

LIKE Mysti’s fan page on Facebook! 

Follow Mysti on Twitter @MystiParker

Journey to Tallenmere for Breathtaking Fantasy and Unforgettable Romance … it’s fantasy with a heart!

A Ranger’s Tale, Tallenmere #1 (Now FREE for Kindle!)

Serenya’s Song, Tallenmere #2

Hearts in Exile, Tallenmere #3

Guest Post: Michael Haley

Y’all! I am so obnoxiously fangirl excited to be sharing an amazing author with you today — and one that is so sweet and darling in real life. I reviewed his book a while back, Lost on the Edge of Forever. You can read my review here.

I want to tell y’all: Michael Haley may be a new and up and coming author, but he is as genuine and humble as they come. Before my review of his book ever posted, he had already scoped out my blog. In the week before my review, I’d mentioned his book in two posts. I was on an emotional high for several days after finishing the book, and it kind of temporarily skewed how I felt. But then I worked it out and started making connections and I was a little blown away.

He admitted (in a beautiful email later) that what I said pre-review made him nervous about my review. Yes, you read that right. After my review posted, I received a very heartfelt email from Michael. It was amazing – amazing that he took the time to find my email address, and to sit and think out what he sent me. We kept a brief correspondance from that email, and last month when I was thinking of who I could feature for guest posts and still be in line with this month’s September Sizzlers theme, I thought of none other than the man who wrote an extraordinary love story this year.

Despite having a newborn and a real job and going to night school, Michael agreed to write a guest post in a heartbeat.

À la prochaine, Michael. À la prochaine. 🙂


Real Guidelines for Writing Imaginary Sexual Encounters, for Women Audiences, as a Man.

Writing convincing sex and/or love scenes is challenging. Writing convincing sex scenes from a female point of view, as a male, is only slightly easier than scaling Mount Everest. All you climbers out there know what I mean.

So here are a few lessons I’ve learned about the unique challenge of convincingly writing about sex, as a man, that isn’t completely insulting to women. Some of these lessons were learned through trial and error and some through just error. Remember that there are no rules in writing, only principles. But one must know why the principle exists if one wishes to effectively break it.

It must be known, if only to the reader, that the characters are giving their consent to have sex.

This guideline goes when writing about any character of any gender, but especially so for male writers writing about female characters, and should only be broken when the writer is certain, and I repeat absolutely certain, that breaking it is what the book requires. If the reader senses that consent is being violated, than the scene will be read as a rape scene. If a rape is what the book calls for, then so be it. But be very careful to ensure that an otherwise lovely moment between two people doesn’t read horrifically because the reader is lacking the knowledge that both characters are actually interested in having a lovely moment. This detail might seem obvious, but remember writers – you know your characters.  Your readers only know what you tell them. Make sure you tell them what they need to know to envision the scene you want them to.

Don’t feel compelled to write graphically just because E.L. James does, as body parts doesn’t automatically equal credibility. But if you must be graphic (and I personally must be) then make sure both sexes are equally exposed—in every sense of the term.

The number of stories involving an always-naked bombshell—whose “layered” purpose is to first pleasure and then heal the frail emotions of fully clothed men—are too numerous to count. So if a male wishes to write a compelling story that isn’t patriarchal and sexist, make sure both characters are dynamically written with (ideally) different but complimentary conflicts of their own. And should these conflicts lead to paragraphs of description of the naked female, then don’t be selfish and devote paragraphs of description to his body too. Fair is fair.

Unless you’ve set up the scene very carefully, try to avoid the female telling the male things like “I’ve always wanted you, I’ve dreamed about you since, like, forever!”

The reason to avoid such obviously fantastical dialogue is that it belongs in a thirteen-year old’s Lord of the Rings/first sexual fantasy mashup. Which by default makes it sound like the character, and probably even the writer, is experiencing sex for the first time through the scene you’re lucky enough to be reading. Sexual fantasies in fiction can be fine, but it has to be clearly a fantasy for the character only, not for the writer attempting to live vicariously through the “desires” of their characters.

I’ll admit that certain plot considerations of my own book inspired me to break this guideline, although I took special steps to render this type of dialogue passable. One—the lead female character is aroused by words as much as touch, so for her to say something like this, less for his sake and more to herself on, wouldn’t come out of left field (and allows her to be as verbally obscene as I want her to be during sex with complete impunity.) Also, I made sure that the male diction that follows isn’t complimentary (which would be male fantasy) but contrasting (which would be reality.) So “I want you so bad, I think about you all the time…” follows with the insecure male thinking, “Yeah, right. That’s crap.”

The female should be the most beautiful woman in the world to the person who loves her, not necessarily to everyone else.

If you’re writing Notting Hill and the character falls in love with a celebrity, than it—might—make sense for everyone in the story to drop their jaws whenever the woman enters the room. The rest of the world isn’t so lucky to be blessed with the presence of air-brushed females. So don’t indulge in the long-running cliché that the woman is a modern day Aphrodite who seduces all within her gaze, and instead write a real woman, flaws and all. If the woman is real and thus not equally desirable to everyone, for either physical or personality reasons, than it will make the central relationship all the more special—and dramatic too.


There are other many other things to consider as well, such as placement of sex scenes (when do they happen in the story?) who is the one narrating those scenes (and what’s important to them?) what assumptions and biases the gender of the speaker is bringing to the encounter, do both characters have sufficient dramatic stakes in the encounter, does the sexual scene empower or belittle the woman, is the woman having sex because she wants to or because the writer wants her to, is my writing setting back all the gains made by progressive women…

And then, when presented with these dilemmas, my wife said to me, “I’m glad you’re concerned about all these things, but just write the damn story.” And ultimately, that’s what a writer has to do. Just make sure the story of your own gender isn’t the only one you’re telling.

*****About the Author*****

Michael HaleyMichael Haley was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and cultivated its neighboring vicinities. He graduated with a degree in Psychology from Iowa State University, and now lives with his wife and little-dude-to-be in Bloomington, Illinois. When not writing, he loves indulging and dissecting books, film, and pop art from all canons and genres. Lost on the Edge of Forever is his first novel.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

*****About the Book*****

Lost on the Edge of ForeverTitle: Lost on the Edge of Forever
Author: Michael Haley
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Release Date: February 2014
Length: 235 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: e-book
Source: Curiousity Quills Press

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Leila, an ambitious and brilliant student, is murdered during her final semester at college, yet discovers she’s been reborn as a spirit resigned to haunt the school of her death. Alejandro, a listless and depressed freshman, arrives on campus eager to reinvent himself after eighteen years of awkwardness, as well as a devastating family tragedy, shake his sense of worth and faith to their cores.

The two lonely souls meet under the auspice of moonlit rain, and soon find themselves irrevocably, passionately attracted to each other. Leila discovers her spiritual body reawakening with sensations that make her feel alive again, and Alejandro discovers a kindred spirit who understands him like no one else. Intoxicated with each other, the impossible lovers begin to dream of finding a way to hold onto their own private miracle. Forever.

Yet how can Alejandro explain to skeptical friends and family that his soul-mate is dead? Why does Leila get the nagging suspicion that within their relationship lies the secret of her continued existence? An unexpected act of evil ignites these unavoidable questions, only to reveal in its aftermath the true purpose of Leila and Alejandro’s star-crossed romance. Will their love allow them to accept a profound destiny that surpasses time and perhaps even God, or is their love destined to die loud and young?

GUEST POST: Julian David Stone

headshot2Julian David Stone is an award-winning director and writer. He grew-up in the San Francisco bay area before relocating to Los Angeles after spending his college years at the California Institute of the Arts. For the next few years he wrote screenplays for Disney and Paramount, as well as several other studios and producers around town. With two decades of experience working in the entertainment business, Stone brings to his work an insider’s knowledge of the industry, augmented for this book [The Strange Birth, Short Life, and Sudden Death of Justice Girl]  by the personal stories and anecdotal history shared by those who were actually present in the 1950s when the story is set.

How to Succeed at Being a Writer

For me, the way to be a successful writer – besides the oft-offered advice to write as much as possible – was to learn to move on. That is, to move on and not dwell on a story for too long, and to not become so obsessed with it that I kept rewriting it over and over for years.

I first learned this early on in my screenwriting career. Screenplays take a lot less time to write than novels and, as I was learning the craft, I discovered that it was much easier to apply what I had learned to my next screenplay, than it was to go back and keep rewriting the old one. With the wonderful focus of youth I was able to write seven screenplays in less than two years, each time applying the lessons of the previous to the next. And then finally it was my eighth screenplay that changed everything, catching the attention of several Hollywood studios, and leading to my first professional writing job. My career had begun.

Now by no means do I want to diminish the importance of rewriting. It is essential, and every great screenplay or novel has to go through many drafts.  But it’s also important not to become so obsessed with one piece of writing that you work on it for so long that you loose any possible objectivity and end up actually making it worse. I watched many a friend work on the same screenplay for literally years, writing draft after draft and in the end, the results were rarely better. Almost to a person, they would have been better served by taking what they had learned, and moving on to the next one.

When I started writing novels, I found this same basic premise to hold true. While, as I stated earlier, books certainly take a lot longer than a screenplay to write, one can still fall victim to the same dangerous obsession. I wrote two entire novels before my current one, The Strange Birth, Short Life, and Sudden Death of Justice Girl, and while I was happy with them, instead of rewriting each one for years on end, I took what I had learned from both and applied it to this new one.  And what do you know? Lo and behold, I found I didn’t make a lot of mistakes I had made previously and I ended up with a process that went much smoother and a final product I am exceedingly proud of.  Will I go back and put more work into the previous two novels? Perhaps someday. But right now, I can’t wait to take all that I’ve just learned, and put it into the next one.

Find the author: Website | Facebook Twitter | Goodreads

Find out more about the novel: Background 

GUEST POST by J Daniel Parra

Available Now

Early last month I received an email from Angela Craft, a marketing and publicity manager for Diversion Books. She was sending out queries for those interested in participating in a book blog tour for a summer book about to be released, Pieces of Tracy.

Silly me, new book blogger who just jumped in feet first (which I don’t recommend!) had absolutely zero idea what a book blog tour even was! I fired off a response to Angela that I definitely wanted to be included…again, jumping in with my feet first. Don’t do it! So I asked a friend, my lovely co-writer at The Eclectic Bookworm, who’s been in the book blogging biz for a while. She explained about blog tours, and then I felt even sillier! I signed up for everything on this book blog tour: a review, a give-away, an author guest post and an interview with the author, J Daniel Parra. You can follow Daniel on Twitter and like him on Facebook for more about his debut novel.

I’ve guest reviewed on EBW, but I’ve never had a guest post on Girl of 1000 Wonders. J Daniel Parra, you hold the distinction and honor of being the first guest writer and the first author guest post! Welcome!

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J Daniel Parra

Some of the things I outlined that I wanted Daniel to focus on were suggestions for potential authors, as self-publishing has exploded like the .com of the mid-90s with the invention of the eReader and other digital reading devices. Lots of authors are bypassing the traditional route of being published with a large, well-known publishing house and going with small, independent presses, or self-publishing. It is definitely changing the world of books. This is what Daniel had to say about it…

Sweet Rewards: The Path to Publication

The path to publication is a bit like playing that old board game, Candy Land.  You have to make your way through places like the Gumdrop Mountains, the Peppermint Forest, and of course, Molasses Swap.  The rewards are sweet if you have the courage to tackle the colorful obstacles in your path.

As you work your way to the ultimate goal of publication, none of the pieces will click unless you start out with a good story that’s told in a compelling way with an original voice.  This could take years to accomplish, but it’s important to focus on your writing FIRST and to create the best possible product to send out into the perilous world of publication.

Once that crucial component is in place, you have to decide if you want to publish traditionally or self-publish.  These days, there are many great arguments for self-publishing and various self-publishing sites (like CreateSpace on Amazon or Smashwords) to help you on your way.  Self-publishing is particularly helpful for those who like a “hands on” approach to distributing their work.  In many cases it creates a higher profit margin.  It also requires the author to wear many hats, as editor, publisher, and publicist.  A traditional publishing house will expedite all these things, distributing the workload among various internal branches.  However, most publishers pay a modest advance for your work and then provide royalties based on sales.  Consider the pros and cons, do your research, talk to other published authors.  If you want longevity as an author, you might publish in a variety of ways over the course of your career and these days authors have more options available than ever.  Best-selling author Sylvia Day is an example of someone who has successfully used all possible options, publishing on her own, through publishing houses, in print and in Ebook.

Another helpful component to getting published is the community of authors and readers available online.  I recommend joining Goodreads or a similar site to get involved with your peers, to see what’s being published, read, discussed, and reviewed.  On Facebook and Twitter, follow your favorite authors and see what techniques they are applying to spreading the word about their latest works.  They are all building a readership and so should you.  The days of merely writing something and expecting it to catch on with the use of a few well-placed ads, blurbs, and reviews are long gone.  These days authors are engaging with their readers like never before and that’s useful all around, so take advantage of this accessibility and use it to learn how to create the framework for a sustained relationship with your readers.

In Candy Land, you often have to step backward before you move ahead.   The road to publication also requires patience and a thick skin.  We’ve all heard the stories of authors like Kathryn Stockett (The Help) who was rejected 60 times before finding a literary agent.   It’s a tough industry to break into and that means you should prepare for criticism and rejection.  This requires deep reserves of conviction and self-esteem.  In my process, my first published book isn’t the first book that I wrote.  I worked on a couple of books that will likely never see publication before arriving where I am today.  But I don’t consider those other manuscripts a waste of time.  They helped me improve as a writer and to get a deeper sense of my voice.  Without them and the rejection they received, I wouldn’t have become a published author.  I also learned to appreciate any advice I received from agents along the way. The best agents will reject you creatively and offer constructive criticism.  Embrace this criticism and don’t let your ego get in the way.

Candy Land ends when you arrive at the Candy Castle.  It’s every aspiring author’s goal to achieve publication and arrive at his or her own castle of sorts.  It will not happen overnight.  It will require overcoming various pratfalls.  But I can assure you, if you stick with it and follow some of the guidelines above, it will be one of the most rewarding things you’ve ever done.

Here is my review of Pieces of Tracy – and you can enter the giveaway to win the book! Check out my interview with Daniel. 

Tomorrow’s blog tour stop for Daniel’s Pieces of Tracy will be with Cinta Garcia De La Rosa. Check out Daniel’s guest post at Indie Authors You Want to Read.  Monday, 7/22, the blog stop will be at Diary of a Mad Stitcher.