Spotlight: Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order…

Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveller? Wife to a man she’s never met? Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Margarita Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family. 

Praise for Oona Out Of Order

Oh, this was such an intriguing and twisty novel! …  I thoroughly enjoyed this original novel filled with warmth, humor, and insights into human nature

Sue Jackson, ‘Fiction Review: Oona Out of Order’, Book by Book, 09/05/2020

Above all, “Oona Out of Order” is simply fun to read. There are exciting twists coupled with reveals the reader knows are coming.

Caroline E. Tew, ‘”Oona Out of Order” Tries to Make Sense of Life’, The Harvard Crimson, 01/05/2020


Have you read Oona Out of Order? Why not leave a wee comment below and let us know what you thought of it.

Click here to buy Oona Out of Order on Amazon.

Click here to check out Margarita Montimore’s website.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Spotlight: Cocooning the Butterfly by Laila Doncaster

“I love you, Butterfly.  I will never hurt you, and I will never leave you alone to fend away the pain.  I promise.”  

If Halya had known what the Knight Riders stood for, against, and their protection, would she have experienced the trauma and heartache that she had gone through?  Possibly, but that is not what happened or how it was.  Sheltered and innocent to the biker reality that swarms around her, the family did what they had to do, to save her from certain death.  The Demons want her dead, will stop at nothing, but they have to find her first. 

A naive orphan at 17, bullied, beaten, molested, raped, battered, and broken.  Faith gave her the strength to search for the man she dreams of.  This is Halya’s story; what she went through and how she overcame a painful existence.  Love, protection, shelter, warmth, and tenderness, could The Buffalo’s destiny in “Cocooning, The Butterfly” save her mind from the madness of trauma?  

Knight Rider Law rules the biker world, yet as time passes and tempers flare, war is inevitable.  A biker’s feud became a long-standing crusade to safeguard the ownership of a multimillion-dollar ranch and its fortunes.  One boy and one girl were born to achieve the promise of the old men of long ago, but time is also the enemy.  Will she survive, find the man in her nightly dreams, escape Hell, and remain sane? 

Praise for Cocooning the Butterfly


Have you read Cocooning the Butterfly? Why not leave a wee comment below and let us know what you thought of it.

Click here to buy Cocooning the Butterfly on Amazon.

Click here to view Laila Doncaster’s website.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Spotlight: A Storm of Shadows and Pearls by Marion Blackwood

After barely surviving last year’s lethal power struggle, the smart-mouthed thief known as the Oncoming Storm has solidified her long-standing belief that steering well clear of other people’s problems is the way to live. Even when a whole new civilization sails right into the harbor, she remains adamant. She is not getting involved in another political intrigue. But she might not have a choice.

Past sins have caught up with the knife-throwing thief and she finds herself under attack. With more enemies than she can count, the Oncoming Storm has no idea who is targeting her. Or why. Her desperate fight for survival draws her deeper into a web of manipulation, threats, and conspiracies.

Assassins, kings and noble lords, as well as strangers from another land, all plot in the shadows. Who will outsmart who? And which side is trying to kill the thief caught in the middle? The noose is tightening. Can the Oncoming Storm solve the mystery in time or will she be forced to betray her allies in order to stay alive?

Praise for A Storm of Shadows and Pearls


Have you read A Storm of Shadows and Pearls? Why not leave a wee comment below and let us know what you thought of it.

Click here to buy A Storm of Shadows and Pearls on Amazon.

Click here to check out Marion Blackwood’s website.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Spotlight: The Time Tourists by Sharleen Nelson

Imogen was four the first time it happened. As she flipped through her grandma’s dusty photo album gazing into the faded, monochrome faces of her grandma’s sombre family—relatives with funny names like Aunt Ada and Uncle Paul and Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Gordy, and second cousins Percy and Viola from Missoula—suddenly, the universe tilted, and for a brief instant Imogen found herself inside of one of the pictures.
One of only a handful of individuals who can time travel through photos, she establishes an investigative business to help people recover lost items and unearth the stories and secrets of friends and relatives from the past.
Step into time with Imogen Oliver in this first book in the Dead Relatives, Inc. series as she investigates a teenage girl who disappeared to 1967 San Francisco with her boyfriend, then journeys back to 1912 to locate a set of missing stereoscopic glass plates that hold a curious connection to her own life.

Praise for The Time Tourists

Many time travel stories focus on the science and mechanics of time travel, often at the expense of writing a good story. The Time Tourists is different. This is, first and foremost, a novel about a PERSON with needs, problems and strongly held opinions; who, it juts so happens, can also travel through time.

Andrew Ferguson, http://www.penstricken.com

Click here to read my interview with The Time Tourists’ author, Sharleen Nelson.

Have you read The Time Tourists? Why not leave a wee comment below and let us know what you thought of it.

Buy The Time Tourists on Amazon


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

5 Novel Writing Mistakes to Avoid

Whatever people may tell you, there is no universal and clear cut way to write. Sure, we can look up writing tips and some of them might even be useful (at least I hope so, otherwise I’ve wasted a lot of time writing this blog!) but when push comes to shove, writing is an art form and can’t be easily reduced to a rule book. That being said, there are a few mistakes which are more or less nearly always unacceptable most of the time; mistakes which will almost inevitably ruin your book every time, no matter who you are or what you’re writing. I have noted a few such writing boo-boos here for your perusal and, per chance, instruction.

Having Little or No Conflict

No matter what your genre or who your audience are, all stories need at least one central conflict. That is to say, there has to be a problem for your protagonist to face. No matter how intricately you have crafted your world and your characters, no one will be interested in reading about their day to day lives where nothing much happens. Could you imagine reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy if Frodo had just been kicking it in the Shire doing everyday Hobbit things?

Of course not. You wouldn’t make it past the first chapter. That story, despite its all its detail, only works because Frodo is presented with a problem in the first couple of chapters which he then spends the next three books trying to resolve. The story ends only the conflict has been overcome.

Writing a Deceptive Hook

We all know that the first few lines of your novel are critical. After all, a boring hook will make your audience put the book down without giving it a chance, right? Absolutely. No arguments there.

However, some authors think this means they can have a heart-pumping, gun’s-blazing, rip-roaring thrill ride of a hook only to pull the rug out from under the reader’s feet in the next scene by revealing that it was all just a dream.

Don’t do it. It’s not big, it’s not clever and it will make your reader hurl your book across the room for wasting their time.

Propping Up Weak Verbs with Adverbs

Adverbs are pretty controversial among the writing community. Some people take a very hard approach to them, insisting that there should be absolutely no adverbs in your story whatsoever. Others have a more relaxed approach.

Me? I’m not going to tell you adverbs are the devil incarnate, but I will ask you to consider this: do you truly need an adverb and if so, why? The chances are if do need an adverb, it’s to prop up a weak verb. That is something to avoid. A stronger verb will make your narrative flow better and will communicate your meaning in a way which shows, rather than tells.

Info-dumping

Ah yes, I know it can be tempting to devote an entire chapter to detailed back stories of your main characters and explain at length how the various fantastic elements within your world work. After all, you’re proud of your world and the people you have populated it with, as well you should be.

However large portions of explanatory material are boring, boring, boring and they drag the pace of your story down to an unbearably slow crawl. Don’t do it.

Quitting

I know what you’re thinking: ‘this is a terrible story, I just need to start from scratch with a new, better idea.’

You might even think you’ve come up with a better idea, one which is sure to succeed where your current one failed.

But you’re wrong. Ideas are a penny a dozen. It’s more likely there’s a flaw in your execution and if that’s the case, you’ll just keep making the same mistakes over and over again.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Spotlight: Play by C.S. Barnes

How do you solve a case when there isn’t a crime scene?
When DI Melanie Watton and her team are called in to investigate a video recording that surfaces in a local school, they realise that they have a complex case on their hands.
When the recording is studied by the Medical Examiner, it becomes apparent the team are now faced with a gruesome recording of a murder. Over the course of several minutes, the killer administers drugs before suffocating a man on camera.  With no known crime scene, the team have nothing more than the video evidence in front of them and face a challenge to identify both the victim and the killer.
But when a suspect is discovered Melanie and her team are up against a killer who is more evil than anyone could have imagined…

Praise for Play

This is a police procedural with a really dark edge, it has up to date tech, great likeable characters and a twisted, complex plot to keep you gripped from start to finish. Dark, disturbing and utterly engrossing and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

lel2403, ‘Play by C.S. Barnes – Book Review’, The Bookwormery, 25/04/2020

Unpredictable, stylish and innovative. This is a crime thriller not be missed.

Christina Manson, ‘Review: Play by C S Barnes’, Booktales and Dreams Book Blog, 25/04/2020

Have you read Play? Why not leave a wee comment below and let us know what you thought of it.

Buy Play on Amazon


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

5 Excellent Blog Posts: Writing Tips

It’s that time again when I don’t get my usual post finished on time take a humble bow into the shadows and give centre stage to some of the best writing blog posts I’ve read in recent weeks.

This time, they all share a single unifying theme: they all contain great tips and advice for writers. As ever, I have listed these in no particular order. So without further ado:

‘Tracking Character Motivations with a Free Spreadsheet’ by Shannon A Thompson

‘Time to Write, Don’t Procrastinate’ by Lorraine Ambers

‘iWriterly Video: How to Improve Your Writing: 11 Novel Writing Tips for Newbies’ by Meg LaTorre

‘Tips & Advice: Readers & Authors – Write Silly Nothings Often (Guest Post by Didi Oviatt)’ by Didi Oviatt

‘Evolution of a historical novel – writing tip’ by Jody Mabry


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Throwback Thursday: Figuring Out Foil Characters

Originally published 29/04/2018

We’re all familiar with some of the traditional character types you find in most fiction: protagonists, antagonists, love interests and so forth. But there is another common type of character out there; one which can sometimes be harder to define, though we know them when we see them (intuitively at least). I am talking about foils.

The OED defines a foil in this way:

A person or thing that contrasts with and so emphasizes and enhances the qualities of another.

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/foil

In fiction, therefore, a foil is a character (or sometimes an object or idea) who highlights the traits of another character (usually the protagonist) by contrasting with them. But apart from that, these characters can play just about any role in your story you like. They can even (and often do) fulfil other key roles in your story, such the main antagonist or love interest (actually, as an aside, I often think love interests make great foils; opposites do so often attract, especially in fiction).

There’s a lot of good reasons to include a foil in your story. They can be an excellent tool for emphasising qualities in your protagonist which you might wish to draw out without stating explicitly. They can also go horribly wrong if executed poorly or needlessly.

As is so often the case, I have one particularly important rule I like to stick to whenever I write a foil (though you can apply this rule to any of your characters). Ready? Here it is:

No character should exist solely for the benefit of another.

Yes, a foil character must, by definition, contrast with another, but if that’s their only function in your story, watch out! All people in real life have their own motives, goals and problems and so should your characters. A good story can get along just fine without a foil character, but a character who serves as a foil and nothing else will be nothing but a burden on your narrative. At best they will read like a two-dimensional sidekick.

No one wants to only be a sidekick.
Image source: http://gph.is/257jTXn

I would therefore strongly advise against sitting down to ‘write a foil character’. Figure out who the main players are in your story first. Ask yourself what they all want, what’s preventing them from getting it and why they are necessary for your story. You may well find that your story will benefit from having a foil and it will probably become pretty obvious who should assume that role once you’ve finished most of your planning.

Take Star Wars for instance. Power and its ability to corrupt is a central theme in these movies. Every Jedi, trained in the Force, faces the temptation to be seduced and corrupted by their power. In the original trilogy, the protagonist, Luke Skywalker, faces this very issue in the form of his foil and antagonist, Darth Vader. Both of these characters come from humble backgrounds, both were trained by Jedi Masters and became powerful Jedi themselves. Yet only Darth Vader was seduced by the Dark Side; Luke resists the same temptation and his life takes a completely different path. Cosmetic contrasts such as differently coloured lightsabres also add to the effect.

Darth Vader works as a foil for Luke, because it feeds right in to one of the story’s key themes and draws out Luke’s inner struggles against the Dark Side. Indeed, Darth Vader serves very much as a personification of Luke’s inner struggles. He represents the course of life Luke can but must not choose.

Darth Vader: You’ve only begun to discover your power. Join me and I will complete your training! With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.

Luke: I’ll never join you!

Darth Vader:  It is your destiny. Join me, and together, we can rule the galaxy as father and son!

Star Wars (ep. 6): Return of the Jedi

Of course, not all foils are antagonists. They don’t even need to be central characters (I’ve even heard it argued that they really shouldn’t be, though I don’t personally agree with that). All a character really needs to be a foil is to draw out your protagonist’s key traits by contrasting with them. But for my money, a good foil should be a fully-fledged secondary character, antagonist, love-interest, etc. in their own right first and a foil second. Perhaps a better way to think of it is to say that a foil is not so much a character type as it is a literary technique; one which just happens to often be associated with one character in particular.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Spotlight: The Guesthouse by Abbie Frost

Seven guests. One killer. A holiday to remember…
You use an app, called Cloud BNB, to book a room online. And on a cold and windy afternoon you arrive at The Guesthouse, a dramatic old building on a remote stretch of hillside in Ireland. 
You are expecting a relaxing break, but you find something very different. Something unimaginable. Because a killer has lured you and six other guests here and now you can’t escape. 

Praise for The Guesthouse

The pacing and spookiness make it an entertaining read overall and it all culminates in an exciting and nicely over-the-top thriller ending. Once I got into it I enjoyed it a lot, finding myself reluctant to put it down, which is exactly the effect a good thriller should have.

FictionFan, ‘The Guesthouse by Abbie Frost’, FictionFan’s Book Reviews, 23/03/2020


An exciting, atmospheric thriller that tension-builds to an explosive action-packed ending. 

Tasha, ‘Book Review – The Guesthouse – Abbie Frost’, Always Got Time For Books, 17/01/2020


Have you read The Guesthouse? Why not leave a wee comment below and let us know what you thought of it.

Buy The Guesthouse on Amazon


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here:

Killing Your Darlings

I was deep in the throes of outlining my novel when I hit a bit of a wall. And I don’t just mean a little wall. I mean a big wall. The kind of wall that made me want to give up on the whole novel and start again from scratch. Try as I might, I just couldn’t come up with a way to end my story that made any sense and drew the main conflict to a satisfying conclusion. Then I remembered one of my golden rules:

Quitting is not an option.

So after a few painful days of working hard but accomplishing very little, I decided to make a pretty fundamental change in my plot. I had originally planned to kill a particular character in exchange for the life of another. This was to happen right at the end of part two of my novel, to act as a catalyst for everything that happened in part three. I’ve since changed it however, so now that character survives the whole novel and the other character dies instead, under altogether less unusual circumstances.

Kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart.

Stephen King

I really didn’t want to make this change. I was so proud of the original death I had written. It was shocking (yet foreshadowed), heartrending and gave my antagonist that final push he needed to become utterly consumed by evil. Alas, it also completely undermined my protagonist’s goal, essentially resolving her main conflict prematurely and leaving her with sod all to do.

I tried everything to keep that original death scene but I just couldn’t. That beautiful, surprising, frankly marvellous chapter was undermining everything else. It had to go.

You’ll often hear authors quoting William Faulkner or Stephen King urging us to ‘kill our darlings,’ and this is exactly what they mean. A clever turn of phrase, a heartrending scene or even a beautifully crafted but ultimately superfluous character can undermine an entire novel. It doesn’t matter how good it is. It doesn’t matter how in love with it you are. It has to go, no matter how much it hurts. Here’s a few things to remember if you’re finding it hard to let go:

You’re Making a Cake, Not a Salad

Look at a salad and what will you see? Lots of vegetables, which you can easily distinguish between and pick out. If you don’t fancy the tomatoes, you can just pick them out, because a salad is really just a collection of vegetables sitting next to each other. But you can’t get eggs and milk out of a cake. It has ceased to be a collection of discrete ingredients and has become a single entity.

So too, a story is not a collection of discrete ideas, characters, story beats, sentences and chapters. It is one whole creation, so try to focus on the big picture whenever you write and create a beautiful story, rather than a collection of beautiful phrases.

Remember, pork crackling is delicious but it still doesn’t belong in a Victoria Sponge.

You Can Always Recycle

It’s not just paper and plastic that can be recycled. Ideas can also be recycled too. If you really do believe that your darling is too beautiful to die (and you should run that past a dispassionate third party just to be sure) despite the fact it’s ruining your entire story, save it somewhere separate to be used again as needed. You may find you can use it (or at least, draw inspiration from it) in future projects. That useless sidekick could perhaps get a story of her own. That clever bit of wordplay could be placed somewhere else.

Even if it can’t be reused, at least your stroke of ‘genius’ won’t perish forever.

Your Darling Probably Isn’t as Good as You Think

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this but it’s true. In my experience, the things I’ve created which have jazzed me the most have often left my audiences the most underwhelmed (and the reverse is often true as well). Try to look at your darling dispassionately and ask yourself if it really, truly is too beautiful to die.

Then kill it anyway. Kill it now before it kills your story.

Oh and don’t forget: you created genius once before. You can do it again.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to ‘like’ this post and also follow us so you never miss another post. You can also follow Penstricken on TwitterPinterest and like Penstricken on Facebook.

Want a blog of your own? Start writing today with WordPress.com!

WordPress.com Jetpack WooCommerce

ATTENTION AUTHORS:

Every Tuesday, I post a new edition of Spotlight: a short post which shines a proverbial spotlight on a published novel or collection of short fiction. If you would like to have your book considered for a future edition of Spotlightdrop us an e-mail including a short synopsis of your book and a link to where we can buy it. Better yet, send me a copy of your book and I can include a mini-review.

I’m still looking to interview fiction authors here on Penstricken, especially new or indie authors. Whether it’s books, plays, comics or any other kind of fiction, if you’ve got something written, I want to hear about it. If you’re interested in having your work featured on Penstricken, be to sure to drop us an e-mail or message us on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest.

Please be advised that due to a recent surge in interest, I am presently committed to a significant number of reviews/interviews over the next couple of months. If you would like an interview or review, I would still love to hear from you, though it is unlikely that I will be able to begin work immediately.

You can check out our previous interviews here: