Every writer I’ve ever communicated with over the past few years will tell me that they want people to like what they’ve written. I do as well, but I also want them to feel something beyond “liking” my story.
I want the reader to feel a multitude of emotions when they read my books — fear, sorrow, anger, indignation, love and happiness. In essence, I want them to feel what the main character is feeling at that time. My goal is to have them step into the story become a part of what is happening by playing it out in their minds.
I read somewhere recently that when we listen to a story various areas in our brain are stimulated. If a passage talks about how something feels or sounds, the sensory cortex becomes active. If we are reading about some type of physical activity, our brain’s motor cortex responds. As storytellers, we can affect our readers deeply.
My characters aren’t perfect, and I don’t want them to be. Real people cannot be assigned labels like “good” or “bad”. People are too complex to be deemed one thing or another. I want my readers to react to the fictional characters inhabiting my story’s world. Whether it’s a negative or positive emotion, I want them to feel something.
Clare Thibodeaux is the main character in my suspense series. Clare can be distant, stubborn, and can make some very bad decisions. She can also be a loyal friend; and at times, she cares about people many readers dislike. Clare resists being told what to do, being overprotected or treated like she’s weak. Throughout the series, she struggles with letting someone else help her. Some of the other characters are overbearing and too protective to the point of being dismissive at times.
Because of these unflattering character traits, some of my readers won’t care for my books. That’s okay, I don’t like every book I read. No matter what, I have elicited an emotion, and that is what art is all about!
My local book club selected the novel Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford for January’s meeting. I had two days to read it and let me tell you, I couldn’t put it down.
The story is set in Seattle’s Chinatown area, and the story’s protagonist, Henry, is in his mid-fifties at the story’s beginning. Henry is passing by an old hotel in what was once the Japanese section of their community. It has been recently purchased for restoration, and the new owner has called a press conference after making an unbelievable discovery. After 40 plus years, she has found the stored belongings of Japanese residents of the area who were taken to internment camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The news has Henry thinking back to those days when he was eleven years old and struggling with his place in this wartime world where the slant of your eyes and the color of your skin could make you a target.
The author does an insightful job of weaving his WWII tale of growing up in a strict Chinese family. Henry faces conflicts with his father, children at the “white” school and his former classmates at the Chinese school. His life seems dismal, and then he meets Keiko, a fellow scholarship student at the school.
The only problem is that Keiko is Japanese, and his father hates all the Japanese people because of their invasion of China. Henry’s father makes him wear a button that states “I am Chinese” on it, Whether it was for his protection so he wouldn’t be labeled as Japanese or because of his father’s hatred for the Japanese people or not, Henry detested wearing it.
The story painted a raw, detailed portrait of life for immigrants in this country; and especially for Japanese-Americans as they were forced to leave everything behind and were taken hundreds of miles away from their homes until after the war ended. The conditions they lived under at the internment camps is a terrible stain on the history of the United States.
The story jumps back and forth between the 1980s and the 1940s as Henry tries to mend his relationship with his son as he searches for a treasure from his past.
This is a story of families, of different cultures, of generational conflict, of love, of loss and of prejudice. I would recommend it to readers who like historical fiction, romance, and stories set in the WWII era.
I’m happy to be a member of this fast growing group, and wanted to introduce to the organization and one of its founders, Hannah Howe.
Hannah Howe writes psychological and historical mysteries. Her books can be found at over 300 outlets worldwide. Her novels have reached number one numerous times on the Amazon charts and her book, Saving Grace, a Victorian mystery was a bestseller in Australia this summer. With all of this activity, Howe found time to co-found the new magazine — Mom’s Favorite Reads.
What is Mom’s Favorite Reads? It’s a community of book lovers which produces a quarterly book catalogue, featuring over 400 books, and a monthly magazine. The magazines, available as eBooks, in print and audiobooks, have topped the Amazon Contemporary Women charts, the Seasonal charts and the Graphic Novel charts in America, Australia, Britain and Canada. Alongside leading independent authors our magazines also feature contributions from high profile mainstream authors. For example, in the new year the magazine will feature exclusive interviews with a Dr Who screenwriter, an expert on Sherlock Holmes and Terry Deary, author of Horrible Histories, one of the most popular series in the history of publishing.
Also, in 2019, the plan is to develop the community to support literacy amongst adults and children. One of the ways we will do this is by offering schools, societies and literacy projects bundles of free books.
If you are an author, you are welcome to join Mom’s Favorite Reads. If you are a reader, please visit our website and check out our video, book catalogue and magazines https://moms-favorite-reads.com
If you would like us to support a literacy project, please email Hannah Howe at email@example.com and we will explore the possibility of supporting your project.
I am honored to be able to assist the One Million Project in uploading blogs to their website. We have a talented group of writers who contribute to the blog and October was a prime example of why so many readers are following it.
The blog offers a unique mix featuring the charities we support with our short story anthologies (Cancer Research UK and EMMAUS Homeless Programs) and blogs concerning writing, the creative process, marketing and a host of other related topics.
If you haven’t read this month’s offerings, I have provided the links below:
and this week’s blog – “Deep Waters” by Melissa Volker
November’s blogs will feature the writings of Raymond St. Elmo, Moinak Das, Nera Hart, and Michele Potter.
A Wrinkle In Time is my local book club’s selection for November. I love this book, and I read it, for the first time, when I was in third or fourth grade. It is a “YA” or Young Adult book but I would recommend it as an inspirational read for all ages.
The winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal, this book is a mix of science fiction, fantasy and the drama of coming of age for a young girl who feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere but finds the courage to battle for those she loves.
I love Maeve Binchy’s stories about Ireland. Circle of Friends was the first of Binchy’s books that I read. The Lilac Bus is a series of stories about all of the passengers who take the bus back home on weekends from Dublin. Binchy is a master at developing fascinating characters and plots.
Miss Lydia watched the woman running down her sidewalk from her kitchen window. If Miss Lydia remembered correctly Clarice was quite the track star in her days at Sinippi Cove High. In fact, Miss Lydia was certain the other woman had run all the way from the library where the fleet-of-foot Ms. Travers worked part-time. A frantic tapping increased in strength until it reached the level of a pounding knock before the octogenarian ambled to the back door. Miss Lydia could have arrived faster, but she liked to frustrate her younger neighbor.
As soon as she started to open her kitchen door, Clarice appeared body part by body part sliding in with the skill of a spelunker through the crevice in a cave. Her friend had a serious case of head-sweating as evidenced by her wet locks and the sodden collar of her dress. Miss Lydia handed her a dish towel which the librarian accepted with a nod mopping with unprecedented enthusiasm at her damp face and neck. It took her guest a few moments to slow her panting enough to speak.
“You will never guess what I just heard at the library,” Clarice crowed throwing the dish towel down on the counter for emphasis.
“No, I don’t suppose I will guess the news. Since I’m in my 80’s and my days are numbered why don’t you tell me, Clarice,” Miss Lydia stated with a wry tone. Unfortunately, her sarcasm was lost on her young friend.
“Well…” Clarice provided a long pause to build suspense (too bad it only built irritation), “You wouldn’t believe who walked into the library this morning.” Feeling another pause in the ready, Miss Lydia made a repetitive circular movement with her hand to get her friend to hurry up.
“Spit it out, Clarice,” Miss Lydia said, her words staccato and harsher than her usual clipped manner of speech.
“Enid Floss,” Clarice whispered the words. The whites of her eyes were clearly visible around her irises.
Miss Lydia opened her mouth slightly with shock for a fraction of a second before snapping it shut hard enough for her dentures to clack together. Miss Lydia never wanted to appear shocked in front of others.
“What did she want?” the older miss hissed like a snake as she uttered the pronoun representing her arch nemesis — the Jezebel of Sinippi Cove.
Trembling like a leaf in a hurricane, Clarice divulged the ultimate betrayal, “Enid Floss is entering the Magnolia County Bake-Off. And if that isn’t enough, she is planning on baking Snickerdoodles.”
Miss Lydia’s signature cookie. She gently tapped her closed lips with the index finger of her right hand as she ruminated on this debacle. Enid was her best friend until they reached the age of seventeen. Miss Lydia had met a nice, young man and had fallen in love. His name was Roy Floss. The rest of the story would have to wait. Let’s just say — although 69 years had passed — Miss Lydia never forgave Enid. Pushing Clarice out the door didn’t prove too difficult, she knew when it was time to leave Miss Lydia be.
It took all of three days and dozens upon dozens of batches of Snickerdoodles before Miss Lydia was satisfied she had the winning entry for the Magnolia County Bake-Off. The day of the big event Miss Lydia dressed in her best church clothes, submitted her entry, and walked past Enid Floss with a triumphant smile. Later, as Miss Lydia accepted the Blue Ribbon for her Caramel Chai Snickerdoodle cookies, she felt like a champion. (On a side note — Enid didn’t even receive an honorable mention for her Snickerdoodles.)
Check out the #OneMillionProject blog post by Raymond St. Elmo entitled On the Borderlands of Fantasy. It’s a great read by a writer whose humor and storytelling I truly enjoy!
I suppose entitling this blog “Girl Talk” is a bit of a misnomer because I think guys like getting together without their feminine cohorts and hashing things over with the rest of the testosterone set as much as the ladies do. I lived (as the only female) in a male-dominated household for over twenty years, and at times, I craved hanging out with the gals over margaritas — or any alcohol-based beverage, really — laughing and chatting about topics I’m sure the men in my life would do anything possible to avoid.
Today my sister and I went out for lunch over pomegranate margaritas and chimichangas, we giggled, groused and reminisced as only two women who’ve known each other for 54 years can do. So what if we talked nonsense about manicures, wrinkles, and old boyfriends, we also caught up on each other’s families, our dreams and our concerns about our mom.
In honor of my bit of girl time, I decided to publish my short story “Girl Talk”. Hope you enjoy it!
Girl Talk ~~~ by Kate McGinn
The outdoor cafe was a favorite spot for the young and successful to gather on a Friday afternoon. Vanessa Wallace sipped on her cup of black coffee nodding at the appropriate times to the buzz of conversation at her table. She had been meeting the same group of friends on Friday afternoons for the past 8 years. Their conversation points were essentially the same — work, men, fashion, men, bitchy women and men. Vanessa’s mind was occupied with something else entirely.
She’d worked her way up the corporate ladder to become a successful financial analyst. Vanessa loved her job, money wasn’t a problem, and she didn’t fret about bitchy women, because she was one. It was the age-old problem in the city — more eligible women than eligible men. And just because they were eligible didn’t mean they met her standards. Vanessa had very high standards.
Her boss had invited everyone and their significant others to his latest dinner party. No way in hell was she going alone. Vanessa had one day to find the right date. Tonight, she was scoping out the possibilities.
“Nessa, are you listening?” Hailey asked. “I don’t know why you even came tonight if you aren’t going to participate.”
“Sorry, Hailey. I have a bit of a work problem.” The group commiserated with her by nodding their heads and making sympathetic comments before heading onto the next topic. Men.
“Well, you just won’t believe who’s back in town.” Anita smoothed her skirt, performed a hair flip which she followed up by biting her bottom lip. Vanessa thought Anita had the simpering female act down pat. The girls leaned in with their heads hovering over the table to hear the latest gossip. Vanessa leaned in along with the others, mentally chastising herself for doing so.
“Matt Summers.” A chorus of “No!”, “You are kidding!” and “What an ass!” followed Anita’s news.
Vanessa leaned back in her chair with a slight smile flitting across her lips. Matt Summers was a pretentious ass. A handsome one. He’d asked Vanessa out multiple times in the past, but she always said no. He had a reputation, and she was focused on her career. Maybe he had some potential as a dinner date. Matt was wealthy and business savvy, so he would be a perfect fit for her work crowd. She turned her attention back to the girls.
“I heard he might be here tonight,” Anita informed. Vanessa chuckled as her friends tried, unsuccessfully, to scope out the cafe for the man of the moment. It didn’t mean Vanessa wasn’t on the watch with her friends. Vanessa ordered a glass of red wine hoping it would relax the knot in her stomach.
Halfway through her glass, her companions exhibited visible signs of shock. Their eyes locked on a point behind Vanessa. She wanted to turn around but forced herself to stay relaxed and face forward. She felt a touch on her left shoulder as a familiar voice spoke softly in her right ear.
“I was hoping I would run into you again, Vanessa. Can I sit down?”
“Matt Summers — I didn’t know you were back in town.” Vanessa had found a dinner date to rival her colleagues’ trophy wives.