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In today’s episode, I have five spooky and binge-worthy books for you to read this week, along with a few pointers on how to be a better beta reader.
First up: ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. This was the first book I read by King, and it’s one of my favorites to this day. It’s pretty terrifying, but the final act will have you turning pages so fast you’ll get paper cuts.
My second recommendation is The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. If you like paranormal anything, this one is for you. And since it’s on the shorter side, it doesn’t waste any time with scenes that aren’t going to have you jumping at your own shadow for a few days.
If you’re easily spooked, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James might be a better option. Originally published in 1898, this book is beautifully atmospheric. It also had me talking about it for weeks – so find a reading buddy to help you figure out what was actually going on in the story.
I’ve also included Unreal City by A. R. Meyering on my list. This book isn’t exactly a horror novel, but it is pretty creepy. What surprised me the most about it is the author’s ability to create startlingly intense dream sequences (they aren’t exactly dream sequences, per se, but you’ll understand what I mean when you read the book). If you’re into discovering lesser-known authors who pack a pretty good punch with their storytelling, check this one out.
Finally, I’m putting Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero on the list. I’m actually in the middle of reading it, but it shows promise so far, especially if you grew up loving mysteries as a kid. It’s not a kids book by any stretch of the imagination, but it has a playful, sarcastic tone that gives it youthful energy.
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I’ve started a podcast to complement the content I post on my blog. Yay! The goal of Plotboilers is to share tips and tricks on writing, but also share cool books and ideas I come across in the writing community. On the podcast, you’ll find book reviews, book recommendations and tidbits on what it’s like to be a writer with a day job.
In my first episode, I’m reviewing Retrograde by Peter Cawdron. This book is sci-fi novel set in the first colony on Mars. I started reading it because Audible kindly recommended it to me the day it was published – but after a little digging, it looks like it was independently published in September 2016 under the title “Mars Endeavour.” I’m guessing it got picked up by a publisher after that and was reintroduced when I found it last month. Either way, the cover for the new version is way cooler so you should read that one.
In addition to the book review, I’m going over some of the ways I like to balance my “writing life” with the rest of my life (work, family, etc).
I’m planning to introduce episodes on a monthly basis, with the exception of October, which will have two episodes. I hope you all enjoy listening to them as much as I enjoyed making them!
P.S. – Forgive the sound quality on Episode One. Would you be impressed if I said I recorded it on my phone? I couldn’t wait for my sweet new recording gear to get here – but rest assured, future posts will be spick and span!
I’m not going to do the math to see how long it’s been since I’ve posted, but it’s been a while. Like, more than a year. Anyway, I’ve got a couple updates and some exciting news. Moving forward, Plot Boilers is going to take a slightly different direction – and I’m really excited about it. Basically, it’s about to get personal. Not TMI personal, just less stuffy and (hopefully) a little more exciting.
It’s a blog, after all – not the next great American novel. (And I’m the only person editing this so no one can stop me.)
That said, the information you see here will probably be the same-ish: Tips and ideas on writing, story structure, etc. An occasional book review, maybe some book suggestions – you get the idea.
Continue reading “Updates, Kitchen Timer Method, and #BraggingWrites”
Premise: The teenage daughter of a mysterious technology tycoon experiences dreams that suggest her past is not what she remembers.
For fans of The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Divergent, and The Star Dwellers
As a reader, I follow YA lit from a distance, occasionally picking up a suggestion from Amazon or a Goodreads “best of” list for the sake of unadulterated entertainment and relaxation. Infinity Lost is a promising twist on the roaring YA sci-fi/ dystopian genre. The premise had me hooked: dissident teenage heroines, Big-Brother-like mega corporations, abstruse dream sequences – who wouldn’t be curious?
Continue reading “Book Review: Infinity Lost”
Stories are a chain of events, and each event, or scene, evokes the next. It’s easy to imagine a sequential yarn of happenings: This occurs, followed by this, and this, and so on. But what about the space in between the toppling dominos? In reality, an event can happen in the course of one or two sentences. The space between these events is equally important. Consider the following:
Continue reading “Newton’s Third Law and Your Novel”
Good writing starts with well-crafted sentences. In the book The Art of Styling Sentences, Ann Longknife, Ph.D. and K.D. Sullivan provide 20 basic sentence structures to help writers improve their prose. The overall construction of your story is paramount, but at some point you have to get into the nuts and bolts of each scene, paragraph, sentence, and word, then sew them together into a cohesive thought.
Here’s a simple yet potent sentence structure to try out:
Continue reading “Try This Sentence Structure for Clean, Inspiring Prose”
Observation is the writer’s greatest weapon. Sometimes, observations need a little fine-tuning before they wander into your story. Dialogue – the way people talk to each other – is a perfect example of this. Yes, character conversations should flow, but they shouldn’t always read like normal speech. Finding this balance is the first step toward convincing dialogue between characters.
Here’s the first rule of writing dialogue:
Continue reading “The Golden Rule of Writing Dialogue”
The term “self-indulgent” is a cringe-worthy appraisal, but here’s the rub: writing is innately self-indulgent; it requires a certain level of excitement and theatrical flair.
An honest writer knows he is equal parts egomania and crippling self-doubt. The lines between engaging and self-indulgent writing are plentiful but difficult to identify. Descriptions – good or bad – are one of these lines.
Here are a few ways to anchor readers to the tangibles of your story without committing the reprehensible crime of oversharing:
Continue reading “Three Paths to Compelling Descriptions”
Every story needs clues, even if they aren’t mysteries. Picture this: You’re at the end of a good book, the plot is thick, and Bam! Out of nowhere, the author ties in a character or object from an earlier scene. Situations like this leave readers asking, “How did I not see that coming?” This is foreshadowing, and it’s an important part of your work in progress, whether you realize it or not. Continue reading “Mastering the Art of Effective Foreshadowing”
So you decide to write a novel. After all, it’s nothing like writing tedious research papers for a college class, right? Wrong. Writing a novel – or any story for that matter – involves research. The product is creative, hopefully more so than a college-level research project, but the process can feel a lot like homework.
Even surreal and fantasy stories require investigation. In fact, these genres often need more preparation a true-to-reality setting. In the end, the important thing is to do you research before you get started, and here’s why:
Continue reading “The Power of Research in Fiction Writing”