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  3. Love at First Love at First by Kate Clayborn is $2.99! Clayborn is an autobuy author for some of the Bitchery. Catherine gave this one a B: Love at First is a beautiful book and worth the painful beginnings – but if you’re feeling fragile, too, maybe proceed with caution. A sparkling and tender novel from the acclaimed author of Love Lettering, full of bickering neighbors, surprise reunions, and the mysterious power of love that fans of Christina Lauren, Sarah Hogle, and Emily Henry will adore. Sixteen years ago, a teenaged Will Sterling saw—or rather, heard—the girl of his dreams. Standing beneath an apartment building balcony, he shared a perfect moment with a lovely, warm-voiced stranger. It’s a memory that’s never faded, though he’s put so much of his past behind him. Now an unexpected inheritance has brought Will back to that same address, where he plans to offload his new property and get back to his regular life as an overworked doctor. Instead, he encounters a woman, two balconies above, who’s uncannily familiar . . . No matter how surprised Nora Clarke is by her reaction to handsome, curious Will, or the whispered pre-dawn conversations they share, she won’t let his plans ruin her quirky, close-knit building. Bound by her loyalty to her adored grandmother, she sets out to foil his efforts with a little light sabotage. But beneath the surface of their feud is an undeniable connection. A balcony, a star-crossed couple, a fateful meeting—maybe it’s the kind of story that can’t work out in the end. Or maybe, it’s the perfect second chance . . . Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Loud is How I Love You Loud is How I Love You by Mercy Brown is $2.99! This is a musician romance set in the 90s and I feel like a lot of authors I follow loved this one. Christina Lauren immediately comes to mind. However, I’m not big on romances featuring musicians. Have you read this one? One girl’s heart gets rocked to the core in the first novel in this sexy New Adult series. Twenty-one-year-old front girl Emmylou knows that getting her band noticed in the ‘90s indie rock scene will be no easy task. She definitely knows better than to break the number one rule of the band: Don’t sleep with your bandmates! But after she ends up having the best sex of her life with her guitarist, Travis, she finds following that rule is a lot harder than it sounds. When the band gets the gig of their dreams, making it big seems just within reach. But Emmy’s inability to keep her hands off Travis threatens everything they’ve worked for. Can Emmy find a way to break the rules and not blow the chance of a lifetime? Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Good Guy Good Guy by Kate Meader is FREE! This is book one in her Rookie Rebels hockey series and a few are on sale at $3 or less. The hero is a veteran and hockey player (I’m getting Sandra Hill Viking vampire angel vibes). The heroine is the widow of his best friend. LOTS OF PINING! He’s a Special Forces veteran making his pro hockey debut. She’s a dogged sports reporter determined to get a scoop. She’s also his best friend’s widow… Fans can’t get enough of Levi Hunt, the Special Forces veteran who put his NHL career on hold to serve his country and fight the bad guys. So when his new Chicago Rebels bosses tell him to cooperate with the press on a profile, he’s ready to do his duty. Until he finds out who he has to work with: flame-haired, freckle-splashed, impossibly perky Jordan Cooke. The woman he should not have kissed the night she buried her husband, Levi’s best friend in the service. Hockey-stick-up-his-butt-serious Levi Hunt might despise Jordan for reasons she can’t fathom—okay, it’s to do with kissing—but her future in the cutthroat world of sports reporting hangs on delivering the goods on the league’s hottest, grumpiest rookie. So what if he’s not interested in having his life plated up for public consumption. Too bad. Jordan will have to play dirty to get her scoop and even dirtier to get her man. Only in winning the story, she might just lose her heart… Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. The Dark Protectors Boxed Set The Dark Protectors Boxed Set by Rebecca Zanetti is $2.99! If you’ve ever been tempted to try this series, this is a pretty good deal that includes three full-length books and a novella. Are there any fans of the series in the Bitchery? Every time we feature one of the books on sale, I’m always really curious about them. Don’t miss the first four volumes of the unforgettable Dark Protectors series: Fated, Claimed, Tempted, Hunted Driven by prophecy, the Dark Protectors are male vampires, fearless and born to mate with human females—for eternity. Talen Kayrs is on a mission, and once Cara Paulsen takes him as her mate, nothing can stop the force of his desire… Vampire king Dage Kayrs knows that when he encounters the brilliant geneticist Emma Paulsen, the power of their coming together will never be decoded… When bodyguard Max Petrovsky is sent to rescue Sarah Pringle from the evil Kurjans chasing her, he’s willing to go far beyond the call of duty… It’s taken over a century for ultimate soldier Connor Kayrs to consummate his union with the powerful witch Moira Dunne, but the time has come… Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  4. Any book with this much buzz deserves your attention! Love her or hate her, Sally Rooney is one of the most famous authors of our time. Hailing from Ireland, she came out of nowhere in 2017 with her surprise hit, Conversations With Friends. Blending elements of literary and women's fiction, the book was well-received and widely read, leading a splashy deal for her next book. Which was Normal People. You'd have to be living under a boulder in Croatia to have missed the massive media storm that was Normal People. It spawned a BBC adaptation, sold literally millions of copies, won tons of awards, and probably showed up in your mom's book group. Everyone was reading it. Everyone was talking about it. Which is exactly why we should here. On its surface, Normal People is a pretty straightforward story. It's the painful and frustrating tale of two people who seem well-suited for each other but, for a variety of reasons, keep crossing signals romantically. Marianne and Connell are from different economic strata, which creates tension in their ongoing relationship/friendship. But really, they're both flawed and selfish and tragically bad at communication. But also deeply, deeply compelling. When I first started Normal People I didn't think I was going to finish. The writing was simple to the point of boring, the formatting odd, and the dialogue cringe-worthy (I still go back and forth on whether or not Rooney intended it that way). However, the more I read the more I realized that these two fully-realized characters were getting under my skin. I found myself caring about the self-hating Marianne and the socially awkward Connell. They were almost too real, devoid of the shiny polish that most modern entertainment gives its characters. They were people you might meet at parties, friends you might complain about because they were so stupid. But that was what made them addictive. It was the romance trope of miscommunication done in a hyper-realist way that slipped under my skin and stayed with me, even a year after reading it. I'm not sure I'll read Rooney's next book, but I think the appeal of her writing is the raw humanity that she never shies away from, no matter how uncomfortable. She's unflinching in her portrayal of people as disastrous messes, ever wounding each other because of the issues they can't escape. It might not exactly be pleasant to read about, but it's real and believable and you find yourself praying the whole time that these two unlikable, compelling people can find happiness that, in the real world, they likely wouldn't. So think about your story. How can you bring more authentic honesty into your characters? How can you make them feel so real that the reader can't look away? It doesn't matter what genre you're writing in; every story must have a person at its heart, and the more real you can make them, the more real their story (and the drama by extension) will feel. If you can make them as evocative as the main duo of Normal People, then even the most mundane story can become a page-turner.
  5. Happy Monday to everyone! I’m D.P. Woolliscroft (or just Dave to most folks) and I’m really excited to be here today to reveal the cover for Volume 3 of the Wildfire Cycle, Ajiwiak, and to share some other goodies from inside the book. The Wildfire Cycle For those of you who aren’t familiar with The Wildfire Cycle, it begins with Kingshold (a SPFBO semi-finalist) and is the focused story of a realm transitioning from a monarchy to a proto-democracy via a magically enabled election. A down on his luck bard, the daughter of the ancient wizard who founded the country, a high-end thief and a palace servant girl eventually come together to try to sway the election to an outcome that would be good for the common people. But of course, there are assassins, pirates, immense magical creatures and their own naivety as obstacles along the way. What starts out as a small contained story based in one city, expands in Book 2, Ioth, of which I will say little for fear of spoiling it if you haven’t read it (though if you have, then you probably have some scars). There is a book of short stories, or Tales, that follows each of my novels, now lovingly combined with the novels into individual, gorgeous volumes (which were revealed at Fantasy Book Critic last week) Ajiwiak Now we’re onto book 3, and before I reveal the cover, how about I show you the blurb, though I have redacted one sentence for spoilers. ALL IT TAKES, IS A SINGLE SPARK Llewdon, ageless elf and Emperor of Pyrfew, has his sights set on becoming a god, and only the collective sacrifice of thousands of Alfjarun from Alfaria, the Wild Continent, can carry him there. Kingshold is —– and Ioth —–; his plans are proceeding exactly as intended. But Neenahwi and Motega of the decimated Wolfclaw clan have returned to Alfaria with the heroes of Kingshold as their companions. Can they navigate a homeland that has changed much since they were children to bring the clans together to resist Pyrfew? And what role will the fabled city of Ajiwiak, home of the first of their people have to play in their liberation? Continuing the acclaimed Wildfire Cycle, this third volume includes Ajiwiak, The Mother Tree (Book 3) and Tales of Ajiwiak (Book 3.5). And now here is the cover… I’m super happy with how Jeff Brown has captured my vision for Ajiwiak, and it may be my favorite cover so far. By the way, Ajiwiak is the name to both the city built in the mountain and the name of the Mother Tree that perches atop it. Brag Bergman has done the design for the cover and I love how the detail around the title of Ajiwiak captures the feel of the people of the city. As usual for the the Wildfire Cycle, the cover image is but one part of a greater landscape image that was done by Jeff. Two of my favorite things from this image; the landship sailing through the farmland in the valley at the foot of the mountain range and a little surprise peaking out from the branches of the Tree. I hope you love the covers as much as I do. Ajiwiak is released on December 17th and pre-orders are live HERE. Bonus Content! Ajiwiak is set in a place referred to as the Wild Continent and there is an in-story reference to a book called “Flora and Fauna of the Wild Continent”, written by an explorer. I have included some excerpts from that fictional book in the Tales of Ajiwiak portion of Ajiwiak which I would like to give you a little sneak peek. But first, a little context as to what was the inspiration. At the Morgan Library in New York, there are a series of painting and descriptions of the plant, animal and human life of the Caribbean late in the sixteenth century collectively known as Histoire Naturelle des Indes or the Drake Manuscripts (as they were created during Sir Francis Drake’s expeditions to the region). They are definitely somewhat of a colonialist relic, but if you would like to check them out then you can see them here. It was really fun for me to draw pictures of a similar style for the wildlife of the Wild Continent, or Alfaria as it should actually be known. Here are a few of my favorites. Thanks again to the Fantasy Hive for having me here today. If you’d like to catch up on the Wildfire Cycle then the boxset of the first half of the series is available HERE. Born in Derby in England, on the day before mid-summers day, David Peter Woolliscroft was very nearly magical. If only his dear old mum could have held on for another day. But magic called out to him over the years, with a many a book being devoured for its arcane properties. David studied Accounting at Cardiff University where numbers weaved their own kind of magic and he has since been a successful business leader in the intervening twenty years. Adventures have been had. More books devoured and then one day, David had read enough where the ideas he had kept bottled up needed a release valve. And thus, rising out of the self doubt like a phoenix at a clicky keyboard, a writer was born. Kingshold is David’s debut novel and Tales of Kingshold, companion short stories to the novel, are flooding onto the page as fast as David can write them. He is married to his wife Haneen and has a daughter Liberty, who all live with their mini golden doodle Rosie in Princeton NJ. David is one of the few crabs to escape the crab pot. The post AJIWIAK by D. P. Woolliscroft (COVER REVEAL) appeared first on The Fantasy Hive. View the full article
  6. image by Anders Ljungberg ‘Tis the time of year when gift guides abound. And while the writer in your life might well be jonesing for a Moleskine notebook or a fancy pen, there are lots of other gifts that are both harder and easier to come by. The gifts on the list below are mostly light on the wallet, but at the same time, they’re priceless. Without further ado: Give your writer the gift of time. If you’re co-parenting with a writer, for example, this one’s a biggie. And it may or may not have financial value assigned. But one of the things writers struggle with, especially if we have full-time jobs or parenting responsibilities or both, is setting aside time to dedicate to our writing. Some writers can function well grabbing 10 or 20 minutes at a time, but most of us prefer chunks of time upwards of an hour — which, again, are harder to find the more other responsibilities we have piled on our plates. So help your writer set aside times, either on a recurring or one-off basis, where everything else is swept off their plates and they can focus 100% on the writing they want to do. Give your writer the gift of support. Again, this could be financial, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether the writer in question is your romantic partner, best friend, co-worker, or just an acquaintance, we could all use more support in our writing careers. People who aren’t writers themselves often have very little knowledge about writing and publishing, and that leads to questions that writers might struggle with answering or don’t want to answer, like “How many books have you sold?” or “Didn’t you sell that book months ago, why isn’t it published yet?” Whether or not their personal level of achievement squares with what you think the best yardsticks are for commercial success, the writer in your life probably wants and needs your emotional support. If they tell you things aren’t going well, you can sympathize; if they have a great achievement they want to share with you, you can help them celebrate. Which leads to… Give your writer the gift of listening. By “listening,” I don’t mean that you should give your writer free rein to talk your ear off for hours about every single detail of their work. You can do that if you want to, of course, but it’s not the only form of listening that writers find helpful. I mean that in conversations with your writer about their writing, meet them where they are. Don’t tell a writer who has decided to self-publish all the reasons that traditional publishing is a better choice; don’t tell a writer of Westerns all the reasons you think Westerns as a genre are trash. Get to know what your writer’s goals are for their writing. The more you know, the more helpful you can be as a source of emotional support, and the closer you’ll get to a true understanding of your writer’s writing life. I promise you, that’s a gift. Q: As writers, what other gifts would you enjoy getting from friends and family, this holiday season and beyond? About Greer MacallisterRaised in the Midwest, Greer Macallister earned her MFA in creative writing from American University. Her historical novels have been named Book of the Month, Indie Next, LibraryReads, Target Book Club, and Amazon Best Book of the Month picks and optioned for film and television. Her upcoming book, SCORPICA (as G.R. Macallister), is the first in the Five Queendoms series and her epic fantasy debut. A regular contributor to Writer Unboxed and the Chicago Review of Books, she lives with her family in Washington, DC. www.greermacallister.com Web | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | More Posts http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=1YOn-2Hl3zI:TQ_IpxDt43o:gIN9vFwOqvQ http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=1YOn-2Hl3zI:TQ_IpxDt43o:D7DqB2pKExk [url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  7. Let’s look at covers that have caught our eye! http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/image-86.png Cover design by James T. Egan & Bookfly Design From Pam: Do y’all accept suggestions for Cover Awe? Because the following cover just grabbed my eyeballs and won’t let them go. Elyse: Oh that is lovely Sarah: This use of cutouts and shadow is a brilliant design. http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Image-from-iOS-47-672x1024.jpg Cover art and design by Will Staehle Elyse: These are all of my favorite colors Sneezy: Ooooh that PATTERN! And I love how it’s woven through the words and interacting with the silhouettes! Catherine: That top one is like a William Morris design. Amanda: It reminds me of those fancy wallpapers – I want to say Victorian but I have no knowledge of history and design. http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Image-from-iOS-48-663x1024.jpg Cover design by Kerri Resnick Elyse: I used to work in a bookstore and I hated it when customers came in and were like “I’m looking for the book with the blue cover I saw last week” but if someone said “I’m looking for the book with the woman whose dress formed a human heart” I would definitely remember. Amanda: I love this one so much! Lots of Gothic vibes. http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/FireBecomesHer_FINAL1-683x1024.jpeg Cover design by Jacey Digital Sarah: Holy crapping hot damn Carrie: Stunning in the true sense of the word. So creative, so different, and what a powerful visual and emotional impact. Tara: Right? That was a “whoaaa” from me. Sneezy: WOW!!!!! (Also, I would love if a Eurovision contestant wore this dress) View the full article
  8. Hello December! As a musician, farmer, and mother of six, the month of December is filled with concerts, appointments, schedule changes, and lots of busy-ness. It is also a time of great reflection and anticipation of the new year. This month in particular seems to fly by (which reminds me, I need to order a planner for 2022 for my desk at work). Today I'm reflecting on the challenges 2021 brought for our children. One child in particular comes to mind as she started her freshman year of highschool in September. During a recent parent teacher conference, her teacher mentioned "she needs to be kinder and gentler to herself and stop saying she is stupid". I of course agreed, yet how often in my own life have I spoken negatively to myself? I think we all have a tendency to use negative self talk and be incredibly hard on ourselves. I mentioned to my daughter that her swimming coach had mentioned something similar in context of her swimming mentality. She would say: "today probably isn't going to be my best day for breast stroke" instead of cheering herself on with positive affirmations and thoughts of setting a new personal record. I've requested my daughter pick up a copy of the audible book I'm currently enjoying titled: The High Five Habit . We had a great conversation about being our own cheerleaders but how we are blessed with a large family and the opportunity to not only cheer ourselves on, but to cheer on our siblings as well! Connecting with a teenage daughter (at least in my experience) is somewhat hit or miss. We ended the conversation on a high note and went on with our days. This morning on my way between jobs our youngest was watching the movie Boss Baby in the vehicle while I was driving (and before you gasp ... I had once thought 'I'll never be the mom who lets kids watch a movie in the car - I want to talk to the little angels and not have them engrossed in television'... 6 children later and my parenting approach is much different...gasp and judge away). If you aren't familiar with the movie, it's fine because I haven't actually seen it, but I can hear the audio while driving and something caught my ear as I heard an old Henry Ford quote: Once I got the youngest dropped off by my mom and settled in at the office, I sent my freshman daughter a text: This begs the question - and yes, now I'm talking to you dear reader: As we approach the new year, where is your thinking going to be? Can you finish that novel? Can you get a publishing deal? Can you make time for self care? Can you commit to being your biggest cheerleader? Can you commit to writing in your journal 5 out of 7 days a week? Make a list of goals you want to accomplish for 2022 and make sure there are items on there about positive thinking! I'm going to go order that planner before I forget, and your job is to leave a comment with one of the following: - share your favorite quote that you refer to often in your day to day - share a book that you think others will benefit from reading in the new year - share how positive thinking has influenced your life - share what your current self would say if given an opportunity to chat with a younger version of YOU Cheers and Hugs Ya'all! xoxox Crystal Today's blogger is Crystal J. Casavant-Otto who is a hot mess of a momma and dairy farmer enjoying her little corner of the cornfield in frigid Wisconsin this winter! (C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  9. Last week
  10. http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/ElyseBachelorette-300x251.pngIt’s time for this week’s Bachelorette. A friend of mine said she had it on at her house and it was so boring she didn’t look up at the TV, so I have even lower expectations than usual. This week the final four guys will bring their families to Minneapolis to meet Michelle. First up is Brandon, who is from Portland. He takes her to an indoor skate park because everyone in his family skateboards. He gets nervous and falls a lot. He says he’s fine on his own, but in front of Michelle his “legs don’t work.” http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/51185969-10261105-image-a-43_1638344453453-e1638665339967.jpg That night she meet’s Brandon’s mom, Carmen, his dad, David, and brother Noah. Noah asks to talk to Michelle. He says that Brandon may act smooth but that he’s got a big heart and has been hurt in relationships in the past. He asks what sets Brandon apart from the other guys. “I’ve just never had to question his feelings,” she says. When he asks if she can see herself making a life with Brandon, Michelle says, “100% yes.” Overall Michelle clicks with the family. http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/d6da7da0-524f-11ec-8176-7b52c8fbadbd_800_420-e1638666062308.png Later Michelle tells Brandon she’s falling for him. Next up is Rodney. He tells Michelle there’s an apple only grown in Minnesota called First Kiss, so they’re going to pick some. Rodney tells the camera he’s ready to propose to her. That night she meets Rodney’s mom and stepdad. His mom, Carrie, says she and Rodney are best friends…which feels a little odd to me. Like, does Rodney feel that way? Or is she going to be competitive with Michelle? Carrie talks to Michelle right away and asks what sets Rodney apart from the other guys. Michelle says Rodney makes her laugh more than anyone. Then Carrie asks if she could really create a life with her son, and Michelle says yes. Carrie tells the camera that she has anxiety because Michelle is dating four men. Rodney’s stepdad asks if his feelings are really that strong in such a short amount of time, and Rodney assures him that it’s real. When Carrie talks to Rodney alone she tells him it scares her that he might be broken hearted at the end of the show. He tells her, “I look at Michelle and she’s worth the risk.” When he tells his mom he’s falling in love with Michelle, Carrie starts crying. Okay... via GIPHY Next up is Joe, who is also from Minnesota. They go to Joe’s old high school where they recreate prom. In her poem she read in an earlier episode, Michelle talked about being the last person asked to prom so the date means a lot to her. http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/sddefault-e1638667814289.jpg Later Michelle meets Joe’s mom, dad, brother and sister-in-law. There’s a lot of awkward silence, to the extent that you can hear a clock ticking in the background. Michelle asks his mom if she can see a difference in Joe now that they’re dating, and she says, “I can see how excited he is to sit next to you.” This woman is from Minnesota and says that in the perfect Midwest-nice voice, so let me translate. She has zero good things to say about Joe and Michelle. That was definitely a cut. It was a “beautiful gowns” moment. In a proper Midwest get together, Michelle would follow this up with a comment about his mom’s cooking along the lines of “What kind of cream based soup did you put in this casserole? It’s just so different!” in a really perky voice. Then the next time they all get together, his mom would deliberately not ask what side dish to bring, which is hugely insulting. The rule is you ask, and insist 3 to 4 times when the hostess declines, then, when she says to bring a salad which is largely made with whipped topping, you bring the salad largely made with whipped topping. The cold war has thus begun and will be waged with passive aggressive compliments and un-returned Pyrex dishes for the next decade or more. Joe tells his sister-in-law, Hannah, that he’s falling for Michelle and is ready to propose. Hannah says, “I hope this works out because we will see her in the grocery store.” Don't worry Joe via GIPHY Lastly it’s Nayte’s turn. He and Michelle go paddle boarding in a lake. Nayte tells her his family isn’t very touchy-feely and doesn’t talk about emotions. She meets his mom and stepdad, and Nayte’s mom gives her candy for her students. She says she used to be a teacher and that candy was the way to her students’ hearts. Later his mom asks Michelle, “Is your end goal to leave here with an engagement.” Michelle hedges and says, “I’m…just going to do what feels right.” His mom says she doesn’t want Nayte to feel pressured. “He’s never been in a relationship where it’s like I want to make this a forever deal.” She says she worries he’s been “swept up in the process.” Nayte tells his mom he’s not ready to propose to Michelle. Then, in even more concerning moments, Nayte’s stepdad tells Michelle Nayte has never been in love before and that he doesn’t know the difference between being in love and being married. You mean their relationship might not last after the show? via GIPHY “I don’t know if he can handle this. I don’t know if he’s going to get to that point [engagement],” his stepdad continues. Nayte tells his stepdad everything feels so new. “If it’s so new, how do you know it’s real?” his stepdad asks. “Charles, why you gotta do this to me?” Nayte asks. I’m kinda Team Charles all the way. He’s not here for the bullshit. Nayte points out that he and his stepdad don’t talk about this stuff, and his stepdad agrees. “I don’t say it a lot, I don’t hug a lot, but never, ever doubt that I’m proud of you and I love you,” he says. Nayte tells Charles he loves him for the first time ever. After they leave his parents talk about how Michelle is more mature than Nayte, and that he’s not at the point where he could get engaged. So that’s great. The next day Michelle says she’s nauseous because she’s not sure Nayte is ready to get engaged and “tonight is going to be the toughest rose ceremony yet.” There’s no cocktail party, instead we go STRAIGHT TO ROSE. Straight to rose, people! via GIPHY Michelle says it feels like someone is standing on her chest. That’s a heart attack, Michelle. You need to go to the hospital. In the end Rodney goes home, leaving Nayte, Joe and Brandon as her final three. Are you watching? http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/167152_5642-e1638670948100.jpg View the full article
  11. An Improper Arrangement An Improper Arrangement by Kasey Michaels is $1.99! This is the first book in The Little Season series and features a romance between an American heiress and her chaperone in London. Readers warn that the book starts slowly, but many loved the banter between the hero and heroine. Experience the drama of the Little Season in the first of a new series by USA TODAY bestselling author Kasey Michaels, in which three dashing war heroes have finally met their matches… Gabriel Sinclair has returned from battle as reluctant heir to a dukedom. As if his new responsibilities weren’t enough, Gabriel’s aunt enlists him to sponsor a young heiress through London’s Little Season. Yet Miss Thea Neville is hardly the tedious obligation he expected. She’s exotic and enchanting—and utterly unaware of the secret poised to destroy her family’s reputation. After ten years in America, Thea is ready to do her duty and marry well. Deportment lessons, modistes, balls—the ton is a minefield she could scarcely navigate without Gabriel’s help. By rights, she should accept the first bachelor who offers for her. Instead, she’s succumbing to a dangerous attraction to her wickedly handsome chaperone—one that could unhinge her plans in the most delicious way. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Outrageous Outrageous by Minerva Spencer is $1.99! This is book two in the Rebels of the Ton series and wow those covers are milquetoast. This is a Kindle Daily Deal and book three is also on sale for $2.99. I’m unsure how these historical romances compare to Spencer’s more Old Skool vibes one. Have you read this series? Bridgerton fans and readers of Grace Burrowes, Sophie Jordan, and Alexa Aston won’t want to miss this clever and exciting new love story from the acclaimed author of Notorious. When Eva de Courtney kidnaps Godric Fleming, her only plan is to stop the irritating earl from persecuting her beloved brother. But once she has the intriguing rogue in the confines of her carriage, she longs to taste the passion she senses simmering beneath his rugged exterior. Her forbidden plan is foiled, however, when Godric turns the tables, taking her hostage instead—and demanding they marry at once… The last thing Godric wants to do is make the fiery, impulsive Eva his wife, despite her delectable mouth and alluring innocence. He knows from experience that nothing is forever, not even love. But honor demands he do right by the lady, no matter how stubbornly Eva tries to hold on to her independence. And while the road to the Scottish border is beset with danger, Godric’s greatest challenge is to keep his hands—and his heart—from his captivating bride-to-be… Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. A Peculiar Combination A Peculiar Combination by Ashley Weaver is $2.99! This is another Kindle Daily Deal. If you’re looking for a new historical mystery to start with a hint of romance, this might be one worth adding to the TBR pile. The first in the Electra McDonnell series from Edgar-nominated author Ashley Weaver, set in England during World War II, A Peculiar Combination is a delightful mystery filled with spies, murder, romance, and the author’s signature wit. “Filled with wry humor, tight suspense, and a delightful cast of characters.”—Alyssa Maxwell, author of the Gilded Newport mysteries FIRST RULE: DON’T LOSE YOUR CONCENTRATION. Electra McDonnell and her family earn their living outside the law. Breaking into the homes of the rich and picking the locks on their safes may not be condoned by British law enforcement, but with World War II in full swing, Uncle Mick’s locksmith business just can’t pay the bills anymore. SECOND RULE: DON’T MAKE MISTAKES. So when Uncle Mick receives a tip about a safe full of jewels in an empty house, he and Ellie can’t resist. All is going as planned—until the pair is caught red-handed. But instead of arresting them, government official Major Ramsey has an offer: either Ellie agrees to help him break into a safe and retrieve blueprints crucial to the British war effort, or he turns her over to the police. THIRD RULE: DON’T GET CAUGHT. Ellie doesn’t care for the major’s imperious manner, but she has no choice. However, when they break into the house, they find the safe open and empty, and a German spy dead on the floor. Soon, Ellie and Major Ramsey are forced to put aside their differences to unmask the double agent, and stop Allied plans from falling into enemy hands. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Sunset in Central Park Sunset in Central Park by Sarah Morgan is $1.88! This is the second book in the Sleepless in Manhattan series. Readers loved the heroine, Frankie, who is a garden designer and “flower genius.” However, some found the chemistry between the hero and heroine to be lacking. In the chaos of New York, true love can be hard to find, even when it’s been right under your nose all along… Love has never been a priority for garden designer Frankie Fisher. After witnessing the fallout of her parents’ divorce, she’s seen the devastation an overload of emotion can cause. The only man she feels comfortable with is her friend Matt—but that’s strictly platonic. If only she found it easier to ignore the way he makes her heart race… Matt Walker has loved Frankie for years but, sensing how fragile she is beneath her feisty exterior, has always played it cool. But then he uncovers new depths to the girl he’s known forever, and doesn’t want to wait a moment longer. He knows Frankie has secrets and has buried them deep, but can Matt persuade her to trust him with her heart and kiss him under the Manhattan sunset? Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  12. Congratulations to Christna Rauh Fishburne and Snow White and all the winners of our 2021 Quarter 4 Creative Non-Fiction Essay Contest! Christina’s Bio: Christina Rauh Fishburne is a writer and artist currently living in England where her family is stationed with the US Army. She has an MFA from the University of Alabama and an obsession with the Brontes. An enthusiastic collaborator, Christina frequently works with her brother, musician Charlie Rauh, and recently illustrated The Crow Emporium Press edition of Jane Eyre. Currently, she’s working with Icelandic musician Inga Björk to introduce a children’s picture book with original soundtrack, and is querying her dual-timeline historical novel as well. Kattywompus Press will publish her forthcoming chapbook, Bird, which will include “Snow White” first published by Perhappened Mag Issue 6, Fairy Tale. Christina has three kids, blogs instead of going to therapy, and eats a lot of cake. She is very tired. Find her at www.christinarauhfishburne.com. And if you can also find her other vintage-style Audrey Hepburn hoop earring, that would be amazing. If you haven't done so already, check out Christina's talent in writing with the touching story Snow White and then return here for a chat with this talented author. WOW: Congratulations Christina and thank you so much for sharing your time and talents with us! Let's get down to it, shall we? What is the take-away you’d like readers to gain from Snow White? Christina: There is nothing more motivating than a comeback. Watching the owl walk to the hedge and lay down was so sweet and intimately adorable. I felt tricked and ashamed I’d spent all day keeping watch over a dead bird, expecting it to live. I think we often do that—attend the dead, the hopeless, the pointless, the small underdog desire and expect it to just get up, dust off, flex its muscles, and go on to conquering glory under its own power. Someone told me once during a very bleak time, “Sometimes there has to be a death for there to be a resurrection.” Sometimes I just can’t have what I want, what I believe I need. The fairy tale Snow White was tricked into poisoning herself but brought back to life by love. Jesus said Talitha cumi to a child who had died and she was brought back. It means “Little girl, arise.” For every time I’ve tricked myself into believing I was unjustly denied my desire, I’ve been brought back to life in unexpected ways. There’s always hope; it just never looks the way we expect it to. WOW: There certainly is always hope - isn't there? Seems that's something I appreciate more as an older woman than I did as a hopeless teen. Speaking of which, do you have advice for your younger self when it comes to making decisions, believing in yourself, and/or writing? What would your current self say to the younger you? Christina: I’d tell her it doesn’t matter old you are. I went straight into my MFA after graduation. I felt silly around the older, cooler students who were coming from corporate jobs, were married or had been married, and who lived in houses with actual furniture. I was also more than a little impressed with myself that I so clearly knew what I wanted to do… while so young, as if that meant anything. Youth is celebrated on the same level with talent sometimes and that sticks in my craw. I would tell my Younger Self: You don’t have to win all the contests, publish your Civil War Saga novel, and master the wise yet humble smile for your author photo by the time you graduate high school. If you have a baby, take a minute. Take 8 years. Everything may feel like a big race, but it’s not. Youth is just an adjective in author bios; it’s not the key to their success. It’s not because they’re young that their book is amazing, it’s because they’re talented. I’m ok being jealous of talent. We’ve all been young. We haven’t all been geniuses. I’m proud of the stories I wrote when I was 22 and knew jack-crap about life, but I’m also the first to say I’m a better writer now at 42. If I’m 62 when my novel is finally published, that will be ok. I shall now pause in expectation of a time-travelling, advice-dispensing, 62-year-old Christina. … Rats. WOW: Well, time travel or cloning ones self would certainly help during the toddler years - let's work on that! What’s your secret to juggling a career and family and eating all that cake without ruining your figure? Christina: Let’s just say, I was quite happy to oblige you with a picture from the “shoulders, up”. Young Christina could move overseas every 3 years, have babies, be a single mom for a year at a time, learn to drive all over again, and eat half a sheet cake for dinner without serious consequences. She’d write in her journal or rework an old story for no reason then put it in a drawer. For fun. She’d stay flexible. But Current Christina needs some low-impact Youtube workouts for the middle-aged… It’s no longer about “fitness goals”—the only goal is to Not Get Worse. Sacrifices are made, but nothing too crazy. If I’m offered cake, I produce a fork. If there’s no cake present, I make it. Cake is Joy and writing is Oxygen. Too long without either and I don’t feel well. Also, I am extremely fortunate to have a husband who works very hard so I can stay home. For 12 years “staying home” looked very different from what it is now. When the kids were small and the laundry was eternal, I’d write for myself just to remind myself I was still there. Today all three kids are toilet trained, in school full time, and entertain each other when they’re home, so I’ve been able to really write, and when it’s good, it’s good like cake. Unfortunately, the cake effect gets more visibility… WOW: Who doesn't like cake? I just gained a stone thinking about it...writing is much better for my waistline too! How did you get started blogging and what are your feelings about it now? In what ways do you feel it’s been helpful for you as a mother? Christina: So there I was: living in a hotel on a tiny island, recently divested of my most valuable jewelry by the movers, getting over a miscarriage and about to have another, and in a super dark mood. I’d kept a journal since I was 8 and the entries were getting to be a real drag. I wasn’t feeling better after I wrote. I began SmileWhenYouSayThat as a project to if not find the good in whatever nightmare I faced, then to at least find the hope in it. We move often, so I don’t have any family or close friends to immediately rely on in a crisis, but I have God and even when He’s not doing what I’d like, I know things aren’t out of control. There’s an old Daffy Duck cartoon where he’s a cowboy about to get punched in face off screen and you hear him say “Whad’you mean, ‘smile when I say that’?” It’s always made me laugh. If I’m about to get punched in the face, I want to be able to laugh about it someday. Being a mother is a lot of pressure, being an Army wife is stressful, and I don’t like talking about my feelings. Writing about them—where I know someone else will see them—is where God talks to me, where I can start to see what He’s doing and how I’m going to be ok. There are times I can’t smile by myself. There are limits to what even cake can do. WOW: Well, I absolutely love everything about your blog, your story, and this interview - but all good things (like cake) must come to an end! So, from one lemons to lemonade writer to another, what’s next for you? What are your writing goals for the remainder of 2021 and beyond? Christina: My first chapbook, Bird, will come out with Kattywompus Press. For 3 years I focused on writing a novel, which I finished in January, and I’ve been studying the swirling vortex of misery that is Agent Querying ever since. There are so many rules, known and unknown, and so many opportunities to screw yourself by accident while meaning to promote what you’ve always understood to be your strengths. Charlotte Bronte’s famous line in Jane Eyre, “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me” struck me strangely one day. Was I a bird, just not ensnared? A strange bird—a weirdo, his bird—old British slang for girlfriend, the bird—a big fat middle finger to disappointment … Bird is a series of micro and flash fictions linked by an ongoing dialog between an actress Seagull and her audience. As a writer and artist, I want my creative journey to come about naturally and organically but have to achieve certain artificial-feeling levels to be seen as "successful." I feel the same about being a woman. I’m so pleased this little book is the first to come to light “officially.” It encourages me that my others will find their way in time. Look me up when I’m 62. WOW: Thank you ever so much for sharing your essay, and your time with us today! We look forward to more from you in the future! Interviewed by Crystal Otto who just keeps on keeping on! Check out the latest Contests:http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/contest.php(C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  13. http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Hanukkah2021.jpg Happy Eighth Night of Hanukkah! We made it! The smoke alarm is giving me the side-eye treatment and it’s rather warm in here, but gosh is it beautiful. Ready for our final night of Hanukkah giveaway? I hope so! Today’s prize is: a Kate Spade Mulberry Street Lise in Dusty Blue! http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Screen-Shot-2021-11-10-at-10.10.16-AM-300x283.png http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Screen-Shot-2021-11-10-at-10.10.37-AM-250x300.png I love this color so much. And the compartments! Want some specs? The bag measures approximately 7.8″h x 11.5″w x 4.5″d The strap length is 22″ It has a zip closure across the top of the satchel It also has front and back slide pockets with snap closures Want to enter? I hope so! Just leave a comment and tell us what you are most looking forward to in 2022 – book, film, event, celebration, trip, another book? We want to know! Standard disclaimers apply: I am not being compensated for this giveaway. Void where prohibited. Open to international residents where permitted by applicable law. Must be over 18 and ready to look forward into the future. Not responsible for sensations of optimism. Comments will close 5 December 2021 at or near 12pm ET, and winner will be announced shortly afterward. Good luck, Happy Hanukkah, and thank you for being part of Smart Bitches! Thanks for celebrating with us this year! View the full article
  14. The Beautiful RECOMMENDED: The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh is $2.99 and a KDD! Kiki gave this one a B+: Many readers WILL be enthralled with the emotion of Bastien and Celine and for them the final sections of the book will be as thrilling as they were surely meant to be. Think that might be you? Go out and get yourself some Victorian era New Orleans vampires. New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with a sumptuous, sultry and romantic new series set in 19th century New Orleans where vampires hide in plain sight. In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as Le Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sèbastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of Le Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sèbastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret. When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface. At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Wild Women and the Blues Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce is $1.99! This historical fiction was mentioned on a previous Hide Your Wallet, and look at that beautiful cover! There’s also a dual timeline element here. Have you read this one? In a stirring and impeccably researched novel of Jazz-age Chicago in all its vibrant life, two stories intertwine nearly a hundred years apart, as a chorus girl and a film student deal with loss, forgiveness, and love…in all its joy, sadness, and imperfections. “Why would I talk to you about my life? I don’t know you, and even if I did, I don’t tell my story to just any boy with long hair, who probably smokes weed.You wanna hear about me. You gotta tell me something about you. To make this worth my while.” 1925: Chicago is the jazz capital of the world, and the Dreamland Café is the ritziest black-and-tan club in town. Honoree Dalcour is a sharecropper’s daughter, willing to work hard and dance every night on her way to the top. Dreamland offers a path to the good life, socializing with celebrities like Louis Armstrong and filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. But Chicago is also awash in bootleg whiskey, gambling, and gangsters. And a young woman driven by ambition might risk more than she can stand to lose. 2015: Film student Sawyer Hayes arrives at the bedside of 110-year-old Honoree Dalcour, still reeling from a devastating loss that has taken him right to the brink. Sawyer has rested all his hope on this frail but formidable woman, the only living link to the legendary Oscar Micheaux. If he’s right—if she can fill in the blanks in his research, perhaps he can complete his thesis and begin a new chapter in his life. But the links Honoree makes are not ones he’s expecting . . . Piece by piece, Honoree reveals her past and her secrets, while Sawyer fights tooth and nail to keep his. It’s a story of courage and ambition, hot jazz and illicit passions. And as past meets present, for Honoree, it’s a final chance to be truly heard and seen before it’s too late. No matter the cost . . . Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Paradise Paradise by Lizzie Johnson is $2.99! I mentioned this one on my new column Get Rec’d, where I talk about other books I’ve recommended to people throughout the week. It’s some great journalistic nonfiction. The definitive firsthand account of California’s Camp Fire–the nation’s deadliest wildfire in a century–and a riveting examination of what went wrong and how to avert future tragedies as the climate crisis unfolds On November 8, 2018, the people of Paradise, California, awoke to a mottled gray sky and gusty winds. Soon the Camp Fire was upon them, gobbling an acre a second. Less than two hours after it ignited, residents were trapped in flames, cremated in their homes and cars. By the next morning, eighty-five people were dead. San Francisco Chronicle reporter Lizzie Johnson was there as the town of Paradise burned. She saw the smoldering rubble of a historic covered bridge and the beloved Black Bear Diner, and she stayed long afterward, visiting shelters, hotels, and makeshift camps. Drawing on years of on-the-ground reporting and reams of public records, including 911 calls and testimony from a grand jury investigation, Johnson provides a minute-by-minute account of the Camp Fire, following residents and first responders as they fight to save themselves and their town. We see a young mother fleeing with her newborn; a school bus full of children in search of an escape route; and a group of paramedics, patients, and nurses trapped in a cul-de-sac, fending off the fire with rakes and hoses. Johnson documents the unfolding tragedy with empathy and nuance. But she also investigates the root causes, from runaway climate change to a deeply flawed alert system to Pacific Gas and Electric’s decades-long neglect of critical infrastructure. A cautionary tale for a new era of megafires, Paradise is the gripping story of a town wiped off the map and the determination of its people to rise again. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. An Earl, the Girl, and a Toddler An Earl, the Girl, and a Toddler by Vanessa Riley is $1.99! This one released earlier in April and is the second book in a series. I believe it’s fine as a standalone and maybe people have said that this entire series is much darker than they thought it’d be. A witty and moving story from the acclaimed author of A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby, about the lengths to which a woman will go for the love of her child…and the love of a man who knows her worth. Breaking with traditional Regency rules and customs, Vanessa Riley pens an unforgettable story perfect for fans of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton, Evie Dunmore, and Eloisa James looking for something fresh and stirring! Masterminded by the ton’s most clever countess, the secret society The Widow’s Grace helps ill-treated widows regain their reputations, their families, and even find true love again–or perhaps for the very first time… Surviving a shipwreck en route to London from Jamaica was just the start of personal maid Jemina St. Maur’s nightmare. Suffering from amnesia, she was separated from anyone who might know her and imprisoned in Bedlam. She was freed only because barrister Daniel Thackery, Lord Ashbrook, was convinced to betray the one thing he holds dear: the law. Desperate to unearth her true identity, Jemina’s only option is to work outside the law–which means staying steps ahead of the formidable Daniel, no matter how strongly she is drawn to him… Married only by proxy, now widowed by shipwreck, Daniel is determined to protect his little stepdaughter, Charlotte, from his family’s scandalous reputation. That’s why he has dedicated himself not just to the law, but to remaining as proper and upstanding–and boring–as can be. But the closer he becomes to the mysterious, alluring Jemina, the more Daniel is tempted to break the very rules to which he’s dedicated his life. As ruthless adversaries close in, will the truth require him and Jemina to sacrifice their one chance at happiness? Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  15. Please welcome Tessa Barbosa to Writer Unboxed today! Tessa’s debut YA Fantasy novel–not yet titled–will be published by Entangled Teen in 2023! Tessa is a pro-juggler, not only surviving but thriving through the chaos of family life, working a day job, and nurturing a young writing career. How does she do it? She’s here today to share some tips with us. You can learn more about Tessa at tessabarbosa.com and by following her on Twitter and Instagram (@HiTessaBarbosa). Tessa’s Guide to Writing with Kids — AKA Hack Your Routines! When I had my first child, I worried I’d never have time to write again. Instead, two young children, a full-time dayjob, and a book deal later, I’ve been writing more than I ever did before. Sometimes my friends ask me how I manage to do it all, and the honest answer is: I don’t. Often the family or day job takes priority, but writing is important to me too. I’ve found ways to get words down, however I can and whenever I can. Juggling everything isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible! Here are some tips for fitting in writing when life is busy: Do Your Writing Prep Away from the Computer Doing as much prep as you can when you’re away from a computer means less time wasted when you sit down to it. Daydreaming scenes while the kids play at the park, plotting chapters while loading dishes, taking notes on the bus: all of these are ways to sneak in writing prep time. I used to carry around a little notebook, but these days I add notes to my phone. As a bonus, if your hands aren’t free, you can dictate to your phone too. Skip the Rituals There’s no time to wait for the perfect writing conditions. That favorite music, hot cup of tea, scented candle, perfectly clean room, special pen… these rituals can help get you in the zone, but when you’re pressed for time, they can eat up what little you have. It’s best to just jump right in. Strip down your writing routine to only the essentials, so that whenever you find any bit of free time, you can maximize the amount of time you have for getting words down. Write in Short Sprints When it’s hard to find a long stretch of free time to write, short sprints can be just as effective. The pomodoro technique works well, but if you have kids, you don’t even need a timer. Let your kids be the timer! How long do you have before you have to break up a fight or someone asks for a snack? Break up that fight, or deliver that snack, and start your next sprint. Even 10 minutes at a time adds up. Trick Your Brain This can involve a lot of trial and error, but that’s fine! If something doesn’t work for you, don’t force it and try something else. You need to understand how your brain works best. Here are some tricks and experiments I’ve tried and that have worked for me: Set a timer and see if you tend to get more words down in the morning or the evening. I need to at least write a few words before work to get my brain in story mode. That way, even if I’m interrupted throughout the day, it feels easier to get back into the right frame of mind later on. You might be more productive when you’re relaxed and the kids are asleep. If hitting daily word count goals stresses you out, set a goal that’s lower than what you can normally accomplish. I mark my calendar for every day that I write anything at all, with no minimum word count. That way I never feel like it’s impossible, and I feel really good when I blow past it. Reward yourself. Some writers like sticker charts. Other writers set up bullet journals with blocks they fill in to track chunks of time (20 mins), or even chunks of words. I know one writer who wraps small presents to give herself for milestones like finishing the first draft. I like color coding my calendar. Whatever works for you! If you find a blank page intimidating, try to stop writing in the middle of a scene or a sentence, so you know what’s coming when you sit down next. This is also when writing prep really comes in handy. Even if you just jot down three things that need to happen in the next scene, or what image you’ll start with, it helps take the pressure off of starting from nothing. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part! If you have trouble finishing a draft because you always get stuck on research or character names, just skip that. You can use brackets [add place name], [research this] or [insert fight scene] for bits that need to be filled in during the next draft. Bonus: if you know what you actually need to research, you can spend less time doing it. Take as much time off as you need Writing everyday isn’t likely to happen, and when you’ve got multiple responsibilities, it’s easy to get burned out. The key is figuring out what writing pace you can consistently maintain without burning out. If you are mentally burned out, or exhausted, it can be too difficult to write, and the only solution is resting and refilling your creative bucket, however long it takes. Attempting to prevent burnout will save you more time in the long run. I sometimes take weeks or months off writing, to rest and refuel my creativity. I schedule weekends off, even when I’m on a deadline, because I know my kids will be home. Kids already take so much energy. Dayjob stress takes energy. You don’t have to write every day unless that’s what works best for you, and even if you do write everyday, YOU’RE in charge of how much is the right amount for your life. Forgive yourself Daniel Jose Older’s essay On Forgiveness is one I always go back to. Your mental and physical health comes first. Kids and family needs also come first. If you need to take a writing break, for days, months or years, take one. There’s no expiry date to your writing dream. If you’re trying your best, that’s enough. Living your life means you have a whole lot more to draw from in your writing. Does writing make your life better? If your answer is yes, I know you’ll find ways to write, or get back to it when you finally have the time. One day, the words you saved will come pouring out of you. These hard years won’t last forever. Happy writing, Tessa http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=l3ARMWrVrGU:yLPjY34D6EY:gIN9vFwOqvQ http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=l3ARMWrVrGU:yLPjY34D6EY:D7DqB2pKExk [url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  16. When I got a fresh round of rejections on a few of my short stories, I asked myself the question - do I really have it in my anymore to submit anymore? I couldn't tell myself that it wasn't just about finding the right fit for my stories. It was more than that. Something was wrong with them. I had to face that fact. Before I could get any more defeated than I already felt, I was got a book to review on my writing blog called Now Write! Fiction edited by Sherrie Ellis. In this book, there are various exercises that inspire you to write, help you think deeply about your characters, and so much more. I flipped to the end about revisions and that changed my whole perspective about the revision process. In one of the sections (photographed above), one of the authors said that Raymond Carver wrote up to 30 drafts of his short story "Cathedral." And I looked it up and was confirmed that yes, this author was known to complete up to 10 to 30 drafts of a story before considering it done. Suddenly, I didn't feel so bad about going back to the drawing board on my stories. In fact, for my stories, I'm sure I didn't get anywhere near the 30 counts of my drafts. Back to the drawing board I went. I decided to take the approach that I picked up from this section and approached each read of the draft by focusing one element at a time. My first approach was examining my main character and I highlighted all the parts that portrayed the character. I even added to it. So, I then read it for the conflict. And barely found it at all. At least, not as clearly as I thought. So I dove right back in, examining the conflict I wanted to have shown in the story, making sure it happened earlier, and adding more internal conflict thanks to my stronger character development. Now my story looks far better than it ever did. I'm not quite at the submission stage yet but I feel better now that I've taken a second look at this story. It's hard to face rejection and I didn't come to the decision to take my story back to the drawing board lightly. I fought the urge to ditch this story completely and assume I had nothing else to give it but I would have been wrong to do that. Today, if you are struggling with rejections, don't be afraid to take another look at your story. Consider a new approach in your revision process like the approach I took and maybe you'll find in your newest draft, whether it's number 30 or 100. (C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  17. ‘There’s no market for it over here,’ said my New York agent. ‘I thought you were delivering a thriller but what I got was a very English black comedy.’ He was turning down ‘Hot Water’, my latest crime novel. My agent is a piece of work; ruthlessly honest, charismatic and usually right. ‘I got halfway through and stopped reading.’ This time he was talking about ‘The Foot on the Crown’, the epic that has taken me ten years to write. ‘It’s too earthy, too eeeuw for delicate US editors.’ ‘Things must be pretty bad when your own agent fires you,’ my friend Deborah said. ‘Why don’t you write to their market?’ I considered the idea. ‘I’m not sure I know what their market is anymore.’ ‘Maybe they expect you to be less English.’ ‘But I’m not especially English,’ I lied. ‘I’m a European. Or at least I would be if Brexit hadn’t happened.’ ‘You,’ she tapped me on the wrist with a spoon, ‘are the most English person I know.’ I first became aware of the curse when I heard the teacups. To be precise, their endless tinkling. Whenever I listened to an English radio play as a child the sound effects included a spoon endlessly circling bone china. English characters were always going out and coming in, but mostly they stayed inside and drank tea, even in the grisliest true-life murder dramatizations. Our plots unfolded in small rooms. It’s an English thing; neat little houses, inclement weather. Agatha Christie was particularly obsessed with egress. ‘It was a fine old library with the only other door leading out to the pristine tennis courts.’ And as we tended not to point guns at each other, our fictional killers generally dismissed firearms in favour of doctored pots of chutney, electrified bathtubs and poisoned trifles. They escaped without leaving footprints and relocked doors with the aid of string. When so much time is spent inside it’s hardly surprising that we start thinking about elaborate ways of killing someone. Our crime novels may be domestic but are definitely not ‘cozies’. Endings are bleak, murderers admirable, victims deserving of their fate. We specialise in a specific kind of English malice based on class and distorted moral rectitude. You’ll find it in the novels of Martin Amis and Jonathan Coe, whose ‘What A Carve Up!’ is a revenge tragedy that doesn’t so much dissect fin de siècle Britain as blow it sky high. It’s there in the bitter, deadpan prose of Beryl Bainbridge and in Kate Atkinson’s characters, who speak as if biting thread from a needle. It fills the entire oeuvre of Mo Hayder, whose crime novels take you into claustrophobic, inescapable darkness. There has always been a gap in our shared language. One reader in Texas gave up on my Bryant & May novels because they were ‘written in deep English’. It’s not something I can excise from my writing. I’m technically a Cockney, born (just) within the sound of London’s Bow Bells, and the last of them now that there is no maternity ward within that perimeter. In two centuries my family failed to move more than five hundred yards from where they’d started out. We are an island race whose isolated literary development has led to peculiar ways of thinking, yet our nation is so close to France that when I’m at the coast my phone switches to a French provider. For those of you who have just joined us through the accident of late birth, here follows a three-point history of Cursed Englishness. (1) It starts with the Normans, of course. French became the language of the monarchy, through which we gained about 10,000 words, while English peasants only managed to come up with simple onomatopoeic nouns like ‘cow’. A two-tier language was bound to cause trouble. Words were power, weaponised by Shakespeare. If you find Shakespeare challenging try ‘Gawain and the Green Knight’. One of Britain’s oldest tales is made ludicrously complex because its text is not just filled with Sondheim-like internal rhymes but is also in Middle English in an untranslatable short-lived Midlands dialect. (2) By the start of the eighteenth century, the satirist James Gillray was happily ridiculing the British Prime Minister in print without reprisal. We satirised our social mores with the smug self-confidence of ruthless colonialists. Our authors had already learned to play jokes on readers, as anyone who has climbed the Everest of Sterne’s ‘Tristram Shandy’ can testify. British literature honed its sharpness in the Great War and emerging with new elements of irony, ridicule and gallows humour. The novels of Evelyn Waugh are cruelly funny but beneath the wit is a howling darkness that in ‘Black Mischief’ ends with the perfectly logical act of cannibalism. Killing becomes a social faux-pas on a par with grammatical errors. (3) After WWII, death lurked at the edges of even the most conservative English novels. As secularism took hold it became commonplace to explore risqué subjects and say the unsayable. In the 1950s a family film could be made about a British girls’ school whose sexualised pupils are sold off to Arab sheiks. Its writers included D B Wyndham-Lewis, the Poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis and Bertolt Brecht. It’s still popular today. Englishness sold well. The combination of grisly slaughter and dry humour proved irresistible. In 1930 a group of British mystery writers had formed the Detection Club, members of which included Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Baroness Orczy. I recently joined their esteemed ranks in a ceremony that involved swearing on a skull in candlelit gloom. And through that we arrive at the present day, when a tinkling teaspoon is liable to end up in someone’s eye. The curse of Englishness is that we cannot stop being so very English. Those judging glances and snooty comebacks are still supplied by the upper classes, who are entirely blind to their lowered position in the world. Every time we open our mouths the curse reawakens. It’s true that hardly anyone ever called an umbrella a ‘bumbershoot’, but our language is so peppered with peculiarities that only Lee Child ever managed to write like an American. In theory, publishing on either side of the Atlantic should be the same but we don’t think the same. The faultline was exposed by the AJ Finn affair; US editors hire staff after a forensic examination of their credentials and background. We pat the back of a chair and say, ‘I have a good feeling about you.’ The accidental/reluctant hero is a traditional British character, accepted in the wrong places at the wrong time. Barely remembered authors like Pamela Branch and Edmund Crispin allowed ingenuity and sarcasm to take preference over the forwarding of the action. Branch’s ‘The Wooden Overcoat’ is 190 pages long and stuffed with deviations, flights of fancy and nonsense conversations. Crispin’s detective actually forgets what he’s investigating. Our fictional heroes are emotionally strangulated. Embarrassment, snobbery and shame are common motives for murder. It’s surprising that Basil Fawlty never became a serial killer. While many American crime novels could survive perfectly well without dialogue—I instinctively think of Cormac McCarthy here—English characters rarely shut up. When it comes to crime we prefer argument over engagement, which is why the British never made a decent action movie. If British spy novels consisted of middle-aged men arguing in ugly offices, our mystery novels favoured the drawing room over the jail cell, the village high street over the back-alley stand-off. In many the action, such as it is, comes to a grinding halt so that the investigators can potter about discussing entirely irrelevant subjects. In this way the mystery itself becomes a carriage for many other bits of baggage. This must be deeply frustrating for American critics. If it doesn’t further the action the scene shouldn’t be there, but biffing and chasing is boring to write and dull to read. Better a duel of wits than weapons. If a novel deviates from its subject, does it matter so long as we enjoy it? Margery Allingham was unreadable to Edmund Wilson, not because she was a bad writer but because her books needed to have their Englishness carefully unpacked. We lovingly stuff our prose with secrets. And why not, when a book becomes your companion? The misunderstandings between your country and mine occur somewhere in the Atlantic. American crime heroes are far more proactive and driven. They endure terrible hardship before redemption, reminding us of Joel and Ethan Cohen’s crime rules; the innocent must suffer, the guilty must be punished and You Must Taste Blood To Be A Man. The British equivalent is to suffer, be mildly annoyed and make another cup of tea. *** View the full article
  18. http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Hanukkah2021.jpg Happy Seventh Night of Hanukkah! We’re almost done! There’s wax everywhere over here. Everywhere. Ready for our seventh night of Hanukkah giveaway before I have to go clean the menorot? Let’s do this! Today’s prize is: a Kate Spade Chelsea Large Tote in Cranberry Cocktail! http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Screen-Shot-2021-11-10-at-10.06.12-AM-218x300.png http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Screen-Shot-2021-11-10-at-10.06.37-AM-225x300.png I love this color – deep ruby reds are so lovely. Want some specs? The bag measures approximately 12″h x 17″w x 6.5″d The handle drop is 12″ – you can carry literally anything It has a zip closure across the top It has so many interior pockets including an elastic one for a water bottle Want to enter? I hope so! Just leave a comment and tell us what book you discovered here at SBTB that you most loved! Standard disclaimers apply: I am not being compensated for this giveaway. Void where prohibited. Open to international residents where permitted by applicable law. Must be over 18 and ready to carry the essentials and enjoy the greatest snacks any time. Not responsible for sensation of effortless glee. Comments will close 5 December 2021 at or near 12pm ET, and winner will be announced shortly afterward. Good luck, Happy Hanukkah, and thank you for being part of Smart Bitches! Thanks for celebrating with us this year! View the full article
  19. As if turning fifty wasn’t bad enough, a friend I have known for decades asked me to read her manuscript and give my opinion; at my birthday celebration, no less. If it was anyone else, I would not have thought twice about it, but I know my friend is not open to feedback. The only reaction she expected from me was positive and she would meet anything that was remotely constructive or critical, with defensiveness and a subsequent line of questioning that would attempt to dismantle my recommendations. Alas, my friend is a thin-skinned writer, but I hesitantly agreed. I hoped for the best but prepared for the worst and I’m glad I did. As I ran my hand through my hair and popped a million antacids, I carefully crafted my feedback. I hope you find this article by Richard Curtis and reposted by Michael Neff helpful as you make recommendations to friends about their manuscripts and revise your own. https://algonkianconferences.com/authorconnect/index.php?/topic/15640-the-seven-sins-of-novel-rejection/#comment-23933
  20. http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/WP/wp-content/themes/smartbitches/images/podcast/header_05c.jpg The transcript for Podcast 487. The Wit and Wisdom of Bridgerton with Julia Quinn has been posted! This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks. ❤ Click here to subscribe to The Podcast → View the full article
  21. Still from Mike Leigh’s Naked (1993) courtesy of the Criterion Collection. Years ago, I went to go and watch the Mike Leigh movie Another Year at a cinema in Bristol. It is a typical Mike Leigh film in that it is just about matchless in its emotional acuity, punctuated by shots where the camera lingers for about ten seconds more than is tolerable on the face of a character who has either had a shit life or is going to go on to have a shit life; it’s funny; it has an overall aesthetic atmosphere that makes you think of allotments even when an allotment never appears on screen; and it’s hellbent on presenting the most unglamorous vision of London that could possibly exist. Having arrived at the scene where the desperately unhappy woman makes a drunken pass at her friends’ son, I clapped my hand over my mouth. I was seated at the end of a row of women—my mum, one of her oldest friends and her two daughters, and two of her daughter’s friends—and I remember turning to see that all seven of us had done the same thing. Just sitting there in the cinema with our hands over our mouths and our eyes as big as they could go, wondering why we had allowed Mike Leigh to do this to us, again. I had this experience in mind two weeks ago when I went to go and see Naked, Leigh’s recently reissued 1993 film. I knew that it would be brilliant, and that it would cause me to wish I could unzip my own skin and crawl out of it at least once, and that it would complicate my already complicated feelings about English people, because I have this response to many of his films, but of course I was not fully prepared. It’s the best film I’ve seen this year, easily, and feels both entirely fresh and like an artifact of another era altogether. —Rosa Lyster (author of “On the Alert for Omens: Rereading Charles Portis,” out this week on the Daily) I’ve been immersing myself in the writings of the Egyptian intellectual and revolutionary Alaa Abd El-Fattah, who has been imprisoned for much of the past decade. In You Have Not Yet Been Defeated, recently published by Fitzcarraldo, an anonymous collective has gathered and translated his essays, conversations, and social media posts, notes and fragments, many smuggled out of prison at great risk. It includes the 2014 prose poem “Graffiti for Two,” a collaboration with fellow inmate Ahmed Douma that was created by shouting across a long row of cells in the night. Alaa’s words are telegraphic and incandescent as he reflects upon tyranny, technology, and despair, as well as the failures of Egypt’s 2011 revolution, defeat without shame, where a dark optimism could be found. The book is a crucial testament to a history that is still alive. As Naomi Klein writes of Alaa in her introduction, “He has time only for words that hold out the possibility of materially changing the balance of power.” —Anna della Subin (author of “White Gods,” out this week on the Daily) Phototaxis, by the Canadian writer Olivia Tapiero, is a novel that oozes, much like the rotting meat strewn across its unnamed cityscape. Translated from the French by Kit Schluter, it follows a cast of characters that includes classical pianist Théo Schultz, a man addicted to both snuff films and the more metaphorical death drive that undergirds the artistic will, who eventually throws himself off a building. “Desire is one form of suicide,” notes Tapiero, in a characteristically beautiful line near the book’s beginning. “As with the last glance we shoot out at the crowd, we shoot ourselves with a blank.” —Rhian Sasseen View the full article
  22. Breaking Badger Breaking Badger by Shelly Laurenston is $1.99! This is book four in the Honey Badger Chronicles series. This one came out at the end of August and was mentioned on Hide Your Wallet. What do we think of the new covers? Fans of Thea Harrison and Nalini Singh won’t want to miss this exciting, funny, and sexy novel in the mega-popular series. It’s instinct that drives Finn Malone to rescue a bunch of hard battling honey badgers. The Siberian tiger shifter just can’t bear to see his fellow shifters harmed. But no way can Finn have a houseful of honey badgers when he also has two brothers with no patience. Things just go from bad to worse when the badgers rudely ejected from his home turn out to be the only ones who can help him solve a family tragedy. He’s just not sure he can even get back into the badgers’ good graces. Since badgers lack graces of any kind . . . Mads knows her teammates aren’t about to forgive the cats that were so rude to them, but moody Finn isn’t so bad. And he’s cute! The badger part of her understands Finn’s burning need to avenge his father’s death—after all, vengeance is her favorite pastime. So Mads sets about helping Finn settle his family’s score, which has its perks, since she gets to avoid her own family drama. Besides, fighting side by side with Finn is her kind of fun—especially when she can get in a hot and heavy snuggle with her very own growling, eye-rolling, and utterly irresistible kitty-cat . . . Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Have We Met? Have We Met? by Camille Baker is $1.99 and a Kindle Daily Deal! This came out in early July and was a previous Hide Your Wallet pick. The heroine reconnects with four men from her past, thinking one could be her soulmate. What if you already met the soul mate you were destined to be with? And you didn’t even know it? After losing her best friend to cancer, Corinne’s life is in flux. She has moved back to Chicago, is considering her next career move (or temp job), and has absolutely no time to look for love—until a mysterious dating app called Met suddenly appears on her phone, and with it, an invitation for Corinne to reconnect with four missed connections from her past. One of them, Met says, is her soul mate… Corinne doesn’t believe the app for a second, but when she very quickly finds herself with back-to-back blasts from the past, she’ll have to consider if maybe she’s wrong about it. The thing is, Corinne’s also been introduced to a really great guy outside the app’s influence. As their feelings for each other grow, Corinne has to wonder: With her apparent true love still out there, should she tap yes to the next match? With help from a new group of friends, her loving if annoying family, and maybe a touch of fate, can Corinne come to terms with the loss she’s still reeling from, take control of her career, and find love along the way? Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Instant Attraction RECOMMENDED: Instant Attraction by Jill Shalvis is $1.99! Sarah has recommended this book countless times: I love the heroine, the hero, the setting, the snowboarding – this is one of those books where, if you ask me about it, my eyes roll back in my head and I make zombie-esque Good Book Noise®. Get Wild… And Then Get Wilder… Accountant Katie Kramer is a quintessential good girl—working hard, recycling diligently, all the while trying to ignore the feeling that she doesn’t fit in anywhere. That’s all she wants. Well, that—and amazing sex, and the kind of daredevil escapade she can look back on when she’s crunching numbers in a dusty cubicle. Which explains why she just took a job in Wishful, California, working for Wilder Adventures and Expeditions. Waking up to find a magnificently built stranger towering over her bed—that part defies explanation… After wandering the planet for months following a life-changing accident, Cameron Wilder has come back to the only home he knows. Under other circumstances, he might be thrilled to find a gorgeous woman sleeping in his cabin, but now, while he’ll risk his body taking clients on adrenaline-drenched excursions, his heart is off limits. Still, Katie’s killer smile triggers something deep in his gut… among other places. Showing her how exhilarating it can be to stop balancing her life as if it was a checkbook is the biggest rush he’s ever felt—and an adventure Katie’s wishing would never end. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Fall Fall by Kristen Callihan is $2.99! This is book three in the VIP series and the previous book, Managed, is also on sale. Kiki gave this on a B-: I so dearly appreciate what I believe is the heart of this story. This is a book about two people who want to be good partners to each other, but are unsure if they are able to be. The first time I met Jax Blackwood things went a little sideways. In my defense, I didn’t know he was Jax Blackwood—who expects a legendary rock star to be shopping for groceries? More importantly, a blizzard was coming and he was about to grab the last carton of mint-chocolate chip. Still, I might have walked away, but then he smugly dared me to try and take the coveted ice cream. So I kissed him. And distracted that mint-chip right out of his hands. Okay, it was a dirty move, but desperate times and all that. Besides, I never expected he’d be my new neighbor. An annoying neighbor who takes great pleasure in reminding me that I owe him ice cream but would happily accept more kisses as payment. An irresistible neighbor who keeps me up while playing guitar naked–spectacularly naked–in his living room. Clearly, avoidance is key. Except nothing about Jax is easy to ignore—not the way he makes me laugh, or that his particular brand of darkness matches mine, or how one look from him melts me faster than butter under a hot sun. Neither of us believes in love or forever. Yet we’re quickly becoming each other’s addiction. But we could be more. We could be everything. All we have to do is trust enough to fall. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  23. In classes and conferences we’re taught to be better writers, but it’s up to us to get our work out there and learn how to be writers in the world. If you have an intention or desire to publish a book, submitting to literary magazines and contests can be a good place to start down the road. As with any undertaking, it helps to have credentials and to that end, validation of your work and getting your name out there are always a plus. Winning a writing contest, fellowship, or grant looks really good on a cover letter. Having your work chosen and published gives you street cred that you really can’t get anywhere else. Here’s one thing I’ve learned about getting published: you’ve got to get noticed to get noticed. To that end, here is a basic guide to submitting, entering contests, and applying for fellowships: 1. Buff it up– Be sure that your work is as polished as you can make it. 2. Gather information– Part of choosing where to send your work is knowing your market. Almost all print magazines and online journals request that you familiarize yourself with their preferences and style before you submit. Fair enough, right? You could spend a fortune buying copies, but many have excerpts on their websites. Make a list of those that sound right for your style and whichever piece you are planning to submit. Duotrope and New Pages have a weekly newsletter listing calls for submission, including themed submissions and contests. Authors Publish newsletter also offers a free weekly lists. Entropy, The Master’s Review, and Literistic all have submission listings. Submishmash is the weekly newsletter of the Submittable entry portal, featuring submission opportunities. Also, writer’s magazines such a Poets & Writers and Writer’s Chronicle have good databases. 3. Make a list of markets -Remember that each piece you write may fit into a different market. Some publications pride themselves on featuring debut writers, some only want well-established authors. Whatever magazine you choose, be sure that your piece fits their style. In addition to litmags, consider widely distributed magazines that aren’t exclusively literary but publish fiction and poetry, like The Oxford American or Garden and Gun. Look at their websites and at the physical mag if you can. Most of the websites have a tab for “submissions” or a blurb in the back pages or masthead. If they say “no unsolicited submissions”, don’t waste your time unless you sat next to the editor at a dinner party and he asked you to send something. 4. Tier your targets– Duotrope has a really nice feature where they show you the percentages of acceptances by specific magazine as well as where writers who submitted to one place also submitted. Send to the top first, then wait before sending out round two because what if you send out fifty submissions at once, and immediately hear from someone at the bottom of your list with an acceptance but then, the next day The New Yorker calls! 5. Dress your baby– Next, prepare your piece for submission- This is more than running spell check. The single best piece of advice I’ll give you today is this: read the instructions. Different mags and contests have a variety of rules. Some accept simultaneous submissions, some only want exclusive submissions, and only a handful will publish pieces that have been published before, even on blogs or self-publications. Their websites will spell this out and Duotrope lists much of this information. Some want to read blind, especially for contests, so they will disqualify your work if your name appears anywhere in the pages. Some want your name on every page. Some have specific themes, most have a word count range, formatting or font requirements, and windows of time when submissions are accepted. 6. Craft Your Bio– You will almost certainly need a short cover letter to go with your submission. Write it in Word, and save it. You can re-use it each time you submit the same piece. The publication may have specific requirements for cover letters, such as word count, or they might want your bio in the third person. In any case, err on the side of brevity. If you’re writing nonfiction or memoir, add personal details that relate to your work, such as if you are a brain surgeon writing about your experience. List an MFA and any other writing awards or publications, if you have them. Include a link to your website or blog, if you have one. It’s a good idea to read bios of featured writers in litmags to see what the magazine likes and prints. Tweak as needed. 7. Pay up– More and more magazines and especially contests are charging a fee to submit. Look for free submission periods, and gauge how much you’re willing to spend. 8. Consider Literary Contests– For poets, essayists, and short story writers there are hundreds of contests. Often the judges are well known authors or literary agents, and the prizes may include an introduction to an agent. Beware of novel contests where the prize is publication. While many of these are good, be sure to read the fine print because you might have a contractual obligation. Sometimes a prize includes travel, so it’s important to keep track of these things in your submission spreadsheet (see item #7).For novels or story collections, many entries require a synopsis. Write it and keep it. Make a file for these things. Some contests accept novel excerpts and you can edit a scene or chapter to stand alone. Some prizes are for complete manuscripts, novels-in-progress, or first chapters. These are great ways to get your work noticed. It’s common for contests to have what’s called a longlist, where they pare down the submissions (semi-finalists), then a short list (finalists). Getting this far is great, even if you don’t win, because you can still pair your name with that contest in your cover letters and in your list of publications and notices. 9. Keep track of it all! If you have four poems out on submission to sixteen different places, it’s a lot to remember. I use an Excel spreadsheet and start a new one every year. This prevents me from sending the same piece to the same market twice, and when something is accepted, I know where I need to withdraw the piece from. Also, if you’re in a novel contest and you get a publishing deal or an agent, you might be required to withdraw from competition; it depends on the rules. POSSIBLE OUTCOMES So, you’ve written your brilliant piece, found the perfect litmag, formatted it correctly, followed the rules, saved up the submission fee, written a pithy but witty bio, and crafted a razor-sharp cover letter. You send it in. While you’re submitting you many feel anxious. But here’s something I’ve learned: the more submissions you have floating around the universe, the less you will be stressing about each one. One rejection out of twenty submissions is no biggie. And each submission is a chance. Jane Friedman promotes the “submit widely” philosophy. Here is a great article she wrote on the subject. What’s next? 1. Rejection– Yes, it stings a little. Just process any feedback and submit again. If, say, you have ten or more rejections to a piece, you might pull back and consider revising. Sometimes it’s helpful to check back and see what DID get chosen. If you should get personalized feedback, respond and say thank you. If you are encouraged to submit more work, by all means do so. Editors are busy people, and these invitations are sincere. The less sincere rejections talk about how impressed they were by the OVERALL quality of the submissions they received. 2. Request to revise– This happened to me in my very first publication. I was happy to be given the opportunity, and I liked the editor’s suggestions. The essay was published. 3. Acceptance!– When you have a piece accepted, or win a contest, first do your happy dance. After that, it’s important that you withdraw any other entries of the piece immediately. It’s very bad literary karma if you don’t, and there are instructions on how to do this on each contest or magazine website. Once you have that acceptance or win something, thank the editor or committee, then milk the hell out of it without being an overbearing, humblebragging ass. We all know that writer. You can announce twice—at acceptance, and again at publication. On your social media, share link to mag, then later, to the published piece. Once you have several publications you might start a “works and notices” tab on your website. You can also write a blog post, a story-behind-the-story kind of thing with a link to the publication. Each time you have a piece published, you can add it to your credits in future cover or query letters. It all builds on itself. Your tribe can help spread your good news, so be a good literary citizen and grow your base. Here are some other opportunities to explore: 1. Writer’s Conferences– Being accepted to a prestigious conference can be another star in your crown. Conferences vary widely, in that some accept all who apply at all levels, and some can be very competitive. These are great opportunities to meet and work with mentoring authors and get your pieces workshopped. Many have literary agents and editors in attendance. And they look great on your cover letter or bio. 2. Fellowship and grant opportunities– These are also listed in the resources I mentioned above. For conferences or fellowships you will often need one or two letters of recommendation. You can ask teachers, preferably professors or authors, and be sure you ask them before using their name as a reference. If you meet the qualifications, aim high. Someone is going to be offered those things, why shouldn’t it be you? Some offer stipends for meals and travel, some offer residencies, some offer the whole enchilada. I’ve seen offerings of a one-room cabin in the woods with no internet, and I was the recipient of a fully-funded, month-long fellowship at a castle in Scotland with maids and a chef. Submitting takes research and time and it is valid work; it’s part of the business of being a writer. Each time you get an acceptance you can include it in your bio, and when editors see that you’ve been published they might pay more attention to your submission. In 2016, when I was circulating several stories at once I had over 100 rejections. And that, to me, is something to be proud of because it represents a lot of time and effort in submitting, not even to mention the writing. I also had seven acceptances and won a contest. Those who’ve submitted know that there is a very real vulnerability in putting work out there. Some people submit in secret, and some post every rejection letter, verbatim, on Facebook, putting their angst out there. Does that make it easier? I can’t say. Some people don’t want to submit because they don’t know how, or maybe, just maybe, because they don’t want to deal with rejection. If you never submit, you’ll never be rejected. And you’ll never be noticed. Do you have any tips and tricks for submitting? If so, share them in the comments. About Liza Nash TaylorLiza Nash Taylor (she/her) is a late-blooming historical novelist and self-proclaimed empty nester with attitude. She was a 2018 Hawthornden International Fellow and received an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts the same year. Her work has appeared in Gargoyle Magazine; Deep South, and others. Her debut novel, ETIQUETTE FOR RUNAWAYS (Blackstone Publishing, 2020) is listed in Parade Magazine’s 30 Best Beach Reads of 2020 and Frolic’s 20 Best Books of Summer 2020. Her second novel, IN ALL GOOD FAITH, will be published in August 2021, also from Blackstone. A native Virginian, Liza lives in Keswick with her husband and dogs, in an old farmhouse which serves as a setting for her historical fiction. Find out more at lizanashtaylor.com. Web | Facebook | Instagram | More Posts http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?d=qj6IDK7rITs http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=DQ_8Lo6kCvI:x_FWHWxfrKQ:gIN9vFwOqvQ http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/WriterUnboxed?i=DQ_8Lo6kCvI:x_FWHWxfrKQ:D7DqB2pKExk [url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  24. When he tracked her down in the winter of 1931, the trappings of her once-vast wealth—seaside villas, jewels, a fleet of fast cars—were gone. Roger Normand, billed as “an eminent French authority on law and finance,” found Marthe Hanau in a spartan apartment on the fifth floor of a run-down building in Montmartre that, he was dismayed to discover, had no elevator. The interview was conducted in a room that served as her office, furnished only with a writing desk, typewriter, and a leather chair that, like its owner, had seen better days. Her defiance and sangfroid—the traits that catapulted her into the financial stratosphere before reality and allegations of orchestrating a massive fraud brought her crashing to earth in 1928—remained intact. “I owe a few hundred millions (of francs). What of it?” she said, peddling the only asset she had left—her limitless self-confidence. “I can and will repay every sou.” Hanau was one of the most forceful, polarizing, and headline-grabbing figures in 1920s France. She built a financial empire that controlled hundreds of millions of francs that poured in from investors across the country. Her newspaper, La Gazette du Franc, promoted peace, prosperity, and her dizzying array of investment syndicates. France’s top financiers, it was said, sought her favor and advice. So did French politicians. And U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, and other world leaders did not object when she brazenly published their signed photographs to lend credibility to her schemes. She met with Normand in the midst of her long-delayed and seemingly endless trial on charges of swindling and breach of trust. She was accused of establishing a network of fake companies and using investors’ money to pay profits and dividends, in a French version of the scheme the infamous Charles Ponzi operated in Boston in 1920. Investors were promised annual returns of up to forty percent, doubling their money in less than three years. But her only crime, Hanau insisted, had been to defy the “moneyed powers” in a heroic battle to free hardworking men and women from the “bondage” of the banking system. “I wanted to fight the professional financiers on behalf of the money-saving masses,” she explained, “who are logically entitled to share in the profits their money was making.” Fraudsters Marthe Hanau and her ex-husband Albert Lazare Bloch were exposed and charged in 1928, wiping out the savings of thousands of investors. (Manchester Guardian, December 5, 1928) Would the woman the French press dubbed a “money marvel” and the “Ponzi of Paris” win her new battle in the courtroom? Normand emerged from her Montmartre apartment convinced this magnetic, indomitable, “self-taught financier” might just pull it off. Nothing in Hanau’s early life hinted at her meteoric career as a financial guru. She was born in 1884 in Paris, where her mother owned a store that sold baby clothes. She excelled in mathematics in school but abandoned plans to become a teacher. She was twenty-four when she married Albert Lazare Bloch, the son of a businessman in the northern city of Lille. In 1912 they opened a Paris perfume shop with a small factory at the back, where Hanau concocted her own fragrance, Garden of Murcia. They sold the business during the war and began marketing tubes of a rum-coffee mixture that troops could consume in the trenches, until it was banned when the authorities discovered the Tube du Soldat contained neither coffee nor rum. Hanau went back to selling perfume and soap. The couple divorced after the war but remained friends and business partners. “I was no longer her confidant,” Bloch later explained, “but she valued my advice and I remained in her pay. It was purely a question of business between us.” Hanau, who was cold and aloof, admired her ex-husband’s outgoing personality and ability to ingratiate himself with potential customers. He was “the kind of fellow who could sell peanuts to the Pope,” he once admitted, and this was a skill set that would prove invaluable as Hanau embarked on a new business venture. “M. Bloch failed me as a husband,” she told friends, “but as a businessman I never had grounds for doubting his fidelity. Hence the severance of one partnership and the continuance of the other.” Hanau began trading on the stock market and founded her newspaper in 1925. The Roaring Twenties were known as les années folles—the crazy years—in France, but the country was a latecomer to the stock-buying frenzy of the money-mad decade. La Gazette du Franc, under the motto “Honest business is the only business,” urged readers to invest in French companies, and many of the stocks Hanau recommended proved to be winners. Soon she was selling shares in her own companies and a web of subsidiaries. “She discovered the secret of using patriotism as sucker-bait,” as one journalist put it. People who had never thought of investing in the stock market—schoolteachers, clergymen, retirees, widows, small-business owners—entrusted her with their savings. With her bobbed hair and penchant for wearing businesslike black suit jackets, she projected an austere, matronly image that inspired confidence. The back-slapping Bloch, meanwhile, traveled the country to drum up business and recruit agents in smaller cities and towns. He hosted dinners and banquets for local worthies and spent thousands of dollars a week on the Cuban cigars he handed out to prospective clients. By 1928 Hanau had built an investment empire with an impressive marble-walled headquarters, four other Paris offices, a staff of 450, almost 200 agents, and a network of branches that reached into Belgium. Some 60,000 investors pumped almost 220 million francs ($135 million U.S. today) into her coffers. She worked fifteen-hour days as the money rolled in, tearing herself away to try her luck at the casinos of the Riviera and other resorts. She reputedly kept a balance of at least a half-million francs in her bank account and splurged on jewelry, houses, and fine automobiles. She often set out with another driver following in a second car—if her vehicle broke down, she could switch without wasting her valuable time waiting for repairs. Hanau’s success was her undoing. She made powerful enemies. Banks lost business as customers closed savings accounts to invest. Newspapers that opposed La Gazette’s pacifist stance and free-market politics began asking questions about the viability of her companies. French politicians and government officials who’d been featured in her pages became nervous, fearing her downfall could become theirs. There were rumors that Bloch had been handing out bribes, as well as cigars, to squelch investigations. Finally, in December 1928, police raided La Gazette’s offices and arrested Hanau and Bloch on fraud charges. Her sprawling operations, with cash and assets to cover only a fraction of the millions of francs she owed to investors, were declared bankrupt. A crowd of shocked investors surrounded her offices, begging for their money back. In towns across France, at least a half-dozen who lost everything took their own lives. Others continued to have faith in their financial messiah, including one victim who offered to invest more money to help Hanau “weather the storm.” Hanau, unrepentant and undeterred, insisted she could cover her staggering liabilities and seemed convinced she would soon be back on her feet. “It is nothing at all,” the New York Times quoted her as saying within hours of her arrest. “I work by American methods and in the United States it is no disgrace for a banker or business man to go into bankruptcy three or four times.” A 1930s tell-all feature on the rise and fall of the “Ponzi of Paris.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune, January 25, 1931) Police, prosecutors, and the courts spent months combing through a mass of seized business records as they tried to untangle Hanau’s convoluted finances. Like Ponzi, she had used money flowing in from new investors to cover the interest and profits she owed to existing clients. The result was a bubble doomed to burst when the cash flow dried up—as it did the moment the authorities shut her down and exposed her financial fantasy. And she had done almost all of it single-handed. Hanau’s employees had believed the business was legitimate and many had invested part of their salaries in the enterprise, making them victims as well. Bloch claimed that he, too, had been duped. La Gazette editor Pierre Audibert, a former political operative who used his government contacts to expand the paper’s distribution, and Count Bernard de Courville, a retired industrialist Hanau used as a figurehead to attract investors, were also charged. Imprisoned and frustrated with the glacial pace of the prosecution, Hanau staged a three-week hunger strike. Transferred from prison to a hospital to be force-fed, she knotted bedsheets into a rope and escaped through a window. After a few hours of freedom and visiting a post office to send a letter of complaint to the Ministry of Justice, she took a taxi back to Saint-Lazare Prison and turned herself in. The caper embarrassed the government and she was soon freed as she awaited trial; a group of loyal investors opened their wallets to help post her bail. Hanau founded a new financial newspaper and promised to repay her victims in full within five years. She was soon facing an additional charge of publishing confidential government information—a leaked report of the police investigation into her crimes. The trial finally opened in December 1930, long after the Wall Street crash had brought the world back to economic reality. It was part theater, part circus. Hanau dominated the proceedings, loudly denying the allegations against her. “Justice is rotten,” she declared at one point. She interrupted expert witnesses to correct their calculations and deftly extracted the documents she wanted from the stacks of records entered as evidence. It was “a brilliant pyrotechnic display of memory. Facts and figures rippled on her tongue,” noted Roger Normand. “She juggled sums with the agility of a vaudeville performer.” Hanau and Bloch were convicted in March 1931 and sentenced to two years in prison. The court tacked on a modest fine—roughly $9,000 U.S. if imposed today. Count de Courville was acquitted, as was La Gazette’s former editor Audibert, who died of a heart attack only hours after the verdict. Hanau appealed. It was a risky move—under French law, a higher court could impose a more severe sentence, and she was ordered to serve an additional year for being “disagreeably aggressive” and “seeking to use her court hearings for publicity purposes.” Three more months were added for the offense of publishing confidential documents. When the Paris police finally turned up at her home in February 1935 to take her back to prison, she pulled a gun from her handbag; she was quickly disarmed and appears to have intended to shoot herself, not the officers. She died in prison that July after taking poison that was somehow smuggled into her cell. Janet Flanner, The New Yorker’s Paris correspondent, followed the case closely and offered a fitting epitaph. “She was,” Flanner wrote, “the greatest, brainiest, most convincing and comical confidence woman France ever produced.” Hanau, of course, would have demanded the last word. “I’m sick of money—money has crushed me,” she declared in a final letter to her lawyer. “Today I know absolute peace, the peace of renunciation. . . . And so adieu.” ___________________________________ This article first appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. View the full article
  25. Just before the first lockdown, I went to see a performance of Swan Lake at the Royal Opera House in London. I was halfway through writing Watch Her Fall, a thriller about two rival ballerinas and settled into the red velvet chairs under crystal chandeliers, grateful that I got to call this ‘work’. For the most part, I had the same response to the Swan Lake as the rest of the audience: awe at the dancers’ beauty and gravity-defying leaps; immersion in the dark fairy tale and the twisted love story; and of course, Tchaikovsky’s score tugged my tears from their hiding places. But I’m willing to bet my next book deal that I was the only one thinking about the logistics of committing a murder behind the scenes. I found myself trying to gauge how heavy the scenery was and if it would crush a woman if it toppled onto her. I wondered how easy it would be for a male dancer to drop his partner in front of a thousand people and make it look like a mistake. After the final encore, my fellow fans went to the taxi rank or the merch stand. I, meanwhile, went to the nearest bar and dictated a voice note about how, if I were a jealous young ballet dancer, I might destroy my rival’s career. When I got to the part about ‘shards of glass in the ballet slipper so she bleeds out’ the guy at the next table moved away. When I started describing a spotlight trained on the slick red gloss of blood on a black stage floor, I emptied half the bar. ‘I’m a crime writer,’ I said, feebly, but the few remaining drinkers looked convinced. I write psychological thrillers – books about ‘ordinary’ people thrust into extreme, life-threatening situations. We’re talking crimes of passion rather than organised, career criminals; individual relationships rather than conspiracies. Watch Her Fall is set in the cut-throat world of elite ballet and is a heightened exploration of a theme I return to time and again. Crime fiction is a place to explore my obsession with what it means to move through the world in a female body; the unique challenges and vulnerabilities as well as the strengths and joys that come with womanhood. Forget the little-girl fantasies of handsome princes and pink tulle. Ballet is as dark as it gets. The plots are shot through with suicide pacts, fatal curses and ghosts. Just as the possibility as death must hover over every page in crime fiction, ballet too is loaded with physical risk. One false move, one ripped tendon, and your career is over. It’s no coincidence that at the end of the two most iconic movies – 1947’s The Red Shoes and 2011’s Black Swan – the heroine twirls to her death. Ava, the heroine (actually? that’s for my readers to decide) of Watch Her Fall, is not an ‘ordinary’ woman but elements of her life sum up the female condition. As I developed the story I realised that although few of us can relate to a life of international renown or world-beating excellence, ballerinas are nonetheless living an extreme version of womanhood, its specific fears and angers. I posited this theory to a crime-writer friend, over at my place for drinks. ‘If you think about it, we’re all ballerinas,’ I said. She looked at me, sipping a wine cooler in elasticated sweatpants, and raised an eyebrow. But hear me out. Most obviously, there’s body image. Ballet—and society in general—is thankfully moving away from the frail, Eurocentric look that has dominated everything from the stage to the runway to the movies for the best part of a century. But that’s not to say dancers are immune from the pressure to look a certain way. Talented young dancers can be ousted for becoming too tall or suddenly developing hips. All ballerinas have a complicated relationship with the mirror—they practice in front of one every day—and honestly? I have never met a woman totally at ease with her reflection. Wherever we go, whatever we’re doing, there’s always something or someone to remind us that our worth is dependent on our looks. That, despite the progress made by the body positivity moment, to have not an ounce of spare flesh remains the ideal. Which brings us to discipline and control. Themes of control pervade the ballet just as they do in real life. We applaud the self-control it takes a dancer to learn the craft, to say no to that extra cookie, to sacrifice dating and drinking and free time. But they are often subject to the control of others; coaches and choreographers—traditionally men—mould ballerinas to their own ideals while they are still children. It’s a perfect metaphor for the crushing power of patriarchy. From girlhood, women are encouraged to put others’ needs first. For most of us, that means playing second fiddle to men in the boardroom, taking on the ‘second shift’ of parenthood or simply vanishing into motherhood. In ballet, that need to submit has created a culture where degradation tolerated, almost encouraged, because it gets results. Never mind what all that time at the barre does to a developing body. What does that constant stifling of the self do to a developing brain? Ava in Watch Her Fall is a world-class dancer but emotionally a child thanks to her domineering father. That’s part of what pushes her to the brink. Not that she shows it, or not at first anyway. The ballerina is in constant agony even when she’s not dancing, but she’s not allowed to express it. She is expected to remain poised, dignified, an embodiment of ballet’s impossible brand of femininity. Ballerinas are the world experts at smiling through the pain but any woman who’s toughed out a job interview with agonizing stomach cramps or sat through her tenth Tinder date where the guy hasn’t asked a single question about her or gone to work after staying up all night with a puking kid will be able to relate. It’s a generalization but a truism nonetheless that while men externalise their pain (fists, guns, sexual assault) women tend to internalize theirs (self-harm, eating disorders). The pressure to show the world a perfect face even when things are falling apart behind the scenes has never been higher in this Instagram world, where the chasm between what is presented and what is real seems to widen every year. Psychological thrillers are often about women who hold it in, hold it in, hold it in… and then blow. What I love about the genre is that the narrator is as likely to be a perpetrator as she is a victim. The women in my books, like a dancer who’s been made to twirl on bleeding toes one too many times, have had enough of being coerced, controlled, asked to deny who they are. Psychological thrillers are also about women who rage and connive. I’m more fascinated by the ugly compulsions—jealousy, sabotage, violence—than I am by the more acceptably ‘feminine’ ones. It’s the duality, the tension between the two extremes, that drives the action in Watch Her Fall. It’s Ava’s struggle to reconcile the perfect self she must present to the world with the darkness within that eventually leads to murder. Whose blood is that on the stage floor? You’ll have to read the book to find out. *** View the full article
  26. Is spooky season over already? No sooner had I un-donned my Elizabeth-Holmes-at-Burning-Man costume than it was time to crank up those holiday tunes, cue up the Hallmark holiday movies (30 all-new flicks to check off your list this year!), and trade in my PSL for a peppermint mocha. (Just kidding: I’m an iced-coffee-all-year-round kind of gal.) No matter the season, I’m always down for a bursting cornucopia of brand-spanking-new (and returning) pods. Get ready to drown out “Jingle Bells” and “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (sorry, Mariah) with these eight spine-chilling shows. An Absurd Result (Mopac Audio) – Premiered October 27 I will listen to (read: devour) absolutely anything Mopac Audio (the team behind LISK: The Long Island Serial Killer) puts out, this newest offering included. An Absurd Result, a new seven-episode series, takes place in a time and locale far from Gilgo Beach: Billings, Montana. 1987. A man slips into the home of Linda Tokarski Glantz through a bathroom window and proceeds to rape the 8 year-old girl. A desire for much-needed justice morphs into a rushed investigation, catching Jimmy Bromgard, an 18 year-old with a minor criminal record, in the crosshairs. Bromgard serves 15 years of a 40-year sentence, only to be exonerated in 2002 with the help of the Innocence Project: DNA evidence proves Bromgard could not have been Glantz’s attacker, though the identity of the rapist remains unknown. Fast-forward to 2014: DNA from Glantz’s as-yet-unidentified rapist hits on a match in CODIS. (If you’re reading this article, I’m guessing you already know CODIS stands for Combined DNA Index System.) The man’s DNA, which was entered into CODIS as a result of an unrelated drug charge, matches forensic evidence collected from the original 1987 rape scene. This should be an open-and-shut case, right? Wrong. Despite the DNA evidence, Glantz’s true attacker will never serve a day in prison for his crime because of Montana’s statute of limitations. Host Jule Banville, a University of Montana journalism professor who’s spent years researching this case (and collaborated with survivor Glantz on the podcast), unpacks what is truly an absurd legal result, diving into the specifics of this case and examining the larger issue of statute of limitations laws when it comes to prosecuting sexual assault cases. That’s So F***ed Up Podcast (TSFU) – New episodes Fridays Okay, so technically this one isn’t new new (it premiered in April 2020), but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to profile this saucily-named indie contender as soon as I discovered it. Don’t let TSFU’s millennial-pink aesthetic fool you: co-hosts Ashley Richards (whose incredible pink tresses have got me seriously considering some new 2022 hair resolutions) and Cameron Dexter (a filmmaker in her own right!) serve up some, well, truly f***ed up stuff: think cannibalism, cults of all stripes (Satanic, reptilian, alien—take your pick!), serial killers, and much much more. Humor is definitely on the menu (see Episode 65: Whose Leg is it Anyway? ), but so is deep research and first-hand interviews with key players in the true-crime game: among the podcast’s many guests are world-renowned cult expert Dr. Janja Lalich, former FBI Special Agent Bryanna Fox, and Helen Zuman, a Harvard-grad-turned-sex-cult-member-turned-writer. Richards, Dexter, and sound maven Evette Doursbourg (the pod’s audio engineer and occasional co-co-host) have the creds to bolster their true crime obsessions: all three have backgrounds journalism and/or broadcasting, and Dexter, a New Hampshire native, grew up just ten miles from where Maura Murray disappeared. Did I mention that TSFU has hands-down the best true crime pod merch shop on the planet? Loved ones (and stalkers), if you’re reading this, this Wannabe Cult Member tee (and, okay, the matching mug and sticker too) is at the top of my holiday wish list. Chasing Ghislaine (Audible Original) – Investigation Discovery doc premieres December 3 As a podcast columnist, I’m all about, well, access—namely serving you, dear reader, with juicy true crime goodness that doesn’t live behind a paywall. That said, if, like me, you simply can’t wait until the December 3rd premiere of ID’s three-part doc Chasing Ghislaine (or just can’t get enough of this particular case), might I suggest its accompanying Audible Original podcast? So much of the Jeffrey Epstein case has focused on, well, Epstein himself, along with the high-profile men in his orbit (including Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Alan Dershowitz, and Prince Andrew). This podcast focuses squarely on Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite whose decades-long involvement (and nefarious doings) with Epstein resulted the sex-trafficking and abuse charges for which she is now facing trial. Instead of taking a plea deal, Maxwell insisted upon her innocence, and one of her charges (she faces a total of eight ranging from sexual trafficking of a minor to perjury) carries a 40-year maximum sentence. Host Vicky Ward is a veritable insider when it comes to this case: she knows Maxwell personally (at one point, the two US-based British expats ran in the same social circles), and Ward penned an article on Epstein during her more than decade-long career at Vanity Fair (for which she interviewed He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named himself). Who is Ghislaine, the woman at the center of what Ward calls “a giant web of men”? Is she an unwittingly trapped fly or conniving black widow? Listen to Chasing Ghislaine to find out. Close to Death (NBCUniversal) – Premiered October 27 Okay, so technically I would put this one in the “true crime-adjacent” category, but I couldn’t pass up profiling a pod that tackles kooky (morbid?) professions like crime-scene cleaners, taxidermists, and death doulas. In Close to Death, actor Utkarsh Ambudkar (Pitch Perfect, Brittany Runs a Marathon, and Hulu’s upcoming mini-series adaptation of The Dropout, dropping sometime in 2022), along with a host of comedians and reporters, meets people who make their living in the, well, death business. Ever wondered what it’s like to be an obituary writer? Or work on a “body farm” (a research facility dedicated to studying human decomposition)? Can we really talk to the dead? And will they talk back? A lively romp into the annals of thanatology (science speak for the study of death), this podcast reminds me of certain This American Life episodes (see 319: And the Call Was Coming from the Basement and 523: Death and Taxes) in the best way possible Crossing the Line with M. William Phelps (iHeartRadio) – Premiered October 12 While the name M. William Phelps might not sound familiar to you, chances are, if you’re as big a true crime fan as I am, you’ve definitely seen his face before on many an Investigation Discovery and Oxygen doc. I’ll give you a minute to Google him. Are you saying, “Oh yeah! That guy!” Thought so. The veritable Guy Fieri of the true crime world (and I mean that in the best way possible: what’s not to love about a good set of frosted tips?), author of 45 (!) true crime books and star of over 350 (!!) hours of true crime television, adds yet another podcast to his hosting repertoire. His first, Paper Ghosts, covered the fifty-year-old missing-persons cases of four New England girls (Season 1) and a 1981 fire that may or may not have killed four members of an Ohio family (Season 2). In Crossing the Line, Phelps takes us behind the yellow police tape to examine cases like those of Annie Le, the 24-year-old Yale grad student murdered in 2009 and Dorothea Puente, beneath whose sweet-little-old-lady façade lurked a cold and calculating serial killer. Combining his signature tell-it-like-it-is/no-holds-barred/take-no-prisoners (you get the idea) narrative style with the deep network of contacts he’s built over his two-decade career as an award-winning journalist, Phelps lets listeners experience true crime from both sides of the yellow tape (among the many cases the veteran journalist has covered is that of his pregnant sister-in-law, whose 25-year-old murder remains unsolved.) Even the Rich: Murder in the House of Gucci (Wondery) – Premiered November 16 If there’s any mix potent enough to reel me in, it’s the intoxicating combination of fashion and true crime. Something about blood-splattered haute couture, killer models, the je ne sais quoi of fashion writers like Christa Worthington, I’m all for it. (By the way, if you haven’t already treated yourself to the pleasure of ID’s People Magazine Investigates: Crimes of Fashion or Last Looks, ill-fated Quibi’s high-fashion-meets-horrible-crimes show, please do; the latter has since migrated over to Roku.) That’s why, right on the stiletto-sharp heels of Lady Gaga’s star turn in House of Gucci, I’m recommending Wondery’s Even the Rich: Murder in the House of Gucci. Even the Rich, now in its 21st (!) season, chronicles the follies and foibles of some of the world’s richest power players: think Kennedys, Murdochs, Gettys, and Versaces. In this newest iteration of ETR, hosts Brooke Siffrinn and Aricia Skidmore-Williams take on a Game of Thrones-esque family saga starring the scion of an Italian high-fashion dynasty and his Cersei Lannister-like wife. On March 27, 1995, 46 year-old Maurizio Gucci, former Gucci chairman and grandson of Gucci founder Guccio Gucci, was shot just as he was arriving at work. Italy’s crime of the century had all the trappings of a tailor-made-for-the-tabloids thriller: revenge-bent ex-wife (herself a rag-to-riches Becky Sharp type), hit men, and, of course, the glamorous world of high fashion. If this holiday season has you hankering for a tale of love gone way wrong (with a good dose of style, of course), look no further than Even the Rich: Murder in the House of Gucci. Yoga Cults: Gurus and Guides (Parcast/Spotify) – Premiered November 23 Ah, yes. New Year’s resolutions. There’s nothing like a creepy tale of ne’er-do-well wellness practitioners to get me jump started on those 2022 fitness goals. In this newest three-part offering, the teams behind Parcast favorites Cults and Crimes of Passion join forces to pull back the curtain on the seedy (but toned!) underbelly of high-stakes yoga. In Yoga Cults: Gurus and Guides, Greg Polcyn, Vanessa Richardson (Cults), and Lanie Hobbs (Crimes of Passion) dive swan-pose deep into cases like that of Gregorian Bivolaru, the Romanian yoga guru whose controversial organization Movement for the Spiritual Integration in the Absolute (MISA) has preyed upon tens of thousands of young women seeking spiritual guidance. Also on the docket? Geshe Michael Roach, the self-proclaimed Tibetan monk whose unconventional teaching methods (including allegations of cult-like behavior and sexual misconduct) may have led to a man’s death in the Arizona desert. JonBenét: 25 Years Later (Parcast/Spotify) – Premieres December 21 Long before Toddlers & Tiaras, America had a much darker picture of the child beauty queen: JonBenét Ramsey, the Colorado pageant winner whose 1996 day-after-Christmas kidnapping and murder set off a cultural firestorm still smoldering to this day. Though 25 years have passed since the as-yet-unsolved crime took place (JonBenét, were she alive today, would be 31), the Boulder Police Department has kept the case open. Public interest in the case (not to mention the ever-increasing number of rumors and speculation about what actually happened that cold December night) remains high nearly three decades later. A cursory web search reveals 153 books written about the case, the most recent of which is Paula Woodward’s Unsolved: The JonBenét Ramsey Murder 25 Years Later, the veteran investigative reporter’s follow-up to 2016’s We Have Your Daughter: The Unsolved Murder of JonBenét Ramsey 20 Years Later. In this four-episode deep dive, Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories’s Carter Roy aims to separate fact from fiction. After comprehensively reviewing the facts of the case, Roy examines its cultural significance: the murder coincided with the birth of the Internet—and its attendant “armchair detectives” unpacking the case in real time. 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  27. There’s nothing quite like a murder mystery. Learning all the juicy secrets behind the suspects, flipping the page and revealing a plot twist, coming up with theories as you read, staying up way too late to find out if you’re right…I love it all. When I set out to write Killer Content—my third novel but my first murder mystery or thriller—one of my main goals was to create this sort of experience for my future readers. Killer Content is a murder mystery set in a house of famous teenage TikTokers. The six members of the house seem to have it all—millions of followers, lucrative content deals, striking good looks. But behind their perfected social media image, there are hidden secrets. When a member of the house shows up dead in the infinity pool, the rest of her famous roommates immediately become suspects. As I prepared for the book to release on Nov. 30, I got to thinking about the teen murder mysteries that I have loved and which have puzzled, frightened, exhilarated, and inspired me over the years. I wanted to share a few of my favorites in this list. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard An absolutely classic series about a group of girls haunted by the death of their friend Alison and plagued by mysterious texts from an anonymous sender who seems to know all their secrets, and goes by the sign-off “-A.” I loved these books when I was younger, and I re-read this entire series while I was writing Killer Content. I found myself completely caught up in the story—reading until late hours, ordering the next book in the series as soon as I was getting remotely close to the end, and checking the mail obsessively for the arrival of the next installment. Although some details, like sidekick phones and “7’s” jeans, may seem foreign to a current teenage audience, the suspense and plot twists and turns of this series never go out of style. One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus “The Breakfast Club meets murder mystery”: this book had me hooked from the first time I heard this description. I read this when it first came out and again before watching the recent adaptation on Peacock. I loved the way this story weaves between different points of view and kept me guessing through to the shocking twist. I also loved how this mystery incorporated themes around high school pressures and inequality in addition to the murder mystery “whodunit” plot. I also can’t get enough (spoiler) of the Bronwyn and Nate romance—I ship it! Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson I first encountered Tiffany D. Jackson’s writing when her second book, Monday’s Not Coming, was published. I won’t go into too much detail about that book and its famous twist, since I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read, but I’ll say—I highly recommend reading it. I was enthralled by her writing, and soon after I finished Monday, I read her debut, Allegedly. All of Jackson’s books engage with difficult, real-life themes, and also are page-turning, plot-twisting mysteries. Her writing is truly a masterclass in writing both engaging and thought-provoking work. Grown is no exception. In the novel, Enchanted, a 17-year old aspiring singer, meets a legendary R&B singer named Korey Fields. He promises to help her achieve her dreams, but things instead turn to a nightmare as he grooms and manipulates her. When Enchanted wakes up with blood on her hands and no memory of the night before, the question the police are asking who killed Korey Fields?, and signs point toward Enchanted. Influence by Lilia Buckingham and Sara Shepard This story is Pretty Little Liars meets the influencer world – so it was 100 percent up my alley. It was written by Sara Shepard, author of the PLL series and Lilia Buckingham, a writer, actress, and dancer, with over a million Instagram followers—truly a dream team. I’m very interested in the way our curated social media selves are similar or different from our “real” selves and I love that this book engaged with this question while simultaneously unfolding a thrilling mystery. While this book focuses on Instagram-influencers and YouTubers, rather than TikTokers—I do feel like it is a sort of kindred spirit to Killer Content—part of the same larger conversation around social media and how it affects our lives. There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins I first fell in love with Stephanie Perkins’s writing when I read Anna and the French Kiss; I devoured that book on vacation like it was a pain au chocolat, and I equally enjoyed the other books in that series, Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After. When There’s Someone Inside Your House came out, I was excited to read, and thrilled to find that it was as scary as the other books were swoony. The novel tells the story of a series of murders at Nebraska high school, told through the perspective of transfer student, Makani Young. Fans of the Scream franchise will enjoy the way this book bends genres between slasher and mystery. Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig I’m a fan of all of Caleb Roehrig’s books, but perhaps my favorite is Death Prefers Blondes. In the story, a team of drag queens and a Hollywood heiress pull off Ocean’s 8-style heists, and then a suspicious death and a job gone wrong raises the stakes. This book is a fun, heart-warming story about found family as well as a mystery. Roehrig has constructed a suspenseful plot that drives you through the story and populated the book with characters who you will love spending time with. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson This book is great for anyone who gets caught up in True Crime podcasts and finds themselves turning over the clues and alibis of cases while washing the dishes or walking their dog (speaking from experience). In this novel, high school student Pippa Fitz-Amobi investigates a five-year old murder that took place in her town for a final project, reopening a case everyone else thought was settled. As she digs further, it becomes clear that the real killer is out there, and Pippa herself might be in danger. It’s a meta mystery within a mystery—and both levels kept me caught up in this nail-biting story. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn The story of the disappearance of a woman named Amy, and the investigation of her husband and presumed killer, Nick. This is not a YA book, but I first read Gone Girl when I was in high school—and it was one of the books that led me to fall in love with the thriller/mystery genre. I will always remember flipping a certain page (if you know you know) and literally throwing the book across the room in absolute shock/ overwhelm/excitement. If I were granted a magic wish to read one book for the first time again, it would probably be this one. This is a book about adults and probably more for teens / later high school than tweens—but that is of course a personal choice. No matter when you decide is the right time to read it, I do recommend reading this book at some point (and covering your ears to avoid spoilers in the meantime so you get the full experience) since I really feel like this is a modern classic of the genre. *** View the full article
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