Category: Writing (page 1 of 3)

#amwriting Studying Lethal White

The fourth novel in Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike series, Lethal White, came out last month. The author (actually J.K. Rowling) has shaken up the typical mystery format in this novel. Does it work?

Lethal White* by Robert Galbraith

(*Amazon Affiliate Link)

The typical mystery reveals something about a crime in the prologue or first chapter, usually within the first few pages. In book one of the Cormoran Strike series, Cuckoo’s Calling, Rowling follows the formula when a model dies in essentially the first scene (link is to my review). For this novel, however, she shakes things up. In fact, a crime is not mentioned until after page 40. Let’s take a look at an analogy to explain what she’s done.

Analogy

In most series, the relationship between ongoing characters, that is, the characters who are present in all or most of the books, changes and evolves over time. This forms a story arc. Using an analogy, the ongoing story of the main characters is like a stream which flows through the novels. The main mystery is what readers came to see, so the stream drifts along in the background while the main mystery plays out on the stream bank in the forefront. The stream is important, however, because it motivates readers to move on to the next novel when the main mystery has wrapped up at the end of each book.

Let’s emphasize:  the ongoing story arc is a backdrop, part of the staging.

Public domain photograph by Karen Arnold at PublicDomainPictures.Net

In Lethal White, Rowling points the camera at the story line of the two main characters. In effect, she focuses on the stream.

The two detectives, Robin and Cormoran, have had a mutual attraction that they continue to ignore, which is called the “will they or won’t they?” trope. The prologue of Lethal White features Robin marrying her longtime boyfriend Matthew while pining openly for Cormoran. At her wedding! Nothing dysfunctional about that, is there? The prologue sets the tone for the rest of the novel.

Does The Change of Focus Work?

Although I am all for shaking up writing formulas, in this case it hasn’t worked.

When the mystery finally shows up on page 40, it plays out mostly on the far shore. The reader begins to wonder if the series has turned into a poorly-plotted romance. Eventually Rowling brings the crime to front and center, but by then at least some readers have lost interest.

If the “stream” (romance) had turned out to be a gushing torrent with whitewater and waterfalls, then the shake up might have been successful. As it is, the “stream” is barely a drizzle.

Turns out, the main crime is how much I paid for a novel that doesn’t live up to its promise.

(Robert Galbraith novels summary page)

#amwriting Notes on Writing Mysteries

Writing mysteries isn’t easy, but it can be rewarding.  According to science fiction author David Brin (Writing Excuses podcast 7.10), all new writers should write a murder mystery for their first novel. His reasoning? The techniques you are forced to learn can be applied to any other genre.

 

Where should you start? Before you put fingers to keyboard, here are a few things to think about.

1. Explore the Mystery Genre

Readers expect certain elements when they read a particular genre. For example,  in a romance they expect kissing, in a western they expect a horse or two, etc. In mysteries they are looking for a dead body — or at least some form of foul play. They also expect a sleuth or sleuths to try to figure out who did it and clues to point to the answer. It’s okay to shake up the expectations, but do it from the perspective of knowing the rules and breaking them rather than stumbling because you aren’t aware of the norms.

To see how the publishing industry defines different types of mystery novels, take a look at GoodReads.  Some of the subcategories/subgenres may differ from those found in writing handbooks. For example, where writing guides may lump all mysteries with amateur sleuths into the cozy category, GoodReads lists Amateur Sleuth Mystery as separate from Cozy. This makes sense because although cozies always feature amateur sleuths,  they also have other elements such as they take place in a small town and the level of violence is low to nonexistent. On the other hand, GoodReads combines private detectives and police detectives into Detective mysteries, whereas most writers consider mysteries featuring law enforcement sleuths as “police procedurals” and those with private detective main characters as their own subcategory.

In any case, the lists are wonderful places to find new novels in each genre and subgenre. Reading mystery novels in each category is a good way to learn about them. You can also see which novels are popular (1000s of reviews) and which are not (only a few reviews).

Items 2-4 may be done in any order, but they are tied to one another.

2. Pick a Great Setting

A good mystery answers the questions who (is telling the story), when and where early in the book. Both when and where are the setting.

Answering these questions right at the beginning helps orient the reader and gives information about what to expect. If the setting is a small town in Maine, expect a cozy. The story of a private detective living in New York or Los Angeles will probably be grittier. If the year is 1871, the reader is going to look for a historical mystery with details that fit the times.

If you plan to pen a series, consider how many dead bodies the citizens of your setting will realistically generate. For example, the Lewis series on PBS was set in Oxford, England with a population of about 150,000. The show portrayed numerous murders per episode over eight seasons, giving Oxford an abnormally high murder rate. Note:  If you’re going to feature a particularly gruesome serial killer, tourism boards everywhere will thank you for creating a fictional city or town for your setting.

The setting will also influence who you choose as your sleuth, which is another reason to consider it early.  J. A. Jance’s J. P. Beaumont series is about a homicide detective working in Seattle. Her Joanna Brady series, in contrast, is set in the small town of Bisbee, Arizona. In that setting, it is more appropriate for her main character to be a sheriff.

Consider choosing somewhere new and fresh. I’m sure I’m not the only reader who has picked up a mystery novel simply because of the unique setting. The Shetland Island Mysteries by Ann Cleeves, and Tony Hillerman’s Leaphorn and Chee series spring to mind.

grand canyon arizona

3. Pick a Sleuth

The plot and tone of your novel will depend on the who you choose to investigate the crime. Now that you understand genre, the sleuth may be a hard-boiled private investigator, a grizzled cop, or a spunky bookstore owner.

Make sure the sleuth has a strong reason to pursue the villain. I recently read a novel where the sleuth played cards with his friends and took his goddaughter to the zoo rather than investigating. His lack of focus and motivation might have been realistic, but it was maddening for the reader.

You also need to decide who will narrate. The story doesn’t always have to be told from the sleuth’s point of view. It can be told from the point of view of a sidekick (like Archie Goodwin in the Nero Wolfe mysteries) or from multiple points of view, like Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike series.

4. Pick a Villain and Suspects

You will need a good villain (or villains), too. For the conflict to draw the reader in, the villain should have his or her own compelling story. The more conflicted and complicated the villain is the better, even if he or she doesn’t end up having much time on the page.

You’ll also need realistic suspects. The suspects may be completely innocent or can be villains of another story who just happened not to carry out this particular crime.

5. Write front to back or back to front?

Plotting a mystery is complicated because the clues have to be laid out in the text so the reader can solve the main puzzle by the end of the book. On the other hand, to provide an enjoyable reading experience, the clues should not be obvious. Multiple solutions should be suggested, some of which are red herrings (clues that mislead the reader). How does a writer do this?

Because the crime is generally revealed in the first few pages, it is often easiest to start there. Develop an intriguing crime.

Front to Back (ending)

If you are a pantser and generally write from beginning to end, you might give yourself multiple scenarios of how it happened and who did it, and whittle them down to one at the end.

Back to Front

If you are a plotter, decide who did it and why (the ending).  Construct a chain of clues to get you to that ending.

After laying out the main clues, build subplots around the trail of clues to obscure it. Point the reader in other directions. Leave out some clues and add others.

As you can see, both approaches lead to a similar structured mystery.  Which works better for you will depend on how you organize your thoughts. Just don’t forget to maintain the suspense and have plenty of mini-cliffhangers at the end of each scene to keep the reader turning pages.

Note:  Be sure to reveal all the suspects near the beginning of the story, if possible. Readers will toss your novel away in frustration if you bring the villain in on page 260.

How you physically record the plot details is up to you. Some people use index cards, some can’t live without software and spreadsheets, and others plan with sticky notes on a bulletin board. I personally use Scrivener because of the virtual index cards and outlining features.

The best method is what works for you.

Good luck!

Any questions? Let us know.

Writing Life With Donis Casey, Vicki Delany @vickidelany and Ann Parker @TheSilverQueen

Over the weekend I attended a fabulous writing panel discussion with prolific mystery authors Donis Casey, Vicki Delany, and Ann Parker. All three women have books published by Poisoned Pen Press, which is a local Arizona publisher that specializes in mysteries. Donis Casey and Vicki Delany post at the collective mystery author’s blog, Type M for Murder.

The women talked about many different aspects of writing mystery novels. It was interesting that both Donis and Ann, who write historical mysteries, say they write in spurts (often motivated by a deadline.) Donis writes in the afternoon and Ann at night after work. In contrast, Vicki said she writes every day when she’s at home, starting at 9:00 a.m. She doesn’t write, however, when she travels. They all admit that their schedules have changed during different stages of their lives.

All three suggested new writers make an effort to attend writing classes, conferences, and critique groups. They agreed that they benefited not only from what they learned, but also from the opportunities to network. Great advice!

After the discussion, they all signed their books and we got to talk to each author individually. It was a lovely afternoon

The authors’ recent books:

Donis Casey writes a historical mystery series (Alafair Tucker Mysteries) set in Oklahoma in the early 1900s. Her main character has 10 children. Donis reported that she intended write 10 books in the series, each featuring one of the children more prominently. Her tenth book, Forty Dead Men, came out in February.  We’ll be excited to see what she decides to do next.

 

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (February 6, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1464209391
ISBN-13: 978-1464209390

Vicki Delany has authored several series, including the Lighthouse Library Mysteries under the pen name Eva Gates.

Her most recent title is a cozy, The Cat of the Baskervilles: A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery (February 2018)

 

Because I’m interested in police procedural novels, I chose the first in her Constable Molly Smith series, In the Shadow of the Glacier (2008).

 

Set in the fictional town of Trafalgar, British Columbia, the novel features newly-hired Constable Molly Smith and veteran Detective Sargant John Winters as they investigate the murder of a prominent businessman.

I have to admit that I came home from the event and basically devoured the book in one sitting. I will look for more titles in this series.

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (March 15, 2008)
ISBN-10: 1590585585
ISBN-13: 978-1590585580

Author Ann Parker has a day job as a science writer, yet she has managed to write Silver Rush Mysteries set in Leadville, Colorado during the Silver Rush of the 1880s. In her sixth of the series, A Dying Note (April 2018), her main character Inez decided to move to San Francisco. Ann says it surprised her, too.

 

 

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (April 3, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1464209812
ISBN-13: 978-1464209819

 

Have you read any novels by these prolific authors? What did you think?

 

colorado vicki delany

#amwriting 5 Reasons to Write Short Stories

I have been churning out short stories lately and my favorite editor asked me why I was doing short stories rather than working on a novel. I told her that sometimes it pays to focus on short stories.

 

 

5 Reasons to Write Short Stories

1. They are short and not as much of an investment.

I read an article the other day that said writing a novel is like lifting a 500-pound barbell. Novels require a lot of work, both in preparation and writing time.  Authors rarely finish more than one novel a year and some, like Donna Tartt, need a decade per novel.

The best thing about short stories is they don’t take long to write. They are more like lifting a five-pound barbell.  Most people can write 500 -2500 words in a day, which is the average length of a short story. I have been writing for contests where the limits are 3500 -5000 words. If your muse is cooperating, you can finish a first draft in two to four days. Even if a short story pushes the absolute maximum word limit of 25,000 – 30,000 words, it can be completed in a couple of weeks. It feels great to finish a writing project in a compact period of time.

Because a short story isn’t much of an investment, it is also relatively painless to discard it if it doesn’t go as planned. If it doesn’t gel, simply move on to the next project.

In addition, if you’re stuck in a dry spell, one good idea is to do some reading, but another is to work on a short story. Sometimes the small success of finishing a short story can help jump start a larger project.

2. Short stories give you the freedom to stretch your writing muscles.

Writing short stories allows you to try out different styles and genres. I’ve recently written humorous essays, a science fiction/police procedural, and dabbled with metafiction. The latest short story I’m working on is xenofiction, which is told from a non-human point of view.

Back to my editor’s questions. She also asked if practicing the short story techniques and formatting — which are not the same as novel techniques — might interfere with my ability/desire to write a novel. I said no. In fact, writing short stories allows you to play with voice, plot, characters, etc. in ways you wouldn’t want to do with a novel. If your short story not working from a limited third person point of view, it is easy to switch it to first person and compare the results. When the protagonist narrating the story makes the pace drag, try having the antagonist narrate.  If the past tense sounds clunky, try present tense. Mix it up with a perky voice or a snarky one. In a short story you can be brave and have fun being creative.

If you have an idea for a novel, you might want to go ahead and try it out as a short story. Think of it as an extended synopsis. You may be able to detect problems and fix them early on, or even decide it isn’t worth developing.

A writing mentor recently suggested the reverse, to turn a short story into a novel because “novels make more money.” I’m not sure that was good advice, because some ideas are not big enough to carry a full novel. A story line that works for a thirty-second ad is probably not enough for a 10-episode television series.

For another take on this, see How to Make a Short Story into a Long One.

3. Once finished, short stories don’t require as much attention.

One big advantage of short stories is that you don’t have to promote them (unless you publish a collection). You don’t need an agent and you don’t have to do a book tour. You submit to a magazine or a contest, and it’s thumbs up or nothing. If you lose or are rejected, you can polish some more and submit the same piece elsewhere (as long as the contest didn’t take your rights — read the fine print!)  No need to devote months of your life to marketing.

That said, you also might not get as big of a reward. Some contests are costly, and more and more magazines require a reading fee just to submit an article. It is possible with a little research, however, to find reputable contests and magazines that don’t charge fees. An added benefit of writing for contests is that there’s a fixed deadline for submission. Deadlines are great for motivation.

Some authors have had success publishing their short stories directly to eReaders like Kindle, too.

4. Short stories can help build an author’s platform.

You can attract fans to your website, plus build up an email list by offering short stories. It works best if you stick to topics/genres related to your novel(s). Many savvy authors use short research and backstory pieces to entice fans.  Include a few personal essays, which would also appeal to fans who want to find out more about you as an author.

5. Publishing short stories can give you recognition and credentials.

If you do finish your novel, it might be easier to get an agent if you have some published work and particularly, if you’ve won awards. Short stories might give you some much-needed credentials.

Conclusions

Not every writer enjoys writing short stories. For example, some of the famous authors in the short story compilation MatchUp said they were “short story challenged.”   Given all the reasons above, however, the ability to write short stories can be a handy skill to have.

Thanks to Karen for the idea for this blog post.

#amwriting Much Needed Motivation

Need motivation to keep going? This is it:

The Funny Little Errors in The Goldfinch

I have been noting little errors and inconsistencies while reading The Goldfinch, and I thought I’d document them. This doesn’t mean I don’t like the book. I love the book. The quirky flaws make it even more precious to me.

By the way, this isn’t a full review. I haven’t even finished the book yet.

 

The first inconsistency is right on the first page. Main character Theo says he doesn’t know a word of Dutch, then a few sentences away he refers to the people as dames en heren, which is Dutch for ladies and gentlemen. This particular error is probably intentional and tells the alert reader that Theo is a bit of an unreliable narrator.

Later errors are probably not intentional. For example, in the hardcover version on pages 248-249 Theo and his friend Boris go shoplifting at a “discount supermarket” for “…steaks for us, butter, boxes of tea, cucumbers…” Shoplifting at a grocery or convenience store wasn’t an unreasonable scenario, and I didn’t think a thing of it until Donna Tartt reveals the store:  Costco. I burst out laughing. Costco is a mega warehouse store that only sells in bulk. The packages all contain multiple items. You wouldn’t steal a single steak, you’d have to hide an enormous pack of five steaks. Then you’d have to get them past the security check. Costco stations people at the door to look you over and read through your list ticking off your purchases. Let’s just say it isn’t likely Boris and Theo would shoplift at Costco if there were any alternatives, which there were.

My husband does woodworking, so I immediately noticed on page 418 that Hobie is using “cramps” to hold his wood together. British and Australian woodworkers use cramps. In America — and presumably New York City — we call them clamps.

The Bigger Picture

A lot of readers have noted that the drinking age isn’t eighteen as suggested in the book, but is in fact twenty-one. Maybe Tart was channeling her own inner teenager, which was from an earlier time?

Other reviewers have also pointed out errors in the technology used at various points. I’m a bit more forgiving about these because let’s face it, it took the author ten years to write the novel and technology changed so much during that period. With some 771 pages to keep track of, I would be more surprised if she had been able to stay consistent.

To me, all these little imperfections are rather like the scuff marks on a fine piece of antique furniture or the bubbles in a delicate pane of old glass. They give the novel a unique character.

That said, I’d like to let Donna Tartt know that if she needs a fact checker for her next novel, I’d be more than willing to volunteer.

Be Kind To Your Editor: Use The Requested Format

A few weeks ago I won a free 10-page edit from editor and writer September C. Fawkes.  She had offered the giveaway in honor of her 5th blog birthday.

I couldn’t wait to see what she had to offer. In my eagerness to submit the 10 pages, however, I committed a rookie mistake.

Editors often ask you to submit your manuscript in a particular format. In this case she asked for the manuscript in 12 point Courier font, double-spaced (you can see her instructions here).

I usually write in Scrivener, so my work is in 14 point Cochin font. When I transfer to Microsoft Word, my default font is 12 point Times New Roman. In my haste, I forgot to change it to Courier before I hit “send.” Like I said, a beginner-level error.

Why Format Matters

Why Courier? The most important reason is that it is a monospaced font, which means the letters are consistently aligned. Because an editor charges by the page, using a monospaced font helps make sure the page counts are uniform and everyone is charged the same rate.

In this case she was willing to convert the format and complete the edit. If I had submitted to a busy editor who was considering whether or not to publish my work, however, I might have ended up in the reject pile because of my lack of attention to detail.

Anyway, I appreciated the editing opportunity. If you need an editor, you might want to consider Fawkes Editing.  Just be sure your manuscript is in Courier 12 point, and is double-spaced!

#Amwriting And It Isn’t Always Easy

My son’s less-than-serious response to my writing “crisis.”

 

On Creativity And Cat Litter, With Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk

Creativity is a mystery. One day your ideas flow and eight thousand words pour out onto paper in an hour or two. Another time a complete short story arrives at three in the morning, as fast as you can write it down. A few days later, the brakes come on and it is a struggle to write more than a sentence or two. How do you deal with this boom and bust?

Creative Ways To Deal With Creativity Problems

Some writers have come up with coping mechanisms or ways to describe the process that help the words keep coming

For example, Elizabeth Gilbert shares how poet Ruth Stone “captures” a poem.

…she [Ruth] would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. It was like a thunderous train of air and it would come barrelling down at her over the landscape. And when she felt it coming…cause it would shake the earth under her feet, she knew she had only one thing to do at that point. That was to, in her words, “run like hell” to the house as she would be chased by this poem.

The whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page.

 

Gilbert tells the story during this wonderful TED talk about the fickleness of the creativity.

 

Gilbert suggests it helps to develop coping mechanisms like talking to the elusive creative genius in the corner of the room. Whatever works to get rid of the angst.

Describing the process in concrete ways can help, too. Take Shannon Hale’s quote:

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”

Nice sentiment. Unfortunately, my current work in progress feels more like I accidentally shoveled in kitty litter instead of sand.

Ritual

Some writers resort to rituals, like always using the same pen, drinking coffee from the same mug, or sitting in a certain chair. Shortlist reveals authors who stand up or lie down to write. They report Maya Angelou checks into a hotel where everything has been taken off the walls of the room. If I could produce work like hers, I would certainly give that a try.

Relaxing Sounds

Listening to certain repetitive sounds or music can improve focus and boost productivity. Stimulating your senses can get your creative juices flowing, too. YouTube has a number of videos that run from two to three hours with relaxing background sounds. I’m listening to swamp sounds right now. Blizzard winds are nice, too.

Play

Play stimulates creativity in children, why not adults? Try making friends with your inner child. Toss a ball. Play a game. Dress up as your favorite character. Finger paint. Make some actual sand castles. Whatever sounds like fun at the moment.

Get Feedback From Creative People

Although at times negative critiques can freeze up the writing process, look for one of those positive, imaginative people who energize you and bounce some of your questions off them. They just might help you over the hurdles.

Walk, Nap, Etc.

Taking a walk can get the blood flowing to your brain if you’ve been sedentary.

On the other hand, don’t forget that the type of thinking that writing requires takes energy. Take a nap to recharge those batteries. Connecting with your subconscious isn’t a bad thing, either.

According to an article about thinking in Scientific American, Claude Messier of the University of Ottawa writes:

“The brain has a hard time staying focused on just one thing for too long. It’s possible that sustained concentration creates some changes in the brain that promote avoidance of that state. It could be like a timer that says, ‘Okay you’re done now.’ Maybe the brain just doesn’t like to work so hard for so long.”

So, there you go. Give yourself permission for some R and R, and perhaps that fickle organ will produce something worthwhile. If not, you can always go change the cat litter.

Have you ever struggled with creativity? How did you jump start it again?

#BestsellerCode100: A Writer’s Review of The Mill River Recluse

Today we have a review/analysis of The Mill River Recluse by Darcie Chan from a writer’s perspective.

This post contains spoilers.

The Mill River Recluse: A Novel* by Darcie Chan

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Summary:  Mary McAllister is a widow who lives in a white marble mansion on a hill outside of the town of Mill River, Vermont. Past circumstances have left her with severe social anxiety — among other issues — and she has been a recluse for many years. Father Michael O’Brien is her only friend and confidante. As the story progresses, we learn why Mary is trapped in her own house, and what other secrets are being kept in this seemingly quiet community.

If you haven’t read it yet, you might want to visit Karen’s review of this book first. She makes some good points.

 

Photo of a house in Vermont by Mariamichelle via Visualhunt.com

Path to Publishing

The story behind the book is just as heartwarming as the book itself.

The Mill River Recluse is Darcie Chan’s debut novel. She explains her experiences writing and publishing it in “A Letter for the Author” in the back matter.  Many authors will be able to relate to her trials, if not her successes.

After finishing the manuscript for her first novel by writing evenings after work for two and a half years, she found an agent who tried to sell it to traditional publishers. As with many, many first novels, no one was interested and so she put it away in a drawer. (Writers call these first novels “trunk” novels – the ones that sit in a trunk somewhere.)

After several years, Darcie Chan decided to publish her novel as an e-book. She expected only to sell a few hundred copies to her friends, but she set up her social media platform and waited. In a short period of time a major website that promotes e-books reviewed it and her sales took off. Before long  she hit the New York Times Bestseller list. Eventually, Ballatine Books published it in paper form. The rest is history.

Where It Breaks the Rules

Not only did The Mill River Recluse break the rules of publishing, but it also breaks many of the so-called rules for writing.

Genre:

First of all, it doesn’t fit neatly into any one genre. For example,  as Karen pointed out, it has been identified as a psychological thriller, but it really lacks the hard-driving pace and level of conflict of a thriller. It has the softer pace of a mystery, although it doesn’t fit all the requirements of a traditional mystery, either. It has some romantic elements, but they aren’t extensive enough to qualify it as a romance or even romantic suspense. It’s not clear where it fits.

Have you read the book? What genre(s) do you think describe(s) it?

Character Arc:

Another so-called writing rule Darcie Chan breaks is that the characters, particularly the main character, should grow and change throughout the book (called a character arc.) Mary’s major change, which occurs right before she dies, is she lets her daughter Daisy into her life. It isn’t clear, however, this was truly a change. She might have taken in Daisy at any point if she had recognized her earlier.

The fact Mary doesn’t grow substantially is probably due to how Darcie Chan tells the story. The beginning of the book starts with Mary’s death and the rest of Mary’s life is revealed through a series of flashbacks interwoven with scenes from the present. The flashback plot structure can make it difficult to develop a traditional character arc.

On the other hand, Father O’Brien does change at the end, when he donates all his pilfered silver spoons to a charity.

The Ending:

Many genre novels exhibit some form of rising conflict and then resolution/denouement. Again, Chan doesn’t follow the norms. The end is not the resolution of a big conflict, but rather nicely wrapped up gathering of loose ends. The biggest conflict that directly involves the protagonist — between Mary and her husband — occurs at the middle of the book. The second most dramatic conflict centers on minor characters, and has no impact on the protagonist.

Character Development

A few other things stuck out for me about the characters, as well. First, Darcie Chan introduced most of her characters within the first few pages of the book, yet it was all done smoothly and naturally. I can tell you from experience, that is not an easy thing to carry off.

Secondly, Claudia (the teacher) is strongly developed for a secondary character. Her struggles to lose weight and keep it off felt realistic, immediate, and relatable. For example, who couldn’t relate to her hunger and anticipation for a few carrot sticks after class? She was also at the center of the second dramatic climax and that secondary plotline threatened to overtake Mary’s primary one. Given she had such a big role, I wonder if she will appear in a future book?

What did you think of Claudia as a character?

Conclusion:

Darcie Chan’s debut novel The Mill River Recluse took a less-traveled path to becoming a bestseller. Much of her story breaks with writing tradition, as well. Just goes to show that authors don’t have to follow the pack to pen a bestseller.

 

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What are we reading next?

If you ever have questions about what we are reading next or when we’re starting the next discussion, check the 100 Book List tab in the navigation bar at the top of the blog.

The next book is number 94 on the list, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest by Stieg Larsson (Third in a series, originally published in 2007) -Discussion begins January 30, 2017.

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