Gary Guinn

Literature of the Ozarks

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 6)

Site Beginner–Building a Web Page, a great resource for writers

Site Beginner:

Hailey Stratton recently made me aware of her website, Site Beginner. She has made available a really thorough and user-friendly process  to help you set up your own website. It seems to be geared toward true beginners, giving step-by-step instructions, with good illustrations/examples. The page is titled “How to Make a Website: A Complete Guide for Beginners.” Generic Photo

If you have been thinking about setting up a personal or professional page, this might be just what you need to be able to do it yourself. You don’t have to be a computer guru to follow these instructions.

The Link:

See the page here, on my Writers Resource Page.

Good luck with your site.

Cursed, by Thomas Enger, a Review

I just finished reading a really good novel, sort of. Thomas Enger‘s novel Cursed is a good read. The characters are very human and engaging. I liked them and felt their pain and their (occasional) happiness. This was my first Enger novel, and I found his style attractive, above the average for the genre. But then, most Scandinavian crime writers are above average in their writing style. And their settings are dark and brooding, which I like in a crime novel. Their material is often referred to as Nordic NoirBook Cover, Cursed, by Thomas Enger

This novel develops three narrative arcs. First, the murder of a Swedish farmer and the disappearance of the adult daughter in a wealthy real estate family. As the novel progresses, the family’s dark secrets are gradually revealed. Second, the triangular relationships of journalist Henning Juul, his ex-partner Nora, also a journalist, and their colleague Iver. Henning and Nora have split up after losing their young son in an intentionally set fire. Nora is now in a relationship with Iver and is pregnant by him. And third, Henning’s attempt to find the person responsible for his son’s death. He is tortured by love for Nora and by the death of their son. Meanwhile, Nora is investigating the disappearance of the young woman, whom she knew in college. All three of these plot threads are handled beautifully as they are gradually intertwined and come together in the intense final chapters.

This is the fourth in Enger’s Henning Juul series, and the book seemed to function perfectly as a stand-alone novel, until I got to the final page. The ending was abrupt and dropped such a bizarre surprise, that I was confounded. I can only assume that it might make sense if I had read the earlier novels in the series. Perhaps someone who has read the earlier novels could confirm that for me. I confess that I liked the material enough that I will probably go back and try the earlier novels myself.

Am I in Your Book? Writing Characters from Real Places into Fiction

This is a guest blog post, purely tongue-in-cheek, I did Monday for Darlene Fredette’s blog Finding the Write Words. It considers the ways people respond to being made characters in fiction. It was written for other writers, but I think you’ll enjoy it.


Am I In Your Book?

When was the last time someone asked you, “Am I in your book?” It’s a reasonable question. Writers often use real people as models for characters in a novel. It’s a pretty good way to get back at the ex. The person who asks you the question might be excited about the possibility of being in the book, or she might be a little scared about how you describe the character modeled on her. It’s scary to think that you might be recognizable as the bitchy neighbor or the gossip down the street.

For the setting of my mystery/thriller novel Sacrificial Lam [Available Here], I used the small college campus where I taught for many years. Word soon got out to my old colleagues—faculty and administration—and to the many alumni to whom I am connected on line. The question began to appear in my inbox—“Am I in your book?”  Book Cover for Sacrificial Lam

One morning I stopped by my favorite coffee shop, Pour Jon’s, and as I waited for my vanilla latte, inhaling the rich odor of dark beans being ground, I noticed the college chaplain sitting in a booth by the stairs. He waved and smiled. “I heard about your book,” he said. “Does it have an evil chaplain in it?” The book does not, in fact, have a chaplain in it at all, but I thought that’s an idea. So I said, “No, but he may show up in the next book in the series.” I couldn’t tell whether he was disappointed or gratified.

A couple of days later, the college choral director and chair of the Music Department responded to my Facebook promotion with, “Is there a creepy choral director in your book?” Again, the book does not, in fact, have a choral director at all, but again I thought not a bad idea. So I said, “No, but he may show up in the next book in the series.” I happen to know this choral director pretty well. We used to play golf together once a week. In his case I was pretty certain that he was both disappointed that he wasn’t in the novel and gratified that I would surely put him in the next one.

I did put a few of my old colleagues in the novel, not particularly well disguised, just for fun. One of them, a psychologist, read parts of an early draft to check its validity and give me ideas for types of disorders. But after talking to the chaplain and the choral director, I started imagining how I would respond to certain people when they popped the question.

What would I say if the college president saw me at the local Tai café and said, “Is there a diabolical college president in your novel?” Since I’m retired now and don’t have to worry about my job, I could say, “No, I was afraid you would sue the pants off me for defamation of character.” He was a lawyer in a previous life, Harvard Law School, in fact.

What if the CFO, the Chief Financial Officer, saw me at the bank, standing in line to make a deposit, and said, “Is there a conniving CFO in your novel?” I could say, “No, but for a price I can make you the hero of the next book in the series.” A ludicrous attempt to solicit a bribe, you might say, but worth a try.

I’m beginning to see the real value of the question, “Am I in your novel?” It could become the wellspring of concepts for future books. Or it could become a vehicle for revenge. And if I’m really lucky, it could be the goose that lays the golden egg. I can live with that.

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