Monday, October 16, 2017

A Book Is Born—THE AFTER GLIMPSE


At book clubs I’m often asked where my ideas come from. The concept for THE AFTER GLIMPSE (available now) was first sparked in an ice cream shop in Wethersfield, Connecticut years ago. The owner takes pictures of her patrons and hangs the Polaroid photographs all over the shop, so even the ceiling is covered. I knew somewhere inside that shop existed a picture from when my mom had visited the ice cream shop with us years earlier. When my family went back to the same store years after my mom’s visit, I spent time hunting among the hundreds of pictures for the one the owner took of my mom and my girls. Suddenly, I was overcome with a stab of nostalgia, thinking how cool it’d be if I found the photograph, and my dad, who’d passed away years before my mom visited, somehow materialized in the picture next to my mom.

I found the picture. My dad wasn’t in it.

…and so a book was born.

In the process of writing this book, and now releasing it, I understand how this book is about grief, but it’s also about so much more.

Our lives—every relationship—every interaction counts for something and as one endorser so profoundly put it . . . “maybe there’s more going on around us than we know.”

The After Glimpse is available in paperback and ebook formats—TODAY.



*If you read & enjoy, please consider writing a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Book Outings



In the midst of all that’s chaotic out there I’m thrilled to let you know my novel, The After Glimpse, releases in ONE week! Everything leading up to release day has kept me super busy. Here are a few of the many things I’ve been invested in…

The After Glimpse is now on Goodreads. Tell the world you want to read it by clicking that cool green Want to Read button.

While at soccer practice last week, I had the pure joy of Facetiming with an endearing group of women. They discussed my book, The Short & Sincere Life of Ellory James, and asked me thought-provoking questions related to the book. I was greatly encouraged by my interaction with this Florida book group.

In a few days I’m visiting my first Georgia book club! I can’t wait to see what the group thought of Ellory and Pete. Will let you know how it goes. If you’re a member of a book club interested in discussing any of my books, I’d love to know—and participate. Please reach out!

I’ve begun the initial stages of planning a local Book Release Party for The After Glimpse. Cannot wait to share more details about this in coming weeks.

Another women’s fiction manuscript has captivated my focus. I’m deep in the editing stages. Goal is to pitch this one soon.

Finally, if somehow your eyes skimmed over this before, The After Glimpse releases in ONE WEEK, on Monday, October 16th. I seriously cannot wait for you to get your hands on this one. I’ve been told by more than one person (both have read all of my published works) that this one is their favorite.


Monday, October 2, 2017

Small



I feel small on mornings like this. I’d planned on sharing all of the exciting things I have going on this month, including several book club visits and the release of THE AFTER GLIMPSE, but I’ll save the updates for next week.

Instead I woke to news of the deadliest mass shooting in America.

And my heart atrophies.

Another day I must teach myself to embrace the significance of humanity. There are days I’m certain the world has gone mad, then I remind myself it’s always been this way. Even when my heart falters I will slam up against the madness. In this short time I have here, I’m determined to create a spark against all that breeds pain.

My thoughts and prayers are with the grieving.

“People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it's quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spot blues. Murky darkness. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.” 
–Mark Zusak, The Book Thief



*picture is of the sky this morning when I drove my eldest to school

Monday, September 18, 2017

Write Angry


Something happened yesterday that royally pissed me off. During an away game one of our soccer players fell to the ground injured. Immediately the parents for the opposing team launched an aggressive attack against the ref and his “poor” call after giving us a free kick. Their screaming escalated and was, in my opinion, beyond classless. Our player lie writhing in pain only feet from these parents and they had the audacity to spew about what they believed was an unfair call. Let me shed a little more light on the situation. The ref had made a few questionable calls during the game so far—this was not one of them. Also, the injury didn’t occur during a breakaway. And our player has to get an X-ray for what could be broken fingers.

I seriously kept thinking is this how it’s going to be—the world my kids are going to live in? I think this a lot and it tends to freak me out. I have to mollify myself with the whole be the change self-talk. I maintained self-control and I’m proud of that because every muscle in my body was ordering me to go off on those parents. Instead I took a little walk and breathed.

You could say I was just a tad angry. Rightfully so.

There are plenty of times in life we should be angry. It’s the most appropriate response to injustices we see around us. Someone once told me the things that trigger the most anger in us are signposts, informing us of the issues where we’re most impassioned and positioned to respond—to inflict change.

Here’s where the writing part comes in. I understand the argument for writing sound, for dealing with your emotions before you tap out the first word so your work will be coherent and well-punctuated.

Hogwash.

I say write hot. Three reasons why I stand by this . . .

Passion

When you write angry your passion will be evident in your words—it will seep into every sentence. People will feel that passion and latch onto it. It’ll create emotion in others. Your anger will present people with a choice. Your work will hold up a sign that says I care about this. Will you?

The Geyser Inside

Sometimes you don’t know how strongly you feel about a subject until you begin exploring your feelings on the page. Writing is an optimal way to unleash these untapped emotions. It’s incredible what your impassioned indignation may look like when it’s finally free to spread out and find a home on the page. No matter what it looks like, I guarantee it will demand attention. It also has the potential to introduce you to an assortment of other things you had no idea you were feeling. Hello, geyser inside.

Connection

I didn’t know the parents from my team were bothered by the embarrassing actions of the parents from the other team until I took my little calming walk. It’s then that I heard the comments. Guess what? They were fuming mad too. It’s exactly for this reason that writing hot is important. When you write angry you have the potential to create powerful empathy. You motivate others to care and move to action. You connect with readers.


*All this to say I’ve noticed people seem to get angry at the slightest things anymore. Then they spew like crazy with little self-control. Let’s get angry when anger is merited. Then, let’s follow Toni Morrison’s example. “I get angry about things, then go on and work.”

Monday, September 11, 2017

Spirit-churning

I’m more than a little slammed right now with self-imposed deadlines and life in general. Still, I wanted to inspire you in some small way today. The following three quotes speak to me. 
Hoping they will speak to you today.



The success of love is in the loving—it is not in the result of loving.” Mother Theresa

“Hope is not about proving anything. It's about choosing to believe this one thing, that love is bigger than any grim, bleak shit anyone can throw at us.” ―Anne Lamott, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

“Teach them the quiet words of kindness, to live beyond themselves. Urge them toward excellence, drive them toward gentleness, pull them deep into yourself, pull them upward toward manhood, but softly like an angel arranging clouds. Let your spirit move through them softly.” ―Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides

Monday, August 28, 2017

When a Book Moves In


Balance? I’ve heard this word and it always rings strangely in my ears. This is especially the case when I’m in the midst of a tricky edit or when a rough draft is practically writing itself.

It’s more like triage around here. And I’ve come to accept that and thank God so has my family.

When a book moves in I’m aware of all that goes by the wayside. My methodology to keeping some semblance of balance comes down to this: the important stuff gets done.

Everything else … {shrugs}

Right now I’m not only hosting one book in my brain, I’ve got two roaming around up there making quite a ruckus. Working through edits. Picking up dirty socks. Wiping down streaky mirrors. These characters can make a raging mess. And they love to hog my attention.

I’ve trained them to sleep when my kids are home. They’re not great sleepers. I’ve debated slipping them some NyQuil, but so far it hasn’t come to that. There are some nights they’ve stayed up partying so hard, pinging inside my head until the wee hours, they end up crashing hard during the day. Crazy house guests these books are.

But I suppose I love them and I haven’t yet found a way to kick them out (trust me, I’ve tried). In the meantime, you might see my kid wearing two different types of cleats or you may wonder how long can clean clothes rest on a bedroom floor before they’re considered dirty again.

Some people crave physical order before they’re ready to face the day. For me it’s all about mental order and mental order begins with me preparing my kids for school, kissing them goodbye, then shaking my house guests awake, never knowing what surprises I’m about to encounter

Monday, August 21, 2017

What is a Character Solar Eclipse?


I thought it might be timely to mention a character solar eclipse. We all know, and have read, the ins and outs of what’s going to happen later today. We’ve bought the glasses and lived to tell about it. (I haven’t bought the glasses actually, and I’m just praying I don’t get tempted and stare too long and burn my corneas to a crisp.)

You might be wondering, what the heck is a character solar eclipse? This is the moment in a novel when a character’s secret or dark side is revealed. You grasp their weakness for the first time, perceiving them in all their human glory. The guesswork is gone. They’re outed. Vulnerable to judgement, while at the same time primed for your enthrallment.

A character solar eclipse has the power to magnetize readers to a character forever.

The following are three reasons why authors should create a solar eclipse moment in their novel ~

Oh, the Humanity
The moment a reader is privy to a character’s deep and not-so-pretty internal conflict they are likely to become hooked. Why? Because, at once, the character has become instantly more relatable. We empathize with their doubts, feel their fears, and are up close and personal with their weakness. We feel the struggle. Man, it’s a beautiful thing.

Why, oh Why?
When an author develops a character so fully as to delve into their dark side and intentionally reveal it, they’ve done wonders to help the reader understand the character’s motivation. Every decision the character makes will hinge, in part, on that nagging fear, that raging insecurity, that past mistake . . .

Time to Bite the Nails
A character solar eclipse will cause the reader to ask—will this character overcome? Will they conquer the fear? Slay the doubt? Forgive? As readers, we subconsciously begin to root for the character. A character solar eclipse has a way of creating tension when tension is needed most in a story.

You’re probably aware of the term internal conflict. A character solar eclipse is the moment, the scene when this conflict is realized. It all comes to light, so to speak. Or should I say dark?

Be safe, my friends.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Introducing . . . The After Glimpse



Corrine Boulder, Landon Young, and Aria Glynn share something inexplicable in common. They’ve all lost loved ones two years ago to the day. To the second, in fact. But that’s not the only thing connecting these three.

Their loved ones are resurfacing in photographs taken within the past twenty-four months.

A toddler, a murdered sister, and a beloved dog suddenly begin appearing in photos captured after their last day on earth. Desperate for an explanation, Corrine, Landon, and Aria seek out possible reasons as to why this phenomenon might be occurring. Little manages to put their minds at ease as they wrestle with the implausible potential that maybe their loved ones are still alive.


Bereft of answers, the trio begins to understand that perhaps it’s not why this is happening, but to what end that matters most. 

THE AFTER GLIMPSE ~ available this October!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Window to my Soul


I thought it might be fun to show you my office in our new home. I’m really doing this as an excuse, so I could open up and share a few things you may not guess about me—to let you in a little more. 


Here it is . . . where the magic happens. Or the drivel. Or nothing at all. Here’s one of the rooms where I give my creativity permission to come most alive. I thought I’d share a little about what you’re seeing in this picture.


The fat Shakespeare book. A dear friend I met in Seattle gave this to me. I remember thinking how cool it was she earned her PhD in writing. I look at it as a reminder to keep learning. I also keep it as a visual to remind myself of a college break when I couldn’t make it home, and I sat curled up in my papasan, falling for Shakespeare, the words strumming some untouched territory in my brain. I also happen to think it looks uber-cool in a writer’s office.


The angel girl hanging from the doorknob. A friend from Connecticut gave this to me after I released THE FLOWER GIRLS. This nature-loving angel is my muse. She knows it. I know it, and I still love her even though my dog ate the big blossoming flower off her head.


The keys. I went a little nutty buying anything key-related after the release of my first novella, THE DISAPPEARING KEY. These remind me of the start to my first brave foray out into the world as a published author.


The computer. Hard to say how many times I’ve cried in front of that thing. Over characters. Rejections. Offers. Doubt. Even over my stubborn refusal to quit. Pretty sure I’ve begged that screen to release me. Try as I have, it never works. I’m always seduced back. With more characters and more stories to be told.


The refurbished chair with a stack of books. I love working with furniture and painting anything I can get my hands on and I’m a little addicted to the library.



The picture of my girls walking away in Ogunquit, Maine. I’m in love with this picture. Truly. Because it serves as a reminder of my role in their lives—to teach them how to take their own brave steps in this world, hoping that they’ll always know I’ll be behind them cheering them on every step of the way.

Next week I’m revealing the cover of THE AFTER GLIMPSE!

Monday, July 31, 2017

For the Love of…Feathers

I feel it stronger than I have in quite some time—the creative connection between painting and writing. So, I’m entertaining it. I’m witnessing the cranial Pop Rocks sensation that happens whenever I pick up a paintbrush. For the sake of my writing. And, well, because I love how I feel when I paint. I love how it magically disintegrates stress, while simultaneously opens my mind to new possibilities.

In the past week I’ve gravitated toward feathers. Here are some that floated from my head to the brush.



 
Writers write, yes. (I’m still hard at it on the editing and writing side of things.) But we also get intentional about following the creative. And my creative seems to be released with every glide, small stroke, and wisp of a feather lately.

In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing more about the novel I’m releasing this fall, 
THE AFTER GLIMPSE. 
I can’t wait!!! 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Full Life



I saw this while walking around one of my favorite local shopping centers. 



  
It embodies so much of how I aim to live.

Know that I realize I’ve been somewhat quieter lately. It’s funny in a way because as I’m getting ready to release a new novel this fall I’m finding I have to gear up, I have to ready myself to reenter the noise.

It’s not like I haven’t been busy this summer. In the past week alone I’ve given feedback on two novels for critique partners, as well as a non-fiction health book my friend is publishing soon. I’ve signed kids up for dance and soccer and am still in shock I’m preparing them for school in one week (big change from going back the first week in September). I said goodbye after my mom visited, met up with a family from Connecticut, attended a dynamic dinner party, gone on six mile walks with my husband, painted more drywall (because I really can’t stay away), and worked with the cover designer on my new novel. I wrote 5,000-words of one novel, while editing major sections of another. Oh, and I signed up for a writer’s conference in November. So, yes, I’m keeping active. Behind the scenes for now.

Much like an athlete, I’m feeling myself stretch and prepare to get back out there. It’s been years since I’ve released a book. Even with all of the preparation, it’s easy to forget how daunting it is.

So, when the world rattles or my confidence wavers, I try to remember one thing.


I’m exactly where I’m meant to be. And my life is full.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Can Travel Spark Creativity?


I’m going with a resounding yes. We’ve bounced around our share this summer and every time I find myself in a new city I’m met with surges of fresh ideas. Some of these thoughts involve characters, some plot twists, some career moves, and some promotion, but I’m not sure any would have come to me had I not physically moved to a different location.

I could write a year’s worth of blog post reactions about the book I’m reading. IMAGINE by Jonah Lehrer is my kind of book. It stretches the way I think about how I learn, and how I interpret the world.

I was particularly amused by the section about travel and how it influences our ability to create. Why so fascinated by this? Because in addition to our big move, we’ve also done a load of traveling over the past few months. And I’ve found every time I leave our house I open the door to new material. It’s wild. It’s wonderful.

Lehrer writes, “We need to leave behind everything. One of the most surprising (and pleasurable) ways of
cultivating an outside perspective is through travel, getting away from the places we spend most of our time.” He goes on to say that when we travel ideas that were previously suppressed have an opportunity to surface. New surroundings inspire new thoughts. Travel also encourages us to become more open-minded, or as Lehrer suggests “alive to ambiguity, more willing to realize there are different ways of interpreting the world.” Yes. Yes. And yes.

I still think part of the reason I write stems from my time growing up in Germany. My mom loves to share how as a young kid I’d look at people in an elevator and excitedly speak my own interpretation of German (I was a special child). As an adult, I love learning about other cultures and other ways of living. I no longer go up to people who speak a different language and spout Gibberish, trying to engage in conversation with them. My husband stops me before I try.

I buy into this concept entirely. And I’m not convinced we have to fly to Paris or Rome to thrum the creative juices. Simply stepping out can do wonders. This is why walks can be so instrumental when I’m brain-blocked.

Every time we leave our comfortable nests we’re forced to view the world through a fresh lens.


Traveled anywhere lately? Have you experienced a heightened sense of creativity when you’ve stepped out?

Monday, July 3, 2017

New Digs + A Marvelous & Stirring Summer Read

I moseyed over here the other day to check on a few things only to experience instant shock. The place had been ransacked. Well, not exactly. Spammed is more like it. The second I saw what was going on I knew I needed to swing into action. Which is exactly what I did. And this—what you see around you—is the result of a little rearranging. Now it feels like home. Much like me, it’s a work in progress. Hope you’ll grow comfortable will the new surroundings soon enough.

Now it’s time to tell you about a book I met. Met? Yes, that’s exactly what I meant. Years ago I had the honor of befriending a like-minded author who shares my passion for the craft. I cheered on Emily Bain Murphy from the moment I heard about her story. I encouraged her, and she encouraged me in turn, as we both navigated this grueling industry. I read chapters. We brainstormed plot twists and character motivations. I celebrated when she signed with her agent, then a publishing house. And then came the cover . . . what a stunning work of art! It perfectly suits this marvelously stirring tale. 


Excuse me as I feel a bit like a proud aunt, watching my niece step out for her first dance. She’s going to wow the crowd, this much I know. And here’s the real kicker—it’s because I’m aware of exactly what’s inside. I’ve been incredibly moved to see just how much her mom has poured into her so she’ll turn out this way. With such integrity, finesse, and grace.

If you’ve visited here long enough, you know two things. 1. The place has an entirely new look today. 2. I don’t gush about a book unless I really mean it.

This book will change you. THE DISAPPEARANCES accomplished a magical and rare thing so few books are able to. I entered a world I didn’t want to leave.

Here’s my Goodreads review ~

Seldom do I encounter such a remarkable and stirring book. I can’t decide which aspect of THE DISAPPEARANCES I’m most in love with—the gifted storytelling, the lovable characters, the unique concept, or the way I felt moved along as I read, as though carried upon water.

I can imagine so many things regarding the future of this book…required reading in schools, a movie, babies being named Aila all over the world, or even simply the smiles on people’s faces as they delight in a truly magical and transcending read.

Emily Bain Murphy has created a masterful work of fiction. This mesmeric novel will engage you in a way that will stay with you forever.

Emily, you did it!!!



*see you back here July 17th. Go buy THE DISAPPEARANCES.


Monday, June 26, 2017

The Art of Entertaining Distractions


I’ve gone through seasons of life when I’ve remained laser-focused. I’ve written a novel in a month and turned moving into a job, filling journals with To-Do Lists. In time I’ve discovered I have tenacity of steel.

However, I think it’s also important to share that I’ve wallowed in seasons of distraction (excuse me as I just took the dog out). Whether it’s getting hooked on Breaking Bad on Netflix (a few years late . . . never been one to follow trends) or intimately swept up in all of the details it takes to make a house a home, I’m most vulnerable to get sidetracked when I stop asking myself what matters most.

When it comes to health and family I’ve made a commitment to allot for distractions. Within reason. Someone begging me to inside-out (10 year old code for turn inside out) their socks for soccer doesn’t always constitute an immediate response from me. I’m learning the art of filtering legitimate right here, right now needs from I kinda want it so would you do it for me wants. If I didn’t do this I’m afraid an essential part of me would slowly slip away.

The best way for me to filter—for me to decide if something actually needs my focus is to always come back to that one question—what matters most?

Often cleaning will get pushed off a day. Some conversations will be delayed. Tasks on my To-Do List will not get crossed off.

All of this is okay.

Because I’m intentionally pouring into what matters most.


Some days that’ll be inside outing socks. Some days it’ll be crying during another episode of Breaking Bad because the characters feel strangely familiar and the show provides a great outlet for me to release decade-old hurt nesting inside. Some days it’ll be to listen to my daughter’s latest struggles. And other days it’ll be to write up a storm. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

When It All Comes Together


A getaway, an exceptional meal, and an inspiring book do wonders when it comes to providing clarity. I’ve been seeking a specific decision on something for years. It wasn’t until my family hopped in a car and drove eleven hours away that I received the insight I’ve long awaited.

We first headed to my mom’s, then pushed on to Miami Beach. 



I don’t know if it was all the time I had in the car to think, the change of scenery (not having to do laundry and other mundane tasks that so readily distract), or if being freed up from the pressure of trying to make our recent move make sense and translate as the best thing ever for my kids allotted me the kind of clearheaded thinking I’ve been craving.
  
I could attribute my recent revelations to this five-star meal my family gorged on in Miami Beach. We were treated to some of the best soul food I’ve ever tasted at Yardbird. I’ve dined all over the country and this restaurant is one of my favorites. It wasn’t just a meal, it was an experience. From ambience, to daring and delicious favors . . . I swear this food had something to do with the clouds clearing. (It could have had something to do with that tasty Watermelon Sling drink I ordered. Maybe moonshine really does it for me.)




I also think it had a lot to do with the messages I kept reading in this book. It blessed me with a special dose of inspiration.
  
And now I’m sure you’re sitting there thinking what the heck did she get clarity on and why did it take so much to get her there? I sort of wonder the same about the latter, but I’m here now and that’s what matters.

Where’s here?

I’m ready to say with confidence I will be releasing another book before the end of this year. And I couldn’t be more thrilled. Because I love publishing books. I love when you read them. I love knowing my stories and characters are connecting.

Thank you for reading. I can’t wait to share more!

Until next time . . .

Monday, June 5, 2017

This Place is Buzzing


I love that I moved to a creative hotspot. Last week I had the privilege of spending time with two talented authors. Both imparted wisdom and encouragement. Both are going to take the publishing industry by storm (so excited to be able to witness when that happens).

Today I’m looking forward to getting together with a local writer’s group.

Tomorrow I’m heading to a book launch I’m really exciting about. The book looks fantastic. I’m also eager to meet up with one of the rock star authors who endorsed my latest book.

And last night I spent time with a new neighbor friend who is interested in starting a blog about parenting and gardening. Sold. I want to live in her garden and I related with every single profound thing she said about parenting. I passed on tips, motivators, and inspiration that have helped me over the past eight years I’ve been blogging.

(these beauties are in her yard)


I moved here thinking I was going to be low-key about the whole writing gig. That was my plan. I guess writers just gravitate to one another somehow or I realized that I’m in this for good and these creative souls, well, they’re my people. I need them. And I’m home with them.

Meet you back here again June 19th.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Found My Funny


I was invited to a book launch a few weeks ago that left me in awe. Prosecco poured liberally, prizes and giveaways, talented guest speakers, the fattest blueberries you’ll ever see, but my favorite part was hearing the author read snippets from her book, The Amy Binegar-Kimmes-LyleBook of Failures.

I knew instantly I had to buy the book. Then I reached out to the author.

Between reading the book and connecting with the author I’ve been absolutely spoiled by funny in the past few weeks. Which is exactly what I needed. It’s what the world needs more of. When tragedy dominates the news I tend to slip into a mild funk. Humor is one of the only things that has the ability, the chutzpa, to lift me out of it. And man, oh man, did Amy Lyle’s book bring the funny!

It’s my favorite kind of funny too. Honest, vulnerable, life story humor—candidly shared moments that leave you feeling thankful you’re not alone, as soda (or Prosecco) spurts out your nose after laughing too hard and fast. I read several scenes aloud to my husband. I reread other scenes, certain the author hadn’t just written what she did. I was wrong. Lyle holds nothing back. And I have to say it’s refreshing.

Do yourself (and the world) a favor and buy this book. Read it (and don’t skip over the footnotes…you’ll thank me later).

Go find your funny!


*Happy Memorial Day!

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Necessity to Create


There are days when I’m overwhelmed with a need to create something—anything. This isn’t a rare occurrence either. My fingers itch to make something out of nothing. And sometimes, the more “nothing” the original thing is, the more rewarding the final product. A blank page. An ugly furniture item. An unlikely canvas.

Last Friday, I searched our basement until I found a piece of drywall nearly severed in two. I stood back and put my imagination to work. I decided the drywall would do just fine. I whipped out whatever paints I knew existed in the house. I found inspiration online, then went to town.

Here’s what I painted.







I’m no Michelangelo, but nothing compares to the time I spend creating. A calm sweeps through me, somehow managing to simultaneously settle me and revive me. I’m not ashamed to admit creativity is my sanity.

“I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories . . . Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” 
Ray Bradbury


Monday, May 15, 2017

Personal Space



We recently bought a new TV. And it’s great. It is. However, I’ve noticed something that feels a little strange and I’ve finally put my finger on it. There’s almost too much detail. There are times I click it on and I feel like the actors are hanging out in my living room. It’s taken me a while to adjust. I’ve gleaned something else from this new TV watching experience and it’s mildly off-putting.

The screen doesn’t leave any room for my imagination to kick in. All the pixels and minute details are filled in for me.

This happens in books, too.

I read a cool quote the other day that touches upon this exact point. Annie Proulx emphasizes, “I think it’s important to leave spaces in a story for readers to fill in from their own experience.”

I wholeheartedly agree. An adept novelist gifts the reader with their own reading experience. The act of writing for me is an intensely personal exploration. The act of publishing is a sacrificial process of letting go. Why letting go? Because it’s up to the reader to fill in the gaps, to filter in their own life experiences as they read. The story ultimately becomes theirs to interpret.

The following are indicators an author has neglected to leave enough space for the reader.

Too Many Details
Like my TV, the author has inundated the reader with a litany of details. Every unnecessary one inserted in the story slowly robs the reader of identifying with the plot and/or characters. Details should be chosen wisely. Use them, absolutely. Details can do wonders to bring a book to life. However, make sure not to pixelate the reader to death.

Formulaic
If you’ve read my blog before, you probably know I’m not a huge fan of math. It shouldn’t surprise you then that I also don’t love formulaic writing. It’s another imagination stealer. Plot your heart out. Know where your story is headed, but don’t color-by-number your writing. It limits all that your story can become, at the same time as dulling down the impact for the reader.

Pretty Little Bow Writing
I’m all for an uplifting or satisfying ending that provides resolve for the reader. I think an author does a reader a disservice when they insert a tidy, clean ending or plot path, assuming that’s the only way to do things. Life is muddy. I’m not suggesting authors need to royally screw up the lives of all their characters (although that certainly can help strengthen a plotline). I am suggesting an author will seriously want to consider their motivation for making things pretty. If it’s too pretty and spotless, readers will struggle to identify. Imagination will suffer.

No Room for Reflection
Even in the best suspense novels (especially in the best suspense novels) authors find a way to allow the reader to digest what’s going on. They play with pacing so the reader has a moment to reflect upon what the main character is going through—they’re given an opportunity to really feel it. To empathize. That is the crux of good writing. Nuanced pacing. It’s writer’s gold.

Premature Solutions
Don’t resolve problems too quickly. Let suspense grow yeast-like in the reader’s mind. Give them time to make guesses, to fret, to become more invested in the story. If an author doles out rapid fire solutions the story loses its ability to root inside the reader’s minds. Connection is lost.

I love a realistic, gripping story, but not at the sake of sacrificed imagination. I still want to read and wonder. I want my own memories and moments to fold into the stories I’m reading. It’s difficult for this to occur when an author has unintentionally impeded a story from strumming imagination. Sometimes, as authors, we’re so obsessed with making things communicate as real, we forget to leave space for the reader. It’s worth paying attention to. Your readers will thank you.


A Book Is Born—THE AFTER GLIMPSE

At book clubs I’m often asked where my ideas come from. The concept for THE AFTER GLIMPSE (available now) was first sparked in an ice c...