Melissa M. Frye

Confronting Ugliness | Revealing Beauty

So, What Is Chick Lit, Anyway?

Photo courtesy pear83 and Stock.xchngI found one definition: “Chick lit is genre fiction within women’s fiction which addresses issues of modern women often humorously and lightheartedly.” Wikipedia

If I go by this definition, I’m definitely NOT writing a chick lit novel. There is very little humor and it’s the absolute opposite of lighthearted.

Now, I’m stymied. What genre does my novel fit into. It’s very emotional, tragic, and at times suspenseful. It boils down to this: it’s a story about loss and the different ways we deal or don’t deal with it.

When I asked my CP to describe my writing in one sentence, this is what she said:

Missy’s writing is strong with fleshed out details and characters boasting both tenderness and tension to enlighten and engage.

(Sidenote: I plan to use that on my website, which is in the design stages at the moment and will be unveiled soon.)

Rachelle Gardener wrote Identify Your Novel’s Genre and I took her advice. I looked up a book whose readers would probably like mine. Folks on Amazon labeled it as chick-lit. Huh? I thought chick-lit was lighthearted and humorous.

Next, I looked at a list of genres and crossed off the ones that I KNOW my work doesn’t fit within. For example:

  • Commercial Fiction is usually plot driven and my WIP is more character driven.
  • Literary Fiction is character driven, but I don’t think I have a lyrical writing style.
  • Crime has elements to it that you find in my novel, but that isn’t the focus.
  • Fantasy. Well, I haven’t created any faraway places, mystical lands or fictional creatures
  • Historical Fiction. While the setting is 2010 with flashbacks to 1987, it doesn’t have any other characteristics for that genre.
  • Horror. Nope.
  • Science Fiction. As with Fantasy I’ve not used any technologies to further my story.

I’ve considered using the term thriller to describe my book. There are threats and life and death situations; it never occurred to me that I could write a thriller/suspense novel. There is a bit of mystery. Maybe I could define it as a mystery thriller women’s fiction novel.

How would you define a novel that wrings emotion out of you?

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Review: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

The Pledge
The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Have you ever listened to the weather forecast, expected sunshine and wound up drenched while hiking? We want predictability in our lives, to a degree. It’s disappointing when you expect sunshine and get rain. There is one area of our lives where we absolutely do not want any predicability at all. Our reading lives. When a book is predictable it disappoints us.

In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she’s spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It’s there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she’s never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.

Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can’t be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country’s only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.

Kimberly Derting created an interesting world and she described it so well that I could picture the setting. The characters were interesting and I felt sympathy for them. However, I anticipated every step of the plot. Clues and hints were so obvious that I didn’t hesitate to ‘predict’ what would happen.

The characters could have used more development. It seemed Derting feared to delve too deep into the minds and motivations of her creations. The possibilities for a fantastic story were there, but remained unexecuted.

While The Pledge is written well and created a unobjectionable diversion, it disappointed me on a deeper level.

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A Novel Soundtrack: Writing to Music

Sheet Music & Flowers

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Do you write with music in the background or do you prefer quiet?

As I’ve worked on my current novel, I’ve made playlists to help me with certain aspects. For example, there is a scene that is violent – a young girl is attacked by two men. I listened to Mad Season’s Above. The tone of the entire CD fit the scene and I whipped it out with no interruptions.

For the teenage couple, I created a playlist that included songs that have a mushy and somewhat intense vibe. However, when it came time to put something together for the adult couple I chose upbeat and playful songs. Both playlists helped me write scenes. They allowed me to immerse myself into a feeling and it shows on the page.

I’ve been struggling with the final scenes leading to the climax. Not because I don’t know what I want to happen but because I can’t find the right mood. So, I put together a playlist. It includes music by Kings of Leon, Mumford and Sons, KT Tunstall, Norah Jones, and Smashing Pumpkins. It’s created a surreal mood for me to immerse myself. Exactly what I needed.

Music is a huge part of my novel anyway. It seems natural to write with it in the background.

Do you create playlists to write to and if so, what are they like?

Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reviews of this book contained words like “beautiful” and “poignant.” The market is saturated with paranormal and dark subject matter to the point where I want to distance myself from it. Something about If I Stay called to me.

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, Mia’s story will stay with you for a long, long time.

Beautiful is an apt description. Tragic, heartbreaking, moving and inspiring are also good adjectives to describe this story. Gayle Forman expertly crafted the characters and from the first page, it’s like stepping into a world in which you are already comfortable.

I read this one in just a few hours; putting it down was not an option. It made me laugh. It made me cry. I caught my breath. When I read the last words, I felt bereft; it ended too abruptly. After digesting the story I realized there was no other way for it to end. Perfection.

I struggled between giving this one three or four stars. I liked it a lot, but probably won’t have the desire to read it again. If you like emotional stories with paranormal elements, you’ll love this book.

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Social Media: How Much Is Too Much?

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Recently, I’ve devoted a lot of time to Triberr. I’ve made connections with other writers and enjoy the process of promoting their blogs. That being said, do you think it’s worth the time and effort to do this? In the past, Twitter didn’t work for me. With the help of Triberr, it brings more people to my blog than anything else. Maybe I’ve just learned how to use it to my advantage.

However, I’ve noticed that people mostly tweet the links to my posts without reading the posts themselves. I can’t complain. A few seconds of their time and I get more readers. I’m not that way though. I try to read each article and make the tweet personal. If I read something that goes against my values, I’m not going to promote it. Trust me, titles can be deceiving. I appreciate every one of the people that share my links with their followers, but I sometimes wonder if they know what they are promoting.

There are so many social media gimmicks out there lining up to get your attention. Tons of ways to promote yourself and others. But what really works? I’ve noticed that since Facebook went public, my Author Page has been shortchanged. For some reason, my blog posts are no longer sent there even though I’ve repeatedly set the publicize settings to my page; it instead goes to my personal wall. It’s very frustrating and I’m beginning to think not worth the effort.

I love LinkedIn, but don’t really know how to make it work for me. Goodreads has connected me to some great folks. I’m not sure about Google+…See, the list just keeps growing and I’m not sure spending my time using these social networking tools is worth it. I need time to write. That’s the whole reason for networking in the first place.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

I constantly read articles that say new writers need a web presence. I agree. When a book really captures me, I immediately go looking for the author’s website, blog, twitter account, etc.

This blog is where I state that, “I’m here. I’m a writer. I want you to join my world.” In the past, I owned a blog that gave writing tips and hosted blog tours and it took over my life. There was no time for me, no time for my writing. My goal is to be published. I share my journey here. Is that enough to garner followers?

 

Looking for Short Story Reviewers

I’ve been so focused on writing my novel, that I’ve neglected my short stories. I have self-published two and would love to have more reviews. All feedback helps me grow as a writer:

Abandon CoverAbandon is about a woman whose self-confidence has been battered. After a night hanging out with her teenage niece at a concert, she begins to reclaim her inner strength.

This 2300 word story is available through KDP Select. If you’re interested in reviewing it, email me with your preferred reading format and I’ll send it to you.

Cresta McGowan says, “Abandon, a short story by Missy Frye, takes me back in time to the joviality, passion, and strength of my youth.”

Fool’s Journey is my first attempt at Science Fiction / Fantasy. Maksim Kazakov was a thief by profession. No job was too big or too small. But, when he’s asked to steal a rock with mystical healing powers to save his nephew’s life, it’s more than just a job.

Time isn’t on Maks’ side. His plans are rushed and the stone comes with an unexpected guest. Mystery and magic overtake Maks’ life, convincing him only a fool would take the path he’s following.

This 4200 word story is available for free at Smashwords in multiple reading formats.

I’m looking for honest opinions. You can post reviews on your blog, Amazon, Goodreads or anywhere you regularly contribute articles/reviews. Please send me a link to your reviews, using the contact icon in the sidebar, so I’ll know what you liked or didn’t like. Like I said, your opinions help me grow as a writer.

Forget Me. Let’s Talk About My CP

Image Courtesy pjlittlesinger @ photobucketWell, maybe we’ll talk a little about me too, but only because Cresta is so inspiring. 🙂

You see, she sent me the outline for her new project, a novel. It fascinated me. Not just the story she outlined, but the way she did it.

Confession. I’ve never been good at outlines. That’s why I work with bare bones mini-outlines. Remember, I said I’m a sparse writer. I’m a sparse outliner too. LOL

Maybe it’s because she is a teacher, but Cresta creates a mean outline. Everything she needs to write the novel is right there. The goal, a synopsis of the major plot point/conflict and a list of things that need to happen to accomplish the goal. You know what? I’m going to copy it. For my next project, that is.

Not only did her outline awe me, it opened something up inside me and ideas for the last half of my novel flooded my mind. No more half-assed, just put words on the page for this novel. It’s fully imagined.

For more information about Cresta, visit her blog: Cresta L. McGowan In my own words…(typos and all) or follow her on Twitter: @CMcGowan2010.

Review: Revived by Cat Patrick

Revived
Revived by Cat Patrick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After reading a book you walk away with something, good or not. A good novel shows a character change; the changes may be small in comparison to the surrounding actions, but there is a change none-the-less. Revived by Cat Patrick fulfilled both.

As a little girl, Daisy Appleby was killed in a school bus crash. Moments after the accident, she was brought back to life.

A secret government agency has developed a drug called Revive that can bring people back from the dead, and Daisy Appleby, a test subject, has been Revived five times in fifteen years. Daisy takes extraordinary risks, knowing that she can beat death, but each new death also means a new name, a new city, and a new life. When she meets Matt McKean, Daisy begins to question the moral implications of Revive, and as she discovers the agency’s true goals, she realizes she’s at the center of something much larger — and more sinister — than she ever imagined.

So, what did I walk away with from reading Revived? A sense of kinship with mourners of loved ones. Patrick expertly manipulates emotions. It’s been quite some time since a book has made me shed tears. This one did.

Did the main character change through the course of the story? Definitely. Death held no sense of permanence in her life, because experience showed her it could be defied. Before the end, she realizes how fragile the living form can be.

I really enjoyed reading Revived. It held my attention and surprised me a few times. I found the ease with which Daisy formed a bond with Audrey and Matt to be a stretch, but not totally unbelievable. Despite the emotional response it wrung from me and the intriguing premise, it is not a book that I’ll read again. I recommend it to young adult and science fiction fans. It’s worth reading.

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Review: Hana (Delirium #1.5) by Lauren Oliver

Hana
Hana by Lauren Oliver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anyone that follows this blog knows I fell in love with the Delirium series by Lauren Oliver. It thrilled me to find Hana (Delirium #1.5), but took me a while to read it. I’m glad I finally got around to it.

The summer before they’re supposed to be cured of the ability to love, best friends Lena and Hana begin to drift apart. While Lena shies away from underground music and parties with boys, Hana jumps at her last chance to experience the forbidden. For her, the summer is full of wild music, dancing—and even her first kiss.

But on the surface, Hana must be a model of perfect behavior. She meets her approved match, Fred Hargrove, and glimpses the safe, comfortable life she’ll have with him once they marry. As the date for her cure draws ever closer, Hana desperately misses Lena, wonders how it feels to truly be in love, and is simultaneously terrified of rebelling and of falling into line.

Hana is a fantastic short story that give readers a glimpse of the Delirium world through the eyes of Lena’s best friend. We now know what she was up to while Lena struggled with her feelings for Alex.

It’s perfectly paced and makes me long for Hana’s return. I hope Lauren Oliver includes her in the next installment of the series.

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Course Correction to Include More Tension

Old Maritime Map / Photo by Kriss SzkurlatowskiSo, I sent chapter fifteen to my critique partner and yesterday received her feedback. Now, I need to rethink some things.

You see, I resolved a plot twist and she said, “I’d like to see more tension…” When I thought about it, I realized she’s right. I need to draw it out a bit longer (without being tedious). I love having an astute critique partner. She often makes things more difficult for me (Sorry Cresta), but I know she’s making me a better writer.

While writing this first draft, I’ve discovered I’m a sparse writer. I don’t usually include long summaries (which is good) or dilly-dally before getting to a point. It’s like shopping. When I shop, I know what I’m looking for, I find it and get out. I don’t peruse the merchandise any longer than necessary. My writing is like that too. I know what I want to happen and I make it happen.

After my recent bout of concentration deficiency, I just wanted to get words on the page. I outlined what I wanted to happen, but didn’t really think it through. Now that Cresta has called me on my sloppiness, I can correct my course accordingly.

What about you? Do you have a critique partner that keeps you on your toes? Have you had to make course corrections in your writing?

 

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