And, the Winner Is…

 

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I usually choose the subject for my blogs based on what I am most interested in at the moment or what I want to learn.

Today, I asked myself “Who is the best-selling fiction author of all time?” Here’s what I found out:

Topping the list with 4 billion books sold is Agatha Christe.

Behind her, is Wm. Shakespeare, who sold 2 billion books.

It probably wouldn’t surprise you that Danielle Steele, Sidney Sheldon, JK Rowling, and Dr. Seuss are also in the top ten.

Stephen King has sold 300 million books, Louis L’Amour sold 230 million, and James Patterson sold 150 million.

John Grisham has sold 100 million and is in the top 30, along with Nora Roberts, who sold more than 200 million and CS Lewis, with 100 million in total sales.

(Note: These are original sales. The resale market does not report number of sales for specific authors).

Most of the top sellers are in the Suspense/Detective/Thriller, or Romance categories. 

Most famous authors have written more than 40 books and are American or British.

The person who has written the most fiction books? Spanish writer Corin Tellado is credited with writing over 4,000 Romance novels!!!

Fascinating…daunting…inspiring.

 

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What Makes a Book Worth Reading???

 

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I love to read.

I read a lot of books.

I post a lot of reviews.

When deciding what I liked about a book, I don’t look at things like writing style, typographical errors, or if certain elements showed up at exactly the right number of pages into the book. I’m not reading to be critical of someone else’s work.

I have my reader’s hat on and I am reading for enjoyment or for information. If what I am reading delivers, I am a happy camper.

So, in the case of reading fiction, what is it that makes a book enjoyable for the masses?

Here are a few observations. (Please feel free to write in and add any to the list that I may have forgotten).

I like a book when

  1. I have empathy for the main character, especially if they are the “under-dog” or are hurt or in a difficult situation which they are trying to change.
  2. I value one of the traits he/she has—love, courage, loyalty, etc.
  3. There’s not too much backstory.
  4. There is a nice balance of suspense and humor.
  5. If, by their actions and emotions, the characters seem “real.”
  6. There is enough description so that I can visualize the setting and the characters.
  7. The story doesn’t drag on and on way past when I feel it should have ended.
  8. There is a sentence or two at the end of each scene/chapter that makes me want to read “just one more”—and, often, late into the night. (I just have to find out…)
  9. The story isn’t totally predictable. If it twists and turns, making it a challenge for me to figure it out too readily.
  10. The hero succeeds/“wins.” That doesn’t mean that it must end the way I predicted. In fact, not at all. But, if the hero learns something or is in a better position at the end of the book than when the story began, I am satisfied.

 

Where To Read Good Examples of Flash Fiction

 

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Daily Science Fiction:  Science fiction emailed to you every day!

Every Day Fiction:  This site has been along for a long time. It will send a new story to your inbox every day.

Flash Fiction Chronicles:  This is part of Every Day Fiction. It lists great resources and also has a yearly contest with a cash prize.

Flash Fiction Online: Not free, but it’s worth visiting this one.

50 Word Stories: A good way to break into Flash Fiction. 

Nanoism: A Twitter fiction site.

The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts: For literary types.

Vestal Review: Boasts at being the world’s longest-running flash fiction magazine.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this series of blog posts on Flash Fiction!  

By the way, did you know there is a National Flash Fiction Day??? (Now in its seventh year, it was celebrated on June 16th.)

Flash Fiction Tips

 

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Some reminders before you put pen to paper:

1. Flash fiction shouldn’t be more than 1,000 words.

2.  It is NOT easy to get a whole short story into so few words. It requires a lot of PLANNING and EDITING.

3.  Writing Flash Fiction often takes MORE time than longer works.

4.  Focus on the small moments that shape bigger ideas, rather than on the big ideas.

5.  A good idea is to base Flash Fiction stories on things readers already know, such as myths and fairy tales, for example.

6.  To get your word count down, leave out dialogue attributions and in-depth descriptions.

7.  Focus on one central idea.  

Next week, we’ll finish off the series on Flash Fiction by sharing where you can go to read some good examples of Flash Fiction.

Writing Flash Fiction

 

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My last blog post talked about Flash Fiction and got us ready to address the “How-To-Write-It.”

So, here we go with what I’ve learned about writing Flash Fiction from a real-life pro, David Gaffney:                                                                                                                                      1. Start your story in the middle of the action. You don’t have time in this very short form to set scenes and build character.

 2.  Don’t use too many characters. Excess names and places eat up your word count.

 3. Make sure the ending isn’t at the end. (What?) Give almost all of the information in the first few lines, using the next few paragraphs to take the reader on a journey beneath the surface. This will help you avoid stories with punch-line- type endings. 

4. Make your title short and sweet. Give it punch.

5. Make your last line ring. Remember, it’s not the ending. – but it should make the reader continue to think about the ideas in the story and speculate about what it all meant.

6. Write long, then whittle your story down to the essentials. When you edit, don’t decrease the impact of the story. Choose your words carefully and sparingly. Make each one count!

Next week’s blog post: Flash Fiction Tips.

Flash Fiction

 

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There are many different types of creative writing. 

Let’s look at a relatively new idea called Flash Fiction.  As its name implies, it refers to a very short story ranging in length from 300 words to 1,000 words.

Even though extremely brief, Flash fiction still offers character and plot development. Requirements? It must have a beginning, middle, and an end. (We’ll take a look at this in my next blog and determine how difficult the actual writing of Flash Fiction might be…)

 

Sometimes referred to as the minisaga, microfiction, sudden fiction, the nanotale, micro-story, and the postcard, flash fiction has its roots in fables and parables.

In France, they are called novellas; in China, they are referred to as pocket-size stories, minute-long stories, and the smoke-long story (just long enough to read while smoking a cigarette).

Examples of early Flash Fiction are Aeosop’s Fables in the west and Jataka tales in India. You may be familiar with short stories of the 1930’s, collected in anthologiies, such as The American Short Short Story.

Access to the Internet has enhanced an awareness of flash fiction, with online journals being devoted entirely to the style. Examples are the SmokeLong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Flash Fiction Online and Flash Fiction Magazine.

Social media has enabled a rapid spread of this genre. Such publishers as The Anonymous Writer and The Third Word Press use flash fiction to create stories online.

Learn how to write Flash Fiction in my next blog.

 

Put It In Their Hands

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If you have seen my Facebooks ads, you know that my new book, Simon Says, is finally listed for sale on Amazon. If not, I’d like you to see the blurb from the back cover.

But first, I’d like to share with you what I learned from having Beta Readers involved as part of the final process.

Prior to the final edit,  I sent my Beta Readers the manuscript as an email attachment, along with instructions and a series of questions to focus on while they read. The majority of them read the book—in its unedited form—on their computers. One printed out all 250 pages.

I got the most useful information from the person who printed it out. She held it in her hands (most similar to reading a book) and actually marked on it, leaving comments in the margins.

I remember an author friend of mine making the suggestion several years ago that we put the manuscript on Create Space so we could actually send it to Beta Readers in book form, as proof copies. This would allow them to hold it in their hands, turn actual pages, write in it or flag pages to be referred to on the comment sheet.

At the time, I thought that was a lot of work and expense, but now I can see the value in following my friend’s suggestion. It was immediately obvious to me as I read the feedback from my Beta Readers. (I have written, previously, about the value of using Beta Readers, so if you didn’t see that blog, please retrieve it from the archives).

The reason we involve Beta Readers is so we can use their feedback to improve our final product. So, it is to our best advantage to set up the entire experience so we are able to gather the best possible information.

That being said, Here is my final product, in time for your summer reading:

Abandoned by his father at birth.

Tormented by neighborhood bullies.

Misunderstood by classmates and teachers.

Then, at seventeen, things begin to change for Marcus. 

A victim of years of rejection due to physical abnormalities and social awkwardness, he finds purpose as the result of an unlikely friendship and faith in God through the power of grace. 

But when past disappointments resurface and create roadblocks to his new life, will Marcus find the strength to extend forgiveness to those who mistreat him?

Will he finally experience the love and acceptance that has eluded him for so long?