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L is for Literary Fiction #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about the...

November 19, 2016

Gone With The Wind – Conflict in Writing

by Byddi Lee
English: Cropped screenshot of Vivien Leigh fr...
English: Cropped screenshot of Vivien Leigh from the trailer for the film Gone with the Wind (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Your friend tells you about a recent trip they went on. They arrived safely. The hotel was lovely. They had a nice time, and they came back without incident. Nice. I’m sure that you’re happy for your friend’s good fortune, but if you read a short story or a novel that went like this, chances are you’d get bored pretty quickly.

In stories, we want drama, to hear about things going wrong. We glean satisfaction from how our hero overcomes these challenges. Even in real life, as we share experiences with our friends, aren’t the best stories the ones where disaster strikes? Aren’t the most memorable dinner parties the ones where the waiter spilled the tomato soup all down your white dress, or the time you’d booked a room on the fifth floor in a quaint little hotel that had no elevator or bellhop to carry those huge suitcases you’d packed? Yes, uncomfortable at the time, but for years after you can tell the story and laugh at (or bemoan) the experience. The best stories arise from the crappiest of situations. It’s in our nature to love conflict – especially if we are experiencing it second hand through story.

Conflict is what blocks your character from achieving his goals both short term and long term. Scarlet O’Hara displays many forms of conflict in Gone With The Wind.

Internal Conflict

Scarlet wants to live up to her dear mother’s expectations and be a “great lady,” but Scarlet struggles to achieve this goal because of her willful temperament and impatience. Throughout the book, her true personality is at odds with how she knows she should behave, and when she misbehaves she suffers from remorse. This is internal conflict, though one might argue that its origins stem from external conflicts.

Ashley’s internal conflict is more straightforward. He’s attracted to Scarlet but he loves Melanie. He’s too much of a gentleman to have a full-on affair with Scarlet, but he dreams of her nonetheless.

In most cases, internal conflict arises when the character wants to act upon one emotion or drive but is held back by another. For example, the character might want to go to another city for work or study but doesn’t want to leave a sick parent. The parent may even be urging the character to go, but it is the characters own internal arguments that cause the conflict.

External Conflict

There are three types:

  1. Conflict against another person
  2. Conflict against a group of people (e.g. a government or a society)
  3. Conflict against a non-human source:
    1. Nature
    2. Technology
    3. The supernatural

In Gone With The Wind, Scarlet demonstrates conflict with another person in her relationship with Melanie Wilks. Scarlet wants Ashley but he chooses Melanie, so for Scarlet, Melanie is the enemy. What’s interesting is that Melanie does not reciprocate this animosity, preferring to see Scarlet as a friend.

Conflict between two people usually arises when they are both reaching  for the same goal. The battle to win this prize is what keeps the story interesting. If Scarlet had won and married Ashley with no contest, then lived happily ever after, no-one would have been very interested!

Most of Scarlet’s person-to-person conflict is about Ashley. Even her relationship with Ashley is soaked in conflict, between her wanting him and him fighting her off. Scarlet’s conflict with Rhett is also driven by her obsession with Ashley. Rhett also succinctly outlines Scarlet’s conflict with a group of people, her southern society peers.

As a widow, she longs to wear colorful dresses instead of the mourning black, and Rhett buys her a flashy bonnet. She yearns to dance when she is forbidden to because of mourning, but Rhett wins the right in an auction to ask for a dance, creating scandal.

With Rhett’s encouragement, Scarlet breaks all the rules and becomes a successful business woman, unheard of for a lady of that era, she really shows the conflict between person-and-society. Interestingly, as this conflict deepens her internal conflict lessens as she accepts she’ll never live up to her mother’s standard. At this stage, she is even prepared to throw herself at Ashley.

It is during the aftermath of the war that Gone With The Wind employs conflict between man-and-nature as Scarlet and her crew attempt to farm Tara. She works the fields for the first time to provide for the family, even for the people she is at odds with, like Melanie. This is what makes Scarlet such an interesting heroine. She does the right things, for all the wrong reasons.

At first, it seems ridiculous to think that the conflict between person-and-technology can be illustrated in Gone With The Wind, but there are various instances of where Scarlet has to use transportation to get what she needs. There’s the old cart that Rhett procures for her to take Melanie and the baby to Tara. She has to fight to keep the mule going. Later, she undertakes to drive herself to the mill, leaving her vulnerable to attack, which in turns causes even more strife. In an era where the most advanced transport technology was the horse and cart, I think this qualifies.

Nowadays this conflict can arise from any of our tech gadgets – smartphone, internet, robots – not co-operating with us. Anyone who is not tech savvy can attest to the conflicts that can arise in these scenarios!

Finally, it could be argued that the conflict between person-and-supernatural is really for fantasy and horror genres. This is conflict between a human and a non-human being, like a ghost, a vampire, demons or even a super-being such as a god. As a God-fearing woman, Scarlet is terrified of being condemned to everlasting hell as a result of some of her actions. This is an example of very subtle conflict between person and supernatural.

As writers, every word we write needs to be dripping in conflict. Employing different types of conflict builds interesting layers into your story-telling. Watch for how it is used in anything you read. Without conflict, we’d have no media, news-broadcasts nor stories to tell each other after dinner. When you experience a day full of conflict just think of it as another story to tell, for without that conflict, you’d have no exciting tales!

Byddi Lee grew up in Armagh, Ireland, and moved to Belfast to study Biology at Queen’s University when she was 18. She made Belfast her home for twenty-one years, teaching science and writing for pleasure before returning to Ireland. In 2008 she and her husband moved to San Jose, California where she made writing a full-time career. After the publication of her short story, Death of a Seannachai, she decided it was time to write, March to November, which was published in 2014 and received international acclaim. She and her husband recently relocated to Paris, France where she is working on her second novel. Read about her adventures on her blog We Didn't Come Here for the Grass.

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November 18, 2016

Enjoy a Romance Filled Weekend

What better way to spend a cool fall weekend than curled up under a blanket with a swoon-worthy romance novel. Or perhaps you'd prefer a bit of comedy or danger with your romance? Then check out these 5 recently released romances.

cover Lucas
In a sprint, every millisecond counts.

When you’re waiting for love, those milliseconds can feel like eons.

High school senior Lucas Preston has it all: star of the track team, a scholarship waiting for him, an apartment to himself and a revolving door of girlfriends. He also has an older sister, five younger brothers and a father who relies on him to make sure those brothers don’t kill each other.

His saving grace? Lois “Laney” Sanders, a girl he started to fall in like with when he was just eleven.

A girl who became his best friend, his confidant, his courage.

It took only sixteen clicks and eight seconds for Lucas to realize that his like for Laney had turned into love.
Eight life-changing seconds.

It’s also the exact length of time it took to lose her.

Buy Lucas at Amazon

The happiest day of Payton Lambert's life was the day she graduated high school and watched Bald Knob, Kentucky get smaller and smaller in her rearview mirror. She wanted more for her life than a tiny town where everyone knows your business and you can’t find a decent cup of coffee for at least forty miles. Twelve years later, an unexpected phone call in the middle of the night has her packing up her life in Chicago and racing back home to the one person she ever regretted leaving behind.

Wait, one person?? Make that two. When the hell did Leo Hudson become sheriff of Bald Knob and get so hot? The scrawny Future Farmer of America who followed Payton around like a puppy and could recite cow insemination facts in his sleep is long gone. Leo is still hot on her heels, but now he's wearing a badge and dead set on solving a murder that may or may not involve Payton...along with half the town.

You steal a few wine coolers in high school and make one little comment about cutting off a man's balls when you come home, and suddenly, you're suspected of killing him.

In a town where the biggest crime happened the day Jethro Snell kicked a few of his cows (an honest mistake when you've had a few jars of homemade moonshine), people are pointing fingers, rumors are spreading like wildfire, and Payton swears she's only making out with the sweet-talking, studly sheriff to distract him from the secrets she's keeping.

When you've been tased, peed on by a yippy dog named Bo Jangles, and can't stop picturing what Sheriff Hudson looks like naked, it will be a tough job making everyone agree that...Jed had to die.

Buy Jed Had to Die at Amazon

cover Split
What do you do when you wake up with no memory of what you did last night?

Lucas spent the first half of his life protecting himself from others, but now his own mind is his biggest enemy. He doesn't know what happens when the blackouts overtake him, but he can recall the feelings--the rage, the confusion, the fear. Thankfully the quiet life he's found in Payson, Arizona has kept the darkness at bay. Until his boss's estranged daughter shows up in town, asking questions she shouldn't and sparking a desire Lucas can't control. Getting close to Shyann is the best thing that's ever happened to him, but when his blackouts return, unleashing the truth he's battled so long to hide, he may just lose her forever . . .

Buy Split at Amazon

cover Archer's Voice
When Bree Prescott arrives in the sleepy, lakeside town of Pelion, Maine, she hopes against hope that this is the place where she will finally find the peace she so desperately seeks. On her first day there, her life collides with Archer Hale, an isolated man who holds a secret agony of his own. A man no one else sees.

Archer's Voice is the story of a woman chained to the memory of one horrifying night and the man whose love is the key to her freedom. It is the story of a silent man who lives with an excruciating wound and the woman who helps him find his voice. It is the story of suffering, fate, and the transformative power of love.

Buy Archer's Voice at Amazon

cover Dragon King
Series: The Bride Hunt, Book 3 - a dragon shifter novel

Blaze has loved and lost before. He’s been down that slippery path before and never wants to go there again. Especially not with a human.

It’s a great pity that he has no choice. The problem is that he’s the Fire King, ruler of all four kingdoms. Blaze is expected to have heirs, and the sooner the better. He’ll have to take a human as his mate, one that will bear his young, but he doesn’t have to love her. Blaze plans on handling it like a business transaction. No love, no emotion, no problem.

Buy Dragon King at Amazon

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November 17, 2016

Review: Eye of the Storm by Frank Cavallo

by MK French
August 2016; Dark Serpent/Ravenswood Publishing;
9781535327077; ebook & print (402 pages);
dark fantasy; a free book was provided for this review

Eric Slade, a former Navy SEAL turned TV celebrity, was tasked with taking a team of scientists into a war torn area to look for evidence of strange happenings that resulted in a Neanderthal wearing ancient Roman armor attacking a team of soldiers. Unfortunately, the team is caught up in a rift in space and time. Trapped in a different dimension and trying to survive, ultimately he and the anthropologist Dr. Anna Fayne are the only two survivors of the expedition. They are soon involved in a conflict much bigger than the two of them: a wizard with an army of undead fighting a Neanderthal queen and her tribes for hidden artifacts. These artifacts could control the Eye of the Storm, the swirling mass of black fire that had brought all of them to that dimension. It's dangerous for everyone involved, and no one truly knows who to trust.

So much is happening in this book. There is the political intrigue within the Neanderthal court, and all of the jockeying for position that would come with the ascension of a new sovereign, as well as behind the scenes machinations from people that the Neanderthals had enslaved. Then there are the Estrucians, who for all intents and purposes had been turned into zombies fueled by the black fire.

The story is cut into short chapters with different sections, and some of the transitions between sections feel abrupt. There are mentions of time passing between the sections, and the events in between are glossed over. Characterization is a bit thin in the beginning, but once the cast of characters thins out a bit, it's easier to track them and how they develop.

Of course, our main characters are embroiled in the war and political machinations right away, but it also seems very contrived on the wizard's end. He had advisors that he worked with for years. Why would he suddenly take a shine to a stranger? It makes sense why Eric would ultimately be trusted, as he saved the Queen's life and helped kill one of the leaders of the coup. There are a lot of coincidences for the sake of plot, but they're easy to overlook while reading. Minor spelling errors are present (peek instead of peak, for example) but, for the most part, aren't jarring. The ending seemed a bit abrupt, but it did make sense to the story.

Buy Eye of the Storm at Amazon

MK French, reviewer. Born and raised in New York City, M.K. started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

November 16, 2016

Reviews: Circle of Trust by Jacqueline Simon Gunn

by Susan Roberts
June 2016; 9781533259189;
ebook & print (376 pages); thrillers
a free book was provided by the author for
this review

'Sometimes the closer you are to the truth, the harder it is to see.'

A gruesome murder...

Radio psychologist Jacob Temple is found dead on the floor of his den. A gaping wound in his neck, lacerations crisscrossing his chest, a fork bored into each eye.

No break-in. No evidence.

Bouncing back and forth in time, the story of Jacob Temple's life unfolds as told by the people closest to him, particularly his ex-girlfriend Jane Light, who has been stalking Jacob for nineteen years, ever since he left her. Still reeling from her boyfriend Noah's murder, Kadee Carlisle works alongside Detectives Poole and Gibbs to unravel the facts behind Jacob Temple's life and death. As time ticks away, Kadee struggles to reconcile her conflicted feelings about her own past--and present--and their ominous parallels to the Temple case.

Circle of Trust is the second book in the Close Enough to Kill series. You need to read this trilogy in order to avoid confusion. There were numerous references in this book to the plot in book 1 and even though I enjoyed book 2, I think it would have been much better if I had read book 1 first.

Circle of Trust is a psychological thriller of the best kind. Characters trust people that they think are their friend, while as readers, we know that they are their worst enemies. There are many twists and turns in the plot and it ends with a surprising cliffhanger. Book 3 - Circle of Truth is due out before year-end so readers don't have to wait too long.

The author is a clinical psychologist and it shines through this novel as she looks into the minds and motivations of the characters.

I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading books 1 and 3.

About the Author:  Jacqueline Simon Gunn is a Manhattan-based clinical psychologist and writer. She has authored two non-fiction books, and co-authored two others. She has published many articles, both scholarly and mainstream, and currently writes for Lifetime Daily. With her academic and clinical experience in forensic psychology, Gunn is now writing fiction in the thriller/mystery genre. Circle of Trust is the second book in her Close Enough to Kill series, which explores the delicate line between passion and obsession, love and hate, and offers readers an elaborate look into the mind of a murderer.

In addition to her clinical practice and writing, Gunn is an avid runner. Gunn is currently working on multiple writing projects, including the third book in her trilogy.

Buy Circle of Trust at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Car when she isn't traveling.  She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and helping to take care of their grandson.  Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.

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November 15, 2016

Review: Pigeon Blood Red by Ed Duncan

by MK French
September 2016; 978-0692769478;
ebook and print (250 pages); mystery, thriller
a free book was provided for this review

Rico is a Chicago enforcer that takes his job seriously. No one is exempt from suspicion, not even his girlfriend. When tasked with the job to retrieve a pigeon blood red necklace that was stolen, he believed it to be a simple job. However, he isn't able to retrieve the necklace, the murders were very public, and the innocent people that he has to hunt down manage to stay one step ahead of him. He has a strong sense of right and wrong despite his job as an enforcer, and at the end, he has to figure out exactly where his loyalties lie.

The main plot of the story is very tightly written. There are flashback chapters or parts of chapters thrown into the mix that do bog down the pace of the action. We get an entire chapter of backstory for the necklace when an offhand comment by Litvak's bodyguard about two-thirds of the way through the book, for example, and it really wasn't necessary to know where Litvak got it. All we needed to know that the ruby necklace is priceless, Litvak wanted it, and Rico had to get it back. There were chapters on others' backstories that really didn't need to be delved into at such depth in that part of the plot. The characters could have talked about it instead if it was relevant, and some of it actually wasn't.

I enjoyed the pacing of the action sequences, even in the side-plots that weren't necessary to the main story. Part of the book takes place in Honolulu, and the descriptions of the hotel and luau were fantastic. The characters were more like caricatures for parts of the story, which is rather in keeping with action movies you would see in the theater. It's a nice and fast read and doesn't need too much emotional attachment.

Buy Pigeon Blood Red at Amazon

MK French, reviewer. Born and raised in New York City, M.K. started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

November 14, 2016

Brantwijn Serrah: 13 Fun Facts about The Pact #MondayBlogs

  1. Serenity is arachnophobic. She hates, and is terrified of, scorpions.
  2. Though The Pact is set in the fictional world of Geiral, it is meant to reflect the American west, roughly circa 1865.
  3. The runes are real. At least, they reflect the real-world Norse futhark, which is sometimes used for divination and spiritual guidance. What Serenity does with these runes, well...obviously, I’ve taken a bit of license.
  4. Serenity’s teacher, Rook, is tribal. The tribal culture of Geiral is roughly based on a combination of real-world Scottish highlanders, indigenous American peoples, and overall inspired by the fictional race of the cheysuli, from Jennifer Roberson’s Cheysuli Chronicles.
  5. Most of the characters in The Pact, and its subsequent stories, are based on people I know. Many are characters originally played by myself and others in one of our many roleplaying campaigns, spanning games like Deadlands, Cyberpunk 2020, Dungeons & Dragons, and several homebrew games.
  6. Runes are not the only magical teachings in the world of Geiral, and Serenity is not the only one who will display a great deal of prowess with her chosen style of magic.
  7. The map of Geiral is originally based on a map of Asia.
  8. One of the very minor, almost throwaway characters in the first book ends up becoming one of the most important figures in the series.
  9. While Serenity is very good at almost any type of runic magic, she has virtually no talent when it comes to healing magic. These spells rarely ever work for her.
  10. It may seem like Serenity’s strongest talent is in destructive or combat-based magic, but this isn’t so. She’s actually most gifted in divination and visions.
  11. Over the course of the series, several characters draw cards or rune stones for divining elements of the future, or lessons they are meant to take from the circumstances they find themselves in. Every one of these draws is a real draw! Each time a draw came up during the writing process, I stopped to consult my own rune cards or rune stones, and whatever I drew, that’s what appears in the story.
  12. Serenity’s favorite animals are horses.
  13. The series is currently set to be 7 books long, plus one “side quest” book which explores stories of some of the supporting characters.

Buy The Pact at Amazon

About the Author:
When she isn't visiting the worlds of immortals, demons, dragons and goblins, Brantwijn fills  her time with artistic endeavors: sketching, painting, customizing My Little Ponies and sewing plushies for friends. She can't handle coffee unless there's enough cream and sugar to make it a milkshake, but try and sweeten her tea and she will never forgive you. She moonlights as a futon for four lazy cats, loves tabletop role-play games, and can spend hours on end sketching characters and scenes in her secret notebooks.

Facebook  *  Goodreads  *  Amazon  *  Google+  *  YouTube Channel  *  Foreplay and Fangs  *  Blog  *  Twitter

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: The views, opinions, and beliefs expressed by guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

November 13, 2016

Books for Keeps Book and Fund Drive

by Donna Huber

I wanted to give you an update on the book/fund drive we are doing with Books for Keeps, an Athens, Georgia-based literacy charity. Books For Keeps hopes to provide low-income children in 11 schools with books that they take home and keep forever. They are projecting they need 75,000 books so that all children in these schools can take home 12 books when school ends in the spring.

I would love for Girl Who Reads readers to provide a whole classroom with books. Will you help us reach our goal?

You can help in two ways.

  1. Donate gently used books. I'm collecting books between now and Dec. 19. You can email me at donna (at) and I will send the address to send the books. We received our  first shipment of donated books this week!
    donated books
  2. Donate money. Instead of donating new books, you can make a financial donation and they will stretch your dollars farther with special discount rates they have secured with publishers and distributors. For example, a $10 donation can buy 3 Wimpy Kid books. To donate: Donate via the Books for Keeps website, and make sure to select "Girl Who Reads campaign" under the donation designation field (found below the Payment Information section).
On Tuesday, November 29, all monetary gifts are matched dollar for dollar, up to $5,000. Donate today!
For more details, read the original post about the book drive.

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