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Read Like a Writer Book Club

Read Like a Writer Book Club

By Readerly Book Coaching

In which we will read great books, past and present, and look at them through the lens of a writer. What can we learn about great writing from the books we read?
Join us to find out!
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Author Interview with Lisa Williams Kline
Author Interview with Lisa Williams Kline
Subscribe to the Readerly Tea Break Newsletter for more book reviews, writing tips, and more. Lisa is a client who got her publishing deal and I am thrilled for you to hear her story! Lisa Williams Kline is the author of two novels for adults forthcoming in 2023, Between the Sky and the Sea, February 1, 2023 and  Ladies’ Day, a contemporary women’s fiction novel is set to be published in June 2023 Her stories and essays have appeared in Literary Mama, Skirt, Sasee, Carolina Woman, moonShine review, The Press 53 Awards Anthology, Sand Hills Literary Magazine, and Idol Talk, among others. She is also the author of ten novels and a novella for young readers. She lives in Davidson with her veterinarian husband, a cat who can open doors, and a sweet chihuahua who has played Bruiser Woods in Legally Blonde: The Musical. She and her husband treasure frequent visits with their grown daughters and their husbands. You can find her: IG: @lisawilliamskline FB: lisa.kline.566 www.lisawilliamskline.com Link to get your copy of Between the Sky and the Sea
22:51
February 02, 2023
Interview with author L. C. Hayden
Interview with author L. C. Hayden
Find book reviews, writing resources and more at http://readerly.net Get free revision resources from professional book coaches at www.nanonowwhat.com This bonus episode is an interview with Mystery and Thriller author L. C. Hayden.  She discusses her new book AND gives writers some great advice! Connect with L. C. Hayden at www.lchayden.com Buy her books at: http://tinyurl.com/lchaydenbooks NOTE:  this episode was recorded in November, so some references are time sensitive.  You can still find L. C.'s new book and celebrate Native Americans any time...
17:34
December 22, 2022
5. The Appeal
5. The Appeal
Find more reviews and writing resources at http://readerly.net Connect with Terry  at www.terrynorthcutt.com Get great Revision resources for your Nano draft at www.nanonowwhat.com The Appeal by Janice Hallett  Published 2022 (US) by Simon and Schuster.  Published 2021 (UK) Hallett is a London based former magazine editor and journalist.  Genre: Crime/Cozy with an Epistolary Structure  Setting: The “village” is an amateur theatre company in a small town in the UK  Additional Notes and reviews: The Epistolary structure is expanded to include texts, emails (modern letters) and Whats App, plus police reports and more.  It was on many “Best of” lists and awards lists, such as the New Blood Dagger Award, and the NY Times called it witty, indeed it was.  Review: http://www.crimereview.co.uk/page.php/review/9366  Interview in The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/nov/20/the-appeal-writer-janice-hallett-i-wrote-about-bubble-bath-for-15-years  Interview on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_LMMtYaZnM&ab_channel=AMightyBlaze  Theme: How different points of view shape ALL our perceptions. How we never have all the information. How easy it is to misunderstand each other, and of course, the weakness of human nature  Things we thought the author did well as a writer that we would like to emulate:  Maintained tension AND curiosity: She uses all the bits of evidence and the frame to both build tension and maintain the reader’s curiosity. As soon as one questions seems to be answered, there is another one. She was masterful at letting the reader know things that not all of the characters did, in order to keep us invested and cheering for the characters.  Unreliable narrator: With so many unreliable narrators, it is difficult to draw readers in with one. We are too jaded, too suspicious to completely trust any narrator. What she does, to great effect, is to let us first identify with and feel sorry for lonely Issie, and then get annoyed by her, and then just really not like her. But we have to keep reading, to find out what happened. So, it is another form of tension, the narrator is both unreliable AND unlikeable, yet we are compelled to keep reading.  Discussion Questions  NOTE: These are Richard Peck’s Questions from 1978; they still work!  l. What would the story be like if the main character were of the opposite sex?  2. Why is the story set where it is? (Not where is the story set?)  3. If you were to film the story, would you use black and white or color and WHY?  4. If you could not use all of the characters, which would you eliminate and WHY?  5. How is the main character different from you?  6. Would this story make a good TV series? Why/not?  7. What one thing in the story has happened to you?  8. Reread the first paragraph of Chapter 1. What is in it to make you read on? If nothing, why did you continue to read?  9. If you had to design a new cover for the book, what would it look like?  10. What does the title tell you about the book? Does it tell the truth?  Structure Notes: This is an amazing first novel, because it is a very complex structure. It points to a very organized way of writing, since it will have required a lot of thinking and planning to pull off, whether that happened before the first draft or during revision. According to the interview, she did not plan it, but pantsed it and then had to reverse engineer. Upside for writers: Planning and Pantsing BOTH work for a first draft, but you always have to provide structure at some point in the process for the story to work.
39:41
November 29, 2022
4. Dangerous Liaisons
4. Dangerous Liaisons
For free writing resources and more book reviews from Robin, visit http://readerly.net  To see what Terry's up to visit www.terrynorthcutt.com Background Published in 1782 by Durand Neveu Translated into English in 1812 for the first time, though many English people read it in French before that. Genre:  Epistolary Novel, but with the twist of unreliable narrators. Setting: French Aristocracy, Ancien Regime Themes: Deception!  Scheming!  What does it mean to be moral?  What even is morality? Do any of us really have free will? Additional Notes and reviews: This is his only novel It is a departure from previous epistolary novels which were cautionary tales and portrayed the letters as windows to knowing the characters.  In this novel, the letters reveal different sides of characters depending to whom they are written. Reviews: Analysis of Les Liaisons Dangereuses | Paris Update http://www.grubstlodger.uk/2020/10/les-liaisons-dangereuses-at-dr-johnsons.html https://www.jstor.org/stable/3724496 Discussion Questions: Which characters were the most likable and the most unlikeable, why? Did you find yourself “cheering” for any of them during the course of the novel? Who and why? What questions do you think the author was asking about human nature with this novel? Do you think this was an indictment of the aristocracy or not?  Why? What are the motivations for Valmont, Merteuil, Danceny, and Cecile?  Do they get what they want? How does that keep the plot moving? How does the slow revelation of what is going on keep the plot moving? Things we thought the author did well as a writer that we would like to emulate: The Frame:  The narrator pokes in every once in a while to remind the reader of something or to make sure we didn;t miss it.  This serves to keep up the pretense that these are “real” letters found after the fact, but also to make sure we get all the important plot points hiding in the letters. The timeline: is always clear.  The letters are dated and when one goes missing or is late, we are told as the reader by the letter writer.  We are never left trying to figure out where we are in the story Loose Ends:  There are not any.  The reader knows what has befallen all the players by the end.  Some get the consequences they deserve, some do not. The stakes:  Are always clear.  We know what will happen if the schemes are carried out, revealed, successful, unsuccessful.  There is no doubt what all the characters are risking.
36:22
November 09, 2022
3. Apples Never Fall
3. Apples Never Fall
Visit Readerly.net for more reviews and writing resources... Background Published in 2021 by Henry Holt. Moriarty is an Australian Author—this is her ninth novel. Framed as a family thriller/murder, this novel include a mysterious stranger, a disappearance, a suspicious husband/father, and four adult children who all have secrets of their own. Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Domestic Suspense Setting: Australia, the world of Tennis and high stakes sport. Additional Notes and reviews: Interview with Liane Moriarty in the Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/liane-moriarty-writes-womens-fiction-have-a-problem-with-that-she-doesnt/2021/09/09/341ecf80-0b2d-11ec-aea1-42a8138f132a_story.html Review in the Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/liane-moriarty-apples-never-fall/2021/09/16/ef32d662-16f0-11ec-b976-f4a43b740aeb_story.html Review (less complimentary) in The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/sep/17/apples-never-fall-by-liane-moriarty-review-pyrotechnic-family-drama-drawn-low Discussion Questions: Whose version of Joy was the most accurate?  Why?  How did the different views of her help develop her character? Which of the Delaney children did you most empathize with and why? What was each major character’s misbelief? What was Joy’s arc of change?  What about Stan? How did the non-linear nature of the narrative keep the cause and effect chain going without losing steam?
23:41
November 02, 2022
2. The Aspern Papers by Henry James
2. The Aspern Papers by Henry James
Get Free Writing Resources and more book reviews at Readerly.net Background Published in 1888, Novella, later edited by James and reissued. Genre:  Realistic Fiction at the time; today it would be classic or literary Setting is Venice and the story is based on a real life incident involving Claire Clairmont, the mistress of Lord Byron, according to Britannica:  https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Aspern-Papers There is an opera based on the book. Here is a recorded scene from it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HLbDgogBTA In 2019, Julien Lansais adapted it for film, thought the reviews were mostly like this one in the New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/01/14/the-unwise-candor-of-the-aspern-papers Theme:  James is examining the cult of celebrity which got its start during the Regency, but especially in literary circles is in full flower by the 1880s.  One Example of this is the Ireland Shakespeare forgeries of the late 1790s (https://www.christies.com/features/5-minutes-with-the-ireland-shakespeare-forgeries-10219-1.aspx?sc_lang=en#fid-10219) During the 1870s and beyond literary tourism evolves into a booming practice.  https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/9780230369498_3 James places our narrator as an editor who is at once a voyeur and a scholar.  It is unsettling, to say the least. Discussion Questions: Where does the narrator stand in time?  Why do you think James chose this way of telling the story? Why do you think the narrator decides from the beginning to use a pretext in his investigation into the papers?  Why doesn’t he just ask? (5) Why does he fix on the garden as his entree? (11) Do you think he overplayed his hand by agreeing to the high rent so quickly? Why or why not? On page 34, James writes this, ostensibly about Apsern, “His own country after all had had most of his life, and his muse, as they said at that time, was essentially American. That was originally what I had loved him for: that at a period when our native land was nude and crude and provincial, when the famous "atmosphere" it is supposed to lack was not even missed, when literature was lonely there and art and form almost impossible, he had found means to live and write like one of the first; to be free and general and not at all afraid; to feel, understand, and express everything.”  Do you think he is speaking in any way about himself?  He was a longtime expat in Britain and Europe. When did you decide that Tita/Tina was playing him? Why does the narrator underestimate her so? Why does he pretend not to know who the portrait is of, when he specifically asked Tita/Tina about one? Why was he unwilling to marry her after all the rest? What do you think of the resolution? How did James maintain the tension all the way through? Something to think on: Writing books, unless one be a great genius—and even then!—is the last road to fortune. I think there is no more money to be made by literature." James, Henry. The Aspern Papers (p. 62). Kindle Edition.
25:48
November 02, 2022
1. The Anomaly by Herve Le Tellier
1. The Anomaly by Herve Le Tellier
Get more Writing Resources at Readerly.net to write the book you want to read.  Background:  This book was on several “best of” lists for 2021, including the New York Times.  Here is a sampling of reviews and the publisher’s page: Penguin Random House Page about The Anomaly Washington Post Review New York Times Review We all agreed it was a beautifully written book, both Science Fiction AND Literary, with a touch of tongue in cheek humor that made some of the bitter pills of human nature a little easier to swallow. What we loved about Le Tellier’s writing and want to emulate: His ability to weave the backstory in just enough to fill the reader in on the character.  No infodumps here, just clean prose with a Goldilocks amount of backstory to make the reader keep reading and understand what is going on. His ability to seamlessly integrate multiple POV characters AND make us care about them all.  No easy task. His use of foreshadowing was both elegant and subtle. Some of our favorite passages: p. 40-41  “THE FICUS is thirsty. Its brown leaves are so dry they’re curling up; some branches are already dead. Standing there in its plastic pot, it’s the very incarnation of hopelessness, if indeed the word “incarnation” can be applied to a green plant. If someone doesn’t water it soon, David thinks, it’s going to die. In all logic, it must be possible to find a point of no return on the continuous thread of time, an irretrievable tipping point after which nothing and no one could save the ficus. At 5:35 on Thursday afternoon someone waters it and it survives; at 5:36 on Thursday afternoon anyone in the world could show up with a bottle of water and it would be No, babe, sweet of you, thirty seconds ago, I can’t be sure, maybe, but now, what are you thinking, the only cell that could have set the whole thing going again, the final viable eukaryote that could have rallied its neighbors—Come on, guys, let’s see some motivation, let’s have a reaction, fill yourselves up with water, don’t let yourselves go—well, the last of the last has just left us, so you’re here too late, with your pathetic little bottle, ciao ciao. Yes, somewhere on the thread of time.” p. 250  “ No author writes the reader’s book, no reader reads the author’s book. At most, they may have the final period in common.” p. 360  “But I still don’t really like the word ‘destiny.’ It’s just a target that people draw after the fact, in the place where the arrow landed.”
18:05
November 02, 2022
Read Like a Writer Trailer
Read Like a Writer Trailer
Welcome to the Read Like a Writer Book Club! a production of Readerly Book Coaching: http://readerly.net  This podcast will feature book discussions of great novels both past and present through the lens of a writer.  We’ll be deconstructing their work looking for lessons in craft, style, and story so we can apply those lessons to our own works in progress. Some episodes it will just be me, your friendly neighborhood librarian, book lover, teacher, and book coach talking about books I think are beautifully wrought. Here is the framework we will use as we think about the novels we read: We will ask these questions: What are the basic “facts” of the book? Genre Characters—who is the central character? Basic plot events—what is the most important event? Character Arc What does the MC want? What stands in her way? What does she do to overcome this block? What is the POV used by the writer? What is the beginning and the end—is there change over time? What is this book trying to teach/show you about the world? Do you agree with the message of the book?  In other words, has the author done her job convincing you? Choose a passage you find particularly beautiful and analyze it looking at things like rhythm, word choice, metaphors.  What does it teach you about language? What about the author’s writing did you find particularly enjoyable?  What not? I hope you will  join me as we read both for enjoyment and enlightenment; and hopefully have some spirited discussions along the way.  If you want to send in a voice comment for possible inclusion in an episode, please record yourself and provide your name and contact information to readerlybooks@gmail.com .  Use the subject line:  Read Like a Writer Book Club.
02:43
October 05, 2022