Writer vs. Reader

9781786490810I’ve been thinking about reading in terms of the writer reading vs. the reader reading. I believe writers reading stories interpret the plot, characters, and overall arch of a book differently than readers do. While some readers are very savvy about plot structure, character development, etc., especially if they belong to a book club that dissects the novel for deeper insight, I think once one has written a book, the storyline takes on a new light. Key points, framework, and story design flag the writer’s mind as s/he is reading it, details that may go unnoticed by the reader.

Prompting this reflection was a book I recently read, All the Missing Girls, by Megan Miranda. I’m not giving an official review here, though I would rate it 4 stars. It was well written, intriguing, and I enjoyed the unusual format of it. However, it was the unusual format of the book that annoyed the heck out of me. Miranda wrote the story line in reverse. It’s not a new concept, and it’s also a difficult one to pull off. I do give Miranda a two thumbs up for that endeavor – it was clever, and I think for the reader reading it, it was probably fresh and original. But for the writer reading it, it was a nightmare.

I had a difficult time focusing on the timeline of events in the story because my writer mind was trying to piece together a timeline that worked opposite of what most storylines follow. The entire process of tests, trials, challenge one – obstacle two, climax, epiphany, resolution, didn’t parallel with how most stories begin, proceed, and end, because I was constantly thinking, this hasn’t happened yet, and yet it has. I know the reader is saying, Exactly! That was the whole point! But no. It’s wrong.

If the story were put in reverse, how it would have actually happened, it makes no sense. It would be a flat, odd, and illogical storyline. The climax, the heart of the story, happened the very next day following the main character’s arrival in her hometown. Everything that happened afterward decreased in conflict and didn’t feel rational as far as character behavior went, but when you right a backwards story in reverse, I guess you achieve the usual format, even though the story is still backwards.

After the initial climax the first day, characters would have mentioned the climatic even in future conversations, which never happened because it would have obviously given away the climax at the end. You can’t have a catastrophic event occur between two characters, and then never mention it in future conversations. It isn’t realistic. But because these situations took place at the beginning of the book, even though it was the past/end, they had to be left out. See what I mean?

It’s difficult to give examples in the book without spoilers, so I won’t go into them. While I would recommend All the Missing Girls for a good read, I would not recommend writing like this. There is a reason every story under the sun follows a rough format, because it is Universally logical for situations to go through an initial trigger, struggle, inner resolution, climax, the end. That is the structure of a story. Writing in reverse often damages the inner workings of a story. I’m not claiming that every story in reverse is bad or wrong. I’ve read a short story done in reverse which I thought was brilliant, but like I said, it is difficult to pull off, like second person POV.

For me, I would have enjoyed the story more had the timeline been set up with the climatic situation actually happening in the future as a new discovery rather than in reverse occurring in the past. This probably only makes sense if you’ve read it. Give it a try. Either way, it’s at least an entertaining read, to the writer and the reader.

Story Acceptance: Below the Stairs – Tales from the Cellar

I’m very pleased to say that my short story, “The Bone Vine,” has been accepted into the anthology, Below the Stairs – Tales from the Cellar, edited by Steve Dillon. This is the second themed anthology in the Things from the Well series. Authors in this anthology include Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, Mark Allan Gunnells, Paul Kane, H.P. Lovecraft, and many more. Here’s a short blurb of “below the stairsThe Bone Vine”:

Donny scrunched his face tight as if attempting to squeeze through a small space. His hand twitched and twisted. He wrenched down and in one swift motion, jerked his fist from his mouth in a spray of blood. Meg wheezed in a hard breath and swung her head from the window, struggling to sort out in her mind exactly what just happened. When she turned back to the window, Donny held a bloody tooth out to Justin. His hearty grin leaked red spittle from the side of his mouth. Justin backed away from Donny, who spat into a garbage can at the corner of the room and walked over to the thing on the wall.
He pressed his tooth into its structure.
No, Meg thought, kicking at the realization that surfaced in her mind—bones.
The thing was made of bones.

Publication date to be announced soon. Meanwhile, check out the first anthology in the series, Between the Tracks – Tales from the Ghost Train.

Review: Girl of Great Price, by Milo James Fowler

Busted through your summer reading list? Why not add one more and make it Girl of Great Price, by Milo James Fowler. It’s a quick, fun, and entertaining read. Another well-written sequel from the case files of Charlie Madison.

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Review for Girl of Great Price, by Milo James Fowler
 – Erin Cole

Detective Charlie Madison is at it again, taking another case that could get him killed. Clients Mr. and Mrs. Jarhead seek out Charlie’s help, pleading for him to find their kidnapped daughter, Mao. Charlie fears the worst, that if she’s not working for Ivan’s thugs, she’s swimming with the fishes.

In need of money, Charlie takes on the challenge, but who should he turn to first? Ivan’s got eyes and ears all over the city, and tipping off the wrong person might turn him into a lead-studded corpse. What Charlie didn’t expect was for Ivan to hire him to do the job he had already taken on.

Fortunately, Charlie’s as quick as whip, and an offer like that spells decoy. Charlie knows there’s more to Mao than simply another kidnapped child. There must be something special about Mao if Ivan the Terrible is involved, and Charlie’s the only one who can save her from the evil and greed of many.

In another classic futuristic noir, Fowler spins a fast and entertaining read. There’s plenty of action, wit and mystery to keep the reader turning the pages, wondering what trap Charlie will find himself in next. I enjoyed seeing characters from Immaterial Evidence, Russian mobster, Ivan the Terrible, whose control still stretches throughout the United World, his beautiful secretary, Wanda, and even his old captain, Sergeant Archibald Douglass. I look forward to reading other stories in this delightful series.

Purchase at Amazon.

Solar Eclipse = Free Kindle Books

To celebrate the solar eclipse, I’m giving away three Kindle downloads on Amazon starting August 21-22. One of them is my latest novella, The Blood Berries. Don’t miss the event!

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THE BLOOD BERRIES, a novella by Erin Cole

the-blood-berries-12-20The year is 2105, global deglaciation. The Alaskan region is a cluster of dark mountain peaks scattered across glacial melt. Dr. Samantha Marks and her research team embark on an expedition to study species adaptation in response to climate change, and the possible dispersal of a new parasitic species having migrated continents. After a catastrophic storm sinks the team’s research vessel, they find themselves stranded among one of Alaska’s coldest and darkest islands. While the island at first seems uninhabited, the team soon discovers they are not alone. One by one, members of the team disappear and never return. Dr. Samantha Marks realizes her expedition in species adaptation isn’t compromised–it’s just begun, and she’ll become a first-hand witness to it. Species adapt. And adapt. And adapt.

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GRAVE ECHOES, a novel by Erin Cole

Grave Echoes 2-11-15 GhostlyThe nightmare is real…
Kate Waters suffers from narcoleptic hallucinations, which recently involve her unreachable sister, Jev, and a mysterious key. When Kate receives the terrible news concerning Jev’s fatal car accident and acquires the mysterious key from her visions, she unlocks her sister’s world of perilous secrets involving witchcraft, poltergeist, and a heartless killer determined to get back what is his.

The danger lies in whom to trust…
Terrifying paranormal encounters, a trailing wolf, and an attempted murder of one of Jev’s friends, forces Kate to turn to the one she fears most, the priestess of Jev’s coven, Thea. She challenges Kate’s beliefs and provides her vital clues about her sister’s murder, but will Kate overcome her fears before anyone else dies? To do so, she will have to trust in a world where the possibilities are unbelievable and the consequences are deadly.

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BETWEEN FEATHERS & FINS, a short story collection, by Erin Cole

Between Feathers and Fins~ A witch casts a spell to lure a heart, but the one who appears hopes to steal her soul.
~ A mother works against time to save her child for when the Others invade.
~ A villager finds herself lost in a forest, only to surrender to the true path of wisdom.
~ A young girl learns that the sliver in her palm is no sliver, but something buried beneath her skin.
~ A ghost in the sea struggles to find her way home in the endless, deep blue.
At 10K, this collection of flash fiction and short stories by Erin Cole will lead you into the savage hauntings and restless fears that plague the females in them. From ghosts to mermaids, witches to beasts, ‘Between Feathers and Fins’ is an imaginative collection of dark and strange stories you won’t soon forget.

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HAPPY SOLAR ECLIPSE! Play it safe, wear your shades.

Bonnie and Clyde: Resurrection Road

I’ll admit – if I could cross lives with Bonnie and Clyde, I just might. Given the right night, who’s watching the kids, and the proper planetary alignment, who wouldn’t want to go out guns-a-blazen with a life partner in crime?

But wait…maybe that’s not how it happened at all.

Writer friends Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays have rewritten the Bonnie and Clyde legend with their own adventure of mayhem, murder, and yes, mobsters. It’s the 1930’s, Roosevelt is President, and strangely, times aren’t so different…

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BONNIE and CLYDE: RESURRECTION ROAD, a review by Erin Cole

Get ready for a thrilling and adventurous ride with Bonnie and Clyde: Resurrection Road. Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays have done it again, smashing genre boundaries like it’s nobody’s business with their latest book that blends speculative historical with mystery, political, noir.

The story begins with a fantastic twist: what if Bonnie and Clyde never died in the notorious, bullet-riddled car?

Fast-forwarding into Bonnie’s AARP years, Mrs. Parker retells her story of romance and havoc with none other than Clyde Barrow to a reporter, Royce, in the hopes of discovering who they were really working for over the last few decades—a secret organization in need of talent and skills to save President Roosevelt from an imminent assassination. Boss lady, Sal, sees the right mix of potential in Bonnie and Clyde, steals them away from the ambush in Louisiana, and the adventure burns rubber from there.

Forced to do the job Sal demands, or be killed, Bonnie and Clyde go undercover and take on the assassination plot. But who are they really working for? And are the assassinators, a group of Wall Street thugs referred to as the ‘barons’ really the bad guys? Teams get crossed, jobs get jumbled, and Bonnie and Clyde no longer know if they themselves are good or bad.

Throw into the mix a political movement that parallels today’s issues, and Resurrection Road becomes one fantastical and entertaining read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The writing is exceptional, witty, steamy at times, comical, and a fast-paced blend of great fiction. Join in the smack-talking, gun slinging, bank-robbing journey and pick up Resurrection Road today! It’s truly another gem in the McFalls – Hays dyad.


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