Tag: Hallie Ephron

Hallie Ephron

Seducing Readers: The Slow- Burn Traditional Mystery

I’ll start by saying I love a traditional mystery, one that was called a “slow burn” by author Sarah Hilary on Twitter when she recently lamented, “Please can we bring back the slow burn for books, TV, film, etc. I feel this frantic push for thrills and twists is killing the art of involvement. And I really struggle to remember those kinds of stories/shows whereas the slow burners stay with me.” Amen to that, Sarah. I was surprised to see how many people engaged in the conversation and supported the slow burn, which I have also called the slow dance and the slow simmer.             My husband and I are both insatiable readers but rarely do we like the same book. It’s almost by definition that if he likes a book, I won’t. The exceptions are when there is a traditional mystery so compelling, he can dispense with the plastic explosives, assault rifles, etc. that usually appear on page one of the books he reads and on every other page from thereon. People like different kinds of foods, hobbies, and clothes. Why wouldn’t people enjoy different kinds of books? But writers don’t just write books. They have to sell them to […]

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Hallie Ephron: Careful What You Wish For

How lucky are we on the Miss Demeanors blog to have Hallie Ephron join us to talk about her new book, “Careful What You Wish For.” Hallie was my first writing teacher and I still take her classes whenever I can. Look how she comes up with inspiration and runs with it. No wonder she is my inspiration!

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I Hear You: You’ll Never Know Dear by Hallie Ephron

  I am a confessed audiobook addict ever since many years ago when I decided to listen to a book on tape while wrapping Christmas gifts. Much as I had wanted to love Maeve Binchy’s books after friends had raved about them, I had been unable to get into them. But when I heard Tara Road read with brogue, I fell in love with Binchy’s story telling and went on to listen to every one of her books. I can still hear the words from Pat Conroy’s Prince of Tides read by Frank Muller, “Do it again, Mama.” Muller’s narration is celebrated by Conroy in a comment on Audible where he says about Muller, “He gave me, Pat Conroy, the author, a work of art, and I’ve been grateful ever since.”I’ve been hooked on audiobooks ever since. I used to listen while I was driving home from teaching in the evening and would be so involved in the book I was listening to, my husband would come out to the car to tell me to come in. Now that I can sync audiobooks with written books, I’m in heaven and spend less time in the driveway.            This week I am listening to Hallie Ephron’s latest suspense novel, You’ll Never Know Dear, which is narrated by Amy McFadden. Here’s a description of the plot from Amazon: Seven-year-old Lissie Woodham and her four-year-old sister Janey were playing with their porcelain dolls in the front yard when an adorable puppy scampered by. Eager to pet the pretty dog, Lissie chased after the pup as it ran down the street. When she returned to the yard, Janey’s precious doll was gone . . . and so was Janey. Forty years after Janey went missing, Lis—now a mother with a college-age daughter of her own—still blames herself for what happened. Every year on the anniversary of her sister’s disappearance, their mother, Miss Sorrel, places a classified ad in the local paper with a picture of the toy Janey had with her that day—a one-of-a-kind porcelain doll—offering a generous cash reward for its return. For years, there’s been no response. But this year, the doll came home.            Already an Audiofile Earphones Winner, the book grabbed me right away. (Their review called it a “must-listen.” http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/128893/) Unlike in many mysteries where there is predictably a dead body on the first page, Ephron seduces you with suspense, luring you with ordinary events that you know won’t last because something terrible has happened and something even worse is on it’s way. McFadden’s narration conveys a sense of foreboding without overdramatizing. Ephron and McFadden are a powerful duo, complimenting one another, unlike some books where it sounds like the narrator is competing with the author.           I wondered what Hallie thought about listening to someone else read her novel of suspense. “It’s scary listening to someone else read your book because, of course, it’s never the same as the voice you heard in your head when you were writing it. Our narrator, Amy McFadden, did a superb job. Her voice is clear as a bell, and she captured the characters perfectly including their southern accents and edge. I was thrilled.”She should be. The book is terrific with a solid plot and intriguing characters in its own right. Add to it the power of narration and you can’t miss. For me, You’ll Never Know Dear will fill hours while I am driving, walking, doing dishes and laundry, all the while in another world. Here’s a link to an excerpt (the first 5 minutes) from the audio book… https://soundcloud.com/harperaudio_us/youll-never-know-dear-by-hallie-ephron?in=harperaudio_us/sets/williammorrowbooks, if you’d like to join me.  

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Writing Books on My Desk

     I love to write. I love books. Why wouldn’t I love books about writing? I have shelves full of them, some better than others, a few well weathered from repeated readings and reference. Some provide inspiration. Others are instructional.     I’ll pull out Stephen King’s On Writing when I need no-nonsense advice about how to write without pretension or self-deception. “It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” I snagged a first edition of On Writing for eight dollars recently. Score!     Elizabeth George (Write Away: One Novelist’s Approach to Fiction and the Writing Life) and Harry Bingham (The Writers and Artist Guide to How to Write) frequently come off the shelf when I need help with craft. Paula Munier’s (full disclosure, Paula is my agent and appears occasionally on MissDemeanors.com) Plot Perfect: How to Build Unforgettable Stories Scene by Scene falls into my lap when I get stuck trying to tell my story, even though I know what it is. Her Writing with Quiet Hands: How to Shape Your Writing to Resonate with Readers is where I go when I need to remind myself about who I am as a writer.     There are so many other good books on writing, I could spend all of my time just reading about writing, but that would only fuel my avoidance of writing, something most writers seem to periodically suffer from. I try to read about writing in measured doses, either when a new writing book comes out and I am looking to ignite my writing, or when I’m in trouble, which happens a lot.    Three new writing books are sitting on my desk right now. Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel (revised and expanded) by Hallie Ephron is perched on the top of the pile. I learned how to write mysteries from Hallie in person and through her first book. The woman was born to teach. The new edition is bulging with information essential to new and seasoned writers.     The Writer’s Guide to Beginnings: How to Craft Story Openings that Sell, also by Paula Munier, reminds us that “the most important thing your opening needs to do is this: Keep the reader reading.” I spend an enormous amount of time aiming for a perfect beginning, terrified if I don’t write one, I and my fledgling novel are doomed. I need this book.     Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel, first released in 2001, dared me to think about writing big and provided tools, which I return to when mired in a thicket of words.  His new release, The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface, is sitting between Hallie Ephron and Paula Munier’s books. I’m writing a different kind of book right now, challenging myself to stretch into telling a story through a character entirely unlike any I’ve written before. I’m learning why readers really fall in love with protagonists in this book. “You are not the author of what readers feel, just the provocateur of those feelings,” Maass tells us.      I’m feeling fortified and challenged by these three new books, which also quell the fears I have about braving new territory. The comfortable presence and support of a team of pros waiting on my desk to assuage the panic when I inevitably get stuck keeps me writing because I know help is only a book away.What writing books are sitting on your desk or shelf?                  

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