Get Cozy: A Chat with Novelist Nancy J. Cohen

posted in: Writing Craft | 24

My mother devoured every Agatha Christie novel ever written, and though I developed an early appreciation for Christie’s fussy little Belgian, Hercule Poirot, I didn’t become familiar with the term “cozy mystery” until many years later, but the moment I heard it, I knew it described Christie’s work to a tee. Or a tea, if you will. The cozy is the gentle workhorse of mystery fiction, a reliable subgenre with a dedicated following, and one that shows no signs of … Read More »

Your First Reader

We can probably all agree that time slows down painfully when someone is reading our writing in draft. And we’re particularly anxious about what our first reader will say about a first draft, yes? When you decide your work is ready to be read for the first time, who do you ask for feedback? A spouse? A friend? Another writer? Your writers group? Recently I came across an article from Poets & Writers that I’ve kept for a long time. Kevin Nance interviewed … Read More »

Syntax Style

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The syntax of a sentence can be used to affect the style of writing and to spice up the prose if not overused. There are several kinds of syntactical devices. Here are a few: Anaphora It’s a syntax style consisting of a repetition of the same word at the start of a sentence. Example: “I despise the man. I despise his stand on the issues. I despise those who admire him!” Antithesis These are concepts standing in opposition of one … Read More »

Memoir: Whose Story Is It Anyway?

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If you’re an author, do you give book talks? I know, they are full of wildcards and unexpected questions. A bit unnerving. So far I’m finding that most people showing up for my book events are friendly (knock on wood) and interested—except for that one woman who accused me of not believing in anything and stomped out of the room (not at Rollins) … we had good reason to suspect she’d had too much to drink. Oh well. **it happens. So, about giving talks … Read More »

Tales of the Epistolary

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In high school, I picked up Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) and was quickly smitten by the method of the storytelling, rendered through characters’ journals, letters, ship’s log entries, telegrams, and even wax cylinder recordings on that newfangled invention, the phonograph. I didn’t know it at the time, but Dracula represents a great example of the epistolary novel. Documents. It’s all about using documents to tell the story. An example is this log entry jotted by the troubled captain of the … Read More »

Warping the Universe for Fun and Profit

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Beginning in 1905 with a series of papers and little fanfare, Albert Einstein turned the Universe on its head. The notion of time and space being fixed, separate entities, he deduced, is all wrong. He envisioned “spacetime” as a single thing in his special and general theories of relativity. Better yet, spacetime flexes and bends and warps with gravity. And if all matter exerts a gravitational force, my time is not your time and your time is not mine. This … Read More »

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