Living the Fictional Dream

Erin M. Kinch’s musings upon the writing profession

Archive for the 'Friends' Stories' Category

Check Your Details — Continuity, People!

I stayed up way too late last night reading the newest installment in the Heather Wells Mystery series by Meg Cabot (Size 12 and Ready to Rock). It’s been a long time since there was a new book in this series, so I was excited to read it. Hence the being up until almost 2 a.m. on a work night (bad, Erin!).

In preparation to read the new one, since it had been a while, I reread the previous three books in the series, which is always fun. Heather is a great heroine and amateur sleuth. She was a teenage popstar, back in the day, but when she decided she wanted to sing her own songs, her record label dumped her. Then she found her long-time boy-band boyfriend cheating on her, just after her mother ran off with her manager, and all her money. Oh, and her dad has long been in jail for tax evasion. Now Heather works as the assistant director for a college dorm (excuse me, residence hall) by day, and does the billing of her private investigator friend/crush, Cooper, by night for free rent in his brownstone. When people turn up murdered in the residence hall, Heather also turns out to have a knack for getting college students to talk and solving the crime.

It was great fun rereading all of Heather’s old adventures. She has a great voice in true Meg Cabot style: pop culture references, jokes, wandering stream of consciousness, acerbic commentary. (Aside: I saw Meg Cabot speak once. During the Q&A I was going to ask her how she got such great voice for her narrators, but I didn’t have to. She actually talks that way herself!) 

The nice thing about Heather as a character, aside from her colorful background, is that she’s so realistic and down to earth. She’s a normal person; someone you can relate to. That is so different from the Gossip Girls and Carrie Bradshaw’s of the world. Heather deals with family issues, unrequited love, and body image while she solves crimes. And she genuinely cares about people.

The new book fit right in with the rest of the series. Heather was in top form. She seemed a bit more confident than in the last book, but that was most likely due to her new romantic relationship (which I will not spoil for you if you have not read this series). I also loved that this book helped Heather come to terms with one of the big things in her past — the woman her ex-boyfriend cheated on her with. Heather was able to get past simply hating the woman (which is more character growth than I might be able to achieve) and see the real person, and also help that person with a terrible problem from her past. Heather was able to put that past hurt behind her, and now she can move on in her new relationship, the cheating ex and his new wife behind her.

The previous book in the series gave Heather the chance to work out her issues with her father. I was excited to read that there will be another book in the series, and it’s going to reunite Heather with the mother who stole all her money and abandoned her. That is a show-d0wn I have been waiting for since book one!

My only complaint about the new installment to the series is that Cabot does not seem to have a good memory for the over-arching details. Several things in this book did not fit with the continuity established over the rest of the series.

 The original books say that Cooper’s grandfather, in addition to leaving him the brownstone, also left him a hefty sum of money. In this book, they can’t afford the housekeeper she wants on his and her salary combined. What happened to the hefty bank account? Did he lose it all during the recession?

In the first book, the president of the university and his wife live in the penthouse of the residence hall where Heather works; however, after the conclusion of the mystery, they move to a neighboring building where they don’t have to live with students anymore. This neighboring building is mentioned numerious times in the subsequent two books — and the conclusion of the third mystery even takes place in the same building, just a few floors down from the Allingtons. But in the new book, the Allingtons are living in the penthouse of Heather’s dorm (er… residence hall) again, as if they’d never moved.

Another thing that really bugged my copy editor nature was that Heather’s love interest in book three, Tad, had a name spelling change. When mentioned in book 4, it was consistently spelled Tadd. And, another small error was Heather thinking about Tom being the only boss she’d ever liked, and how it didn’t count because she’d never officially worked for him. But that was not true, either. Tom was officially Heather’s boss for all of book 2. He was unofficially her boss again in book 3 after her current boss was murdered.

None of these things are huge on their own, but every time I notice a continuity error, it throws me out of the groove of the story (i.e., the fictional dream, a la Gardner). As a reader, I really hate that. It made book 4 in the series less satisfying than all the other installments. And, as a writer, continuity errors are something I strive against.

Maybe, these errors cropped up because it’s been so long since she wrote the last Heather Wells novel. Forgetting a few small details is natural. And the details stood out more to me since I read all four books in a row.

But… if it were me and I wanted to get back into that world, the first thing I would do would be to re-read all the old books to get back into Heather’s head and her world. I recently wrote a prequel to a story that I’d written a few years ago, and rereading that first story was my very first step.

And, even if Cabot didn’t have time to devote to re-reading (due to her busy life as a best selling novelist — I’m sure she has tons of signings to do and many other books to write, as well), couldn’t an editor or a copy editor do so? I remember reading how J.K. Rowling had a copy editor whose sole job was continuity of the world. But, I guess Cabot did not have anyone to do that, so several continuity erros existed, I’m sad to say.

Overall, this is a great series and I highly recommend reading it if you enjoy mystery novels and fun, female narrators. But, when you get to book 4, just try to turn a blind eye to those continuity errors. I’m hopeful that Cabot will do better with continuity in book 5!

Oh, and P.S., if you’re looking for some flash to read today, head on over to Every Day Fiction. Writing group mate Alex has a story up today, and it’s a good once. Science fiction and everything!

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Publishing Updates

A lovely, thick envelope came for me in the mail the other day. I received it on my birthday, and what a great birthday treat it was. Inside the envelope was my contributor’s copy of ResAliens #5, complete with eye-catching cover art and printed pages full of good stories. The second story in this issue was a reprint of my vampire hunter story, “Not Your Kind of Heathen.”

I’ve always been fond of this story. Rachel is a vampire hunter, and her biggest weapon in the fight against the undead is her faith. However, just because she believes in God, that doesn’t mean she isn’t pissed as hell at Him. If you’d like to read a little more about the backstory of this tale, here’s the link to the blog entry I wrote about it when it was first published.

I have to say, though, that while the first e-publication was cool (even though now that e-zine is long gone), I’m much more excited about NYKoH’s appearance in ResAliens. I’ve enjoyed ResAliens since it was solely an e-zine, but the new print version is really awesome. You should definitely check it out! (And I have a story in issue #2, as well.)

In other news, I just heard that my story, “The Vote,” was selected for inclusion in Every Day Fiction’s third annual anthology. I’m very excited to be included. The previous two EDF anthologies were very well done and included lots of great stories by  excellent writers. I’m sure this one will be the same. At least one other writing group mate will be in the anthology, as well — Go, Writer’s Ink!

In rejection news, a weird little story that I sent out to a relatively big podcast market was rejected a couple of months ago. However, my thrill from that rejection was that instead of the standard form rejection (which I’d received several times), I actually got a personal rejection note from the editor. Not only did he say he liked the story (though it wasn’t exactly what they were looking for), but he told me to keep submitting. It felt like I finally got noticed by that market. Maybe, if I found something more up their alley, it would be a good time to try them again…

And now, to wind things up, here are a few links to other stories from the last few months that you might want to check out:

Now, if I could just find a little time amongst changing diapers, running after a toddler on the go, and taking care of a six-month-old, maybe 2011 will be a better year for me writing and submitting-wise. We’ll call it a goal!

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The Second EDF Anthology Now Available

Hello, discriminating readers and fellow writers and bloggers.

I just learned that the second annual print anthology from Every Day Fiction, titled The Best of Every Day Fiction Two, is now available to order. You can order it here, or it is my understanding that Amazon and other such places will have it available soon.

This anothology contains not just one, but four of my stories that were published at EDF during the 2008 - 2009 publication year, including “A Million Faces” and “The Care and Feeding of Your Sleeping Knight,” which were two of my favorites. Writing group mates Alex, Stephanie, and Jens, all have stories in it, as well, and so do other great writers like K.C., Gay, Kevin, and more.

If you like flash fiction… heck, if you like good fiction… you should definitely check this anthology out!

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A Cute Christmas Tale

If you need a little pre-Christmas cheer (but without the token cheese factor) head over to The Rose and Thorn and check out writing group mate Sandra’s story, “Christmas Eggs.”

I believe this is her second publication, and it’s a fun read.

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Dinner for Three

For your post-Thanksgiving reading pleasure, check out the new issue of A Thousand Faces, which includes my story, “Dinner for Three.” This can loosely be considered a sequel of my story “Bridge Club,” which was published in ATF issue 6.

The idea behind “Bridge Club” was to explore what super heroes’ spouses do while their loved ones are out saving the world. “Dinner for Three” goes back to the hero’s point of view and explores the options when things don’t work out with the spouse.

I love stories about the intrapersonal relationships of superheroes. Sure, action-adventure and crime-fighting are great, but what happens when the masks and capes come off? Can a super hero go on a blind date like any other person, or will the secret identity always get in the way?

If you read “Bridge Club,” you might be interested to note that Greg from “Dinner for Three” is the same character as Craig in “Bridge Club.” The bridge club members all use pseudonyms — Greg just wasn’t very creative!

If you check out “Dinner for Three,” leave me a comment here and let me know what you thought of it. I hope you enjoy reading the newest jaunt into my super hero ‘verse as much as I enjoyed writing it!

And, once you’re over there, you should check out the rest of the new issue. There is some great fiction in there, including “A Son of the Night” by K.C. Ball. And, as with all issues of ATF, if you want to have it after the issue is taken offline, go here to buy your very own print copy.

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November Is Flying By…

It’s already 11/4, and I have yet to even go to a write-in. Crazy! I’m not used to this. Not that my hours aren’t totally accounted for — the busy season at work and taking care of the little one have been fully consuming.

However, I must admit, I do miss the hustle and bustle of NaNoWriMo. There is something energizing about jumping into a novel feet first and taking off running toward the finish line. It’s hard, but it’s satisfying at the same time.

My only real complaint about NaNo is that the finished product requires a lot of revision. Since novel revision is something I am particularly bad at (illustrated by the fact that even though I’ve completed several novel first drafts, I have yet to finish something that is finished enough to think about sending off to agents), NaNo isn’t quite as helpful to me as it could be. But it sure does give you a rush. And that creative rush is awesome. So is the companionship of knowing so many people are out there pulling on the universal muse at the same time.

I’m looking forward to my writing group’s NaNo write-ins. Several are coming up. We’ve got some Friday lunch write-ins scheduled, as well as a couple on Tuesday nights and Saturday brunches. We’ll see how many I can make. I do hope to get some writing done during November. Any progress would be a victory compared to my snail’s pace this year.

I hope all you Wrimos out there are doing well and that you’re still in that high of the first 10K. I wish you all plentiful word counts, and that you are spared from any carpal tunnel or eye strain issues. Keep it up!

Oh, and in other news, writing group mate Stephanie had a story up at Every Day Fiction recently. Check it out here, if you have time. It’s a short read — light and fun.

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Proofs

This morning, when I checked my email, I found the proof for “Dinner for Three,” a story set in my superhero universe that is coming out in the next issue of A Thousand Faces.

There is something fun about looking over a proof of my very own story. It’s a little sneak peek as to what it will look like when it’s published. And a proof makes the acceptance real, at least to me. I may have had an email acceptance sitting in my inbox for the past six months, but now the story is actually here, right in front of me.

I also revised my bio, which was fun. I was able to mention my baby girl in it, which gave me a happy.

All in all, a very pleasant morning. I hope you all have some good news to brighten your day. And, hey, if you haven’t read issue 9 of ATF, click on the link above and check it out. There are some really good superhero stories in this issue, including one by my writing group mate, Stephanie.

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A Few Stories for You

I haven’t had a lot of time for reading short fiction lately, a fact which makes me sad. Hopefully, things will calm down at work soon (the fall is our busiest season), and I can get caught up on Every Day Fiction and all the other great ‘zines out there.

However, I have managed to read a few stories every once in a while, so here are a few links that I think y’all might be interested in.

First off, my writing group mate, Alex, has a story out in Big Pulp. It’s called “Big in Ak-Sar-Ben,” It’s a fun flash piece — a bit steam punk, a bit superhero. I love the professor main character, and how brains over brawn save the day.

Second, K.C. Ball had a story in EDF earlier this month called “Canticles.” It’s a ton of action packed into the flash fiction format. And, if you want more stories, you can always check out K.C.’s speculative flash fiction e-zine, 10Flash.

Finally, also at EDF this month, check out “Grown from Man to Dragon” by Megan Arkenberg. I love Megan’s fantasy stories, and this is no exception. She knows how to pack a lot of world into a small word count. And, for more stories, you can check out Megan’s fantasy e-zine, Mirror Dance.

Happy reading!

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Tidbits

First of all, I’m excited to report that my story, “The Wall,” will appear in the September 2009 issue of Hypersonic Tales. This publication provides readers flash fiction in both text and audio formats. I’m excited, as this will be my first audio publication.

Second, go check out EDF’s Flash Fiction Chronicles. There is a new article up about writing communities for flash fiction authors written by Alex, and if you scroll down a little further, you’ll see the details for an interesting writing contest — the FFC String-of-10 Contest.

Oh, and this is a little belated, but nominations are open for EDF’s 2008 anthology. Stories published between September 2008 and August 2009 can be nominated. If you’d like to nominate a story (and I’ve had several good ones in, such as “A Million Faces” and “The Care and Feeding of Your Sleeping Knight” — look at my stories page for links), go here.

Finally, a couple of story links for your perusal (I don’t think I’ve linked these here yet) — “Love, Death and Doughnut Holes” by Stephanie and “Tears of Clobbersaurus” by Jens.

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Story Time Linkfest

It’s a new day, so you must be looking for more short fiction to read, right?

First off, a little anticipation. Every Day Fiction recently released it’s table of contents for July, and I’m very excited by the story that will be appearing on July 12th — “The Only Thing Left to Do” by my friend J.P. Tioga. I critted this piece for her, and it’s a great bit of flash. I know you’ll all enjoy it!

While I was at EDF this morning, I read today’s story of the day, “Recipe.” It’s an interesting sci-fi piece. I like stories that show the fantastic and speculative as a mundane, daily event. But the kicker for me with this story was that the main character was deaf. What some might call his disability, turns out to be exactly what he needed in this sci-fi situation. There isn’t enough short fiction out there exploring such different points of view.

When perusing the blog-0-sphere, I discovered that writing group mate, Stephanie, has a new story out. It’s called “Misty,” it’s live at M-Brane SF. It looks like you have to purchase or subscribe to read this one in electronic format. “Misty” is another story that I helped critique during the writing process, and it’s an interesting and quirky take on a sci-fi idea that you might have seen done before, but never like this.

Finally, I had the chance yesterday afternoon to read more of 10Flash’s inaugural issue. I haven’t been able to read all the stories as of yet, but I did get to some of them, and it really is a great issue. Some of the stories that I really enjoyed (in addition to Alex and Gay’s that I linked yesterday) were “A Small Dark Room” by Jordan Lapp, “The Dangers of Kafka in Cairo” by Megan Arkenberg, and “In the Basement” by D.J. Barber.

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