Welcome Message

Welcome to my blog. Here, you will find information about my novels, life in Japan, as well as author interviews, discussions on writing, and more. Feel free to browse and if you enjoy a post, please comment. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Character Description

One of the biggest challenges, and debates, in the writing world is about how much, or how little, to describe. It's especially true when it comes to people. Stephen King says description should start in the writer's mind and end in the reader's. While his descriptions aren't quite as detailed as I wish they were, something that bothers me is that he often doesn't describe characters again and I tend to forget what they look like. Is he bald? Is she fat? Are they an old couple, young couple? Sometimes he gives reminders, but not often enough.

The old rule of storytelling is "show, don't tell." Most of the time I think this holds true. Don't tell me the hero is tired or winded; show me him panting, hands gripping his knees and bent over trying to catch his breath, wanting to ignore the pain from the stitch developing in his side. I believe, however, that when it comes to character description, it's okay to tell and not show. We do that when we describe places and objects. It's okay for people too.

There are two basic approaches when it comes to describing people: the reflection (tell) approach and the action (show) approach. These aren't the actual terms for them but they are what I use. In reflection, a character starts their daily routine and sees themselves in the bathroom mirror, or catches their reflection in a shop window. The author then goes on to describe the person. I'll use an excerpt from my forthcoming novel, The Super School Uniform, to describe the main character Hina, a middle school student. "As Hina watched Ami approach, she couldn't help but think how different the two of them were in appearance. Where Ami was short and skinny, Hina was half a head taller, her body broader and softly muscled, a result of years of playing volleyball. To Hina, Ami's dress looked it had been a rice bag in a former life, a drab brown that covered her from neck to ankles. Hina's clothes were bright: underneath a pair of jean she wore tights, one leg neon green and the other striped in white and pink. Her shirt was a rich blue and hung off one shoulder, revealing the strap of the black undershirt beneath. Unlike Ami's limp hair, Hina's was styled and tied up in a side ponytail, a black bow with the Roni logo written in bright pink."

Not perfect, but a slight variation on the reflection approach. Others suggest using action to showcase character description. Using Hina again, here is an example. "Hina had decided to wear the colored tights, which had one neon green leg and one leg striped pink and white. She pulled the rich blue shirt over her head, adjusting it because it was designed to slip off one shoulder. She didn't care that it didn't cover her softly muscled arms. She had been playing volleyball for years and was proud of her body. She pulled her black hair into a side ponytail and searched for her favorite bow: a black plastic one with the Roni logo standing out in hot pink lettering." The point is, you showcase their description as they move; tying up their hair, straightening their suit, adjusting their tie, etc. This "showing" approach has some validity. I think it is best suited for the main character, maybe two characters but really no more than that. It should also be used to showcase characterization and personality. Maybe the character has self-image/body issues, maybe they are a fashion fantastic. In any case, the action approach should reveal character at the same time it is describing the person. But what if you're starting your story with the protagonist in action; maybe running through the streets because they are late for work, or in the middle of a battle? Then I don't think the action approach is best. Just tell the reader what the person looks like and move on. That is an advantage of the reflection approach, just tell and get on with moving the story forward. I think the tell approach also works for most of the characters, especially minor characters. If the town sheriff shows up to a crime scene but he isn't the main character, describe him and move on. We don't do the show/action approach with buildings or cars. Ferraris don't run their wipers over their glassy windshields to get rid of the rain. We simply describe what a Ferrari looks like. Why not do that with characters? I think is much more telling of a character is what that person is always doing with their clothes. An example would be the "Picard Maneuver," the downward tugging of Captain Picard's uniform whenever he stood up, as seen on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Something else that I feels need to be done, and I admit I have to pay attention to this when I write, is reminding the reader what the characters look like. King often describes a character, then doesn't remind the reader again what they look like until much later. I like to be reminded about every chapter or two. The description doesn't need to be lengthy, just little references to their main features; like skin tone, or build, or size, whatever distinct characteristic makes them stand out. While reading Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, he referenced character descriptions quite a number of times. I never forgot that Daisy was small and pixieish, Fat Charlie's dad wore loud clothes, and so on.

Those are my thoughts. What do you think? Leave a comment and as always, thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Blog Tour: Believe In The Magic

Today I'm featuring Dee Louis-Scott on her blog tour as she promotes Believe In The Magic. Everything was provided by the author.

Believe In The Magic Book BlurbMy Mom, Mattie Pearl Fisher, always told me to believe in the magic. The magic meant miracles. These miracles of life can be big, small and everything in between.   
This book is a journey through the events in her life. There are also the life lessons gained from those events. 
 My Mom was born at a time in history when being Black and female was a double curse. You had to look very hard to find any human or legal rights.  Mom stood her ground.  She was confident and fierce, always pushing forward, striving to do things she wanted to do. Mom turned a deaf ear to those who thought they could dictate her life.
 My Mom’s story is very powerful and inspirational; her spirit tenacious and infectious.  Mom encouraged all women she met to never settle for less than they deserved. 
Let the tenacity of one woman inspire you to the greatness you were created for.


Author Bio: Dee Louis-Scott is retiring from 30 years as a Federal employee. She has an adult daughter Autumn and is experiencing life as an empty nester. It has been 20 years since her mother’s death. The life lessons learned from her mom have been both powerful and inspirational. They have guided her throughout her life.  Dee now lives in Raymore, Missouri.


Author Q & A: 
What makes this book different from others in your genre?
What makes my book different is not only do you get true great inspirational and motivational stories you also get some life lesson. Those life lessons are either what my mom Mattie Fisher told me or what I believe she would want others to get from her life stories. This book is part Chicken Soup for the Soul part prescriptive lessons and a lot of MAGIC. I have not come across anything with this exact format.

What’s the story behind the story? (What inspired you to write your book?)
My mother would tell me stories about her life from time to time.  The older I got the more intrigued I became.  One day I decided to just start a journal.  The journal would be for my daughter so she would really understand who her grandmother was and what she went through to ensure both my daughter and I would have a better life.  After I read over some of the stories I just knew that more people need to hear these. Thus began my journey.

What hope can you give to others in turmoil?
I hope I can give others the “Knowing” that anything and everything is possible and no situation is impossible to overcome.

Did you find healing in writing this story? Can you give an example?
Yes I found healing and understanding. In writing the chapter “Run Get Out Now” I had to relive domestic violence. In “Broken” I had to deal with a tragic death.  The first thing I had to do was face those situations. After I faced it I was able to look into my life and see how these events affected me and my relationships.  What I could do moving forward to correct some issues. I talk a little more in depth in the “Epilogue’.

What was your favorite chapter to write and why?
This is hard because I have two favorite chapters for totally different reasons.  “Ahead of her Time” because I am so proud of what mom was able to do.  It felt so good to put it on paper for the whole world to see. Also “The Supernatural and the Unexplained” I enjoyed.  I really went back amd did research to find the “names” for the things she was experiencing. Along the way I found answers for myself of some events that happen to me.

What was your most difficult chapter to write and why? 
Again this is a hard one. Three chapters were hard for me to write. The one I cried through was Sunset. It was the longest and took me many starts and stops to finish it. I relived losing my best friend. The mistakes I made in turning over her care to someone else.  Also it was longing and hoping that I was creating something with this book she would be proud of.

How is growing up today different from Mattie’s era?
I talked about this in the Life Lesson of Ahead of her time. When you think about not only the racism but the sexism of that era is amazing what she accomplished as a Black woman. Women issues like the right to body integrity; to vote; to hold public office; to work with fair wages or equal pay; to own property; to enter into legal contracts; and to have marital, parental and religious rights. All of which we take for granted today. Then you add to that the civil rights for black Americans that really didn’t take hold until the 1950’s and I am amazed by the tenacity and strength she had to fight oppression.

You speak about supernatural events and abilities in your book, do you believe in the supernatural or is this just a way to make your book more interesting?
No dealing with the supernatural and unexplained has always been and still is a part of my life. The gifts though in different forms were handed down to me and my daughter. My daughter, just to name a couple of things, saw auras around the human body as a child and as a she grew she would dream events before they happen. I sometimes see spirits and hear them move often. We have just learned to live with it.

Are you planning on writing another book anytime soon? If so can you tell us a bit about it?
One of the chapters in my book dealt with health of my mom and her family. Though neither I nor my brother inherited the same issues, I wanted to find an natural way to deal with health. I have been studying Ayurveda philosophy. The philosophy of Ayurveda teaches a series of conceptual systems characterized by balance and disorder, health and disease. Disease/health results from the interconnectedness between the self, personality, and everything that occurs in the mental, emotional, and spiritual being. To be healthy, harmony must exist between the purpose for healing, thoughts, feelings and physical action. I want to develop a lifestyle program around this philosophy.
How can reading this book help others?
What I want others to get from this book is what I know my mom would want. To inspire woman of all age to never give up and know that you can do and be whatever is in your heart. Never settle and know that you were created by greatness for greatness.


Excerpts From Believe in the Magic
Mattie was born a Caulbearer.  The Caul or Face Veil is a thin, filmy membrane, the remnants of the amniotic sac that covers or partially covers a newborn’s face immediately after birth. Some believe "caul children” have the ability to see behind the veil of life and death. It’s thought they can communicate with the dead and intuitively “know.” This was true for my Mother.  From Supernatural and Unexplained chapter.
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Mattie’s mother and stepfather were cotton sharecroppers. They raised cotton on the plantation of white landowners back in the 1920’s. The sharecropping system was a financially oppressive one. The landowner assumed chief supervision of the farming operations and also retained legal rights to all the crops. Sharecroppers brought only their labor to the bargaining table to create income. The family often asked the landowner for credit keeping them bound financially. Mattie’s family seemed to be in a perpetual cycle of debt.
Even as a child Mattie knew this system was not right.  She would rebel against picking the cotton. One day when she was only 12 years old, her anger at her stepfather and the unfair system finally all came to a head. From Ahead of her Time chapter
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This was hardest thing I ever had to do. Holding her hand, I took a deep breath and asked, “Mom are you fighting because you’re a fighter? Or, are you fighting for Crystal and me? I know you’re tired.” I paused, took another deep breath, and dug deep down in my soul. “Mom if you’re tired and you want to go, it’s okay. I’m strong like you. Crystal and I will miss you forever but we will be okay. Do what’s best for you.” 
“Mom, it hurts so much to see you like this. I don’t know what else to do.” Then a Bible verse came to mind. It was the first Bible verse she taught me when I was a little girl. Holding her hand again, I closed my eye and began to recite the 23rd Psalm aloud. From Sunset chapter
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You can stay connected with Dee Louis Scott!
Main website and social media

Where to buy
Book is available through my main website www.mattiefisher.com in PDF form. My website also at Amazon for print and kindle versions. http://www.amazon.com/Believe-Magic-Tenacity-Mattie-Inspire/dp/1937801225/ 

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Did you like what you read? If so, support Dee Loius-Scott by clicking on her purchase links and visiting her on Facebook. If you read her book, leave a review. As always, thanks for reading.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Happy Birthday: Michael Bay

I'm starting a series in which I'm highlighting several directors and authors I like on their birthday. I'll give a little background info and tell why I like them.

Michael Bay was born February 17, 1965. He started out a commercial and music video director, working for Nike, Victoria Secret, Meat Loaf, and others.
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer gave Bay his first film, Bad Boys, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawerence. After that, Bay has been responsible for some massive moneymaking films: The Rock, Armageddon, the Transformers franchise, just to name a few.

I love Michael Bay. He is a love-or-hate guy. He is an easy target for critics but you have to admit, Bay knows what he is doing. He is a commercial director who knows his movies make lots of money and he wants to make his producers and the studios happy. And he is perfectly okay with that. I think that riles a lot of people. I think critics and film students want directors to aim for loftier goals, to rise above "commercialism" and reach some sort of transcendence with their films. Bay doesn't care about that, and I think that is a good thing. We need popcorn movies. We need entertainment. Bay delivers that in a slick visual style with explosive action sequences, beautiful cinematography, and humor.





Thursday, February 14, 2013

Japan: Valentine's Day

February. The month of love. Though the air may be chilly, hearts are warm with affection. Couples search for the perfect tokens of affection and plan romantic getaways. Couples-to-be are nervous about having the perfect date. Cinemas play romantic movies and it seems the world is colored in red.

In my continuing series, I look at Valentine's day in Japan. The holiday came to the country in 1936, when a company ran ads targeting foreigners. Giving heart-shaped chocolate was introduced the '50s and the holiday gained in popularity in the 1960s.

No one is quite sure what caused the custom to diverge from the American version. Some say it was a translation error. But whatever happened, on Valentine's Day only women give chocolate to men. And not just any chocolate will do, or the same to chocolate to everyone. It can be divided into four main classes: favorite chocolate (honmei-choko (本命チョコ), friend chocolate (tomo-choko (友チョコ), obligation chocolate giri-choko (義理チョコ), and ultra obligation chocolate (chō-giri choko). Honmei-choko is given to loved ones, mostly husbands and boyfriends. Tomo-choko is given by girls to their female friends. This custom is fairly recent and is gaining popularity. Giri-choko is given by women to their male co-workers. This can be school staff, office workers, and so on. Whatever job it is they work at. Chou-giri-choko is cheap chocolate given to unpopular male co-workers.


Unlike America, giving greeting cards, candy, flowers, and other such gifts is uncommon. The main thought driving the giving of chocolate is giving the right amount to each person. Many women make chocolate for honmei-choko. The major companies, like Meiji and Ghana, set up huge displays of their chocolate bars. At these colorful kiosks, everything you need to make chocolate is there, as well as all the decorations; like silver balls, white sprinkles, sugar, and more. You can make it as a simple as a heart-shaped piece of chocolate or so glittery and sparkly it looks like it should belong in a jewelry store in Shibuya.

Chocolate companies make nearly half their sales during this time of year. Most large department stores, like Parco and Sogo, have basement floors dedicated to food stalls. In February these places come a chocolate paradise, with different companies displaying their goods in glass display cases. Prices range from cheap to expensive, depending on the company and the design of the chocolates.

Romantic date nights aren't common on this day. Those are usually reserved for Christmas Eve. But it is the time to express your love. If you've had a crush on that boy in school, now is the time to tell him. Want to confess to the new male staff member? Upgrade to the highest quality giro-choco, or better yet, make it yourself.

"What about the men?" you ask. "Are they off the hook?" Not by a long shot. They have their own holiday, White Day, and I will talk about that next month.










Sunday, February 03, 2013

Japan: Setsubun

Beans & mini demon mask
Setsubun (節分) is a Japanese festival celebrated on February 3, the day before the first day of spring. The name literally means Bean-throwing Ceremony and is used to drive out the bad luck and evil spirits in one's home and invite good luck in. The ceremony was introduced to Japan by China in the 8th century.

"Demon out! Luck in!"
The actual ceremony is very simple. A family member, usually the father or husband, wears a mask of an oni, which means demon. Other family members then throw soybeans at him, while yelling "Demon out, luck in!" Then everyone eats one bean for each year of their life; in other areas of Japan they eat their age in beans plus one for luck. The soybeans are symbolic of cleaning the house of evil spirits and bad luck. Now days, peanuts are often used. Some soybeans have been coated with a sweet crunchy coating. The beans can be purchased at grocery stores or at Buddhist temples.
Sweet soybeans

Setsubun is celebrated at Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines all over the country. Priests and invited guests, which sometimes includes famous celebrities and sumo wrestlers, throw beans and other items at the crowd. These can include envelopes with money, candy, sweets, and other prizes.


A special food called eho-maki is eaten on this day. The custom started in the Osaka region but is gaining popularity. Eho-maki is a long uncut sushi roll. And you can't eat this in a normal fashion: it must be eaten in silence facing the direction that is considered lucky for that year. The direction is determined by the Chinese zodiac symbol for that year. 2013 is the year of the snake and the lucky direction is south-southeast.





Since it is only my wife and I, it's me that gets to wear the oni mask. Yoko throws beans and yells at me. I have to admit, it's fun. I get back at her because she has to eat more beans than I do.





Author Spotlight: K.D. Emerson

I'm pleased to post an interview with author K.D. Emerson, whose debut novel Digitus 233 I reviewed at Goodreads, and also the moderator of the Facebook group Master Koda and operator of Master Koda Select Publishing. And here we go!


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Welcome, Kim! Tell us a bit about yourself.
First, let me thank all of the hosts of this blog tour and all the readers for their time. I am grateful to each of you!  I am just your everyday human who takes a detour every now and then into the dark passageways of my imagination. I have enjoyed many marvelous experiences on earth. Love, loss, joy, pain – it’s all a part of the journey. Things that have changed me for the better have been losing everything I owned and having to start all over again and living with two packs of wolves who taught me the meaning of life. My deepest desire is to assist others in creating a joy-filled life.

How long have you been writing? 
A looong time. I won’t say how many years, but I have been a writer from age five. I wrote what I ‘thought’ was a novel at the age of six. 

Tell us about DIGITUS 233. What’s the story about?
It is about power and corruption, control and bondage and the story of how one young adult can make a difference. Here is a very short synopsis of the book: When Zeph, the adventurous son of a millionaire hid in the cargo hold of the Learjet carrying his brother Zander to camp he had no idea there was anything dark or ominous going on. That was until he watched Zander ejected from the plane onto a barren arctic island and Zeph, trapped in the cargo hold, found himself headed for South America. Will Zeph be able to uncover and expose the truth behind Digitus, the world’s dominant corporation or will they succeed in their sinister plan to control his brother and destroy the world?

How did the idea of the story come to you?
It came out of the darkness of the corner of my mind while I pondered the loss of freedom people see under oppressive governments such as the events in Nazi Germany before and during World War II.  The reality that freedom (and life) can so easily slip through our fingers, the intrigue of fringe science and how it can be used for good or evil (depending on who is in control).


Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?
I majored in creative writing back in the day and I am used to constructive critique. I would never edit my own work; it’s too easy to miss a mistake. Even now, I have people pouring over Digitus 233 to find a typo. 

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Both. I outline, do scene sketches, and character sketches complete with back story for all characters, then during the writing process the muse will often take over and I let it flow to see where it goes.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?
Getting over the old voices and programming in my head that say “if you publish you will die”. I have fought against the enemy, self-doubt, and I have become victorious. You can do it as well! 

What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?
My bowler hat (long story), coffee and Beethoven.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?
To heal all ailments in the world.

What's the weirdest thing you've googled?
“Humans that fly” I was looking for people that jump out of perfectly good airplanes and do some pretty crazy things. I found a group of people that have these suits that have wings and they sail for a long time before landing. Looks awesome, but I don’t think I will try it in this lifetime.

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: randomly, dome, and memorize.
She darted about under the dome of doom escaping death from randomly fired poison arrows while trying to memorize the Gettysburg address. 

Finish this sentence: If I'm not writing, I'm probably ...
Racing across the horizon on a wild Mustang

Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.
My deepest thanks to Megan McDade and all the bloggers and readers who have supported me, also my many friends and family who have offered their assistance in spreading the word. Thanks to my creative partners, Tim and Brenda Emerson who played the “what if” game with me until they were ready to drop me out of an airplane. And of course, thanks to those of my past who tried to hold me back or stand in my way. Because of your fear and jealousy you made me stronger and more determined.

And finally, where can people find you and your book online?
I love to connect with people!
Find me on Facebook at:
https://www.facebook.com/kimmutch.emerson 

On Twitter I am: https://twitter.com/MstrKoda
The website and personal blog for my Digitus Series is here: www.digitus233.com
And the Amazon link for US: http://amzn.to/12JsPkx and UK: http://amzn.to/UAoT1S 


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The following bio and links were supplied by K.D. Emerson.


K.D. Emerson was born (or is that hatched) several years ago. We won’t go into how long it has been because she has this fantasy that she is still a teenager off to conquer the world. Her first novel was written in pencil, stapled together and placed in the school library. At age 6, she didn’t have a clue an author needed a publisher. She has a passion for the written word and assisting other writers in becoming the best they can be. She also loves to promote others and cheer them on to victory. Follow her on twitter @MstrKoda or you can find her on her blog at www.digitus233.com/category/blog and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kimmutch.emerson 

K.D. Emerson’s links:
FB: https://www.facebook.com/kimmutch.emerson 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MstrKoda 
Blog: http://digitus233.com/category/blog/ 
Amazon Book Pages: US link: http://amzn.to/12JsPkx UK link: http://amzn.to/UAoT1S
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/kdemerson   
GoodReads (I’m brand new here, so be patient while I figure it out. Ha!): http://www.goodreads.com/kd_emerson 

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I encourage everyone to check out her debut novel, Digitus 233, as well as the Facebook group Master Koda. And I'd like to give a big thank you for K.D. Emerson for stopping by and sharing a bit about herself. 

Friday, February 01, 2013

Dream Project Blog Hop

Writing is largely solitary, and sometimes a lonely endeavor. Sure, you talk to friends, experts for research, discuss what works and what doesn't with your editor, and bounce ideas off of fellow writers. But in the end it's one person pounding the keyboard or twirling the pencil. But what if it didn't have to be completely alone? Who would you work with if you could work with ANYONE on your favorite project?

In this post, that's what I'm asking. This is the beginning of the Dream Project Blog Hop. Myself and several other authors have answered the questions below about our dreams. The premise was simple: choose a person for each category and tell why you want to work with them. If possible, the author should post their picture, a piece of their work, or a link to something about them. The only rule was that the person must still be alive. A link at the bottom of the post will direct you to the next person's blog. Posts will be going up once a day, for all of February, so check often to see all the answers.

Writers dream. Now it's time to dream BIG.

I only have one novel out, Adventure Hunters. So these questions and answers pertain to that work.

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You have the opportunity to hire anybody as your cover artist. If you write children's books or books that are heavily illustrated, who would you get for the interior artwork?
I'd get Rob Liefeld. I've been into his work lately; he has such a dynamic and aggressive style.

Who would you co-write your next novel with? What genre? Why?
Jeffery Deaver. I'd love to write a thriller. As someone who meticulously plots and outlines his stories, I feel I could learn about outlining and planning from Deaver.

Your publisher wants to do an audiobook version of your novel and they're not sparing any expense. Who do you think can narrate your masterpiece?
For Adventure Hunters, I'd love Russell Crowe to narrate. He has an awesome voice. Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart have wonderful voices, but such refinement is suited for high fantasy like Lord Of The Rings. Russell Crowe has a distinct voice and it's rough enough to fit the style and tone of my novel.

They're really going all out! Your novel is getting a full soundtrack. Who should compose it? If your novel uses a lot of songs, list your compilation here.
Henry Jackman. He composed the score for X-Men: First Class, among others. I'm sure he'd find a wonderful blend of fantasy score and rock and roll. I highly recommend the tracks "Magneto" from X-Men: First Class and "Rampant Hunter" from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Congratulations! Your novel is being turned into a major motion picture. As the creator of the original work, you get to pick the director.
Michael Bay. I love his work and think him doing a fantasy movie would be interesting.

The director has some ideas on who to cast, but you get to cast one character. What role/character is it and who portrays them?
This was difficult for me. But I'd cast Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Artorius in Adventure Hunters.

You've been hired to write a novel based on a preexisting character or franchise from another medium. Which character or franchise is it?
This was another tough one, but I'd have to say Star Trek. I've tried writing a few Trek fan fictions before. I would want to write in either the The Next Generation or Enterprise era.

It's the anniversary of your favorite literary character's debut. You've been hired (yay, work!) to write an anniversary novel. Who is the literary character?
Sherlock Holmes. I think trying to write a mystery, having to plan it out to leave all the clues and such, would be a challenge. One I'd like to try. I'd probably steer the style more towards the Guy Ritchie version.


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There you have it. But it isn't the end of the journey. It continues on Samantha Kay's blog tomorrow. Don't forget, while you're reading all these wonderful posts from these great authors, comment and check out their works. As always, thanks for reading.