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Daniela Ark
blog for readers & writers of fantasy and paranormal romance - Books reviews, reading lists for readers.
blog for readers & writers of fantasy and paranormal romance - Books reviews, reading lists for readers.


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So you decided you want to be a writer! :)

Now you spend countless hours happily writing, you subscribed to writers communities and sites, you stay focused, productive and motivated (well… most of the time at least :) )

…but then… the day comes when… you are like… huh? Empty? No inspiration?

It doesn’t seem like that writer’s block you heard about. Not yet. Because you know exactly what you want to write: that crucial scene where your stellar character is going to deliver that story-changing line in that dreamy setting. You can play the scene in your head but… writing it? not so much! why not??? it is the details! The devil is there! When you try to picture your character… blank. You want to imagine your setting… blank. Ugh!

Sparks wanted!


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Book Review: Voices, by R.E. Rowe
A Beautiful Mind meets The Fault in our Stars! Voices is refreshing and charming.

My page-turner check marks go to ✓writing and ✓characterization.

3.6 stars
Read my review...

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In some of my book reviews and on part IV of this series What is “Good Writing?” I talked about how “good writing” could make me read pretty much anything.

The writing is the first thing you notice. Before the settings, the characters, or the story are revealed, there is the writing. But often what keeps readers turning the pages is not only good writing as in good  language, grammar, structure and pacing but the unique way the author chooses to use those elements or what is known as writing style.

So you have a book that is well-written and with a writing style you enjoy. What comes next? What is the third element that you notice, again, even before a character or setting is introduced?

For me is… The Voice, that mysterious quality that seems so difficult to defined and separate from writing style.
read more here:

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In the Spotlight [15]: author Interview – Susan Beth Pfeffer
Today I want you to meet Susan Beth Pfeffer author of one of my favorite series of all times: Last Survivors Series
D: I know you father inspired you to write. Did he mentor you as a writer as well, review your work, edit it?
S: Both my parents and my older brother encouraged my writing. I wouldn’t say any of them mentored me. Sometimes my father would come up with a suggestion, which I almost always rejected, but even that didn’t happen very often.
I took great pride in the pleasure my parents got from my books. And in the pre-computer days, my mother used to retype my manuscripts. That was a true test of love.
D: Who else inspired, mentored and/or helped you during your writing career?
S: I’ve worked with a lot of editors over a very long career. One or two, I didn’t like. Most were competent and helped make my book better. But a few really taught me something about writing. One, for example, taught me the trick of writing out a chapter number outline, and making sure each chapter had at least one event in it. If a chapter didn’t really have any action planned, I’d see that section of the book needed more development. Another taught me to start a book as close to the center of the action as possible, an invaluable lesson.
My agent for many years taught me to think before I wrote. I used to start writing with no idea developed, but eventually I realized my work went better if I did pre-writing. I discovered pre-writing was actually my favorite part of the process, and since I’d learned to start close to the action and make sure there were no dead spots, I could develop the story fairly smoothly and write a more complete first draft.
D: Did you have any formal training as an author?
Not really, no. I certainly read a lot and took various lit courses in college, but nothing beyond that.
D: I love your writing style! It is so natural and fluid. Was it difficult to develop it or would you consider it a natural talent?
S: I would never think to call it that, but I guess it’s a natural talent. A while ago, I read some things I’d written in high school (I never read what I’ve written, so it was quite unusual that I read these high school stories) and I saw my style was pretty much the same as my professional style.
D: What are your favorite books and authors and why?
As a grownup, I’m not big on favorite authors. I read a lot of non-fiction and a lot of junk food fiction and rarely select a book to read because I like the author. Subject matter and/or plot is what gets me.
But when I was about 12, I read a lot of books by Mary Stolz, and her influence on me is immeasurable. She graciously allowed me to dedicate a book to her. It was a very small way for me to repay her for the lessons her novels taught me. Her books never talked down to their readers. Their plots were family driven and her characters were memorable and deeply human.
D: What did you enjoy writing more? books for children, young adults or adults and why?
S: I’ve never had a book for actual adults published- one of the true failures of my career. I really enjoy both writing for children and young adults. I get to be funnier when I write for children. I get to explore darker themes when I write YA. Both are really fun to do.
D: Which books are your favorites among the over sixty books you have written and why?
S: I really stink at favorites. All those books, who can pick one or two?
I do know that two of the books I had the best fun writing were Courage, Dana and Life As We Knew It. I’m not sure I can give a reason why, except in both cases, I really enjoyed both the basic storylines and the main character who was narrating the book.
D: How do you think growing up in NY influenced your writing style?
S; That’s a great question and I have absolutely no idea what the answer is. It probably influenced everything about my writing, but in ways I couldn’t identify.
I had the great good fortune as a child to grow up on Long Island, in a true suburban atmosphere, but close enough to New York City that going there was a regular part of my life, and spending my summers in a house in the Catskills, four miles away from the closest town and down the road from a farm, where I gathered eggs and (only once) milked cows. So I had different kinds of New York experiences my entire life.
Chickens, in case you were wondering, are nasty creatures.
D: The “Last Survivors” is a recommended read at many schools and libraries. Did you have that in mind while writing it?
I remember when writing Life As We Knew It thinking it would be a good book discussion book and fantasizing that it might be used for a library book club someday. But that was as far as the fantasies went. I never dreamed it would be used by schools, and it gives me enormous pleasure that it is.
D: The covers, trailers, website… all the promotional work behind this series is phenomenal. Please tell us about the team behind it.
S: I’d tell you more if I knew more. All those kinds of things happen behind my back, and then I’m presented with the results, which almost inevitably delight me.
My publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, has done an amazing job with design and promotion. I’ve been extremely fortunate.
D: The characters of “Last Survivors” are incredibly real. What or who inspired them?
S: It’s always hard to say where characters come from. I usually start with the story, and then figure out what sorts of people would best help me tell that story.
Take Miranda, in Life As We Knew It. I wanted her to be smart, but not super smart, reasonably athletic, because she needed to be physically strong enough to survive what I was going to throw at her. I didn’t want her to be the oldest in the family, because then she’d be less vulnerable, and I didn’t want her to be the youngest either, because then she’d be babied. If she had a sister, there would be the whole sister dynamic, which wasn’t what the book was going to be about. She needed to have at least one parent around, but I decided if her father were there, she’d be turning to him all the time, so poof- her parents were divorced. But I didn’t want Miranda to feel that the world was coming to an end and her father had never been part of her life, so now her parents’ divorce was reasonably civilized.
Put all these requirements together, and out came Miranda.
When I was planning The Dead And The Gone, I knew that since I was using the exact same events in the exact same time frame, Alex had to be as unlike Miranda as possible. So he became a boy with an older brother who isn’t around and two younger sisters who become his sole responsibility, and no parents to turn to. Miranda lived in a small town, so Alex lived in NYC (the city I know best). Miranda was uncertain of her future plans, so Alex was smart, hardworking and very ambitious. Miranda and her family weren’t especially religious, so Alex and his family were devout.
Thus Miranda, Mom, Matt and Jon evolved from my needs for the story I wanted to tell, just as Alex, Bri and Julie did.
D: You are a big movies fan, like me. How do you think that influenced your writing?
I grew up watching movies from the 1930s-50s on TV, and absorbed all kinds of lessons about dialogue, characterizations and moving plots alone. My guess is I’d be a completely different writer if I hadn’t loved old movies so much.
D: I’m looking forward to retiring so I have enough time to become an author but never thought about it the other way around! What did loo forward to when thought of retiring as an author? How is it going so far? Do you miss writing?
S: So far so good on the retirement front. I moved into a new home a few months ago, and that’s been keeping me busy. I’ve taken on more responsibilities with the non-profit group I do volunteer work for (I started a blog for them). This fall I’ll be looking into other volunteer work.
The great thing about being “retired” as a writer is nothing and nobody can stop me if I want to do more work. The next time I come up with an idea I love, I’ll write it.
D: What advice would you give to aspiring fantasy/Sci-fi authors like me?
The same advice I give to all aspiring authors. Have fun. If you don’t enjoy what you’re creating, how can you expect anyone else to!

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Book Reviews: Voices, by R.E. Rowe
A Beautiful Mind meets The Fault in our Stars! Voices is refreshing and charming.
My page-turner check marks go to ✓writing and ✓characterization.
3.6 stars

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In the Spotlight [14]: Blogger Interview – Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library
Today I want you to meet Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library
“Desert Island books” as in a book you would take with you if you were going to be stranded on one and that’s what I kind of use as a guide for 5 Star ratings"

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Welcome to my stop in the Book Blog Tour for Descendants of the Rose, by Juliette Harper.
I really liked this book! it is a surprising read, full of pleasant unexpected elements and twits!
My page-turner checkmarks go to ✓writing, ✓ premise, ✓ characterization and ✓plot

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Books, books, books and more (Freebies, reviews, giveaways and much more!)

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Blogging Tip: How to Write a Book Review Part V, What to read next?

On my post What a Week [13] – Confessions of a free eBook hoarder I mentioned I have more eBooks that I would ever be able to read. If you add all the review copies I have, to decide what to read next is almost impossible!
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