Author: Mallee Stanley

Self-editing for fiction writers

Self-editing for fiction writers

This was an easy to read how-to book divided into chapters such as point of view, interior monologue, voice and beats. In every chapter there was a gem of advice that had me mulling over a writing habit I had previously overlooked that needed to be eliminated. The book included exercises and summaries at the end of each chapter that I must admit, I disregarded.

With a special thanks to my editor, Joyce Gram for recommending this book, I now pass that endorsement on to you.

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Judy Fong Bates’— Midnight at the Dragon Café *****

Judy Fong Bates’— Midnight at the Dragon Café *****

In the 1960s, Su-Jen lives with her parents who run a cafe in a small Ontario town. They are the only Chinese family and while her mother detests the isolation, Su-Jen enjoys her friendship with Charlotte. But once her father’s son arrives, Su-Jen learns a dark family secret. But after her half-brother’s mail order bride arrives, she is plunged into her own misery with a tragic event.

Kate Quinn’s — The Alice Network *****

Kate Quinn’s — The Alice Network *****

In 1947 when Charlotte’s mother escorts her across to Europe for a discrete abortion in Switzerland, Charlotte escapes on a train to London. She clutches an address in the hope of locating her childhood friend, cousin Rose, who disappeared towards the end of WW11 in France. But behind the door of the address she grips is a broken drunk of a woman and an ex con. Can they help her find her beloved cousin?

This is an exciting read made more fascinating by the author’s use of a number of real characters, women who acted as spies during WW1. As well, she wove real events into this well written fiction.

Bernice Morgan’s — Random Passage *****

Bernice Morgan’s — Random Passage *****

When Lavinia’s family lose their fortune, they leave England for a remote settlement on Canada’s east coast. Here they toil beside a handful of residents year after year. With little farmable soil, they depend on the sea for their meagre livelihood.

A well told tale of hardship and survival of early European settlers in Canada.

Margaret Atwood’s — Alias Grace *****

Margaret Atwood’s — Alias Grace *****

Grace leaves Ireland to settle in Canada, but family hardship forces her into employment. When she moves away from her family to work for Thomas Kinnear, her life unravels. She is accused, along with another of Kinnear’s workers, of murdering Kinnear and his mistress.

This novel is based on the notorious nineteenth century murder when many believed Grace was evil and possibly insane, while others thought her innocent. So which is it?

Margaret Atwood is a prolific Canadian writer. For me, her two best novels are Alias Grace and The Handmaid’s Tale.

Abdulrazak Gurnah’s — Desertion *****

Abdulrazak Gurnah’s — Desertion *****

When Hassanali heads to his Kenyan mosque one morning, he encounters an Englishman who collapses at his feet. Hassanali takes care of him until he can pass the Englishman on to the colonial officer. After his recovery, he visits Hassanali’s house to thank him where he encounters the man’s sister, Rehana. The Englishman immediately falls in love with the beautiful woman and begins a taboo love affair.

Another five out of five

Pearl S. Buck’s — Good earth *****

Pearl S. Buck’s — Good earth *****

Several years after Wang Lung marries O-lan, they begin to prosper from their hard work. But a lazy uncle soon wants to take advantage of Wang Lung’s success. At the same time, mismanagement within the emperor’s court leads to its decline.

This Pulitzer prize winning novel may have been written sixty years ago, but it is still captivating in its portrayal of the upheaval that took place in China at the beginning of the 1800s, seen through the eyes of this farming family.