Writing the Expat Novel

Assisi, Italy, http://www.carolineallen.com   I’m working on a series of four novels, EARTH, AIR, FIRE and WATER, two of which are expat novels (stories set in foreign countries). In EARTH, my protagonist is rooted to a farm in America. In AIR, she floats above the culture in the Orient. In FIRE, her ego is burned […]

How to write: Keeping a series character fresh

  Welcome to the first in a series of essays on writing by guest bloggers. Today’s blogger is Marni Graff. A former writer for seven years with “Mystery Review” magazine, Graff has interviewed Ian Rankin, Deborah Crombie, Val McDermid, and her mentor, P. D. James, amongst many others. A member of Sisters in Crime, she runs […]

5 Tips for Writing Fiction

Angel at Kerepesi Cemetery in Budapest, Hungary, http://www.carolineallen.com It’s more difficult to sum up writing fiction than it is writing memoir. Fiction can be too amorphous, too soulful, to be forced into linear alignment. However, there are a few guidelines you can follow for writing good fiction. 1. Start with character. Spend time really getting […]

Writing a novel, from geisha to herbalist

I stood at the second story window, looking out, waiting for him. It was so cold. There was no way to heat yourself this late at night. The house was made of wood and rice paper, with gaps between the slats in the walls. The freezing air hit me through the cracks. I pulled the […]

How to write: Outsider art

Screaming Me, acrylic on cardbaord, http://www.carolineallen.com I have an art studio at the base of the apartment building where I live. It has windows to the street. A local artist called, said she saw my art in the windows, and was curating a show for outsider artists. Could she come into my studio and see […]

How to write: When beautiful isn’t beautiful

Seattle healer Ellen Newhouse (www.ellennewhouse.com) and I were working on a chapter of her memoir called Loner. She was describing how she liked to church hop when she was just a young girl. She was Jewish and adored Temple, but also went with friends to Catholic Mass, even took a catechism class. She was writing […]