Sarah Potter Writes

Pursued by the Muses of prose and poetry

Archive for the tag “Mainstream fiction”

Book Review: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Nineteen MinutesNineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

However difficult the subject, Jodi Picoult always delivers big-time. She has an incredible capacity to show all sides of the story from the different viewpoints of characters trapped in ethical dilemmas. She never moralises, or allows even an ounce of author intrusion. Instead, she takes the reader right into the heads and hearts of those characters who are telling the story.

Nineteen Minutes is about a sensitive boy who has to suffer years of bullying, which begins the day he starts nursery school and continues through the years until, at the age of 17, he snaps and goes on a shooting spree in his high school. His mother is a midwife who brings babies into this world and now her son has become a murderer. She never realised that he had a problem, so you can imagine where that takes her on the self-blame front.

Basically, this a story about a situation that is every parent’s idea of a nightmare. Told from the third person viewpoints of the main players, while moving backwards and forwards between different time strands, the author skilfully builds up detailed psychological and social profiles of these characters, plus taking the reader through the gathering of evidence for the court case that follows the shooting.

This is a long novel (nearly 600 pages), but well worth the read, albeit a galling one. It made me think deeply about contemporary society and the “in-crowd” versus those it excludes. It also made me glad that I’m the age I am and not having to go through school now, especially with the added pressure of social networking.

I found it very hard to put this novel down, but it left me exhausted afterwards and unable to settle to reading any other work of fiction straight after.

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#NaNoWriMo 2017 & the Advent of Two Different Author Names!

To put the title of my post into context, I want to share with you the testimonial I’ve sent to the organisers of National Novel Writing Month…

I would like to thank the NaNoWriMo Team for providing the platform for a complete turnabout in my writing and for saving me from quitting altogether.

During the first half of 2017, with five novels under my belt, I had finally accepted that for an author to cross multiple genres was tantamount to committing marketing suicide. Enough traditional publishers and literary agents had rejected my work for this reason, while at the same time complimenting me on my prose, but of course I had to learn the hard way by self-publishing a couple of the novels. The experiment wasn’t a total failure, as a small handful of people risked buying the first book and then bought the second book, too. According to their reviews, they loved my quirkiness and particular brand of British humour.

By the time I reached October of the year, I was suffering the worst case of writer’s block and disillusionment ever. Thus, when I signed up for NaNoWriMo it felt like the craziest act of faith in the world. I had never written as much as 50,000 words in a month and didn’t think I had the hours to do so; plus, I was going to attempt to write a straight science fiction novel, rather than a mishmash of about six genres rolled into one. However, twenty pages into the story I realised it wasn’t science fiction, and that it probably wasn’t in me to write anything suited to diehard fans of the genre. This amounted to a moment of profound enlightenment. What were my strengths? Answer: Quirkiness and British humour. What exactly was I writing if it wasn’t science fiction? Answer: mainstream satire that happened to be set in the not-too-distant future.

Thus with great optimism and to maintain my focus, I have signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo and set my next goal, which is to finish writing the first draft of the novel by 2nd February, after which I will don my editor’s hat and set a revision target.

Now for the bit about author names. I don’t want to dump my old novels altogether, as they have been my close companions on a long writing journey and I’m really quite fond of them. Being an eccentric means that I will always write quirky stuff, and here’s a virtual hug for my highly valued supporters who don’t care a toss about my blatant mishmashing of genres.

Thus, what I propose — unless my literary Muse dictates otherwise — is to self-publish my hard-to-categorise novels under the name of Sarah Potter, but for novels that do fit a category and might prove of interest to literary agents and traditional publishers, I will use the author name Sarah C Potter.

Meanwhile, from now until the end of January, I have on special offer my two crossover self-published novels, but more about that in the next post when I will share with you my reasons for staging a rebellion against particular price tags.

Friday Fictioneers — Magenta and Cyan Equals Purple, Right?

Folks, I’m disappearing off into the sunset throughout the month of November and not participating in Friday Fictioneers during that time. During my absence I’m going to attempt to write at least 50,000 words of satirical science fiction as a participant in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The novel’s working title is The Parable Teller.

This is my first attempt to write a starter draft that fast. My record is three months, following three months of research. You’ll only see me back at FF before November 30 if I flunk the challenge. Meanwhile, I hope to post once-weekly progress reports on my blog, perhaps with the occasional excerpt if I have time to edit it, as nobody gets to see my raw drafts of anything!

If any other Friday Fictioneers are participating in the madness and want to link up as a NaNoWriMo buddy, my username over there is Wolery Wol. I’ve one buddy so far, and that’s none other than Dale!

So here’s my story for this week’s Friday Fictioneers (in which the colour purple features … especially for Rochelle, of course!). And many thanks to Roger Bultot for the wonderfully picturesque photo prompt.

Genre: Mainstream
Word count: 100

MAGENTA AND CYAN EQUALS PURPLE, RIGHT?

“Sunsets aren’t purple.”

“The one was at teatime yesterday, Miss.”

“Viewed through a glass of blackcurrant juice, you mean?”

Robbie’s ears and cheeks burned with a mixture of embarrassment and anger.

Sophie threw him a sideways glance and started to giggle.

“What’s so funny, Sophie?” asked their art teacher.

“Robbie’s gone the colour of a proper sunset, Miss.”

He tore up his painting and stormed out of the classroom, yelling, “Everybody can eff off!” Then headed for the headmaster’s office, determined to get in the first word.

“Sir, I’m here to lodge a complaint against the curriculum.  It murders imagination.”

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To read other Friday Fictioneers’ stories for this week, or to add a 100-word story of your own, please click on the blue frog below.

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