Karen Engelmann

Author of Phantom

Karen Engelmann was born and raised in the American Midwest, then moved to Sweden after completing university. The Stockholm Octavo is her first novel.


Debra Dean on rational thought and inspiration.


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Featured Articles & Reviews

Think Higher: Listening to Ourselves
by Jennifer Paros
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Learning and Loving the Three-Act Story
by Erin Brown
read article
Book Reviews: Editor's Pick
Suspect

reviewed by Jeff Ayers
read article
Don’t Bite That Wormy Apple
by Pamela Moore Dionne
read article

Think Higher: Listening to Ourselves
by Jennifer Paros

In a journal writing class years ago, I was taught to look more closely at any and all aspects of my experience through dialoguing.  So, if I had a headache, I’d talk to it. If I were stuck in my work, I’d ask it pointed questions.  If I were chronically angry, I’d take it to the page, opening conversation with a person, event, or the emotion itself. I was, of course, playing all the roles, but that was okay because I was hoping to learn more about my own internal state. 

As a writer, it was great practice.  Every time I asked a question, I listened for the answer inwardly.  I was learning to allow myself to open to the possibility of new thought coming, to allow for surprise, to think irregularly and perhaps gain insight. 

Regular thoughts are those I’ve thought before.  They are thoughts I’ve seen, heard, written, repeated. They form around subjects but also around emotions, clustered together in nests, like hives, all over my inner landscape.  There’s nothing new about them; they’re familiar.   Creative production out of these involves a synthesis of what already exists. more...

Learning and Loving the Three-Act Story
by Erin Brown

This month we’re getting back to basics, so buckle up and let’s rock the fundamentals! As I’m sure all of you know, a good story has a beginning, middle, and end. Well, some of you may not know that, which is the problem we want to avoid; because who wants to read a novel in which nothing happens? We’ve all been there—reading something that just goes on and on and on, drifting aimlessly, with no clear structure. Some call it creativity; I call it annoying. Some may argue that the three-act structure is a buncha hooey, but overall, it’s a very effective model to follow when writing. The three-act structure will usually ensure that you have more depth of character, a more interesting plot, and an overall more dynamic novel. It will also keep you and your story focused. . . unless you’re drunk, then you’ll have to sober up first to focus, even with this nifty structure (I’m looking at you, Fitzgerald!).

Now let’s get to it. The three-act structure is as follows:

1)     The first act/beginning: This is when you, the talented writer, establish your characters and setting. You also write their situation. What are these crazy yahoos up to, and where? This act is also when you establish your first plot point or a dynamic incident that thrusts the main character from his or her normal life into a contradictory situation that carries the rest of the story. more...

Book Reviews
Editor's Pick
Suspect

reviewed by Jeff Ayers

I will confess that Robert Crais is one of my favorite writers.  He has the knack of balancing humor with suspense, and his characters of Elvis Cole and Joe Pike are two of the best characters in crime fiction.  Against the backdrop of Los Angeles, which in itself is a character, he has written some amazing novels.  His latest, though set in Los Angeles as well, introduces two new characters in one of his rare standalones.  

LAPD cop Scott James should be on medical leave after he was shot and his partner was killed while trying to stop a brutal robbery.  He convinces his superiors that he’s fine, and requests to work with the K9 unit.  His canine, Maggie has survived tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, but her trainer didn’t make it back.  Like Scott, she suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and is not eligible to stay in the unit.  Scott sees her, and realizes they are kindred spirits with both emotional and physical scars. more...

Don’t Bite That Wormy Apple
by Pamela Moore Dionne

I’ve been thinking about Snow White and the Wicked Queen a lot lately. Or maybe it’s the apple that Snow White bites into that really has my attention. Some gifts should not be taken at face value. Often those gifts come disguised as advice.

In 2004, I founded Discovery Bay Games, a company that became quite successful. We started out with a different corporate name and face-to-face games. Since those early days we have grown into a digital-only game company, and our partnerships include Atari and Apple. However, back when I was just starting out I got lots of advice NOT to go forward. I was once told that the world didn’t need another word game. This statement was made in the midst of marketing research for Baffle Gab™, my first game – which, by the way, won 28 awards once it hit stores across the nation.

I’ve had similar experiences as a writer and poet. It took me years to learn not to take these kinds of statements to heart. The thing that saves me from letting go of my dreams is the fact that I’ve discovered something about the people who try to dissuade me from coloring outside the lines.  more...

 

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