Tag Archives: fiction

NaNoWriMo Challenge

Do you ever feel like there’s a novel inside of you that’s waiting to be written? Now’s your chance! November is National Novel Writing Month and every year, writers from all over the country take part in the NaNoWriMo challenge. The goal is to write 50,000 in the 30 days of November. Whether you want to officially register for the challenge or you want to create a challenge of your own, here are some great books to inspire and break up your writer’s block.

Writing Guide

The complete idiot’s guide to writing a novel by Tom Monteleone— Don’t let the title prevent you from checking out this complete writer’s guide. This book covers everything including interviews with bestselling authors, general writing techniques, writing genre fiction, and how to get your work published. This is a helpful reference book for any stage of the writing process.

No plot? No problem! : a low-stress, high-velocity guide to writing a novel in 30 days  Chris Baty—Get a leg-up on NaNoWriMo from one of the minds behind the writing challenge.  Baty provides pep talks and survival tips to help you through the grueling 30 day challenge. This book will help break your writer’s block and unleash your creative side.

The 3 a.m. epiphany : uncommon writing exercises that transform your fiction  by Brian Kiteley— Inspiration and the need to write can strike at any moment, sometimes in the middle of the night. Kiteley’s book is full of writing exercises designed to help you think, write, and revise your work. As the director of University of Denver’s creative writing program, he has crafted these exercises through his 15 years of experience. Transform your ideas and overcome your self-editing and doubts with this great book.

Spunk & bite: a writer’s guide to bold, contemporary style by Arthur Plotnik—Do you want to take your writing from blah to wow? Spunk and Bite is full of writing exercises to help you take your writing to the next level.  Plotnik’s book isn’t just for creative writers. It can help improve your everyday writing, such as business reports, memos, and emails.

Write is a verb: Sit down. Start writing. No excuses  by Bill O’Hanlo—The act of writing can be overwhelming. As a psychotherapist and writing coach, O’Hanlo brings unique principles and methods to help you sit down and write. These methods are meant to be customized to your preferences, so they work for you. These techniques include knowing how to manage overwhelming projects so you can finish what you start.

The pocket muse : ideas & inspirations for writing by Monica Wood— When writer’s block strikes, flip through The Pocket Muse! Full of pictures, prompts, and exercise, this book is great for breaking through the block and getting your creativity flowing again.

Help! for writers : 210 solutions to the problems every writer faces by Roy Peter Clark—Are you stuck in your writing process? Clark provides unique trouble shooting for the most common problems during the seven stages of the writing process. This book will have you looking for inspiration in everyday life from graffiti to the deleted scenes of your favorite DVD.

2015 guide to self-publishing by Robert Lee Brewer, editor—So you’ve successfully completed NaNoWriMo. Now what? If you’re looking to self-publish your newly minted manuscript, this guide provides advice on everything including cover design, copyright, and promoting your work. This book also includes great advice from successful independent authors.

Writers on Writing

Bird by bird: some instructions on writing and life by Anne Lamott—Writing can be overwhelming. Staring at a blank page, you might feel pressured to fill the whole document immediately. Lamott has a simple solution: take it one word at a time. Filled with great advice from her own experiences, Bird by Bird is a funny, insightful, and inspirational look into the life of an author.

The writing life: writers on how they think and work: a collection from the Washington post book world  edited and with an introduction by Marie Arana—Are you looking for a range of perspectives on writing to figure out what strategies work best for you? In this anthology, fifty authors share their tips and secrets to their writing success. This eclectic group of writers may contain the motivation you need to successfully finish NaNoWriMo.

Only as good as your word: writing lessons from my favorite literary gurus by Susan Shapiro—Shapiro knows that in order to be a great writer, you need to learn from the best. She shares her favorite advice from the authors that have inspired her career. Her mentors will quickly become your mentors for their support and advice.

Negotiating with the dead: a writer on writing by Margaret Atwood—What does it mean to be a writer? How do people connect with their audience? Atwood examines these questions and many more as she talks about her writing experiences and shares some of the great works of literature that have inspired her craft.

Whether you’re looking to write fiction, poetry, nonfiction, or a screenplay, the Southfield Public Library has books to guide your literary ambitions. For more information about National Writing Month, visit nanowrimo.org.


Fairy Tales for Grown-ups

Spring is a wonderful season.  After a long, dreary winter, the world is new and magical again. As we enjoy the spring season, our thoughts turn to  fairy tales. Here’s a short list of fantastical stories written for adults to bring some magic to your life.

The big over easy by Jasper Fforde  Follow Detective Jack Spratt and his partner, Sergeant Mary Mary, of the Nursery Crime Division, as they investigate the death of Humpty Dumpty. Half mystery and half fantasy, Fforde’s nursery crime books incorporate familiar fairy tale characters into funny stories of mystery and intrigue. The next book in the series, The fourth bear, is a mystery involving Goldilocks, the three bears, and a maniacal gingerbread man.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman  Gaiman is the master of the modern myth. This novel smartly blends fantasy, Americana, and myth into a story that examines the American culture. According to the story, gods and mythological creatures only exist because we believe in them.  As people immigrated to America, they brought the gods of their home countries with them. American culture is changing and the old gods are disappearing to make room for the “new” gods, such as media, technology and celebrity. Join the main character, Shadow, on his fantastical road trip across the country as he helps rally the gods of the past to fight the new American gods.  For more great books by Gaiman, check out The ocean at the end of the lane, Fragile thingsAnansi Boys, Stardust,  or Neverwhere.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman What’s a fairy tale list without a little romance? Read the timeless story that inspired the classic movie. The beautiful Buttercup lives in the country and one day falls in love with a farm hand, Wesley. When Wesley goes off to find his fortune so the two can be married, his ship is taken over by the Dread Pirate Roberts. Buttercup abandons hope that Wesley will return to her; but, is their love story over?

The snow child: a novel  by Eowyn Ivey  Jack and Mabel are desperate for a child. One day, they find a young girl wandering around the woods by their home in the Alaskan wilderness. They take the little girl in. As the couple takes care of the girl and falls in love with her, what they learn will change their lives forever.

Confessions of an ugly stepsister by Gregory Maguire  In this beautiful re-imagining of the Cinderella story, Iris, her mother, and her sister,  are cast from their home in England and are forced to take refuge in the Netherlands. Iris’s mother tries to improve her family’s station and marries a painter. As the story begins to transform  into the classic Cinderella story we all know, characters and their motivations are re-examined to tell a sympathetic tale. For more great stories, check out Wicked, the book that inspired the Broadway musical and the rest of the books about the Wicked years (Son of a Witch, A lion among men, and Out of Oz) .

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern In Victorian England, a mysterious circus travels from town-to-town. No one knows when it will arrive. The black and white tent opens at sunset and closes at sunrise before moving onto the next town.  Within this beautiful, mysterious circus, two young magicians, Marco and Celia, are raised to be masters of their craft.  The two fall in love, beginning a series of events that will leave the circus performers and patrons in the balance.

Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi  Mr. Fox is a writer with a problem: he can’t stop killing off the heroines in his stories. One day his muse, Mary, comes to life and confronts him for his creative choices.  Fantasy, reality, literature, and love are all examined in this inventive novel.  For other whimsical stories by Oyememi, try  Boy, snow, bird : a novel , White is for witching, and The Icarus girl.

Now that you have a magical story to read, enjoy it outside or in your garden. Be sure to keep an eye open for fairies!

Everything Irish

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and we’re excited to celebrate all things Irish. From food to fiction, here are 7 great books to make you feel a little more Irish.

Kevin Dundon’s modern Irish food : more than 100 recipes for easy comfort food by Kevin Dundon This book contains great traditional Irish recipes as well as twists on old favorites.  Dundon offers a variety of recipes that are perfect for a family dinner or a quick-lunch. With this book, you’ll be ready for an Irish celebration of any size.

In search of Ireland’s heroes : the story of the Irish from the English invasion to the present day by Carmel McCaffrey This book provides a great overview of Irish history. Well-researched and written, it’s great for anyone who wants to learn a little more of the country’s rich history and its struggle to independence.

Ireland Eyewitness Travel Whether you’re planning a trip to Ireland or only traveling using your imagination, this book provides beautiful pictures and descriptions of the Emerald Isle. From touring castles in the countryside to visiting the Guinness factory, this guide will lead you to the most interesting places and events Ireland has to offer.

St. Patrick of Ireland : a biography by  Philip Freeman Have you ever wondered about the real St. Patrick? Check out this great book about the life and legacy of the saint that inspired the holiday we know today. This book is packed with historical information but easy for anyone to read.

In the Woods by Tana French French is a master of Irish mystery. In the Woods is the first book in her series, the Dublin Murder Squad. As a child, Rob Ryan is the lone survivor of a terrible murder that takes place in nearby woods.  Twenty years later, Ryan is a detective and finds himself investigating an eerily similar murder in the same woods. Can Ryan uncover the key to the murders of the past and present?

The Book of Lost Things by John Connelly After the death of his mother, twelve-year-old David takes comfort in his imagination and books. Reality and fantasy mix together to create an enduring coming of age tale by a contemporary Irish author.

A Long Long Way by Sebastian Berry  Willie Dunne leaves his family and girlfriend in  Dublin  to fight with the Allied Forces in World War I. While he’s away, political tensions are growing back home.  This vivid and honest book gives insight into the struggle of war and wonders if it’s possible to go home again.

Stop by the Southfield Public Library for these and other great books about Irish life and heritage.

Black History Month 2015

February is Black History Month and we’re excited to celebrate some of our favorite African-American authors.  Here are some great books to discover or enjoy for a second read.

I know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou This autobiography  covers the poet’s  life and struggles through her formative years. Despite her troubles, the book emphasizes the power of the human spirit. I know why the caged bird sings is also the topic for February’s Creecy Book Discussion group.

Beloved by Toni Morrison Sethe was born a slave but escaped to Ohio. She is still haunted by the horror of her former life and the baby she was forced to kill in order to prevent being recaptured. Beloved is a hauntingly beautiful read that is full of suspense.

The girl who fell from the sky by Heidi W. Durrow After a family tragedy, Rachel is sent to live with her African-American  grandmother. As the daughter of Danish mother and African-American father, Rachel is forced to confront her racial identity for the first time. As she grieves, she must also piece together the mystery surrounding her parent’s death. The girl who fell from the sky is a beautiful coming of age story as well as a thoughtful commentary on racism and identity.

Pym by Mat Johnson Chris Jaynes is the only African-American English professor at a small liberal arts college. Much to the college’s dismay, he has chosen to study Edgar Allan Poe instead of African-American literature.  When he comes across a 19th-century manuscript that suggests Poe’s novel about an African diaspora colony in the South Pole may be real, he goes on an expedition to Antarctica to find out for himself.  This satirical fantasy explores race relations in America.

Twelve years a slave by Solomon Northrup Read the powerful memoir that inspired the Oscar-winning movie.  Northrup was born a free man in New York but was kidnapped and sold into slavery.  His account provides extensive detail about his experience as a slave and his quest to freedom.

The twelve tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis At fifteen-years old, Hattie flees Georgia and heads north to Philadelphia in the hope of a better life. She marries a man; but, their marriage is far from a fairy tale. Together they have eleven children, two of which die not long after birth. She decides to prepare her children for the world of struggle she has come to know. Twelve stories weave together to form a testament of a mother’s love and courage.

Let America be America again by Langston Hughes This collection of Hughes’s poems is powerful and provocative. They paint a beautiful picture of what he hopes America could be.  These iconic poems help summarize the beauty and the passion of the Harlem Renaissance.

You can find these great stories and more on the 2nd and 3rd floor of the Southfield Public  Library. For more information about these authors and other influential African Americans,  stop by the Reference desk or visit our website.

Chill Out!

While this latest heat wave is almost over, we’ve still got a lot of summer to go! Here are some books set in cold climates to take your mind off that ever rising thermometer…..


Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell is set in the bitter cold of an Ozark winter. Rees Dolly, a girl of 17, must find her no-account father before she and her younger siblings are evicted.  It’s also a great movie.

Smilla’s Sense Of Snow by Peter Hoeg finds Smilla, a detective in Copenhagen, trying to solve a murder.

Game Of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. creates a new world in this first of a very popular series and  a very long winter is coming.  You can also watch the HBO adaptation.

Something Red by Douglas Nichols finds a small troupe trying to cross the mountains before the snows set in… but something more than bears are prowling about.

Snow Falling On Cedars by David Guterson is a story of star-crossed lovers , prejudice and justice set among the snowy woods of Washington. The movie version is also available.

A Fatal Grace by Lousie Penny finds Inspector Gamache up in Three Pines, Quebec , trying to solve the murder of woman along side the curling rink.

Winter’s Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher takes the reader to a snowy Christmas time in the hills of Scotland.

Books Into Movies – The Summer Edition…..


There’s a whole lot of sequel-ing going on in movie theaters this summer, but there are also some movies that are based on books. Give one of these a try and you decide which is better…. the movie or the book!

Leonardo DiCaprio stars in the screen version of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a novel of class, money, excess, identity, friendship and love.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is based on  a book by Rick Riordan. You might have met Percy before in both movie and book form… this version finds Percy fighting all sorts of monsters in the Bermuda Triangle.

World War Z by Max Brooks chronicles an attack on civilization by zombies created by a virus… Brad Pitt puts his spin on it in the movie version.

Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume tells the tale of young girl who needs to work through her grief over her father’s death. Can the movie live up to the book?

Paranoia takes you into the world of corporate espionage. Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson are two of the stars of the movie based on the book by Joseph Finder.

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare is given a modern twist by Joss Whedon.. two sets of star-crossed lovers finally find their happiness fulfilled.

Under the Dome is actually a television series based on a book by Stephen King. You know he can’t be contained in a two hour movie! A town in Maine finds itself isolated under a mysterious dome…

Mortal Instruments is another teen book turned movie. It’s based on the book called City of Bones by Cassandra Clare and full of Shadowhunters and demons and vampires and all sorts of otherwordly creatures.

So, enjoy those movies, read those books and let us know which you preferred!

Ah, Summertime!

Ah, sunshine, blue skies, summertime! And, back again at the library is the Summer Reading For Grown-Ups program.  Stop at the 2nd floor Fiction Desk for details and to sign up!

oh the places

Our theme this year is OH THE PLACES YOU WILL GO – WHEN YOU READ!

Those places could be another city, another state, another country, another planet, another time …

To get you started on a journey, try one of these…

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather is an oldie but goodie, where she recreates the world of immigrants on the Nebraska frontier of the late 19th century.

Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan is set in Berlin and Paris in the late 1930’s. Here, a troupe of ex-pat African Americans have made it big as jazz musicians, but are now facing the threat of the rise of the Nazi party.

The Known World by Edward P. Jones transports the reader back to pre-Civil War days in Virginia and explores the lives of slaves, under the ownership of both white and black masters.

The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard Morais tells the takes you on a delicious journey from Bombay to Paris with Hassan, a man who loves to feed people.

Shantaram is an epic novel written by Gregory Roberts. In it, an escaped Australian convict finds freedom in the slums of Bombay. The author shares with the reader the sights and the sounds and the smells and the beauty of that crowded city, as well as creating a rousing adventurous tale.

The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe is a sweeping novel, set in the western states and provinces of the U.S. and Canada in the late 1800’s. There, a band of searchers join together to find a lost brother, a sister’s killer, a place in the world and much more.