Book Review:The Last Goodbye of Harris Turner by Ellen Byerrum

eb_websiteTLGHTSynopsis: When reporter Cassidy James got assigned to write the annual “spooktacular” article on local haunted houses for her small-town newspaper, she never expected to meet an old friend of one of the town’s famous ghosts. But elderly Harris Turner now wants her to arrange a reunion with his long-dead boyhood pal, and the paranormal encounter must be set for Halloween night.

All Hallows Eve promises to bring a full (and blue) moon. Turner insists this is prime time for the souls of the restless departed to appear to the living, particularly those who died on a previous blue moon. Just like his buddy, Kingston Grand, who was only 22 when he succumbed to the Grim Reaper, more than sixty years ago.

But what keeps Kingston earthbound in that stately old house, and why is Harris Turner so intent on communicating with the dead–after all these years? Cassidy has no idea where this story will lead, but there’s no way she’s going to miss this once-in-a-lifetime spook scoop.

My thoughts: Is there any genre the proficient Ellen Byerrum can’t excel at? According to her sharp, engaging short story, The Last Goodbye of Harris Turner, the answer is no. The Last Goodbye of Harris Turner is a quick but substantial read with an engaging heroine and a cast of charming secondary characters. Without a doubt, Byerrum’s writing is in a class by itself and this solid tale showcases just how well she crafts a story. The Last Goodbye of Harris Turner is an exhilarating read with an exciting plot and an electrifying ending!

Copyright © 2015 by Diane Morasco

Review first appeared in Examiner.

Author Interview: The Writing Life with the Prolific Ellen Byerrum

eb_website_november_15_2015001026DM: Hi Ellen! I want to thank you for taking the time for this interview. I’m so excited! It is always an absolute delight to interview you.

EB: Thank you, Diane. I feel the same way.

DM: Thank you so much for your kindness. It warms my heart, Ellen.

DM: When you first started writing, Ellen, who were your influences?

EB: Hmmm. I started out as a journalist, so I was inspired by news writing and the way reporters were portrayed in films. My favorite was the character of Hildy Johnson as played by Rosalind Russell in “His Girl Friday.” I love snappy patter.

DM: Was there an author who encouraged you or guided you along with the writing process?

EB: When I was in Washington, D.C., I belonged to a group called The Playwrights Forum. It was very important in receiving feedback and instrumental in setting up informal readings and staged readings with actors, which are invaluable in hearing what does and does not work in my writing.EB KH

DM: What type of support system did you have when you started penning “Killer Hair”?

EB : My husband Bob Williams, who is an incredibly talented editor and writer, has always been there for me, whether I worked in plays or books. We had many conversations throughout the writing of “Killer Hair”.

DM: How has your support system changed or shifted since publication?

EB: Luckily, Bob is a constant in my life.

DM: Who gave you words of encouragement when you needed it?

EB: Words of encouragement are sometimes very hard to come by. So I have to depend on a few good friends, Bob, and the woman in the mirror.

DM: Please describe your writing space.

EB: My writing space changes depending on how I feel and what part of a project I’m in. For instance, in the beginning, I head to the library where there are no distractions. Or sometimes I work on the daybed in our small bedroom. And other times, particularly at the end of a book, I work at my desk in our office, which has forest green walls.

DM: Please share what you’re writing day is like.

EB: I have no typical writing day, unlike so many other writers, whose discipline I admire. However, I go to water aerobics every morning. Without exercise I wouldn’t be able to write. It clears my head and in the pool I often get a line of dialog or an idea. I try to work in the later morning and afternoon.

DM: How much does social media come into play when writing? Does it help or hinder your writing process?EBDollhouse

EB: I have to say it hinders me. I sometimes wonder what life would be like without the Internet. What we would lose in easily accessed information, we’d gain in productivity and mindfulness.

DM: Are you a morning, afternoon or evening writer?

EB: Afternoon and evening and sometimes in the middle of the night.

DM: Do you outline?

EB: I used to have to outline when I was published traditionally. Turning in an outline was part of the contract, and it was so stressful for me, because an outline can suck the life out of a project. It can strip out the surprise and the serendipitous turns a story takes while you discover it. That being said, I usually have the plot in my head, I don’t have to write it down. That way, if it changes, I don’t have to stress over it, I just go with it.

DM: Please share how your play “A Christmas Cactus” came to be?

EB: I wrote “A Christmas Cactus” many years ago because I thought all the Christmas shows on television every year got worse and worse. I said, “I can do better than that!” Voila, the play.

DM: Are you happy with the way “A Christmas Cactus” turned out?

EB: I am, but it’s a play so it all depends on the cast and director and production. I can always imagine that it’s wonderful.

eb_websiteTLGHTDM: What is the best part of writing and worse part of writing for you?

EB: Writing is hard. It never gets any easier. The best part is having a great idea occur when you least expect it.

DM: What is your favorite part of being a writer?

EB: Being able to say I’m a writer.

DM: What three goals do you wish to accomplish with your writing career?

EB: Yikes! I have no idea.

DM: What is the one piece of advice you would give a budding writer on the road to publication?

EB: Be very, very, very sure this is what you want to do. Because it isn’t easy to find people who believe in you. And rejection becomes your constant companion.

DM: What do you think is the source of your own inspiration and energy?

EB: Inspiration: I have a very strange mind. Energy: I have no energy! That’s the problem. But daily exercise keeps me on my feet. Barely.EB TCDSA

DM: Do you have any plans for another children’s story? If so, what will it be about?

EB: I do, but finding time and the energy to write it is something else. It would feature the Bresette Twins again. Tentative title: The Scarecrow Knows.

DM: When will there be another Crime of Fashion novel?

EB: There will be one, and the title will be “The Masque of the Red Dress”. No promises on when it will be out, but sometime in 2016.

DM: How do you handle your editing process?

EB: I try not to take it too personally. It took years.

DM: What was your inspiration for “A Christmas Cactus”?

EB: See above.

Again, thank you so much, Ellen.

Check out Ellen’s website for the latest news.

Copyright © 2015 by Diane Morasco

View the original article on blogcritics.org

Rewriting Checklist

creative-writing-picture

1. Are there holes in your plot?

2. Is there sufficient conflict?

3. Have you done a spell check?

4. Does your dialogue flow?

5. Do you know your target audience?

6. Are your characters authentic?

7. Do your characters have a distinctive voice?

8. Have you read your novel aloud?

9. Have you rewritten your manuscript numerous times?

Copyright © 2015 by Diane Morasco