PROGRESS REPORT

UPDATE:  JANUARY 18

WELCOME TO ALL THE DITZ LIT BACKLASHERS

We hope you’ll find this site to be a ditz lit alternative now and in the future as we add select new authors.

This is a portal site. That means no bells and no whistles, just enough information to introduce the authors and provide a link to their own site.

We’re hoping that readers of contemporary fiction will appreciate a site that caters to the interests of the intelligent reader. Our group is committed to defying the bestseller mentality and the fanfiction formulas that go with it.

We’ve added two new member authors, Gregory Allen and Jacqueline Gum. Everyone is welcome to learn a little about them in the posts below.

If you’re a writer of contemporary fiction and would be interested in joining our group, you can contact us at, newedgeauthors-at-gmail.com.

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WELCOME TO THE CONTEMPORARY EDGE

For the purpose of providing a working definition of the term “contemporary fiction,” we’re offering the following less-than-fully serious suggestion: contemporary fiction contains no vampires, werewolves, zombies, time-travelers, shape-shifters, succubi, wizards, warlocks, dragons, bows, arrows, aliens or robots. YMMV.

An introduction to each of the member authors is available in the posts below.

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WHY I CHOSE TO WRITE CONTEMPORARY FICTION

This post features comments from the member authors explaining why we chose to write contemporary fiction when everyone knows that vampire novels are the road to riches.

RICHARD BUZZELL

I chose to write contemporary fiction because I’m fascinated by the intersection between the emotional and the intellectual aspects of social conflict. To explore this fascination, I wanted to write a super-hero story within the confines of a real-world setting, and for that character to be a social dissident. I wanted the challenge of portraying a character who has super-hero appeal while at the same time being very realistic and relevant.

The challenge of trying to write a credible hero for the 21st century was so attractive to me that I never tried to resist it, despite the hazards it presented. I knew that I didn’t want the type of super-hero who comes to the rescue of hapless victims of evil. I wanted a character who encourages others to save themselves.

Along with the hero, I was also interested in creating a 21st century sidekick, one who would have to grapple with the conflicts created by the hero’s disruptive behavior. Within a real-world setting super-heroes are not always so easy to get along with. The reality is that it’s often the super-villains who come across as the guys who are fun to hang with, while the super-heroes sometimes seem moody and cantankerous. That’s what I wanted to write about – a difficult character who challenges our perception of the world in which we live.

XAVIER LERET

I have never been able to explain why I write. It is something that I have always done. I’m not sure if I write because I love it, because often the process is torture, not just for me but for those around me. I don’t remember choosing to write. I just wrote, not very well I might add. It was also not an easy thing for me to do, but I always approached it with a sense of discipline – actually I’m lying, I have no discipline. When I sit down to work I tend to spend a lot of time not doing anything. I call it hanging around waiting for the Big Bang. I do a lot of hanging around. The worst time is when I’ve gone to bed on a real high thinking about the next days work and where the story is going. I have amazing conversations with my characters and we drink a lot of wine. We discuss the narrative from all angles, the symbolism, the existential agenda, the resonance of meaning within the action – you name it, we talk about it. But the next morning nothing happens. All those great ideas vanished into the magic hat of my vanity. And then the doubt kicks in. Sometimes the doubt is so bad I leave stories alone for weeks on end. If I look at them – I hate them. I am inconsolable about my wretched lack of talent, overcome with self loathing. And then somehow I start again. And something amazing happens. I might trash what I wrote before – but this is liberating – OK, liberating when one has the benefit of hindsight. It took me five or six years to write Heaven Sent, nearly all the work I wrote in the first four years ended on a pyre. That wasn’t fun, all those false starts and blind alleys, though sometimes it was satisfying to edit great swathes of work in the same way that pulling a scab can feel great.
Although I said that I never chose to be a writer, I always wanted to be a writer. I only ever imagined myself writing. Perhaps I have a limited imagination, lets face it life would certainly have been easier if I had imagined myself as a lawyer, or a builder, or, heaven forbid, a banker. But I was incapable of imagining myself doing these things. I did imagine myself as a theatre director and a filmmaker and I have been lucky enough to have written and directed both theatre and film – but always deep down I wanted to be at my desk, writing. I never sit at my desk and wish I was standing behind a camera or trying explain my ideas to an actor. I collaborated for so long and the collaboration made my writing lazy and collaboration wore me down.
For me writing is about discovering life. It is about examining what makes us tick. I know for others writing is about exciting plots, twists and turns, bubble gum hits of entertainment. I’ve never read work like that, it doesn’t interest me. I want to be taken through a story by a writer and shown things, be offered questions about morality, sociology and the human condition. That’s not to say I don’t want to be entertained, and I would consider myself an entertainer, there is nothing more boring than a mire of formless theories and opaque imagery – but ideas must be present in what I read and necessarily present in what I write. I don’t write for a bigger house, or a flash car, or a wide screen telly. I write to understand and to try to express this understanding in as interesting, thought provoking and emotionally engaging way that I can. I consider my time on the earth as precious and limited, I don’t want to waste it on trinkets.
My wife however, does remind me that the children need feeding and clothing and that our hideous Tory government has just robbed them of their free university education and they also have their sights on the National Health Service-
“What?”
Oh and this hideous inner voice within me has just shouted, “fuck the arty farty ‘poet in the attic shite’, write a thriller, the mortgage needs paying!”

TERRI GIULIANO LONG

Why I Don’t Write About Vampires (although maybe I should)

Families fascinate me. While my stories differ, they always tie back to the family, the ways we love, yet often hurt one another, the grief, the sorrow, the revelation, the joy. I think people connect with those stories. Many readers – family, friends, reviewers and readers I’ve never met – have said In Leah’s Wake feels real and complex. They’ve been there, as a parent or a teen. They feel they know these characters, and they care about them. For me, connecting with readers is by far the most important reason for writing.

Writing realistic cotemporary stories does have challenges, aside from a smaller reader base. Because readers relate to the families, they often assume they’re my family members. In the novel, Dorothy, the designer of the bracelets Zoe buys, and Bob Sullivan, the owner of Sullivan Farms Ice Cream, are real people–and I’ve done my best to capture their spirit. No other character is based on any one real person. For authenticity, like most writers, I borrow habits and physical characteristics from real people – for the runaway arm, I owe my youngest daughter, KK; and my husband is a physical stand-in for Will. Friends and family notice similarities, which can result in unfortunate assumptions. I’m lucky: I have a good-natured family who puts up with my thievery. They claim not to mind.

Personalities, motivations, and behaviors – this, I’m 100 % responsible for.

My novel-in-progress, Nowhere to Run, is a contemporary psychological thriller with a historical twist. Like In Leah’s Wake, Nowhere is a family story at heart

TESS HARDWICK

Most beginning writers are told they should write what they love to read. I suppose that’s true. However, I believe once you find your distinct voice, the stories you innately have in you will find their way out to the page. I read all genres of fiction, and am an admirer of many different writers from the classics to acclaimed contemporary literary fiction to page turning commercial fiction. When I began to study the craft of fiction as a writer, I wasn’t sure where I would end up on the spectrum.

But now, after years of writing, with my first novel published and the second due out in November 2011, I know my voice is sensuous, romantic, full of the lush qualities of contemporary life, whether it’s the touch of skin upon skin, the taste of a peach or the smell of lilacs in a spring breeze. My novels are love stories; a combination of fast moving plots and distinct characters, with a little dose of humor and always with my optimistic outlook on the world. My characters will always have happy endings. They will always find redemption. And, my sincerest hope is that my readers will feel encouraged and inspired about their own situations as they turn that last page.

Gregory G. Allen

People have asked why I chose to tell the stories that I write. What draws me to that kind of fiction? It goes back to my desire to be a storyteller and to make people think and question their own lives. I love to create characters that readers can relate to; not necessarily those that can only be found in a fairy tale. I want flawed characters that have strong wants, desires and obstacles keeping them from achieving something. But the amazing thing about the human spirit is our desire to forge on and reach for those goals.

I write so that people may be challenged on an area in their own world. That by reading my diverse characters in sometimes foreign surroundings to the reader, they may think twice about what they always thought to be ‘the norm’. It’s a great challenge for me as an author to be able to tell stories from opposing views of my own through the mind of my fictional world, but in doing so I learn something and just hopefully – so does my reader.

So I will continue in my realm of contemporary fiction mixing genres when appropriate, changing the style from book to book, and hopefully telling unique stories that just perhaps have a much more universal appeal. To touch a reader: that is gold.

Jacqueline Gum

I choose to write contemporary fiction because I enjoy the challenge of developing character and plot equally. I think there’s a little of me in every character I write, including the antagonist. And all of them are flawed in some way, because there’s truth in that.

A real life event usually sparks my imagination and I develop the plot around a happening that I find remarkable, particularly if my view of that incident is opposite public opinion. Or if I feel it hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. I’m driven to shine a light on injustice, hoping to make a difference in some small way; even if it’s just changing one person’s observation. I think one of the highest compliments I’ve received was a comment to my blog that simply stated “WOW! Why didn’t I think of that?”

Justice seems to be the common thread though all my writing, including my weekly blog entitled, Where’s The Justice. But unlike my novels, the blog can get snarky in a funny ha ha way. At least, that’s the objective!

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INTRODUCING THE NEW EDGE AUTHORS

RICHARD BUZZELL

Richard Buzzell’s debut novel ZombieStop Parade has nothing to do with zombies. It’s a story that attempts to capture the passion, the turmoil, and the strife of the struggle against the “gang of spielers” on Wall Street.

Through online media the characters conduct a campaign of irreverence toward the cash-grab mentality. Their street-savvy satire wins them many supporters who view them as heroes of sustainability, but it also draws vitriolic opposition and charges of extremism. There is ongoing debate about the boundaries between committed advocacy and megalomania.

The story unfolds beneath the threat of declining social cohesion and all the ugly possibilities that come with that.

The book was described by Midwest Book Review as: “a unique and timely novel, highly recommended.”

ZombieStop has been adapted for the screen in a screenplay entitled Johnny Nada.

The spirit of ZombieStop is captured in the musical stylings of Bank Man Song (aka the Craps Hookers and Blow song). Video available at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AltIvluLGH8

Jersey Shore satire available at: http://www.zombiestop.wordpress.com

Mr. Buzzell’s latest publication is Ministry of Morgasm, which offers a fresh lexicon of pleasure for those readers sophisticated enough to appreciate its subtle implications.

XAVIER LERET

I grew up like any normal child. I hated school. Was very very bad, hanging out with a gang of delinquents at the local prefabs, underage drinking, getting stoned and discovering that my body reacted strangely when girls were around. One time a friend dared me to set light to the bonfire the local scout troop had built for Guy Fawkes. I think someone had put petrol on it because the pile of wood exploded, setting light to everything  near by and nearly killing a punk glue sniffer, called Harold, who was hiding in the bushes.

By some miracle I made it through school with enough qualifications to get to university in Reading, where I studied Film and Drama, went on demonstrations, had my heart broken at least twice and I wrote my first play.

After uni, I struggled a bit before I fell in with a crowd of theatre artists and became a founding member and the Artistic Director of KAOS Theatre. KAOS went on to win some awards, travel the world and I wrote a few more plays and adaptations. My writing included THE FANTASTICAL ADVENTURES OF LEONARDO DA VINCI (a commission for the International Festival of Perth, Western Australia), RENAISSANCE (a Millennium Award Winner), THIRST, ALICE, CALIGULA, SWING and an adaptation of Bulgakov’s THE MASTER & MARGARITA (nominated for the best production on the Dublin Fringe and an Edinburgh Fringe First).

Not only did I write but I also directed much of the work. Directing included THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (Winner of The Stage Award, Best Ensemble, Time Out Critics Choice) VOLPONE (Nominated for The Stage Award, Best Ensemble), TITUS ANDRONICUS and RICHARD III (nominated for a Manchester Evening News Award).

Somehow, and I have no real idea how I managed to pull it off, I made two feature films. The first, MINE, is about two journalists and their Serbian Militia guides stuck in a Yugoslav minefield. Dark and brooding, MINE was selected as a breakthrough movie for LUFF 2007. My second film is UNARMED BUT DANGEROUS), an ultra violent and controversial flick about a short armed Kung Fu master battling brutal East End Gangsters in an attempt to get his daughter back.

After doing all this I went to Birbeck College, University Of London, to do a Creative Writing MA, which I’m pleased to say I got.

I have just finished writing my first novel, HEAVEN SENT, and am now working on a couple of others.

I read my work regularly at London’s hippest literary salon The Book Club Boutique, deep in the heart of Soho.

I  live a fairly quiet life in the countryside just north of London, with my wife and three children.

NOTE: Xavier’s novel Heaven Sent has been temporarily withdrawn from the market pending rewrites. It will be re-released soon.

http://www.xavierleret.com

TERRI GIULIANO LONG

First and foremost, I’m a wife and mom. My husband, Dave, and I have four adult daughters, two sons-in-law, and three grandchildren, Sam, 4, Matthew, 2, and Alexandra, 3 months, and a baby boy, Griffin, on the way. Yes, I married at 10.

Seriously, I did marry young. I completed my undergrad degree in philosophy, Boston College, and my MFA in creative writing, Emerson College, as an adult.

Professionally, I lecture at Boston College, where I’ve taught creative and nonfiction writing for 15 years. I’ve also written copy for marketing, advertising and public relations, edited technical articles for trade journals, and edited a  trade magazine.

In Leah’s Wake, my debut novel, tells the story of a family in collapse. Sixteen-year-old Leah, a star soccer player, has led a perfect life. When she meets a sexy older guy, attracted to his independence, she begins to spread her wings. Drinking, ignoring curfew, dabbling in drugs—all this feels like freedom to her. Her terrified parents, thinking they’re losing their daughter, pull the reigns tighter. Unfortunately, they get it all wrong, pushing when they ought to be pulling, and communication breaks down. Soon, there’s no turning back. Twelve-year-old Justine caught between the parents she loves, and the big sister she adores, finds herself in the fight of her life, trying desperately to pull her family together. Will this family survive? What happens when love just isn’t enough?

Years ago, I wrote a series of feature articles about families with drug- and alcohol-addicted teens. The moms talked candidly about their children, their struggles. Their heartbreaking stories stayed with me.

My husband and I have four daughters, now adults. When I began writing In Leah’s Wake, they were teens. Most families experience conflict during their children’s teenage years. We’re no different – though, thankfully, we experienced nothing remotely like the problems and challenges the Tylers face in the book.

As a parent, I knew how it felt to be scared, to be concerned for your children’s future. Although I didn’t think about it at the time, I now see this as a primary force driving this story. My work with families, my personal experiences and core beliefs – all of this played on my conscious and subconscious mind, and ultimately emerged as this book.

Jodi Picoult fans tell me In Leah’s Wake reminds them of her work. I’m not sure she – or I – would agree, although we both write family stories with topical interest. For me, it’s a lovely compliment.

http://www.tglong.com

TESS HARDWICK

Tess Hardwick is a Women’s Fiction novelist. Her first novel, Riversong, published by Booktrope Editions, is set in a small town in Oregon. Featuring a sweet second-chance romance, it is sprinkled with food, humor and intrigue. Like her main character in Riversong, Tess Hardwick grew up in a small town in Oregon but now lives in Snoqualmie, Washington with her husband and two young daughters. Her second novel, Duet For Three Hands, also published through Booktrope Editions, comes out in November 2011. Set in the 1930’s, it is a moody romantic story about forbidden love, racial tension and the dichotomies of the Great Depression.

http://www.tesshardwick.com

Gregory G. Allen

I have been a story teller since childhood and started out writing for the stage with my first musical produced when I was 14. I’ve since published Proud PantsWell With My SoulPatchwork of Me and a children’s picture book on autism awareness called Chicken Boy: The Amazing Adventures of a Super Hero with Autism. I love to write and contribute articles to many sites including www.broadwayworld.com

I’m honored to have won awards for my work such as the NY Book Festival for General Fiction, the International Book Awards for Women’s Lit, a finalist in Reader’s Favorite Awards, Indie Lit Awards, and the USA Best Book Awards. My children’s book was also the MeeGenius Publishing People’s Choice Grand Prize winner.

People believe that every author should easily be defined in a certain genre. I don’t subscribe to that particular way of thinking. Readers should be able to enjoy contemporary fiction that may have shades of mystery, intrigue, romance, or a multitude of other elements that combine into fascinating and thought-provoking stories. I hope to continue creating stories that make readers question things about their own lives. Stories that do not always go exactly where one expects, but can still aid in a reader’s escape.
I’ve been praised for taking chances in my writing and with my characters – pushing the envelope with them. One of the nicest reviews I believe I’ve ever received. I’ll take it.

http://www.gregory-g-allen.com/

Jacqueline Gum

When I wrote Confessions of a Corporate Slut the title wasn’t nearly as off-putting as it seems now. I believe I’ve been caught in the 50-Shades wave and there’s an assumption that pornography is somehow involved. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A woman’s role in marriage has been in a state of evolution since Adam and Eve. But the 70s and 80s were a confusing time. Most women had traditional role models in their mothers and grandmothers who were the typical stay-at-home moms of the era.

But the feminist movement was steaming ahead with a clear message that women could “have it all.” During this time, there was a segment of women who blended those philosophies by becoming “professional” corporate wives.

In this story, Roberta Wendall sells her successful company, and applies her business acumen to the growth of her husband’s company. Working unpaid and behind the scenes, her advice is sought by her husband’s minions and even industry professionals who are aware of her role. At the same time, she masters a specific skill set by becoming the ultimate hostess to his many business associates.

She’s unaware that her much directed creation of her husband’s image, resulting in the dynamic growth of his company, is chipping away at her very substance.

It isn’t until he surreptitiously dumps her that she realizes that she created a world for him, yet is left standing outside the gates peering in. Divorce, to her, was like being fired from a well-earned executive position.

Her journey is filled with irony and wry humor as she slowly comes to grips with the knowledge that she was complicit in her own destruction.

While Confessions of a Corporate Slut deals with the complexities of the life of a corporate wife, the backdrop is based in a corporate environment and highlights the unique way it colors the professional woman and her view of marriage.

I was born, raised and educated throughout the Midwest and began writing as soon as I could hold a pen. I regularly wrote stories to my mom and dad and though encouraged to pursue writing, I found myself at the University of Cincinnati, College of Business. My career was spent in a male dominated industry (heavy duty restaurant equipment) where I managed to successfully navigate a sea of testosterone.

A sane woman wouldn’t choose writing novels as a vocation. But though steeped in angst, writing feeds my soul. I used to arrange flowers but now I derive great joy in arranging words. The idea is that people might cry or laugh as they connect to them.

My first novel, Confessions of a Corporate Slut was published in January 2008. The title is metaphorical…tongue in cheek for smart women who give away their intellectual property for free…to benefit a spouse. Its publication preceded the very public stories of Silva Spitzer, Elizabeth Edwards, et.al. Midwestern Review gave it a 5 star rating.

Haunting Tryst, a short-short story, was published by Bewildering Stories, an online literary magazine, in 2009.

I am currently seeking representation for The Accuser’s Burden, my second novel, (short listed for the William Faulkner 2012 Words and Music Competition: Novel) and actively writing my third novel, The Flame Dame Chronicles.

I blog weekly; the topic Where’s The Justice

http://jacquelinegum.com (buy buttons on home page for Amazon and Barnes & Noble)

http://www.jacquelingum.com/blog

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