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Day 1 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway: Hallie Eprhon

I have had the pleasure of meeting Hallie Ephron in person and getting to interview her for a Writer’s Digest article. She is not only a prolific author and champion of other writers, she’s just an all-around great gal, too. So without further ado, let’s kick the giveaway off with a real writer’s writer.

Hallie Ephron writes suspense and mystery novels. Booklist calls her newest novel, Come and Find Me from William Morrow, “A suspenseful tale of high-tech skulduggery that even low-tech readers will appreciate.”

Her novel Never Tell a Lie, was made into the Lifetime Movie Network film, “And Baby Will Fall.” It was also a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award and for the Salt Lake Libraries Readers Choice Award, and won the David Award for best mystery of 2009.

A book lover and award-winning book reviewer for the Boston Globe, she is also the author of The Bibliophile’s Devotional and 1001 Books for Every Mood.

Hallie lives near Boston and blogs with Jungle Red Writers. Learn more about her at www.hallieephron.com.

Come And Find Me tells the story of a recluse who works and lives online. When her sister disappears, she is forced to do what seems impossible: brave the outside world. By assuming the identity of her alter-ego, an avatar who is as fearless as Diana herself once was, she finds the courage to set out. But soon she finds herself wondering: Has she become a character in someone else’s game?

With seven novels and four nonfiction books published in the last eleven years, Hallie says that on one level, getting published has boosted her self confidence—as in, “You mean someone wants to PAY me to do THIS?”

On the other hand, as she gets more experienced, she keeps raising the bar, which has the opposite effect on her confidence.

Hallie calls her creative book-writing process ugly, ugly, ugly.

“I teach writing but I almost never do what I tell people to do. I’m forever getting stuck and finding myself spinning my wheels. I talk a good line, but when it comes to actually writing, I’m just glad no one’s in the office with me. At the end of the day, I just hope my books divert and entertain—like scary carnival rides where everything comes out well at the end—but also give readers something to chew on.”

• • •

Thanks for participating, Hallie!

Hallie writes fiction and nonfiction, so let’s start the giveaway off with an easy question. Here goes:

Which do you prefer writing: fiction or nonfiction? And why? Answer in the comments in 50-200 words (no less and no more to qualify to win today’s book).

(Hallie is allowed to answer too, but not until tomorrow because she can’t win her own book.)

Thanks for participating in the Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway! Please spread the word.

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  • HSofia May 1, 2011, 7:22 am

    Thanks for this. I found out about this via Twitter, and look forward to the series. I’m intrigued by Hallie’s description of her writing process as “ugly.” It makes me think that the most important thing is to do what works, never mind the rest of it!

    As for the question: I prefer to write fiction. Non-fiction comes easier to me – fiction is arduous, frustrating – but writing fiction allows me to escape, and surprise myself. I can’t always anticipate what will come up next. I love the process of creating characters, and trying them on. It’s challenging and slow work (for me), but very freeing. The fiction I write is not so directly in response to anything. I often feel non fiction requires justification for being written.

  • Heidi Smith Luedtke May 1, 2011, 12:41 pm

    I sometimes wish I could write fiction, because I feel that it offers greater flexibility and depth than non-fiction writing, but I’ve never tried it. My brand of creativity is perhaps too grounded in reality, I don’t know. Fiction just scares me! One in a while, I write a fictional anecdote to use as an example in a larger, non-fiction piece. That’s as close to fiction writing as I get. Maybe someday I’ll branch out.

  • Colette May 1, 2011, 1:43 pm

    I prefer to read fiction but I prefer to write non-fiction. I love being able to share my knowledge and expertise while helping people solve practical problems. For me, writing non-fiction is all about keeping it real and making the world a better place. My ideas can build on the knowledge already out there, and other can build on my ideas.

  • Mary Jo Campbell May 1, 2011, 2:02 pm

    I prefer to write FICTION. I love thinking “what if?” and melding together different scenarios for characters and worlds sprouted from my imagination. I find writing fiction stretches me as a writer, because where research and fact-finding and interviewing would be necessary for writing non-fiction, I have to find the truth in complex human relationships and emotions and expose them in a new light. I guess I’d do this a non-fiction writer, as well, but I love to be able to just make stuff up and taking conflicts to the extreme; ) {92 words}

  • Steph May 1, 2011, 2:08 pm

    Fiction is faster and more fun with the escapist element, and up to now all my published books have been fiction, but I think I prefer writing non-fiction. Whether I’m taking facts from my own life, or somewhere else, I love researching them and then shaping them to pass on to a wider audience. It’s also more honest, in the sense that it’s my own voice, all the time. I’m not hiding me in a character, making him or her speak on my behalf. Equally, I’m not saying things I don’t believe.

  • Renee May 1, 2011, 3:54 pm

    I always thought I preferred writing non-fiction, because my background is print journalism and it always seemed to come naturally to me. But last year, I completed my first novel, and I realized that I could write fiction, and actually enjoyed it. Completing the project from start to finish opened up a wealth of other fiction ideas. Now I scowl when my need to pay the bills forces me to write service articles instead of working on my fiction, but I hope one day I’ll be able to remedy that and tip the scales in order to find more balance.

  • Cara Holman May 1, 2011, 4:18 pm

    Count me in on the nonfiction side. There was a time in my life where everything I read was fiction, so naturally I assumed I wanted to be a fiction writer when I grew up. But here I am at midlife, still waiting to grow up, and now what I want to read and write is nonfiction. I’ve been grappling with some pretty heavy issues in my life the last few years: a cancer diagnosis, losing both parents within months of each other, and children growing up and leaving home. Writing creative nonfiction satisfies the creative side of me, while still helping me to process the new reality I’ve found myself in, and make sense of it all.

  • Danielle Liss May 1, 2011, 4:43 pm

    Nonfiction for me. Every time I write fiction, it turns into my life with a couple of tweaks, but it is always my life. So why dress it up and call it by a different name? I love to read fiction because I love a well-crafted story and I am amazed at the author’s ability to keep that tale and voice. So much skill.

  • Corinne O'Flynn May 1, 2011, 4:46 pm

    I write both fiction and non-fiction. My fiction is taking form as young adult fantasy or paranormal right now. My non-fiction is usually essays relating to my experience with the death of my daughter. The young adult novelist in me writes because it is so much fun. The fiction essayist in me began writing as a way to bring healing to myself and now that writing has found a way to help others who are coping with similar experiences.
    Thank you for this conte3st, what fun!
    Corinne – oflynn at gmail dot com

  • Jessicaanne May 1, 2011, 4:50 pm

    I prefer fiction. Just like when I read fiction, I find writing it provides me an escape for a while. Being able to step into another world or someone else’s life for a little while is simply fun. I also love to see where the story goes. Even though I plan, I’m always surprised by something that happens. When I write nonfiction, I already know how it ends, not as much fun for me.

  • Bet May 1, 2011, 5:10 pm

    In spite of the fact that I love to read fiction, I have no desire to write it. I love writing non-fiction (and I love writing poetry even more, and I consider it non-fiction, in that I write about what IS as I perceive it). I mostly write book reviews and short essays.

  • Lydia May 1, 2011, 5:44 pm

    I prefer to write fiction, because it puts me in control of the world. 🙂 I used to work on college papers – what it installed in me, mostly, was a terror of getting my facts wrong! I may have to research for my fiction from time to time, but it’s much less, and controllable. Also, to paraphrase Mark Twain, fiction has to make sense. If something is frustrating and unreal – I can change it.

  • Pattie May 1, 2011, 5:47 pm

    Both! I enjoy writing fiction, because it’s a way to escape, to rewrite history, to play pretend. But I find that when I sit down to write, my natural voice comes out in nonfiction, personal narrative essays and devotionals. I have attempted over the years to stretch and grow in both areas of writing, and I have fun with both. While my publishing successes have been in nonfiction, that does not stop me from hoping someday to finish my own great American novel!

  • Tara Lazar May 1, 2011, 5:47 pm

    I prefer to write fiction because I like to make things up. I love creating characters, including the setting, which in my stories, serves as a character as well.

  • Tara Lazar May 1, 2011, 5:50 pm

    Sorry, that was not 50 words! In one of my middle grade stories, the imaginary Texas town is as important an element as the wacky people who live there. While I did plenty of research into Texas farming communities and fairs, enough to write a non-fiction piece, I prefer to bend the truth to my characters’ wills!

  • Sarah Joyce Bryant May 1, 2011, 5:59 pm

    I prefer to write nonfiction, memoir to be specific, but I’m starting to wonder if it would be easier to write what I want to through fiction instead. I find that the gaps in my memory are very difficult to overcome and have not found a suitable way to write memoir that includes these gaps. Maybe that’s where the most creativity comes into play. I’m very rigid about writing memoir in regards to staying with the truth (though I know it is my truth and not someone else’s). I do not believe I should make something up to fill in the gaps. However, I believe that what I DO have to write would have more of an impact written through memoir. I have dabbled with fiction and I love the freedom I have with it. It is something that comes easier to me because there aren’t the limitations that are present when writing memoir. Thanks for sharing about your writing experiences. It’s good to know I’m not the only one 🙂

  • Ann May 1, 2011, 6:31 pm

    Although I admire fiction writers, I”m a non-fiction person myself. I find it easier to deal with facts , real people and real events. I obviously lack the creative talent to write fiction.
    I do identify with Hallie in that it’s so much easier to teach / tell people how to write than to actually ‘do it by the book’ I find myself often in a similar situation.

  • Amy May 1, 2011, 6:47 pm

    Hi! I prefer non-fiction magazine articles and novel length fiction. I’ve tried writing short fiction and I just can’t make it work. There’s too much I want to say to fit into a short venue. But with non-fiction, I’m a very matter-of-fact, to the point writer, so short articles work best.
    Thanks for doing this!

  • Nancy May 1, 2011, 7:10 pm

    I prefer writing fiction because of the creativity involved. Nonfiction isn’t bad, but I love how truth works its way into fiction and blends with imagination. For example, I wrote a story today based on a prompt. I used some truths from my own life (like the fact I sliced a fresh lemon this morning), but then I blended it with imagination to form the story. I enjoy writing to see where a story will go.

  • Rosemary Lombard May 1, 2011, 7:12 pm

    My passion is nonfiction, as most of my writing is about the center of my life’s engagement: thirty-some years working with turtles, exploring their cognitive potential. Their cognition had scarcely been studied, so unexpected results make me a super-stickler for truth, fortunately backed up by extensive daily records.
    Several years ago, though, I attended my first writers’ conference and found little about nonfiction, so I went to fiction and poetry sessions. They sparked an interest in writing poetry (for which I’d thought I had no talent) and a study of the techniques of fiction. Both improve my nonfiction writing, though the high bar for truth hasn’t budged; but now I write poetry and even a smatter of fiction, too.

  • Susan VB May 1, 2011, 7:18 pm

    I prefer writing fiction to nonfiction because so far, it has been only for personal enjoyment that I have written fiction. I like let the characters go where they may and to get my inner critic out of the way as much as possible. Nonfiction writing is rewarding too, but as I usually am writing nonfiction with intent to publish, it has required more discipline and more objectivity. On the other hand, I could also say I prefer nonfiction, because it has forced me to complete projects, whereas I cannot say the same with my fiction writing.

  • Diane J. May 1, 2011, 8:45 pm

    What a way to kick off the book giveaway! I’m currently reading Hallie’s “Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel” and it’s wonderful!

    Ack, tough question to start. I like both nonfiction and fiction writing. Each touches a different side of my personality. On the nonfiction side, I enjoy the research (well, not so much interviews as I am easily intimidated) because I learn so much about the topic of interest.

    However, my daydreamer side loves fiction. I’ve started a novel (GULP) and I love creating the characters. I get excited when I wake up in the middle night with an idea and have to write it down. Not so excited in the morning when I’m dragging my heiny out of bed, though.

  • Taniadakka May 1, 2011, 9:00 pm

    As an utter newbie at this entire gig, I am still trying to figure that out. I really just began a month or so ago. Writing non-fiction turns out to be less intimidating than fiction. That being said, I am loving trying my hand at my novel. I suppose I better wait to see if I can even get anything published before I decide which I like better. 🙂

    Thank you so much for your site, your book and your work. I am anxious to check out all the authors that you are showcasing this week.

  • Bethany Dykman May 1, 2011, 9:23 pm

    I definitely prefer to write nonfiction at this point for the simple reason that I am absolutely 100% scared spitless to try fiction again. I took a short story writing class in college and wrote terrible short stories. My professor told me to stick to poetry, a course I had just completed with him. Since I’ve been writing again, I have read quite a few books about fiction because I love the idea of it, but I am terrified that my fiction will stink.

  • Bethany Dykman May 1, 2011, 9:24 pm

    Oops….double post. Sorry! 🙂

  • Anonymous May 1, 2011, 9:37 pm

    I generally prefer writing non-fiction, because I have more experience there and feel more confident. I’d like to explore writing fiction more, though. I’ve tried Nanowrimo a couple of times, but didn’t finish, because I have trouble figuring out where the story is going and how to keep it interesting! Maybe I need to try some short fiction first. 🙂 Thanks for hosting the giveway, Christina!

  • Lite1houz Patricia May 1, 2011, 9:47 pm

    Fiction definately! I can write my story, my thoughts, my plans, dreams, observations and ambitions and put any twist on it that I like. It makes my mind work, helps me to sort my thoughts, my life, and my dreams out on paper, and then when I read them, I can go on and carry them out if I like or ponder them over and over. When I go back later and read what I wrote, I either think that was good or why on earth did I ever think that way!

    It keeps my brain waves moving and my mind stimulated. Fiction for sure!

  • Kathy May 1, 2011, 10:00 pm

    I prefer writing fiction, specifically fantasy and science fiction. I love to create a world I’ve never been to and populate it with characters both dark and light. I have written essays and memoir, and have applied what I learned from these nonfiction projects to my other work, but fiction will always be where my heart is.

  • Bchariton May 1, 2011, 10:38 pm

    I love to write both fiction and non-fiction, depending on what’s going on in the world around me. Let’s face it, most “fiction” is based on something real. So when I’m feeling brazen and confident enough to bare my soul, I go for non-fiction. But when I’m feeling vulnerable, or want to protect someone’s feelings, I’ll embellish and flesh out my story into a piece of fiction.

  • Gloria Oren May 1, 2011, 11:02 pm

    I prefer writing nonfiction because I love the research part of discovering unknown facts. It’s like a puzzle and I adore puzzles of all kinds: jigsaw, crossword, Sudoku and more. When the facts are there and it all starts to come together it becomes a new piece successfully accomplished. I just finished a memoir and have begun research on my next project — a nonfiction book on the seven forgotten first United States presidents and the first wasn’t Washington.

  • Anonymous May 1, 2011, 11:05 pm

    Don’t worry about making mistakes as you get the hang of this, ladies. I’ll go through and zap any mistakes before the drawings! 🙂

  • Tebbert May 1, 2011, 11:07 pm

    This question is challenging because I don’t think about what kind of writing I prefer, it’s just the kind of writing I do. I’m already head-over-heels in love with my next non-fiction book and I’m just now self-publishing View From the Rollercoaster, my first. I’m a retired journalist.

    The reason I write non-fiction is it requires me to learn so much before I write. The writing process requires my focus on organizing that knowledge and ruminating, condensing, distilling and elaborating. Language itself is a drug; to employ it in the description of the concrete is a high for me. Or maybe it’s just that I had a Writer Mama. I am a passionate reader of everything (hide your bulletin board when I come over) as was she. I lived with research, interviews and laundry in the house. For me, writing non-fiction is coming home.

  • Catherine Dee May 2, 2011, 12:14 am

    I love to read – fiction, non-fiction, poetry alike. I require a daily dose of the written word in my life but I have a really hard time writing anything but poetry. I can write poetry anywhere though! I have written on the city bus, the Greyhound, airplanes, at work (in a call centre, no less!). I wrote my first poem when I was 7-8 and have been writing steadily ever since (I am 32 now). Depending on the poem and the inspiration, it can either be form poetry (sonnets, villanelles, rondeau etc) or free verse.

  • Rebecca Cherba May 2, 2011, 12:18 am

    Thanks for doing this, Christina!

    Since childhood, fiction has been my primary medium for trying to understand the ways in which people react and interact. As a child, I was often at a loss when it came to understanding the motivations of my peers, so I eventually combined my love of story-telling with my need to understand how people think. Now that I’m an adult, I turn to fiction to explore a particular kind of experience or a particular period of time. I love the degree of control I have within fiction, where in nonfiction I’ve always felt bound by facts and statistics and other people’s opinions.

  • Coreena McBurnie May 2, 2011, 1:34 am

    I prefer to write fiction, specifically young adult fiction. I love creating and escaping into a new world. The characters can come alive for me and go off in new ways that I would not have anticipated. I can get very caught up in it and it energizes me (sometimes, anyway). I love using my imagination to create something completely new.

  • A1clakeleafty May 2, 2011, 2:07 am

    I’m new to writing. In fact I’ve never actually finished anything other than a short story that was a non-fiction which was from my life. I really prefer reading fiction. I’d love to be able to write it as well, but it seems so hard. So I’d have to say I have written nonfiction but would love to write fiction.

  • Michele Thornton May 2, 2011, 2:21 am

    I love writing both fiction and non. The non (marketing for high tech companies) pays the bills, keeps my daughter in leotards and jazz shoes, and is rewarding in a way that keeps me in touch with my pre-mom professional self. Fiction is my playground. It’s where I get to express my inner voice, muck about in a world of my own creation, be messy, beautiful, wrong, startling, poignant, and funny.

  • April May 2, 2011, 2:29 am

    Thanks for this opportunity, I’ll be back regularly!

    I prefer nonfiction journalism when it comes to writing. My first “ah-ha” moment about the unbelievable power of well-written nonfiction was Tom Wolfe’s “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”. There’s such tremendous possibility in journalism and nonfiction to teach, enlighten, empower and effect change. For me, that’s the goal with most of my own work. Okay, so I’m not a Pulitzer Prize winner…yet. No one’s life is going to be changed by my story on how to throw a great first birthday party but the chance to give people a voice is still more compelling for me to write, right now. Real people have funny, touching, strange stories to tell and I love giving them a venue to share them.

  • Judy May 2, 2011, 2:32 am

    At this stage in my career I prefer to write NONFICTION. It is easier for me to draw from my life experiences. I’d love to try nonfiction, perhaps soon. I appreciate knowing that a writer’s writer gets stuck. Thank you, Hallie and Christina!

  • Shelley May 2, 2011, 2:48 am

    That’s a tough one. In my present life, I would have to say I prefer non-fiction as it’s what I’ve been doing lately and I’m more comfortable with it. In the grand scheme of life I would rather be successful at writing fiction. It allows more creativity. I like the surprises that come with it, never knowing quite where it’s going to take me. It might look like I can’t make up my mind with this question. 🙂

  • Fun Mama - Deanna May 2, 2011, 2:48 am

    I prefer writing nonfiction even though I do both. I am still getting into the swing of writing fiction, and I’m not sure if I’m doing it correctly yet. I also have a passion for my nonfiction topic so right now that style of writing is consuming me. I do enjoy the process of making up the story, but I find it easier to decide what to write in nonfiction.

  • Shelli Mader May 2, 2011, 2:55 am

    I prefer writing nonfiction because that is the only kind of writing I have had published! I don’t really know how to write fiction. With nonfiction, the story is already there – you just have to uncover it. I enjoy writing features about people – everyone has a story with details I just couldn’t make up! The only bad part about nonfiction is the fact-checking. I have to make sure everything is correct. Sometimes I do want to make up details! 😉

  • Beth K. Vogt May 2, 2011, 3:18 am

    Several years ago, I would have said I prefer nonfiction because it was what I knew, where I’d achieved success. But having been lured to the Dark Side, aka fiction, I now how my feet firmly planted in mid-air. Fiction challenges me, requires that I learn new skills–and I find myself falling in love with the whole process of story and plot and characters.

  • Jjewelsea May 2, 2011, 4:25 am

    Which do I prefer writing – fiction or nonfiction? What I prefer is writing – yes, fiction and nonfiction! I love wordcrafting whether it’s creating a story or describing a true event. It’s the hunt for just the right word, the phrase that lets you see the picture in my head or helps you to understand. It’s putting words together so that my meaning is clear, so that you are enlightened, stirred, or entertained. So that you gasp as the heroine slides towards the cliff. So that the steps to create a recipe make sense. Committee reports, newsletter articles, self-help articles, devotionals, novels – I love writing them all!

  • Frume Sarah May 2, 2011, 4:48 am

    Had you asked this question two weeks ago, I would have answered that I had never written fiction so I’d say non-fiction.

    BUT — then I was challenged to write a piece of fiction by a writing prompt over at The Red Dress Club. I agonized all week about it, convinced that I didn’t know what I was doing.

    Now, the character keeps reappearing. And it seems like an enjoyable departure to create a world and characters with interesting backstories and so forth.

    I do not for one moment imagine that I will turn to fiction full-time, but I am certainly thrilled to have discovered this new side of my writing.

  • Kim Kankiewicz May 2, 2011, 5:00 am

    What a lovely idea! Thanks for this kick-off interview, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

    I’m in the early stages of a fiction project and only wrote nonfiction before now. I feel more confident writing nonfiction, but I think I could see myself liking fiction better once I’ve pushed past my fears. I already feel like my main character is with me all the time, sometimes surprising me with some new insight about her life. Eventually it seems like this project will be more “true” than any of the nonfiction I’ve written.

  • Mary Drew May 2, 2011, 5:05 am

    I prefer writing nonfiction because I don’t have enough faith in my imagination. I am better able to describe and respond to the real world than to create one. And I love analyzing a situation or a problem when I write, and then slowly bring the reader to a realization of a solution. Of course, the solution is my idea, but I like trying to convince the reader that my solution is the best one possible. I love reading fiction, though, better than nonfiction. Go figure.

  • Jennifer B Fields May 2, 2011, 5:26 am

    Fiction is my escapism. A good story, no matter how fantastic or far-fetched is better than any alcohol or drug. I am the sleuth and I am the pirate. Heck, if I want to be, I am the walrus if the story calls for it. Be it mystery, fantasy or thriller, I’m up for the challenge. Why do you think I became a writer? To be a part of the adventure.

  • Hallie Touger May 2, 2011, 1:15 pm

    Such an interesting discussion! And I love that term: wordcrafting (thanks, Jjewelsea!)

    Sidestepping, I prefer HAVING WRITTEN either fiction or nonfiction and getting to revise it. First draft is excruciating for me. Having said that, nonfiction is definitely easier.

    Thanks everyone for such a great discussion! Leaves me energized for the week ahead… writing fiction, definitely.