Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Guest Post: Mary Chris Escobar

September 5th, 2014 • by Karen A. Chase • 3 Comments

Today, my fair readers, I am happy to introduce Mary Chris Escobar. A friend and author, Mary Chris and I frequently dish about books, writing and well… dishes. We discuss what we eat. Where we eat. We’ve even cooked together. She graciously drops by the blog today to offer her take on Books and Food:

Mary Chris Escobar

BOOKS & FOOD by Mary Chris Escobar

My books make people hungry. Not metaphorically hungry as in, “I can’t wait to devour the next novel”; physically hungry as in, “She has an amazing ability to make ME hungry when her characters are enjoying nachos.” Really, that is an actual quote from a review. At least one review for each of my books indicates that it made the reader want to eat something.

The strange thing is, I have no idea how this happens. In all my stories there are scenes where food is mentioned, but not described with the sort of detail I would assume is required to make someone hungry. For example, here is a line about making lasagna from my most recent novel, How to be Alive: “My whole apartment smelled like tomatoes and garlic.” The scene continues with the characters catching up over dinner, but no additional details are given about the lasagna.

My characters frequently meet in restaurants or over home-cooked meals. It’s a natural place for conversation and connection. Perhaps my readers get hungry because they feel drawn into the scene and want to share food with the characters. Perhaps they are hungry when they sit down to read, and just don’t realize it until I mention nachos.

No matter the reason, it is the highest compliment for a writer to know that their words have affected the reader in some way. Therefore, I feel honored to know that I can make my readers’ stomachs growl.

(Just in case you want lasagna after reading this, here is one of my favorite recipes.)

Mary Chris writes women’s fiction. Her second novel, How to be Alive, came out in late June. She lives in Richmond, Virginia in a renovated parking garage with her husband, and you can find her just about anywhere with good coffee or craft beer. Find her at She also hangs out on Twitter @marychris_e



Dancing into Research

August 22nd, 2014 • by Karen A. Chase • 3 Comments


I believe every great historical book set in the 18th century should have a dance scene. Dancing was socially expected, and it’s within those scenes a character’s character can be shown. I’m also a big believer in conducting first-hand research. So this week, accompanied by my very good-natured friend and writer Mary Chris Escobar, I attended an English Country Dance lesson.

Men lined up one side. Women across. Anyone who has seen this scene from Pride & Prejudice knows this line dance. I watched it and other period films to help write a scene in which my protagonist first dances with his love interest. However, now having spun down the line myself, I’ll make some adjustments.

First, dancers must maintain eye contact. How evocative if you fancy them. How torturous if you don’t. Dancing was also one of the few times men and woman would publicly hold hands. Some hands are strong. Supportive. Others are clammy. Wilting.

Words describing the moves are indicative of the social structure. When you let go of your partner and spin away to move down the line, it’s called “casting off.” If a man ends up on the woman’s side of the line (or vise versa), it’s called “improper.” When you cut through another couple, you are “crossing over.”

I used to think these dances looked easy, but I was literally flushed from all the spinning. And I was not in a corset and layers of silk, or partnered with Colin Firth. Oh, Miss Bennet, no wonder your cheeks hath such a rosy hue.

Authors, what have you done in the name of research?

If you’d like to find an English Country Dance group near you, a partial list of Country Dance Groups across the US can be found here. (Although my Richmond chapter is not on here.)


August 8th, 2014 • by Karen A. Chase • 4 Comments
Photo by RogerMcLassus

Photo by RogerMcLassus

As I go forth into a writing career, I have decided to change up my blog a bit. Until now, it has been about Design, Photography and Writing–the three things I did somewhat equally with my time. Now, with my head either on the page, in a book, or in a library, Compositions will become about Writing, Reading and Research.

In the world of a writer these elements gather to create a composition. Readers and writers bring their own thoughts and expression to how stories are made, and research delves into how history shapes those perceptions. Here at Compositions I’ll share stories, writing tips and thoughts, and historic adventures. All at or around 250 words per post.

So as I begin again, let’s start with words. I recently watched this Ted Talk on What Makes a Word “Real”? It speaks to how/why words are added to our English language dictionaries and how our view of words has changed. Boy has it.

“Troll” was hanging out under bridges, warts and all. Now it means to “surf” the internet. Surf, not stream. “Streaming.” To have shows running on your computer while you eat Spam. Or delete spam. I say this with abandon. Although “abandon” in the 14th century meant to subdue. I’d say it sounds awful that so much has changed, but “awful” in the 13th century meant “inspiring wonder.”

What words have changed meaning for you? If you could add one word to the dictionary, what would it be?