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Author Interview

Lori Paris

I am a stay at home mom with 3 boys, a husband and a dog. I have a B.A. in Journalism and a Psychology minor. I am obsessed with the television show CRIMINAL MINDS and enjoy exploring the darker side of the human psyche. I have always loved to write and am currently working on a book. The main character in my short story, Charlotte, has also inspired me to create a longer work about her life.

Story: The Sins of the Mother


Each week authors will be given a new question to answer which will lend additional insight into their story and writing process. Do you have a question you'd like to see the authors answer? Tweet it to @aNextAuthor!

What is the best writing advice you've ever heard?
Write! Just sit down and write and see what comes out. Allow your imagination to guide you. That's how Charlotte was born.
When you start a new story do you prepare an outline in advance or do you just jump right in?
I don't prepare an outline at the beginning. After a while I will map it all out to make sure it makes sense to the reader.
How do you deal with writing criticism, apart from just ignoring it?
I enjoy criticism from other writers and readers. Writing is stylistic and individualized but it's important to get constructive criticism to improve. I have learned a lot so far from this competition.
America's Next Author has been running for almost 8 weeks. If you could re-submit now, would you change anything about your story?
That's a great question...I like to switch 1st to 3rd person in my novel...but you can do that with chapters and it's easier for the reader. For sure I'd change the ending. Feedback has been wonderful.



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Know this is important to you and don't want to idly praise without some constructive criticism...I'm only humbly offering an opinion. Much of what I would say echoes 'Ramon" (see reviews above). The story line is understood. I get it, and there are good descriptive passages. The transitions, however, are awkward, and, to some extent, the story is over-told. My sense is that you perhaps rushed your story along, not involving yourself with enough re-writing and editing. Look, it is obvious that you can write, and I encourage you to continue to write, just be more meticulous, returning time and again to polish your prose. Again, enough emphasis cannot be placed on 'showing' and 'not telling' your story. With these comments come my own admission that patience in writing is indeed a virtue. I know that I have frequently lost patience and hurried the pace of my writing. We all will make mistakes as writers but we will grow with each work we complete. I'm constantly reminding myself that I'm no Ernest Hemingway, but I do want to become the best that it is possible for me to become. I'm sure you want that as well. My best wishes to you. You will notice in your reviews that you have a great deal of support.


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Very creative, and using a lot of things which are current in our time in history. Here's hoping for great things for Lori!

Darlene Elizabeth Williams

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This is a story that resonates with me as I was once acquainted with a woman who claimed she was abused during her childhood and had multiple personality disorder. I was at coffee one time with her when she changed personalities. Very frightening. I was so upset I didn't sleep that night. Your story does bring to the forefront severe mental illness and medication non-compliance, which has terrible consequences for those closest to the mentally ill. All family members suffer when one has a mental illness that is not under control. I have the same comments as other reviewers. I never really felt a sense of action except in the very beginning and end of the story. The majority of it is writtenly passively. As well, I was trying to figure out if the daughter had the same illness because of the changes in POV. The story is well written. There are a lot of positives, which can be improved upon quite easily. It definitely did serve its purpose, I was horrified reading it knowing this really does happen.

Mike Reed Music

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Very cool. I heard the empty brass hitting the floor at the end. Good luck to you.


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Lori, you have a very unique story, and your education in psychology is really coming through. This was a tense story with a very interesting premise. The ending was interesting, and the very end could have been played a couple different ways. I was wondering if she would respond in anger or relief, or perhaps even sadness of the loss of a personality other than "Ruth." BTW, Criminal Minds is a great show! Thank you for your story, and keep writing. My story is much lighter; would you take a look at it? "Missy's New Home"

St. Hubert Mom

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Pleasantly surprised. Great read!


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Powerful writing, I was completely engrossed in the story. I really felt for the main character Charlotte and felt like I was immersed in the story, particularly liked the part about the dog! Very vivid and frightening; glad she killed her in the end! Horrible to think that some children actually do suffer like this at the hands of their own parent's; a very compelling read.


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Whew! My heart was beating fast wondering if Ruth would indeed find Charlotte in the closet and it was a relief finding out the gun was real. Great job building such depth of character in such a short time. Thanks for sharing!


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The best part about the story was that is was suspenseful. I don't know if you have experience with mental health issue or not, I can't tell from your writing. Multiple personalities are very rare, but they make for good writing. You do change POV early on which can easily be fixed.I found there was too much emphasis on the mother's story, I thought the story was about Charlotte. But the mother's story is the jest of the narrative, I don't know how you can smooth this out. I prefer something that is more researched and involves more science behind the story. This seems like something you would see on TV. You would need more substance in a book. I dont think this is commercial. I wouldn't want to read it for fun.


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Great read. Started it while I was in the airport and almost missed my flight because I was so immersed in the story. I want more!

Margaret Alice

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Your story is a tough one to read! It was hard to read because of all the traumatic events and circumstances that makes you want to hope no one ever has to deal with this, yet we live in a world where this happens everyday. I love powerful stories that make you think like this. Technically, this story does need some editing. But, I am a reader that can excuse some of the "errors" because some make sense for the plot. I don't know if it was your intention, but I thought your use of the switching perspective to be a reflection of the conflicting personalities happening within Mother - or even Charlotte. I found it intriguing how Adele and Ruth were formed. I saw "Adele" as the type of mom that Mother wanted to be but never knew, but "Ruth" as the type of mom that Mother has always known through Grandmother. I can see where some would think that last line doesn't fit, but if it was your intention, it gives the suggestion that a new personality is formed as Charlotte is killing Ruth, just as Mother had with Grandmother. This is very gritty, heart wrenching, and sad, yet it reflected the very serious and real problems happening in today's households filled with abuse. This story has great potential and has a lot of hidden literary elements that I don't see in a lot of the stories in this contest. My story is very different from yours, but could you please check out "The Fate Continuum?" Good luck!


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Hi Lori. It's a long time since I first read 'Sybil', which I think was one of the first book stories about multiple personalities, but I was fascinated by this condition then and pleased to see it addressed in your story, this time from a child's point of view. It is very sad of course, but accurate that the Mother would miss the Grandmother, and that the Father should leave his children. I did not mind the POV shifts too much as it seemed to add to the shifting of the personalities. One thing I would suggest is that as you correctly describe the complexity of the emotional response to the parents, then Charlotte might not conclude with 'Go to Hell, Bitch,' but instead see the Mother she should have had in the face whose muscles are now presumably relaxed by the first moments of death. Therefore she could perhaps see the kind personality Adele, and feel grief as well as triumph. Good luck with the writing and the competition!

Colleen Raymond

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Thanks for your review! There are certain things about your story that I found compelling: I felt for Charlotte as the victim, and I think the idea is interesting and could go places. However, in the interest of being helpful, the switching from third to first person and back again was disconcerting, and it could also use some editing for punctuation. Finally, the very last line that Charlotte speaks was a little unsettling because it seemed so cold coming from a character that gave the impression of warmth (she certainly didn't seem like her mother) throughout the story. I saw that you mentioned you are thinking of expanding it into a novel; I think you definitely have enough content and interesting characters to do so!


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Hi Lori- I'm going to start out by saying that what you have here is a good idea. However, the story suffers from numerous problems that make it a difficult slow read. Many of these problems have been already pointed out by some of your other reviewers. One of the biggest problems is the switching POV. But there are a couple of others (that I noticed almost immediately) that no one else has mentioned. The first is that your story is almost entirely showing and no telling. I'm not sure where you are in writing path- Have you heard of the writing rule- show don't tell? Showing is action oriented. Telling is passive. Generally telling is backstory and exposition about the setting. It's necessary in small doses, especially in novels where you have the length to go into detail, but it kills many short stories where the reader needs something to grab them quickly. Your opening paragraphs were somewhat action oriented. But then you slip into paragraph after paragraph of backstory until the final resolve. The second problem is what I call, "over-writing". This could have been fixed with more rounds of ruthless editing. Remember, every word should count. Don't restate facts or provide unnecessary details. This is especially important in short stories where you have a limited word count, but also holds true in the best novels. Here is an example; Charlotte hid in the closet. She carefully moved aside the plastic covered coats and dresses from in front of her hoping the crinkling of the plastic wouldn’t give her away. She wasn’t so little anymore and it was getting harder to find places to hide. Thankfully, the hangers slid silently to the left and she was still able to slide her skinny, sixteen year old body behind them. She then pulled them back into place cringing as each hanger slid across the metal rod, hoping the scraping noise wasn't too loud. These two paragraphs could be reduced to this; Charlotte hid in the closet. She carefully moved the plastic covered coats, and dresses, hoping that the crinkling wouldn't give her away. It was getting harder to find places to hide. Thankfully, the hangers slid silently, and she was able to move her skinny sixteen year old body behind them. She cringed as the hangers retreated, concealing herself behind them. I'm not trying to tell you how to write your story, and I did this quickly, so it may not be the best option. I just want you to note a couple things. Basically, the same information is there. The word count has been reduced by almost a third. And the prose is now action oriented. I hope this helps. Good luck on your writing path.

Addai Agyemang

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I really liked your story and the concept of your story, the cycle of abuse that repeats and repeats, but I was a little confused by the switching between point of views. I'm not sure if that was to show that Charlotte had the same aliment as her mother or something. Another than that and a few minor things, which didn't really detract much from the story itself, I really enjoyed your story. :)


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It took a very focus reader to fully follow the dialogue because of the point of view shifts but your writing style just made it so easy for me to invest my attention. I almost didn't notice these slight glitches until looking back on it. besides that minor adjustment, it was just a wonderful read!


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There are so many great things in the story that are happening! Not just with the story its self but just in the writing and how advanced detail was given with such few words. The wand chooses the wizard just like writing has chosen you. You will certainly go far.


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This is a great story! Very interesting and dark. Keeping us on edge as we try and find out what happens.


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I really liked the concept for this story. At first I was interested in Charlotte and her struggle in the closet, but the POV switching so much became confusing and distracting. Overall I wish the whole thing had been more subtle, I guess.

Vanessa Carrera

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Really amazing, somewhat sad story marked by constant abuse from one generation to other. This beautifully written, I like the description of the situations and little by little through the initial situation, presents to all that has been theirs life, abuse. It really hurt me the loss of Paul and asked myself, what kind of father leaves their children there? The story of the mother is in itself sad, as she clings to the only thing she know though is totally destructive and be the cause of it has become!


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I'm a stone cold sucker for gritty noir. This almost creates its own genre, family noir. For a short story, I'm very impressed with how the author puts us in the closet and tortured mind of Charlotte. The weird thing is, Ruth is more developed over the story than Charlotte is and it's kind of okay. We know how sick, twisted, and doomed Ruth is throughout but the prose is so good that ending is a satisfying climax. This is really good, dark writing from a creative writer. I enjoyed it.


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Wow! Very impressive prose, I felt as though I was in the closet with Charlotte. The author shows very technically correct and emotional based writing skills.

Anne Monique

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Ok, I'll admit it. It gave me the chills. Yet at the same time, I couldn't stop reading. I definitely wanted to know how it would end. It's a well written story. But I have to point out that the switching of voices is confusing. It lost me a bit.


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This was a great story. A little confusing in a couple spots but it kept my attention throughout the story and I wanted to keep on reading to see how it ended.


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Very gripping! I was into the story immediately. I see how the change of 3rd and 1st person could be kind of tricky but I think it was well written. I followed it just fine.
Wildcard #6
December 18th, 2012
The winner of America's Next Author 2012 has been announced! [...]
December 7th, 2012
Questions and answers about the Battle Round. [...]
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