Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
I'm dedicating today's post to those women out there in this twisted, violent world who are suffering because of the ignorance and brutality of mankind, whether it be in the Taliban-benighted towns of Pakistan and Afghanistan or in a suburb of Cleveland. God loves you.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
What does this have to do with anything?
It's about creative adhesive. I have found that a little thematic duct tape can go a long way in my writing. I don't make walking robots out of paper and tape, instead I use blank paper to cough out my stories and sometimes I need a little plot adhesive.
I find myself saying, "What does this part/scene/twist mean?" And then finally an idea or theme emerges (my duct tape) that makes sense in every aspect of the plot and for all my characters. The truth of my hero is the lie of my villain. The saving grace for all the supportive characters either strengthen the truth or feed into the lie. One nice little bundle of story tied up with thematic duct tape.
What sticks your stories together?
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
They were delicate at first and falling from a blue sky. My children and I wondered at where they were coming from.
As night crept in the flakes became fiercer, as though now under the mask of darkness they could show their true power.
The night turned black with flashes of blizzard flying snow.
The grass fell victim to some of the crystals, but the warm earth quickly dispatched the weak flakes when they touched down.
The sadness of the first snow is this: I was too busy rushing from here to there to anywhere and nowhere, that I missed savoring the first snow of winter.
What has become of me that I missed the first snow?
Hopefully when the first "real" snow comes, I will be able to stop whatever I am doing and relish in the new snow: Walk through it in warm snow boots; look into the sky and watch the falling flakes like falling stars; shovel the walk and hear the crunch of ice; then curl up in a window with a good book and a warm blanket and watch the snow from the warmth of home.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
It's cold. (I'm writing this on Oct. 21st in Reno, NV). The sky is gray and I really want some hot chocolate. On the good side--I painted my house last winter so even though outside looks dismal, inside is like being inside a buttercup. Also, I'm in a really good mood for writing. So I'm rolling with it. Wish me luck!
It's Oct. 26th, still cold but not cloudy, I'm home from Girls' Weekend and I Can't. Wait. To. Write!!!!! I also can't wait for Thanksgiving, but since writing is something I can do right now, I think I'll start with that. :)
Monday, October 26, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Joining us for the fun were FOD's (Friends of Donna's) Lizz and Tawyna and honorary Inker Graham Chops.
JDG very generously answered all of our questions about what it is like to be a successful author and the whole writing and editing process, whilst we enjoyed BBQ.
She said the best advice she could give is to attend writing conferences, good conferences where you can get some face time with editors and pitch your project to them. She tried for nine years to get published by mailing things out and endured over 180 rejections (which she used to keep in a nice scrapbook, until it fell apart). Then, within about three months of pitching to editors at BYU's Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop, she had signed a deal.
We also talked about balancing writing time and family time and came to the conclusion there is no magic formula for this, you just have to write when you can. Another subject was the value of being part of a critique group that is supportive, but also able to give constructive feedback.
We'd like to thank Jessica for spending time with us. It is always inspiring to get advice from known authors.
Jessica is currently editing the sequel to Princess of the Midnight Ball, titled Princess of Glass, due out in May of 2010. She also enjoys knitting, a skill passed down from her grandfather.
For more information on Jessica Day George, you may visit http://www.jessicadaygeorge.blogspot.com/.
Friday, October 23, 2009
So one of my highlights of the week was not hitting a deer that lunged out in front of me as I was tearing down the road at 70 mph. Jimbo the Deer had probably started his morning with a hot cup of coffee or five, had decided he'd get an early start foraging for green sustenance on the north side of the highway, and was just making his frenetic journey across the sagebrush when he suddenly sees some maniacal creature with blazing yellow eyes tearing at him at no less than 70 miles per hour. His life probably flashed before his eyes: the time he took the young bucks and does to Tree World, the time he and Penelope the Deer had their wild getaway to Tooele, the time he got his first job as alpha buck of the Saratoga Springs South Herd . . . What a life he's led!
Almost snuffed out by a crazy human who likes to drive too dang fast for his own good.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
It's Halloween night in this wood.
Anything can happen and it could,
The moon looks on with a smile of cheese.
Werewolves howl and growl and tease.
Witches' brew boils and bubbles.
Scarecrows screech with their troubles.
Dracula smiles his toothy grin.
The skeleton looks for his skin.
The scary cats will jump and play,
And hairy bats will swing and sway.
In this wood its time to scare,
Halloween comes again this year.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
This photo was taken by me on Saturday when I dressed up in fire fighting gear and went up in a bucket to the top of this 100 foot ladder. 'A day in the life' with local fire fighters was an awesome and awe inspiring experience. I think it was supposed to be a public education event for the fire department, but for me it was research. Now I know a ton about fires and car accidents.
Did you know that you can break a car window with a tiny metal spike on a plastic boomerang device? No huge spikes or crowbars necessary, just a little pressure and a tack. Did you know that airbags can go off up to 2 days after the crash? They are really annoying in the middle of trying to extricate someone from a car so the battery is the first thing disabled before cutting up a car to get someone out.
This is me using the jaws of life to kill a door on a junk practice car. The guy in the black helmet is there to make sure I don't take out me leg with the car door. I think he was also a little nervous I might drop their very expensive and heavy hydraulic life saving equipment. Huzzah! I totally didn't damage anything but the car.
Right after this the real firefighters lit the car on fire and I got to put it out again. Did you know that you can practically crawl inside a burning car when in total fire fighting gear and air mask and its not any hotter than standing in the sun 5 minutes before that? Yep, standing around waiting for the action to begin was actually hotter than being inches from the flames. Same sweat factor anyway.
The adrenaline factor is definitely higher in the inferno though.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Now is a great moment to point out why having a writing group is the best. So, here I go:
1. Accountability. I might make a goal and achieve it...or not, but either way I have to tell SOMEONE what I'm doing. (side note-embarrassment is hard to get over for me, so accountability is a great motivator).
2. When I have a crappy day, week, month with writing they understand and they're the first ones to tell me to keep going.
3. I always know I can get an honest critique out of them. If what I wrote sucks, they will certainly let me know. Can't get better if I don't know what I'm doing wrong, right?
Here's the part where I ask you guys what you like about your writing group, book club etc. No matter what group you're a part of, feel free to comment. :)
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
While this was an excellent book (a real page turner), I'm saddened that it wasn't realized as a TV series--as it was originally planned to be. USA Network had gotten a director and some of the major elements of the show together when they surprised Koontz with a small twist: they were going to drastically change his script to something entirely different from his original plot. Koontz withdrew his project, and thus we have the Frankenstein trilogy. After you read the book, you might have the same sentiment: while a great book, this would have made a kick-butt TV show!
Also, I must note that this year, with the release of the final book in the series, Dead and Alive, for some reason Kevin J. Anderson's name was scrubbed from any new editions of the original book that he coauthored. I'm not going to get into that here but rather will continue to credit both authors in my review. What can I say? I've an inclusive personality.
I was surprised with how much of a detective novel Dean Koontz and Kevin J. Anderson made their Frankenstein: Prodigal Son. Expecting something different, I was pleased with the murder-mystery framework.
The novel is set in modern-day New Orleans, with the resurfacing of the original monster (Deucalion) created by Victor Frankenstein in Austria two hundred years ago. He's discovered that Victor Frankenstein is till alive and is working to build an army of cloned "humans."
Meanwhile, a serial killer is going around New Orleans, and Detectives Carson O'Connor and Michael Maddison are on the case. As they pursue various leads, they quickly find out that this is no normal case--even for murder.
One of the several villains of the book, Roy Ribeaux, seemed very similar to Koontz's hitman character in Watchers, who is obsessed with his perfection and superhuman achievement to the point of horrendous psychosis. He was unique enough, though, and the twists that Koontz and Anderson throw in to tweak this character are interesting.
Sometimes it seems like Carson and Michael are thrown leads too often and too easily, with perfect timing in some cases. I'm not entirely objecting to this, since I like the good guys to win more often than not, but sometimes they had it easy.
Koontz and Anderson tend to get a little repetitive with a few chapters (especially with Randal Six...), where they could have easily have taken five or six chapters and deleted all but one of those chapters and still had the same content. And with Randal Six, most of that storyline is just a teaser for the subsequent two books.
The suspense is gripping, and I couldn't help but at times sense that these creations of Victor Frankenstein were real--disturbing in every way and so unnatural. Interrupting the suspense at times (and very welcome) was a thread of sarcastic, witty humor, especially with the banter between Carson and Michael. One of the best humorous scenes of the book is when Carson and Michael go to question Detective Harker's partner, Frye, and Frye comes to the door revealing himself as the slob that he is. Michael's quips are priceless.
I'd recommend the novel to anyone who enjoys a good supernatural mystery. The New Orleans setting is interesting, the characters varied and all shades of gray, and the plot driving and relentless.
Frankenstein: Prodigal Son, by Dean Koontz and Kevin J. Anderson. Bantam Books. 2005. 512 pp. $9.99 (PB).
Dean Koontz Frankenstein Series:
1. Prodigal Son
2. City of Night
3. Dead and Alive
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I guess I am
Home, where all problems wait me,
Home where the screaming kids awake me.
Home, where my writing life's waiting silently for me.
Can you name the Song that I butchered shamelessly? Can you name the ARTists?
(A Picasso or a ...?)
[I need more S.&G. in my life. Don't really care for N.S.'s solo work, but S.&G. are awesome--let's hope that S.&G. doesn't mean something awful--I just don't want o give away one of my favorite bands. Can two people really be considered a band? What would they be? A group? A duet? What?]
Tuesday night in the pristine 15th Street Gallery in Salt Lake City the official launch of The Maze Runner took place with a signing at the King's English two doors down after the reading. James Dashner has been anxiously awaiting the release of his new book and as his friends the Inkers all want to wish him the best of luck.
In the photo above there are a few visitors to our site. From left to right we have "Graham Chops" (the token male in the party, since Kirk couldn't be there.), Moi aka the Crimson Sprite, Debbie aka Vermilion Vixen, my beautiful friend Lizz aka KBT(kick butt trainer), and Melinda our new friend who graced us with her presence at dinner as well.(It was a blast getting to know you Melinda.)
Oh and of course the slightly nervous looking man in the chair is James Dashner.(His uncomfortable expression sprang from an accidental bashing over the head in the picture taken immediately prior to this one. Okay so maybe it wasn't so 'accidental.' Toughen up, James=)
The King's English is an enchanting bookstore with as much character as the books it houses. I can't wait to go back. Hopefully we will be revisiting the store on December 22 for Bree Despain's book launch of "The Dark Divine." Can't wait to read that too.
One of the funnest parts of hangin' at TKE is looking at all the book covers. The mysterious green and black tones of The Maze Runner cover compliment the story and we discussed again the fantastic cover for The Dark Divine. So what's your favorite new book cover? Have you seen anything interesting?
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
I'm a big fan of the phrase "Just Kidding". It's a way to say those thing that you really mean without offending. A sarcastic truism that has no sting because you've rendered it void with two simple words.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
I first met John Brown at a writers conference I attended for work. I'm always excited to meet debut epic fantasy authors, especially when they come so highly recommended by other authors whom I respect. David Farland had talked about John at lunch with me last year and had spoken so well of him and his writing that I was glad to finally meet him in person this February.
Before I dig into my review of his TOR debut novel, Servant of a Dark God, let me just share a couple of the endorsements given for his book from authors I enjoy:
"Thoroughly engrossing from the first page to the last! A writer with remarkable depth and power. I haven't seen a debut novel this good in years!" --David Farland
"A complex and intricate world, filled with all the permutations of human good and evil, as well as evil that goes beyond the human." --L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Now, here's the summary from the cover copy:
* * *
"The launch of a towering new fantasy series introduces an elaborate new world, a strange and dark system of magic, and a cast of compelling characters and monsters. Young Talen lives in a world where the days of a person's life can be harvested, bought, and stolen. Only the great Divines, who rule every land, and the human soul-eaters, dark ones who steal from man and beat and become twisted by their polluted draws, know the secrets of this power. This land's Divine has gone missing and soul-eaters are found among Talen's people.
"The Clans muster a massive hunt, and Talen finds himself a target. Thinking his struggle is against both soul-eaters and their hunters, Talen actually has far larger problems. A being of awesome power has arisen, one whose diet consists of the days of man. Her Mothers once ranched human subjects like cattle. She has emerged to take back what is rightfully hers.
"Trapped in a web of lies and ancient secrets, Talen must struggle to identify his true enemy before the Mother finds the one whom she will transform into the lord of the human harvest."
* * *
This is no simple epic. Brown has essentially written in three major plots: (1) the Dark Mother's resurgence in the world and her cunning plots, (2) Talen's family's struggle against the Divines and the oppression he and his face from those who aren't Koramite, and (3) the epic struggle of all those who are oppressed by the tyranny of the Glory and the Divines. The complexities of these three struggles overlap and complement one another in the story, with each group and entity relating to each other in different ways. For example, the Dark Mother is seeking out those who are fighting against the Divines to cull them, but she also plans to attack the Divines. In other words, groups that have mutual enemies are also fighting against themselves. These interacting conflicts I'm certain will generate quite an epic series (just as Robert Jordan's tri-fold conflicts have held readers of The Wheel of Time series spellbound--Dark One vs. Artur Hawkwing's returned armies vs. Rand and the gang).
While John Brown's story is intensely plot-driven, I would be amiss if I didn't point out his strong characters and their personalities. Talen comes across quickly as a bratty young man, but he's conflicted as he is faced with difficult truths and has to make hard decisions that help him take that next step to manhood (not unlike Robin Hobb's Fitz in Assassin's Apprentice). His female characters are mostly young, including Talen's sister, River, who--remarkably--resembles River of the Joss Whedon series Firefly in her fighting skills, if not in any other way. Perhaps the most fascinating character is Hunger, the creature going around sucking up people's souls. He is the "Servant" of a Dark God mentioned in the title, and I'd like to find one reader who doesn't end up sympathizing with this creature in some way.
Brown's world is very convincing, elaborate, and complicated, giving the sense of a medeival world filled with all sorts of creatures and peoples, with the story happening only on a very small portion of this world. There are no easy answers to life, and people of all sects and factions seem to be in abysmal condition because of the false deities who control their lives. I look forward to seeing what Brown does with the series over the long term, especially considering offshoot series based in this world. I wouldn't be surprised if this world became as permanent an institution as Brooks's Shannara or as Modesitt's Recluce, to name a few.
I'd highly recommend this debut novel for those who enjoy a good coming-of-age epic fantasy, and I hope to see many more great things from debut author John Brown.
Servant of a Dark God, by John Brown. TOR. September 15, 2009. 448 pp. $19.49.
John Brown's website
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Let's say that an intelligent, talented and very busy woman got dressed early for a hectic day at work and then made breakfast for her three lovely children. She then took them to school and preschool. After that our diligent working mom went straight to work, doing business carefully on her way via cell phone. At noon, after a busy morning in the office, she headed out to pick up some very needed supplies for the building and looked at her feet as she descended the stairs only to discover that she is wearing her house slippers.
That's right folks, black dress pants, full make-up, new hair cut, fashionable blue sweater and house slippers with yellow and pink butterflies on them.
She paused appalled that half her day had disappeared without her ever noticing the mix up. Her chuckling assistant says, "Those shoes must be really comfortable if you didn't even realize you had them on."
Smiling, the hard working fashion conscious mom replies, "Well, I guess now I just have to wear 'em like I mean it."
She couldn't go back, she couldn't go home and she couldn't bear to be a spectacle at the local wholesale store. So the only choice she had was to hold up her head and wear those butterflies like they were the perfect shoes for her outfit.
So goes my week. What have you been doing?