Thursday, July 30, 2009

Twitter Me This



A succinct and funny summation of why I probably* won't be joining the Tweet Nation.

(Legal Disclaimer: Use of the qualifier "probably" frees this blogger to begin tweeting at some future date should his blissfully dull life become interesting enough to share with close personal friends, family members, and total strangers. Not valid in Delaware.)

Myth of the Tortured Writer

Here's a great post from sf author John Scalzi about "What You Have to Give Up to Write".

(hint: not much if you apply a little discipline)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gearing Up for November in July

Just to give you all a heads up...

The National Novel Writing Month challenge starts in a little over 90 days so if you're interested in giving it a try, now might be a good time to start noodling around some ideas of what you want to write.

My method of being ready to rock on Nov. 1st is crude, but effective:
  1. Go to the site (linked above) and sign up. It's free and there are no obligations of any sort -- even to participate in November.
  2. Come up with an idea or two or three. Pick the one that interests/excites you the most.
  3. Describe that idea in a sentence or two.
  4. Expand those sentences into short paragraphs.
  5. Expand those paragraphs into a two or three page synopsis. This is all "what might happen" kind of stuff.
  6. Start breaking down the synopsis and converting it into an outline organized by chapters. You can be fairly arbitrary at this point. Write "Chapter One" and group all the info in your synopsis that you think might go in your first chapter. You don't have to be rigid, it'll change as you start writing. Do this for "Chapter Two" and so on until the end. My outlines tend to be anywhere from 25 to 40+ chapters and five to ten pages long.
  7. As Nov. 1st approaches continue to go through your outline as often as you can, adding whatever you can think of in terms of story, setting, and character. Divide chapters that you suspect are too large, add new ones. Jot down character revealing snippets of possible dialogue, etc.
If you do this, I can guarantee that you'll be well-placed and eager to start writing when the bell sounds on the big day. Just to be clear, you are not writing your novel yet as that would be against the rules, you're getting ready to write.

Think about it. Yes, it's challenging but it's also very satisfying and well worth any effort you'll put into it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

American Gods - Mini Review

Yet another Neil Gaiman success, the story of "American Gods" centers around a character named Shadow -- an enigmatic everyman who is hired by a shady con artist by the name of Mr. Wednesday.

The underlying premise of the book is that various waves of immigrants (going back to those who came over the land bridge) brought their gods with them to America. These gods, made physical by the worship and adoration of their believers, still exist today -- although largely in a diminished capacity.

Now Mr. Wednesday is rounding up all the gods of the ancient mythologies to do battle with the "new gods" of the American pantheon -- Media, Internet, and Mass Transit to name a few. Apparent there's only so much worship to go around and each group is somehow threatened by the others existence.

Nothing is as it seems in this book which I can safely label as a "fantasy thriller". "American Gods" is a delightfully layered read which remains engaging from cover to cover despite complication after complication after complication...

Recommended.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Surprisingly Not Bad

I'm a little over fifty pages into the rewrite of my second middle grade novel "Magic Man". It took me this long to warm up to the task since by the end of last November, I was about as sick of my manuscript as an author could be. But I forced myself to finish the first draft, made a few feeble attempts to start the rewrite, then chucked the whole thing aside for seven months.

And you know what? It worked! As I'm going through the text of what I knew was an absolute piece of poo, I'm delighted to discover that it's actually pretty good. No really! The story pretty much makes sense, dialogue is fairly crisp, the funny parts are more or less funny, and the action sequences border on being exciting -- all the kinds of things I can fix during the editing part of the program. That's what rewriting is for, after all. Very cool.

I've often read that you should give yourself a bit of time before jumping into a rewrite -- to clear your head and let things settle down -- but who knew the suggestion actually worked?!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Graveyard Book - Mini Review

With "The Graveyard Book", Neil Gaiman continues to define himself as one of the most original and inventive authors working in the business today. A fan of his work since the graphic series "Sandman", I picked up this book with the certain knowledge that I was in for a storytelling treat. I was not disappointed in the least.

The narrative centers around Nobody Owens, a boy who, as a toddler, was tragically orphaned by the brutal murder of his family. Adopted by the ghosts of a nearby graveyard and protected by a mysterious guardian, "Bod" grows up learning the ways of the dead and with the knowledge that the man who killed his family still hunts for him outside the protection of the graveyard.

Wonderfully illustrated by David McKean, "The Graveyard Book" is a fun and engaging read that easily exceeds all expectations. Highly recommended.