Book Review: 90-Days To Your Novel

    Can you be a novelist in just 90 days? Many well-known authors write their novels in just weeks according to 90 Days to Your Novel – A Day-to-Day Plan for Outlining & Writing Your Book by Sarah Donet.   Can it be you? It all depends on your commitment to your project. 90 Days to Your Novel will require you to push yourself to invest two to three hours per day for the twelve weeks. At the end of the twelve weeks you will have a first draft of your novel but be warned, this book does not guarantee a great end product, only that you will have your draft finished.   Can reading a self-help book really create a bestselling book? Not a chance. What this book will do is breakdown how to create your outline as well as give you different techniques for writing. Do you know the difference between the Note-Card Technique vs. the Signpost technique? If you are new to writing novels, probably not and in the end, it really isn’t that important to know the difference. The most important thing you will take from this book’s Part I is figuring out how you want to start your writing process. What you are comfortable doing. What it’s called really doesn’t matter.   Part II is the “90-Day Writing Challenge”. The book advises you to not start reading the rest of the book until you can commit to the scheduled two to three hours a day for writing. When starting this book, your first three weeks are mixed with assignments that don’t necessarily pertain to your novel on the surface but if you really think about what you are writing, eventually you could incorporate those events, people or places into a scene of your story. An example of this is assignment #1, which is to brainstorm as many memories as you can on people, places and things from earlier moments in your life.   It’s important to remember in your first three weeks you are in the brainstorming, chart making and outline designing time period. If this wasn’t your first novel, you could probably skip over the first three weeks but really if you have already gone through the novel-writing process, you don’t need this book. It isn’t until week four that you start getting into your novel so you will need to have the patience to stick to your schedule.   Do you really need an assignment based, step-by-step guide to write your novel? Maybe, maybe not. It’s all about your commitment to your project. Your success of writing your novel has nothing to do with the how-to book you read. It has...

Read More

Heron’s Path by Alethea Eason: (sample)

Check out this sample from the upcoming young adult fantasy novel Heron’s Path by Alethea Eason: — — — On a hot day in September I found Celeste’s clothes scattered all over the barn, one shoe upside down next to Papa’s forge and the other inside a milking pail. Her yellow dress hung from a ladder like a bird suspended in midair. I pulled the dress down by its hem and three tiny blue feathers, nearly the same shade as my sister’s eyes, drifted down to the dusty floor. I caught one of them in my hand; I stood there puzzling over what might have happened that morning to make her run off again. I felt alone, as though a wind had come up and peeled Celeste from the earth. I told myself that she was playing the same old game she’d scared us with so many other times, but this loneliness—so odd and new—followed me like a ghost as I ran outside and shouted for Papa. I was afraid he wouldn’t come; I’d find our cabin gone, and I’d be without any family at all. Papa searched the woods. I took our dog, Rufus, and ran up and down the river bank. When I found no trace of her I followed Papa into the trees where there were more shadows than seemed right. I didn’t dare go in very far and kept circling the places Celeste and I knew well. I heard Olena’s voice in my head telling me stories. Her words dripping slowly the way honey falls from a spoon. Her stories always made me uneasy. She believed in ghosts, the last traces of the Old Ones, who were a part of the breath and spirit of the rocks and trees, of the river Talum, and the surrounding woods. But the wei-ni-la, the darker ones, were the shadows to really fear. They were ancient too, and lived in the empty spaces of the woods, filling them with whispering. All afternoon Celeste’s name echoed through the trees as Papa and I called for her. Finally, his shouting changed and Rufus started to bark furiously. I was so tired my legs were shaking. I was running on legs that wouldn’t work. When I finally found them, Papa was half way up a steep gully with Celeste draped over his shoulder. Her hair, a skein of golden thread unraveling almost to the ground, was the only thing that covered her. I thought she looked newly born or newly dead. “Is she all right?” I asked. My lips were dry and hurt when I spoke, and my words felt like spittle as they came out of my mouth. All Papa could...

Read More

Read Stuff: Huldredrom – Dream of the Hid-Folk

Huldredrom – Dream of the Hid-Folk by Christopher R. Knutson   Review by Eric Staggs   This unique piece of literature came to my attention through pure chance. Since I have found that the best pieces of literature often do arrive via unforeseen channels, I agreed to read and review it.   I’m glad I did. The style of writing at first seemed simple, unsophisticated, but as I progressed, I found I was drawn into the unfamiliarity of the culture, the complexity of Norwegian proper nouns seemed to help heft the weight of their folklore and a new found Christianity.   The story takes place in a picaresque rural village; imagine fens and glens and heathers, buffered on all sides by brooding mountains whose caps are white year round. These snow caps help to anthropomorphize the mountains, giving them an ancient and wise presence. Within these mountains and valleys lives the Hid-Folk. Fey and spritely, these trolls, changelings and their kin live out long and mischievous lives just under the nose of the villagers. The Hid-folk have a habit of stealing human babies and raising them as their own.  The author opens with a classic I-told-you-so moment and the tragic disappearance of a baby.   The plot is at once simple and convoluted – the rules that govern the interaction of mortals and hid-folk are complex and not always logical, but offer a vivid peek into one of Europe’s oldest mythologies. Hid-folk live a semi-parasitic life, stealing lovers and food and cows and whatever else strikes their fancy from mortal villagers, who in turn have developed a whole array of protections against such incursions.   At times almost comical, these cultural clashes between the Hid-Folk and the Villagers carry with them a deeper sub-text. The old ways are under siege by the new Christ-God whose representatives have banned the worship of the Old Norse Gods. Yet, for our characters, the reality remains: Hid-Folk could be any stranger you meet while tending the sheep and elemental spirits might easily burst forth and offer you knowledge or simply wish for company. The only evidence of the truth of Christianity is the agony the cross and tolling bells causes the Hid-Folk.   Vivid imagery and thorough understanding of the culture push this story forward at a comfortable pace. Descriptions of place and time help bring to the reader’s mind concrete imagery and paint each scene in fluid detail – allowing for just enough personalization to make each reader’s experience unique.   Not quite a love story and not quite a fairy-tale laden with moral and metaphor, Huldredrom: Dream of the Hid-Folk­ by Christopher R. Knutson is an entertaining read for all ages...

Read More

Don’t Hide From Your Story!

It wakes you up in the middle of the night. It nudges you on the drive to work. Inside of you, somewhere in the dusty recesses of your mind, an idea is itching to be brought to life. You have a story waiting to be told, a story the world needs to hear. So why are you sitting here reading this post? In the time you’ve been Tweeting, updating Facebook statuses and surfing the internet, you could have written the first paragraph of your next best-selling novel. This is the problem all writers face at one time in their lives. Having the chutzpah to write every day come rain, snow, sunshine or zombie invasion is no small order. When it comes down to it, you’ve got to learn how to psyche yourself up to write. Here are a few ways you can do that: 1.) You will never have the time to write. Make the time. Pencil it in your calendar. Set an alarm. Stick a post-it note to your bathroom mirror. Do whatever it takes to get it done. 2.) It’s okay to write crap. That’s what first drafts are for. Even Stephen King writes first drafts. Say what you need to say and get it out. You can clean it up on the rewrite. 3.) Reward yourself. Writing is hard work. Recognize your accomplishments and use that as motivation to move forward. 4.) One day at a time. You will not write the best American novel in a day. Break down the project into smaller, bite-sized bits that you can achieve a day at a time. Don’t try to swallow an elephant. 5.) Build community. Stay in regular communication with writers and other creatives that motivate and inspire you. Feed off of each other’s energy. Spur each other on to greatness. (But remember, spending five hours chatting and zero time writing does not count. That, my friends, can be filed under procrastination.) Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...

Read More

Magic

No, not the magic of writing. Well, maybe a little of that. Mostly it’s the magic of your fantasy world. Come on – you know you’ve written that next Lord of the Rings fantasy epic. You’ve done away with Orcs (Orks) and Elves and come up with something completely new and fresh. You’ve got an epic hero, who while still being “the chosen one,” manages to break all the stereotypes of fantasy literature and maintain the mythic cycle. You’re sure that Joseph Campbell would be bouncing with delight at your clever five act novel. You know that Ed Greenwood has nothing on the intricate fantasy realm you’ve created.   But there’s a problem. Your magic isn’t internally consistent. You might not even know it’s a problem. You might think it’s just some awkward scenes. Maybe you let your D&D group read the piece and they’re scratching their heads about the difference between Sorcerers and Wizards. Or maybe it’s something deeper, more subtle yet intrinsic to the plot.   Magic is a very slippery slope for a writer. Once the die is cast (or spell, in this case) there is not going back. If you’ve introduced magic to your world, your novel cannot ignore it. No one would. A magic-rich setting changes all the dynamics as well. Suddenly there’s no need to plow the fields – magic can do it. Suddenly, everyone carries a magic sword; your flaming scimitar of ass-kicking isn’t so special anymore. In fact, if everyone is walking around with a magic sword, mighty swords like Excalibur and Stormbringer suddenly become less wondrous. Even the Sword of Omens (Thundercats ho!) becomes more of a trinket or gimmick if every character has a magic sword. By the way, who is making these magic swords? If every man in the Evil Count’s Army has one, there’s no time for the Wizards to be casting their magic spells to plow the fields. Which puts us right back to where we started from.   You begin to see the problems with magic as a storyteller.   Finally, there’s the worst mistake a writer can make with magic – the dreaded Deus Ex Machina! Yes, one must never rely on magic to wrap up your plot. We see it all too often. For example, when the Prophets from Star Trek Deep Space Nine intervene (for unknown, undisclosed and unrealistic reasons) by destroying a force of thousands of Jem Hadar starships – we can call this a writer’s cop out, or a Deus Ex Machina Moment. Don’t do that.   Be the master of the magic in your world, not vice versa. Here’s how:   Be internally consistent: establish and understand the limitations...

Read More
%d bloggers like this: