2 things the Hunger Games film reminds us about the book industry

March 23, 2012 § 9 Comments

It’s not a big secret that I’m pretty conflicted about books that are made into movies, even (and sometimes especially) if the movies turn out good. That said, it’s been incredibly encouraging to see all the hubbub created by the release of the first Hunger Games movie. I’ve talked to dozens of people who would never have heard of the book if it weren’t for the movie, many of them who were reading it to see what the commotion is all about. Even better–“something better than getting people reading?!” you ask–yes, even better is that it’s getting people talking about the themes of the book, like privileged people taking what they have for granted and turning a blind eye to the suffering of others, and being used by non-profits as an opportunity to raise awareness about world hunger.

And I have to admit that it would be dishonest of me to say that I haven’t been stoked to see it.

So rather than get down about the fact that many times more people are going to see the movie than will ever read the book, I’m looking at the positive. « Read the rest of this entry »

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Rewards, deadlines, and motivation

March 21, 2012 § 5 Comments

Or: My love-hate relationship with deadlines

Yesterday I told my wife that I need to start writing more short stories. She promptly responded that I should give her one each week and in return I would get, da-da-da-da, “the red plate”. Now the motivational aspect of the red plate is a curious thing. I can’t say why I am so covetous of it, but it holds some mystical allure for me. Growing up, whenever any of us kids did something worthy of praise like getting good grades or making a sports team we would get “the red plate.” It was a big deal. I don’t know why, it just was. So when I got married, my wife and I were given a red plate of our own, with which she can motivate me cheaply.

Really though, the red plate was just icing on the cake. One short story a week? That sounds nigh impossible. Challenge accepted. « Read the rest of this entry »

Tension, Prologues, and Dramatic Irony

February 2, 2012 § 5 Comments

Or: How David Eddings ruined a perfectly good book by including a prologue

First off, I apologize for the few new posts as of late. I’ve talked about the Three Stooges Syndrome here before, and I happen to be struggling with a bad case of it. I’m trying to crank out another short story or two to get in the submissions merry-go-round, finish the young adult steampunk novel that I’ve been working on for the last year (draft six, here I come), and a few new projects have come down the pipeline at work and are taking more creative energy than usual (which is a welcome challenge). Too many ideas have been trying to get out of my brain all at once, and hence none of them were making it through the door.

I had to cut back on something and, compared to work and writing, blogging isn’t my top priority. What that means is  for the next few weeks (or until things begin to lighten up) I’m going to blog only when I’ve got something demanding to be shared with you folks.

Which segues nicely into what brings me to my keyboard tonight…

I’ve had Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings, a young adult fantasy book « Read the rest of this entry »

The selective pigheadedness of fantasy fans

January 16, 2012 § 5 Comments

Or: The tension between fantasy and familiar

(Note: for anyone hoping for the second post on book trailers: It’s coming, but I haven’t had the time to put it together properly yet, so be patient)

Recently I found myself in a bookish conversation when my fellow reader took issue with the use of the word “id” in a fantasy story (though I can’t remember which story for the life of me). The argument was that id is part of a theory of the psyche that was developed by Freud, and since Freud had never lived in this fantasy world, the characters wouldn’t have any idea what id was.

I’ve raised similar issues before regarding technology or terms that don’t belong in a given fantasy world, my favorite being « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: The Warded Man by Peter Brett

September 15, 2011 § 1 Comment

I started this in the car on the way to vacation, and my wife didn’t hear a word from me for the next two days. The Warded Man takes place in a world where no one ventures far from their homes during the day for fear of being caught outside when the sun sets. Each night, demons rise and brutally attack anyone not sheltering behind warded walls.  It’s primarily the story of Arden, a farm boy who’s tired of hiding from demons.

It’s not the best written story out there and the title gives away a major plot point that comes late in the book, but it’s Brett’s debut novel so I’ll cut him a healthy amount of slack. I can’t say what pulled me in and wouldn’t let me go, it could have been the unique magic system, or the frightening world, or the slowly mounting tension, but I loved The Warded Man and would recommend it.

Reading, writing, and a mild case of insanity

September 14, 2011 § 1 Comment

This blog in a nutshell…

Reading.

I love to read, and I have for as long as I can remember.  I was always the kid under the sheets with a flashlight after I was supposed to be asleep.  I still love to read anything and everything, and I want this blog to be both a resource for other people who feel the same way, and a place to talk about books, reading, and the ways both are changing.  I’ll be reviewing what I read, posting and commenting on book news, and compiling lists of books I’d recommend to other bibliophiles, whatever their age.

Writing.

On some level I’ve always wanted to write, but it wasn’t until I was a sophomore in college that I started thinking maybe I could.  Since then, I’ve spent a huge percentage of my free time reading, writing, and learning about what makes stories work.  I’ve made a lot of progress, but there’s still more room for improvement than I want to think about.  This blog will be a place where I continue to share the tips and tricks I gather, glean, or learn the hard way.  To start, here’s a list of books I would recommend to anyone thinking about writing.

A mild case of insanity.

Anyone who has ever written something for an audience is familiar with this.  Some days I feel like God’s gift to literature, and others I feel like I would be doing the world a favor if I never wrote another word.  Sometimes it changes in a matter of minutes.  Albert Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  This isn’t what he was talking about, but I think Albert would cut me a little slack and call it insanity anyway.  I don’t have any useful insights on this, but I find that it’s nice to be reminded that it’s something every author feels.

Book Review: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

September 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

This was definitely a great book to pick up.  It really taught me a ton about common mistakes (like using too many adverbs) that fiction writers make that send up red flags in the heads of editors and agents reading your manuscripts.  I’d say it’s a must read for anyone polishing their first (or second or third) manuscript, though I would also emphasize what they say right off the bat: these aren’t absolutes.  Some of the published examples they select to edit, like the Great Gatsby, lose their voice and uniqueness in the editing process.

If you’re looking for other great books on writing, check out the reading recommendations for writers section of the website.

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