Tag Archives: fantasy

Day 6: 12 Days of Blogmas

Today is another special post. Taking a break from rules and tips of prompts to give you a winter-themed piece to chill your bones.

This is extra special post for the Spotted Writer because this piece is written by my best friend, Megan. She is working ruthlessly to finish her first novel, and on the road to completion there is always a time where parts of the unfinished product are shared. Sometimes it’s right after you’ve written a scene and sometimes it’s only when you’ve finished the first draft. I’ve convinced her that now is the time to share some of her glorious wordsmithing with us!

Now I know my minions, as in all things, you will read and be fair when it comes to shy writers or new writers or anything posted on this page.

This is the prologue to Megan’s fantasy work in progress. If magic and wonder and intrigue and drama and life and death and good and evil appeal to you, so will this. Without further pomp and circumstance, here is the prologue to Megan’s work in progress.

Prologue

Zavos stood out on the balcony of the Castle of Veratis, looking out over the crystal blue Glass Bay. The Bay was aptly named due to the treacherous icebergs and the water, so chillingly cold it felt like being cut with tiny shards of glass. The sky above was grey and thick with fog and small black birds could be seen diving in and out of it, occasionally sweeping down and gliding just over the Bay, wetting the bottom of their feathers. Zavos wore a thick blue robe with a grey shawl to keep warm as he gripped the railing, losing himself in the endlessness of the waters below. His salt and pepper hair tumbled down around his shoulders, scraggly and unkempt, locks of hair knotted into his beard.

Even untidy and growing older, you could tell by looking at his hooked nose and icy-grey eyes, he had been handsome once. He often came out to clear his head, he couldn’t help finding the beauty in something so dangerously calm. He twitched his fingers together, nervous about the calm in Azia, wondering if it would last or if it would only progress into a terrible storm of war. These things often occupied his mind, after living for four hundred and thirteen years you tend to see history repeat itself.

Maybe this time will be different, the Beks have been laid to rest, the boggarts have retreated underground but is it enough? Magic always seems to corrupt those not strong enough to wield it.

“Brother! Are you still out here? It’s freezing.” Arivan swept through the patio door out to the balcony with his typical exuberance, in a burgundy robe embroidered with gold swirling designs. He had thick, curly blonde hair, peppered with grey and a shorter beard that mixed red, blonde, and grey. He held a tiny white teacup, which was billowing steam and handed it to Zavos. Zavos accepted the cup graciously and gave thanks. He pushed his beard back and held the cup just below his chin for a moment, letting the steam warm it before raising the cup to his lips to take a careful sip, droplets of tea hugging the ends of his mustache.

“Thank you, brother.” Zavos acknowledged again gratefully.

“You’ve missed dinner…again. Alaya is growing concerned, caring for your Neri has been trying for her, he’s grown rebellious in his teenage years.”

“And you think teaching him magic is the answer? Do you think it’s helping in any way?”

“Oh, Zavos not this again. He has the gift, he is the son of a creator. We are the only two that remain in this world with this powerful of magic. He has to be taught, we will not live forever and he will be left to rule Azia.”

“What if I don’t want that for him?” Zavos snapped.

“Who else? The humans? The gifted ones can barely perform the most simple spells. The elves are too unfocused and self-absorbed. The keepers serve their purpose already, and don’t even get me started on the Octarians, those stubborn high elf bastards have been itching to rise to power since the dawn of Azia.”

“Well, what of Odrin? He holds great magic.”

“Odrin is a shell of what he was. You know Neri is the only option, why do you fight it so? Please tell me it’s not jealousy over his learning from me. I know for a fact he’d be thrilled if you taught him.”

“Jealousy? Don’t be foolish. No, magic corrupts, look what it’s done to you, you’ve become obsessed. You say I’m distracted? Where are you at night? Holed away in your library doing God knows what till all hours of the night and whispering secrets with Neri. I don’t want to watch the world we built burn down to ash and rubble.”

“You worry too much, brother. Magic is beautiful. Without it our world wouldn’t exist. Azia is as quiet as it’s ever been. Be content with that and come inside and see your family, soothe their worry. Magic is never going away, not as long as I have breath.”

Arivan threw his arm around Zavos, causing his tea to dribble down the cup and singe his finger. He led him inside and Zavos joined him reluctantly, glancing back longingly at the icy water.

****

Arivan began the climb up the spiral steps to the keep, that just about reached the clouds. He could just barely make out the lighthouse style tower up at the top. After reaching his third circle around, he reached his black painted wooden staff, with a ruby in the center of enclosed branches, up towards the sky and shut his eyes, envisioning the top of the steps until his body tickled with pricks of electricity. Every pore was on fire and every hair shook as he felt himself enveloped in a shroud of magic.

When he opened his eyes he was at the top of the winding stairs, standing beside a rickety old railing that when he looked over, saw nothing but a blur of green, brown, and blue, swirled together like a watercolor. The height made his belly flip flop a bit so he pulled himself away from the railing and faced the entrance to the keeper’s tower. He looked up at the great cobblestone structure that appeared to be on it’s last legs, arching to the right as if falling. Arivan felt the magic here, weaving into the air and keeping the building sturdy. He felt for the brass knob on the curved circular door and pulled it open.

When he stepped inside he was blown away, as he was on every occasion he had been to the tower, staring at the full shelves of books that lined each wall. The circular room had the tallest walls that seemed to lean slightly, and yet every book was in it’s proper place. Ladders lined every other group of shelves and inside was drafty and smelled of mildew and dust. he saw the keepers, in brown robes huddled around a circular table covered in giant books with a map spread across the center. Zavos was already there and was the first to look up and meet Arivan’s gaze. His eyes looked hollow, he was nothing but a shell of a man hunched over, his hair grayed and fingers trembling over the pages of a book he was holding. Arivan walked in confidently towards his brother, pushing back the curly blond locks from his face.

“Hello brother, you haven’t aged a day, still playing your magic tricks I see.” Zavos said.

Arivan tried to brush off the jab.

“I was quite sorry to hear about Alaya.”

Zavos winced at the mention of her name and Arivan reached out a hand to touch Zavos’ shoulder but he shrugged it away.

“I did notice you weren’t at the funeral.”

“I didn’t think I’d be welcome…I should have listened to you.”

“I don’t want to discuss this brother, let’s get to the matter at hand. We know why we’re here, the magic in Azia has corrupted you and everything here, just as I said it would.”

“Brother, you are grieving, it’s not so bad, sure there are a few violent uprisings, but it’s nothing that can’t be resolved. Magic is what created this place, OUR magic, surely that can’t be bad?”

“I disagree. You taught Neri dark magic against my wishes and now him and my wife are both gone. Everywhere I turn I see corruption and greed, it disgusts me and it’s time something was done.”

Arivan sighed and looked down from his brother’s cold gaze back to the table, taking a closer look at the maps which depicted what looked like a venn diagram. Two circles filled with land markings, mountains, and vast blue waters with an overlap in the middle. Zavos watched as Arivan studied the maps for a few minutes before speaking.

“Are we in agreement?”

“It doesn’t seem that I have much say in the matter, what if I don’t agree to aid in this plan?”

“Then I’ll be forced to strike you down.”

Arivan felt the sting of his brother’s biting remark and sadness swirled up in his stomach, making him nauseated. He tried to process the gravity of the decision before him but his head was clouded with emotion, he dropped his head and almost whispered

“Fine, I don’t want to cause you any more pain.”

Arivan looked across at the keepers with a serious, but numb expression. “Let’s begin”.

Happy Reading/writing!

Be sure to check out the link to Megan’s blog, which has a few tidbits of her non-novel writing: https://foxyintronerd.wordpress.com/

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Breaking News, Fiction-Read and React

Slivers of Glory: Guest Post By an Awesome Friend

I have the most phenomenal friends. I don’t mean to brag. Well, I kind of do.  My friends (old and new) have been so gracious to let me into their lives and become a part of my “chosen family” and there is no real way to repay them for being such a huge part of my life. I feel honored every day to know so many diverse and talented people. Not only do I share company with dozens of talented (published and unpublished) writers, but computer technicials, graphic designers, beauticians, medical practitioners-all so passionate about what they do. They have a way of always surprising me with their creativity and it’s an inspiration and a kick in the butt for me to get to work. While I’m trying to finish Dollhouse Daughter, I thought it was time to share how my friends in inspire me to keep going.

So this blog post is a spotlight on one of my most versatile friends, Erin. She has degrees in Biblical studies and history to name just a few, and has a healthy love of all things science fiction and fantasy. And she has a knack for early morning flash fiction! She shared this little bit of hilarity with me and I knew I needed to show my lovely minions what good company I keep outside of my little blog home.  Enjoy this, comment about it, share it with your friends.

Captain’s log: 3:00AM

The small, white Ewok insisted she needed to go outside even though she was out there not too long ago. Upon our trek to the door, I heard one of her claws snag on the carpet. I detained the Ewok and proceeded to trim her enormous talons. She tolerated this, but upon release she was no longer interested in a foray into the dark night. All the while these events were transpiring, the giant gremlin looked on patiently and intently. Sensing his opportunity when the Ewok ambled away, he demanded to be escorted into the darkness outside. I obliged, if begrudgingly. Upon our return, I realized the remnants of the Ewok talon-shearing were strewn about the mess hall. Not knowing what mystical powers these shards held and not wanting them to fall into the wrong hands, I swiftly gathered the pieces and chucked them into the incinerator. As they disappeared before my eyes, I lamented that we now may never know the potential of those slivers of glory. Finally, I retired to my cabin to reflect upon the recent events and seek the solace of my pillow.

 

Happy Caturday! Don’t forget to read and write something furry today!

Nyla hopes you have a sexy, sassy day!

Nyla hopes you have a sexy, sassy day!

 

1 Comment

Filed under Fiction-Read and React

Excerpt from “The Hawthorne Grove”: A Saint Patrick’s Day Writing Gift

This piece is an excerpt from a WIP tentatively titled The Hawthorne Grove, featuring a young girl named Marwyn Killeen, who discovers that her thirteenth birthday brings intangible gifts of magic, and a new world, parallel to the one we live in, along with it. I’ll leave the rest for you readers to discover, but the focus of the story will be on Irish myth and Celtic druid lore from Ireland. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day from the Hills of Tara in Co. Meath, Ireland.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day from the Hills of Tara in Co. Meath, Ireland.

The Hawthorne Grove

Even as a little girl, the moonlight fascinated me. It was cool and rejuvenating compared to the sometimes blistering heat of the sun’s rays. In my dreams every night, the moon didn’t reflect the sunlight; she stole it from the sun, transforming her silvery beams into a veil bridging two places.

I saw my first glimpse of the Otherworld only a few days after my 13th birthday on my way home from my favorite bike trail. The full moon was low enough in the sky that I saw it shining between the massive tree trunks that lined the coast of Northern California. At the time, my parents were vaguely aware that I rode my new 10-speed mountain bike five miles to get to the entrance of the state park, and roam the trails until after dusk. My sister, Phoebe, and I were never given curfews for fear that our “creative spirit” would be crushed by the weight of over-bearing parents. No, my parents stayed blissfully ignorant of the fact that I spent more of the summer with the redwoods than my friends from school.

I rode my bike behind the staggering figure until he stumbled into a clearing that was used for campsites along the trail. Tents had popped up like weeds, invading every free patch of grass not being swallowed by the gigantic winnebagos that this summer’s horde of tourists brought with them. He looked like a gnome, a drunk gnome wearing clothes that were better suited for a Thanksgiving play than hot California weather.

“Honestly, who wears blue stockings and buckled shoes anymore?” I mumbled.

He passed the first couple campsites before “Mr. Gnome-aholic” ran headlong into a tree stump with a sickening thump and then tumbled backward onto the gravel path. I heard him grunt softly as he propping himself into a seated position using the same tree stump.  I quickly dumped my brand new bike on the path, and rushed over to see if he was hurt.

“Oh my god, are you okay?” I whispered.

You can imagine my surprise when I lifted the wool hat from his egg-shaped head to find no bruises or blood despite the loud crack it made seconds earlier. His eyes snapped open when he felt the cool air on his head, trying to cover the pointed ears and wisps of copper hair sticking out in all directions. He grabbed for his hat with long, thin fingers and an empty bottle slipped from his grasp onto the ground.

“It’s okay,” I said, my voice as calm as possible. “I just wanted to make sure you weren’t bleeding.”

“Clurichaun do not bleed from a bump on the head,” he said in a loud,. “Keep your hands off me, child.”

It seemed odd that he would be ashamed of pointy ears, but my only references to gnomes are Disney movies, so what do I know? Guessing by the sound of his accent, I assume a clurichaun is a type of Irish gnome—a pointy-eared, drunken Irish gnome.

“Sorry,” I said, sarcasm resonating in my voice. “I guess gnomes don’t bleed when they get hurt.”

The man jumped to his feet, his pudgy face as red as his hat. He barely reached three feet in height, making his anger more comical than terrifying. It took every ounce of willpower not to laugh at him. No need to make the little guy more uncomfortable.

”Gnome?” he yelled. “To hell with you for thinkin’ I’m one of those blithering eeijits. They be teachin’ you little birds to mock the fae instead of respect us.”

“Mr. Gnome-aholic” wobbled on his leather shoes over to the brown bottle, and glanced over his angular shoulder at me as if I was going to steal his empty recyclable. Maybe he’s an environmentally friendly gnome. Then again, they’re all probably conscious of picking up after themselves if they live in the woods.

With a flourish of his long fingers, the brown bottle shimmered in the dim light, filling with a fragrant liquid and he took a generous gulp before securing the bottle in one of his coat pockets.

“Did you just?” I asked, motioning to the bottle. “Fill that back up without…”

He turned on his heel to face me again, the fury replaced by an unsettling grin on his tiny face. I couldn’t help, but think that he had shown me his little trick on purpose.

“Are you going to tell me your name? Or do I have to guess like Rumplestilkin?”

“Ha,” he laughed, a sharp cackle breaking the evening’s silence. “That wee tale gets me every time. As if a name could cause the world to swallow me up. My name is Sloane, clurichaun of the Northwest.”

The small man bowed so deeply that he nearly lost his balance again, so I reached out to steady him. Once he righted himself, I dusted off the blades of grass indented into my knees, and with the help of the leftover tiki torches, I surveyed the area to find no one in the immediate camp had bothered to check on the tiny man yelling outside.

“I’m Marwyn Killeen, teenager of Myer’s Flat.”

“Well met now, aren’t we?” Sloane said, his tenor voice slurring the end of his sentence. “Since you feigned an interest in my well-being, you may take me to the nearest vineyard.”

“Well, Fruitlands is on the way to my house.Would you prefer my back pack or the front of the bike?”

A huff escaped Sloane as he said, “Do you take me for a pet? I shall ride in front.”

I shrugged my shoulders and picked my bike from the gravel waiting for him to climb on. Who am I to judge? The backpack would be a safer option, but he has so much pride for such a little person.

“Suit yourself,” I said.

With one hand on his hat, and the other holding the handlebars between his legs, I pushed the bike back onto the dirt path towards home.

“So if you’re not a gnome,” I said, “What are you?”

Sloane turned to face me with a wide grin more mischievous looking than the Cheshire cat. It stirred something in me–a kind of acceptance that he recognized something within me that I didn’t know I had. If it was meant to reassure me, it didn’t.

”Ah excellent question, my dear, but that answer you will have to earn in time,” he said, his voice soft and secretive all of a sudden. “Even if your hair does not burn with power, there is something in you, child.”

The way he talked was so strange; even with his strong Irish accent, he sounded as if he belonged in another era. Since we weren’t going to reach my neighbor’s vineyard for at least another two miles of back roads, I figured I might as well keep the conversation going.

“What do you mean my hair doesn’t burn?” I asked, glancing down at my brown curls. “If it burned I wouldn’t have any.”

He must have enjoyed the confusion on my face because the next high-pitched cackle knocked him off balance and almost fell from the handlebars onto the ground.

“You have much to learn about the world, little bird,” he said once he regained his composure.

*****

There you have it, folks. A glimpse into a new story that’s been brewing in my mind since I started reading The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. By the way, you should check out the first book in that series, Hounded, if Celtic or other major myths interest you.

As a writer, I appreciate any thoughts on the overall feel or impression of the story/characters. I know I want to write the story, but I also would benefit from knowing if people want to read it.

Before I forget, here are a few kitty pictures to start off the day. Happy Reading and Writing!

Bengal cat! Love her!

Bengal cat! Love her!

"I lay between your legs because it makes you uncomfortable. You're Welcome."

“I lay between your legs because it makes you uncomfortable. You’re Welcome.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Fiction-Read and React

Getting Back to My Roots: Unicorn Style

tumblr_lnmmsdIHZA1qjz112o1_500

At one point in every writer’s life they have THE MOMENT. There is a novel or story you’ve read  in your past whether it be at age 7 or age 38 that ignites a spark in you to be more than just a casual reader. It is a hunger for stories–for faraway lands, technologically-advanced alien planets, and characters that seem more realistic than your own neighbor. The story can be from any genre or any time. Most importantly, it has affected you in a way nothing else has before. Sure there are books that you’ve enjoyed, but this one was different.

For me, it was Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville, 2nd grade in Mrs. McClelland’s class. Now not every young girl is swept away by the idea of unicorns, but at 7-years-old there was nothing sweeter than a lonely, neglected girl finding her destiny with these beautiful, magical creatures. With Coville and McClelland’s help, I was fell in love with the limitless potential of storytelling. Although it wasn’t the first book I had ever read, it was and still is the most powerful.

Coville has a simple, straightforward style that works well with his 80+ children’s and young adult novels. It was my first real glimpse at world-building, and I was in love with the fantasy and of course the unicorns he brought to life. Later that school year, I attempted to write my first story, which at three pages long was a harrowing adventure of a fairy princess with a shape-shifting blob for a companion.

Before Coville and his Unicorn Chronicles, I had a satiable appetite for reading much like any other enthusiastic child. Not anymore. It was after journeying with Cara Hunter and her faithful new friends in Luster that I found my passion. My love of stories intensified from that moment on. Several years later I discovered the second book in the series and in my delight I fell into the world of Luster all over again. No matter how long I spend away from Coville’s world I came right back within the first few pages.

Thanks to the wonderful world of Google and Goodreads, I’ve come into the possession of the third installment of my beloved series rather recently. It’s been, I’d say, around 8-10 years since the second novel, Song of the Wanderer, and getting back to my roots is exactly what I needed to rekindle my creative mojo.

By the second chapter, the adorable and slightly annoying voice of the Squijum (part monkey/squirrel) threw me headlong into a heavy case déjà vu, which I was all to happy to allow. There is nothing more satisfying than characters who instill a sense of contentment in a reader as a youth AND an adult. I only wish I can do that with my Cassie for one person, and Coville is guaranteed hundreds if not thousands in the forty years he’s been publishing.

We finally reach the meat of my post with the fact that this book and this author being my moment of “revelation,” if you will. It was the moment I knew that I had it in me to escape whenever I wanted if the story came to me. I wouldn’t write again for many more years other than fan fiction, which is a good start anyways. And even when I revisited the most important book of my career, I still found the magic bubbling on the pages. Sometimes the books we remember as kids don’t always ring true when you’re older.

Coville’s books have been an integral part in my decision to become a writer, and following the 17 years apart from this particular reader-author relationship I had some catching up to do. So, I decided to take a trip over to Mr. Coville’s web site to re-acquaint myself with the man behind my inspiration. What did I find? Some of the greatest advice I have ever come across.

I encourage you to head on over to BruceCoville.com because he is both simple and coherent no matter what kind of stories you are writing. Hey, he even uses the same tag line that I use at the end of all of my blogs. Coincidence? Since this is the first time I’ve visited his website I’d say no. It’s a powerful feeling when a complete stranger guides you down the right path because it’s one you share with them. I am almost finished with Dark Whispers and Coville still gives me the chills in all of the right places. He gives me hope that I can someday give those chills to hopeful writers that their dreams are just like mine and they can come true if they believe.

Do you remember the first story/book/poem that made you want to be a writer. Share your “back to roots” story in the comments below. I’d love to hear them. And in the spirit of a lovely Sunday morning—-Happy reading and writing, my lovelies!

 

Oh and—-interwebz kitteh picture!

My close up Mister Main Coon!

My close up Mister Main Coon!

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Idea of the Day

Blackbird House, Oh how I long for you!

I recently finished my second book requirement for graduate school, and I am so excited to write this paper. Usually, a mix of fear and curiosity it what strikes me when I must write a paper for school.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy all writing, but when a grade attached there is bound to be some anxiety.

With the disappointing feeling I received from my first critical paper, I am determined to do better this time. I think the hardest part about any English assignment is the book. It doesn’t matter if the essay is 5 or 25 pages long with an annotated bibliography. If you can connect with the book on any level, especially a deep one, then the essay is going to be of a much better quality.

Alice Hoffman's Blackbird House: Member of the Ballantine Reader's Circle. It sounds important so I included it.

However, it doesn’t mean that liking a book with produce a great paper. It’s the connection to the character or the story that wills you creative mind to come up with more insightful ideas to add to your writing. So, when I read Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman in three days I was itching to get my paper started.

One of the most appealing aspects of this book lies in its format. Initially, Hoffman wrote one short story (the second to last in the book), and was convinced to write the other stories to create the collection. The placement of the stories is so interesting because it is logically make sense, but to the reader it is an adventure. She compiled the stories chronologically beginning with the first family in the 18th century.

Knowing this, you would think the reader would have a good grasp on what was in the next story. Instead, there is a sense of wonder that befalls the reader as he/she flips through the stories. Will the next story be a new family or will it continue the lives of the ones I have already attached myself to? It is impossible to know what to expect unless you have read the book before.

In addition, the aspect of the stories that draws you in is Hoffman’s use of place. Place is one of the most vital pieces of a story, and Hoffman invokes the place (Blackbird House in Cape Cod) in a magical way. Identical to the way nature writing uses place, Hoffman utilizes place as a foundation for connecting to the audience. She treats the Blackbird House and the coastal area as characters drawing the reader into the story.

When you experience the Cape, you think of the salty air, the gossip of local women, and the welcoming feeling of nature all around you. Hoffman brings the coast to life with the imagery of place, and the subtle use of fantasy. She weaves together the lives of families decades apart through this one house.  I am still sh0cked at how easily Hoffman drew me into the life of the families living on the coast. Maybe it’s because I have a desire to travel or a love of nature, but she captivated my attention with every story. Usually, there are one or two stories in a collection that I don’t favor. This collection has none of those. The only things missing from this collection were the lulls or boring spots that might appear in writing. Someone once told me: When you’re reading good writing, you won’t be able to finish it without going back and finding out the author’s name. It is that urgency that notifies you of good writing.

Since I already knew who the author was, I had a parallel experience understanding the good quality of her writing. While browsing the list of her other books, I found that she had written a book I read a long time ago. My terrible memory doesn’t allow me to remember the authors of many books I read in the past. Yet, the impression left after reading her book  Green Angel was so similar to this one that it lead me to my aha moment. The moment where you realize you recognize this author for his/her ability to connect to you no matter what they have written. While Green Angel was a children’s book, the voice of Hoffman spoke to me in a powerful way.

I could have qualms about the book such as the stories all ending without me wanting them to, but those are qualms that will stay silent. As a writer, I am so proud to be in this profession with authors like Hoffman. I went on to research her other books, hell-bent on reading all of them. She is not my favorite author (yet), but I have become a fast fan after being reunited with her work. I would suggest her work to any with an affinity towards nature or any use of fantasy. She has a well-rounded use of imagery and dialogue, with descriptions that paint a picture immediately in your mind.

With my positive review, I look forward to writing this critical essay. It’s not just because I enjoyed the stories. I paid more attention to what made the book special rather than forcing myself to look deeper into the book. I just hope my other two assigned books move me as much as this one.

Happy reading and writing, readers!

2 Comments

Filed under Idea of the Day

Reading Towards Better Writing

Touching on the most fundamental rule for writers: reading helps make us better writers. Sadly, this simple rule has escaped many in their attempts at becoming writers. It is a mistake no aspiring author/poet should make. Below is a blog post that inspired my reaction on reading as a writer:

http://goinswriter.com/good-writers-read/

Some of the time, reading is what provokes the inspiration to write. I know that my first inspiration to write came in 5th grade, when I discovered the wonderful world of Bruce Coville. He is a young adult fantasy writer who specialized in writing about unicorns. Needless to say, his ability to create a world unlike any in existence lead me to my passion for writing. However, the love of writing never would have developed, if not for my love of reading.

For a few writers, their belief is that writing just happens. You don’t read the work of the competition or important authors before them. They don’t think that taking the time to read is beneficial because they don’t have a love for reading as a foundation. Just think of how many writers you have met that just don’t seem to “get it”. They spend their days sitting at their computer, talking about their ideas, but never seem to get it on the page.

If you've seen this scene from Family Guy, you know these guys don't read to help become better writers. They're tools!

They usually won’t be published, and they can’t figure out why. “No one understands my style, my voice,” they will chant. My response is– “You don’t have any of that if you don’t know what has been written before you.”

No, I’m not talking about the classics, or the stories we reading in high school. I’m talking about influential books for the craft. Authors who have revolutionized your particular genre are vital to understand your own writing. Take for example, my ignorance in the science fiction genre. I haven’t read nearly enough of the classic sci-fi authors. I recently picked up Issac Asimov, and I hadn’t heard of him in great detail before I began searching for great science fiction books to read. Pages into one of his books, I understood the complexity necessary to create a great science fiction book. Within minutes I learned a new facet of the genre I was attempting to write.

Some of the most important skills we can learn as writers come from the time spent reading. While the blog post above states that any reading can help, I’m going to focus on just reading in your genre can shape your writing skills. As I have mentioned before I can break down the types of reading into three categories.  Reading as a reader (for pleasure), reading as a student (for analysis), and reading as a writer (to absorb skills/ideas).

The three key elements of the influence of reading, according to the blog post:

1.) Reading with a purpose is useless- His first point is imperative to learning from reading. If you read with something in  mind (other than reading the book) you’re going to limit the experience. Reading as you would for pleasure is important because it develops your love of reading.

2.) Language is the key to writing- The easiest skill you can learn from other writers is how to handle language. As budding writers, we are clumsy (well I know I am) with language. We don’t have the experience to use our words wisely. So, to gain the experience we read what the best writers have done. At the same time, reading bad use of language teaches us how NOT to write, which is equally important.

3.) Read suggestions from other writers-This element is especially helpful is bringing variety to the normal type of books your read. It also allows you to converse and connect with other writers. This bond is crucial to learning not only from the books, but from the writers who recommend them.

I will add only a few additions to his list of how reading helps your writing.

4.) Read contemporary books, and ones in your genre of choice- By reading contemporary books (not necessarily on the best-seller’s list) you learn what books are being chosen by the general audience. You also learn what openings are available in the market for you particular style or ideas. Reading the books in your genre (competition) allows you to understand your audience in an intimate level. For example, werewolves and vampires are HOT in the fantasy genre. While they have always been fairly popular, it is because of one contemporary series (  :/ Twilight ) that has driven trends in the genre. It is vital to know where you fit now in the market as well as what readers look for in stories being published. Make sure you take the ideas of the competition in stride. It’s not meant to change your writing to what they’re doing. You can find the differences an advantage as well as what you could write differently.

So, go out and read. Read old books, new ones, and ones your friends tell you are good reads. Speaking of, Goodreads.com is a great place to compare books you’ve read, and get suggestions from people across the globe.

Happy writing AND reading!

11 Comments

Filed under Idea of the Day

Prologue To a Post Apocalyptic Novel

About a week earlier I posted a back cover blurb for a science fiction novel I’m writing.

https://amyoung0606.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/back-cover-blurb-for-a-science-fictionfantasy-book/

I’ve been working on this for well over a year thanks to a dream I had one night. The prologue below is the beginning to a futuristic novel set in 2037 of a post apocalyptic society. You can call it science fiction, fantasy, or speculative fiction. To me, it is a fiction story using elements of myth as well as realistic threats to the future of humanity. It prays upon our fear of society falling a part, but eventually shows how people can find love even in the most extreme situations. 

Without further hesitation, here is the prologue to my work in progress. Please feel free to give comments and criticisms. 

Prologue

 In 2037, the world feels alien compared to what it was a few decades ago. Scientists believe that long term exposure to radiation started it all. It took decades for the radiation to change the genetics of humans. Our superiority made us ignorant to how much was changing underneath our skin. Humanity thought it was indestructible. Top of the food chain. King of the jungle. That ignorance would be the downfall of the human race.

Since the creation of the atomic bomb and multiple nuclear disasters (Chernobyl 1986, Three Mile Island 1979, Japan 1999, 2011) humans have been exposed to ionized radiation on a massive scale. More devastating than X-Rays and cell phones, nuclear power became a weapon beyond simply destroying life. Those that died were mourned, but we neglected to step back and look at the big picture. We focused on curing the individuals with the most radiation levels. Doctors were certain that there was no prolonged effect besides the increased possibility of cancer. Researchers created a safe level of radiation that could exist in humans that they guaranteed it would not be harmful to have some radiation in us.

They were all wrong.  What they didn’t know is that the radiation was still working inside people’s bodies. It removes electrons from molecules, which can create terrible effects on the human body. There is typically a low white blood cell count in those with radiation illnesses. Blood transfusions were a common treatment to those exposed. It helped to replace the affected cells. The point is that radiation changes your cells. All of the known symptoms were being treated, but there was one that remained dormant.

People never imagined that radiation would change our genetics. It was only until 2021 that the final symptom began to show. At first, it was just one or two people out of billions. They were deemed insane and locked up. No one thought there was a biological reason for them to eat people and drink their blood.  It was the genetics no one bothered to study.

4 Comments

Filed under Fiction-Read and React