Monday, October 29, 2012

Weekly Roundup

3 DAYS TILL NANOWRIMO! It seems like yesterday that I was logging onto the newly refreshed site at the beginning of October. Where has this month gone...

So, this will be my last regular "Weekly Roundup" until the end of December/new year. NaNo will take over this blog as usual during November and then I've got something interesting planned for my Christmas Picture Countdown in December. I'll still try to post links once in a while, but I can't promise anything.

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to teach writers to turn off their inner editors and allow themselves to write a really terrible first draft. Carolyn Kaufman over at Query Tracker gives her input about the first "Skeleton draft" in her article here.

But on the other hand, is NaNoWriMo for every writer? Jane Lebak thinks not and isn't doing it this year for herself. Hear her out and read her reasons though. You just might find yourself agreeing.

Once you have this novel done at the end of NaNo (or whenever you finish editing), what do you do with it? Pursue traditional publishing? Hang it all and self-publish? However, you might want to think ahead about the consequences of choosing the latter. Many agents, like Janet Reid (the famous query shark), aren't too happy about not having first bite at your novel. Janet explains why poor sales can sink any possibility of a second book.

Until Thursday and the beginning of NaNo!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

CSFF Blog Tour: The Spirit Well - The Mythology

In order to prepare for this tour I read not only "The Spirit Well" by Stephen Lawhead but also its two prequels - "The Skin Map" and "The Bone House". Perhaps if this series proceeded in a strictly linear fashion I would have been able to untangle the third book from its prequels, but that proved impossible. As such, consider this three part review to cover the whole Bright Empires Series with a special emphasis on "The Spirit Well" when I can manage it.

For today's topic I thought I would focus on the world building or mythology Lawhead has created for this series. (I shall post a spoiler warning here. Nothing sufficient to give away major plot points is written, but there are details from all three books so if you haven't read the first two, expect to be spoiled. You have been warned.)

On the surface it poses as a copy of the real world with the addition of alternate timelines, dimensions and time or "astral" travel. However, once examined closer one can see the intricate weaving of fact and fiction which Lawhead has presented us with. "Home World" as it is called is the part of the world which is a carbon copy of our own. It is supposed to be the original timeline and dimension from which all the others derive and also represents the boundary between time that can be traveled and "the absolute future" to which no one can travel. However this world is crisscrossed with ley lines which connect the dimensions. Kit's great-grandfather, Cosimos, explains it as the connecting points and lines formed by stacked soap bubbles.

This ley line idea comes from old Celtic beliefs. However, Lawhead has woven it into his world seamlessly and also into multiple cultures' mythology. In "The Spirit Well", Cassandra is introduced to the ley lines by a Native American who calls them "Ghost Roads" to the Spirit World. That it is almost impossible to distinguish where the ley lines of Lawheads's creation, Celtic myth, and the myths of Native Americans' each begin and end is a testament to Lawhead's skill as a writer.

He doesn't just restrict himself to borrowing ley lines and old myths. In book two, "The Bone House", Kit travels by accident to prehistoric times and meets cave men straight out of Evolutionary theory. Or perhaps not. Lawhead again has changed them to suit his world. He has given them back the humanity and intelligence that Evolution stripped from them and he even has introduced a key plot point through Kit's interaction with them.

In one of the flashbacks in "The Spirit Well" Lawhead takes Arthur and his son Benedict back to Ancient Egypt. Arthur is an Englishman born into the Christian tradition, however he studied with and became friends with a priest of the Egyptian god Amun. This particular flashback has Anen complaining about how the Pharaoh refuses to listen to the priests and is now promoting the worship of one new god. If you know your history, you'll recognize this new "god" as the one worshiped by the Jews and therefore Christians. However, Arthur keeps the fact that he believes in this God quiet, saying that his policy is to not impose his beliefs on the cultures he is visiting.

I think this approach can be applied to Lawhead's direction for "Bright Empires". He doesn't discard bits from other beliefs, mythologies or even "science", but chooses to embrace them and mold them to fit his world. However, though he takes this approach, one can tell the Christian undertones. I have full faith that the good guys will win and find some way to beat the bad guys, though I was quite disappointed to find that "Bright Empires" has two more books in the pipeline instead of being a trilogy. I wanted to read the end already!

But, I have reached the end of the available books and you the end of this post, unlike me, all you have to do is wait until tomorrow for part two of my review. I'll try to explain why "Bright Empires" is told in such a fragmented timeline and it works. (Versus the last book I reviewed.) So, tune in tomorrow! And while you're waiting, check out more below:

To buy the book, click here.
Or you can visit Stephen Lawhead's website or facebook page.

And don't forget to visit the other participants in the blog tour here!

Until then!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Weekly Roundup

17 DAYS TILL NANOWRIMO! (Yes, I'm going to keep doing this almost every post until NaNo starts. In fact, next week is the kick-off party for our little area! Which just might translate into more of the Kagerou's Journal serial being posted.)

So on the topic of NaNo, Matthew Wright is doing a countdown on his site with tips for NaNo novel writing. His first installment is all about plotting the hero journey.

I'm sure every writer has heard the "rule" "write what you know". However, isn't the intention behind this rule to encourage writers to write in areas they have emotional connections with? That emotion can drive a story as Stina Lindenblatt discusses in her post.

When writers can put emotion into a story it prompts a response from the reader. But how do you convey that emotion to the reader in the first place? In her post, Nanci Panuccio demonstrates how to create drama sentence by sentence.

In the publishing world, once again genre fiction is ignored at National Book Awards. This reality is something you, if you are a genre writer, will have to accept. Unless the top book awards stop turning up their noses at anything outside of the literary "genre".

Now for an interesting tidbit on the electronic ereader front. A german company, which produces a reading app for android OS phones, has announced an ereader which syncs with the app--for 9 euros (that's about $20). Now that is a low cost ereader!

Next week is the CSFF blog tour! I'll be reviewing The Spirit Well by Stephen Lawhead. Make sure to tune in here and check out the other participants' blogs during the tour as well!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Weekly Roundup

NANOWRIMO STARTS IN 24 DAYS!

Yes, that's the big news of the day, or rather of the month. As soon as I saw NaNoWriMo's tweet about the site relaunch I headed over there to set everything up. And I'm still hyping myself up about it. But, I digress. If you do know what NaNoWriMo is, get yourself over there to sign up/login and begin your prep. If you don't, you can find more information on the event at the main site but basically it's when several hundred thousand writers go mad and decide to write 50k of a novel in one month on top of everything else in their life.

Ok, now for the links. There are just a few today, but the last one will take you a while to completely read through (thereby hooking you in the process [insert evil laugh]). I've been in an editing mindset ever since this summer when I started digging into Adventure at Anwar for the rewrite/revision during Camp NaNoWriMo (And I'm in full rewrite mode for NaNoWriMo this year for the Across Time series/idea) so here are a few more links in that vein.

The Art of the Complete Rewrite by Jane Lebak

and

Write Tighter, Write Smarter by Ash Krafton

As for the final link, Robin McKinley's running a blog serial on her blog. In fact, she's been running it for almost 6 months now. Interested? Well, you can catch up on it here while waiting the next installment.

Until next time! (And enjoy the story. I know I have!)
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