A Drift of Quills – Books We Love

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Today our group is writing about books we love. I had to wrestle with what to recommend. I just finished Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt and the ever phenomenal Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan. But today I’m especially excited to get to recommend Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner.

But first, let me point you toward my fellow writers, who have excellent reads to share.

 


Patricia RedingPatricia Reding

Author of Oathtaker

Patricia’s Website

 

In truth, posts about “books we love” are a bit difficult for me. This is due to two oddly co-existing—yet seemingly entirely contrary—truths: (1) there are so many I love; and (2) it is so difficult to find one that I love. How is this possible?

There are numerous changes going on in the publication world, which means that one cannot always have a sense of certainty in advance as to whether a book will be worth the time and expense. Still, there is so much out there to read! So, I’m going to step back in time . . .

 


Robin Lythgoe

Robin Lythgoe

Author of As the Crow Flies

Robin’s Website

 

I so enjoy doing our regular “Books We Love” posts! Do I pull one of the (usually older) books off my library shelves? Or do I choose something (usually newer) from my e-reader? I love revisiting my favorite books—and I love exploring new ones! Decisions, decisions…

You’ll be happy to know I made one.

I am delighted to spotlight A Hero’s Curse by our very own P.S. Broaddus. The book is a wonderful middle-grade/young adult fantasy-adventure about a twelve-year-old blind girl and her talking cat.

I have a confession to make…

 


Parker Broaddus

“Of making many books there is no end,” the wise have said. And we forget the gems of the past, buried in a mountain of fluff n’ stuff. Stone Fox is one of those gems. It’s an incredibly short children’s novel, written in a plain, simple prose, (similar to Sarah Plain and Tall, which just goes to remind us writers, we don’t have to wax eloquent for hundreds of pages to pack a punch).Stone Fox

Little Willy, our protagonist, is facing an ailing grandfather and the loss of their farm. To save all, he enters the National Dog Sled race held in Jackson, Wyoming with his faithful dog, Searchlight, and…well, you’ll just have to read the rest.

Stone Fox is about drama, in the best possible way. It’s exciting, it’s emotional and it’s unexpected. And it isn’t just the story that’s unexpected–every event turns us on our heads and pulls on our hearts–it makes us laugh and cry, just as the best writing should.

It’s a fun one to read aloud, a gold mine for writers looking to learn more about packing drama in their own writing, and just good literature.

So comment below! Have you already read Stone Fox? If so, how did you find it? Do you think this story speaks to an older generation, or can today’s kids fall in love with Searchlight as well?

A Drift of Quills – Characters Welcome

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Characters are great fun. Don’t we all have our favorites? Maybe we love their wit, or clueless misadventures–I’m looking at you Bertie Wooster. Sometimes it’s a character we relate to: I’m fond of Monk, the tightly wound, obsessive-compulsive detective.

Many of my stories are character driven–which means I’m constantly surrounded by…you guessed, it…characters.

So the question comes up regarding how these personalities come to life. Do I plan them in advance? Do they spring into being in the moment? How do you keep track of them?

Take Essie Brightsday, a young blind girl and the protagonist of A Hero’s Curse. How did she get here?

That makes me chuckle. I don’t know how she got here, really. But when she did show up, it was important that I know a bit about her strengths and weaknesses. For me, that’s more important than eye color and shoe size. If I know a character’s weakness, suddenly I have a character arc. I know what’s going to be hard for them through the story and I know what they are going to need to overcome to be victorious in the end. Or, if I’m writing a tragedy, the weakness revealed at the beginning will spell the character’s doom by the end.

If I’m really stuck, John Truby wrote The Anatomy of Story and detailed seven “key steps of story structure.” I enjoy using those story structure points by applying them to a character.

1. WEAKNESSFantasy protagonist, A Hero's Curse

2. DESIRE

3. OPPONENT

4. PLAN

5. BATTLE

6. SELF-REVELATION

7. NEW-EQUILIBRIUM

“The seven steps are not arbitrarily imposed from without the way three-act structure is. They exist in the story. These seven steps are the nucleus – the DNA – of your story and the foundation of your success as a storyteller because they are based on human action.They are the steps that any human being must work through to solve a life problem.”

I’ll spend some time thinking through the points with my character, to ensure I have a good arc. When I’m satisfied with my new creation, I’ll let it go. This is where that character really develops a life of its own. New themes emerge, subtleties and quirks and hidden qualities that I couldn’t have planned. But that arc that was laid out–perhaps by working through Truby’s seven steps–that’s what allows this character to live and breathe and come into its own.

What about you? What are some of your favorite characters, and why? Comment below! And while you’re at it, check out the interviews from Patricia Reding and Robin Lythgoe ~ because they deal with characters too.


Robin Lythgoe

Robin Lythgoe

Author of As the Crow Flies

Robin’s Website

 

The answers are… Yes. And it depends! (Oops, my questionable sense of humor is showing!)

I tend to flesh out a few key characters briefly, but they grow from that organically. Every now and then random characters stroll into the story uninvited. I am not a fan of those “Get to Know Your Character” worksheets with a bazillion trivial questions, but I occasionally find them helpful when a necessary character refuses to take shape.

I do not have a shortage of inspiration. There are just so many interesting real people and characters from stories and movies from which I can pick little details! For example…


Patricia Reding

Patricia Reding

Author of Oathtaker

Patricia’s Website

Oh, the fun of writing! When it comes to character creation: there are no rules! Sometimes, a character comes to mind, nearly fully formed. This might happen in particular, for those key parties who engage in the most important activities in a story. But even then, they can surprise me. The character may turn out to be an unexpected whiner, or to have an unusual sense of humor, or to manage success in the face of unexpected odds. Those things tend to happen quite by chance! For example, I have one minor character in my first story who I realized near the end, almost never said anything, although he was present for a goodly portion of the tale. Rather than go back and put words in his mouth, I . . .

A Drift of Quills – An Exclusive Interview With Essie Brightsday

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It’s been a year since A Hero’s Curse made its debut and twelve-year-old Essie Brightsday stepped out from between the pages. To mark the anniversary, I sat down with her to talk about what she thought of being brought to life, where she saw herself in five years, and what it was like having a talking cat.

She laughs at the last question and tucks a stray bit of brown hair behind the red cloudsilk bandana that’s over her eyes.

E: Well, having a talking cat sounds great, but that’s just because you haven’t been lectured by one.

P.S.: That’s not true. I think cats lecture, whether they speak Lingua Comma or not. It’s just what they do. A lot of readers want to know more about your blindness, about how you interact with it on a daily basis.

E: It’s not really something I think about, you know? I mean, I have two arms, two legs, a nose and ears that work, and eyes that don’t. It’s not like I don’t want to see, but it’s not what I’m thinking about when I get up in the morning. I’m thinking about breakfast, and what I’m going to wear, and what I’m going to do.

P.S.: Like get into something with Tig.

E: More like tweak his tail. I have to remind him who’s bEssie concept - Finaloss. *Laughs*

P.S.: So where do you see yourself in five years?

E: Ha! I probably won’t be seeing myself anywhere!

P.S.: *Face palms* Sorry. I didn’t even think of how I worded that.

E: Don’t worry about it. I’m joking with you. But really, that’s such a strange question to even think about! I don’t know. I guess I’ve always wanted to visit the capitol of Plen. There’s an academy there that anybody who wants to be a protector or champion attends. A lot of them eventually join the hero class.

P.S.: And that’s where you want to be?

E: I think so, but only if they take Tig too. *Laughs* I’d like to be more involved in the kingdom’s political structure. I might even try for a leadership position someday. Something that would let me help people and make a difference.

P.S.: Heavy stuff.

E: *Shrugs* I think there’s something in me that says I can’t make a difference, because of who I am, or where I grew up, or what I don’t have. I want to prove that part of me wrong.

 

What questions would you like to pitch to Essie? Or what other characters would you love to interview? And it doesn’t have to be exclusive to A Hero’s Curse! Comment below or share your own interview! And while you’re at it, check out the interviews from Patricia Reding and Robin Lythgoe ~ because character exclusives are always fun.


Patricia Reding

Patricia Reding

Author of Oathtaker

Patricia’s Website

 

This is Patricia Reding, coming to you with A Drift of Quills, and on behalf of Scripta Manent Publishing, where “Written Words Remain.” Today I bring you my long anticipated interview with the renowned Lucy Haven of The Oathtaker Series. Lucy, as many of you know, is the oldest living person known in Oosa, having survived the deaths of her two former charges. Of course, she has enjoyed the gift of “continued youth” since she first swore to protect a seventh-born of the Select, and will continue to do so for the remainder of her days.

I caught up with Lucy on her way out of sanctuary here, in the City of Light, following a Council hearing that the twins, Reigna and Eden, arranged after their return from The Tearless. (That is, following the end of Select: The Oathtaker Series, Volume Two). We’re standing outside the residence hall on sanctuary grounds. I must say, the Oathtakers in the city are all aflutter with news that the twins have been tested and have found Ehyeh’s favor! So, without further ado, here is Lucy Haven . . .

Be sure to catch the rest of the character exclusive on Patricia’s blog!


Robin Lythgoe

Robin Lythgoe

Author of As the Crow Flies

Robin’s Website

 

Let me introduce you to our guest, Bairith Mindar, a principle character in my book Blood and Shadow. He is a nobleman by fate, by birth, and by strength of character. His slight build, angular features, and graceful manner suggest elvish descent. One does not ask such things in polite society. Not straight out…

Bairith confesses that he is a mage, though when asked what spheres he can manipulate he deflects the question with a smile and an elegant gesture…

You can read the rest of Robin’s character interview with Bairith here!

A Drift of Quills – Christmas Gifts and Giveaways

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What a fantastic and Merry Christmas it is going to be! There is so much to be excited about and thankful for this season.

The adventuresome and spunky novel, A Hero’s Curse, received many glowing reviews during it’s debut year. Thank you, you wonderful readers.

Highlights of this inaugural year are really too many to list here. A Hero’s Curse was published at Christmas, a year ago. Since then it has been to book launches and book fairs, in contests and at conventions. But best of all, it’s been in the hands of readers.

It made it to the top of the heap on Amazon’s Kindle program a couple of times (pulling in a #1 ranking in Sword & Sorcery and #1 in Girls & Women), and was subsequently selected by Audible and Amazon as a audiobook stipend recipient: Amazon and Audible paid to produce the audiobook. We found an incredibly talented narrator in Elizabeth Phillips, and the audiobook released on July 4th.

What a rolicking good time we’ve had. But the best is yet to come.

Here in the writer’s room, I am working hard on finishing the sequel to that well loved story about a blind girl, and her sarcastic cat, Tig…more news and announcements will come soon, I’m sure.


Meanwhile, “tis the season.” Enter the giveaway below for a chance to be the grand prize winner and get a virtual stocking stuffed with all five books in the format of your choice, (mobi, epub, pdf). Follow the image link below!

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One copy each of As the Crow Flies, Blood & Shadow, Oathtakers, and A Hero’s Curse will go to 4 separate runners-up. (One book per winner.)

As the Crow Flies, by Robin Lythgoe
When a psychotic wizard traps a first-class thief—well, a man’s got to do what he’s told. Until he can think of a better plan.

Oathtaker, by Patricia Reding
Mara swears to protect her charge with her life, then discovers the price her vow will exact. Abiding by an oath requires sacrifice.

Select, by Patricia Reding
To discover their callings, and in fulfillment of prophecy, the twin ranking members of the Select journey across The Tearless where they face three challenges. To triumph, they must first believe.

Blood and Shadow (Available for pre-order on Amazon Dec 7)
A boy wants to break with the warrior tradition of his family. When he’s singled out for his magical gift, he must learn a new way to fight in order to escape a future he doesn’t believe in.

A Hero’s Curse, by P.S. Broaddus
The fantastical adventure story of a young blind girl and her talking cat taking on a perilous quest to find her kingdom’s lost king.


If you want to talk shop or story or get something signed before Christmas, reach out to me here or on Facebook or Twitter.

And a very Merry Christmas from all of us here at A Drift of Quills!

Robin Lythgoe

Robin Lythgoe

Author of As the Crow Flies

Robin’s Website

 

Patricia Reding

Patricia Reding

Author of Oathtaker

Patricia’s Website

A Drift of Quills – Illustration, Sketches, Images…Get the Picture?

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Long have images stirred my imagination. I recall flipping through dusty old classics looking for illustrations. I would sit and stare at the The Chronicles of Narnia, or histories on Greek myth, entranced by the sketches within.

But images do more than keep me flipping through my tattered copy of Treasure Island–pictures are what start the whole story for me. C.S. Lewis talked about the same. When discussing how he came to write the books of Narnia, he wrote that they “all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood.” My own storytelling is similar. I write from images in my head. For me it was the picture of a young blind girl standing in the desert, listening to a long awaited storm rolling in.

What was her story? Why was she blind? These and a hundred other questions assailed me. A Hero’s Curse was born. (I haven’t seen any fan art of that particular scene yet, so please, give it a shot!)

While I may not have that scene, there are many talented artists in the Kingdom of Mar. We have sketches of rock basilisks, arcus vultures, Urodela and the Kingdom Above the Sun, Aeola. We have gorgeous, digitally painted pictures of the Valley of Fire, dragons, Syteless Peak, and Queen Leonatrix. (Check out more under Illustration, or Concept Sketches). And we have a map.

 map23

Ahhh, maps. What are some of your favorites? The Maurader’s Map is an of course. I have a mug with the same on it. It transforms when you fill it with something hot. Just think, without a map Treasure Island would be called “Treasure Somewhere” and probably would have been a tedious bore. If you ever get into the middle of a story and it starts to drag, just note a good map is probably the tonic it needs.

What about you? What are some of your favorite images from stories? What are your favorite maps? Or do you hate it when someone else pushes their way into your imagination through illustration–you want tiny cramped text with minimal margins for a thousand pages–the less white space, the better, thank you! Let me know in the comments below!


Patricia Reding

Patricia Reding

Author of Oathtaker

Patricia’s Website

 

The Oathtaker Series is set in a medieval sort of time. Of course, as it is a fantasy, it does not correlate to any actual historical age in our world. Thus, as the author, I had the pleasure of making it exactly what I wanted to be. With a fantasy, the author chooses all of the details of that world in which the tale is set. So, that world is what the author says it is—nothing more, and nothing less. There are no rights or wrongs when it comes to what technology might be available, how people dress, what they eat—or even, the language they use, or the way they speak.  (Few of us could read the languages actually spoken in our world during the medieval period anyway, so why pretend to write in a manner exactly representative of those days?) Consequently, “medieval” is not an altogether apt description of Oosa, the land of the Oathtakers and Select.

I’ve decided to share pictures of a couple of buildings from my tales . . .  (don’t miss the rest of Trish’s post!)


Robin Lythgoe

Robin Lythgoe

Author of As the Crow Flies

Robin’s Website

 

Making up worlds is one of the best things about writing in the fantasy genre. It’s also hard work! There’s a lot of space for the fantasy author to let their imagination run wild, but we also need to tether our settings to a reality the average reader can relate to.

My short story, The High Roads, opens in the woods as night approaches… (catch the rest here!)

 

A Drift of Quills – Lunch with the Dead

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During a recent interview I mentioned my favorite storytellers, and I even had to decide which author I’d want as company in a submarine.

This go around it’s lunch with an author from the past. Over hamburgers we’d talk about habits and describe growing up. We’d finish off with a milkshake and chat about what informed their writing.

It’s a heavy decision, obviously. I mean, you have to agree on where to eat. My pick may surprise you, but I think you’ll follow my reasoning.

First, I’ve mentioned before my love for myth and the way it shaped my early reading habits. Myth and fairy led me to study and read and enjoy Lewis and Tolkien, Rowling and Grahame, MacDonald and Grimm. Entire books have been written on these greats—whole libraries exist detailing their lives, habits, histories and formation.

homerBut what about having a snack with someone that I don’t know much about? Someone none of us really know? What of a mid-day sitdown with Homer?

That’s right. Author of The Iliad and The Odyssey. That Homer. Because the Wikipedia article is basically a long list of questions. Now we have something to talk about. Like, “Are you real, or are you just a group of poets?” “Did you really write the epics, or did you just fabricate a good business card?” “When did you live?” “What’s your opinion on the Percy Jackson Series?” “Did you know a woman like Helen of Troy?” “Why’s Achilles so mad—dude’s just about invincible, good looking, warrior…I mean, come on.” “What do you think of hipsters?” “So…Odysseus taking out the suitors…that was pretty epic. What was home life like for you?” “Tell me about being on history’s bestseller list. Lots of fan mail, I’m sure.”

Homer was characterized as a blind bard, so I’d mention that the hero of my own storytelling is blind, and we might go off on a tangent discussing  the uses of allegory and metaphor.

And so forth. Of course, all of this would be in ancient Greek.

What about you? What would you ask Homer? Or who would you have to lunch instead?


Robin Lythgoe

Robin Lythgoe

Author of As the Crow Flies

Robin’s Website

 

Choosing a single author to sit down and have a chat with is as bad as choosing your favorite book! Or color! Or child! There is a spectacular list to choose from, and stalking up and down between my bookshelves left me dizzy with indecision.

If I were to choose someone from the past, what kind of language and societal hurdles would we face when we tried to communicate? That’d be a whole conversation right there, but let’s assume we’ve been endowed with translation devices so we’ll both be on the same page (pun alert!). In that case…


Patricia Reding

Patricia Reding

Author of Oathtaker

Patricia’s Website

 

This might be the most difficult question presented yet! There are so many logistics to consider. If I choose someone no longer living, just how would the two of us arrange this lunch? Where would we meet? On this side of the divide? Or the other? (Oh, imagine!) If I choose someone whose native language is neither English nor Sarcasm (which is to say, not one I speak), how will we understand one another? Use some instant translation program? (Oh, I can see the problems arising from that already!)

Even assuming all the “how and where” details can be arranged, I have to consider whether I’d rather have lunch with a famous historical figure/politician who also happened to have a gift for words . . .

Books We Love – Chance, Hank & Basset

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We are fond of our pets. We have a dog, Indiana, (Indiana Jones reference, anyone? “We named the dog Indiana!”), who is one part funny, two parts hardheaded, but all three parts loving (Remember The Incredible Journey? We Hank the Cowdogthought we were getting Shadow but Indy is really more like Chance). So when you find a tale (oh no, puns…) with talking animals, there is nothing to do but read and share.

First, an old series (with new titles annually!) that I loved: Hank the Cowdog. Being from the West, I grew up with Hank and Drover and the cowboys, Slim and Loper, and the havoc causing coyotes, buzzards, and of course, Pete the barncat in this humorous series of mystery novels. If you are familiar with Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys, you’ll be in the right age category, but Hank offers a voice so unique, cornball and hilarious that everyone in the family will love the story. The audiobooks offer special extras, as they are narrated by the author, John R. Erickson, with music, singing, and effects that are perfect for road trips.

Reading about Hank is like watching your own dog and you can’t help but nod (or wag), but it’s also like watching Myster of the Masked Mauraderourselves—proud, homely, not too bright, but trying to be courageous, loyal and true. These are well crafted stories with much to laugh at, but with plenty left to chew on as well.

Since we’re doting on talking animals, a recent Indie title deserves a mention. The Mystery of the Masked Marauder is Peter S. Cox’s debut novel and is an entertaining adventure-mystery that can only be solved through the combined wit of a boy and his dog. Unlike Hank the Cowdog, The Incredible Journey, or Bolt and so many others, we don’t just hear pet’s “voices” and their perspective; rather, this story has Nate and Basset communicating directly. The resulting dialogue is fun and engaging, and Peter does a good job at creating unique voices for his characters.


Robin LythgoeRobin Lythgoe

Author of As the Crow Flies

Robin’s Website

 

After standing in front of my bookshelves tapping my chin and saying “Hmm… Hmm…” several times, I finally chose Fortress in the Eye of Time, by C.J. Cherryh, the first of her incredible “Fortress” series. Dontcha love when there’s a whole string of scrumptiousness lined up when you get to the end of a book and wish for more?

Catch the rest of Robin’s post here!


Patricia RedingPatricia Reding

Author of Oathtaker

Patricia’s Website

 

It’s my turn! It’s my turn!

For my part, I’m going to share about the work of an author I met at the Literary Classics awards ceremony this past April. Amalie Jahn writes YA sci-fi. In her debut novel, The Clay Lion, Jahn asks young readers to consider what they might do if they could go back in time to save someone they love. I previously reviewed The Clay Lion, and would like to share some of my thoughts with you now.

You know how, when you listen to a symphony, all of your senses are engaged? You catch the sight of the furious violinists; the feel of the pounding percussion beneath your feet . . .

Read the rest of Patricia’s post here!

A Drift of Quills – Q & A

A Drift of Quills BannerAfter a rigorous training program, several severe examinations, and a truth serum administered by Professor Snape, I’ve been asked to join the writing group, A Drift of Quills. They are really nice, lots of fun, and super talented. And they like second breakfast. Bilbo Baggins was a part of their group for a while, before he took off for the Grey Havens.

They asked if I would be willing to sit down for a short interview. We started talking about reading and writing, but ended up talking about myth, legend, Tig’s sarcasm and the sequel to A Hero’s Curse. Check it out…

Patricia Reding: What are your earliest memories of reading as a child? Did you visit a library regularly? A book mobile? How did that impact your life as a reader and/or writer?

P.S.: I recall reading quite a bit as a kid. One of my earliest favorites was Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry. I loved it! I drifted toward adventure stories and we had a whole shelf of G.A. Henty’s historical novels that I enjoyed. I read Treasure Island several times but…(Read the rest on Patricia Reding’s site!)

 

Robin Lythgoe: What is your most recent published work? Do you have a favorite character from it? If so, who, and why?

P.S.: Oh, nice. Fun question. My most recent published work is my debut novel, A Hero’s Curse, book one of the Unseen Chronicles. It was published this past Christmas, with the audiobook having launched last month, over the 4th of July. A Hero’s Curse follows the adventures of Essie Brightsday, a young blind girl, as she attempts to find her kingdom’s lost king. The nature and structure of A Hero’s Curse pushed Essie and Tig, her sarcastic talking cat to the forefront of the story. They get the most screentime. Essie is a fascinatingly complex young lady, and Tig’s dry, sarcastic humor is so akin to my own I can’t help but like him. But there are several characters who I really enjoy…(Read the rest on Robin Lythgoe’s site!)

 

So there you have it. The Q & A teaser. What about our readers? Are you working on a something that you want to someday share with the world? A story, a poem, a song?

Writer’s Rambles – Audiobooks are Awesome

Essie concept - Final

A Hero’s Curse features a heroine who cannot see. There is a lot of meaning and depth Essie explores as a blind protagonist. As a result of that exploration, we’ve received input from the National Federation of the Blind, Writers’ Division, talked to blind bloggers and individuals, and one of our primary production goals since the beginning has been to make this story an easily accessible audiobook.

Audiobooks are awesome. I love listening to books read aloud. They’ve been used for years as tools for second language learners and struggling readers, or for those who can’t read—but the application of audiobooks doesn’t end there.

Denise Johnson has a great article titled “Benefits of Audiobooks for All Readers,” with a list too cool not to share.

Audiobooks can be used to:

  • Introduce students to books above their reading level
  • Model good interpretive reading
  • Teach critical listening
  • Highlight the humor in books
  • Introduce new genres that students might not otherwise consider
  • Introduce new vocabulary or difficult proper names or locales
  • Sidestep unfamiliar dialects or accents, Old English, and old-fashioned literary styles
  • Provide a read-aloud model
  • Provide a bridge to important topics of discussion for parents and children who can listen together while commuting to sporting events, music lessons, or on vacations
  • Recapture “the essence and the delights of hearing stories beautifully told by extraordinarily talented storytellers” (Baskin & Harris, 1995, p. 376)

We found one of those extraordinarily talented storytellers in Elizabeth Phillips. She has narrated the just released, unabridged production of A Hero’s Curse, available now on Audible, Amazon and iTunes.

So, I’d like to invite you to recapture the essence and delight of story. Bridge the topic of discussion—let’s talk about heroes, disability, struggles and weakness. What does it take to be a hero? Let’s introduce more young readers to adventures that capture the imagination.

And let’s have fun doing it.

 

Yours,

P.S. Broaddus

A Drift of Quills – Writer’s Challenges

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Would C.S. Lewis Tweet, or Facebook? What if J.R.R. Tolkien hadn’t been able to find the time to finish The Hobbit?

A Drift of Quills invited me to help welcome in May by penning a short note on “Writer’s Challenges.”

Writing is a serious, fun and tough discipline. Here are a couple of my biggest writing challenges, cut down to size. Then check out Robin Lythgoe and Patricia Reding on the subject, linked below.

When it comes to writing, who hasn’t had a hard time with discipline and time management?

I have yet to meet a writer who says, “No way, it’s easy-peasy! I get up with the creativity bubbling, nothing gets in my way, my family never intrudes—shucks, I don’t even have to eat!”

I mean, who even says “easy-peasy?”

More often when I chat with serious writers, we talk about time management and scheduled writing. It’s always interesting to hear what works for someone else—and it’s almost never right for me. We can agree that some kind of time management is needed—a schedule usually helps—and self-discipline is a must, but what that looks like on an everyday basis is as varied as the number of different personality combinations you can get with the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator.

I’m currently an ENFJ, (because who says you can’t change!), which means I’m not super disciplined. A couple of things help me hurdle the “oh ma word, 300 pages is a ton o’ writin!’” bar. One, I set a low page count that I want to complete each day and week. I know that if I can sit down and write a page, I can write five. But I might avoid sitting down if I know I have to write five pages—but one—I can do that. Once started, I don’t want to quit. Charis and the kids lovingly drag me away from my writing desk, kicking and screaming, “I don’t have to eat! Easy-peasy!”

The other thing that helps me is accountability. I’m part of a writing group that meets weekly, and we bring a new section of story to every meeting. That regularly scheduled accountability keeps me working—and moving forward. If you’re interested in a writing group, check your library—a librarian can often help you start the process of getting plugged into a local group.

Here’s the writing challenge I could do without: marketing. And it isn’t so much about a lack of knowledge—although I am always learning more. The problem here is a lack of desire. Let me chat about storycraft, heroes, fantasy and YA lit all day long—make me tweet about it—well, it just isn’t the same. I’m that old fashioned type that prefers email, or even better, written letters, to tweets, and I prefer face to face to Facebook.

Marketing can be a black hole. I can spend money anywhere—Facebook, Google, Twitter, Goodreads, contests and entry fees, groups and associations. I could spend all my time on any one of those platforms. Marketing and interacting with social media takes a lot of blood—and then demands I do it again tomorrow. I know it’s important to let others know about the adventure, but I haven’t conquered this beast. I’m just muddling through.

Robin has a great perspective on the subject of Writer’s Challenges and writing with joy:

Robin LythgoeThe details of How to Write a Book go on and on and on. The bajillion options can be overwhelming.

I’ve been writing since I could first manage a pencil. I wrote what I wanted, when I wanted, and how I wanted. I wrote with joy. Gleefully! Along the way I figured that if I were going to make a career of it, I should study up on the craft.

I’ve learned a lot, but…

Check out the rest of Robin’s post here.

 

And here is Patricia, with some great thoughts on writer’s block and cutting:Patricia Reding

Every writer knows what it’s like when an idea comes to her, then fleshes itself out into a scene that plays out in her imagination. Sometimes she has to wrestle to put other life events aside so that she may clear the time it will take to get the words down. Occasionally those words then flow out with a rapidity that defies her wildest dreams. Then there are those “other times.” These are the times when the blank screen before her can—at least temporarily—cripple her efforts. But in due course, comes the telling.

Thus it is that there are two parts to this craft I find most difficult: the first is in getting any words out at all; and the second, is in “the cutting.

As to the first, what some call “writer’s block,” I’ve recently put a new practice into place . . .”

See her full post here.

What about you? Do you have a corner on marketing? Is it like disciplined writing techniques, different for every personality, or is there a formula for breaking the internet?

Comment away!