Thursday, September 27, 2012

A small update

Been busy with lots of writing lately, but there's some exciting news coming in a few weeks. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Talking politics

One of the greatest challenges a fiction writer faces is whether or not to include references to current events in one's work. If your story is set during a recent historical event, that's one thing.  It's also par for the course to include familiar sites and cultural touchstones to guide the reader and give them a sense of place. But what if you're crafting a world out of thin air?

There are many major works of literature that contain veiled references to contemporary political issues and cultural figures. F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ayn Rand's books come to mind, and they weren't always straight-up allegories either. Those works can be appreciated if you don't understand the references, but reading through their entries on Sparknotes certainly fills in the gaps.

But in a few years (let alone 50 or 100), who's going to care about a spot-on caricature of a society matron or a send-up of an obnoxious political operative? Why risk future readers conflating an interpretation of the author's time with a message for all time?

Also, some authors who tackle political analogies in their fiction don't always get a warm reception. In A Dance With Dragons, the most recent installment of ASOIAF, George Martin was accused of modeling one of the book's subplots on the U.S.'s recent involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. He denied drawing inspiration from those wars, but the perceived parallels made the already shaky subplot even more unpopular with readers.

That's he conundrum I've been wrestling with lately. So far, I've come up with one answer. Shoehorning in pop culture references is a sure road to irrelevance, but there's always interesting people in the world, no matter what era you live in. If those people have something equally interesting to say in your world, maybe you should let them in.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I've been writing for as long as I can remember. I had a brief fascination with the letter M when I was 3 or 4 years old and spent at least one whole afternoon(filling pages of construction paper with the letter. Of course, today's parent might see such behavior and think there was something seriously wrong with me. My mom probably just asked me what I was doing and gave me a bowl of strawberries.

It's been more or less the same ever since. I get fixated on a topic or idea, it sprouts in my mind and then I can write about it. I can write a lot about it. That's when I can go on one of those classic "writing binges" you hear so much about. I know some writers are very methodical about their craft. Some, like Danielle Steel, even have a formula. And good for them.

My approach has always been more organic. While I see The Evenarian more as a project than an artistic endeavor, I write most effectively when something has sparked me. And that spark could be anything. Recently a remembered scene from a not-very-good-movie (if you must know, it was Kingdom of Heaven) induced me to introduce a character into the story much earlier than first planned. But I never know what stimuli is going to send me flying to my computer. Actively seeking out inspiration usually backfires, believe it or not, so I simply have to be watchful. I let lots of potentially inspirational sources into my life - music, art, books, a few movies and TV shows.

When I'm truly at a creative dead-end, I remember a quote from George R.R. Martin, whose A Song of Ice and Fire series was an enormous inspiration for my novel. An interviewer asked him if he enjoyed the writing process and he replied that he enjoyed the feeling of having written. Remembering that spurs me into action, and I know the satisfaction I'll feel once I hit my page count for the day is stronger than writer's block, and sometimes it's all the inspiration I need.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sharing a bit from the manuscript.

I want to give you an unedited version of the prologue because of all of the support I have been receiving online for my writing. It couldn't wait any longer. The excerpt below is full of the honest mistakes of a rough manuscript. You rarely get such an intimate look into an author and her writing.
 If you like it then could I ask you a favor in return? Please share this with your friends?


“I have much important things to say but little time to say them.”
Turo sighed and looked down at the speaking stone in his hand. It was smooth and round like a large pebble, but it glowed from the inside with a gentle red light. Turo had only ever seen his master use the stone and he was not even sure whether it was working. He had been assured that there was plenty of blank space left on it for his purposes, though he had no idea what “blank space” meant. Should he hold the stone closer to his face? Speak louder? Should he use the Northern dialect that he had spoken his whole life, or should he try to muddle through in another language that more people might understand?
Turo lifted himself off the cold stone bench and tugged at the new clothes they had given him. The rough-spun pants and tunic were both too big for him. They hadn't even given him a rope to tie around his waist. He could guess why though.
Holding the stone, he walked aimlessly to a wall where a rectangular hole sliced into its stonework served as a window. His room was high in one of the many towers so he had a view of the river valley below. The sun was setting over a mountain range in the west. Turo remembered an argument he had with his master when they first caught sight of the magnificent city that lay at the end of the long winding canyon.
But that was months ago now; early in their travels. So much had changed since then. That conversation may as well have happened in another lifetime.
Now Turo watched the setting sun turn the landscape and the sky shades of gold, purple and flaming red. The river became a molten ribbon as it threaded through the canyon, so bright he could barely stand to look at it. Turo just shaded his eyes with his hands for he needed to watch. Soon it would all turn to grey, and then black, save for the lamplights twinkling below.
“I didn't set out for any of this to happen,” he said to the speaking stone in a mournful voice. Still in his hand the stone pulsed with its reassuring red light. “I supposed my father would say...” Turo's throat thickened with sudden emotion and he had to stop again. Thoughts of home would only slow him down now.
The sun was igniting thin bands of clouds as it sank closer to the mountains. “It looks like someone painted it”, his master might have said of the scene.
Turo took a deep breath and looked down at the stone. Perhaps this would be easier if he pretended he was talking to a person...?