Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursday Book Review--Shadow Keeper by M.K. Yarbrough

Shadow Keeper is a young adult paranormal. It may be too mature for younger young adults. It is a very suspenseful coming of age story. The climax is full of great action.

18 year old Brendon Alexander has to find his 'gifts' in order to help his girlfriend's father. Brandon grows from knowing nothing of his deceased father to sharing his father's gifts and feeling a relationship with him at last, as he prepares to meet his ultimate challenge.

The author does a good job dealing with the teenage angst and constant romantic conflict and drama.

Shadow Keeper is an enjoyable ride and I give it 4 out of 5 stars.
The only disappointing thing I found was the number of editing errs. I bought the electronic version from Barnes and Noble. The second half of the book contained enough errs to distract me  from the story. I doubt the hard copy has that problem, though.

What are some of the books in your TBR pile?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday Tips--Villains

The iconic villain is brilliant and devious and damaged. According to James N. Frey, the villain is the first character to be fleshed out. Understand your villain's capabilities, his strengths, weaknesses, and how he has been damaged. That leads to his motivation and how far he is willing to go to get what he wants. And what is it he thinks he wants? What does he really want? Villains are generally self-serving. Go through the complete steps of character development; give him the personality test of Jennifer Nielsen, do his family history at least three generations back, write down his physiological, sociological and psychological attributes. Have him write his life's story up to the start of your book. Be sure your villain acts to his full capacity.
What about evil henchmen? They are more servile perhaps, but they should compliment the main villain. They are followers, not leaders. They're not always fully committed.

Once the bad guys are fully fleshed out, then you can construct the hero. The hero has to be equal to the villain in capability, in motivation, and damage, but the opposite of self-serving. He is self-sacrificing.

What helps you sort out your villains?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Happy Pioneer Day

This is one of my favorite depictions of the Martin and Willie Handcart company. One man said he wondered if the angels in Heaven helped him because he felt his wagon move from behind when he could no longer place one foot in front of the other.

I believe that we have our ancestors and our descendants watching over us in times of need, cheering us on to stand steadfast and make the tough choices that lie in our paths.

I can't even imagine this type of extremity. It is a good reminder to me that it is both our opposition and our Faith that motivates us to action. And there is no room for complant when others have suffered more than we will ever experience. Blessed, Honored, Pioneer!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday Tips

Today's Tip comes from two sources, my friend, Maj-len who attended a workshop by Orson Scott Card.  Thanks to both of them for sharing.

Morning Papers
Morning Papers is an exercise. Each morning when you sit down to your desk, spend 15 minutes and write down anything and everything that pops into your head.

Make the habit of writing something every day.

And enjoy the journey!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thursday Book Review--Possession by Elana Johnson YA Dystopian genre

I recently read Elana Johnson's book Possession while flying across country. And though I'm not a dystopian fan, this book was a fun ride. It had me up and down and sideways. The near future absorbed me in and pulled me along.

Violet belongs to a controlled society with lots of rules, rules for the common good, of course. She is matched to Zenn, a compliant sort. She begins to rebel, goes on the run, and learns things about herself along the way. She meets Jag and learns about alternatives to living in the Goodlands. While she loves both guys, for completely opposite reasons, she will have to make a choice.

Some of the solutions of Vi's problems come a little conveniently as part of her self-discovery. Other than that, I think Ms. Johnson did a wonderful job of world-building, and of capturing the on-again, off-again teenage romance. Vi definitely has her own voice.

Conflict hid around every corner; conflict between Vi and herself, her mother, her father, her sister, her past. Conflicts continued between Jag and Zenn, the Greenies, and the Thinkers. Twists and surprises abound. It is turbulent.

In the end Vi has to choose between a bad choice and a worse choice. She makes the only decision she can live with, and probably the only way this story could end. I hoped for more options. Possession is very well written. And definitely not a fairy tale.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday Tips--Revision

"Almost anyone can write; only writers know how to rewrite. It is this ability that turns the amateur into a professional."--William C. Knott

In today's post I'd like to share some wisdom for James N. Frey's book, How to Write a Damn Good Novel.

First, be sure to rewrite YOUR book and not the book your critics want you to write.

Decide on your premise. You know--the 'cheaters never win' or 'true love conquers all' premise. Write the first draft of your story without editing. Mr. Frey recommends using an outline. Personally, I like J.K. Rowling's outlining method. Don't labor over the details yet.

Next, analyze your story step by step. Have you proved your premise?
Who's your audience? Can they identify with your characters? Are the characters three dimensional? Does each character have their own unique voice? Do your characters experience almost constant conflict and do they behave at their maximum capacity? Do the main characters grow from the beginning to finished product at the end? Does the story show many facets of your characters? Are the characters fully revealed by the end of the story?

Does the story begin at the right place? Do events grow out of one another in a cause and effect relationship? Did you use the proper narrative voice or would your story benefit from a different perspective?

Are there any conflicts that could be exploited? Have you plunged your characters into rising conflict? Are the conflicts adequately resolved? Check each scene for conflict, resolution and foreshadowing of the next conflict. Is each scene as exciting as it could be?

Check each line of dialogue. Is it in conflict? Does it further the story? Does it further your characterizations? Is it fresh? Is it the cleverest thing that character can say?

Does the writing appeal to the six senses? Are there emotions that can be more fully exploited? Are opportunities for humor exploited? Have you checked find and replace for passive verbs like is, has, had, was, were, felt,etc? Remember to 'verb it up'(--Elana Johnson). Is there time and textural density to the writing? Are there flashbacks, and are they really necessary?

With each revision it is a good idea to make a list of goals you'd like to accomplish. I like Elana Johnson's idea of breaking down your story into manageable bites (for her it was approximately 100 pages, for me it's one chapter at a time), and print off a hard copy you can edit and take notes on, and then make the corrections.

Above all, enjoy the journey!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Remembering Isaac. The Wise and Joyful Potter of Niederbipp by Ben Behunin

Posted by Cherie M (my BFF):  Mr. Behunin's style of writing is a very comfortable, warm blanket, hot chocolate, stroll through the woods type. The main character, Jake, is introduced and very quickly, you feel as if he's someone you've known for a long time. The setup for the story is Jake is just graduating from college as an art major with an emphasis on pottery. His dream is to someday be a village potter; make pottery that people use in their everyday lives, not just pottery to be displayed. Everyone tells him that is impossible, there just isn't that need anymore.

Unbelievably though, he is shown an ad for a village potter! He responds to the ad and receives an invitation to interview for the position in a small town in Pennsylvania. I'm not giving anything away by saying that at the end of the interview, he is offered the position. Now the real story (and fun) begins. As he begins his new position, the townspeople enter the shop, and Jake's life, telling their stories about how Isaac, the previous potter, affected their lives. The more Jake hears about Isaac, the more he looks within himself and the lessons he can learn from the stories. Each character in the book (and they are characters) has much to share with Jake.

If you're old like me, I would suggest making notes as you read for each character. Note their name, how they met Issac and the lesson they learned from him. After the initial introduction, Mr. Behunin refers to them throughout the book. I just had a hard time remembering those few details about each character. Not Mr. Behunin's fault, just my age showing.

I loved reading this book. Unlike a lot of books that I read, I could put this book down when finishing a chapter, it didn't leave you hanging. It was like moseying my way through a beautiful garden. I could just enjoy what I was reading before moving on to the next part. I loved how Mr. Behunin used biblical scriptures throughout his story as well as spiritual thoughts. To share the joy of spiritual awakening in Jake is a gift.

This book is the first of three.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July

The following is a link to a report written by Rush Limbaugh, Jr. entitled, "The Americans Who Risked Everything." He did a lot of research to find out what happened to our Founding Fathers. A lot of articles I have read leave out details or get some details wrong. I have to warn you though--it's about 8 pages long.

The next link is to an LDS artist--Jon McNaughton. His stuff is incredible. My favorite paintings are One Nation Under God and Peace is Coming. He puts a lot of research into these paintings. The symbolism is layered and each layer crammed full of history.

I hope everyone has a safe, enjoyable holiday with time spent teaching our kids and grandkids about patriotism.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Star Spangled Banner

This is the original Star-spangled banner that hung over Fort Henry; the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write our National Anthem--The Star-Spangled Banner. It hangs in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.
"Oh say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen thru the mists of the deep,
where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
as it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
in full glory reflected now shines on the stream,
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh, long may it wave
o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh, thus be it ever, when free men shall stand
between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust!"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

(Thanks to Camille for sharing the fourth verse)
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.