Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

I feel the need to preface this review with a discussion on genre. The assignment of a genre to a book is little more than a marketing strategy whose purpose is to place the book in the section of the bookstore where it will sell the most copies. There are those who live and die by their chosen book genres. Some book snobs wouldn’t deign to read young adult novels, thinking those books are for kids and kids alone. But the truth is, a book can be many different things to many different people. A fantasy novel can also be a literary novel, and a YA novel can also be for adults. This is one of those rare novels that – in my opinion – is for everyone.

The cover of The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

I first discovered The Girl Who Drank the Moon on one of the many literary blogs I troll for book recommendations. I added it to my Goodreads Want-To-Read list without realizing it is a children’s book. I then placed an online hold on the book, still unaware that my local library houses this particular text in the juvenile books section.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill”
Education, Essays, Novel Writing

Make teaching and learning part of your writing process.

The Longman Writer: Rhetoric, Reader, Research Guide, and Handbook (8th Edition)
This semester, I am teaching out of The Longman Writer: Rhetoric, Reader, Research Guide, and Handbook (8th Edition.) You can buy a copy here.

This semester, I am teaching one section of English Composition I at my local technical college. This is not a course I particularly care to teach. The first semester I taught it was a disaster. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I definitely didn’t know the material well enough to teach it. It was a horrible experience for everyone involved. This semester, I finally feel like I kinda know what I am doing. And it’s having a positive impact on my writing.

Tuesday was our first day of class, and I killed it. I was well prepared, I knew what I was talking about and best of all, the students were engaged. I left class that afternoon thinking, “Where the hell did that come from?” Continue reading “Make teaching and learning part of your writing process.”

Novel Writing

The stages of tragedy: Drak’s story

stages of tragedy
My tragic story arc is based on the stages outlined by Liz Bureman in a recent blog post titled, “The 7 Basic Plots: Tragedy.”

I am still pretty much stuck on my novel at the moment, so I decided it was time to try some writing exercises. For today’s exercise, I wrote a tragedy arc for one of my main antagonists, King Mentor Drak. This arc is based on a recent blog post by Liz Bureman over at The Write Practice.

Drak’s story begins long before the start of my current novel and will eventually be covered in the prequel I am planning to write next. (M’s grandmothers, Elde and Fayne, will be the protagonists in the prequel.) Here’s a bit of Drak’s story as I have laid it out using Bureman’s tragedy arc.

Anticipation Stage

“The tragic hero gets it into his or her head that something is missing, and they want it. This might be power, fame, a specific love interest, or something else, but the protagonist has their motivation for the disaster dominoes that are about to fall.” Continue reading “The stages of tragedy: Drak’s story”

Novel Writing

I am back to the writing board and struggling to move my story forward

Sitting here watching the flowers grow when I should be writing
I hate to admit it, but yesterday I spent more time sitting here watching the flowers grow outside my office window than I spent writing.

Yesterday I began working on my novel again. I didn’t realize how long it had been since I’d looked at it. I first had to dig around in my computer files to make sure I was working with the latest version of my document. Next, I had to find the notebook I was writing in so I could figure out where I left off. Then I had to read the last few chapters to remind myself what was going on when I last looked at it. After that, I needed to figure out where my story needs to go next to keep it moving forward. Then I spent the rest of the day alternating between staring at my computer screen and staring at my notebook (and staring out the window.) Continue reading “I am back to the writing board and struggling to move my story forward”

Novel Writing, Writing Prompts

Writing the rebirth plot arc: Rathilde

School Building
This building is very much what I imagine the Good Citizen Center to look like in my WIP. | School Building (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a recent blog post titled, “The 7 Basic Plots: Rebirth,” Liz Bureman of The Write Practice discusses the structure of the rebirth plot type and challenges the reader to “write a rebirth arc for a classic villain in literature or film for fifteen minutes.” Rather than writing about a classic villain, I thought it would be interesting to write a rebirth arc for an antagonist in my own work in progress (WIP) and share it on my blog.

For this exercise, I decided to focus on Rathilde, a minor antagonist who does not play a huge role in this novel but will be a formidable figure in the third book of my planned trilogy. Rathilde actually attempts to help my protagonist in book one, but is unsuccessful and goes on her merry way to wreak havoc elsewhere while my protagonist lives through her own private hell.

I doubt that any of what you are about to read will make it into my current WIP, but it will give you a little insight into what I am writing. You will also have some insider knowledge when you finally get the chance to read my published novel (someday.) Here is my rebirth arc for Rathilde, according to the steps outlined by Bureman: Continue reading “Writing the rebirth plot arc: Rathilde”

Novel Writing

I’m dreaming up my next novel project

I... Dreaming
Does anyone really want to hear stories from my dreams? | I… Dreaming (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last night, I dreamed I was reading a novel synopsis on the cover of a book. I woke at 2 a.m. with the words of that synopsis echoing in my head. I lay in a half-sleep thinking, “That sounds like a good book, I should really read that one.” Then it occurred to me the synopsis had come from my head, not from any now-published novel, and it hit me: I’d better write that down!

I tapped my tappable bedside lamp for some light, reached for my bedside pen and notebook, and started scribbling the words from that dreamed synopsis before they could dissipate into the night. I filled one notebook page then, thinking I was done, put it aside and shut off my lamp. I thought I would drift back to sleep. Continue reading “I’m dreaming up my next novel project”

Novel Writing, Writers on Writing

Discovering the names of novels

English: Statistic of titles the English Short...
But where did all of those titles come from? | English: Statistic of titles the English Short Title Catalogue categorised as “fiction”, 1600-1799. black line: yearly production, red line: ten year moving average (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Names and titles used to be the bane of my existence.

I can’t begin to tell you how much time I have wasted agonizing over names for characters and titles for stories. I have recently realized that those names and titles will eventually reveal themselves to you once you learn to listen for them.

I’ve had a name for my current novel-in-progress for some time, but I haven’t been entirely happy with it. It’s okay, but it doesn’t really sum up the novel in the way I want it to. But, I hate thinking about titles, so I just went with it and kept writing. After all, there’s no sense agonizing over a title at the expense of writing the story. Continue reading “Discovering the names of novels”

Essays, Novel Writing

Reading and writing a new project

Patrick Rothfuss is a sweetheart
“The Name of the Wind,” a novel by Patrick Rothfuss, helped put me in the right frame of mind to get started on my latest writing project.  (Photo credit: Rakka) 

I can’t seem to write without reading. And when I do read, I always end up writing in the same genre I’ve been reading. When I read a lot of poetry, I find myself writing a lot of poetry. If I’ve read a couple of good YA novels in a row, my brain wants to write a YA novel. So, it was no surprise that an idea for a fantasy novel popped into my head right as I was finishing Patrick RothfussThe Name of the Wind a couple of weeks ago.

I was out for my almost-daily walk one morning when a couple of interesting characters began to have a conversation in my head. Normally when this happens, I reach for a pen and paper (or my laptop) and rush to capture these conversations word-for-word. What I usually end up with is a small bit of compelling dialogue that goes absolutely nowhere. Continue reading “Reading and writing a new project”