nascentnovelist

March 8, 2013

Backspace Scholarship Competition: An Update

The voting for the Backspace Writers Conference’s scholarship contest is in full swing. Close to 2400 votes have been cast and they’re still ticking in. There are a lot of good quality manuscripts in there, but clear winners are emerging. This is the current top five list of manuscripts:

Top five

As I’m sure you notice, out of 110 entries, my book (number 56: Fire and Blood) is hanging in there in 5th place.

This is just a preliminary, however. The voting is open until March 15th. Much could happen yet. I hope, of course, that people will keep voting for my book so that I can go to this great conference, and get to see my first novel in print.

Fingers crossed!

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December 28, 2011

Writer Wednesday with Rain Laaman

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Today, I’m joined by YA and MG writer Rain Laaman. Rain loves the fantastical. Even when she attempts to set her stories on our world, they end up with trolls or magic in them. I can relate. My fingers always itch to add a little bit of magic in a mundane tale. In this lovely guest post, Rain makes a compelling case for why we should all read (and re-read) the classics. I don’t know about you, but I’m picking up my copy of 1984 right now.

If you want to get in touch with Rain, you can find her at twitter or on her blog Rain-on Sentence.

Go. Read. Conquer.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I get the feeling that a lot of writers aren’t reading classic literature these days. “Oh, I read that stuff in high school,” you might say. “A Tale of Two Cities, Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, yep. I’ve got the old guys covered.”
Um, no.

I used to think that every writer would naturally read and love the classics, but alas, I’m not sure if that is the case. After all, sometimes we need a heavy shovel to dig through the language of the 17th, 18th, 19th, and even 20th centuries. After all, we want to keep up with our genres and what’s going in on our own markets. (That is also a worthy ambition, by the way.)

But, believe me, immersing yourself in these treasures is so worth it. Let’s take a gander at some quotes from my favorite stories. You’ll see why they are amazing and why we writers should read them.
From For Whom the Bell Tolls: “He was waiting until the officer reached the sunlit place where the first trees of the pine forest joined the green slope of the meadow. He could feel his heart beating against the pine needle floor of the forest.” Just look at that diction! Ever feel that your writing is too wordy? Read three or four of Hemingway’s books and you’ll feel ashamed to ever use an adjective or adverb again.

If you write about crumbling societies, 1984 by George Orwell is a must read. This story is the golden crown of dystopian. Here is a quote: “The thought police would get him just the same. He had committed…the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.”

In Jane Eyre we get right into Jane’s clever, pure, spirited mind: “He is not to them what he is to me…he is not of their kind. I believe he is of mine…I understand the language of his countenance and movements: though rank and wealth sever us widely, I have something in my brain and heart, in my blood and nerves, that assimilates me mentally to him….I must, then, repeat continually that we are for ever sundered: – and yet, while I breathe and think I must love him.” Oh, Charlotte Brontë. The hero and heroine of her story are not fairytale gorgeous. In fact they were quite plain. But they were attracted to each other through kindred spirits. That’s romance for you.

Those are only a tiny sampling of the wonders available to you. If you’ve already read all the famous works of literature, try some of the more obscure novels. Go, read, conquer, my friends.

November 21, 2011

Twilight: a retraction

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I admit it: I’ve been a hater. I, like so many around me, have mercilessly mocked the Twilight book series for content, writing style, and the religion of the author. But you know what? I’m officially changing my mind. I actually like outdrawn over-the-top gothic romance stories, as does over 100 million others according to the sales of this series worldwide. I think anything that can sell like that has a certain appeal.* And even if I didn’t like the first book enough to buy the rest at Walmart ($4.99 each), I still think it’s completely okay that others do.

It’s time to admit that even though young girls might learn some questionable lessons from this book series, they will learn a lot more questionable things from television, computer games, and the people around them. People know the difference between fiction and reality. If you’re really worried, then make sure your kids watch Buffy: the Vampire Slayer as well, and that they read other books in addition to this one, like Collins’ The Hunger Games and Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale. I read Orwell’s 1984 when I was nine. Changed my life by shaking my trust in the state as an institution.

I might not agree with the sexual policies of the Twilight series, or find the idea of stalker love appealing, but I don’t read books just to agree with them. If that was the case, I’d never be able to stand Shakespear’s Romeo and Juliet (unnecessarily tragic stalker love with borderline pedophilia thrown in) or Süskind’s The Perfume (about a serial killer searching for a scent of his own), and don’t even get me started on the morals of fairy tales like The Little Mermaid or Bluebeard. So what if Meyer is a mormon? I don’t care if she’s a duck as long as she gets kids reading. We all know that best selling authors make the world better for all us struggling ones. Keep making people flip pages Stephanie Meyer!

*I’m not changing my view on Dan Brown, however. Sorry man, I have to agree with Steward Lee on this one. (And I still hate the twilight movies. No one can take that away from me.)

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