Tag Archives: writing

2017 Beginnings–Scop Talk

I’m hungry for a deep talk about meaning in writing—about why, and a little about how, books impact you and I. If you want to join our conversation, please leave your thoughts in a comment at the bottom of this post.

Authors who have taken me on deep journeys to far places of great import include Patrick Carr (Shock of Night), Tessa Afshar (Land of Silence), JRR Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Anna Thayer’s (Knight of Eldaran trilogy) to name a very few.

I’m hungry, not for a fast read, but a complex world that is so real it scares you, enthralls you, lifts you out of yourself to a higher plane. And then when you return to your own world, you bring that life experience, that bravery, that truth, back with you and apply it, even in some small way, to yourself. You make that sacrifice required for the life of another, face down your fears, take the next step on a dangerous journey, or simply do the right thing, which we are sometimes such great cowards about doing. At the least, you see through other eyes that another road is open to you.

In author lingo—seize the hero’s journey. For it has certainly seized you, if you draw breath in this world. The battle is on!

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K M Weiland’s Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide

Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars This book will stay on my shelf., November 15, 2016
This review is from: Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure (Helping Writers Become Authors) (Volume 7) (Paperback)

This book is so good. I was given an e-copy for an honest review, and I just bought the print copy.

I’m a real write-by-feel historical fantasy author, but this comprehensive breakdown of how characters and their arcs tie in and support and drive plot is invaluable. I have a feeling I’ll be coming back to this book again and again. And the nice thing is, the author doesn’t give you the impression that “this is the way it is,” but “this is what’s possible,” and “discover greater possibilities.”

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That last book report is easier than you think

A fascinating study of literary adventure by email:

I had the privilege of mentoring a teen student recently. Victoria’s questions about her book report were so well laid out, I thought our talk might be helpful and entertaining to you. At the bottom of our post is a link to a free medieval poem, Falcon’s Ode. Plus a link to Falcon Flight, a young adult medieval fantasy, free 5/13 – 5/16. Family friendly of course. But definitely adventurous! 🙂 Continue reading

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The Ultimate Self Publisher’s Resource Guide review

Not quite what I thought, but still good. I give it three stars.

At first look I thought the Self Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide was a tome inches thick. (I did not pay too much attention to the description since I’d been pleased with my experience as Joel Friedlander’s customer and blog follower before.) So I was a little dismayed when he asked for a review of his and Betty Kelly Sargent’s book within about a week.

Still, I had signed up, and was determined to do my best to keep my word to give a review of this giant resource for Indie writers. The contents looked extensive. I began reading.

On the one hand I was pleasantly surprised that the topics were flashing by, but wondering on the other if this resource was all the title touted it to be.

I finished the last section on consumer protection agencies. I was disappointed. I had mistakenly thought this was more than a generic index of resources. A place to begin. The Ultimate Guide, I felt, should have more advice and how-to.

But there are many books and blogs, etc., on how-to methods, with endless advice. In fact, the Guide lists many of them. These resources put the ball in my hands and spread the park before me. That is a good place to begin.

There are numerous links in each resource field, and the Guide states that it is a beginning. More information will be added. On top of this, the resources listed are relatively time-tested and customer vetted. This is invaluable.

How many sites have you gone to looking for info on a subject, and come up with info or a company you wished had a track record? An easily accessible record, made by people like you, entrepreneurs with roughly your experience and goals? Many times. If you’re new like me. I have not personally tried and tested these resources, but I’m willing to bet Joel and Betty have done good background checks.

This Guide is especially useful for the beginner. Just don’t stop here. Despite its name, no book can contain all the resources in the world. Many are developing, imploding, or being created at this moment. If you need resources, Indie entrepreneur, search out these and then bravely go beyond. But keep the Ultimate Guide on the shelf for reference.

All the best to you on your journey. Search and try: fail, search, try again. Succeed. Never give up.

One note to the Guide’s formatters: it would be nice if you would add a little more space between listings. It’s slightly hard to read and keep track of my place on the page. Thank you.

Also, I have been given a free ebook version in return for my honest review, though I would pay $8 to own the Guide. It might have saved me a half-year of research time when I started my writing and editing journey. And I may have need of a cover designer soon. 🙂

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Scop Talk: On Reading Fantasy

The bit below, from Gladys Hunt’s Honey for a Child’s Heart, is just good. I have to share.

It brought back so many wonderful memories of adventures in my early reading days. She encapsulates much of what I’ve felt about reading fantasy and what it does for me in my heart, soul, and mind. Because of that, what she says extends to you and every human in our world.

She writes a frank, uplifting and inspiring conversation about the importance of books, fantasy, and reading for children and parents. You’ve got to read her book if you have any interest at all in the world of hopeful books. She includes a good list of books at the end. They brought back to me the adventure and wonder. Dive in!

“Lewis Mumford once said, ‘The words are for children, and the meanings are for men.’ But I don’t believe it. Children suspect more is present than the actual story, and because there is little space between the real and the unreal world in a child’s mind, they reach across with amazing ease and begin to ferret it out. They may read the story again years later and find that their experiences in life help them see more. Adults will read the same book and begin to better understand why they loved it as children. But at any age, the story is an experience of quality and substance.

“The most subtle and profound ideas are often found in books written for children. A kind of ‘suspended reality’ exists in which what is true becomes more obvious. Good fantasy helps us see ‘reality in unreality, credibility in incredibility.’ A child accepts and loves fantasy because of his own rich imagination and sense of wonder. For children, magical things are not nearly as complicated at they are for adults. They have room in their minds for all sorts of happenings. And those who write fantasy are not so much those who understand the heart of a child as those who have a child’s heart themselves. Out of the depth of their personal experience they combine a child’s heart with profound insights into life’s meaning. Some fantasies laugh; some are full of nonsense; other are breathless with adventure and brave deeds. …

“Not everyone takes to fantasies or fairy tales, although I believe most children do. These stories are certainly at their best when read aloud–especially fairy stories–because the lovely cadence of words and the economy of language make them a special experience. It is adults who worry over the make-believe, the magic, the strange creatures, the evil events, the wars, and sometimes the gore. Children have far less trouble. They readily know the difference between fantasy and reality. ‘No child confuses dragons or unicorns with cattle in a meadow,’ one writer said. It is the child who doesn’t know about dragons and unicorns who is to be pitied! …

“Children don’t squeeze life into boxes. They have room for a large variety of emotions and happenings and are quite aware of the possibilities in people. They know life is difficult; they are happy to believe it also turns out right in the end. I like Beauty and the Beast to this day because in that tale an act of love transforms what is ugly into something beautiful. I believe it still happens.”

Blogger’s Note: Gladys does not say all fantasies and depictions of ” the make-believe, the magic, the strange creatures, the evil events, the wars, and sometimes the gore” are good; her context deals with these subjects handled well in story. Read Honey for a Child’s Heart. You won’t regret it! Published by Zondervan, 1978.

Crossover: Find the Eternal, the Adventure.

Crossover: Find the Eternal, the Adventure.

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“Scop Talk”

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Fantasy readers, what kind of fantasy do you like?

As a blogger of “Scop Talk” I go for quality story-telling. One element of a good tale is detailed world-building that assumes I am intelligent; such as C. J. Cherryth’s Foreigner,  Robin McKinley’s Deerskin and Beauty, Rose Daughter, etc. Not simplistic communication that tells and describes the character’s action both at once, and insults my comprehension. Another element is a sense of wonder at the beauties of the created world, and that man is not the end-all and be-all.

I have not found many stories that honor the Creator of our bodies and souls, but tales that attract me the most portray some kind of inkling that the characters know there is a governing power of good beyond ourselves: tales that show truth, honor, loyalty, and goodness contrasted with the deceit and monstrosity of evil and those who follow it. And that show how evil can be deceptive and appear beautiful. Dennis McKiernan’s The Iron Tower trilogy is one of these. A medieval setting adds to the fun.

And a good fantasy is never complete without a grand sense of adventure. The adventure comes in the main character’s inner journey and war, the outer journey and conflict, and the character’s choices and responses that shape the world, such as in Lisa T. Bergren’s Cascade, Waterfall, and Torrent, in her River of Time series.

Actions do matter. Motive matters even more. Fantasy is a vehicle. Good fantasy makes a difference in how I see myself and the world. It shows that the smallest person makes a difference. We matter, and matter to our Creator.

You matter to me. As I write my fantasy stories, I’d like to know what kinds of good fantasy stir you. What do you like about your favorite fantasy tales? What do you call bad fantasy, in the matter of crafting and content? Will you share some Scop Talk?

Thank you so much.

For a longer list of great fantasy reads, see my reading list on my resources page.

Crossover: Find the Eternal, the Adventure.

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A Bit of Soul Baring: Or Glimpses of Adventure

Publishing Update:

For my readers or soon to be readers: Falcon Heart is scheduled back from my editor (professional editors do have their own editors) within the month. After corrections,  Falcon Heart is in queue for formatting in InDesign for e-book and print, and to have a cover of art work designed, with interior art added. The art work and cover are in progress.

Falcon Heart is in the works, and I plan to release this title by December 2014 or earlier.

Meanwhile, the sequel Falcon Flight is going chapter by chapter through my crit group, then it will go through another revision, then off to beta readers, then my editor, and back for a final revision.

If you like historical fantasy and want to join my beta reader team, contact me at azaleadabill@gmail.com.

Keep alert for upcoming sneak peeks of Falcon Heart.

Now an Author’s thought for the day:

There is a purity to the writer’s work. With concentration, it can drive away all kinds of ill winds and disturbing thoughts.

Others have written better than you. Still others will surpass you in the future. Would you want things to be otherwise? Better to accept that we all get our turn at excellence.

This acceptance makes your turn draw closer.

It is deadly to compare ourselves to other writers. Those writers have not lived our lives. They cannot tell our stories.

The telling of your own story is an act of complete absorption. It leaves no room for nibbling, negative thoughts. It drives away everything but what is true and right for this story.

Today, I’ll let my work provide relief from envy and self-doubt. It is ready to sweep me away to a place where comparisons do not matter.

–A good quote from Susan Shaughnessy’s Walking on Alligators, pg 53

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