Reading · Writing

Saturday Summation – 08 July 2017

Bits and pieces of things that caught my eye not only for my own interest, but enough to want to share with you, too…

Today’s post is brought you by: I Have Thoughts.

Writing Stuff:

I don’t read many craft books. I think if I were much younger or totally brand new to the idea of writing [fiction], then I’d be more likely to explore them. They have their uses, but like anything else, in moderation. We have to pull what is useful to us and not necessarily abide by any one thing as IT. I am reading a craft book now, and it has definitely been useful, but what frustrates me is that the author spends a lot of time saying so many other processes are wrong. THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY. This isn’t science, folks. This is art, craft. It isn’t without structure, but it isn’t a precise thing. The only other craft book I’ve read is the one everyone swears by: On Writing by Stephen King. I sometimes wonder if they do so simply because it’s the thing to do. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed that one, but I liked it because it read more like a memoir combined with King’s personal writing process. I’m sure I took away some good nuggets from it, but can’t specifically name any of them… which is the point of this post from Larry Brooks as he talks about the “Big Lie” about writing compelling fiction. I tell you, I was with him on this post thinking “yes” until…. he gave his 6 “truths”. “The sooner you get these six truths into your head (among others, including the drilled-down subsets of each principle), the sooner you can truly begin to grow as a storyteller.” Sigh. What he says isn’t wrong (my whole point), but I fell into the “this is the only thing” trap of his game. (He wrote a craft book, naturally.)

FYI, if I ever suddenly feel like I MUST write a book on the craft of writing, please tell me first that no, I don’t HAVE to do this, and if I don’t listen to you (I am pretty stubborn), tell me to follow the way of Stephen King because now I understand why his is so highly recommended.

There’s always a lot of debate about “platform” for authors and whether or not they should be highly active on social media. I think the most common agreement for those who truly understand social media, is that it should not be used simply for constant self-promotion. It’s all about engagement. And it works. I’ve read authors that I might not have because I follow them on Twitter and eventually thought, huh, if I like what they have to say “here” I might like what they write for fiction. And when that happens, I will help promote them. This post by Evie Gaughan talks about pros and cons and I’d love to add that personally, I love when authors throw out the occasional tweet about progress on their current WIP or even their ideas. It makes feel a little kinship with them and as a reader, it helps me anticipate their next works.

This post by Lily Iona MacKenzie is a very specific one about setting – France – but it brought about the question of how we can make a setting that is outside of our experience an authentic one in our writing. At this point in time, I cannot really imagine being able to write about a different country that I haven’t visited because when you include something like that in a story, you – or maybe it’s just me – want to feel that difference. In one of my books, I have scenes that take place in Nicaragua (I lived there for four months – long ago) and I knew that I needed to make that environment come alive. I needed sounds and smells. And I look at this paragraph and realize, it needs more:

We’re on the outskirts of central León and at night the diesel fumes that normally populate the air finally diffuse. Citrus scents from trees like the madroño take over and mix in with the smoke of cook fires. By day, the groans and rumbles rustle up polluted smells again, but also fresh bread, tortillas, and chicharrones join in.

How do you focus on settings that you have never experienced first-hand?


Reading Stuff:

Looking for your next book to read? My writing organization – Women’s Fiction Writers Association – holds a Star Award contest each year and you can read more about these debut finalists. Not sure what women’s fiction is? If you’re of my generation, think “Oprah Book”. 😀 Also, books by the likes of Jennifer Weiner, Susan Meissner, and Barbara Kingsolver.

I got a kick out of this post about “weird quirks” by avid book lovers – and yes, of course they are all justified. (BTW, #7: “Experiencing irrational anger when the price sticker doesn’t peel off neatly without leaving scuffs or sticky residue” is definitely one of mine.)


Recommended Reads:

The Song Rising – Samantha Shannon (YA/NA/A crossover) (My review)

Honestly Ben – Bill Konigsberg (YA) (My review)

Once and For All – Sarah Dessen (YA)

The Bookseller – Cynthia Swanson (A) (My review)

The Thunder Beneath Us – Nicole Blades (A) (My review)

The Light We Lost – Jill Santopolo (A) (My review)

Setting Free the Kites – Alex George (A) (My review)


Summer Re-Reads:

Anne of Green Gables -L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Avonlea – L.M. Montgomery

Anne of the Island – L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Windy Poplars –  L.M. Montgomery

Anne’s House of Dreams – L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Ingleside – L.M. Montgomery

Bet Me – Jennifer Crusie

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell


Currently Reading: Binti – Nnedi Okorafor

Song/Video of the Week:

Why yes, I’m a Hamilton fan. One day I might even get to see the musical. In the meantime, other fans who are important enough to be able to hob-nob with him contribute in their own ways. This the latest –  a powerful remix of a famous line: “Immigrants, we get the job done”.





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