There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

A Bad Review: One Person’s Opinion… May 1, 2014

I must admit I’m pretty jaded by Amazon reviews. I’m sorry to say a five star review won’t induce me to part with my hard-earned cash, any more than a one star soul-stomping-hatred-fest will put me off something that really appeals.

My favourite fantasy author of the moment is Patrick Rothfuss. I devoured The Name of the Wind, and Wise Man’s Fear, the first two books in the Kingkiller Chronicles, loving the world, the characters, the glorious plot tangles and even the narrative structure. And I’m desperately awaiting the next instalment Doors of Stone.

And I’m not the only one to enjoy the books either. They have a 4.5 star rating on Amazon. So it was with much surprise I stumbled across my first scathing review of the book:

Kvothe makes me wanna gouge my eyes out. He’s that annoying. I know fantasy is attractive because it diverts us from the humdrum of our normal, uninteresting lives, and I’m aware that a heroic character should be more powerful and awesome than your regular joe. But seriously, if Kvothe excels beyond the realm of understanding in one more thing, I’ll scream.
I’d list all the achievements young Kvothe has earned himself but I just don’t have enough room. And I honestly cant swallow another list covering All That Is Supremely Awesome About Kvothe.

Wow. The reviewer J.J. Maken (read the whole review here) hated with a passion the very things that I really enjoyed about the books. Kvothe and his ridiculous giftedness was something I enjoyed about the story, particularly because he could be so good at some things and then completely clueless in other areas (like pretty much any interaction with women).

However rather than being upset on behalf of my own opinion, it reminded me that people have different tastes – and I thought J.J. Maken was at least able to articulate why the story didn’t work for her, instead of bashing the intelligence of the author or other readers who did like the book.

I prefer to like my protagonist as I’m reading, not secretly pray he dies a painful, drawn out death. I really loathed this book. I wish there had been more negative reviews available before I bought it.

I wish there were more negative reviews as interesting as this one.

My advice is read the reviews if you find they help. But the best person to judge whether a book is going to suit you, is you. Read the blurb, check out a sample, and try your luck.

What are your thoughts on Amazon reviews? Or any form of creative review?

– by Raewyn Hewitt

 

Review: Meet the Wizarding World of Destruction by Sharon Bayliss April 26, 2014

Filed under: Reading — thereanddraftagain @ 11:34 pm
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December people banner

Sharon Bayliss is a huge fan of Harry Potter, but her wizards are definitely something different from JK Rowling’s magical world. And in the best way. As a fellow Potter fan, I’ve been looking for a new take on the wizarding world for awhile, but a fresh one. Maybe even an adult one that also happens to put me through an absolute emotional roller coaster. Sharon Bayliss’s Destruction, the first book in the December People series, definitely fits the bill.

 

David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything. Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn’t a choice.

Eleven years ago, David’s secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without. 

Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David’s wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children. 

Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.

Add it on Goodreads or pick up your copy from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

For more from Sharon Bayliss, check out her website or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads

Like the December People on Facebook to keep up to date with this series

 

Imagine the problems a dysfunctional family might encounter. Now imagine those problems on magic. The result? A really great book. Here’s my review:

This book is a whirlwind of emotions right from the start, and continues to build intensity with each chapter. The story starts with a bang as David Vandergraff gets the phone call he has been waiting for and dreading for eleven years–the call that tells him what happened to his missing children.

His secret missing children that his wife knows nothing about.

His secret missing children that also happen to be wizards. 

As David’s world begins to unravel, he discovers that he wasn’t the only one in his marriage with secrets. His wife Amanda has her fair share as well. And not just that she is also a dark wizard. 

This book might have wizards and magic, but the story is in this family and the problems they have, which are very rooted in reality. Their dysfunction makes them feel so normal, but when you add magic to the mix, dysfunction doesn’t cover it. The characters are beautifully flawed, and sometimes do unforgivable things, but you still find yourself rooting for them. The Vandergraff kids aren’t just accessories to David and Amanda’s story, but are integral parts of the whole, and have their own enriching plots that will tug at your heart. The demons they are all facing are more within themselves than some evil wizard out to get them. They are their own villains, which makes the face off with the real villain so much more intense. Even if they win, will they truly win? Or will they be their own defeat? 

Right when the plot heads in one direction, Sharon Bayliss throws you for a loop. Predictable is not in her vocabulary, that’s for sure. Definitely a must read, and can’t wait for more. 

Pick up your copy now and tell me what you think! Oh, and don’t forget to take the quiz to see what kind of wizard you are, and let me know in the comments. As for me?

You can pick your badge here. I will be sure to keep you guys posted on what I am certain is going to be another amazing fantasy series as it continues.

❤ Mara Valderran

 

Book Recommendations: Writing Craft April 19, 2014

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 9:34 am
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Hi everyone!

Today we decided to share with you our favorite books on the writing craft!

Kate recommends: ON WRITING by Stephen King

on-writing

” It’s part autobiography and part advice on the craft. My copy is dog-eared, highlighted, and full of notes in the margins. It’s encouraging, especially during my bouts of massive self doubt, honest, and at times laugh-out-loud hilarious. I’d recommend it to any writer regardless of where they are in their writing journey.”

Rachel recommends: NO PLOT? NO PROBLEM! by NaNoWriMo’s founder Chris Baty

no-plot-no-problem

“I have lots of books on writing craft, and while they all contain helpful techniques, tips, and rules of thumb, my biggest issue is being able to set aside all of the perfectionist noise of my brain and simply write words. Baty’s NaNo-ing guide gives me a pep talk every time I pick it up, and that’s been invaluable since I started taking my writing seriously.”

She also recommends: SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS by Renni Browne and Dave King

self-editing

“Since I self-publish, I need as many checks and balances as I can manage on each manuscript, and this book is an excellent tool for revisions before actual edits.”

Raewyn recommends: THE FIRST FIVE PAGES: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO STAYING OUT OF THE REJECTION PILE by Noah Lukeman

First Five Pages

“It’s a practical little book, with some good end of chapter exercises to measure your writing against.”

Jessica recommends: THE ART OF WAR FOR WRITERS by James Scott Bell

ArtOfWarforwriters

“It’s very easy to get into and his writing is engaging and encouraging.”

She also recommends: WRITING IRRESISTIBLE KID LIT by Mary Kole

writing irresistible kid lit

“It really breaks down how the YA and MG market and what types of writing really sings for that market. It has great examples over lots of different YA and MG genres. I loved it. “

Finally, my recommendation is: HOW NOT TO WRITE A NOVEL by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark

Hownottowriteanovel It is a hilarious book that is also an invaluable source of information about what NOT to do when you are trying to write a publishable novel.

What are YOUR favorite books on writing? Make sure to leave us a comment below!

EM Castellan

 

Tools for the Busy Fantasy Writer April 16, 2014

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 10:23 pm
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Finding time to write in the middle of everyday life can be almost impossible sometimes. I have two little boys that take up the majority of my time, and every writer I know has just as much or more demanding their time every single day. So I wanted to share with you a couple of ways I cheat time — when I’m in the car, standing in line at a cash register, watching the kids in the tub, or trying to get them to nap, I need multiple ways to get my creative thoughts down so that I can maximize the 1-2 free hours I get to write per day (if I’m lucky!).

Notebooks — Of course! We writers tend to be notebook addicts. I usually have a separate notebook for everything. One for every novel that’s about 5×7, small enough to tuck in a purse but big enough to write outlines and entire scenes if I want to; a 6×9 that I keep in my car in case I get stranded somewhere and need to write about ten pages of brain vomit because the scene just won’t wait; and a little 2×4 to remain permanently in my purse for any random thoughts.

Evernote App — This is perfect for all of the above, only it fits in my pocket no matter where I am, because it’s an app. But not just any app, Evernote actually syncs with your computer, your tablet, your Kindle, whatever you need! so that you can write outlines, scenes, dialogue, anything, and then simply copy/paste it into your doc or Scrivener when you get home. It’s too easy, and all you need is an internet connection and an Android device because it’s FREE.

 

Dropbox App — Dropbox is, in my experience, the best way ever to back up your stuff online. I can’t tell you how many times it’s saved my butt to have a backup on the internet when my files get mixed up on my flash drives (always a good idea to backup things on a physical drive as well, of course). Dropbox is also free, and you can get it for Apple and Android and choose which files sync where so that you can always have your most important documents with you. It’s awesome (although, it also scares me because what if someone stole my phone?! So I don’t keep more than my current work in my Dropbox).

Scrivener App — I know some people love Scrivener, and some people hate it, but I happen to love it so I’ve got to mention it. Dude, the way you can organize and color code everything on the side? I don’t know how I’d write a four-part series without being able to give each scene a million identifiers. They get shifted around so many times, sometimes from book to book, that I need the outline-within-an-outline-within-a-binder-within-a…that Scrivener offers. It’s positively lovely to just click “compile” when you’re done and get it shuffled into a nice, shiny Word doc. It does cost money, but it is so worth it. Available for both Windows and Mac.

What are some of your time-stealing devices? How do you catch and save all your thoughts and get them shuffled neatly into a manuscript?

Rachel O’Laughlin

 

Music to Inspire April 2, 2014

Hello Everyone!

Sometimes, it’s a little hard to get inspired and making playlists for a fantasy novel seems almost impossible! Do you use modern music with lyrics? Do you do classical and powerful? The answer is honestly up to you, but there are a few places you can look when you are feeling stuck.

Video Game Soundtracks: This is an often under represented area to look for inspiration. Depending on the type of novel you are writing, you can find what sort of game fits your novel. Skyrim, Dragon Age, Final Fantasy, and Guild Wars 2 are a few of my favorites

Movie Soundtracks: This is the typical go-to for music, but definitely should not be ignored. I find that going to Pandora and listening to Epic Soundtracks usually gets the gears turning. It has a lot of variety and if you find a particular soundtrack that really hits you, it is possible to make a station dedicated to it. Some of my favorites are The Last of the Mohicans,  Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, and The Dark Knight.

Modern Music: The discovery of modern music for a fantasy novel is often hard. If you find a piece that really sings to you, try to remember it and put it into your playlist. Another fun way to discover more about your character while also finding music that fits your novel is to think about what your character would listen to if they were in the ‘real’ world. Some of my favorites are Panic! At the Disco, One Republic, and My Chemical Romance.

What gets you in the writing mood? Do you have set playlists or just go where the music takes you?

Happy Writing!

Jess

 

Pin-ups March 29, 2014

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 6:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I’m notorious for letting band-wagons pass by. I stubbornly refuse to join in just because something is popular. Facebook is a perfect example of that. I went in kicking and screaming; only joining because most of my family had defected from our Yahoo Group List, and it seemed if I wanted to keep abreast of things, I needed to be on Facebook. Oh, but the grumbling that took place.

I now have three Facebook personas. *head, desk*

When Pinterest came around, I turned my nose up. Yes, I can be a snob. What a frivolous waste of time it seemed to be. I needed nothing to do with it.

A while back…I succumbed. And, I’m big enough to admit, I was wrong about Pinterest. I’m a visual person. Pinterest has become a giant corkboard for me. A place to stash bits of things I want to remember, or keep track of. More importantly, I can see how it is becoming a tool for my writing. All those little things I scrawled on post-it notes, all those links I write down and then lose, images that inspire scenes, characters or places…they are no longer lost in piles of papers, stuck somewhere in the back of my head, or otherwise scattered to the winds. They are organized on boards that I can access at any time from any where. I figured I would post things and forget about them, never checking them, never using them as reference.

Again. I was wrong.

More importantly, I’m hoping to use Pinterest and my writing boards to connect with my readers. No, I haven’t figured out how exactly. Not entirely. I have some ideas rolling around in the grey matter. One thing would be to invite readers to send me images that they connect with my books. How they see the characters, or the world around them. Maybe bits of music that remind them of a certain scene. That’s something I’m working on. I’m sure it will evolve.

One of the nicest things about Pinterest is that it’s quick. Especially with the aps available. I see something I want to pin, and in a few clicks, done. I like that. Simple, effective, visual, easy to share, easy to keep private if I choose.

So, how many Pinterest users out there? What do you use it for? Do you actively follow other people’s boards? What are some creative ways you seen it use to connect with others?

~ K. L. Schwengel

 

The Music of Writing: I See Fire March 26, 2014

Music has always played an integral part in the world of fantasy. Whether in the form of the siren song, cast out over a still ocean, or in the bardic tradition of weaving myths and legends into musical form; it brings a richness and sets a cultural timbre to the fantasy world.

When it’s done well that is. One of my favourite passages of ‘written music’ is when Aslan sings Narnia into existence in The Magician’s Nephew:

In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide what direction it was coming from. Sometimes it seemed to be coming from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it…

It’s a long passage that builds a crescendo in the reader:

The lion was pacing to and fro about the empty land and singing his new song. It was softer and more lilting than the song by which he had called up the stars and the sun; a gentle, rippling music. And as he walked and sang, the valley grew green with grass. It spread out from the Lion like a pool. It ran up the sides of the little hills like a wave…

Conveying the essence of music with words is hard work. A mere record of the lyrics often can’t convey the emotional response, atmosphere or tone of the music itself. And music often tells its own story. Just watch a deleted scene from a movie without the background music. It’s never as powerful.

Fortunately you don’t have to be a gifted musician to write music in a novel, but it helps to look those with a musical gift for inspiration. Whether the music of your book leans towards the soft background music of unassuming string instruments, often in the background and unnoticed by those discussing things of import (because it never hurts to have one eye on your plot); or the type of percussion that gets into the blood and rouses passions – find yourself something similar to listen to and to quote Eminem;

Lose yourself in the music…

And then find the words to express what you feel.

Many of us create playlists that evoke emotions when we’re writing. On my epic fantasy playlist is U2, Bryan Adams, John Mayer, Ben Harper, Jack Johnson and Shooting Stars. It only takes a few bars from With or Without You, and I’m with one of my characters, riding across the plains of Gaelladorn with the wind whipping my hair and my mind focussed on just one thing…

And if you get really lucky you might come across a musician who has been inspired by someone else’s words, and who will inspire you. Like this masterpiece from Ed Sheeran:

I’d love to know how you incorporate music into your writing, or writing process?

by Raewyn Hewitt