With my new book coming out soon and NaNoWriMo just two weeks after that, it seemed an appropriate time to revisit one of my favorite books about writing. It isn’t my biggest influence, but it’s one of the best for bringing together a LOT of writing concepts in a fun and accessible way. Something of a young adult nonfiction book, but recommended for any age too!
If I had read Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine when I was twelve, I think it would have changed my life. Unfortunately, it wasn’t published until I was several years past twelve, and I didn’t read it until I was in college. But it was still an excellent read then.
Writing Magic, as you may have guessed, is a book about writing, by one of my favorite authors. I reviewed her best-known book, Ella Enchanted, early on in this blog. Writing Magic is a wonderful book for kids who want to write. It’s filled with good advice of all sorts: save what you write; jot down ideas; pay attention to details; make your characters suffer sometimes. She covers coming up with ideas, writing the actual story, and working through revisions. The book discusses practical things like the best way to write dialogue, and discusses why you might feel inspired to write to begin with. And there are writing prompts at the end of every chapter.
This is a great book on writing, and I think it would also be a lot of fun for anyone who has read Levine’s novels–at least, it was for me! She illustrates writing lessons with examples from her own books–not only by plucking scenes out of the published books, but also sharing pieces of earlier drafts, or talking about what a story started out looking like, and how her ideas changed along the way. I love knowing the story behind the story. Continue reading
Posted in Reviews
My next novel, The Lioness and the Spellspinners, is due out in less than a month! God willing and all goes well, of course. :) Today I thought it would be fun to share a bit of the behind the scenes on the final stages of publishing prep.
I always order a print proof copy a couple months before my planned release date. I do my final round of edits in the paper copy, and by reading through it I can spot any weird formatting when it goes to paper. Also, I’m never sure what the cover is going to look like until I can see the physical version. This time, that proved especially important. I knew I had a dark cover, but it had never looked as dark as it did in my first proof copy…
Some significant lightening later, my second copy looked much more like the cover has been looking on every computer screen and print-out I’ve done. And hopefully Karina looks less evil! I still wouldn’t want to mess with her, but the aim was for fierce, not fear-inspiring…
I like seeing inside books (I mean, the formatting, not just the words…) so here are two more pictures from behind the covers. Get your own copy and see the other pages on October 14th!🙂
I don’t set out to read thematically-similar Newbery winners in a row, but sometimes it happens. Today, two books about orphan boys looking for a place to belong. Both good–but I think I’d better read one with a heroine next!
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Set during the Great Depression, Bud is a ten year old orphan, bouncing from orphanages and foster homes ever since his mother died when he was six. When things go badly at another foster home, he seizes the opportunity to run away–and to travel in search of his father, based on slim evidence and personal conviction about who his father might be.
This is a book that’s made by its main character. Bud is a tough kid, but not as tough or grown-up as he thinks he is. He has a fierce streak of independence, but he also has impeccable manners, a good heart, and a nice sense of humor that lightens what could have been a very grim book. It also helps that he mostly meets good people. Not everyone, and rough things happen, but mostly people are at a minimum well-meaning (if not always effective). Continue reading
This week’s Book Blogger Hop question: Have you ever wanted to write a book? If so, what genre would you choose? And…have you been successful in writing a book?
Hopefully all regular readers know that my answer to this question is an emphatic YES. :) I have written and published three novels, with my fourth to come out in October. Check out my Novel News page for the details!
The three (soon to be four) novels I’ve published are all Young Adult Fantasy, inspired by fairy tales. I’ve also written historical fiction and science fiction–both some old drafts that will probably never be published, and some recent writing that I hope to put out over the next few years. As in my reading, I love visiting worlds unlike the one I live in.
Writing is more work than reading, but (when it’s going well) it’s more fun too. I get to create the characters and stories I want to read about. Characters I write live in my head in a way that even the best-drawn character I merely read about doesn’t.
I know at least a few of my readers are writers too…did reading draw you to writing?
Posted in Blog Hop
I’m carrying on my parallel universe reading with A Crack in the Line by Michael Lawrence, featuring one of the more unusual alternate life scenarios.
Sixteen-year-old Alaric lost his mother two years earlier in a train accident, following surgery where she had a 50-50 chance of survival. One day he slips into an alternate version of his house…but in this life his mother survived. But something else also changed earlier: Alaric meets an alternate version of himself. Naia is as close to being Alaric as possible–except she’s a girl. Alaric and Naia begin to explore the differences between their lives, how the parallel worlds work, and mysteries in their family’s past.
This read was a mixed experience. I liked the concept a lot, and in some places the emotional impact was very well done. I didn’t mean to read two parallel universe books involving grief in a row; that just kind of happened. Alaric’s grief over his mother, and the extremely complicated feelings of knowing she’s alive in another universe were well-explored.
I liked the parallel universe mechanics here. This follows the basic idea of shifts in the key events in the past causing a different present/future. A lot of versions of that emphasize choice, but this one emphasized even odds. There’s at least one example where a conscious choice changed things, but the main things (the mother’s survival, Alaric/Naia’s gender) wasn’t really under anyone’s control. It was just a case of even odds, so universes formed where each option happened. (It does open the question of whether universes exist for every individual to be gender-swapped…but that’s a bit much to encompass.) I also liked that it explored multiple changes, instead of just one. There are at least three key differences between Alaric’s and Naia’s universes, so different results kept happening at different times. Continue reading