Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How Dare You Read Books

How dare you read books.

In order to read them, someone has to buy them. And in order for someone to buy them, books must be available for purchase. How do books become available for purchase? Authors must write them and get them published.

Have you ever pondered the agony we manipulators of the written word must suffer in order to satisfy your urges? You can’t wait to find out what happens to Harry or Katniss or whoever, yet you put no thought whatsoever into the pains we must go through to bring their stories to life.

We are isolated from the world in dungeons imposed by your unending desire for more. This imprisonment is not so bad when the writing evokes euphoria in our souls—it is moments like these that we live for. But this euphoria is fleeting and we can fall into a well of despondency before we know what has happened to us. We remember that we are alone, our minds falter, and suddenly words are too difficult to jot on the page. Fear sets in: What if I am unable to finish? What do I make my characters do now? Will anyone care about this in the end? Will my works and I be forgotten after my death like last week’s rubbish? 

We become depressed. Some of us turn to alcohol. Some turn to more illegal substances. I personally turn to mindless websites so I have something to laugh at. It beats flinging my computer across the room and curling up into a pathetic ball of anguish in the corner.

Now, readers, you may be wondering if my fellow writers and I are insane for subjecting ourselves to such torment. You may even think we are masochists. 

Perhaps we are.

Yet we do it anyway. We do it for ourselves. And we do it for you. 

Words cannot describe the gratitude we feel when someone tells us that they love our books. We live for these moments, as well. It tells us that our outpouring of words and emotions has made a difference in someone’s life and may even change the world for the better. What could be greater than that?

We thank you for daring to read books. I thank you. And I will be eternally grateful for your support and kind words as I continue my journey as a writer. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Meet the Author: Abby Ryan

Today let's give a welcome to my fellow Tate author Abby Ryan! Abby has written many stories over the years, including her debut fantasy novel Orphan of the Shadows. Abby's second novel in the series, The Black Trinity, will be published by Tate within the next year.

First of all, tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? When did you first start writing?
First, let me tell you all that I am quite young. I'll be 20 January 11, 2012. However, I am a very focused and ambitious girl. I wrote my first novel when I was a sophomore in high school, and it got published! I don't say that to rub it in, but to encourage you all. If I can do it, so can you! You just have to work your butt off!

That said, I'm from small town Iowa. Bremer County, really. I've moved 9 times in the past 19 years, but never left Bremer... My family and I, we are pro-movies, I must say.

I started writing when I was 8. Funny too, cuz before then I hated books. However, my elder sister and I shared a room and she started reading to me. That made me realize books were cool. Even if I had dyslexia. (Yes, I did say books are cool. I am a nerd and proud of it!) 

Have any specific authors or books been an inspiration to you? If so, which ones? 

A lot of books have inspired me. But they all come from a small group of authors. I only read fiction-fantasy books. If there's no magic or swords, I probably will stop reading... Not always, but usually.

My favorite author right now is Cassandra Clare, who wrote, and is still writing, the Mortal Instrument books. She's also writing the Infernal Devices. I absolutely love, love, LOVE her!

J.P. Taylor was also great. I read his book Shadowmancer between my 5th and 6th grade year. Before 7th grade I read it 4x. I credit that book will really launching my writing career.

I also like Becca Fitzpatrick (the Hush, Hush, sage) and Kiersten White (the Paranormalcy Trilogy)

Describe for us your writing process. Do you use an outline or do you go by "the seat of your pants"?

Well, I prefer the term "Following the fire of passion" to "the seat of my pants"... well, not really. I just made that up. But it sounds cool.

Generally, I have an idea for how the book will end, and a huge surge of passion when I start my book. The scenes just fly at me. I can write about 7-10 chapters in a week when I start my books. After that, the fire dies a little and it's an upward climb.

Sometimes I have to force myself to write, but I've learned that if I just sit down and write, something will come. If I don't exactly love something I wrote, I try to tell myself to not worry about it and just keep it. I go on and finish the book, then come back and fix the story. However, the book is not completely done until I've read over it about 10x and absolutely love the entire thing (meaning I've tweaked the parts I don't like until they make me squeal with glee. The sound is like a little girl getting her first puppy…-- that's when I know a part is perfect :) )

Was anything in your novel Orphan of the Shadows inspired by real people or events? 

Yes, everything was actually. The book itself is an allegory. Elon is me. Even though I'm not an orphan, I'm a middle child, so I often felt like one. Sheva (scary to say) is even a reincarnation of me. I get all my anger out through her... I'm really a rather cheery girl, I promise!

Albree was inspired by my brother. Glynnii was inspired by my best friend. Cäel was inspired by a guy I knew from my youth group. Jorik is Jesus, and I think that's enough for now...

What are three things that people would be surprised to know about you?

Hmm, That’s a toughie... I have a fish named Aqua Mello, but I call him Mr. Mello. He's a beta and scares me every day cuz he always looks like he's dead... If that's not really surprising, then maybe the fact that I also sing and draw. People always get big eyed when I say that. I'm also an obsessive writer cuz I'm working on 24 novels. All will be published one day, too. 

What do you do when you aren't writing?

Well, that's hardly ever a reality... but on the chance I’m not, I watch movies (only ones that make me think of my characters) I draw (but only my characters) I sing (but only my characters songs)... Did I say I was obsessive? I also work at Pizza Hut, where I think of my books. Lol. Lately I am also learning A LOT about marketing a novel.

If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be?

CASSANDRA CLARE! Anyone want to hook me up? Seriously, if I met her, I'd faint! 

What emotionally 'moves' you? Do you incorporate your emotions into your writing? 

My books are only there because I am emotional. My best friends call me Emo because of it... 

What kind of music do you listen to?

Ha, lots! I love Demi Lovato (reminds me of Sheva and Lyv's singing. They are both divas, but Lyv doesn't come in til book 2.) I also love Within Temptation (Sounds like Sheva) , Flyleaf, Tokio Hotel, The Call, Paramore, Paolo Nutini, Linkin Park, Evanescence, 30 Seconds to Mars, There for Tomorrow, Breaking Benjamin, and Kill Hannah... In short, punk/rock and alternative rock. (it's another slight obsession of mine...)

If you could visit one place in the world, where would you go?

ONE PLACE! Are you kidding me? I can't just pick one! I have too big a passion for the world to do that. So I'll give you my top places: Japan, France, England. Why? Cuz Japan is like my kingdom, Sarden. France is like Hûloden, and England is like Mádárèn. ^.^ 

And last of all, where can readers purchase your book, and where can you be found on the Web?

Readers can get my book all over the net. Amazon,Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million,IndieBound, Tate Publishing. I can be found at my blog, http://secretsector.wordpress.com/. Other places to find me are shown on the Secret Sector.

I didn't exactly dream of you, but I was told in my dream that during a time of great pain I would meet a young lady with grand power. I was told that power would save me from death and bring peace to my world... Somehow I know it is you...

In the faraway kingdom of Mádárèn, Elon Amæloriey, a young orphan girl, lived a life of pain and struggle from the day her parents passed away. But the lonely life she knew changed forever the day she stumbled upon a gang unlike any other. Elon learns to fight alongside the Dragon gang while they strive to keep their territory free of their rivals and of the Niesin–Bratched's demons. No longer an Orphan of the Shadows, Elon's life seems to be brightening until she learns of the Darkness looming over her.

The Dark side believes the King has chosen Elon for a place of authority in the realm, and they will do anything to capture her. The Dark princes of Jasikx, Tarrek and Albree Vaydmehn, are desperately trying to find her. The Light prince, Zedikajah (Kaj), is also frantically searching for her too, in order to keep her safe from Darkness. But his efforts are failing. When the safety of a realm relies on the safety of one girl, will one boy succeed?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My review of Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee

Author Tosca Lee's novel Demon: A Memoir tells the story of Clay, a recently-divorced editor who has become disillusioned with his job and life in general. One evening when he arrives at a cafe for dinner, a stranger greets him by name and welcomes him to join him at his table. In fact, this stranger seems to know more about Clay than Clay himself does:

"I know you're searching, Clay. I know you're wondering what these late, dark nights are for. You have that seasonal disease, that modern ailment, don't you? SAD, they call it. But it isn't the disorder--you should know that. It isn't even your divorce. That's not what's bothering you. Not really." (page 4)

The stranger introduces himself as Lucian. Lucian is a demon. He wants to tell Clay his story, because it is "very closely connected" to Clay's. Clay is instructed to write down everything that Lucian tells him.

Over the course of several months and various encounters in which Lucian appears in different human forms (sometimes male, sometimes female), Clay learns the story of the demons' fall from glory and how they have sought revenge on God ever since by corrupting God's favored people: human beings. The demons despise all humans because they sin constantly but God still forgives them, despite the fact that the demons were eternally damned after making a single mistake. However, Clay still cannot see how the story connects with his own life, even though it is quite obvious to the reader. He is essentially blind, and that blindness just may seal his fate in the end.

One thing I enjoyed about reading this book is the beauty of Ms. Lee's prose. Her style flows easily and creates some vivid imagery that I found moving:

"But here was the most terrible thing: El went down to Eden and laid himself out over the waters, there to brood in trembling sorrow. And it infused me, this sorrow. It saturated my being. Beside me, seraphim huddled with long faces. Some of them wept. I had never seen such tears before--dark, remorseful, bereft of joy. There was only sadness and dread, that terrible sense that had I been a god, I would have set it all back. I would have erased everything, returned it all to the way it had been."

"Why couldn't you?" I said. "For that matter, why couldn't God?"

The kid gave a jolt of laughter that sounded slightly hysterical, and then his lips curled back from his teeth, and spittle flew out with his words. "I'll tell you why: Because we were damned! Oh, not that I knew it then--how could I? There was no precedent for any of it. Wrong had never existed. Lucifer had to manufacture that first aberration himself. Until then, there had been one law dictated by the sole fact of our creation: Worship the creator. And now, as surely as Lucifer's throne had broken into a thousand splinters, we had violated that order." (page 57)

As much as one may feel sorry for the demons, Ms. Lee does not diminish the fact of their true nature: they are evil. And through the grace of God, we humans have the opportunity for the redemption to which the demons have been denied.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Show, Don't Tell!

One thing I frequently hear regarding the writing of fiction is the mantra "Show, don't tell." Readers are not dumb and can generally figure out things on their own without the author going into excessive details. Adjectives and adverbs should be used sparingly (this is something I have personally tried to improve in my own writing), and usage of relevant, appropriate imagery should be encouraged.

Here are some examples:

1. TELLING: The walls were brownish-gold.
SHOWING: The walls were the color of honey.

2. TELLING: Audrey walked quickly across the room.
SHOWING: Audrey strode across the room.

3. TELLING: The moon was full and very bright; unlike the dark lawn below.
SHOWING: Moonlight cast shadows across the lawn that reached toward the house like bony fingers.

4. TELLING: Hank was a workacholic.
SHOWING: When Hank's wife forced him to go on vacation, beach combers looked at each other and shrugged when they saw the pasty-white accountant sitting in a lounge chair with a computer on his lap and a cell phone in his hand, discussing payroll and audits and a dozen other things he should have left at home with the dog.

What examples of showing versus telling do YOU have?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Before The Land Beyond the Portal, there was... THE ENCHANTING RAINBOW

I've been "writing" pretty much since I learned how to read. Some of my writing is really bad. In fact, many of my early attempts at writing are downright horrible. But practice makes perfect, right? (You can be the judge of that.)

Here is a short story I wrote at some point between 1996 and 1998, which would have made me anywhere from seven to nine years old. Alas, I did not put a date on the book, so I cannot know for certain when the idea for The Enchanting Rainbow came to me. But here it is, in its entirety. I probably thought it was a fantasy story. Now I just think it is a work of pure horror. Why, you may ask?

Because after writing it, I developed a fear of rainbows.


I don't care that it was only a dream. Anthropomorphic rainbows that stalk poor little girls are scarier than anything Hollywood can cook up these days. [shudders]