Inspiration For Monday-Scott Meredith

I have a number of writing and editing books, like most editors and writers. Each one has given me a different perspective and support when I seem to need it most. The trick is to take what speaks to you and chuck the rest. Not everyone writes the same nor should they. Just use what works for you. Because let’s face it, this writing gig is not the easiest job in the world. Oh, it’s not digging ditches, don’t get me wrong, but there are times when it seems like it.

One of the best books on writing I’ve read is Writing to Sell by Scott Meredith. You can find it here on Amazon. It was first published in 1950, and recommended to me by author Peter V. Brett, and considering his success, it has been one of the best book recommendations on writing I’ve received.

Here is a quote from the book I think is great for inspiration on a Monday: (on procrastination)

“If you will force yourself to work out those book ideas without waiting for inspiration to slosh you across the back of the head, and if you will force yourself to write one sentence after another despite the fact that the picture is awry, and the pencils are blunt, and your family is making an awful racket, and you’re writing in one corner of a bedroom instead of in a big soundproof study, and you had a big night with the boys last night, and the stuff looks awful as you write it–you will find, when you examine it a day or two later, that the material you’ve produced is exactly as good or bad as the material you normally produce, or would produce under the ideal conditions.”

In other words, get your head out of your ass and just do it.

Writing To Sell

What are some books you have found to be helpful in the writing process?

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Fabulous Fiction Friday Round-up

You might have been expecting this kind of round-up.

Yeeehaw! Okay, it’s not that kind of round-up. There are no cows or bulls, no ropes and no manure (although that might be a matter of opinion). What I thought I’d do is re-introduce you to some of the Fabulous Fiction Peeps I’ve had the honor to host on this blog.

First, you may have heard of this guy. He’s the best-selling author of The Warded Man and The Desert Spear, along with The Great Bazaar and Other Stories and Brayan’s Gold. His name is Peter V. Brett, and you can find my interview with him from 2009 here. I find his comments about publishing especially interesting.

Next up is an interview with Jeremy C. Shipp. I think he had the best answer I’ve ever heard about the future of publishing. Although I haven’t done a review of “Cursed” yet, it is on my list. Which is about as long as my left leg, right now. *sigh*

My next victim…uh, I mean my next GUEST…was a badass chick by the name of Susan Helene Gottfried, author of Trevor’s Song, Shapeshifter: The Demo Tapes – Year 1 and ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes – Year 2. She inhabits the world of rock and roll, kicking asses and taking names.

Of course, I have a soft spot for editors, and I have two I’ve interviewed here. First is the “Goddess of Flash”, Esther Schrader, the Editor-in-Chief for Flashshot. Second is the Mad Aussie, aka Matthew Glenn Ward. In addition to his editor duties (although Skive has been regretfully retired) he found time to compose his novel, John F. Kennedy Lives in the Future! and is one of my favorite people.

Podcasting is a fast-growing portion of the fiction market, and to that end I wanted a word or two with Kate Sherrod who also composes some brilliant sonnets in her spare time. Besides the podcast point of view, Kate is A Very Interesting Person, and you can read the fascinating interview here.

MeiLin Miranda is probably one of the most innovative and hard-working indie authors I know. She’s recently won the Preditors and Editors Best Erotic Novel for 2010 as voted by the readers. You can find “Lovers and Beloveds” in a wide variety of formats, and you can find my interview with her here.

Last, but far from least, if you haven’t met him, now’s your chance. Yes, it’s Joseph Paul Haines, author of Ten With a Flag and Other Playthings. He’s got a lot to say, and pay attention. He knows what he’s talking about.

Quite a stellar line-up, if I do say so myself. Every one of these artists are hardworking, dedicated, twisted, demented and brilliantly talented. The have all inspired me in different ways to become better at my chosen career, they have offered hope that it can be done and lead by example. These guys don’t just talk the talk, people, they walk the walk. Every one has marched to their own beat and represents a different aspect of the writing journey. I hope you enjoy the interviews as much as I did conducting them.

Find your own drum. This one's mine.

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The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett – A Review

The only excuse I have for not getting to this review sooner is – life. Things have been really hectic in Netta-land, but when The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett hit the shelves in April of this year you can bet my ample behind was in my favorite Borders, getting me some of that.

You may ask why a dead-broke, struggling writer hack shelled out a nice chunk of change for a hardcover book. Even if you don’t ask, I’m going to tell you anyway. Because I’m worth it! After the fantastic debut of The Warded Man in March of 2009, which I also have in hardcover (signed, too, nyah nyah) there’s no way I was going to miss the release of TDS. (You can read my review of TWM here.) It is so seldom in fantasy literature I find anything that piques my interest, keeps my interest, or actually inspires anything but dead boredom. Does The Desert Spear deliver? (No pun intended.)

It does. Brett takes us deep into Krasia to get to know Jardir, a contender for the title of “Deliverer” and an ex-friend of Arlen’s, a bit better. The Krasian way of life is harsh reality in a warrior culture, and Jardir’s childhood in this culture explains a great deal. Peat’s details and characterizations bring Krasian ways into sharp focus, offering a look into a warrior-dominated culture and strict caste system, and how it shapes events and lives. I don’t want to post any spoilers here in case you haven’t read it yet (and what the hell are you waiting for??) but suffice to say although I may understand Jardir a little better, I still don’t like him and one of his decisions in the first book still irks me.

After a visit to Krasia, fascinating as it was, I was eager and very happy to meet up with Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer again, among others. It is interesting how their lives remain deeply connected, even when destiny takes them in different directions. Arlen continues to evolve, and he just gets more interesting with every sentence. Although, I will say his self-sacrificing ways can be annoying. Leesha is her capable self, but I find one particular action on her part had my jaw hitting the floor, especially with her background. No spoilers, but I felt as if one particular aspect of Krasian culture should have affected her more than it did. This is my own personal opinion, mind. I didn’t like one specific situation, but I don’t have to like it to love the story. And the story rocks.

We learn more about the corelings and we meet with old friends and acquaintances. Brett is a master at pacing, and I spent too many nights staying up way past my bedtime because I couldn’t wait to turn the page. Was The Desert Spear as good as The Warded Man?

I think that’s like comparing apples to oranges. Not only that, but I have to admit to a personal connection with The Warded Man which renders me unable to be objective about this topic. I will say The Desert Spear is different from TWM, and there’s nothing wrong with that. As a fan, it may have been a bit disconcerting in places, but I like being pushed from my comfort zone.

I tried to take my time reading it, but I’m not that disciplined. It came too soon, but the end of The Desert Spear is not really the end at all, but a beginning of Sharak Ka. I almost wish I’d waited longer to pick up TDS, because that would make waiting for The Daylight War , next in the series, seem a little shorter. The upside is I can read TDS over and over until The Daylight War appears. It can’t come soon enough.

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Friday Fiction: Review of "The Warded Man" by Peter V. Brett

In recent years, I have wandered from my first love in choosing books to read – the fantasy genre, or as it’s known in certain circles now, “speculative fiction”. The reasons for this are many. Pacing is one; as time has grown shorter, I have less time to devote to reading (very sad, that) and when I do read, I want to be hooked right now; I don’t want to wait until book two or three or four to figure out the point of the series. As a matter of fact, it’s difficult to invest a great deal of time into a series anymore.

Another reason is the “same old, same old” that is found in many fantasy series. I can only read so many stories about vampires, elves, or dwarves before all the species start to run together in my head and I forget what it is I’m reading once I put the book down. And it’s easy to put the book down.

Not so with Peter V. Brett’s The Warded Man.

Corelings, or demons, rise up from the Earth’s core every night to ravage and destroy. Humankind is forced to hide in fear when night falls, with no other protection than wards; ancient symbols that keep the demons from invading homes and barns and consuming all life within. This limits travel between towns and cities to within a day’s journey; only the hardy brave the night to carry messages, trade, and entertainment. Isolation is a way of life – so is fear.

Mankind, for the most part, has ceded the night to the corelings.

This is about to change.

We follow three children who endure great losses at the hands of the corelings, transforming their lives and the lives of all who know them forever. We meet Arlen; bitter at the cowardice of his own father and determined to take back the night. Leesha; beautiful and an apprentice healer, wounded by the actions of those professing to love her but still dedicated to her “children”. Rojer; suffering a major loss at a young age, eventually finding his purpose and talent in the strings of a fiddle. All three are united in one dedicated resolve, although they don’t meet up until the last fourth of the book.

Brett’s characterization of all three major players is excellent. But, he doesn’t stop there. Even the “bit players” are colorful and interesting. He seduces us into caring what happens to Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer. In fact, we are seduced into caring what happens to humanity in their world, and he makes it so believable you’ll start to fear the night yourself.

The pacing is spot-on. Brett doesn’t hurry the events that shape the lives of these three people; rather, he lets the characters and their choices drive the story, and at the same time keeping the pace dynamic. There are no “dead spots” where descriptions or convoluted action makes you skip ahead; in The Warded Man you don’t want to miss one word.

One thing I really enjoyed about this book is the fact Brett doesn’t insult the reader’s intelligence. He doesn’t hold your hand and describe to you every single tiny little thing. You are free to use your imagination in conjunction with his – one of the greatest gifts an author can give a reader.

In The Warded Man, Brett uses the subtext to provoke thought about the roles a society imposes on people. He invites you to ponder the role of religion and political expediency, but he does it in such a way you are totally entertained while doing so.

It remains to be seen if the characters in The Warded Man are heroes, ordinary people who have just had enough and decided to take a stand, or people pushed into the changing social climate of a world under siege. What is worse? The destruction of humans at the hands of terrifying demons, or destruction by their own hands? It’s not just a war between demon and humankind; it a story of people fighting more than that. It’s a story of people fighting against each other; people fighting their own internal demons.

It remains to be seen if legends are real, or just bent to accommodate the yearnings of a people. It remains to be seen if the human nature can win out over both external and internal demons, and retain their essential humanity.

I can’t wait to find out when The Desert Spear hits the shelves.

Next week, stay tuned for an interview with Peter V. Brett.

978-0-345-50380-0

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