The Creativity Corner: Winter 2017

It feels weird to post a wrap-up of a winter’s worth writing, reading, and other creative happenings on the second day of spring. (This is the new “writing monthly update” series I had mentioned last month, btw.) But the truth is, I’ve procrastinated on this post for a couple weeks now, and not due to lack of time. Instead, I’ve been feeling anything but enthusiastic or confident about writing lately.

(Btw, my latest DIY MFA post went live last week. Something funky happened with the blog post announcement, so click here to read the article at DIY MFA.)

The good news is, I’m now taking steps that can hopefully help me regain that confidence and lead to a better, more productive spring. I’ll touch on that, as well as the progress I’ve made so far with The Novella (my new writing project) and the books I’ve read so far this year. Also, since this is the first Creative Corner, any feedback on the content and/or setup will be greatly appreciated. 🙂
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New Post @ Writers Helping Writers on Editing with Text-to-Speech Software

Writers Helping Writers

I’m back at Writers Helping Writers this week with a new Resident Writing Coach post. This time, I talk about text-to-speech software, one of the newest tools in my editing “toolbox”. This standard function in most word processing programs and computer operating systems can read aloud pre-selected portions of text, including (ta-DA!) your manuscript. 😉 (Read more after the jump.) Continue reading

Another Change in My Blogging Schedule, and the New Path Forward

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(*disappointed sigh*)

This wasn’t the post I was hoping to share with you today.

Some of you might recall from this post 2 weeks ago that I’ve had to cut back on my blogging recently. This has been on all fronts: visiting and commenting on other people’s blogs, replying to comments here, and (most importantly) writing my own posts. Typically I had time to prepare posts about 1 or 2 weeks in advance of their intended date. This explains why I’ve still been able to post new articles despite not having much blog-writing time. But today, the trickle-down effect has finally won out.

So, the new Chronicling The Craft I’d been planning to post today to celebrate 10,000 words on The Novella? It’s not done. And a return to the Character Evolution Files with File No. 15? That won’t happen soon, either. In fact, apart from my commitments to DIY MFA and Writers Helping Writers, I don’t know when I’ll be able to return to a “routine” blogging schedule.

But I’m not quitting this site. Nor am I going on a hiatus. So, let me briefly explain why this change came about and how life at this site will change in response.

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New DIY MFA Article on Man and the Natural World, Plus Other Updates

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(NOTE: Due to this week’s DIY MFA post, the weekly blog post will go live on Thursday, January 26th.)

Nature can play a pivotal role in a story, from thrusting obstacles into the protagonist’s path to dazzling with its majesty beauty. This complicated relationship between the natural world and mankind can lead to incredible stories in real life as well as in literature. So, in today’s edition of Theme: A Story’s Soul at DIY MFA, I explore how this idea is conveyed as a theme in Rae Carson’s Walk On Earth a Stranger and Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. It turns out that wagon train journeys and survival on the high seas have more in common than we might think.

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New DIY MFA Articles, Plus Facebook and GoFundMe Updates

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(NOTE: Due to this week’s DIY MFA post, the weekly blog post will go live on Thursday, December 15th.)

Do you believe in destiny, or a higher power conspiring to help make things happen? Or are you convinced that our lives are what they are because of our choices? Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether fate or free will plays the greater role. This mystery, however, hasn’t prevented writers from exploring it through story.

Today I’m tackling “fate versus free will” for my Theme: A Story’s Soul column at DIY MFA. Using Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus as examples, we’ll discover the common elements that both books use to examine this enigmatic theme and brainstorm ideas of how we can write our own stories on an age-old debate. (See the link after the jump.) Continue reading

Wanted: Guest Posts for Tolkien Reading Event (March 2017)

Calling all Tolkienites! Pages Unbound is looking for bloggers, readers, and writers who are interested in participating in next year’s Tolkien Reading Event. The 2016 edition in March featured a fantastic mix of Tolkien-related book reviews, discussion posts, and fun quizzes. (Example: I discovered my Hobbit name was Ferdinand Smallburrow of Buckleberry. *lol*) I was also on one several bloggers who was interviewed for their Tolkien Talks series, and I really enjoyed answering Briana and Krysta’s questions and chatting about Tolkien and his stories with their readers.

If you’d like to take part in the 2017 Tolkien Reading Event, follow this reblog to Pages Unbound’s original post and fill out their online form. 🙂

Pages Unbound

During March 2017, Pages Unbound will be running our fourth Tolkien Reading Event.  Every year on March 25, the Tolkien Society celebrates Tolkien Reading Day, and we like to expand on the event by hosting several days’ worth of Tolkien-related content.  We have had some wonderful guest posts in the past and would like to invite you to submit a guest post this year.

Post Options

The Tolkien Reading Event is open to a wide variety of posts.  In previous events, we have featured everything from book reviews to quizzes to serious literary criticism.   Pitch us an idea for any type of post you would like!  You can also review books and movies that have been featured before; we love new perspectives!See a full list of past posts here.

If you need ideas, we are particularly open to posts about:

  • any aspect of The Silmarillion
  • the…

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My 10 Favorite Reads of Fall 2016 (+ Win Your Choice in a Giveaway!)

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When I announced in September that I was reducing my blogging schedule, I knew that change would mean ending the monthly Recent Reads series. But I didn’t want to walk away from the idea of discussing books we’ve recently read. Then I read Leanne Sowul’s summer reading round-up here, and inspiration sparked. Why not do a seasonal reading recap – and also make it fun for my readers?

So, today I’ll share my 10 favorite reads from Fall 2016 (September through November). What you’ll find after the jump aren’t reviews, but rather blurbs that mention why I enjoyed each book with links to my full reviews at Goodreads and Amazon. As for the fun part: The title says it all, so stay tuned for the Rafflecopter link and instructions at the end of this post! 😉
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The Power and Importance of Compassion in Literature

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I’ve been thinking about compassion lately. It’s impossible not to, with everything that’s going on in our world. Terrorist attacks, increased racial tensions, insensitivity toward other minority groups, and the most vitriolic U.S. presidential election I can remember (notice the timing of this post, fellow Americans?)… From a social perspective, 2016 has been a bleak year, and I’m deeply worried about where we as a society are heading.

But let’s not discuss politics. Instead, let’s focus on a topic that I think many of us will agree on: the power of compassion in literature. By compassion, I mean moments when characters show kindness, mercy, and similar qualities. These actions can draw us closer to those characters, move us to tears, and make those stories all the more memorable. And during these turbulent times in our world, finding – and writing – stories that demonstrate compassion may be more important than ever.

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New DIY MFA Article on Friendship as a Literary Theme, Plus #WesleyWednesday on Twitter

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(NOTE: Due to this week’s DIY MFA post, the weekly blog post will go live on Thursday, November 3rd.)

I’ve been meaning to write a case study on friendship for my DIY MFA column for a while. And why not? Friendship has the power to change people’s lives in amazing ways – in real life, and in the stories we read. In fact, literature has shown us not only the ups and downs of these relationships, but also how they often defy boundaries such as age, race, and gender. And I couldn’t think of two better books to use as examples than Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, because both explore this theme masterfully.

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Who Were the First Five Authors You Read in Your Favorite Genre?

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Looking back on the books and authors that introduced us to our favorite literary genres can be a fun trip down memory lane. That nostalgia can bear even more meaning for writers. Sure, those authors built the foundation for our reading tastes. But if we consider our “relationship” with their work closely, we can also discover how their stories or writing have influenced ours.

Today, let’s discuss the first five authors we read in our favorite literary genre, or the genre we prefer to write in. I’ll go first with my first five fantasy authors (since fantasy is more than just my great literary love), as well as one takeaway from each that has impacted my writing. Then, you can respond by either commenting on this post or writing about it at your own blogs. This isn’t just for fantasy writers, by the way. Book bloggers and avid readers of all genres are welcome to jump in – so, please do!

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