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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The Character Evolution Files, No. 13: Answers to Lingering Questions About the Journey Through the Character Arc

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Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This column focuses on character arcs, from the elements that create or enhance a character’s inner journey, to techniques that writers can employ to strengthen character arcs in their own work. Today we look back on our Journey Through the Character Arc with File No. 13, which answers questions we might have and that readers have posed during the series.

Analyzing the components of character evolution is no easy task. So is using those components to craft a protagonist’s path of growth through an original story. Thanks to our recent Journey Through the Character Arc series, which focused on 10 stages for developing a positive arc, we’re now equipped with a step-by-step process and targeted questions that can help us develop such a path that’s logical and compelling. But have Files No. 3 through 12 answered all of our questions about character arcs? Probably not.

So, for File No. 13, we’ll explore some of those questions. For example, can the order of the 10 arc stages be rearranged? How closely should those stages align with a story’s plot structure, or with the percentage milestones or lengths recommended in each post? Plus, if you found each arc stage’s questionnaire beneficial, check out the final section for a special worksheet announcement! Continue reading

Chronicling The Craft: Draft #3 – 20% Progress Report

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Plus, Five Film Soundtrack Pieces That Are Featured on the WIP’s Novel Playlist

Chronicling The Craft is a series where I share my experience with working on my YA fantasy novel THE KEEPER’S CURSE, which is now in its third draft. These articles alternate between a) progress updates and fun “TKC-related” content, and b) revising / editing tips. Today, to celebrate 20% completion of Draft #3, here’s the first progress report and a reveal of some of the songs on TKC’s novel playlist.

Yep – it’s update time!

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Well, I haven’t been blowing things up like Matt Damon / Mark Watney was in The Martian… But I’ve reached the 20% mark in editing Draft #3 of The Keeper’s Curse! That means it’s also time to unveil the “revamped” version of the Chronicling The Craft series.

Based on readers’ feedback, I’m splitting each Chronicle into two separate posts. The first one (i.e., this post) will feature a progress report and a few tracks on TKC’s novel playlist. The second post (scheduled for Saturday, May 21st) will focus on tips for the editing process. So, whether you prefer “fun stuff” or “writerly stuff,” you can now choose which one you want to read – or, you can read both posts at different times. 😉

So, how have things been going with Draft #3 so far? Let’s see…
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Tea Time at Reverie: Whispering Pines Tea Company’s Mirkwood Tea

Time for another Middle-Earth inspired tea from Whispering Pines! And I already know a few readers who might be interested in this one based on the name alone. 😉 Read on to learn more about Mirkwood, a unique pu-erh blend, at A Bibliophile’s Reverie.

A Bibliophile's Reverie

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“But [the company] had to go on and on, long after they were sick for the sight of the sun and of the sky, and longed for the feel of wind on their faces. There was no movement of air down under the forest-roof, and it was everlastingly still and dark and stuffy. [… Bilbo] felt that he was being slowly suffocated.”
J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”

Today’s Tea Time brings us to one of Middle-Earth’s creepiest realms. Home of the wizard Radagast The Brown and the Woodland Elves, Mirkwood was once known as Greenwood the Great – until it fell under the Necromancer’s shadow. So, when Bilbo Baggins and Thorin Oakenshield’s Dwarf company arrive at Mirkwood during The Hobbit, the once lush and thriving forest is crawling with giant spiders and decaying from dark magic.

Despite its ambiance, Mirkwood has enchanted readers for generations. Now, thanks to Whispering Pines Tea…

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Tolkien Talk: Sara Letourneau

Today I’m over at Pages Unbound, talking about the “One Author” (*wink*) whose works inspired me to write fantasy. I share what first drew me to J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, my favorite passage from Lord of the Rings, my well-worn pile of Tolkien books, and more. Check out the interview at the link below.

Also, if anyone is interested, Pages Unbound is hosting a Tolkien Twitter chat on Friday, March 25 at 8:00 pm Eastern. To participate, just follow @pagesunbound for questions, and use the hashtag #JRRchat. I’m planning to be there, and I hope some of you can come as well! 🙂

Pages Unbound | Book Reviews & Discussions

Tolkien Event 2016

As part of our Tolkien Reading Celebration, we’ll be interviewing different bloggers about their love for Tolkien and what makes his works so special for them.


Sara Letourneau is a Massachusetts-based writer who practices joy and versatility in her work. In addition to working on her YA fantasy novel, she reviews tea at A Bibliophile’s Reverie and explores literary themes at DIY MFA . Her poetry has been published in The Curry Arts Journal, Soul-Lit, The Eunoia Review, Underground Voices, and two anthologies. Learn more about Sara at her website / blog , Twitter , and Goodreads .

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Tell us about yourself!  How did you come to love Tolkien and what do you enjoy reading about his works?

 I was a “late bloomer” when it came to reading Tolkien’s works. I had heard of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings for years, but didn’t read the…

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Time Flies!: November 2015

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Welcome to the latest edition of Time Flies! It’s my version of a monthly update, where I recap the past month’s accomplishments and articles, share news and random things from my offline life, and hint at what may be coming in the month ahead.

Huh? What do you mean, tomorrow’s the first day of December?! I’m not ready to think about 2016 yet!!

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It’s insane how quickly this year has sped by. November in itself was a blur. I was hoping things would quiet down after a nutty October. Nope. Life offline turned into another kind of crazy altogether. So I’ve craved more time than usual to relax and meditate, and I know I’ll still need it now that the holiday season is underway.

Btw, I hope all my fellow Americans (and anyone else who celebrates the holiday) had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I’d traveled out to state to spend it with relatives, hence my absence from the blog and social media for the past few days.

Let me give you a chance to catch up on the past month’s posts now:
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The Cotopaxi Challenge: Eleven Favorite Adventure Stories (+ Lessons From Each)

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Original photo courtesy of Tim Kressin and the Wondercamp Team (seen here: http://blog.cotopaxi.com/hornstrandir-iceland/).

You may have heard of Cotopaxi before if you’re a fan of camping and outdoor activities. This backpack and apparel company based in Salt Lake City, Utah creates innovative products that fund health, education, and livelihood initiatives to help alleviate poverty in underdeveloped countries. And for their customers, Cotopaxi hopes to inspire adventure. Take a look at their blog The Llama Chronicles, and you’ll see what I mean. The company shares travelogues, tips on outdoor sports and activities, recipes for campsite meals – even American road-trip routes inspired by adventure novels.

I confess that I’m not an “outdoorsy” person, though I relish walking and spending time outside. But when I recently came across a special blog project by Cotopaxi, I knew I wanted to take part in it. Here was their challenge:

Share in a post on your blog your favorite adventure story, along with what lessons you’ve learned and you continue to carry those lessons with you since.

Now, I thought it wouldn’t be hard to pick an adventure story to write about. But then I reviewed my bookshelf, and realized I’ve read a LOT of adventure stories over the years. (No wonder I’m currently writing one of my own.) This led to me hemming and hawing over the usual novels I talk about here and other choices I love but aren’t highlighted as often… and finally decided, “You know what? I’ll write about ALL of them.” 🙂

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The Character Evolution Files, No. 2: What Are the Three Types of Character Arcs?

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Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This monthly column focuses on character arcs, from the elements that create or enhance a character’s inner journey, to techniques that writers can employ to strengthen character arcs in their own work. Today we continue the series with File No. 02, which discusses the three types of character arcs.

We launched the Character Evolution Files last month by defining the term “character evolution,” explaining why character evolution (specifically character arcs) is crucial to a story, and listing the stages that align a standard arc with the story plot. Logically speaking, the next step would be to start exploring the journey through the arc, right? Well… not quite.

Here’s the catch: More than one type of character arc exists. Our characters can change for better or worse. Or, perhaps they might not change much, except in strength of resolve. So, how do writers determine what kind of arc a character is following, or which arc fits our story best?

That’s the purpose of File No. 2. We’ll go over the three standard types of character arcs and how they differ from each other so we can understand how they function. Plus, we’ll review an example of each arc from published literature, and end with how to determine which type of arc will work best for your character. Ready?

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My Ten Favorite Screen Characters

Finally getting around to the first of a slew of tags and awards I was recently nominated for. This one came from fellow fantasy writer Angela B. Chrysler. Thanks Angela, and sorry it took me so long!

Making this list was a fun exercise! It made me realize that I look for three kinds of screen characters: those I can relate to, those I admire, and those who jangle my funny bone until I can’t breathe. Also, even though I had an easier time coming up with my 11 favorite literary heroines than the same number of literary heroes, most of the characters on this list are male. (*raises an eyebrow*)

Anyway, let’s go in alphabetical order, starting with…

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The Character Evolution Files, No. 1: What is Character Evolution, and Why Is It Important?

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Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This monthly column focuses on character arcs, from the elements that create or enhance a character’s inner journey, to techniques that writers can employ to strengthen character arcs in their own work. Today we kick things off with File 01, which explores two important questions: “What is character evolution?” and “Why is it important?” 

So many elements comprise the art of novel-writing: plot, voice, setting, characters… The list goes on, and it’s impossible to say that one element is more crucial than the other. However, when I think back on some of my favorite stories of all time, many share one common element: a clear character arc. Perhaps the protagonist grows as a result of his journey, or he learns something because of his endeavors. Either way, he’s not the same person at the end of the novel that he was in Chapter 1. This kind of evolution can create a truly memorable story that sticks with readers long after they finish it.

So, what exactly is “character evolution”? What launches a character arc? And, why is it important to begin with? Before we dive too deep, let’s define our terms and ensure we have a solid foundation for building this series.

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