More Beautiful Writing

From Shades of Earth by Beth Revis: I stand on my tiptoes to reach Elder’s lips better, but I lose my balance, slipping on the wet stones. Elder’s grip on me is so tight, though, that he easily lifts me from the ground, spinning in a slow circle, his laughter weaving in between raindrops to splash against my...

Beautiful Writing

I recently finished reading Goblin Secrets by William Alexander, winner of the 2012 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. While I had a few problems with the book, mainly questions I had about his world-building, there is no doubt that he is a master at creating beautiful images and bringing out gut-wrenching emotions. I’ve quoted some passages from the book that made me envious. Rownie woke up. He felt the cushioned chair underneath him, expecting to find the straw floor of Graba’s shack. He didn’t, and he didn’t know why—not until he gathered up all the pieces of yesterday and put them back together in his head. Then he remembered how alone he was. Sunlight peered down through the tarnished glass of the arched ceiling, outside the railcar. It was morning. Pigeons roosted on the tops of the hanging clocks. They seemed to be ignoring him. He didn’t think they were Graba’s birds. He didn’t think so. I love that extra beat of “He didn’t think so.” You can feel him trying to convince himself it’s safe to step outside. (Graba used the pigeons as her spies, which is why he was worried.) I think what really impressed me was how well he got into Rownie’s head. He brought out all the emotions—fears, insecurities, frustrations—that Rownie experienced while trying to find out what happened to his older brother. As the youngest he was used to piecing together his understanding from snatches of overheard conversations, and the rest he set carefully aside on the shelf in the back of his mind. Unlike the Guard, Rownie understood these winding streets. The...

Magic

Shadows dance across the curtain Deer bounding over the snow Magic.                   Okay, I have to confess that these aren’t the deer I saw these deer are headed in the opposite direction to the ones I saw I actually took these photos last winter. My excuse is there wasn’t time to grab my camera and photograph the deer after I saw their shadows cross my curtain. They were already in the next yard by...

A Passive Character That Works

I watched About a Boy recently and it struck me that Will, played by Hugh Grant, is a passive character for most of the movie. In writing books we’re told that passive characters aren’t acceptable. A character has to be active for a story to be interesting. In this movie, though, it works because Marcus, the boy and other main character, is active. He makes things happen. At the beginning of the movie a friend sets Will up on a blind date. She’s a single mother but she’s not interested in a long term relationship. Will thinks single mothers are the way to go. They offer sex without wanting the messy love stuff and commitment. He invents a kid and joins a support group for single parents in order to get a date. That’s the only action he takes for most of the movie. But that action does set the story in motion. He goes on his date and meets Marcus. Hugh’s date has brought Marcus along as a favor so her friend (Marcus’ mom) can have a break. Afterwards, when they return Marcus home, they discover his mother has attempted suicide. At the hospital Marcus decides one person in your life isn’t enough. You need backup. So he decides to involve Will in his life. Through his relentless pursuit, Marcus makes Will his confident. Will and Marcus both meet girls. For Marcus it’s an older girl at school. For Will it’s a single mother. When she mistakes Marcus for his son, Will doesn’t correct her. He wants to get to know her and he knows connecting through their...

Writing Resolutions

My critique group meets this Friday. We’ve set a tradition of putting down our writing resolutions at the first meeting each year. We will also review last year’s resolutions to see what we accomplished and where we fell short. I’m sorry to say I fell so short I’m now walking in a ditch. I didn’t achieve a single goal from my stated intentions. Not to make any of my resolutions is a major mea culpa. So where did I go wrong? Did I set my goals too high? My first resolution was to sign a contract with a major publisher for PowerForce. I had just signed with a new agent in December, so while I knew that was a high goal, I felt PowerForce was a very commercial product and the possibility was there. What I didn’t anticipate was my agent retiring after 7 months. Pregnancy lasts longer. In hindsight I think she took on my book because she thought she could sell it fast and when it didn’t sell in 3 months, she took a trip to Africa, then moved, then retired. I don’t think I got a fair deal so I get to say, “Not my fault,” on my first resolution. My second resolution was to write a new book, probably the third in the PowerForce series. I had some wonderful rejection letters from some editors about the first book and I wanted to talk to my agent about making changes to satisfy them. I thought the second book in the series would actually take care of the objections the editors had, but my agent was off...