Sunday, May 30, 2021

Send Me a Postcard, Drop Me a Line...

 For some reason, the lyrics to that Beatles classic get me thinking about how to write good Young Adult literature.

Not just the mention of postcards and lines, or points of view, but the central refrain itself: Will you still need me, will you still feed me, When I'm 64?

Philip Pullman said, After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world. 

Hear hear. I think equating stories--whether reading or writing them--resonates with many. It does with me. And so, will you still need me, will you still feed me, resonates too. The David Rose Series is Young Adult Fantasy, and I must here proffer a confession: YA has never been my natural writing voice. The series was inspired by my children and represents a promise I made to them long ago, but finding that balance required of good YA(in my opinion), can be quote elusive, and I profoundly admire those who have mastered it. I say it's a balance because good YA, I believe, should appeal to young and older readers alike. Middle, tweens, teens, young adult, adult. I mean, why limit your audience? There is no shortage of adults who love great YA literature. One must not deviate too drastically, I rather think, from tried and true YA tropes and techniques, but I have admittedly in the D Rose series pushed the literary envelope a bit and "written up," as it were. Not too much, I hope, and I am grateful to have received good feedback from young readers, in whom I retain great faith. You don't want them running endlessly to the(actual or online) dictionary, but is it so bad if they make a few trips, here and there? I still do, and am typically delighted to do so. My hope is--and our dear readers, as ever, shall be the ultimate arbiters--that the magic and adventure and darkness and light and story which imbue the series, will make it a fun read, and that the literary overlay will challenge and engage and offer something different from typical YA.

In any case, I hope young and older readers alike will enjoy the series. And that readers will need me, and I may still nourish them, as Pullman might say, when they're 64. 

Here's a look back at a piece I penned for the legendary Katie Weiland a few years ago, about what makes great YA. I hope you enjoy, and as always, thank you for your support.

Write On!

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The Write Stuff....

 Never, urged George Orwell, use a long word, where a short word will do. Sage wisdom? Was he right? I think in many instances, yes. But not all. (And see, I just broke a writing “rule” by starting a sentence with a conjunction. And there again. Oops, and again. This can prove vexing.)

I was grateful a few years back to tackle this topic for the terrific ProBlogger website. (I specified blogging in the title of the piece, given the publication/audience, but it’s applicable to most writing.) Grateful also for the permission to use the great Hemingway/Faulkner rendering from the talented RE Parrish. 

At any rate, I still sometimes get tripped up when writing, wondering if something I just penned is indeed, well, “right.” And who, or what, decides? I enjoyed exploring these considerations in this piece; I hope you enjoy it too. 

Tell me what you think: are you devoted to writing’s “rules?” Which ones? Or do you throw literary caution to the wind, and focus more on the “write,” rather than “right,” stuff?

Thanks as always for your feedback and support!

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Where Do Stories Come From, Daddy?....

I don't know if my children ever asked me this, in terms of where I got the idea for the David Rose series, but I think they are pretty aware of its genesis and chief inspiration. Has a lot to do with them, after all. I conceived the basic plot 15 years ago--goodness, that's a long time now--and it piddled along in fits and starts and really meandered until I found the heartbeat of the tale, that lifeblood without which, for all the magic and fantasy and hopefully good writing, it would continue to languish.

I am about 80% finished with Book II--WAY overdue, I know, and I still get asked sometimes, about where the idea for the series came from. Here's a quick revisit to a guest-post --titled Heartbeats and Dragon Curves: The Birth of a Story--I was privileged to pen for amazing author and friend, Amira K. Makansi, whose fantastic work, Literary Libations is a big hit, and who has a great novel soon in the offing. Grateful to Amira for letting me visit her wonderful site, and this piece offers a brief window into the ideas/inspiration which built the world of David Rose.

(Image from Amira K. Makansi's website, the Z-Axis, Featured image by Tim Rebkavets on Unsplash.)

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Stranger Than Fiction?

You know the adage. And in this last year or so, it seems particularly sage. In any case, even though I primarily write fiction--nearing the completion of David Rose and the Forbidden Tournament--I tend to read--and enjoy--nonfiction even more, and it continues to make me a better fiction scribe. Just finished Killers of the Flower Moon, a terrific read. I remain a devoted Erik Larson fan. Abbot Kahler is tremendous.

Here's a quick revisit to a guest post I wrote for the wonderful CS Lakin some years back, on how great nonfiction can help you craft better fiction. 

What are some of your fave nonfiction reads?

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

What A Long, Strange Road It’s Been...

 Been a while since I’ve written here, but thought I’d drop in. I hope everyone’s doing well. What a tough year for the world. 

I hope within the next 3 to 6 months to have Book II in the David Rose series out, as well as my literary suspense manuscript, Gospel. 

Here’s a little dialogue that speaks to the heart of the protagonist and his struggle.


“You don’t have to be,” said Rose. “And you don’t have to move on. Your devotion is perhaps the thing which endears me to you most. You don’t have to move on. Maybe you can’t. Maybe you can give your heart to no other and if that part of your life is therefore over and you heart beats out in vigil for the rest of your days then so be it, embrace it. Who am I to say?” And here she pulled him closer still, so that their faces nearly touched. “Perhaps you can’t move on, but you must go on, and in your heart I think you know this to be true. You go on because you have a son and you must give him all that you can—you and Anabel both. And you must show him that even when things like this happen, life goes on, not without pain but in spite of it, not easily but nevertheless, and you must model courage and resolve and gratitude for all those things for which you remain so abundantly blessed. Gratitude that while your heart may be broken, there are in fact worse fates. You must get up every day and meet that day. Don’t begrudge yourself your pain for it is real and runs deep and may do so for the rest of your days, but please—please, Jacob—do not permit it to paralyze you. You have a choice in that, not everyone does. It may not be the way you dreamed it, the way you imagined, but you have chapters left to write.”

It occurred to him there in the darkness upon that windblown summit, that sometimes the most proper response is none whatsoever.  He regarded her and hoped his eyes conveyed the gratitude he felt and they were silent a good while until at length Jacob said, “But I wish there was something more I could give you.”

“You can.”

He’d penned enough words through the years to know life’sgreatest meaning lived in the spaces between them. And there was little doubt of the meaning here.