About jeanleesworld

A writer, reader, mother.

Special #December #Podcast Series! Blondie Shares #TwelveDays of #MiddleGrade #ReadingRecommendations: Wings of Fire: The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui T. Sutherland

Welcome back, my fellow creatives! I’ve always been thrilled to see how much my three little Bs love to read, but it makes my heart melt to hear my daughter Blondie say she wants to do a podcast with me to share her favorite books. When I said we could make a little “12 Days of Christmas” style series in December, Blondie whipped through her books and picked twelve for us to study. She even designed our banner with her favorite fantasy creature. x

So here we are! I’m blessed to have such amazing kindred spirits in my life, and I am so very blessed to have a daughter who loves storytelling as much as I do.

On the second day of Blondie’s Books, my daughter gave to me:

Wings of Fire: The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui T. Sutherland

What does a reader experience in those opening pages, and what lessons can a writer take away in studying but a few paragraphs? Let’s find out!

If you do not see the audio player above, you can access the podcast here.

Why did you pick this book, Blondie?

Well, at first I didn’t touch this series. When I did, I stopped at the second book. How wrong I was! As I look back, I can’t believe I did that! It has now become one of my favorites and I hope it can be yours too. You really should read this series!

Stay tuned for more storytellin’ and carol-singin’!

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

Special #December #Podcast Series! Blondie Shares #TwelveDays of #MiddleGrade #ReadingRecommendations: How to Train Your Dragon by @CressidaCowell

Welcome back, my fellow creatives! I’ve always been thrilled to see how much my three little Bs love to read, but it makes my heart melt to hear my daughter Blondie say she wants to do a podcast with me to share her favorite books. When I said we could make a little “12 Days of Christmas” style series in December, Blondie whipped through her books and picked twelve for us to study. She even designed our banner with her favorite fantasy creature. x

So here we are! I’m blessed to have such amazing kindred spirits in my life, and I am so very blessed to have a daughter who loves storytelling as much as I do.

On the first day of Blondie’s Books, my daughter gave to me:

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

What does a reader experience in those opening pages, and what lessons can a writer take away in studying but a few paragraphs? Let’s find out!

If you do not see the audio player above, you can access the podcast here.

Why did you pick this book, Blondie?

I picked this book because I really enjoyed the series, (all 12 books) and I’ve always demanded that my mother should read it! So I thought it would be perfect for this podcast series. The only reason I read this book at first at all was because I LOVED the movies! Boy, was I surprised that the book was super different! Even if it is different from the movies, I strongly encourage you to read the rest of the book! (By strongly encourage I mean DEMAND) Cheers! -Blondie

Stay tuned for more storytellin’ and carol-singin’!

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

#ProudMom #Writer Moment! Blondie Shares Her Latest #Dragon #Fiction.

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FORWARD: Hello, guys! I know you’ve been waiting for The Four Realms 2, but I’m still working on it. In the meantime, I’ve come up with a new several part series that I think you might like. I called it: THE ELEMENTALS. I based this off of the Wings of Fire series by Tui T Sutherland. I’m hoping to actually publish it someday, but anyway, let us begin.

-Blondie the Dragonmaster

PROLOGUE

Long ago, before Earth even knew it was Earth, there were dragons. Tens of thousands of them, soaring through the sky. There was also magic. Sorcery and wizards still existed in that long forgotten age. Humans were hidden at the time, kept away on a misty island. But like I said, there were dragons. They were advanced, these dragons. They had wars, hated, loved, defended, studied, and used magic. The strongest magic-wielding dragons were called the Elementals. They were named Forest, Water, Air, Fire, and Cosmos. They protected the land from wars and harm as best as they could, and became the greatest dragons ever to live.

Then, out of the forests, there was rebellion. The foxes, lead by the vicious sliver fox Ashenfur, captured the kingdoms, one by one. Their dragon citizens were not killed, as you might expect, but they were captured and controlled by unknown fox magic. Almost all dragons were brainwashed to Ashenfur’s army and added to his multitudes. The Moon, Cloud, and Ocean Dragons went into hiding. The Elementals fought the best they could, but, with some freak sorcery, their essences, and magic, were trapped into five stones. These stones have been hidden long ago into temples and secluded areas so Ashenfur and his league don’t ever find them. Just before he died, Cosmos sent me a foretelling of dragons to come and save us all. I only hope this prophecy is true, or we will be forever in ruin.

Written by Swiftclaw, Moon Dragon that foresaw prophecy

Chapter 1

“Here they come with the babies.” “Oooh! I’m so excited!” “Keep it down, okay?” “Sorry, Blizzard.” Two dragons stood on the edge of their cliff, their home. Moon Dragons flew towards them, in their claws five little dragons. Blizzard the Snow Dragon huffed. “Eat us out of cave and cliff they will.” “Aw, come on, Blizzard!” Gila the Desert Dragon said. “You raised me just fine! I’m sure they’ll be just as easy.” “One of you was enough. But five…” he sighed. “I wish I was back in Queen Pine’s army. Tearing through foxes like no one’s watching.” He touched his scar on his side, then wincing. “If you were still in Queen Pine’s army, you would be brainwashed like everyone else. And you wouldn’t’ve found me.” Gila said. Blizzard grumbled. “Just promise you’ll help.” “I promise!” The Moon dragons landed, dropping five bundles on the rock floor. “These little runts are in the prophecy?” Blizzard said disapprovingly. “Blizzard!” Gila said. “They have the strongest magic in all the continent. We’ve sensed it.” One of the Moon Dragons said. “Keep them safe until they are fully grown.” “Yeah, I guess.” Blizzard said, squinting at the baby dragons. “Take care.” The Dragons took off into the sunset. “How did I come from a general in Queen Pine’s army to a mother?!” Blizzard sighed. “Come on, Blizzard! I’ve already set beds!” Gila shouted from the cave. Blizzard snuffed and picked up the bundles. “Someday these dragons will grow into basically second Elementals. The way I see it, our world is doomed.”

10 YEARS LATER

“Quit it Inferno!” “I quit when I want to!” “Please stop, you guys!” “SHUTTUP!” Blizzard roared. “Gila, I told you to take them hunting!” “Sorry, Blizzard, I forgot. I was finding a new cow fondue recipe with Boulder and Comettail.” said Gila. “Well, take them!” Blizzard snarled. “We do need cows for our fondue. C’mon Inferno and Rainbow. You look like you need a break.” “Thank goodness! I couldn’t find out the daily news from Mr. Willow if they kept fighting!” Rainbow, the multicolored Forest Dragon said. “WHO THE BLOODY HECK IS MR. WILLOW?” Blizzard said. “He’s the tree by the creek, of course!” Rainbow said. “The…tree?” Blizzard whispered. “Yeah! He makes the funniest jokes!” “I hate living with magic dragons. I hate it, I HATE IT!” “Now, now, Blizzard,” Hurricane the Ocean Dragon said, “If you didn’t live with us magic dragons, the prophecy wouldn’t’ve been fulfilled!” “Learn too much from that fluffhead Gila, you do, hybrid.” Blizzard sighed. “Why do you keep calling me hybrid?” “You have a weird sky blue color, unlike the Ocean Dragons, abnormally large wings, likewise, but you have gills, so you’re an Ocean Dragon.” Blizzard explained. “Furthermore a freak hybrid.” Hurricane looked down at the stone floor. “Hmmph.” she said. “It’s the truth, Hurricane. Can’t avoid it.” “Allright!” said Gila, rubbing his claws together. “Let’s hunt!” Commettail, the Moon Dragon with a unusual white tail tip, gulped. “What if a cow kicks me and I die?” he shivered. “Aw, shuddap, you lily-livered runt.” Blizzard said. “You’re ten times the size of a puny cow.” “But I read-” “Enough!” Blizzard exclaimed. “Gila, just take them BLOODY HUNTING.” Gila nodded and flew left into the forest, past the sparkling ocean in front. Five dragons followed suite, into the wilderness.

“Mr. Willow says there’s a cow patch up that way.” Rainbow said, pointing further west. “Who cares what bloody Mr. Willow says? He’s a tree!” Inferno, the Fire Dragon, spat. “Wait, Inferno,” Boulder, the Stone Dragon, said. “I see a herd of cows down there.” “Hmmph. For a mistake, you have a remarkable sense of direction.” Inferno said. “Hey! Gila!” “Now, now,” Gila said, “We can’t be quarreling amongst ourselves on a hunt. Hunts are all about teamwork.” “But that’s what Blizzard calls Boulder. A mistake.” “I don’t care what Blizzard thinks of Boulder.” “But Gila,” Boulder said as they landed in a meadow, “Why does Blizzard call me a mistake?” “Weeell…” Gila started, “There was supposed to be a Thunder Dragon here for the part of Air. Well, Thunder Dragons don’t give up their hatchlings that easy. The Moon Dragons accidentally found a Stone Dragon instead, and brought him here.” Gila explained. “That was you. Blizzard was going to quickly snap your neck, but I stopped him.” he sighed. “Can we stop telling Boulder’s sob story and catch us some cows?” Inferno said. Gila sighed and trotted to the clearing, Boulder following close behind.

“I caught a cow the size of a Thunder Dragon!” Hurricane said as they soared back. “Oh yeah?” Inferno sneered. “I caught a cow the size of this entire continent!” “That’s slightly impossible,” Comettail said, “No cows ever grow that big, and you wouldn’t’ve been able to-” “Whatever, Comettail. You’re no fun.” Inferno huffed. “Carry it.” Comettail whispered. “Here we are!” said Gila. “Hey, Blizzard! We have some cows!” No answer. “Blizzard?” Gila whispered. “He probably went back to join the army.” Hurricane joked. “He wouldn’t. Stop being silly in a VERY SERIOUS SITUATION.” The six dragons searched the entire cave, looking for the Snow Dragon.

“Claws up, you filthy reptiles.” “Ashenfur!” Gila hissed. “He found us.” “Indeed I have.” Ashenfur smiled in a charming, deadly manner. “Now claws up, and it won’t be a slow death.” “Never, you dirty-” Inferno started. “SHH.” Gila hissed, covering her snout. “What did I hear?” Ashenfur said, “Oh nothing. These must be the Elementals! What an honor!” he said in mock awe. “Oh, what a shame I have to kill these famous dragons.” He leapt toward them, snarling, all charm gone. Ashenfur collided with Gila, wrestling in a tangled ball. “Run! RUN!” Gila yelled though clenched teeth. “What are you waiting for? LET’S GET THE HECK OUT OF HERE!” Inferno said, taking off toward the forest. Rainbow, Boulder, and Comettail reluctantly followed her. Hurricane stayed behind, gazing at the fight. “I’ll catch up!” she said, and bolted towards Ashenfur. Snarling, the gray fox turned and saw Hurricane barreling towards him. They soon were locked in a fight heading towards the cliff. “HURRICANE! WHAT ARE YOU BLOODY DOING?” Gila yelled. Hurricane slashed at Ashenfur’s left eye, leaving a bloody gash. Ashenfur yelped with pain and sliced Hurricane’s side. She cried out and tumbled off the cliff into the ocean below. “NO!” Gila roared, charging at the silver vermin. Ashenfur tripped him and he was soo hanging off the cliff. He chuckled. Gila looked next to him on a stone pillar and there was Hurricane, alive and clutching her side. He gasped. “I guess the joke’s on you.” Ashenfur cackled. “I had hoped she would die, but I guess she could be the last thing you’ll see.” Ashenfur roared with laughter. “You, you, coward, you!” Gila growled. “Isn’t it perfect?” Ashenfur said, giggling, as he sank his fangs into Gila’s claws. Gila roared in agony as he plummeted downward, sinking into the depths.

“NOOOO!” Hurricane cried, and dove in after him.

TO BE CONTINUED

I hope you enjoyed it so far! I’ll be posting part 2 next month. If you have any questions or ideas please comment them! And stay tuned for my podcast with my mom!

Isn’t Blondie a wonder? Every time she asks to share her writing here, my heart skips a beat. It is going to be a beautiful December. x

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

We’ve Been Magicked Away in this #Podcast: Jack Hughes and Thomas the Rhymer by @Paul_JHBooks

Welcome back, my fellow creatives! We’re back with more beautiful brews from fellow indie authors of the writing community.

Let’s finish the fall with another magical tale written by a lovely soul and support in this indie author community. It’s time to sip from Jack Hughes and Thomas the Rhymer by Paul Andruss.

What does a reader experience in those opening pages, and what lessons can a writer take away in studying but a few paragraphs? Let’s find out!

If you do not see the audio player above, you can access the podcast here.

I had a wonderful time interviewing Paul Andruss last year–click here to check that out! He also has a blog where he shares his thoughts on writing and reading, including a podcast where he speaks more about his book. Be sure to stop by and say hello!

Aaaaand December is right around the corner, so that means…

Yes yes yes! Blondie’s got a stack of books ready for us to taste over TWELVE podcasts. She’s also started a new story that she wants to share with you. Bust out that Proud Mom Happy Dance!

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

Let’s Set Sail Upon Magical Seas in this #Podcast: Voyage of the Lanternfish by @Virgilante

Welcome back, my fellow creatives! We’re back with more beautiful brews from fellow indie authors of the writing community.

After a couple rounds of wartime fiction, it is time to partake of something more magical, more fantastical. Who’s up for a bit of monsters and mayhem? I am! So, let’s try Voyage of the Lanternfish by C.S. Boyack.

What does a reader experience in those opening pages, and what lessons can a writer take away in studying but a few paragraphs? Let’s find out!

If you do not see the audio player above, you can access the podcast here.

I had a wonderful time interviewing Craig Boyack a few days ago–click here to check that out!  Please be sure to visit his blog for fun writing insights, updates on his writing life, music playlists, and more.

The indie goodness is falling around us like the autumn leaves. Stay tuned! 

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

#AuthorInterview: C.S. Boyack of @StoryEmpire Discusses #Character Voices and #Writing #SpeculativeFiction

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Happy November, my fellow creatives! I hope you’ve found time to explore some fun music and story prompts during this year’s NaNoWriMo.

I’m always happy to cheer you on–especially this year, as I’m recovering from COVID. Thankfully our symptoms are mild and we are pacing ourselves carefully. Be thankful for every healthy moment!

In the meantime, I’m happy to have an author interview with someone I’ve followed for some time in the indie author sphere but have never had a chance to interview until now. My friends, please welcome Craig Boyack!

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

This won’t have anything to do with the written word, but it was still powerful. All of my elders went through World War II in some fashion. They would quote statements made by the leaders of the day, and as a child, you knew they were important. Some of this carried through the Kennedy years, but then Nixon came along and everything changed.

Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

Hopefully, everything. I love how new things evolve that capture our imaginations. Things like Steampunk or Cyberpunk come along and get us thinking a new direction. Urban fantasy is another take on this concept.

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

Wow! Tough question. I’d have to say none, to be honest. It isn’t like I can actually visit Jurassic Park or Diagon Alley for real. This has to do with the kind of stories I write.

My wife and I visited New Orleans a few years ago. Two of my novels had scenes there, but the visit was after the fact. We took a midnight Voodoo tour with a guide that was quite fun. Got to visit a couple of Voodoo shops along with Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. Decent place to visit for someone who’s written pirates.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

This has to be the hardest question here. I spent many years reading the “appreciated” novels. I worked my way through Jaws, Mountain Man, Clan of the Cave Bear, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, etc. I didn’t read many that didn’t draw popular attention. I also read a lot of classics.

These days, I mostly read work by friends. All of them are under-appreciated. Such is the life of an indie author.

‘Tis the life of an indie author, indeed! I love that you and several other amazing writers have come together to create an inspiring and educational site for fellow creatives. Can you please tell the tale of the genesis of Story Empire and how this collaboration has benefited your writing life?

Story Empire is something I’m quite proud of. It all started when Mae Clair and I were talking about doing some mutual promotion for the Halloween season. She wanted to bring in some others to share the effort. We never did do that promo, but created the blog instead.

Our goal is to share things we’ve come across with other writers. We don’t charge, and people are allowed to disregard something that doesn’t fit their style. It’s a great place to discuss the topic of the day. We’ve been around long enough that it’s become a good resource for authors. I find myself pointing out the search tool in recent posts, because there is quite a bit that could help a struggling manuscript.

As a personal benefit, I get to hang out with some incredible authors and hope some of their talent rubs off on me. These people are genuine friends and we chat frequently about all kinds of things.

You have been publishing indie speculative fiction since 2014. In these past seven years observing the publishing industry, what would you say is the most unethical practice that needs to change?

I get disappointed by how many schemes are out there charging for promotion that doesn’t work. There doesn’t seem to be anything that charges less than the promotion might bring back, and most of them are losing propositions. We all want more readers, and are willing to spend a reasonable amount on promo. It seems there is no magic bullet to make that happen.

Would you say publishing your first book, Wild Concept, changed your process of writing? If so, how so?

I hope I’ve changed. I leave these older books online as artifacts of my journey. To be honest, they’re a little rough around the edges compared to what I produce currently. Still, Wild Concept, has an intriguing main character, and a decent theme about prejudice and controlling influences.

The process is much the same. Use my weekends to hack out as much as I can. Spend weeknights trying to repair the speed writing I did. Repeat the process.

I’ve taken up some changes, like storyboarding and working ahead, but the process is largely the same.

I love how your characters have also inspired you in unique ways beyond their stories. Lisa from Wild Concept, for instance, had her own voice on your website for quite a while, and she even interviewed characters from other novelist’s stories. She’s since retired, and that’s okay, but that series must have been fun for you both. What other collaboration and/or marketing strategies would you recommend to your fellow creatives?

Lisa Burton will always be with me. She still shows up on the blog when I have some spare time to dedicate. She still poses for posters to advertise my new books, and goes on the occasional blog tour.

Lisa Burton Radio was a ton of fun, and it moved books for indie authors. The best part is that it was free. Eventually, I started begging authors to participate to keep it going. I decided those authors had to have skin in the game, too. If they didn’t put some effort into my free promos, why should I. Those hours are best spent elsewhere.

I would encourage authors to try something different. Lisa’s posters are still quite popular, and they give someone an image for Pinterest. They look good on social media. Since there is a link to my work, it does nothing but help me.

As one who’s a big fan of writing music, I got a big kick out of the playlist you share in correlation with your Hat series. Firstly–do you struggle writing while people sing? I always get muddled with my words when someone else is singing words. 🙂 Secondly–do you prefer to build the music playlist before you begin drafting, or does the playlist grow as you write?

I’ve often considered taking the playlist down, and haven’t updated it for a while. I think it has three likes in two years. Music inspires me like nothing else. I like to reference it in my stories.

Having said that, I can’t write with it either. Even instrumental pieces steal my focus. These days, I have an extensive playlist on my phone. I listen to that during my commute, and it entices the Muse to ride along.

Speaking of the Hat series, you recently published the fourth book of the series earlier this year. What inspires your selection of supernatural villains for Lizzie and her transdimensional hat to face?

It comes from things I’ve enjoyed over the years, but I take effort to put a new spin on them. If I write about a popular movie-class monster, readers automatically know what I’m talking about. I’m not afraid to create my own, but those can be a lot harder to sell. When my vampires turn out to be rodeo cowboys, I think readers are pleasantly surprised.

You have a fair amount of novels as well as short story and microfiction collections. Can you share a bit of your process in working out whether a story requires a few hundred words or a few hundred thousand?

Process? What process? I believe a story should be as long as it needs to be. Obviously, I put some thought into it, but if I wind up with a short story instead of a novel, I’m not disappointed. I will say, The Hat Series consists of short novels on purpose. My reasons are two-fold.

First, I like to have something for everyone. If all a reader has time for is a bit of micro-fiction, I like to have something available. Short novels are a good market for me.

Second, because of the style of comedy, I’d rather leave readers wanting more than wear them out with it. That way they come back next year to see what the characters are up to. Lizzie and the hat bickering are funny, but there is a chance of having it go on too long.

Let’s face it–we all have that writing Kryptonite. Mine strikes me down in the form of a phone call from my sons’ principal. What’s yours, and how do you overcome it?

It’s hard to complain about it, but I need solo time to write. Someone else watching television, music in another room, even company will stop me cold. I find that I get what I need, and make room for all the other things. Sometimes we just have to put it aside and take life as it comes.

Speculative fiction can be a tough gig. You have to ground readers somehow, but you also want to push the limits of the suspension of their disbelief. How do you balance leaving readers to work things out with taking care of the reader and guiding them by the hand through your story-worlds?

That is tough, and you have to understand that every reader is different. I want to net as many happy customers as possible, but have to allow for a few to escape. Some tales require more work than others. Science Fiction, or Fantasy come to mind. Since The Hat Series is more Urban Fantasy, I don’t have to dedicate as much space to world building. We all understand parking garages, roundabouts, and food trucks.

What would you say are common traps many aspiring writers fall into, and how can they avoid them?

The biggest one I hear about is writer’s block. I took steps years ago to combat that. The Muse serves me well. I get more ideas than I know what to do with. If I find myself dwelling on one, I write it down. They start in the Notes app on my phone.

If they want to grow, I usually start a rudimentary storyboard. I add to this over time, and eventually, they start looking like finished outlines. I never find myself lacking for something to work on that way.

Thank you for inviting me over. I love that our community supports each other, and I try to return the favors.

Thank you so much for chatting with me this fall, Craig! I hope your writing adventures are as magical as the season ahead. Stay tuned to my podcast–I’ll be highlighting one of your books!

~STAY TUNED!~

Blondie promises to collaborate with me this December! What is she going to give us? I’m honestly not sure, but I’m really excited!

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

Let’s Savor Some #Wartime #Fiction with #Arthouse Flair on this #Podcast: The Snow White Tigress by @michaelsteeden

Welcome back, my fellow creatives! We’re back with more beautiful brews from fellow indie authors of the writing community.

Another marvelous writer who shares characters woven with threads of another time is Michael Steeden. After sharing Anne Clare‘s Where Shall I Flee?, I was still in the mood for another brew of wartime fiction, and one of Mike’s books takes place before and during WWII. Sounds like The Snow White Tigress is the perfect cup to try next!

What does a reader experience in those opening pages, and what lessons can a writer take away in studying but a few paragraphs? Let’s find out!

If you do not see the audio player above, you can access the podcast here.

I had a wonderful time interviewing Michael Steeden a while back for Poetry Month–click here to check that out! Michael’s flash fiction and poetry are immersive, passionate, hilarious, and more. Please be sure to visit his blog for a journey through prose and poetry you’ll not experience anywhere else.

The indie goodness is falling around us like the autumn leaves. Stay tuned! 

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

The Waves of #War Will Take Us in This #Podcast: Where Shall I Flee? by Anne Clare

Welcome back, my fellow creatives! We’re back with more beautiful brews from fellow indie authors of the writing community.

Let us experience wind and wave in the trepidation of war with historical writer Anne Clare and her latest feat in fiction: Where Shall I Flee?

What does a reader experience in those opening pages, and what lessons can a writer take away in studying but a few paragraphs? Let’s find out!

If you do not see the audio player above, you can access the podcast here.

I had a beautiful time interviewing Anne Clare a while back when her first book came out–click here to check that out! If you’re keen on learning history, hearing more writing tips, scoping out more wartime fiction recommendations, and other neato bits of Anne’s life, please visit her blog today.

The indie goodness is falling around us like the autumn leaves. Stay tuned! 

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

#NaNoWriMo #Remix of #Music and #Inspiration (Because I’m Stuck Grading)

Well, bugger.

I had planned on exploring the fun of writing humor with you today, but the torrent of finals has not yet subsided. As my husband Bo reminds me time and again, it is VITAL to respect my limitations. The finals will soon be graded, and then I can return to sharing more than story cuppings with you.

(I think I’ll spend November sipping more indie brews. I hope you’ll join me!)

In the meantime, let me share some music and one of my favorite stories from Diana Wynne Jones about her writing life. I first shared these posts back in 2015 when I participated in National Novel Writing Month. Six years later, this music still grips me and these words still inspire me.

Take heart, my fellow creatives! Whether or not you join in thirty days and nights of literary abandon, your stories will always be there inside you. You will find the time to write them, and you will find a way to share them.

We all will. x

Originally Posted November 1, 2015

National Novel Writing Month is upon us. You’ll have to pardon me as I wish to dedicate my time write–feeble as it is–to the challenge of 50,000 words in 30 days.

So rather than blog, per say, I shall share music I find useful for various elements of story. For starters, a starter: music that marks the beginning of adventure. James Newton Howard’s score for PETER PAN has an excellent bit of fantastic to inspire you: a light giddiness that builds into the dramatic departure of the known for the unknown.

Are you ready to embark on Thirty Days and Nights of Literary Abandon? Don’t be afraid. Let your story hold out its hand. Take it, and fly.

Originally Posted: November 8, 2015

In celebration of passing the 15,000 word mark, some music.

There’s something blissfully cool about the first meeting of two companions, be they friends or moreso. John Powell’s How to Train Your Dragon has one of the most beautiful themes ever created in the spirit of friendship, and that this friendship transcends the ordinary makes it all the more powerful. Treat your characters to a first meeting that is nothing short of memorable.

Originally Posted November 15, 2015

John Powell again? You bet.

In celebration of reaching the halfway point of my story, I think it’s time for a chase. Any story, especially one with murder, kidnapping, and other intrigues, has got to have a chase. Plus, this chase from BOURNE SUPREMACY has some excellent percussion/string sequences for fighting. Now, set a fire under those characters and set them a’runnin’.

Originally Posted November 22, 2015

At some point, I hope, your characters seek something that will help fulfill a goal, or quest, or what have you. In my case, my characters are seeking a member of their group who’s been taken. Stakes are always high in such situations, and it gives a writer the challenge of laying clues that readers MUST be able to see without feeling obvious, for characters to drop verbal clues without sounding like they’re being dropped. It’s a delicate balance, not often achieved in a single draft. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t try, and if a little bit of mysterious air can help, all the better. Let Alexandre Desplat’s music from the final Harry Potter story help provide the necessary ambiance for the mystery woven in your plot.

Originally Posted on October 27, 2015: “Just Bash on and Do It.”

With National Novel Writing Month just a few days away, I think it’s worth pausing my own nonfiction and lessons from my favorite writer until December. However, to help those who also revel in the Thirty Days and Nights of Literary Abandon, I shall continue sharing Writer’s Music posts throughout the month.

That said, I wanted to talk about something from Diana Wynne Jones’ Reflections that feels especially appropriate on the cusp of NaNoWriMo.

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In 2011, Charlie Butler interviewed Jones in her home. At one point he asks about her writing process, and if others, such as editors, see the work in progress. Jones is very clear that this is NOT how she works:

hate being edited, because my second draft is as careful as I can get it. I try to get it absolutely mistake-free, and absolutely as I feel the book needs to be. Then some editor comes along and says, “Change Chapter Eight to Chapter Five, take a huge lump out of Chapter Nine, and let’s cut Chapter One altogether.” And you think, No, I’m going to hit the ceiling any moment. Then I call for my agent before I get my hands round this person’s throat.

Thank God it was the days before computers. I said, “Send me the typescript back and I’ll see what I can do.” So she did, and I cut out the bits she told me to alter, in irregular shapes, then stuck them back in exactly the same place with Sellotape, only crooked, so it looked as if I’d taken the pieces out and put new pieces in. And then I sent it back to her, and she rang up and said, “Oh, your alterations have made such a difference.” And I thought, “Right! Hereafter I will take no notice of anybody who tries to edit my books.”

Now while I can only dream of having this woman’s confidence and ability to write sideways and backwards and ALWAYS create something awesome (such as Hexwood), she still marks the point that it is the SECOND draft she makes perfect. Her first draft was always written by hand, and she accepted that chunks of it would need to be done over: “If you want to make your story as good as you can get it, you have to go over it and get it right.”

For some of us, who are on draft #8 (ahem), “getting it right” in only one or two rewrites still sounds like a miracle. But it is nice to know that one whose plots knot every which way and still produce these beautiful woven works does not expect it to be right the first time. Yet another reason NaNoWriMo is so wonderful for writers: it forces us through that first draft–in Jones’ words, “Just bash on and do it.” Then, with the time crunch gone, we can take our time, pick the story threads apart, and concentrate completely on “getting it right.”

I hope you enjoyed that little trip back in time! I’m still lost in the past myself, as my 2019 crack at NaNoWriMo resulted in the start of a story that transcends seasons, a tale of bloody magic set in the deadly quiet snows of Wisconsin’s northern wilderness. All Hallows Eve may have passed, but Winter is on Wisconsin’s doorstep. It is only a matter of time before snow and spirit meet…

Just in case you’re interested, those NaNo chapters can be found in my Free Fiction section.

All right, back to grading. When we return, let’s enjoy a chat and a laugh before I put my daughter Blondie to work. 🙂

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

Can #TrickorTreat be Saved on this #Podcast? The #Halloween Tree by #RayBradbury

Welcome back, my fellow creatives! October is here for just a bit longer, so we’ve only a few nights more to enjoy reading tales deliciously eerie on chilly autumn evenings.

Today I return to an author I’ve discussed on occasion in years past, but this time I’m tasting something of his work I’ve never tasted before. With All Hallows Eve but a few days away, we simply must take a sip from The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury.

What does a reader experience in those opening pages, and what lessons can a writer take away in studying but a few paragraphs? Let’s find out!

If you do not see the audio player above, you can access the podcast here.

You can click here to visit my past posts on Ray Bradbury. Studying the opening pages of Something Wicked This Way Comes was particularly edifying. 

November is a time of transformation and gratitude, so I cannot think of a better reason to return to sharing the indie authors who have been so kind in supporting my transformation as a writer. Come December…ah, December. Blondie and I have something fun in store for you lovely creative souls. xxxxxx

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!