Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘readers’

One of my pet peeves is when a novel has a prologue.

At worse, as a reader, I view the addition of a page or two or more of world, setting, and/or character description before the start of a book’s narrative to be a sign of weak writing. At best, a prologue tells me this author doesn’t have confidence in either their writing or a reader’s ability to grasp the details of their novel’s world unless it is clearly explained.

Even at my jumbled desk in my chaotic office, I can hear the gasps of many of my fellow writers. Yes, yes, I know many fine authors have used a prologue to transition their readers from the mundane world into the universe of their book. And prologues have been en vogue during certain periods of time. But I, for one, never read those prologues! (And I don’t think I’m alone).

A book should begin on page 1!

Drop the reader into your world, then slip in the necessary information about your setting, rules of magic and/or science, the state of religion and politics, the geography, flora, fauna, etc., and the characters’ places in that world bit by bit as you move through the narrative.

And by the way, this does not mean dumping all that information in one place, but rather, judiciously dropping a crumb of info here and there. Readers will pick up those crumbs and begin to understand your world as they become involved with your characters.

Likewise, I rarely read an introduction or foreword. Again, get to the book itself.

Perhaps the only exception to my dislike of extra material prior to the start of a book, is a preface. Letting a reader know why you’ve written a non-fiction book, and your level of expertise on the subject might be important enough to delay the start of the book. Though to be honest, I prefer an author’s note in the back of the book containing that information.

I know there are other opinions on prologues and their kin, but for this reader, they are pages to flip past on my way to page 1.

For another point of view, check out Should You Use a Soft Opening by JA DuMairier on the Thanet  Writers’ site.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

When Gail Z. Martin invited me to post a blog as a part of the #HoldOnToTheLight campaign, I decided to make it personal.

I was one of those kids who was different enough to attract the attention of bullies. A girl interested in science, math, art, fantasy, science fiction, writing, etc. attracted unwanted and negative attention from some of my school mates. Junior high (middle school to you younger folks) was the worse – I was regularly spit on by several “popular” girls on the school bus.

Where are those girls now? I don’t know, and to be honest, I don’t care. The things which made me an outcast then, are the things which I value the most about myself now. But that self-assurance is hard-won.

I’ve dealt with depression and lingering self-doubt for much of my life, because of that long-ago bullying. Which gives me great compassion for those who are different or who feel like outsiders. And though I won’t name names, because it is not my story to tell – I can assure them that many of the writers and artists I’m friendly with have experienced either bullying, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or a combination of those things.

So what’s my message? First, don’t let bullies ruin your life. They don’t deserve that much power. You are unique and valuable. The problem lies with the bullies – not you. Second, when you see bullying going on, stop it if you can, or get help from an adult to put an end to the bullying. Third, don’t be a bully. Always choose kindness.

One of the best things about the science fiction and fantasy community is their willingness to accept those marvelously unique artists, writers, and fans who might be viewed as “outsiders” in the mundane world. And one of the best things about being a writer of speculative fiction, is I get to create and celebrate characters who are different – whether they have physical, mental, or emotional challenges – imperfect characters are the most interesting to read about. Why? Because they’re the characters most like us.

About the campaign:

holdontothelight-fb-banner #HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors, or reach a media contact, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/276745236033627

Read Full Post »

Reading was my favorite pastime as a child and teen. Even today, a good book and the time to enjoy it make me happy. Which is one of the reasons I write.

When I write, whether a story, poem, or entire book, I try to create something I want to read. It seems a waste of time to create something which you, as the writer, don’t want to read! On the flip side of the coin, when I read an amazing book, I always think, “I wish I’d written this book!”

So what were my favorites as a child/teen? Mysteries: Nancy Drew mysteries (which I swapped with several friends, so we all had a chance to read many of them) -plus, I must confess to reading quite a few Hardy Boys mysteries, too! Magical tales: from the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and others. Folktales. Stories tinged with history, like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series and Lucy Maude Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables books, plus books of “real” history. JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit, CS Lewis’s  Chronicles of Narnia, L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz books, Lewis Carroll’s  Alice in Wonderland, Andre Norton’s Witch World series… The list goes on and on.

And the best part of loving to read, was the adults in my life (parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles, cousins, dear family friends) encouraged me to read. They allowed me to be me, and didn’t force me to join a sports team or other activity just because everyone else was doing it.

I’ve tried to encourage my sons and daughter to find activities they enjoyed, and celebrated the differences between my kids. I try to do the same with my grandkids. Each grandchild is sure to find a path which suits them – and I’m happy each of the paths will be unique. And I’m not the only one. Here’s a link to Home and Garden Channel’s Fixer Upper and Magnolia Market, Joanna Gaines’s post on celebrating her child who’s a reader.

So on this warm July day, no matter your age, enjoy a book! Better yet, share your love of reading with a child.

 

Read Full Post »

I’ve always liked the description of science fiction as the writing (or literature) of the future. Though if the story involves time-travel, it can be writing of the past, present, AND future!

There are many valuable resources for writers (and readers) of science fiction available online – everything from interviews with pros, market lists, and how-to write ups. A blog I discovered (thanks to Carol Hightshoe and her worthwhile newsletter, Wolfsinger Publications Daily) which is filled with information on science fiction is Contary Brin (David Brin’s secondary blog).

So fellow sf-fans (and authors), here’s the link to a fabulous, information-filled, not-to-be-missed post from Contrary Brin: Explore Science Fiction: The Literature of the Future.

Enjoy!

Read Full Post »

794 Little Orphant Annie by James Whitcomb Riley was one of the scariest poems read to me as a child. Perhaps its dire warnings and promises of goblins lurking near helped me behave when I was young. Or perhaps they influenced me to write dark stories when grew older.

I remember decades ago, at the annual Halloween poetry reading held for years at Liriodendron Mansion in Bel Air, Maryland, members of the Harford Poetry Society and others would turn the lights down low, light a candle, and read in unison Little Orphant Annie. One year while reading the poem, with no windows open and no living person nearby, the candle’s flame wavered and went out when we reached “A-listening to the witch tales that Annie tells about…”

Here for your reading pleasure, in anticipation of Halloween, is today’s quote, Little Orphant Annie by James Whitcomb Riley.

Read Full Post »

mcguckin briana Thanks to Briana McGuckin for stopping by and sharing her journey as a reader, writer, and person with cerebral palsy. She has a story in the newly released speculative anthology from Pole to Pole Publishing, Hides the Dark Tower.

Broken, Brilliant by Briana McGuckin

‘My mother once told me: people with cerebral palsy are brilliant minds trapped in broken bodies.

This was not a don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover remark. She wasn’t teaching me about tolerance. This was part of a pep talk.

I was born about a month early, and I fit in one of my father’s hands. When I finally learned to walk, I did it on my toes—knees bent, leaning in upon each other to support my own weight.

Details are boring, but one way or another oxygen gets in where it shouldn’t and damages brain tissue. That’s CP. The severity of the resultant disability, and its complications, are so different across individuals because the damage can be slight or extensive, and affect different areas of the brain.

My hamstrings and heel cords are tight—as dictated by the garbled orders coming down from my brain. My hips were twisting, my knees bending, and my heels rising, all to accommodate the tension in my body. My legs were the worst of it, and still are.

I had a seat belt installed at my school desk when I was very young because I would concentrate so hard on what I was doing that I would fall right out of my seat. Later on in life, I was one of those “lucky” kids who got to walk the perimeter in gym instead of playing dodge-ball, or running the dreaded mile, but I promise you that I had already done my time in the form of physical therapy; for as long as I can remember, there were always kind strangers in the house bearing giant medicine balls, and little toys for fine motor-skill development. (Anyone else remember when Polly Pocket actually fit in your pocket?)

I had major surgery when I was ten, lengthening my heel cords and hamstrings, and getting metal plates put on my hips to set them straight. I missed some school, re-learned how to walk, and then went under once more to have the metal plates removed.

What does all of this have to do with writing? Well, it actually has more to do with reading.

My parents didn’t know how I was going to turn out, you know? A baby is a baby. If I couldn’t walk, they wouldn’t know it until it was time for me to start walking. If I couldn’t talk, they wouldn’t know until it was talking time.

But I was a talker. According to Mom (and moms exaggerate a bit, so bear that in mind) I was babbling full sentences well before my time, and to anyone who would listen.

Encouraged, my mom read to me often, and perhaps my entire destiny as a reader (and thus a writer) hinges upon one single habit of hers: while she was reading, she pointed at the words. She read me children’s books this way, and she even read out from the Danielle Steele books she was reading. It slowed her down, and she had to flip past all the dirty parts, but I bet in her estimation I didn’t have a lot of other ways to entertain myself. She saw a child who was doing a lot of work disguised as play—frustrating work, on giant medicine balls.

One day she forgot to point. She still loves to tell that story. “Mommy! Use your finger!” It was confirmation that she was doing something right for me.

I was reading before we got to reading in school, needless to say. My teacher was annoyed because my mother “might have taught [me] wrong,” and then—the next day, it seems to me—I had been placed in the “gifted readers” reading group. Suddenly I was winning spelling bees and writing little stories that received high praise from my teachers. And from there it just kept growing.

I say all this to contrast two internal pictures that I had of myself. On the one hand, I always understood that there were things I couldn’t really do, and places I didn’t fit in. I have been called ugly names, shoved into lockers, and gotten into little schoolyard scraps over being awkward and clunky.

And surgery is swell and all, but as the years go by old failings of my body creep back up on me. I can walk well enough, but my heels are inching off the ground again, and my knees are turning in. Strangers and acquaintances alike pull me aside to tell me the ways in which I can fix my body – and never because it’s a conversation I have started, but rather because it’s a problem they can see (and think that they can solve).

They mean no harm, but all the same it reminds me of my flaws. Something is wrong with me.

On the other hand, I have these words. I can take them in and spin them out, doing deft and delicate work mentally that is really beyond my physical capacity. In the wild expanse of my imagination, nothing can stop me: my reason is a muscle I can flex, train, and use. I may not be able to undertake whatever I choose, but I can understand. And I can give that understanding to others. Stephen King calls writing a form of telepathy.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00001] Nothing is wrong with me.

I guess I am a writer because I am not a runner. I choose to cherish myself for the things I can do rather than berate myself for the things I can’t. I choose it every day, and sometimes it’s hard.

It’s so easy to focus on our flaws, whatever they may be. But our flourishing is more important. We are all broken. We are all brilliant. Go with brilliance, I say.

Nothing is wrong with you.’

To learn more about Briana, check out her blog, Moon Missives.

Thanks again to Briana McGuckin for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guest posts, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and more. Have an inspired day! – Vonnie

Read Full Post »

I’ll be appearing at HallowRead 2015 in Elllicott City, Maryland on October 23 and 24. Lots of ghostly fun and information for readers and writers alike including panels, workshops, ghost tours, book signings, author chats, a haunted house, and more.

The fine folks of HallowRead have put together a great video promoting the event. Here’s the video link to take a look.

Hope to see you there!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »