All posts by swanstuff

Writer, small business wannabe, pundit, philosopher, often hopelessly confused, and blessed by a gracious God beyond all imagining (the views expressed by this blogger do not necessarily reflect the Supreme Being, but this blogger hopes he doesn't embarrass the Big Guy too much).

Look Around…

Writing is a skill, storytelling is an art, inspiration is a fickle friend.

Let’s look at storytelling for a moment. For many, it’s a spoken talent. The ability to spin a captivating web, enchant audiences, and keep them on the edge of their seat. I know a guy down the street who made a living with storytelling.

Yet, he has no wish to write a book.

I admit, that floors me. But it shouldn’t.

A storyteller doesn’t plan these ideas, they spring from an adventurous life or an active imagination. Conversation or happenstance triggers the stories, and they just roll off of a talented tongue.

Writers are also storytellers, often with oral skill, but they take it a step further and introduce planning. How can this story fit into a longer narrative? How can I refine it? While an oral storyteller waits for inspiration, a writer courts inspiration, oddly, while alone.

The oral storyteller draws from life and imagination, but a writer draws heavily from ideation. We come up with ideas that are fresh and exciting, stringing pearls into a jewel of a story.

One isn’t better than the other, or course. We want storytellers at parties and we want writers for books.

OCD or a WRITER? (or both?)

Which are you? Is your life marked by ideation? Do you enjoy coming up with better ways of doing things or entirely new ways of doing things? Are you inordinately susceptible to clever things, an easy mark for new products? Do you like to cook without recipes? Do you have fits of baking or desires to rearrange furniture or painting rooms? I know those things don’t appear to have anything to do with writing, but they actually do. You’re intrigued by the new because you like to come up with fresh ideas. Doesn’t mean every compulsive buyer, cook or homemaker is a writer, but they might be.

What aspects of your life suggest you’re a writer?

Merry Christmas!

My wife thinks I don’t like Christmas decorations. The truth is, I do. I find putting them up problematic with my schedule, but the way lights and winter scenes and nativity scenes transform a home into a warmer, more festive environment is welcome. Decorations don’t cover the truth, they reveal it more fully. It’s a new way of looking at your home.

Books are like that.

As I finish the second draft of my latest novel, now ready for polishing and minor improvements, I realize my books are rarely just action yarns. They are identity yarns. They’re about how the events change a person. More than coming of age, my characters discover deep truths about themselves and either come to live with them, change them, or self-destruct. Along the way, the story invites the reader to consider fresh angles and to entertain new thoughts. Don’t worry, I try to make them fun, too, though Trouble with Bees is less funny that my past books.

At Prevail Press, our novels fulfill this function, and our non-fiction is even more on point. Stories matter. I love a good movie, and tend to get lost in TV shows, but there’s something about a book that is precious. It’s a sharper connection between writer and reader than director and viewer. Plus books are a singular experience. Several people can watch a movie, which forces a pace. With a book, the reader determines the pace. They can linger when an idea strikes them without pushing a pause button.

112 reader recommendations for festive holiday fiction – Modern Mrs Darcy
A joyous Christmas indeed

Growing up, my favorite gifts were books. I was a sedentary child. DVDs didn’t exist, VHS was a pain, no video games yet, but a book could transport me to new places and new ideas.

You have time to buy a book off Amazon before Christmas. I hope you’ll consider Prevail Press books, but once a reader discovers the joy of reading, any book may lead a reader to ours, so find that perfect story for your loved ones!

And Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Mixed Emotions about Dune

Caveats: I watched it on HBOMax, not in a movie theater.

NO SPOILERS

I read all the Dune books as a kid and loved the first one, enjoyed the second one and waded through the rest. I attempted the son’s books, but didn’t make it past the first. A few years ago, I readed Dune on a cross-country flight. Now I felt it was a bit overwritten and the exposition killed me. Still, the worldbuilding of Dune is brilliant. There is SO MUCH.

The first movie was terrible.

This current movie was much better than I expected…. but

Dune logo
Love the moon making the crossbar of the e.

Just before I heard Dune was being remade (with a cool title logo), I thought with streaming changing budgets and scope that Dune could finally be made the right way as a series. Even just sticking to the books would give decades of seasons. Here’s why, and there’s irony in my answer. To include exposition.

This movie is part one of at least 3 from the looks of it. Even so, it all happened very, very fast. Valient effort at creating a relationship with the Fremen, but one meeting isn’t enough.

Thufir and Peiter are mentats with stained lips from drinking sapho, which enhanced their computer-like minds. Why? Because computers are no-no as a result of a cataclysmic past event. Never explained in the movie (they didn’t have enough time) so their lips have a rectangle instead of being stained. That’s a tiny bit of exposition that was wisely left on the cutting room floor but could have been explored in a series.

That’s a tiny example of worldbuilding that had to be streamlined.

As for the movie, I do think the screenwriter, director, crew, and actors did a spectacular job. Beautifully filmed, wisely cut… I was happy to be impressed. I don’t think you need to have read Dune to understand it, but it would help. Paul’s visions of probable futures is well played, yet could be hard to understand for newbies. They aren’t what happens, but what could happen depending on choices made.

Frank Herbert created one of the most extensive universes of fiction. He did it with notebooks (those paper things, not a tablet), PCs hadn’t been invented yet. He raised the bar on fictional universes and if you want to understand how far you can go in planet-spanning stories, Herbert outstripped Lucas by a mile.

A Pernicious Correspondence

I first became aware of Scott Schuleit through his poetry. He never went for the easy stuff; it was always literature at its best.

When he told me he was working on a book, a modern take on C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters it meant a lot to me. C.S. Lewis was my go-to author when I was first became a Christian but The Screwtape Letters was something I’d read a few years before the gospel did it’s work.

I’d always been a great reader, and this book was powerful.  Later, I ate up his Space Trilogy and every non-fiction book he wrote.

I’ve also read several books based on this seminal work and none achieved the tone, feel, and literary strength of the original.

Scott’s new book A Pernicious Correspondence nails them all and updates the masterpiece to focus on today’s devilish strategies.

I highly recommend this book to believers and non-believers alike. Check it out!

Cover by Dawn D. Davidson

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Pernicious-Correspondence-Letters-Devil/dp/194882423X/ref

Barnes & Noble link: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-pernicious-correspondence-scott-schuleit/1140370241?ean=9781948824231

Be sure to leave a review!

Discipline, Baby!

“Where do you get your ideas?” I was asked this just the other day. The answer is less an inspiration and more a location and time. I get my book ideas upon waking. Typically at 4 in the morning, and typically with a huge amount dropped into my forethought.

How Are Hurricanes Named? Here's What You Need to Know | Time
Thank goodness Hurricane Easy struck Florida in 1950. Well… for me.

It happened two days ago. My next novel is named The Hurricane Boys. I know the plot, the characters, and the ending just by opening my eyes. I’ve spent the next two early mornings nattering it about. I love it! (But I do miss sleeping).

And I’m not going to write it. Yet.

I have at least six half-finished novels. A friend said that means I no longer cared about that story. Not true, I just got excited by another story and began writing that, and so on and so on.

Other than notes, I’m not going to do that now. The reason why is Discipline. I didn’t have it then, but I do have it now.

Every goddamn day: 03/18/21: Deely Bobbers
I’m a’finish ’cause a’ discipline, NOT ’cause a’ fear of the dreaded killer bee!

The Trouble with Bees is still in rewrite. I just wrote a scene that blew my mind (and not just mine). I am going to continue writing that to completion. Then and only then, I’ll start writing The Hurricane Boys.

Discipline doesn’t mean I don’t want to. It doesn’t mean I’m not able to. It means I won’t. A hidden benefit of discipline is that it gives you motivation to finish what you’re sticking with so you can get on to the next project.

Eventually, I’ll get back to those other half-finished novels, because I really do like them…

Cross-posted from my GoodReads blog.