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).

Speaking Out!

A friend gave me the opportunity to speak to readers when she invited me to her classroom. For the first class I shared about Do Angels Still Fall? which the class was reading, and for the older class, Creativity Wears Boots where they weren’t reading it but still could find the artist inside.

Develop a Complete Student Code of Conduct
The kids didn’t look anything like this. Today’s kids pay attention, but you’re never quiet sure… πŸ™‚

I had a blast, getting fresh insight to my stories and ideas through young reader’s eyes. It was great, but there was an even better part…

This wonderful teacher (I saw part of her class before I went up and only wish I had such terrific teachers) is a writer. She has a hilarious blog full of true-life anecdotes from her life and family. We’ve spoken about turning her blog into a collection for her first book, but I’ll be honest, I shared with her that I think she should take those stories and weave them in a novel about her fascinating life. She confessed she loves historical fiction and my comments got her mind to buzzing.

For me there is no greater joy than encouraging writers. So many people have the ability and just need a little nudge to write. My whole purpose in creating Prevail Press is to make it easier to get a writer’s work to peak quality and launching it out there.

But you gotta write it first. I’m happy to talk to you to get your motor revving, buy only you can put it in drive and get ink on a page.

It’s funny, I always thought I’d have more time the older I got. Instead I’m busier. It’s harder to get to the keyboard with so many things demanding my time. Yet I am. Full time day job, full time publishing job, grown kids, two puppies, and a house and yard to take care of… but I’m still finding time to write.

What about you? What will it take to get you typing? I really want to know!

R.I.P. Beverly Cleary

She lived a **ahem** storied life for 104 years. I probably should have sent her a letter thanking her for her early books, since they profoundly changed my view on reading.

I was an advanced reader and read whatever I could get my hands on. But not kid’s books. They were boring and dull, while young adult books weren’t. Give me the Outsiders over the boring chapter books we had available in the late 60s.

Not completely true; Scholastic sent around a catalog we could buy books from, and my amazing parents wanted to encourage reading, so they bought me almost everything in the catalog. And I did read them, three a day. The stack would last a week and it was off to the library for grown-up books.

Except this one time. Cleary’s Motorcycle Mouse was on the bottom of the stack (we had a mouse problem and I didn’t want to empathize with them). But when I got to and fell into it, I suddenly saw children’s books as having value. I think I read that book a dozen times. Then Runaway Ralph a few years later. I’d picked up Cleary’s other books about Beezus and Remona and Henry Higgens. Good, but not as good as Motorcycle Mouse. This was Cleary’s only mystic realism book (she probably didn’t think about it that way), giving a mouse the power to ride a motorcycle in an otherwise realistic setting (oh, her DETAIL!). Because of her, I gave other writers a try (I read most of Judy Bloom’s books a tad early. Puberty terrified me).

Beverley Cleary graduated from the University of Washington, not too many miles from where I grew up… 25 years before I was born, but that’s close to rubbing shoulders with greatness.

Our own writer, Bonnie Manning Anderson, wrote a wonderful grade school novel called Always Look for the Magic that has a Cleary feel to it with delightful details of an earlier time. Same magic as Cleary’s, same vivid pictures. Buy a copy today as a tribute to Beverly Cleary. You won’t regret it. Oh, and buy some of Cleary’s many books. They really are that good (and if you have children you MUST buy them!)

Always Look for the Magic

The Batwoman Woes

Batwoman, The New Warriors, other TV shows and stories, have met ridicule and joyous slams.

Batwoman season 2 release date | Cast, new actress and news - Radio Times
I will watch it, probably tonight. I struggled with the first season, but hoped Ruby would grow into a good actress. She didn’t, but she was in pain the whole time from a back injury. We’ll see how this actress does.

You see, the second season of Batwoman has a black actress, The New Warriors comic book is stocked with tone-deaf SWJs. Online pundits have been gleefully trashing them.

Why the glee?

There are many shows, books, and stories that I haven’t liked. That’s totally ok. No story makes everyone happy. An author doesn’t need to–and shouldn’t–worry about every negative review. People who don’t like it aren’t your audience.

Now, I haven’t seen or read either of the afore mentioned stories. Still, I’d guess the storytelling is competent. That can be a dangerous assumption, of course, but I’m fairly certain it’s the black and SJW characters that are reviled. Note, it’s not racism, it’s leftism (that is, it’s far right people who hate virtue-signaling and political correctness).

Yet there are people who will likely enjoy them for the same reasons the extreme right hate them.

Recently, I saw The New Mutants movie. I disliked it immensely. It was like a 10-year-old wrote and directed it. It was badly written and they left a lot of great reversals off the page. It could have been great, but in my mind it wasn’t. I know people who loved it.

But I don’t take joy in hating it. That’s just weird. I felt bad that they didn’t see what they had.

The Fan4stic (Fantastic Four) movie that tanked a few years ago didn’t work because it wasn’t a superhero film, it was a creature feature. On that level, it did work.

Here’s the thing, every story has more than one perspective. There’s the story itself, there’s the storyteller’s skill and perspective, the genre, the characters, and the plot. You can like any of these or none.

What’s important, though, is that every writer has an audience. Which means others won’t be. Don’t sweat the negatives, focus on the positives.

That works in life, too.

Merry Christmas to All Who Recognize it!

It’s been a while, too long, since I’ve posted. Life has been busy! So how is it that I find time on Christmas Eve of all times?

Simple, I drove 8 hours to be with my family, but having a 70-pound puppy who chews on walls when she’d alone, I’m dog-watching in the far room while some of the family works and some are looking for things to watch.

Puppy is currently napping, but would quickly awaken should I leave, so I’ve been ruminating on an interesting thought. You see, this year is the last for our youngest daughter; she’s getting married in a 10 days, so my wife, two daughters, and son have been sharing my daughter’s house to plan for the wedding while taking a nod toward Christmas. It’s close quarters, and everyone’s character is on high display.

The interesting thought is how rarely I see holidays in novels that aren’t centered on holidays. Sure, you expect Christmas to be in “Here Comes Christmas” but not in “The Skipping Dead.”

Yet holidays often find us under pressure, a perfect way to reveal character.

Olaf lost some weight. Frosty is looking more trim. Must be stress from the holidays!

If your story takes place in summer, maybe include a chapter or two on the 4th of July. Valentines Day heats up some hearts and stills others. How does your Irish character respond to St. Patrick’s Day? Your Latina to Cinco de Mayo? How does your alcoholic character respond to holidays?

I don’t read a lot of romances, but I suspect they will often showcase a holiday or two to give their characters insight into each other.

If only as a character study that doesn’t make it into the novel, how do your paper friends and foes respond to holidays?

Ah, a wet nose and red tongue are interrupting me. I best sign off with a Merry Christmas (or winter holiday of your choice) and Happy New Year!

Who Do YOu Write Like?

I sat in on a webinar selling their “Who Do You Write Like” service that is, frankly, expensive for what they do. Especially when there are free sites who offer something similar. Yes, you need to do some legwork that the paid service do automatically, but it isn’t difficult.

“Who Do I Write Like” https://iwl.me is a free site where you paste your sample and they give you an author who you write like.

17 Things Only Moms of Twins Understand - Twin Baby Facts
Similar, not identical. Which are you?

Do NOT paste your whole story in here. Just a multi-paragraph excerpt. Try a few from different parts of your book(s) to get a wider range. The repeat authors are the ones you write like the most.

I dropped in excerpts from three of my books and came up with:

* Arthur C. Clarke (OK)

* Stephen King (Whoo-hooo!)

* Bram Stoker (???)

*Anne Rice (huh)

Truthfully, I can see this. I like Sci-Fi, so Clarke and 2001 a Space Odyssey is good company. I like to dig into fanciful technology. King writes about regular people in extraordinary circumstance, so that’s good. Stoker and Rice are wildcards, but they build tension much the same way I do.

But so what? Don’t you want a unique voice?

Yes, you do, and you have, but similar does not mean identical. Their readers will likely enjoy your books.

Again, so what?

Ah, that’s where the leg work comes in. Scour their book reviews and look for key words to use in your ads and descriptions. Drop their names in blog posts and social media posts “Do you like Stephen King? Then you’ll LOVE xxxxx.”

Or you can get wild and send your author style-sake a copy of your book. You never know what can come from that. πŸ™‚

I’d guess the paid service has a larger bank of books to compare it to, but IWL seems to work well enough.

Check it out!