Tag Archives: writing

The Power of Where: Setting, Place, and the Hero’s Adventure

I’m going to be running a workshop as part of Redwood Writers 2017 Academy on Joseph Campbell’s concept of the Hero Journey as it applies to exploring setting for writers!

Every story explores a hero’s journey along a path toward discovery. It’s easy to focus on the hero or on the goal, but what about the path? With David Kudler (author, publisher, and editor for the Joseph Campbell Foundation), explore the ways in which you can enrich your settings using the hero cycle explored by Campbell in his classic The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

The Workshop will be Saturday, March 25 from 9:30 to 12:30 in Santa Rosa.

If you sign up for all three monthly workshops, you’ll get a discount; space is limited, so register now! Continue reading The Power of Where: Setting, Place, and the Hero’s Adventure

Kenneth Schneyer on Timepiece: Savor every bite

Foreword to Timepiece by Heather Albano

Kenneth Schneyer

We asked author Kenneth Schneyer to write a foreword to Heather Albano‘s forthcoming time-travel adventure novel Timepiece, which comes out January 3, 2017. What he wrote was so delightful, we thought we’d share it ahead of time!

Keeping Time Kickstarter - A Time Travel Trilogy by Heather AlbanoSupport Keeping Time Kickstarter!

Of course time travel represents an inversion of the way we experience the world. The arrow of entropy is reversed.  People gain knowledge of the consequences of their actions before they take them.  In this, it resembles both the prophecy story and the flashback: more than one author has imagined Tiresias and Cassandra as time travelers. Continue reading Kenneth Schneyer on Timepiece: Savor every bite

Interview: Risuko author David Kudler talks writing

John Byrne Barry, award-winning author of political and crime thrillers, interviewed Risuko author David Kudler for the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association web site on the day of Risuko’s release.

In the interview, Kudler discusses the writing process, including:

  • what it’s like to write the first book in a series,
  • how to balance leaving your readers wanting more with leaving them satisfied,
  • where he falls on the “plotting vs. pantsing” spectrum,
  • what inspired him to write the teen historical novel,
  • and much more.

Continue reading Interview: Risuko author David Kudler talks writing

Review: The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett

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The Shepherd’s Crown: the final Discworld novel

It is difficult to know whether the elegiac mood I felt while reading The Shepherd’s Crown was due to the book itself or to the fact that the fifth Tiffany Aching novel (and forty-first Discworld novel) was in fact the late Sir Terry Pratchett’s final work.

The Shepherd’s Crown focuses on the young witch Tiffany Aching as she comes fully to find her place both in the non-hierarchy of the witches’ world, in the land of her birth (the Chalk), and in her own life. She finds herself pulled between two steadings, the districts for which, as a witch, she is responsible for doing “what needs to be done” — whether visiting the old and sick, birthing babies, or protecting the inhabitants from supernatural invasion. And, as the book begins, a supernatural invasion does in fact loom: Nightshade, Queen of the Faeries (whom a nine-year-old Tiffany defeated in the first book in the series) finds that the boundaries between her world and Tiffany’s are weak, and she is planning large-scale revenge. Discworld faeries have much more kinship to the Celtic sidhe than to the cute winged creatures of most children’s books or than to Tolkien’s aristocratic elves: they are  (literally) glamorous, pitiless creatures who take delight in mayhem ranging from spoiling beer and stealing sheep to kidnap, torture, and murder.

Continue reading Review: The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett

Getting Grammatical: What's the Big Deal with the Passive Voice?

An author I work with recently asked me, “What’s the big deal with the passive voice?” My first instinct was to answer, “Well, would that question have made as much sense as ‘The big deal with the passive voice is about what?'” Three things stopped me:

  1. First of all, that’s a very New York Jewish sentence construction and so I didn’t want to dis my forebearers
  2. Second of all, it was snarky, which isn’t a great way to communicate anything
  3. Third, she’s a bright, articulate, and talented writer who deserves a better answer.

So I thought I’d give it here. Continue reading Getting Grammatical: What's the Big Deal with the Passive Voice?

Christina’s World – On Struggle and Story

Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth Andrew Wyeth (American, 1917-2009). Christina’s World, 1948. Tempera on gessoed panel. 32 1/4 x 47 3/4 in. (81.9 x 121.3 cm). Purchase. Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © Andrew Wyeth

I was talking with an author the other day. We were discussing cover art, and the subject of Andrew Wyeth’s iconic painting “Christina’s World” came up.

Not that we wanted to use that piece, but we wanted to evoke the same feeling.

What’s so evocative about “Christina’s World”? Well, I’m not an image person so much as a story person, and for me, it’s the central figure’s determination, her yearning.

The actual Christina — the model for the body (though not the head) in the painting* — was a paraplegic who refused to use a wheelchair; she moved around the farm that she and her brother lived on solely through the use of her arms.

Why were we discussing this? Well, obviously, its an incredibly evocative image. More to the point, Nicole Sykes, the author I’m working with, was born with cerebral palsy. Speech is a challenge for her. She has partial control over her left hand, but doesn’t use her right. Her mobility is provided by a motorized wheel chair. She speaks — and writes — by tapping a large keypad with the back of her left fist; speech is synthesized in Stephen Hawking-like bursts.

And she’s written a memoir. A funny memoir. Continue reading Christina’s World – On Struggle and Story

Christina's World – On Struggle and Story

Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth Andrew Wyeth (American, 1917-2009). Christina’s World, 1948. Tempera on gessoed panel. 32 1/4 x 47 3/4 in. (81.9 x 121.3 cm). Purchase. Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © Andrew Wyeth

I was talking with an author the other day. We were discussing cover art, and the subject of Andrew Wyeth’s iconic painting “Christina’s World” came up.

Not that we wanted to use that piece, but we wanted to evoke the same feeling.

What’s so evocative about “Christina’s World”? Well, I’m not an image person so much as a story person, and for me, it’s the central figure’s determination, her yearning.

The actual Christina — the model for the body (though not the head) in the painting* — was a paraplegic who refused to use a wheelchair; she moved around the farm that she and her brother lived on solely through the use of her arms.

Why were we discussing this? Well, obviously, its an incredibly evocative image. More to the point, Nicole Sykes, the author I’m working with, was born with cerebral palsy. Speech is a challenge for her. She has partial control over her left hand, but doesn’t use her right. Her mobility is provided by a motorized wheel chair. She speaks — and writes — by tapping a large keypad with the back of her left fist; speech is synthesized in Stephen Hawking-like bursts.

And she’s written a memoir. A funny memoir. Continue reading Christina's World – On Struggle and Story

Poet Jacqueline Kudler Interview Now Online

Seven Deadly Myths and Three Inspired Truths About Book Editing

Reworking, rewriting, removing by mpclemons, used through a Creative Commons license

I originally wrote this as a guest post for Joel Friedlander’s wonderful self-publishing resource site TheBookDesigner.com; it sparked a lot of great conversation and feedback, and it occurred to me that the information might be of interest to a more general readership. If you’ve ever groaned at typos, continuity errors, plot holes or just plain bad writing in a book or blog post, here’s my prescription:

I’ve edited lots of books — children’s books, fantasy, memoirs, self-help, textbooks, and especially books about myths. Myths? I like myths. Heck, I love myths — if we’re talking about myths as “great poems, [that] point infallibly through things and events to the ubiquity of a presence or eternity that is whole and entire in each.”*

If we’re talking about myths in the more negative sense of “untruths,” however, I like them less — especially if they’re myths about my profession and vocation.

Myths and Misinformation about Book Editing

There’s a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about editors and what they do. Here are seven of those myths that I’d like to clear up:

Myth #1: A good writer doesn’t need an editor.

In these days of self-publication and “service” publishers — who take a percentage of sales for letting the author do all of the work — you hear this a lot. “I’ve slaved over this manuscript for years. I checked it through a hundred times. Microsoft Word’s Spelling and Grammar comes up clean. It’s ready for publication.”

Want an example of a professional book from a world-class author who convinced her publishers to put out the book as-is, without a deep developmental edit (see #3 below)? Look at J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Pretty good book, and it’s sold millions of copies, absolutely — but it’s at least a hundred pages longer than it needs to be. There’s needless repetition, uneven pacing, and side-plots that go nowhere. You’ll notice that the previous and subsequent books in the bestselling series were much shorter and much tighter. Rowling worked more closely with her editors.

Here’s the fact: if you want your book to be strong, clean, professional, and appealing, for it to affect the readers as you want it to affect them, you need to have it professionally edited. There’s never been a text written that didn’t need editing. By the time you’ve spent weeks, months, or years on a project, you can’t see the words any more. You can see the ideas — the concepts, arguments, plot, and characters — but not every word that’s on the page, or that isn’t, or where there are gaping holes in logic or jumps in style. An editor will. It’s what they’re paid to do. Continue reading Seven Deadly Myths and Three Inspired Truths About Book Editing

Publishing Snake Oil

My guest post over at thebookdesigner.com has sparked quite a lot of good conversation, which is great. Good thoughts, good questions, good suggestions — the perfect blogging storm.

That post also connected with another blogger, Candace Johnson, who used my post as a jumping off point to discuss some of the shadier corners of the publishing marketplace, Snake Oil Salesmen in the Editing Biz. In particular, she’s discussing two kinds of questionable “services” that are offered to writers: first, a site that charges authors to become part of a mutual editing group; second, sites that offer to read and review your work for a fee. She discusses each of these in depth.

For what it’s worth, here is my response: Continue reading Publishing Snake Oil