Although things got delayed by... well, everything... we're now on track! The Sooke Reads event is running this week, so check it out HERE. It's being done by the Sooke branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library and includes several contenders. Basically, I was asked "What book do you think everyone in Sooke should read?" and I gave this reply. Check out MY video HERE, then tell me: do you agree? What book would you have chosen?
If you're local, go to the library this Saturday for more events! I'm working so might only get to sneak in briefly at the end!
Meantime, NORTHLANDER's paperbacks are IN! I've got them in hand! Join the adventure in time to see the end of the Northlander War, for better or worse! If you'd like a copy, fill in the form HERE and I'll get it to you ASAP! You can also order online HERE.
Let's start with a quick plug: NORTHLANDER IS COMING OUT!!!
Book 3 of the Son of No Man Series is due May 27th, 2022, so get your preorder copy HERE. I love bringing the Northlander War to a close, mainly because Darknim DoomDragon is a kick-ass 60-year-old warrior who puts the younger generation to shame. But he's got class. If they weren't enemies, I'm sure Tohmas and he could be the best of friends! Dragons, magic, gods, and battle are coming down.
Ok, on to the main event. Poetry. Yes, you heard that right. Poetry.
I get it; that's not my usual gig. I'm not a poet. Ok, ok, I have a book of poems from my teenage years, when poetry was a manifestation of my angst or something. We all try to find ourselves at that age, and poetry was a great way to explore identity. In high school English, I was encouraged to write poetry. I mostly wrote poetry on behalf of characters because I am still a prose girl at heart. I don't know if my teacher knew that. I expect some of what I wrote might have worried her if she didn't.
But the idea of how poetry informs prose came up lately, so I'm running with it for a blog post.
Surprisingly, I didn't find much information about this. Heck, I don't even know a lot about poetry. I know what sounds good. So how does that help prose?
Poetry is what sounds good (or looks good). It's patterns, cadence, emphasis, and so on. A good writer uses all those things in their writing, whether for one sentence or a thousand. It's not a new concept- it's an old one. Stories were told in verse or song, like the Odyssey or Shakespeare's plays. Verse! But there were stories in there too.
A good poet could make great prose if they could stretch their style and sense of rhythm to that length. I honestly believe it would be hard to go the other way around! I'm not a poet. Maybe I should try to be. Because when you read a beautiful sentence that flows just right and gives you chill, it's the poetry of the words coming through. That's good writing. That's something to aspirate to.
I'm going to share my favourite poem: The Road less Taken. I love it for many reasons (probably why it's my favourite!). 1. The pattern and rhyme satisfy my scientific, logical mind. 2. The topic is so relatable for me and my hiking 3. The message at the end hits home. Because we should all go down the road less traveled to see where it leads. That's what took me to publish my books, after all.
Enjoy the poem, then check out below for the month's freebies and deals!
Confession of a Horror wimp
First, I have a quick announcement; Rydan's getting a Hard Cover facelift and we need reviews! If you want a FREE copy of the ebook and a chance to get your comments on a cover, check out this link! Limited copies so get yours now!
Now, for the blog!
I have a confession; I can't handle horror. In fact, most thrillers are a problem too.
It's a bit weird when I get down to it. Stick me in a haunted house, and I'm totally fine! I'm hard to surprise, and I don't spook easily in real life at all. I'm rather brave! I am confident in my abilities. I easily see through cheap scares and can roll my eyes at silly tropes meant to terrify people. I love to challenge myself and will take on new and risky tasks. I even enjoy that thrill of the unknown or a mystery!
But I'm a wimp when it comes to the written word. What gives?
It's gotten so bad that I have to caution people at critiques or show and tells to warn me so I can tune out. And if you're going to toss in a child under threat, I'm so done! It only got worse when I had kids; I cannot control those hormones. Even the classic "grab the crying kid before the falling tower falls on them" freaks me out now. I'm so upset by a hysterical kid that I will turn off a show or close a book if it comes up.
I blame my brain. I am a logical person, so I can pick apart reality, but my imagination is outside my control. I spend a lot of time trying to re-direct my doggone imagination anyway! It's a pessimistic beast, my brain. It loves to latch onto imagery in books and run with it. So if it gets its mitts on something scary, it will sit with it for ages. And that means I'm not sleeping! It feels so damn real, yet (and this is the important part) OUTSIDE OF MY CONTROL. In life, I can adjust what I do to mitigate the threat. I can face it. But I can't control what happens in a book because it's not me in that book.
I hate it. I hate being scared, knowing there is no reason to be because it's just a story, yet having it run in my brain repeatedly. I hate lying awake trying to calm my heart and logic my way out of something I read or saw.
So while I want to support writers of all kinds, please forgive me if I don't read your horror or thriller novel. And if you endanger a child, give me a heads up, or I might be cutting the reading short and having sleepless nights! And be aware; at the end of the day, people have these different triggers. I'm not saying you can't do it! Just recognize the impact you are having and use these remarkable powers for good!
The following comic spoke to me; Words are so amazing! But please DO use this power wisely! All credit to John McNamee
Hooked on a hobby...
In preparing for not one but TWO podcasts coming up, a lot of people ask how I find time to write. So I thought I'd share a bit about why I write, to help people see how I find time.
I have an overactive imagination. To be honest, my brain likes to be in overdrive. As a child, that manifested as imagining the monsters under the bed or other terrors to keep me from sleeping. It was my mother who suggested I distract my brain by telling myself a story. If only she'd known!
I did just that, and it became a coping mechanism. Instead of letting my creativity run off with vampires and demons outside the window, I put together the story of Shakat, a farm girl who would save the world. That "Cinderella" style story evolved as I grew up. The prince turned into a villain. A dragon showed up. The survival of magic was in the balance. And then, the most significant change of all; the prophecy went ever so wrong.
One day, I'll finally get it down. For now, it's the story that refuses to be written (another tale for another day!)
As I entered teenagerhood, I began having these troubling thoughts without it being bedtime. If my mind was given idle time, I went through what I've since learned is called cataclysmic thoughts. I could deal with some of them by facing the issues and plan, but when they grew impossible to rationalize through, I turned to the stories. It was easier to figure out how Shimmer would establish herself in the cavern-streets of StonePeak than worry about unlikely, yet terrible, happenings.
And those stories stuck in my mind long enough to migrate onto the page. For fun, when I would otherwise be watching TV or reading a book, I took to writing the stories down. That gave me more fodder for later contemplations and distractions.
I didn't realize how much I was relying on the creative part of my brain until I tried to kick the habit. I started Vet School and I knew the program would be grueling. I figured it was time to let go of this "childish" habit of making up and writing stories. So I decided I wouldn't do it anymore but just focus on my studies.
By day 7, I was physically shaking. My mind had run itself into a million disastrous scenarios, and anxiety consumed me. I lost sleep. I was impatient and irritable. The greatest irony was that I couldn't focus. In my efforts to improve my concentration, I had damned it.
I'd lost my coping mechanism, my outlet. I'd lost how I decompressed at the end of the day and engaged the imaginative part of my brain that was not getting exercised with scientific logic and memorization. I went crawling back.
So I make time. Thirty minutes here, ten there, I piece together snippets to read and write, because I have to. I won't know what's up with the latest series on Netflix. You won't see my avatar on any online games. I'm on social media for precious little time. Because my therapy is here, on the page. This is where I go.
By way of habits, I think it's a good one!
Thanks for stopping in! Here are this month's freebies! The review copies will get you a cool new book for free, so long as you leave a review! The giveaways usually require a newsletter sign up but those are worth it; you get to discover new authors! Enjoy!
I guess I'm admitting to being a true nerd at this point, but yes, I've played Dungeons and Dragons (aka D&D) as well as other RPGs. For those who don't know, those are Role-playing Games. You get to hang with friends and play as a character in a world, make your own choices, and have adventures.
Someone has to run it, of course, and provide the world. That's the Game Master. There are hundreds of these games, each with its own rules and mechanics. The Game Master (or whatever it's called in a given game) provides the rules, sets the story up, and then answers the player's actions with the consequences. They're in charge of how it runs. They control the conflicts and basically tell the story the characters are in.
We finally got to play again recently (currently a player in a Traveller's game and learning the ropes!), and it got me thinking; being a gamer has helped me a lot with writing. Being a Game Master is essentially being an author with one notable difference; you get instant feedback. If your players have wandered off the plotline, then you probably failed to set up a good hook. Or if someone's on their phone again, the plot's too slow for them, and you need to pick it up. RPGs are a testing ground. What kept their attention? What did the group end up bringing up again and again? What didn't work out at all the way you expected?
So if you're thinking about writing, I recommend playing an RPG. Better still, I recommend being a Game Master!
This Month's Freebies! The Review copies one are free and request a review posted on something like amazon in exchange. A nice way to find new books and meet new authors!
Ranting is good for the soul
You might have heard me talk about the Rant file before. Maybe you call it something else. Like November's blog post, I have my English classes to blame for this too, but this time in a good way.
Ms. Morgan, if you happen to find this, thank you for this incredibly useful tool. Not sure if you knew the impact it would have, but it's been a major asset to me both in my writing and in my life.
Here's how it works:
When you are stuck, sit down and write. Don't edit. Don't worry about spelling. Don't stop for punctuation unless it happens without slowing you down. Just write what you think and go. Stop when you are done. That is it.
There are no rules to writing like this. You can write on a screen (I'm way faster typing!) or with pen and paper. You don't even have to keep the writing after you are done, although sometimes that is helpful too.
Through the conversation with the words, explore the problem and discuss options. Somehow, I always comes to a conclusion.
This is my Rant file, and every book has one associated with it. Sometimes it's fun to go back and see what things hung me up and how I corrected them. Right now, I'm using it to sort out Kitable's conflict with the secret he has discovered (a spoiler I won't go into. But check out the newest book, "Northlander," coming late spring or so for find out!). He's torn. So my rant file has his musings in it, how he reacts, and how I need to adjust the story to account for it. I never thought my wizard would leave his patron!!
But outside of writing, my rant files have had significant impacts. I chose to become a veterinarian abroad through one. I made my decision to marry my husband in another. In between, I've worked through tough times with this tool.
I know it's essentially a conversation with myself. Maybe that makes me crazy, but whatever. It's a helpful trick I hope everyone knows and uses! Try it out!
And for fun, I've linked the freebies below. If you want to get similar promotions early in the month for first dibs, sign up for the Newsletter. Plus you get sneak-peaks and special offers!
I feel like the holidays have been pretty exciting already!
December 15th, Celebrant went live! Book 2 of the Son of No Man series (wherein Tohmas just burned in more than one way!) is a big step down that road founding Espar. It's my "from your own point of view you're not the villain" story, and I ADORE the way it came together.
December 22nd, I got the paperbacks in, just in time for Christmas. Tickled pink by them! The chapter headers are particularly slick, although how can you not love that cover!?
And now I have a few thirty minutes of time to myself while husband takes the eldest kid shopping and the baby is asleep. PHEW!
So here's a quick HAPPY HOLIDAYS and HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone out there! May the New Year be Magical!
My teachers, from grade 9 to 12, seemed to think all writing had to mean something. All stories were there to teach you something, possibly to tear apart your understanding of the universe and reconsider your life choices. I wasn't so sure.
Because while I was picking apart "In the Heat of the Night" in class, I was reading Lord of the Rings and not worrying about whether it was a commentary about politics. I sheltered myself from the dark themes of the required readings, including short stories like The Veldt and the Painted Door, by hiding in the Dragon Lance series and the Seventh Son. I was so desperate to escape the suicide and death themes, I challenged my grade 10 teacher to find a short story in their anthology that wasn't depressing. She came up with "The Totem Pole," which was about indigenous oppression. Not cheery, but the best she could do. The other stories were far worse.
We didn't get any of the happy options in the curriculum. Everything was depressing.
As our final assignment in grade 12 honours English, we had to write an essay. It could be about anything, to be handed in on the last day of school. While it did account for some of our grade, the majority of the marks in grade 12 came from the Provincial exam back then. Once I had my Provincial results, I was in a good position; I would pass.
I could write anything and still pass.
I had spent four years being told what was 'classic literature' while my favourite genres were shunned and belittled. I had lost my joy of reading on numerous occasions. If I had not been such an avid reader independently, I doubt I would have continued reading, let alone writing. I wanted them to know the impact of their choice of books.
So I took up this personal issue and wrote an essay called "Imagine that."
I pointed out how vital fantasy was and how it could shine a light on issues without being preachy. Heck, without anyone even noticing the problems they are addressing on the sly. It helped remove prejudices and explore human nature. It had as much validity as any genre. In fact, it was better than other genres because it was actually enjoyable.
And I pointed out, "I have had no help from my English courses."
I'm not writing this to speak ill of my teachers; they did the best they could with the tools they had. But I wanted to encourage them to look for other options. I had been driven away from reading by their approach, and they needed to know.
I was not the only one thinking this way, for things have improved a lot since that 2001 essay. We now tend to aim for a love of reading. Because having adults out there who want to crack a book means having adults willing to explore, learn, and challenge themselves.
As I said in my essay: "...fantasy is necessary for all ages." I still believe it.
Happy Canadian Library month!
I'm a little late getting this post out, but it's not owing to a lack of sincerity in its creation. Canadian Library Worker's Day was Oct 15th! However, October is still Canadian Library Month, so I'm not too late!!
I love my local library and try to visit weekly, although it's ended up every second week or so lately. There is so much going on in a library, I wanted to share a proper tribute to the library and prompt people, if they haven't, to check out their local library and maximize its use!! I never, never want to lose the library, so please, please, please, support your library.
To quote the Canadian Federation of Library Association, "More than just a place to find books, libraries promote cultural awareness, engage in the community, provide educational programs, support freedom of expression and so much more." It's easy to see how important the library is!
Here are my 7 reasons Libraries rock.
1. Free books.
Of course, this has to be number one. Books, and more books. And if they don't have a book in at the moment (my local library is small but mighty), they'll have it brought down from another library in the chain for you. That's right, a personal book delivery service. I can read ALLL the books I want!! (Or at least the ones I have time for….)
2. Audiobooks and movies and DVDs and magazines!
It's not just free books; it's also other media. Audiobooks can be checked out online these days. BD/DVDs range from self-help to kid videos to popular fiction. They even have magazines, and they are not the old issues; they get new magazines every week! So even if a book is not your jam (I'm not judging!), there's still something worth borrowing.
3. Cheap books (and other things).
When I'm not just checking out a book to return, I can browse the cart sitting by (or outside in nice weather) the front door, where the books and DVDs are for sale. Our local library tends to have them for free, but many libraries have a small fee for old books. I've picked up several from that cart, no longer worrying about due dates but still snagging a classic tale or new author to try. It's a treasure hunt that doesn't break the bank!
Storytime, yoga, dance, author readings, crafts, and games… The library is running all these things! My local library even did a take-home mystery kit for the kids that involved everything from word searches to making invisible ink over the summer! Kid's events are great for encouraging creativity and a love of reading, plus it gives my kids something to do for forty-five minutes! For the adults, there's something every week, the perfect setup for the perpetual student!
5. Computer access.
I'm fortunate enough to have my own computer, but the library has Wi-Fi too to use. And for those without a computer, the library is a place for checking emails, looking up jobs, researching school papers, and more. It's a lifeline for many!
6. A space to meet
This was less so with COVID, but the library is a wonderful place to meet. Our local writer's group used the facility, as did chess, gaming, and book clubs. It's a great change of scene for those moments when a writer wants some peace. They are also one of the few public places still around that expects you to loiter! Even when traveling, I'll seek a library as a safe place to sit for a while, read or write, and generally enjoy a bit of quiet.
7. Great people
Librarians are fantastic! We love having friendly faces greeting us, helping my son check his books out, and directing us to what we need. I am very grateful for all the wonderful people working at the library. Their work is never done; it's a constant rotation of books being put away, only to be disturbed again, yet they are patient and kind and so very knowledgeable.
So there you have it. Support your library and all the fantastic work they do! Only by using the service can we ensure it's there for those who need it! Happy Canadian Library month!
Are you a library fan? If not, why not? If so, what did I miss from the list?
D. Lambert, author
Fantasy novels that entice, inspire, and entertain.