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.
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?
We had a good time at the launch on Saturday, despite the temperamental weather! But I know some people couldn't make it out for a variety of reasons, including illness, time constraints, and travel delays! So I promised to put together a video to cover the same stuff.
No problem, right?
I have been ambushed by cats twice, kids three times, had a power outage, and can't get my words to line up! To add icing on the cake, this post has gotten erased once already.
I persevered. HERE are the result.
And for fun, here are a few outtakes. Levi has a cameo... he got surprised by the kitten!
Someone once told me that the knife-throwing game in the first book of the Son of No Man series was a great way to symbolize the Northlander War. Sure, it fit. Carsh didn't know the rules (like Tohmas not knowing the whole story about the way), and some of the victory was in how flashy the goal was achieved. And in the end, it's close, very close. So ok, I see it. The problem is, I didn't write it on purpose as a symbol at all.
I'm not sure if I do these things unconsciously, or if people just see it in places it wasn't because they are looking for it! I love when these things come together, far more than putting deliberate symbolism in and making it sound too contrived. I think that comes from my English classes in high school.
I generally did well in school, but my lowest mark was in English class for a while. Not because of the rules of writing, as I knew those, but because English required me to do something no other class did: made me interpret the MEANING of things.
That was something my poor academic head couldn't do well. There was no right or wrong answer, at least in theory. I suppose if there had been NO wrong answers, I would have done better. But it made me work hard in English class, seeking to understand the stories or poetry because I figured if I just tried hard enough, I would get it. But when I read about a horse bite, I thought it was a person getting bitten by a horse. I didn't understand the deeper meaning. Symbolism was lost on me. I kept getting things "wrong."
I eventually learned how to play the game. I figured out the patterns, and even if I didn't believe it, I could throw together a good argument. I didn't like what we read or how we read, taking apart every syllable, but I learned how to do it.
In my final year, I put those skills to work during a Provincial Exam practice. I wrote an essay that was essentially a person walking down a hallway. That was it. A man walks down the hallway, looks at doors.
I coated the hallway in symbolism.
Every door handle was unique: dented, tarnished, or freshly polished, yet seldom used. There were colours in everything. Red door frames that had been chipped where hands often passed. Blue, faded carpet. Flowers of bright, shining yellow peeling on a grey-black surface.
You're doing it, aren't you? You're reading into those details.
Dented- it's been used but not repaired. Was there violence?
Tarnished- old, worn, not replaced. Something valuable and kept well past its time.
Red frames- anger, perhaps blood.
Peeling paint of the flowers- once chipper but losing to the pressures of the real-life grey.
The specifics turned the entire thing into a perfect metaphor. Only it was a metaphor of nothing. It meant nothing. I had no message. It was just a very well-described hallway, but it got me a damn good mark.
My point is not that it's not worth putting in symbolism, but rather that, as readers, we must be aware of the bias we bring into our interpretation of things. Because it's not always about the author and what THEY meant. It's about what YOU see as the reader. It's what YOU get out of it in the end.
I feel like books are like many people I know; better face to face!
Rydan (Book 1 of Son of No Man) is here at last, in the flesh. Or at least in the paper-flesh. And it's even cooler than the images would have made me believe. I was a little on the fence about the turquoise and amber but boy, it's smart! I love the colours!
So if you'd like a copy, give me a shout! I'll ship! There's a new FORM here to start the conversation. If I don't get back to you within a few days, poke me! This may have some growing pains as I've got a new email (d.lambert at dlambertauthor.com) and I'm ironing out the kinks!
Hey! My shirt matches...
Yep! It's here! Online, at least!
Rydan is the first book of the adult Fantasy series "Son of No Man" and it's available starting NOW!!!
When I started writing "Rydan" I wanted to capture the "truth" behind the legend of the First King of Espar. I knew Tohmas Galanth was not the perfect hero. He was a legend and legends form after the fact. So what had really happened? Why did people believe in him? How were they misled?
I was inspired by history a lot in this! Check it out!
For paperbacks, check out the new form on the Contact page HERE. I've not got the paperbacks of RYDAN in yet, but am expecting them soon! Fill in the form and I'll be in touch with shipping costs. I'm not quite at the level of an online store right now, but the bonus is you can get it (or any of the others!) personally autographed!
Having just discovered this myself, I wanted to share. One part because it's hugely useful to fellow authors, and one part because, of course, FREE BOOKS!
I was introduced to StoryOrigin through one haphazard comment. I felt an instant connection solely based on the capital letters (if you've read my books, you know why!). Then I got to know it a bit and, holy crow, I think I'm in love.
StoryOrigin is the brainchild of Evans Gow who apparently had the know-how to make it happen. It's like bookfunnel, booksprout, and a social media platform got together and had beautiful new website. If those words mean nothing to you, it's a huge online program that allows you to set up pretty much all of your required links for promoting and distributing your books. You can hook up with ARC readers. You can organize promotions and deals. You can give out copies of your material. You can set up newsletter sign ups. You can set universal links.
You still need a newsletter distributor, but it integrates with the common ones (like mailerlite, which I use but is capital letter deficient in my view). I can even update it so that it tracks how many subscribers I have, which is useful when it comes to cooperation.
The coolest thing it does is help author work together. Group promotions, newsletter swaps and reviewer platforms allow other users to link their works to a single download page for maximum visibility and effect. In fact, I got involved in TWO links this week and it means I can share lists of FREE BOOKS right here and now!
These ones come with a small caveat- you have to sign up for a newsletter. But free books and unsubscribe any time! So take a look and see if anything tickles your fancy! And yes, Dragon's Voice is in there, the entire novel, for FREE as an ebook right now. Share to a friend!
So much news!!!
First off, you'll get most of it in the Newsletter! Sign up HERE to NOT ONLY get a FREE series of four short stories but ALSO be the first to know the rest of the AMAZING news coming up for August!
For now... It's official! Rydan is coming!!!
Book 1 of the Son of No Man was written over an 18 month period while I was in vet school. I assume my brain needed to push back against the enormous amount of memorization and studying. So, over five years, I wrote the entire series, starting with Rydan. I got to know Tohmas Galanth, the First King of Espar and his rather dubious upbringing. His was already a legend in Dragon's Talon and SoulBurner, but I had to go back to the beginning to see how he became the man who brought together Espar.
And the funny thing is that he did it for all the wrong reasons.
Check out RYDAN, releasing August 15th 2021 thanks to the awesome people at 4 Horsemen Publishing. Apparently, we'll be pounding the other five books out back to back to back, so it's going to be fast, furious, and fantastic!
D. Lambert, author
Fantasy novels that entice, inspire, and entertain.