Tag Archives: novel

What can be Improved Upon in English College Courses (Part 1)

So, there are a few things that have been bugging me for a while now. This blog post actually gets a little long so I’m expanding it into multiple parts. Part one talks about writing courses in college, although all of this can probably be applied to high school writing courses as well.  Part 2 will focus on courses I think that should be added to the college curriculum. And, who knows, maybe I’ll expand this into a part 3, as well, topic yet to be determined.

Firstly, why is there such a tendency to curb the way we college students write? I understand that different people have different taste in genres, but I believe each genre should be an acceptable format to write in during a college writing course. We come there to enhance our skills after all, not to write something that has no interest to us. I’ll use my college experience as an example here (and I know many colleges are focused around the same way), in my junior level creative writing prose course we were meant to have a portfolio at the end of the semester with 3 short stories in it. I had an awesome teacher who allowed us to write whatever we wanted. . . Initially, anyways. I decided I’m going to kill two birds with one stone and I’ll write a short story that coincides with my larger piece that I’m working on, my novel. I loved it. I had an awesome time writing it and I feel as though much of the class enjoyed it (that last part could be due to the fact that I consider myself a decent writer). Anyways, 2/3 pieces I wrote for that portfolio turned out to be short stories that supplemented my novel, The Trials of the Core, which is a fantasy piece.

In my senior level creative writing prose course my teacher strictly forbade anyone from writing fantasy short stories and decided to stick with literary prose. Okay. I don’t mind literary prose, I can write about anything, that’s what practice will get you, but if I had a choice what would I choose? Probably my fantasy stories and again work on things that are going to compliment me later in life. Now, the problem here?

The problem is that my senior level creative writing teacher forbade us to write on anything other than her specific interest even when we had two pieces we needed to turn in at the end of the year. My junior-level teacher did not. To me a solution could be that, yes, you can write a story genre specific to your choice, but then you must also write another story that is not in your typical genre. This forces us as writers and readers to do a couple things: (1) As writers, we find our voice in different genres. We are exposed to a wider range of writing, and as such, become better versed in all aspects writing. (2) As readers, we learn to look at different types of literature and judge it in the genre that it’s in. We see the shortcomings of a specific genre, and the strengths of another. We learn to analyze differently and perhaps even take what’s specific in one genre and merge it with another (for example, merging an idea of fantasy into magical realism). (3) As teachers, you should be able to discern good writing from bad writing no matter the genre. Even if it’s something you don’t typically read, you know a good sentence when you see it—it is not as abstract as poetry is in my opinion.

I am pro-fantasy writer, a definite advocate, and so I hate it when teachers tell me I can’t write a specific way and there are typically a few reasons: (1) Fantasy is about world building and you don’t have enough time to properly world build in a short story, (2) You need to deal with magic and supernatural elements, that again, take a long time to explain and not suited for a short story, (3) there may be creatures in it that we cannot suspend our disbelief to.

Great…

Here are some reasons why we should be allowed to write fantasy (but you can apply these reasons to other genres as well): (1) The ability to create a delicate plot structure. Just think about it, imagine how much planning and timing it takes for fantasy authors to juggle multiple plot lines in a single story. J.K. Rowling had 7 books in her series, Harry Potter, and although I doubt she had all 7 outlined when she wrote her first book, she had a good idea of where she wanted the story to go. As fantasy writers we need to think about things that happen in the first book that will affect the second book, third book, and so on. That is hard! And a reason why if we can practice that in short story format, utilizing the setup-payoff technique, we are going to be well off when we actually start our career after college. (2) World building. I don’t think there is another genre (perhaps besides science-fiction) that worldbuilds like fantasy does. This is a trait that can carry over to ANY GENRE. We as writers are writers, first and foremost, but I’d scoff at anyone who says that as a writer they are not an observer—a people watcher, a world watcher. If you can dream up or think up these fantastic settings that are, for the most part, imaginary just think about how well you will be able to do describing something that takes place in Smoky Mountains, Tennessee. The language we use is the same, the reality is that in most other fiction, it literally is reality that is the difference. It’s there. Tangible. (3) To further recognize how to deal with not only cliché characters, but hackneyed scenarios. This is huge in genre fiction. In romance you have the love triangle and the most known one is the High School quarterback dating the head cheerleader and then this other undiscovered girl comes in and attracts the quarterback and they fall in love. For fantasy it’s the idea that an orphan will be the one to save everyone. And so on and so forth for the other genres. But, writing these short stories in these different types of genres allow us to practice creating different archetypes of characters, because we don’t want the predictable love triangle. By listening to others’ feedback who aren’t maybe versed in the genre as much as we are, we get an outsiders perspective which might just be the thing we are looking for when it comes to changing up our pacing, style, tone or perspective.

Well, that actually happened to be a lengthier blog post than I intended it to be, but it needed to be said nonetheless. So, there you have it teachers and professors, don’t limit your student’s creativity just because you don’t like a particular genre. Instead, embrace it. Allow them to write perhaps one of there 3 portfolio pieces in a genre of their choosing but then encourage them to go outside their norms and write in something else. This will only create better writers, better readers, and better analyzers. We as students are thirsty for variety, thirsty for knowledge, and that sort of thing is taken away when our writing habits are dictated. I think Plato says it best when he says, “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” Know one thing, you know nothing, know many things, and you are on the write path.

Book Launch Party!!!

Here are the photos from my Book Launch. It was an awesome event and my proudest moment! I had a group of 50 people there or so and there were events planned throughout the entire night so there was never a dull moment.

Feel free to look around at the gallery! I can’t wait to support my other fellow author friends at their book launches. I am finally happy to have my book out there. The book comes out December 10th of this year, but if you can’t wait and want to get a preordered copy, visit www.guardianofthecore.com.

Before You Start Reading

Hey everyone!!!

So, yesterday was the big day, I had my Book Launch party. Boy, was I nervous. I shouldn’t have been though, it was an awesome turnout. I will get more into detail about that in a different blog post though. There is so much happening in my life right now that I will be blogging a lot more regularly and so this is the beginning of a 2-3/week blogging spree. So, get prepared.

Anyways, even though the book doesn’t officially get released until December 10th of 2013, I had my Book Launch party in November where people could buy the book and/or free a free book through a series of events (again, a different blog post, be looking for it though). But, I figured before anyone starts reading the book, I wanted to share this with everyone again (I say again because it is on my Facebook Page for my novel “search: Guardian of the Core”). This is my confessional where I explain what spurred me to write the novel I’m writing now, and why I think it’s important to write and what I hope readers will gain via reading it. Take a look at the link below! Also, while you’re there, you can subscribe to my newly created youtube channel titled after my publishing company, “Writer’s Block Press”.

Author Confessional

Thanks everyone for the support and the continued support. I appreciate it. If you end up purchasing the book great, if it speaks to you and you can really resonate with it than that means I’m doing my job as an author which is my greatest delight, not that you bought it. At the end of the day I want you to be able to relate to some aspect of it, regardless of the fact that it is a fantasy novel.

Words You Should Cut in Your Writing

Hey everyone!

So, I was cleaning my room up and I came across a sheet of paper that I always had taped to my desk in college while I was writing. Before this I read the book “How to Write a Damn Good Novel” by James Frey and so much of the advice comes from there. But, I figured, since I found it, I would share it!

Nice, Beautiful, Interesting, Wonderful, Amazing: All of these words you should replace with more specificity. Let’s take, for example, the word beautiful. What is beautiful really saying? That something is really gorgeous? Well, what does really gorgeous mean? Perhaps that the individual in this situation is “A woman with lush lips as red as her hair walked in with a dress of sparkling gold cut off at the thighs. Her sun-kissed skin hid the slight freckles on her cheeks. Her green eyes shot through me, intriguing me to come closer.”

Which is better? I am assuming many people will agree with the last option because of its specificity. I am describing how she is “beautiful” and from there readers can either choose to agree with the narrator, or not. Yes, this adds on more words, but the amount of words you add doing important things like this can be made up by cutting some of these really unnecessary words I talk about next.

Here are some of the words you should actually Delete:

First off, the adverbs when possible. Use that search function on Microsoft Office Word and find those “ly” words and see if you can adjust them. Run quickly? How about sprint?

Very and Really: Ask yourself, what does “very” really do for your sentence? If you say “The building is very sturdy.” vs. “The building is sturdy.” Are people really going to interpret that any differently? When I read a building sturdy, I don’t find myself wondering how sturdy, I know it’s sturdy and I trust the narrator. Or, how about, “It was a really hard piece of food that I ate.” Why not just say, “It was a hard piece of food that I ate?” Or, even better, “I ate stale food.” Now, that’s tightening for you because the stale implies hard and now you managed to rearrange the sentence to take care of unnecessary words.

So: Sooo what? “He was so inconsiderate. I hate him so much.” Great, the guys a douche bag we can see that. But, convey it to us in not as many words. “He was inconsiderate. I loathe him.” I changed a weak word like “hate” to a stronger word that deletes words. And what is “so inconsiderate” compared to “inconsiderate”? Can you tell me a difference? Probably not. So, delete it when possible 😉

Quite: I find that when people use this word they want to make an “almost 100% statement.” It is another filler word for the likes of “very” and “really”. For example, “He is quite intelligent.” Same as “He is really intelligent.” But you know what’s even better. “He is a genius.” Now, this particular example doesn’t delete words but it makes the sentence stronger because of the words you are using.

That: OMG That. It’s a dirty word. And it pops up everywhere. I mean everywhere. Some times it’s needed. But, make sure you read your sentences before accepting it into your troupe. For example, “That is the building that Jack used to live in,” Adam said. Did you really need two thats? No. “Jack used to live there,” Adam said. No that and a lot less words.

Just: You are “just” able to do something. He managed to just grab the ledge. The sun was just rising up. You can really delete this word in almost every instance. It just doesn’t add anything to your writing 😉  How about “He grabbed the ledge.” “The sun rose.” Or, “The sun was on the horizon.” The latter is more true to the meaning of the sentence above. 99% of the time you can delete your just. Just make sure you look at it 🙂

Started to do something: I hate this phrase so much. Sometimes I need to catch myself using it or wondering if I need to use it. “He started to walk towards the man with the beard.” When do you start something? When you are doing it. “He walked towards the bearded man.” Is so much stronger than the sentence above.

Those are the ones that are my biggest pet peeves and the ones I make a conscious effort of in avoiding for my writing. When you have strong writing, you have the attention of readers, and when you have that, you will have a good short story, essay, novel–whatever it is that you write. Now, go find those words and try deleting them. This one signal method (as well as rewriting some of my novel) took a third draft of 173,000 words to a concise one of 123,000 words. That is a difference, but everything is still the same and I even added in more description and character traits and still managed to come in 50,000 less. It goes to show you the power or rewriting and deleting the necessary words and saving space for the ones that matter–the descriptions, character building, world building, etc.

Review #4

Hey everyone,

So, here is another review that came on about my book, compliments of “Teresa” on Goodreads. She received my book from the NetGalley system. For the most part pretty positive! She didn’t like the fact that it’s not a “complete” book and that there is bound to be a second one, but I suppose…it is a series after all. Wouldn’t be without other books. Anyways, here is the review!

 

“SPOILERS WITHIN:
This is a science fiction story involving magical powers, technological advances and one all powerful guardian. In this portion, the applicants have applied and eight are chosen to compete for an apprenticeship with Eska, the current Guardian of the Core. Should they survive the contests, they will have the opportunity to answer questions for approval from the ruling families and with the required votes begin the apprenticeship for a 200 year position which will require the person to remain single, childless due to the potential transfer of the power.

This portion is well written and the author has well developed story line with the different locations. I could relate to the characters as I was reading the story, not to mention some of the technology used in the story. The places, people and events had excellent descriptions. The reader is able to get lost in the storyline and wonder where the time is gone when he arrives to find, what is to me, a disappointing ending.

Like so many stories being published these days, to me, this is merely part one of a story. From the way the story ends, it is clear there will be more but instead of creating one novel they’ve broken it up into parts so that more money can be made. ( )”

 

She gave it a 3/5 stars. My lowest one yet, but still overall a good review I think considering what she wrote above. Thanks for reading along and hopefully you’ll get the chance to review and read my book soon enough.

Review #3

And the positive reviews continue to roll in. Here is what Betsy Harrison said about my novel on Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/730582546. Otherwise here it is below!

“The Guardian of The Core is reaching the close to his 200 year term as Guardian and must seek out a replacement. Letters arrive at different places to assemble the best of the best for the competition to see who will be chosen as the apprentice. Prince Hydro, Eirek, Zain, Zakk, Gabrielle, Prince Evber and Cadimar are the contestants for the apprenticeship.

“The trials would sort the strong from the weak. Nothing else matters.” These are the thoughts of Guardian Eska as he finally meets those called to attempt the trials.

Through a series of four trials they will be tested for knowledge, strength, survival and more with only one spectator allowed to witness the trials, Senator Numos. After each trial, some will be dropped while others continue on until only two are left. These two will compete in the final Trial with the winner to become the new apprentice and eventually the new Guardian.

All of the contestants want to win, but at what lengths will they go to to be the final person left? Rivalries and friendships. Which will it be?

Totally unique and very interesting story line, plot, setting, and characters. The author does each person justice by not focusing on just one or two but spreads out the developing plot between them all. This story has me awaiting the next book to see if the characters and story go the way I have developed them to go in my mind.

I gave this book 5 stars. Actually, I’d give 6 if I could.

(I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.)”

Thanks Betsy for enjoying the book.

MY SECOND REVIEW!! :)

Hi everyone,

Alright sooo I finally got a second review in now and it comes from a reviewer who requested my book over NetGalley. Speaking of which, if you want to read it and review it before it comes out on December 10th, sign up for a NetGalley account and I can send you a link to download it on your e-reader.

Anyways, here is the review. It comes from reviewer, Duchovney Osborne. He says….

“I don’t normally put a synopsis of the book on my site but this book is so good, I’m making an exception in order to peak interest and hopefully introduce you to a great read you may have overlooked. The synopsis below is taken from Goodreads.
{ As Edwyrd Eska approaches his two-hundredth year as Guardian of the Core, he must find an Apprentice to train under him. His title and role compels him to safeguard and govern his universe, Gladonus, as each Guardian before him has done and those after him shall continue to do until relieved of such duties by will of the Ancients. Prince Hydro Paen, Eirek Mourse, and Zain Berrese—amongst other contestants—receive invitations to compete in a quest of Trials intended to determine who becomes Eska’s Apprentice. An old adage goes: “the toughest trials test you truest” – and these events challenge their fortitude through tenuous partnerships, intellectual rivalries, and battles of weapons’ mastery. Along the way, each contestant must attempt to overcome personal demons that haunt them. In this tale of ideal dreams and lucid aspirations, these competitors find theirs threatened by deceit, betrayal, sabotage—and even flesh—as all become vital to success…}
My thoughts in short I really enjoyed this book. All the characters, world building, action and intrigue you would want in a book, well its in this one.
My recommendation this book is worth grabbing a copy. I think this is a book that will pick up steam purely from word of mouth.
I received a copy of this book in ARC form from the publisher. This does not change my opinion in any way.
4 out of 5″
Thanks Duchovney for the review. You can check out his blog at http://bookcoffeereview.blogspot.com/
I hope to get more positive reviews as the publication date draws nearer.
Thanks for reading everyone and for the continued support I receive. It means a lot to me.

MY FIRST REVIEW!!! :)

Okay so I’ve been sending out galley copies for a while now and I finally got my first review back from one of the readers. I am so excited that I’m posting all of it here! It’s kind of long but I like it all and I am hoping the other reviewers will feel the same way. This is for the book, The Trials of the Core, the first book in the series, Guardian of the Core, which you can like at www.facebook.com/guardianofthecore 🙂 Anyways, here is the review!

“If fans of science-fiction or fantasy are looking for something unique and unconventional, The Trials of the Core blends the two genres in a way that is simple yet elegant.  Michael Thies creates a universe that is sort of a cross between Harry Potter and Game of Thrones.  Written unpretentiously and with clear character voices, this is the first installment of a series that has potential to speak to both young and mature audiences alike.

In a faraway solar system known as Gladonus, twelve distinctive planets – each with its own culture of inhabitants – form an intergalactic kingdom.  Presiding over this collection of nations is Edwyrd Eska, a “Guardian” who protects and rules his republic with stoicism and gumption.  Underneath Eska’s firm exterior, bits of softness shine through as he searches for an Apprentice who will ultimately become his successor.  Six young warriors compete in a series of trials to prove who is worthiest of accompanying Eska during the twilight years of his reign.

Among them is Eirek Mourse, the “everyman” who rises from the mundane life of a pauper to embark upon a journey that leads him to seek out a greater purpose for his existence.  Although Eirek is far from robust in the brawn department, he compensates for it with compassion toward others and brainy resourcefulness.  Unlike the typical hero, Eirek’s path meanders in several unexpected directions as he attempts to reconcile his long-term desires, lack of self-confidence, and abandonment issues in the absence of his uncle and onetime mentor, Angal.  Battling his competitors as well as natural elements, Eirek – who has been unable to cast Power – finds that his inner demons are his greatest adversary as his quest concludes in a surprising manner.

Eirek’s main adversary – as well as a common foe to many of the other characters – is Prince Hydro Paen.  The son of a royal lord on the planet Acquava, Hydro brings an entirely new spin to the concept of the “antihero” as his delusions of grandeur impede the genuine affection he harbors toward his fellow countrymen and his family’s legacy.  As he intends to stop at nothing to seize the reward of becoming Eska’s Apprentice, Hydro loses sight of some of the greatest qualities that a leader should exemplify; yet, he remains a strong contender for the coveted title even as a final showdown ensues.  The prize Hydro eventually captures proves to be alternately filled with both promise and darkness, leading the reader to ponder what it could mean for the future of Gladonus as a whole.

A third finalist in the trials, Zain Berrese, exemplifies some of the deepest character complexities imaginable.  Saddled with guilt for failing to save his former lover, Ava, from death, Zain struggles with his role in the apparent demise of his best friend, Zakk – a fellow gladiator who was also slated to compete in Eska’s trials.  Haunted by visions of the comrade he fears he has killed, Zain finds himself distracted throughout the trials by the sexual wiles of a female warrior, Gabrielle, along with a battle of egos against several of their male rivals.  It’s often tricky to get inside Zain’s head, but that only goes to show how immensely conflicted he remains over what qualities Gladonus will require from its next generation of leadership.

In addition to the seductive and cheeky Gabrielle, numerous secondary characters pepper this saga of Guardian Eska’s grueling competition.  Cain, a suave-yet-cerebral prince who vies with Zain for Gabrielle’s affections; Cadmar, the beefy and often-bullheaded Garian soldier who craves the apprenticeship as a matter of honor; Tundra, a wise but outspoken elder who serves as one of Eska’s closest advisors; and Senator Numos, the portly, seemingly jovial politician who observes the trials with tight lips and keen interest.  Each of these characters has a perspective to share, causing the astute reader to theorize what role they might individually – or collectively – play in later editions of the series.

The author oscillates between fast-moving action and slower moments of rich character development, never truly revealing his hand in terms of which character is destined to come out on top by the end of the trials.  These young competitors display a nice balance of elemental magic, physical strength, and mental prowess to battle the various creatures thrown in their paths as they strive to prove their merit to an enigmatic ruler.  A variety of supernatural creatures come into play throughout Eska’s trials, my personal favorite being the fairy-like Windies.  Other antagonistic species – reminiscent of ogres and centaurs – create life-threatening obstacles that turn our young warriors inside-out to show what they are truly made of.

A common quality linking all of these diverse characters is their perseverance; the six ambitious personalities jockeying for Eska’s favor individually value either wisdom, honor, compassion, power – or some combination thereof.  Their interactions result in a compelling series of alliances, feuds, friendships, and grudges.  One cannot help but anticipate that their future paths may become continuously intertwined even after Eska’s newly-minted Apprentice finally assumes his or her mantle of power.

Michael Thies has created a colorful and action-packed world that taunts the genre-lover into delving beneath the surface of what a character initially appears to be.  While several mysteries embedded within the plot are left dangling, the story concludes with the implication that this battle was only the beginning for Gladonus – and that more ominous, and much more complicated days await its future.

I highly recommend The Trials of the Core as an introduction to a cosmic saga that challenges adventurous readers to leave one’s assumptions and expectations at the door.  This nebulous narrative dares you to pick a side, reinforcing the menace of how no character is safe from confronting an untarnished destiny.”

Thanks for reading and I hope to have plenty more of these to come in the following weeks!

Revealing my Story

Revealing my Story

Hi everyone!

So, like I mentioned in previous blog posts a book called “The Trials of the Core” (book #1 in a series called, Guardian of the Core) is going to be published this December by Writer’s Block Press. We are doing a slow reveal of the book online. Click the link/url above and follow along with all that has been posted so far (chapters prologue – seven). Every week two more chapters will be released.

It would be fantastic if you could help this novel pick up steam so feel free to share this with your friends and leave comments on the chapters.

Enjoy!

– Writer’s Block Press