Unlock the Muse – April 23, 2019

In any long term project, working at it consistently is what keeps progress moving forward. At the beginning, it feels like it will never be done. Even halfway through feels like the end is still so far away. Writing a novel is a huge project. Progress is sometimes tremendously slow. It might even feel sometimes like you’re moving backwards as you have to step back and do more research, more character work, more plotting.

The point is to keep moving forward. Don’t let the details overwhelm you. Have a bad day? Let it go and have a better one tomorrow.

Inspire
Here’s your writing prompt for this week:

Write down how much money you expect to earn as a writer this year. Subtract the amount you already made.

Whether you’re earning money with your writing or not, think about what you want to be earning. Now, make a plan to get one step closer to your goal.

Encourage
It’s play week! The story is in the dice. Use one, or use them all to inspire a scene, a poem, an entire novel. You win the game if you’re having fun!

StoryCubes11

Happy writing!

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Shadowmarch Series, by Tad Williams: A Review

I started reading this series a couple of years ago when book one, Shadowmarch, landed on my 2017 Reading Challenge list. I read book two last year, fitting it in between challenge books. For this year, I managed to get the final two books on the 2019 ATY Reading Challenge list for prompts #7 and #8 – two books related to the same topic, genre or theme. What’s better related than two books from the same series?

In this sweeping fantasy series, we meet a huge cast of characters, and action spread across an entire continent. But the primary focus is on royal twins Princess Briony and Prince Barrick. And on their home, Southmarch in northern Eion. The twins’ father, King Olin, has been taken for ransom and their elder brother, Prince Kendrick is murdered. Responsibility for the kingdom has now fallen to them. Now, facing an ancient threat from the north, a rising threat from the south, and a threat from within their own realm, Princess Briony and Prince Barrick will endure unimaginable challenges in order to save their kingdom.

Williams is a master at world-building. He has created here a rich and vibrant world filled with an interesting assortment of characters. Different races, with their distinct cultures, each have their own part to play in the overall story.

The story opens slowly, with seemingly unrelated elements. A lot is going on, and it takes time to set the stage. But by the final book, the suspense has escalated to the point where it became difficult to put the book down. I was fully invested in the characters from the beginning and was gratified to see things brought together in the end.

Tad Williams is one of my favorite authors, and this series did not disappoint me in any way. If you’re a fan of huge, sweeping fantasies with unique world-building, I highly recommend this series.

Unlock the Muse – April 16, 2019

The past two weeks I have been participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. I have been working hard at reestablishing a consistent writing habit. I managed to take my laptop with me every day. I’ve written a little something everyday. It hasn’t always been easy, and several days this past week I was downright discouraged with my lack of progress. But consistency has helped me.

Inspire
Here’s your writing prompt for this week:

Look in the mirror at least three times today and tell yourself, “I am the best person in the world, and there is no one like me.” After you have done this, write 400 words on how it made your feel and whether or not you would do the same thing again. If it didn’t really work for you today, try it again tomorrow and see if your feelings change.

There is power in positive thinking. You are the only one like you. And you are the only one who can write your story. Go, and be amazing.

Encourage
con·sist·en·cy

noun
Conformity in the application of something, typically that which is necessary for the sake of logic, accuracy, or fairness.
synonyms: evenness, steadiness, stability, constancy, regularity, uniformity, equilibrium, unity, orderliness, lack of change, lack of deviation, dependability, reliability

The word consistency dates back to the 1590s and comes from the Medieval Latin consistentia, literally, “a standing together.” The meaning of the word as a “state of being in agreement or harmony” (with something) dates back to the 1650s.
(from etymonline.com)

Happy writing!

Unlock the Muse – April 9, 2019

This morning on my way to work I ran into a frequent, if unpredictable traffic problem. There is an intersection that for some inexplicable reason will back up, slowing traffic down for several minutes. I don’t live in a high traffic city, so compared to some people’s commute, this is nothing. But my point is this, there is no consistency in the traffic patterns even though I use the same route at the same time every day. If traffic was consistent, I could anticipate and prepare for it accordingly.

This is what consistency in writing will do as well. With a consistent writing habit comes the ability to anticipate and prepare for writing. It gives your brain the chance to work silently in the background. You can then come to your writing session every day prepared and therefore more productive.

Inspire
Here’s your new writing prompt for this week:

Read a new or old book and critique it.

Critiquing the work of other writers, especially those who do it well, is a good way to learn how to improve your own writing. Reread a favorite book. Choose a classic. Or a book by a popular author. Take note of what you like as a reader and what you don’t. What makes this book work?

Encourage
I’ll leave you with this thought:

Consistent Quote 1

Happy writing!

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: Officially Unofficially Participating

I didn’t actually sign up officially to participate in the Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon. Though I had a blast with it when I’ve participated before, I wasn’t sure I was up for the challenge this time. However, as the opening hour approached, I found myself still awake. I decided what was the harm in trying? All it really means is reading as much as possible. Which is something I’d like to do anyway.

So, here I am, reading along again with countless other Dewey’s participants. I don’t have an official TBR. I’ll only read what I was already reading before making the decision to participate. That would be:

  • Mad Ship, by Robin Hobb (physical book) – currently on page 241
  • The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt (ebook) – currently at 11%
  • The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy (audio) – 9 hr 24 min remaining

There are always other random books and things I’ll read throughout the 24 hours. My day always starts with Bible reading and a short devotional. I have a separate book I’m currently reading with each of my three children. I will read emails, tweets and blogs about Dewey’s and other things.

As usual, life will intervene and I will be unable to read for an entire 24 hours. Soccer season opens today with the first games. With two playing this season, I’ll spend a good chunk of time on the field. In the rain. Without reading material.

I’ll get tired. And I’ll get hungry. My family will need things from me. I’m supposed to write 500 words today for my Camp NaNoWriMo project. I will do these other things, but I will also read. A lot. But unofficially, because I’m not really signed up for this.

Are you participating in Dewey’s Readathon? What are you planning to read?

Iron Gold, by Pierce Brown: A Review

On ATY’s 2019 Reading Challenge list is prompt #18, a book related to one of the elements on the periodic table. I’m not sure how, because it’s been on my TBR for quite a while now, but Iron Gold, by Pierce Brown, didn’t immediately come to mind. When I finally thought of it, it seemed so obvious. Just one element off the periodic table? Why not two?

I read the first trilogy – Red Rising, Golden Son and Morning Star – a couple of years ago, before Iron Gold was released. I was eager to read Iron Gold immediately but it wasn’t available, of course. By the time I finally got back to this book, I was a little afraid it wouldn’t hold up to the first trilogy. I shouldn’t have worried.

While every effort has been made to avoid spoilers, writing this review proved difficult without inadvertently spoiling something from the original series. If you haven’t read the first trilogy, you might consider avoiding the rest of this post.

Iron Gold takes place ten years following the events of the first trilogy. The uprising Darrow helped to initiate has had consequences across the galaxy. Peace remains an impossible dream, and Darrow seems willing to do just about anything to bring an end to the war.

Just like the first series, this book doesn’t let up. The action is relentless. In this book, Brown has introduced other voices. The story isn’t told exclusively through Darrow’s first person perspective, but includes three new voices. This broadens the scope of the story considerably, as we get to see the events through the experiences of other people.

I loved this book as much as the first series. I’m excited to see where Brown will go with this story next.

Unlock the Muse – April 2, 2019

Consistency is a crucial trait for a writer. It’s the only way to accomplish anything. Whether that means finding the same place to write, the same time every day, or making it a point to write routinely.

Inspire
Here’s your writing prompt for this week:

Read a new book, and write your own take on what the jacket copy should say about the story.

What’s the next book on your to-read list? Before you read it, take a good look at the blurb. From this copy, you’ve already begun to make assumptions about the story. Take a moment to write down some of your thoughts. After reading the book, did it meet your expectations? Now, rewrite the blurb.

Encourage
This month I’ll take a look at the word Consistency and what it means to a writer. Building the kind of momentum like I talked about last month depends on consistency.

Personally, I’ve been struggling to come back from a break that’s gone on too long. Finding a way to write consistently again is my goal right now. I’ll celebrate the small victories – such as taking my laptop to work with me and making the choice to write instead of read. Maybe it’s not much, but at least it’s a start.

What do you do to ensure you consistently move forward with your writing projects?

Happy writing!