Retribution Rails is a YA western by Erin Bowman. It’s not a sci-fi/western, it’s not a fantasy/western, it’s not a dystopian/western, it’s straight up, 1880s western. And it’s so much fun.
The western is not a popular genre, especially with the YA crowd. You may be able to find crossovers with other genres, such as Firefly or Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, but those are few. It’s even harder to find full-on westerns now. This should change.
I’m guessing many of you, including my Christian followers, have never heard of Larry Norman. He was a Christian musician from the sixties and seventies, the father of Jesus rock, and an influence on both Christian and non-Christian musicians alike.
Throughout his career, Norman struggled with balancing evangelizing and creating true art. He felt like most of Christian music was propaganda, only enjoyable by Christians. Unsurprisingly, he had a rocky relationship with the Christian community- at times they called him a backslider or a Satan-worshiper, and viewed him as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, luring the Christian youth away from the Christ.
The biography Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?: Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock by Gregory Alan Thornbury captures this struggle extremely well. I would go so far as to say that it’s a must-read for any Christian artist, whether a musician or a writer or any other kind.
The Raven Cycle, by Maggie Stiefvater, is a strange series. Technically, it’s about a hunt for an old Welsh king, but I think cars are described in more detail than the hunt itself. Technically, the characters are on a quest, but they spend more time street racing or working than searching. Technically, there’s romance, but the friendship struggles take up far more pages. Through these technicalities, Maggie Stiefvater captures real life on the pages of a fantasy series.
There’s a certain way to read a book by C. S. Lewis.
First, you get the largest cup of tea that you can find. Preferably earl grey, but to each his own. After all, this is the man who said, “you can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
For most books, it should be drizzling out. The sky is dark, even in early afternoon, but pleasantly so. If it’s The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, though, it should be snowing, fat, fluffy flakes falling from the sky.
You settle back in an oversized leather easy chair, steam drifting up from your cup and the precipitation drifting down outside, and read.
The opening scene. It’s either a writer’s favorite scene to write… or their least favorite. There’s so much at stake in making it right- agents may only read your first five pages before deciding to pass. And if someone’s browsing in a bookstore or library, you have maybe a paragraph to interest them. It needs to be good enough to make them invest hours of their time into reading your book.
There’s a lot that goes into making a great first scene. Here are three things I keep in mind when writing my opening scenes.
There’s a certain way to read a book by Lemony Snicket.
You have to sneak it off the shelf while your parent/guardian/mysterious caregiver believes you are asleep. From there you have a couple options. You can read under the covers with a flashlight, clicking the light off and holding your breath every time footsteps pass by your door.
Or, if you think it’s late enough that you can get away with it and no one come by to remind you of tomorrow’s responsibilities and send you to bed, you can turn on a small lamp in your library or living room. You can read by that soft glow as the night’s darkness presses around you.
And as you read about the daring escapades of clever but unfortunate children, you will know, deep down inside, the world is quiet here.
Yeah, I’m going Buzzfeed with this post. My logical energy is too depleted to make convincing arguments (thanks, finals week).
I’m a pretty slow writer- it takes me a long time to string one word after the other. With this comes several feelings that others just don’t understand. Can you relate?
You all know I love Leigh Bardugo, author of the brilliant Six of Crows duology and the gorgeous Language of Thorns collection. But she started out as a beginner, just like everyone else.
I unearthed a video where she graciously shares some of her early writing. It’s… relatable. And by relatable, I mean I was crying/laughing in my university’s computer lab. So maybe don’t watch it in public. Here’s the link.
I Was a Teenage Writer (Leigh Bardugo)
The others on that panel (and similar panels) are worth watching too, but I’m not vouching for any of the content. Proceed at your own risk, but it’s probably worth it.
It’s all been leading to this. All the Marvel movies, all the hype, everything. Avengers Infinity War is finally here.
One of the largest recurring Marvel flaws has been its ‘filler’ movies. It’s clear when one just exists to stall, building excitement for next big crossover. But what’s bigger than Infinity War? Isn’t this the culmination of everything? Well, yes, but…
I managed to catch The Greatest Showman in a cheap theater near my house, and I’m so glad I saw it on the big screen- one with great, surround sound speakers. It’s a wonderful, fun spectacle, and you should see it if you haven’t already.
I loved how happy of a movie it was. P.T. Barnum’s goal (when he was focused), was to make audiences smile. The movie itself never got too dark. And it wasn’t just a fluffy story, either. The point of it was that happiness can be meaningful- it’s not lesser than more serious works.