Tyrean Martinson on Reading and Writing

Reading and writing walk hand in hand in every storyteller’s imagination. The art of story and the heart of story dwell within each of us; I think the love of “story” draws all of humanity together. A story lifts us out of our everyday existence or adds meaning and depth to our lives. As I write this, my brother-in-law who is unable to move from the neck down (MS) and my dad who has dealt with lifelong disabilities are swapping stories in the other room – stories of plane flights, fast cars, farm work, and animal antics. We all love to hear stories and tell stories. Reading and writing flow from that mutual love of story.

I grew up surrounded by stories. My grandmother told stories when I spent the night at her house. My mom read to me every night. My dad tells stories in every conversation. My first favorite books and movies expanded my horizons. I became an avid reader and started daydreaming alternative endings or further adventures for my favorite books. From there, writing became a way of getting those ideas and my own, new stories on the page so I could keep them close or share them.

As a writer and a reader, I find myself enjoying books more than once. I love to read. I love to write. Books hold countless treasures for me as a reader and as a writer. I love to study the way that a writer has structured their book in plot, pacing, character, and setting. It helps my writing to grow. Sometimes, I go back and take notes on a book, studying the structure and characterization. As Stephen King famously stated in his book On Writing, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

Now, I know that some writers find King’s quote to be a stressful “command” statement that requires us to read massive amounts of books each year. I don’t think that’s what King meant. Even as a voracious reader, I try to slow down in my reading to let the words breathe, to study the structure and characterization, and to uncover the nuances of the words. I get more out of books that I re-read multiple times because I’m less concerned with “what happens next” and I’m reading for the enjoyment of each part of the story.

How do you read? Do you think it’s necessary to the act of writing or just a natural part of it? Are there other ways to be surrounded by the world of “story” that work just as well like verbal storytelling, listening to music, or watching movies?

And here’s one last quote:

“We live and breathe words. …. It was books that made me feel that perhaps I was not completely alone.” Cassandra Clare

Bio

Tyrean Martinson lives and writes near the waters of the Puget Sound (Washington State, USA) and daydreams daily. Currently, she is hard at work on a writing curriculum book and the last book in The Champion Trilogy. Her blog is: http://tyreanswritingspot.blogspot.com/

Thanks all for stopping by! I’m still accepting guest posts, so if you want to see how to sign up, please click here

Ellie Garratt on Spec Fic Mash-ups

Hey all! I was supposed to do this update on Friday, but see, I was writing. So I just want to let you know that yes, I have managed to work through my issues. At least enough so that I’m still on course to complete my Camp NaNo goal.

Also, I hope all my American friends had a wonderful 4th of July. 

Anyway, today I’m welcoming spec fic writer extraordinaire and Untethered Realms co-writer, Ellie Garratt. She’s here to share her love of mash-ups with us.

Thank you for having me here today, Misha. I’m **waving** hello to you and all your followers.

Time for a confession. I have a weakness for literary mash-ups, where normally polar opposite genres are mixed together. There’s something refreshing about taking an old classic such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and adding zombies into the mix. I’m not sure how Austen would have felt about her novel being re-written in such a way, but I loved Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

There are more mash-ups – Android Karenina, Sense and Sensibility, and Jane Slayre are just a few examples. Then there are mash-ups involving characters from books, such as Mr. Darcy,Vampyre.

Another style of literary mash up is taking a famous historical figure and giving them an alternative speculative fiction story. One of the most well known examples of this is Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. A genius idea of re-writing the history of the iconic President Lincoln to include vampires. Or how about Henry VIII: Wolfman or Queen Victoria Demon Hunter? I wonder if their Majesties would have been amused?

Then there are mash-ups which involve an iconic film or television series such as Star Trek. Night of the Living Trekkies is a favourite of mine. It doesn’t pretend to be anything more than it is – a gory and funny mixing of the Trek Universe and zombies. It’s also a great read, though I should warn you quite a few Star Wars fans meet with a grisly fate.

There are many more I haven’t read, such as The Undead World of Oz or Wuthering Bites. The number of literary mash-ups has grown significantly since the publication of the first, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. There are many to choose from, should they appeal to you.

Have you read any mash-ups? How do you feel about them, especially those re-working a classic book or character? Have you ever considered writing one yourself? I’d love to know your thoughts.


Author Bio

A life-long addiction to reading science fiction and horror meant writing was the logical outlet for Ellie Garratt’s passions. She is a reader, writer, blogger, Trekkie, and would happily die to be an extra in The Walking Dead. Her short stories have been published in anthologies and online. Her first short story collection, Passing Time: Nine Short Tales of the Strange and Macabre, was published in March 2013 and contains nine previously published stories. Her second, Taking Time and Other Science Fiction Stories, followed shortly after.
 You can find Ellie here: WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreads.

Thanks for visiting, Ellie! Anyone else want to do a guest post? Please see here for more details. 

Who else adores reading and/or writing mash-ups? 

A to Z Challenge: Reading as a Writer

If you’re a writer, odds are that you’re a reader too. It’s probably your love for words and stories that inspired you to write in the first place. 

Needless to say, reading is important to writers. 
Once you start writing seriously, though, you might find yourself struggling to find time to read. I know I did. Still do. But it is important to keep reading. Whatever you can manage. 
Firstly, because reading is a good way to rest. And seriously, you’ll need some. 
Secondly, the words you read or something about a plot or character can get you thinking. And those thoughts turn into ideas. Actually, this can happen with t.v. and computer games too, but don’t go spending too much time there. Because I’ve discovered that looking for inspiration never works. You have to wait for it. 
Thirdly, whether you’re trying to learn from writing or not, you’re going to absorb a lot of information just by reading. That alone is worth its weight in gold.
So whenever you’re blocked or need to rest your story before starting edits, read. 
Read a lot. 
Because if you’re anything like me, you’re going to miss it like an amputated arm while editing. You see, I can’t read books at all during edits. Unless I’m critting them. 
It might be strange, but I can compare my issues to Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. That bit where Simza asks him what he sees. His answer: Everything. That’s what it’s like for me. I can see every tiny little thing the author did. Sometimes down to which scenes were put in later to smooth something over. 
You might be the lucky owner of an editing eye that closes when you tell it to. But if you don’t, read as much as you can, when you can. 
You’ll thank yourself later. 
Anyone else have issues with leaving editing mode? Even when reading other people’s books? 

Reading and Writing: Finding the Balance

Hey all! Today I have the amazing C.M. Keller on MFB. Not only is she one of this month’s amazing award sponsors, but she’s a kick-ass writer. I hope you all enjoy her tips on how to balance your reading and writing lives. Take it away, Connie.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time 
(or the tools) to write.” 
Stephen King 

All writers have heard that quote or one like it. And we all know it’s true. But balancing the two is like herding cats. You can try, but you end up getting scratched. 
I know I tried. I’d begin writing and I get so involved with the story that I’d forget to read and I’d write and write until my creativity dried up and blew away. Then, I’d read until my eyes bled. I tried thrillers, devouring them (which helped me learn to craft tight plots) until I couldn’t stand another gun shot. So I focused on the classics (where I saw the power of understatement, metaphor, etc.) until I was ready to strangle yet another indecisive heroine. 
The only good thing was that when I finished the reading cycle, my creativity was recharged until I drained it dry. The cycle was not a good thing. Maybe a little OCD as well, but we won’t go there. 
I had to find a better, a more sane way of balancing my writer/reader issues. A way that would sustain me as a reader and a writer. I tried lots of things. They all failed. 
I’d like to say that I analyzed the situation and came up with a solution. But I found it by accident—I sort of fell into it. And it wasn’t until I realized the writing-reading was working, that I even wondered what I was doing differently. 
It started years ago, when a health problem made me commit to running, which I hate with a passion. So I bribed myself to run a treadmill. While I ran I could read “fun” books, thrillers, mysteries, and YA, but I could only read them when I ran. 
Then this fall, I decided that I’d devote all before-bedtime-reading to a classic or literary/upmarket novel. To make it even more fun, I asked/begged a writer friend to read the “classics” too—so we can exchange emails about what we’ve read. “Hey, did you finish chapter four last night? Did you notice how the author changed the mood, foreshadowing the end of the chapter?” 
The one final change I made was that any other free time belonged to writing. Even if a novel was calling out, “Read me, read me!” 
How did it work out? I’m reading more than I have in years. And writing…I finished a first draft in three months. (I’ve never written a novel in less than six months before.) 
So if you find yourself alternating between bleeding eyes and shriveled creativity, you could try what I’ve done. Either that, or give the Muse a call. I’ve tried, but I’m pretty sure she’s blocked my number. 
Thanks so much for this lovely post, Connie. I’ve been struggling with maintaining a sane balance, and now you made it sound so easy. 🙂
So, lovely people, how do you strike a balance between reading and writing? Do you suck at it like me? 
Before you go! Remember to vote for awesome bloggers and to enter my Word Master Challenge

Playing Reading Catch-Up



Credit

So… it’s not enough that I have 23 hours accounted for – and it’s not for writing. I also still have books upon books upon books that I want to read this year.

That I wanted to read last year already.

So far, I have been getting along, but with my writing time almost down to nothing, my reading time is in the red-zone.

Which makes me wonder… Should I just be reading when my muse isn’t prodding me to write? I mean, if I write without being inspired, aren’t I just wasting time? And besides, it’s so important for writer’s to read. But at the cost of precious writing time?

Choices… Choices…

What do you suggest?

Oh look! An interruption!

Today was one of those days. You know, where you start with the best of intentions to be productive, only to end up… well… not.

I even woke up an hour early today, but I swear there were time-gremlins in the house.

Of course, I did get other stuff done, like cleaning house, editing a business plan and checking up on financials. The last two were the main time-sucks, but hey, variety is good.

Today I got to give my left brain a stretch… or something like that.

In the mean time, I managed to do a bit of editing to Part 4 and send Part 3 off to a second round of crits. So all things considered, I didn’t do too badly edit-wise. On the other hand, it’s a crawl compared to what I’m used to.

BUT! I decided to cut down on my computer/editing time, as last week I clocked about 13-16 hour editing days. Which is sort of ridiculous, when one considers that I have more than five months left to finish Doorways. Point is, it isn’t healthy.

Maybe today is a good cue for me to kick back a little and finish Persuasion. Yes, I am only on my second Jane Austen book. Yes. Still. What can I say? My characters called open season on regency period ladies and gents… ;-P

What do you do to chill out when your editing/writing revs go into the red?

I am also doing the Dusty Bookshelf Challenge

Another one of my goals for 2012 is for me to read more. While that looks nice when written in my huge list of goals, I realize that I actually have to do something about it. So… what nicer incentive could there be than a reading challenge where I can win more books through the year?

My dusty bookshelf basically consists of three categories:


Books languishing on my virtual bookshelf (in order as they are on my Kindle app):

Persona by Amy Lunderman
Roughing It by Mark Twain
Lust by Mike Wells
Cassastar by Alex J. Cavanaugh (This one I feel really bad about. Started reading it in August, but my Economics got in the way. Now will be a good time for me to get it off my reading shelf on Goodreads.)
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Le Roux
Hollywood Secrets by Emma Halliday
Hollywood Scandals by Emma Halliday
A Razor Wrapped in Silk by R.N. Morris (Another one that’s killing me. It was the first book I ever won since I started blogging. In fact, it’s the reason why I got a Kindle App for my computer. And I haven’t touched it.)
Don’t Get Mad, Get Even by J.L. Campbell
In Her Name: Empire by Michael R. Hicks
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
The Devil to Pay by Maria Zannini
Tribute by J.R. Pearse Nelson
Vessel by J.R. Pearse Nelson

Books I borrowed from the library by alphabet (part of last years decision to expand my horizons):

Nightfall by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg
Eve’s Daughters by Lynn Austin
The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick
Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie
Harlequin by Bernard Cornwell 
Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell
(I did read B. Just kept procrastinating on the others)

Books I’ve been meaning to read but didn’t get around too (this one might get more than a few additions yet):

Feast of the Uninvited by P.G. Du Plessis
Shakespeare
Jane Austen
George R.R. Martin

Wow. That’s one grungy bookshelf. I better start working on it ASAP. Good thing I have Jane Austen January to knock four books from my list…

Which books do you have moaning at you from your TBR pile?