New WKAR Book Review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Current StateI am back on WKAR’s Current State with a new book review! This time it is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

You can hear my review here: http://wkar.org/post/book-review-donna-tartts-goldfinch

If you would rather read the review, you can do so below.

The Goldfinch can be found on amazon.com here. You can check out my other book reviews for WKAR’s Current State via this page on their site and the links on my page here.

I hope you enjoy my new book review! Continue reading

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The Importance of Delusions: The Four That All Writers Need

Imaginary FriendsWhen I was a child, I never had one imaginary friend.  I could never limit myself to one. And when I did seek them out, I would steal them left and right from books, having in the end something more akin to a kingdom in my head.

The funny thing is this kingdom is still around. No, I don’t need any help, but they are there, transformed now from warriors and wizards into readers, editors, agents, interviewers and publishers.

And if I am walking my dog on a late evening, there is a chance I might be working out a pretend interview in my head or I might be thinking of a meeting with a producer interested in one of my books, figuring out how I would pitch the material. Typically, I don’t talk out loud (even my dog would question my sanity then), but those conversations are there as I am always planning, considering my options and thinking of the next steps I might need to take in my career.

Yes, the imaginary friends or the capability for internal debate like this is still around and it is now a tool I use. And using my imagination like this has grown, assisting and encouraging… and not always truthfully. Spawning dreams and delusions that I use as tools as well.

All artists have delusions, some are big and some are small. They empower our debates, drive our inspiration forward, and give us hope even in the bleakest of hours. There are, in my humble opinion, four universal delusions that all writers share.  Continue reading

How to Walk the Equator on Planet Books

globeOn Friday night, with a few drinks and snacks nearby us, my wife and I were discussing the states of our artforms. (Yeah, this is what we do on weekend nights.) For my wife it is dance and she struggles between the world of dance you see on TV and the artistry and importance of modern dance (she writes a lot about this on her own blog- educatingdancers.com). For me, it is the state of writing and books.

My wife has heard these arguments before (and I love her more each time she doesn’t yawn) as I continue to wonder where my artform is going and why there seems to be such a thick and foreboding wall between the pop writing you see filling the stores and the more literary creations you see winning the acclaim.

See, for me it feels unnatural that some books are written solely for entertainment and others are considered more important, but can be an endeavor to read even for us educated readers. What many don’t know is that this line, this equator, wasn’t always around and there is a way to create novels that do both.

On this night, my wife laughed and said, “You know who you are? In your posts and on your site? All those articles about books and writing? You, hubby, are the Great Mediator.”

The Great Mediator? Yup, that’s me. And I guess that makes me the lamest member of the Justice League (I’m assuming my chest plate would be the image of a perfectly-balanced scale). I’ve also been probably known to say after a battle with bad guys, “Wait, dudes, let’s hear the Legion of Doom out on this one first before we jump to judgement.” I’m the action figure no kids wants to play with.

Whatever the case, as the world of books gets more and more fractured into different genres and accessibility, I want to bring everything back together.  Continue reading

Okay, am I a nerd?

The author as Chewbecca... I'm behind Pac Man.Yesterday, the writer Becky Flade mentioned me in a blog post on her site.

The post was called “The Blog that Wasn’t” (which you can find here) and she said this about me and my site:

“When I need a nerd fix, Scott’s my man.”

Nerd?

Nerd!?!

Now, I’ve considered myself many things in my life; but never “nerd.”

Yes, I would say I’m a snob. I can get behind “snob.” I have all the earmarks of a snob! I could have it tattooed on me without a problem. It could be on my arm near where my sweater vest ends (yes, I am wearing a sweater vest), or even above my reading glasses, right on my forehead. Let me give you some examples of my snobbery:

  • I have in my dining room pictures of some of my favorite authors, and many times I have used them as a test for visitors. If, for example, you call Mark Twain “Einstein” well, you might not be invited over again.
  • I have been known to tease my friends who praise Twilight on their Facebook pages. (And they should be teased, especially if they are an adult.)
  • I write novels (while adventurous and surprising) that contain art, music, and literature references.
  • On my desk I have a Shakespeare action figure and an autograph of Woody Allen.
  • Oh, did I mention I have a master’s degree?

You see, I sing snob!

But nerd? Continue reading

Final Fantasy XIII-2: Why, Why, Why???

Some are haunted by ghosts, others by regret or the past… Me? Well, I am haunted by a video game.

Last week, I finished every bit of Final Fantasy XIII-2. Typically, I don’t play a game for full 100% completion, but this one I did… and I am haunted by it. It has entered my dreams, right there with that embarrassing situation in third grade I don’t want to discuss here.

Final Fantasy games are some of my favorite video games out there. Not because of the role-playing aspect (there is nothing new about roleplaying), no, for me it all about the story. And Final Fantasy, when it is at its best is a torchbearer for Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey (If you don’t know what I mean, I recommend you check out some of his books, here is one, they map out how all great stories and characters follow a “hero” journey and the stages of them. These stages also relate to our own lives when they are lived to their full potential. For my fellow nerds, this is also what inspired Star Wars… No, the good first one).  We grow with the characters, we experience their struggles, their realizations, and when the endings come (after hours and hours and hours of play) they can be emotional.

Yeah, they make me cry, so what? Continue reading

10 little nuggets of writerly wisdom to consider: From one struggling writer to another

One thing a writer can not avoid is someone asking their opinion about writing or their advice for trying to make it in the field. Here, I must admit that I used to ask the same question all of the time to my writing professors or writers I would meet. It is like there is a great secret we all want in on, and the trick is finding someone that will teach you the magic handshake.

The truth of the matter is there is no magic handshake. Yet, there is a mountain of books that claim to know— everything from how to put a pen on the paper to how to get that elusive publishing deal. Personally, I’ve always found these how-to sections at bookstores overwhelming. A person could drown in those murky waters, struggling to find the right voice and advice that works for them.

Yet, when I am confronted by new writers who ask me about writing, my advice usually falls into the following ten points; they are ideas, suggestions, lessons, or hot air, in many ways whatever you want them to be or what works best for you. Continue reading

Music and My Writing Brain

I first learned the power of music in my writing while I was an undergrad in college. At that time, I was working on a story and for some unexplained reason I had to listen to The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky (This happens, now and then I get taken over by a certain “sound”). Anyway, so there I was in a writing class (it might have been a writing table, I don’t remember which) and I started to read the story… And I began to notice that the meter in my words mirrored Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies.

Yes, without realizing it, my character’s speech was actually set to music. I had to fight to control my giggles, now imagining my character on toes as he was speaking. I’m sure my reading began to seem ridiculous to the other writers there, but at that moment I knew I had a problem… and, of course, I knew I was going to have to rewrite the entire speech.

Well, since then I have figured out the potential impact music can have on my writing. While I have not let the cadence of a song take over a story again, certain artists and music became part of the creation process for me around different works.  Sometimes I use them to influence a mood I am hoping to create, sometimes they are just simply the soundtrack for the “world” I am “living” in. Here are five examples: Continue reading

Why This Novelist Likes Video Games

I’m not supposed to admit this.

Many in the snobby writing community pooh-pooh it as frivolous and don’t consider it real storytelling, and I might be shunned for this in the future… Sigh… I’ve got to take a deep breath and say it… I think some of the best new stories I have experienced in the last few years have been in video games.

See, for me as a lover of stories, it was never about the medium someone is writing in (plays, books, movies, radio, etc.), but the story being told.  So I really have a problem comparing the mediums like some do. I don’t, per se, think novels are better than movies all of the time. There are adaptations of books for the silver screen that I think are better than the book (Obviously, The Shawshank Redemption is an easy example). Continue reading

10 little nuggets of writerly wisdom to consider: From one struggling writer to another

A new writing editorial by me is up at www.emlynchand.com. Here is the beginning of the article:

One thing a writer can not avoid is someone asking their opinion about writing or their advice for trying to make it in the field. Here, I must admit that I used to ask the same question all of the time to my writing professors or writers I would meet. It is like there is a great secret we all want in on, and the trick is finding someone that will teach you the magic handshake. Continue reading