If you’re stuck in a dreaded reading slump or haven’t picked up a book since Catcher in the Rye in High School English but don’t know where to start, here’s a list that might help. I read a lot of books in 2018 – some great, some not so great. But the following books were standouts to me. I mostly read Young Adult and Fantasy Fiction, but there are some variations, such as Historical Fiction and Mystery. If you’re interested in seeing all the books I’ve read in 2018, check out my Goodreads.
Ahhh, the new year. A time, when we all collectively rush out to buy gym memberships we will use for a month and pay for for the next eleven. I’m completely guilty of rushing headlong into resolutions – like a bull charging a red cape. And surprise! – that cape continually gets yanked out of reach – until even looking at the color red makes me feel guilty and annoyed. Studies show that only 8% percent of people keep their resolutions, which begs the question: Are we doomed to fail?
Ezekiel Yusuf Moran is 99 years old. He has been many things in his near-century of life – a son, a farmer, a friend, a lover, a doctor, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a homeopath, a soldier and a French Résistance fighter. But most of all, Ezekiel has been a seeker. Continue reading “Ezekiel: A novel by John Fanning”
Look at the light through the windowpane. That means it’s noon, that means
Tell me how all this, and love too, will ruin us.
These, our bodies, possessed by light.
Tell me we’ll never get used to it.
– Richard Siken, Scheherazade
We’re getting older. We’ve had our hearts broken. We’ve broken bones. We’ve bet on the wrong horse or man or woman. We made a poor investment along the way. We lost something important. We wasted time or money or energy on the wrong people. We’re all a little more fragile now, a little more careful. Curiosity is a trait we most associate with children or cats.
Not for us.
We tread the familiar paths.
One of the best things about writing in the fantasy fiction genre is that anything goes. I’m not saying there aren’t rules – there are – Harry Potter wasn’t able to bring his parents back from the dead, the One Ring gave Frodo powers, but not without consequence. If done correctly, magic or superpowers shouldn’t be a panacea to all life’s problems or there would be nothing at stake, nothing for our hero to overcome or run up against. There are limits to magic and rules that govern fantasy worlds. But – the good news is, as a writer – you make the rules! You can create a fictional world of fish people, so long as you can convincingly explain to the reader how they’re able to breath under water, what kind of teeth they have for eating prey and how they’re able to navigate the darkest depths of the ocean. Fantasy – no matter how far-fetched – must have a basis in reality or you risk the reader suspending their disbelief.
Which is why a lot of fantasy worlds draw from science, historical events, real people or historical periods. Doing this provides the reader with a recognizable framework through which to view the world. Going forward, let’s call that framework belief glasses. As long as the writer provides the reader with a pair of belief glasses, the reader should be able to comfortably navigate the writer’s world and not get taken out of it. So when you’re creating those glasses, why create ones that only see white people? Why create glasses that can see dragons but not women in positions of power? Why not make full-spectrum glasses? Continue reading “Diversity in Fantasy: We Can Do Better.”
Unlike it’s predecessor, Comic-Con (which is now in its eleventh year), BookCon is a relatively new convention. Started in 2014, BookCon is run by the same company that runs Comic-Con – ReedPOP – and follows on the heels of BookExpo, the largest and longest running annual book trade fair in America. But while BookExpo is geared more toward professionals – publishers, writers and educators – BookCon is for the fans. It hosts Panels, Meet-and-Greets, Giveaways, Autographing sessions and Fan Meet-Ups. Last year, BookCon took place in Chicago and was only one day long, but this year, it was held at the Javits Center in New York, Saturday and Sunday, June 3rd & 4th. I was lucky enough to attend…
The Handmaid’s Tale, written by Margaret Atwood in the Reagan era, has recently enjoyed a surge in popularity due to the visually stunning Hulu series based on the book. Atwood’s book has reaped the rewards of the TV show’s success – making an uncontrolled ascent to the top of the Amazon rankings – as a whole new wave of women and feminists co-opt its ideas and heed the cautionary tales inherent in its narrative. The renewed interest lies not just in the gorgeous costuming, great cast and grim portrayal of a bleak future, but because the story has real resonance in our modern world.
Writing and creating art are most often solitary experiences – hours spent staring at blank computer screens or pieces of paper or canvas – time spent trying to find the right words or colors. Time, largely spent, in our own minds. But we don’t have to – and shouldn’t – create within a bubble! Most art is made within a community, with support from family and friends, with sage advice from mentors, with the occasional self-help book. If you’re having trouble getting started or finishing a project, here are some books that will help.
It’s easy to feel like you aren’t a real writer when no one can see the fruits of your effort. If you’ve started to cringe when you tell someone, “I’m writing a novel” or you hesitate to call yourself a writer to your friends (because you don’t have any searchable content out in the world), blogging could be for you. Writers write. And if you don’t exist as a writer on the Internet, you don’t exist. Don’t wait until you have a book to build your brand. Now is the time! Continue reading “How to Write a Blog.”