Monday, February 27, 2012

Movies have them, why can't books?

I've been writing my book for several years now and when I write I listen to music. There are several scenes in my series so far that have been greatly influenced by particular songs. Songs like Jenny Was a Friend of Mine by The Killers and Adele's Set Fire to the Rain. Adele's song actually inspired a scene for the second book in the series. I also listen to soundtracks to movies as well and a group that, much to my laughter, itunes categorized as soundtrack music, Two Steps from Hell.

Which leads me to my topic. There aren't a lot of soundtracks to books out there. I'm not talking about soundtracks to movies that were adapted from books and I have heard that some books do it but it's still a small amount. So I plan on making a list of the songs I listened to while writing my book, He Came Around the Corner. I also figured I could put on the list when the song came into play in the book or even when to listen to the song when someone is reading it.

I feel that if the music made that much of an impact while writing it then it would enhance the scene while reading it. When I had my friends read excerpts to give me feedback, I suggested they listen to the soundtrack to the Lord of Rings movies while they did. They said that some of the scenes were really more pronounced when the music was playing.

I'm sure there's some science behind this, I'm pretty sure it has something to do with stimulating different parts of the brain at the same time. I've also heard a lot of discussions on how music affects people which of course is fascinating. What I'm getting at though is, if the opportunity is there, why not enjoy the music?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Abandon all fear, ye who write for youth

I have always had qualms with censorship and as a future librarian, I stand rather firmly on the first amendment and individuals' rights to privacy regarding their reading preferences. I bring this up because my Library Materials for Children class is talking about challenged (or what once would have been banned or avoided) books this week.

Some of the controversial picture books we looked at were:
Gloria Anzaldua's Friends from the Other Side
Sarah Brannen's Uncle Bobby's Wedding
Eve Bunting and David Diaz's Smoky Night
Carolivia Herron's Nappy Hair
Toshi Maruki's Hiroshima, No Pika
Walter D. Myers' Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam
Parnell and Richardson's And Tango Makes Three
Maurice Sendak's In the Night Kitchen

Children's books have become much more wide-ranging in topics, characters, and increasingly mature in themes. Simultaneously, more parents have complaints about the content which their children are exposed to.

I can see, easily enough, the controversy behind making certain books with mature themes available to children and young adults while with others, I did not see what the fuss was about at all. For example, Smoky Night is set during riots that actually happened, where children were actually present. Moreover, the story is much more about the forging of a relationship between a family and their neighbor during a stressful time. We tend to throw the baby out with the bath water when avoiding materials that are challenging because of their content. We are also making tons of possibly dangerous assumptions and low expectations of our youth if we decide to wipe out books rather than to monitor our own children's reading habits. It's good for us to remember that books are a safe way for kids and teens to explore realities of their world, and ones which provide openings for discussion rather than leaving them to find out on their own, or "on the street."

Christine A. Jenkins, associate professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign says, "The goal of children's librarianship has been stated thus for over a century: 'to put the right book into the hands of the right child at the right time.' And it is ultimately the child - the reader - who determines what that right book might be."

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Great short story contest from Dave Farland

Dave Farland's epublishing house The East India Press is sponsoring a short story contest based on his recent Nightingale novel. There is no cost to enter. The deadline is March 1, so get writing! From the contest information page:

Win $1,000 cash prize
PLUS your story will be published as an opener to the Nightingale enhanced novel, as well as a stand-alone e-book
PLUS East India Press will consider your novel submission for publication
FREE to enter (no fees of any kind)
Open to all – any nationality, any age – with teens especially encouraged to enter
Finally, your chance to test your writing talent and win a shot at fame!

So how about it? GOt your 2500 word draft ready? For the curious playing from home, the cash prize amounts to $2.50/word of your story, which completely blows away the 5c/word rate listed as "pro rates" everywhere in the industry, so get writing! Nothing to lose, and I know from reputation and experience that Dave Farland runs a fantastic program. Good luck!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Welcome Aboard

Our Dwarven Phaser may be missing or it may simply be that weird looking flip phone in the back of my desk drawer (I have no idea how it got in there which is what makes me suspicious that it may just be the missing alien light shooter), but we have discovered blogging. We're the Write Time Writer's Group from Geneva, Illinois. Our meet up is about 35 miles west of downtown Chicago.

If all goes according to plan, you'll be reading posts from our members. They'll introduce themselves as they come aboard. I'm Paul R. Lloyd, leader of our little tribe of scribes. I write suspense novels. My reading habits include other people's suspense stories as well as a healthy dose of horror, sci-fi and mystery.

The Missing Dwarven Phaser is about writing and editing. Here you'll find our best thoughts on the craft along with bits of braggadocio, writer's humor and the sharing of tidbits of our work, depending on how each of us chooses to participate.