Tag Archives: Literature

2014 Challenge

graphic borrowed from prettybooks

So I’ve decided to take the 2014 challenge and read 50 books this year.  I’ve gathered a list of 25 of the 50 books this year.  In total, it means I have to read about 4 books a month.  Which isn’t too bad (unless you’re like me and you read slowly).  My list thus far includes book both on my shelf and on my kindle.

Here’s the complete list of the first 25 books:

  1. The Sincerest Form of Flattery – John Walker
  2. The Blame Game – John Walker
  3. In The Details – John Walker
  4. Hal Spacejock – Simon Haynes
  5. Above Ground – A.M. Harte
  6. The Time Machine – H. G. Wells
  7. The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
  8. The Lost World – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  9. Carmilla – Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
  10. Treasure Island – Robert Lewis Stephenson
  11. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
  12. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
  13. The Wind In The Willows – Kenneth Grahame
  14. White Fang – Jack London
  15. The Call of the Wild – Jack London
  16. Never Cry Wolf – Farley Mowat
  17. Paradise Lost – John Milton
  18. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
  19. The Bells of El Diablo – Frank Leslie
  20. The Last Ride of Jed Strange – Frank Leslie
  21. The Haunted Mesa – Louis L’Amour
  22. 22 Milo Talon – Louis L’Amour
  23. Riders of the Purple Sage – Zen Grey
  24. Destry Rides Again – Max Brand
  25. Faith & Fire – James Swallow

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Posted by on January 1, 2014 in Fun, randomness


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How To Write Great Dialogue

I found this on my tumblr dashboard and thought I’d share it here as well.



Modern novels are filled with dialogue. More than 50% of your book should be filled with characters talking to each other. Beginner novelists are often afraid of dialogue and they should be.

Writing dialogue is complicated. An author has to give the impression that characters are speaking as if they existed in a real world. However, ‘real world’ dialogue is the kiss of death in a novel. Real life has no plot. Most everyday conversations have no point. They exist for the sake of appearances. They are made up of exchanging greetings and pleasantries. Small talk is just that and has no place in your novel.

Writing Tip: An interesting way to test this for yourself is to tape a series of conversations and write them down exactly as the words are spoken. You will find people ramble on. They repeat what they have said, they struggle to find words, their grammar is terrible, and they talk ‘at’ each other.

How do authors only include dialogue that is necessary?

One way is to read a variety of novels published in the last 10 years. Examine the dialogue. Good authors only include what is necessary for the story. Sometimes this means dialogue has been pared down to the minimum but this is necessary. Never include unnecessary conversations. Readers expect every conversation to be significant. Unnecessary conversations are the red herrings of the dialogue universe.

The Three Reasons

Authors should remember that there are three reasons for including dialogue in a novel.

  1. Dialogue should move a plot forward. ‘Let’s go.’ is better than ‘Peter said that they should go.’
  2. Dialogue should reveal character. Every word your character uses shows the sort of person he or she is.
  3. Dialogue should provide information. Treat this one with care. There is a fine line between revealing important facts and boring the reader with details. Do not allow your characters to ‘tell’ in dialogue. Rather use a short summary.

The Supporting Act

Remember that people don’t just utter words when they interact. They act, they move, and they use body language – intentionally or unintentionally. Friends may walk or drink coffee as they speak. A young mother may jump up to prevent her child from crawling away. A woman may cross her arms as she listens to her husband.

Writing Tip: Introduce a habit with dialogue. Your villain might flip a coin when he speaks. Your love interest might smoke when he or she speaks.


Novelists should ignore the many posts suggesting 50 words to use instead of ‘said’. Said is perfect. It shows the reader who is speaking. It keeps the reader focused on the dialogue. When characters mutter, proffer, utter, cry, growl, and grin words, the author just looks silly.

Writing tip: Read your dialogue out loud. Your tongue will trip over all the nonsense words. Remove them.

Accents and Dialect

Follow speech patterns rather than misspelling words. It takes a dedicated reader to muddle through idiosyncratic vernacular. Add the odd foreign word to show the speaker is not English.

Like everything else in writing, perfecting dialogue takes practise. Write every day, and include dialogue in that writing if you can.

Image created by Writers Write at Someecards


by Amanda PattersonSource: Writers Write

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Posted by on August 22, 2013 in Fun, randomness


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Geoff Dyer’s ten rules for writing fiction


I saw this on my tumblr dashboard and felt it necessary to share it here.  It was something that author Warren Ellis had reblogged and the tips are insightful.

  1. Never worry about the commercial possibilities of a project. That stuff is for agents and editors to fret over—or not. Conversation with my American publisher. Me: “I’m writing a book so boring, of such limited commercial appeal, that if you publish it, it will probably cost you your job.” Publisher: “That’s exactly what makes me want to stay in my job.”
  2. Don’t write in public places. In the early 1990s I went to live in Paris. The usual writerly reasons: back then, if you were caught writing in a pub in England, you could get your head kicked in, whereas in Paris,dans les cafés … Since then I’ve developed an aversion to writing in public. I now think it should be done only in private, like any other lavatorial activity.
  3. Don’t be one of those writers who sentence themselves to a lifetime of sucking up to Nabokov.
  4. If you use a computer, constantly refine and expand your autocorrect settings. The only reason I stay loyal to my piece-of-shit computer is that I have invested so much ingenuity into building one of the great auto-correct files in literary history. Perfectly formed and spelt words emerge from a few brief keystrokes: “Niet” becomes “Nietzsche,” “phoy” becomes “photography” and so on. Genius!
  5. Keep a diary. The biggest regret of my writing life is that I have never kept a journal or a diary.
  6. Have regrets. They are fuel. On the page they flare into desire.
  7. Have more than one idea on the go at any one time. If it’s a choice between writing a book and doing nothing I will always choose the latter. It’s only if I have an idea for two books that I choose one rather than the other. I always have to feel that I’m bunking off from something.
  8. Beware of clichés. Not just the clichés that Martin Amis is at war with. There are clichés of response as well as expression. There are clichés of observation and of thought—even of conception. Many novels, even quite a few adequately written ones, are clichés of form which conform to clichés of expectation.
  9. Do it every day. Make a habit of putting your observations into words and gradually this will become instinct. This is the most important rule of all and, naturally, I don’t follow it.
  10. Never ride a bike with the brakes on. If something is proving too difficult, give up and do something else. Try to live without resort to per­severance. But writing is all about perseverance. You’ve got to stick at it. In my 30s I used to go to the gym even though I hated it. The purpose of going to the gym was to postpone the day when I would stop going. That’s what writing is to me: a way of postponing the day when I won’t do it any more, the day when I will sink into a depression so profound it will be indistinguishable from perfect bliss.
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Posted by on August 17, 2013 in Fun, Life, randomness


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To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub

~To Be Or Not To Be, Hamlet; Shakespear, 1602

I’ve been finding the past few days I’ve been getting to sleep a lot earlier than I used to.  Used to be I’d drag my butt to bed around midnight.  The past few nights that’s been around 10:30, which is fine, by that time it’s dark out and I’m tired.  I used to get tired and push it back, then finding my second wind and really screwing up my sleep schedule.  The worst was when I was much younger and would proudly attempt all nighters, especially when I had to work the next day.  I’ve tried that since, finding that I usually give up by the time 3 in the morning rolls around.  I’d like to note, I never try this when I have to work the next day.

But I’ve also noticed I feel a lot more refreshed in the morning.  An hour or two extra sleep really feels good, and I’m even able to get up at 5:30 in the morning.  I normally have my alarm set for that, and will wake up and hit snooze several times before finally getting up because I really need to use the facilities.

It’s also doing something else, and that’s helping me get some work done.  By work, I mean writing.  There’s other work that I do that I get done, but that’s the everyday mundane work that needs to be done, like dishes, laundry, vacuuming, cleaning windows, dusting and so on.  But it’s helping a bit with my writing.  I know, this whole thing I’ve discovered is contrary to some of the advice of published authors of the past.  An example is several suggest being shit faced drunk.  If I ever get that way, I can’t lift my hand, not even to think about writing.  I did it once, mind you.  I wrote about 5,000 words in one alcohol induced haze, then crashed into my bed at about 4 in the morning.  I awoke the next day to reread what I’d written, and in a hangover fog I thought it might be salvageable.  By the time the fog lifted and moved on, I realized there was no salvaging that train wreck of a word jumble.  One non coherent sentence flowing into an unrelated non coherent sentence.  That’s not to include how many spelling errors there were.

And I will say this now, no, I did not keep that jumbled mass of incoherent rambling.  It went to the dust bin rather quickly.  I mean dust bin quite literally, because I was typing it out on an old Underwood typewriter.  Ah, the good ol’ days.

So three things I can suggest if you sit down to write; get lots of sleep, eat a good meal before (or while) you write, and have a small recording device handy if you come up with an idea but area far away from pen and paper or computer.  Record your idea and transcribe later after you’ve had a nap from that plate of fettuccine Alfredo you just finished.

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Posted by on July 10, 2013 in Life, randomness


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One awesome thing

Cellphone photos, displaying how shaky my hands are.

Cellphone photos, displaying how shaky my hands are.

One of the great things about working where I work is that each week we buckle down and produce a newspaper.  We spend an entire week gathering news, making advertisements, taking photographs, scanning photos, taking emails and putting it altogether.  The incredible thing is, we get a lot of help from the community.  That doesn’t happen 100% of the time, but we do get a lot of help from people in the area, such as our local community correspondents in places like Glenside, Conquest, Macrorie, Dinsmore, Lucky Lake, Elbow, Strongfield, Hawarden, Loreburn, and Milden.  We even have people from the local care facilities for the elderly, along with the community hall here in Outlook as well as the local schools (Outlook High School, LCBI, Loreburn School) send their news and happenings to us.  This helps bring about an aspect of community to the weekly newspaper.

On top of that, there is the news that’s gathered by our news reporter, who writes not only about news, but also agriculture, sports, and other human interest stories.  In the winter, we’re kind of lucky to get the results from two of the area hockey teams with the Outlook Ice Hawks and the Conquest Merchants.  Our news reporter lives in Conquest and I volunteer for the Ice Hawks public address during home games, so I also take photos (or sometimes give the camera to someone I trust) and keep track of the game and write it up for later.

One thing our news reporter has also done is read and write book reviews about books and authors who are in the area (this has included both of the books I have written).  On top of that, we sell books by local authors at the place where I work, and from time to time, there are a good number of people who stop in and pick up a book or two (today someone came in just before closing and bought three, all new on our shelves).

It’s a rare thing to have authors from an area like this get exposure, and more than likely this is one of the only places that they do get exposure.  One of the more prolific writers we have is Larry Warwaruk, who has written a good number of books, the latest being a young adult novel called Brovko’s Journey.  There’s even a very prolific NaNoWriMo author in the Beechy area who has many of her books in our shelves.  That being T. L. Wiens (I only wish I could hit the 87,000 words in a month as easy as she does).  There are other authors who have just written their first novel as well.  Some who wrote their novel based on night time stories they’d tell their children about fantastic worlds and a fight of good versus evil.  Others wrote their novel because they like maps at the front of books.  There are other novels that are much more true to life; life as a fighter pilot during the Second World War, or how life dealing with a loved one who is suffering from schizophrenia.

Each story that’s written by these novelists in this area are very different and each story is very different.

But it’s incredible that we’re able to offer so many local authors the opportunity to get their story out there, even if it’s only to a very small population like ours in the Lake Diefenbaker region.

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Posted by on June 4, 2013 in randomness


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A new look for Senia Felix as the uniform of the ship is taking shape. Costume editors in games really helps.

The ideas are there, which is better than what it was before, during the bleak days of winter when I’d truly had enough of this season.  I had, for the past several months, wanted to write but just felt really tired all the time.  It’s getting better now as the signs of spring are showing.  Or at least, the snow is starting to melt.  At least, I hope it doesn’t melt fast otherwise we’ll have flooding problems to contend with.

Flooding aside, over the winter months the motivation has been very difficult to get myself writing.  I sometimes wonder how someone like Louis L’Amour wrote so prolifically, and why they make it look so easy.  Even J. K. Rowling’s sweeping epic of Harry Potter seemed to come out with no problem.  Naturally, I know it wasn’t easy.  Writing isn’t easy at all.  The only easy thing about writing is the sitting down part.  Even tapping away at keys isn’t hard.  It’s the development of the story and of the world.  For some, the world is already there, it’s familiar.  We all know what to expect in a western.  We are fairly certain of the course of events in a medieval story.  But when you create your own world and give it its own rules, then it becomes harder.  Add to that the narrative, the characters, the events.  All of it becomes more difficult.  But, when it’s all done, it become really rewarding.  It’s something you can look at and go “I did it, I finished it”.

I’m not far from completing this first book in the Rocket Fox series.  I’m looking forward to it.  I just hope I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew with this series I’ve decided to undertake.

I’m really looking forward to that moment when I can look at it all and say to myself “it’s done, I’m finished”.

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Posted by on April 3, 2013 in Life, randomness, Writing


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Writer Leopard: an old memory


This really hit home, the above leopard writing meme picture.  I posted it to tumblr (from a reblog) but it deserves a place here as well, because there’s an interesting story that happened to me while writing the first book of Black Mask & Pale Rider.


I had just started the sequence with Pania and Martin Derringer, about to enter a dreamwalk.  Shani had just been captured by the Huntsman, the mythical creature who is mentioned in so many different cultures and sometimes is want to steal souls (and sometimes, acts like Marvel Comic’s Ghost Rider).  I had written the complete dreamwalk with Derringer taking Pania back through his memory so she could see his own early encounter with the Huntsman.  Pania also discovers that Martin Derringer is really Thadius Maximus, a former tribune with the Roman Army and a werewolf.

I had just finished writing the scene where Pania wakes from the dream, horrified that she’s in the same room with a werewolf.  And I don’t know what happened, but the next day when I went back to continue on from that point, when I opened the file everything was gone.  The dreamwalk, Pania’s reaction, Derringer’s outing as a werewolf.  From the point where Shani had been taken prisoner to the point I had finished, which was a good 2500 to 4000 words, was gone.  Even the backup on a flashdrive was gone.  All of that writing was gone.  My one saving grace was after I wrote that, I posted it to a forum so others could keep up with the story that might not be able to download the pdf file.  Fortunately it was all there.

But my god, my whole reaction to that was complete and utter dejection.  I had suddenly lost the will to write, all because a huge swath of my story was gone.  Fortunately, I did manage to get my head on straight, copy and paste the post from the forum and continue on for about 500 words, but I was totally drained thanks to that ordeal.

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Posted by on February 20, 2013 in randomness, Writing


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