External Link: 4 Timeless Writing Tips from ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ Author Madeleine L’Engle

Back in 1962, Madeleine L’Engle gifted children everywhere with her sci-fi fantasy classic A Wrinkle in Time. The book became a classic and continues to be enjoyed by young readers with over 10 million copies sold. On March 9, Disney is releasing a movie, based on the book, starring big names like Oprah, Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon.

Like so many writers, L’Engle had a hard time finding a publisher. The book didn’t fit neatly into a genre category, and the concepts in the story were way ahead of their time. There were elements of quantum physics, the problem of evil, and it has a young female protagonist in a science fiction book, which was pretty much unheard of at that time. Aside from the content, she believed her troubles were also because people underestimate children. “They think you have to write differently,” she said. “You don’t. You just have to tell a story.”

In all, 26 different publishers rejected A Wrinkle in Time. L’Engle had almost given up when she was introduced to John C. Farrar of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Although his publishing company did not publish children’s books at the time, he liked her book and published it with the caveat that the author should not expect much public reaction. She, in turn, had it added to her contract that the company could have the rights to the book forever, anywhere in the universe, except the Andromeda galaxy.

During her lifetime, L’Engle published over 60 books for children and adults. Read on to learn four powerful lessons from her experiences and expertise.

Read more at Writer’s Digest.


External Link: Writers Who Don’t Read

At the New Yorker Book Bench Macy Halford recently posed an important question: “What is wanting to write without wanting to read like? It’s imperative that we figure it out, because Giraldi’s right: It’s both crazy and prevalent among budding writers.” She was echoing a question asked by debut novelist William Giraldi who in the course of teaching writing at Boston University has noticed a growing number of aspiring writers disinclined to read. This unfortunate trend inspired an open-ended analogy:

Wanting to write without wanting to read is like wanting to ____ without wanting to ____.

The New Yorker commenterati — unsurprisingly, a clever bunch — came up with some great analogies but none of them touched on the bigger question: How can anyone claim to be interested in writing without being serious about reading? If Giraldi’s observation rings true across teenagers and 20-somethings then what does this say about culture at large?

Read more at Salon.com.

Short Story: On the Hunt

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while may have noticed by now that my writing comes and goes. (Yay, adult life). Recently I’ve started a new endeavor to not only get myself writing but to get myself back into the groove of some old (and some not so old) stories that I do at some point want to finish. And to do that, I’ve devised a sort of game.

I have composed a list of the 15 books/series I still would like to finish some day, each with a list of the most important main and side characters. Using a random number generator, I select first the series, then the character, then the age of the character, then the genre of the short story, and then the length, which ranges from 100-500 words. I think it’s really helping me get a good grasp on the characters, and should make the stories go smoother as I write them.

That being said, here’s the first one I’ve done. The story this is from is called Chain Master, a fantasy story in which the main character has the power to move between interconnected dimensions, known as the Enigami Chain, and kill a specific type of magic monster known as a morgrim. (More on that later, tho).

This short story is based when the main character, Eva, is a young teen (probably about 15), back before she left her birth dimension, Earth, and before she discovered her magic powers.

“Look there! On a lonely hillside stands the ruins of an ancient city, where monsters slumber, guarding vast amounts of treasure!”

Quickly I darted behind a brick wall, my makeshift sword clasped firmly in my hands. The rough surface of the bricks behind me pressed into my back, catching on the fabric of the long shirt I wore and scraping against the leather belt fastened around my middle.

I drew in a deep breath then, taking in the scents and sounds of the world around me, of grass, and trees, and animals. A bird chirped from its perch on a nearby tree branch, cocking its little head at me, as though wondering what I was doing. It seemed oblivious to the danger that rested so close at hand. I raised a cautious finger to my lips, trying to silence the little creature before me, if not for my sake than for its own. The movement seemed to startle the bird, however, and quickly it flew off into the distant horizon.

“Well, I will not be startled so,” I declared under my breath, tightening my grip on my weapon of choice before glancing around the corner of the wall behind which I hid.

I took in one more breath before stealthily slipping out from my hiding spot and behind a nearby bush.

Slowly, quietly I edged my way forward, my eyes always focused on the unsuspecting target before me. Then at last, when I had finally come within range of my goal, I darted out into the open, pointing my makeshift sword at the creature before me.

“Your days of villainy and gluttony are at an end, foul monster!” I declared, brandishing my weapon for emphasis. “I will retake these ruins for the residents of this fair land!”

A pair of languid green-gold eyes turned toward me then, clearly unconcerned.


I sighed at the response, then lowered the stick in my hand.

“You were supposed to at least jump a little.”

The creature before me, an orange-furred tabby cat, twitched its ears unconcernedly before returning to grooming itself.

“Very well,” I said, returning to my earlier charade before raising my makeshift sword again. “If you will not surrender, then I must drive you from this land by force!”

No sooner had I said this, however, then the sound of my mother’s voice caught my ear.

“Eva Darlene Claine!”

I jumped.

Uh-oh. Full-name alert. Death was imminent.

“You’re a decade too old for that make-believe nonsense!” my mother continued. “Now get your hide in here and finish your homework!”

I let out a dramatic sigh before reluctantly dropping my stick.

“So long, sweet freedom.”

I paused one more time to look at the cat who was now eyeing me closely.

“Well,” I added then, grinning broadly as I scooped the little creature up in my arms, eliciting a squeak of protest in the process. “If I have to go to the dungeon, I’m taking you with me.”

Let the Challenge Begin! – NaNoWriMo 2016

November 1 is finally upon us, and with it marks my 5th year participating in NaNoWriMo. Last year, I went big and bold with a brand new (and highly ambitious) project called Infinite, which I would still say was a success despite not getting anywhere near that 50,000 word mark.

This year, though, I’ve decided to scale back my ambitions a bit. Between grad school and a host of volunteer activities (not to mention work), I just don’t foresee myself getting very far if I try to build something from scratch. Thus, I decided that this year I would focus on shooting for 50,000 words of an in-progress work instead. (I mean, 50,000 words isn’t even half of what I’ve been producing in recent years).

I had several options to choose from this year, but after a careful consideration of the structure I already have in place for each story, I finally settled on the rewrite of book 2 of the Star Trilogy, The Secret of Erris. I think it will offer a good combination of challenge and ease, considering that the world is already mostly built but the changes in the first book have made the original plot nearly obsolete.

That being said, here is a little about my 2016 NaNo project.



A year has passed since the defeat of the Gauls at Altis Pass, and all of Livania has come together in the elvin citadel of Rinba to celebrate that victory. With the celebration, however, comes some shocking news: Cael, one of the original four Stars and Gavin’s father, may still be alive, trapped somewhere in the heart of Erris, a deserted, monster-infested swampland to the south of Livania.

Teaming up with the forest elf prince, Shea, the Ardenian princess, Lina, and Razi’s father, Delwynn, the four young Stars set out on a mission to save the missing hero. What they don’t know, however, is that Erris is not merely a deserted swamp. And as they search for clues to Cael’s whereabouts, they discover that they are not alone in this region, either.



A dancing fire crackled in the fireplace of an immense library, its lively flames casting a warm glow against the white marble hearth. The light of the blaze sent flickering shadows across tall bookshelves – all filled to the brim with a wide array of ancient volumes and scrolls – that stretched out along the length of the expansive room. Ancient tapestries hung from the dark stone walls that encompassed the room, their gold-thread tassels dangling above statues wrought of various metals, set with precious stones, and covered with a fine layer of dust. To one side of the white marble hearth stood an ornate bronze desk, its polished surface glinting in the firelight, and on the opposite side sat a plush red silk armchair trimmed in gold thread.

And there, settled down in the armchair, was Radek, his long golden hair pulled back in an ornate metal clasp as he bent his head forward, his bright blue eyes scanning the worn, stained pages of a stack of papers that had been recovered from the Battle of Altis Pass roughly one year earlier.

A sigh escaped the mountain elf’s lips, and briefly he closed his eyes, rubbing the tension out of them. He had lost track of the hours he had spent here in his library, sifting through the massive collection of material he had acquired over the thousands of years that he had been alive. Some of the tomes were new, written even within the last century, while others were ancient, their ages unknown even to him. These he had inherited from his father, who had inherited them from his own father before that. At one point in time, Radek had found the tomes to be mere entertainment. Now, though, he thought of them in a much different light.

The papers that had been recovered from the Gauls at Altis Pass were strange, written in ancient elvish but in a manner that was highly unfamiliar even to Radek. At first, the documents had been left to the Livanians, but when the code proved too difficult even for Delwynn, who had served under King Ceallach, Radek had taken it upon himself to sort out the mystery.

How long had it been since he had first started this project? Two months? Three? He couldn’t remember. And so far, he had managed to understand very little of it.

That the documents all pertained to Harzia was no surprise to Radek. After all, Harzia was where the Star Spell was located. It stood to reason, then, that it would also be a place of interest to the Gauls, who had been hunting the Star power since the dawn of the mountain kingdom. What didn’t make sense to him, however, were the constant references to words and names that even Radek himself had never heard of. Sometimes, the writing was poetic; other times, it seemed to be little more than gibberish. Most likely, Radek supposed, it was some sort of code system, possibly intermixed with the Gaulian dialect. He was surprised that any of the Gauls would know ancient elvish, but he wouldn’t put it past them, he supposed, considering their long history with Harzia. Now if only he could get into their minds long enough to understand the meaning behind the words. Just that long, though. Frankly, he had no desire to get into their minds beyond that.

Quietly Radek reached down to the papers resting in his lap, flipping one over to examine the next page. Oh well. Since mind-reading was out of the question, he would just have to continue doing things the usual way instead.

He was just getting to the end of the page when, suddenly, his eyes landed on a particular passage. There was a message here, one that actually seemed to make some measure of sense, and in it was a reference to an ancient elvin book.

“Strange,” Radek muttered to himself, standing and making his way toward the back of the library. “How would a Gaul know of this book?”

His sharp blue eyes scanned the bound volumes that sat on the aged shelves. To a visitor, finding anything in this library would probably appear all but impossible. But to Radek, it was simple. Very little had changed about it in the past thousand years, and he had read everything in his collection at least once.

At last he found what he was looking for, drew the book off the shelf, and returned to his seat. He laid the tome on his lap and stared at the title for a short time. It was a large book, possibly containing a thousand pages or more, and obviously old. The leather cover was cracked, the pages stiff and yellowed with age. Every now and again one could see an insert tucked in between the pages, each containing hand-sketched images of monsters, heroes, temples, and all manner of mysteries and glories of days long since past.

Radek’s eyes narrowed slightly as he stared down at the ancient text. He hadn’t read this book since he was a boy. How long had it been? 2000 years, perhaps?

Quietly he flipped to the title page of the book, running his fingers over the faded ink scrawled in delicate writing from top to bottom. Then, almost in reverent awe, he muttered aloud, “Legends of Erris.”

I’ve already got a total of about 3,000 words from previous work on this manuscript, so I won’t be starting directly at the beginning. Still, this year’s NaNoWriMo might give me the push I need to sort through all those plot and character changes and get this series rolling again. And to all of you who are planning on participating this year as well, I wish you all the best.

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” 

― Louis L’Amour



When the Last Story is Told

Four days until NaNoWriMo starts, and I’m not sure yet if I’m excited or intimidated.

I was introduced to NaNoWriMo back in 2010, but I didn’t start participating until the following year. To date, I have yet to complete the 50,000 word goal. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing, though. As of this moment, my “Writings” file on my computer takes up just under 1.3 GB of space and contains 893 files. Of course, some of those files are cover art and some are plot/character/world notes, but I’d still say the writing takes up a notable portion of that number. Of the things I’ve actually tallied, I’ve written roughly 680,000 words since 2006. (And that doesn’t include the blogs, outlines, world lore, hand-written stories, and research papers that I’ve written over the years). And on top of that, I have a list of “want-to-finish” books that literally, if I were to finish one every 12 months (completely not realistic for the severely ADD me), I would still be 61 years old by the time I finished writing the last one. (And that would be dependent on a guarantee I wouldn’t come up with any other stories during that length of time).

As I’ve been mulling over this information, along with the thought of starting a brand new project when I already have three big ones I haven’t finished yet, the question came to me: When does a writer decide that they have told their last story?

I’ve heard it said that a writer is merely a person who has a story to tell. And though I definitely feel like I have stories to tell, I haven’t really been coming up with anything new recently. Maybe this isn’t a big deal to most people, but it’s a strange feeling to me, the person who, even just a few years, would tell a family member or friend, “Guess what,” and would immediately get the response, “You came up with a new story.”

It’s made me wonder, do writers run out of stories? Or is it merely because I have an overload of story ideas right now that I’m just too overwhelmed to come up with something new?

I don’t really have an answer, but I wonder if I’m the only one who has ever pondered this, or if it’s a more common question than I realized.

On the upside, there have been several highly successful authors who published their major works after the age of 40, so maybe this dry spell is just a chance for me to catch up and weed out all the ideas that would just fall flat on their faces. And in the meantime, I’ll probably use NaNoWriMo as a chance to propel those projects forward.