Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Today is officially the first day of Summer! YAY! Or BOO! Depending upon your perspective, this is a great day or a sad day. Great because it means summer is really here or sad because this is the longest day of the year, which means it’s all downhill from here as we roll back towards winter. Hmmm. Are you an optimist, a pessimist or indifferent? Do you prefer summer or winter? Do you care? What about the characters you write about? Do they care?

So much of what we do and how we interact in the world depends on our perspective and viewpoint. It may seem like a subtle question- The first day of Summer- Good or Bad? But it can reveal a great deal about us as individuals OR about the characters living within the pages of the books we write. In life, it would be improbable to be surrounded by only one type of person. It is much more likely that we are surrounded by complexity of competing values, opinions and even points of view, in the sense that not everyone can view the world in the same way. What a boring place that would be. Even as individuals we may find that we are both optimistic/pessimistic/indifferent depending on the circumstances around us or the subject we face. A mixture of these attributes amongst our characters adds interest and complication to our stories. It adds angst, conflict and depth. Without these qualities, a story will just be words on pages that don’t really speak to or move anyone. So, take a look at your current characters. Are they the same? Different? Are they cheery? Do they have a fatal flaw? Are they optimistic or pessimistic? Can they change? Should they change? Answering these questions and many more will help us to truly know our characters and make our writing more enjoyable and the experience for our readers more meaningful.

Oh, one more thing. Don’t forget about the inaugural Storymakers Midwest Conference on September 15th. Find out more information here.

I had originally planned to attend the Provo Storymakers Conference this year but was unable to attend so I’m thrilled to have a second shot at meeting many of my favorite LDS authors. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to attend a great conference near Kansas City. I am also very excited about this as I will be presenting two workshops: 1) The First 5 Pages and 2) YA genre. It should be loads of fun. Sign up today!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lightning Tree by Sarah Dunster

Lightning Tree, by Sarah Dunster is an intriguing and often sad story about the life of a pioneer orphan, Maggie. Set against the political and social intrigue of the "Cedar Incident" Maggie must find ways to cope in a new and often inhospitable environment with a heartless adopted mother and a sometimes indifferent adopted father. Nightmares slowly remind Maggie of the terrible events that have unfolded in her life, events that she suppressed because they are too awful to remember, but her memories are not always accurate which adds to the pain and confusion she feels. Dunster does a wonderful job of exploring Maggie's pain. It really is heartbreaking, but she does it in a way that is exciting enough to keep me turning the pages. While I admit that I found myself most drawn to the political intrigue and secrecy surrounding the "Cedar Incident", Lightning Tree successfully mingles the emotional struggles of the individual with the social struggles of the community. This was a fascinating read, and while Maggie's dramatic personal conflict sometimes overpowers the political I think there is plenty in this book to keep both the male and female reader engaged.