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Archive for December, 2008

The Name of the Wind

Day One) The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

My review


rating: 5 of 5 stars
THE NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss

This is my first review on Goodreads. I’ve enjoyed reading the reviews of others and hope mine is helpful. I just finished reading THE NAME OF THE WIND from DAW Books by Patrick Rothfuss. He is a true poet and brilliant writer. THE NAME OF THE WIND is a very intriguing book about a fascinating character: Kvothe. This fantasy is set in a realistic medieval-type world, not our own, and is quite believable. It chronicles the life of a famous man who has an epic tale to tell. He is in hiding in the beginning of the book, a non-descript innkeeper in a backwater village.

The truth is that he is a very famous/infamous man known far and wide for his exploits. The novel tells of his early years, growing up as the son of the best traveling performers in the land, then after a harsh and lonely time in a brutal city, his eventual admission into The University where he hopes to learn real magic—and much more.

This is not Harry Potter at Hogwarts. This is a truthful look at the life of someone with no money or safety net. Kvothe has to use his wits and hard work to make his way in a world that crushes most people down. This novel is about what determination and skill can accomplish—but it’s about so much more. THE NAME OF THE WIND is a deep look at human nature and how forces shape a person into what they are, and what they’re going to become. It’s a poignant and captivating study of a most remarkable person.

I was very entertained by this lengthy book (662 pages), and savored the moments when I could read it for long periods. Life interrupted me several times, as I had deadlines related to my own novels or stories, so it took longer than it should for me to finish reading. Also, I read the hardcover version, which is quite heavy and not very portable. The paperback is now out and I would advise picking that one up—as many people have making it a New York Times bestseller.

Now I look forward to reading book two: A WISE MAN’S FEAR, coming out soon.

If you’re interested in epic novels that get to the heart of what it means to be a hero, and the cost of that path in life, THE NAME OF THE WIND will give you hours of entertainment, and a depth that most novels rarely achieve.

Paul Genesse

Author of The Golden Cord

Book One of the Iron Dragon Series

http://www.paulgenesse.com

View all my reviews.

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How To Read Body Language

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I CAN READ YOU LIKE A BOOK: how to spot the messages and emotions people are really sending with body language, by Gregory Hartley and Maryann Karinch

I found this book at my work and took it home on a whim. It’s a quick read and is all about how to read body language and read hidden messages in people’s behavior. I learned that there are no absolutes. Everything has to be interpreted through context and culture. However, there are quite a few clues that are universal, and if you pay attention to them, you can learn a lot about what people are “not saying.”

The main source, Gregory Hartley, was an interrogator for the military and has vast experience. I’ve seen him on TV and think he’s the real deal.

If you want some more information on how to better interpret people’s behaviors and learn more about body language, this book is for you. As a writer myself, I picked up some great physical cues to use in my work, to give the characters in my novels and stories more accurate responses to situations. I am definitely better for having read this book, but am more interested in reading one of his previous books, which I believe is called, How To Spot a Liar.

Paul Genesse
Author of The Golden Cord
Book One of the Iron Dragon Series
http://www.paulgenesse.com

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The Origin of Dragons

Hello,

I spoke at Hawthorne Elementary School about four weeks ago and met a young man, Isaac, who asked me if he could interview me about dragons. He is writing a paper about dragons and wanted to ask me some questions. Of course, I said yes. He recently sent me the questions and here are my responses.

1) Do you think of dragons as evil or good?

I personally think of them as neutral. They do what they need to do to survive. Every writer spins it a different way, and every culture spins it a different way. In the Far East (China and Japan), dragons are good. They are the benefactors of the people, but in the West, dragons are considered evil. Historically, dragons are likened to Satan and the worst evil there is. The myths in Europe put the dragons as evil from birth, but I think that is a very ethnocentric view.

2) Why do you think dragons are so popular in today’s culture, as opposed to other creatures, such as griffins?

I love griffins, but dragons are so powerful and represent the most famous of all mythical monsters. They fill up the mythical stories like no other monster. We grow up (especiall in the West–this means Western civilizations–Europe and America) hearing stories about dragons at a very young age. Dragons capture our imaginations and stay with many of us because they are so powerful–the apex predator with no equal. We wonder if they could have really existed, though science says they did not. Dinosaurs existed, and people have been finding their bones and fossils for so long that I’m certain that’s where many of the myths began.

3) Does the study of dragons have any basis in science?

Not really, but paleontologists study dinosaurs, and we know that dinosaurs are the basis for many of the original dragon myths. Primitive people would find the bones and make up stories about what creature they could have belonged to. The people of ancient Europe and China didn’t have the TV news or books to read. They saw evidence of a dragon–bones–and believed in them. Why wouldn’t they? It all made perfect sense to them.

4) Where do you think the idea of dragons originated from?

Dinosaur fossils and a clever storyteller sitting around the camp fire in some cave a really long time ago.

5) What got you interested in dragons?

Books, movies, and toys. The Hobbit movie and book had a big influence on me. Also, the castle set I was given at age three. There was a castle, a knight, and a dragon. I loved those toys. I also loved the movie, Dragonslayer. That one had a lot of influence on me.

6) Do you use any source books, and if so what are your main ones?

I don’t really use any source books. I do enjoy reading books like, The Draconomicon, The Dragon Slayers Handbook, and all the Dungeons and Dragons books about dragons. Every book is that particular authors take on dragons. There is no one or “true” source. Beowulf slays a dragon and that is a classic story that influences a lot of what we read about today. Also, the story of Saint George and the dragon are quite important in Western culture.

7) What is your favorite type of dragon?

Iron dragons that are huge and breathe fire and kill everything! I’m only partially kidding. I like big scary dragons, not ones that are pink with butterfly wings. I want my dragons to look impressive and to be intelligent. I don’t want them to be mindless animals. I want them to be extremely intelligent.

8) Why do you think the dragon category is rarely associated with the werewolf-vampire category?

They are totally separate sub-genres in the fantasy field. Vampires and werewolves have their own devoted following.

9) Why do you think the idea of dragons has persisted for so long, since they were mentioned in Chinese culture thousands of years ago?

We want to believe in them. They represent something that is missing from us. A dragon represents great power and they stimulate our imaginations to soar to amazing heights. When a hero goes out and slays a dragon, metaphorically that hero is slaying the evil that is inside of us. It has been argued that dragons are mother nature, and slaying them is humanity conquering mother nature. Killing dragons is us having mastery over the most powerful force in the world, and that force has been dragons since ancient China and also in the West. I see little chance of dragons ever going away as a source of wonder. In a thousand years I believe people will still be writing books about dragons. My second novel, The Dragon Hunters, Book Two of the Iron Dragon Series comes out in May of 2009 and I did my best to make this a dragon hunting story like no other.

Isaac, I hope those answers helped a little.

Best wishes,

Paul Genesse, Author and Editor

Author of The Golden Cord
Book One of the Iron Dragon Series
(Five Star Books, April 2008)

Website: http://www.paulgenesse.com/
Blog: http://paulgenesse.blogspot.com/

Join me on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com
Editor of the Writer’s Symposium Ezine
http://www.paulgenesse.com/writerssymposiumezine

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How Do I Become A Skilled Writer?

Hello,

I received an email from a friend of an old friend. He wants to become a writer and sent me a summary of his ideas and a lot of history related to the basis of a high-concept fantasy novel. It sounded really interesting and I sent him this response, which I think contains some good information for any new writer interested in improving their craft.

(My email response)

Your novel sounds interesting, and very complicated, as well as high-concept. I think the big danger here is to try and tell the reader too much too soon in a novel like you’re suggesting. The first impulse is to do what you just did, tell a lot of history right up front. The paragraphs you wrote are cool and appropriate for the type of message you wrote, but what you really need to do now is figure out who will be the main character. You need a main character. Who is he? Or she. You have an idea, but the character is the critical part. You’ll have to sell the character to make the reader believe in the fairly hard to believe storyline you’re suggesting. I’m not saying it’s bad, because it’s not. But pulling of what you suggested, making the audience suspend their disbelief can be accomplished if the reader believes the main character is a real person. That’s the trick.

I know just what you mean about trying to become a skilled writer. It’s taken years for me to get published. So far, two novels have been sold and nine short stories. I still have so much to learn. It’s not easy. It’s harder now than it ever was before. The freedom of being a novice and just plowing ahead is great.

So, you must be a dedicated student of the craft if you want to become a skilled writer. Ideas are cheap and everyone and their dog wants to write a book. 1 in 100,000 novels that are completed and submitted are published. Think about that for a moment. If you’re serious about this idea of writing your novel, check out my website, http://www.paulgenesse.com, and go to: Writers Resources. Download the free Writers’ Symposium Ezines and read the articles, which are targeted toward beginners.

Get some books on writing. Study them. I suggest many on my site. Get them at the library or buy them.

However, the most important thing to do is . . . write. There is no substitute. Write a lot. It’s going to be terrible prose, but you have to start somewhere. Writing is a journey and the more you write, the better you’ll probably get. At some point you’ll need a writers’ group and/or skilled amateurs to help you critique your work and improve it.

Honestly, I would not recommend going into a writing, but if you are a writer, you will write. Because you must.

Learn all you can. Then get writing. Plan. Figure out a main character and put him or her into a tough situation. Then learn even more. Revise it. Revise it again. Rewrite the whole thing. Scrap it. Write it again. Repeat this process for several years. Yes, years.

If you have the drive, it’ll happen. You’ll finish the book. Then the hard part begins, selling it. Or you cold self-publish. Not a good way to go if you want to be taken seriously, but if you just want to get it out to friends and family, it’ll work.

I hope that helps. Now write something cool and send me the first page.

Paul Genesse, Author and Editor

Author of The Golden Cord
Book One of the Iron Dragon Series
(Five Star Books, April 2008)

Website: http://www.paulgenesse.com/
Blog: http://paulgenesse.blogspot.com/

Join me on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com
Editor of the Writer’s Symposium Ezine
http://www.paulgenesse.com/writerssymposiumezine

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Boy Scouts

Hello,

I spoke to a group of Boy Scouts yesterday at their weekly meeting. We talked about writing books and living the Boy Scout oath and law. I was invited by the Troop Leader, Rich Dorrans and his wife, Sharon—the Cub Scout Leader. They are great people and I am so happy to have met them. The kids were fabulous. I did a little presentation, then we mingled and had cookies—as well as milk from chocolate cows.

Here’s a link to a couple of the pics from the visit:
http://gallery.me.com/paulgenesse#100104

I love talking about writing and books, and when I had the chance to speak to the Scouts, I was very excited about it. You see, I always wanted to be a Boy Scout. I wasn’t able to join a troop when I was a kid, but read about their activities and skills in manuals and books. I was born camping and spent a ton of time out in the wild with my dad on camping trips. I would collect Boy Scout equipment and bring it camping. I always thought of myself as a Scout—though in truth—I wasn’t. (Sigh)

Anyway, as I was writing The Golden Cord, and the whole Iron Dragon Series, I always thought of the main character, Drake, as Boy Scout. Sure, he’s not perfect, but he’s a hero and lives the Boy Scout oath and law, which are all about honor and good morals. Drake is a hunter who has to use his skills to survive, but he’s the moral compass of the group. The core of his values are protecting his people and doing the right thing. He’s a guardian, and if the Scouts live their oath. So are they.

Happy Holidays,

Paul Genesse
Author of The Golden Cord
Book One of the Iron Dragon Series
http://www.paulgenesse.com

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WIN FABULOUS PRIZES! SAVE LIVES!

My writer buddy, Patrick Rothfuss, author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Name of the Wind, is doing an amazing fundraiser for a great charity, Heifer International. They buy animals (usually milk-producing cows–heifers) for poor people in Africa. Then the people can have milk for their family, and sell extra milk for an income. Everyone wins. Many people’s lives will be forever changed for the better. Pat’s going to match all funds raised. For every dollar contributed, you get a chance to win massive prizes—signed copies of books by lots of great writers.

Here’s the link to see the prizes and the one below has the info about the charity.

http://www.patrickrothfuss.com/blog/2008/11/still-even-more-prizes.html

http://www.patrickrothfuss.com/blog/2008/11/heifer-international-details.html

Best wishes,

Paul Genesse
Author of The Dragon Hunters
Book Two of the Iron Dragon Series
Releasing May 15, 2008

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Sprucewood Elementary School

I had a great day today at Sprucewood Elementary School in Sandy, Utah. I spoke to the combined 5th and 6th grade classes, three of each, about 180 kids. They were a great group, a real tribute to their parents and teachers—especially Mrs. Simmons, Mr. Emmit and Ms. Blunt.

I spoke to them about writing for a while and answered questions. Then I spoke to the three classes of 5th graders and taught a mini-writing workshop. We created a very fun short story about Makayla, the tiniest dragon in the entire world, who couldn’t fly or breathe fire. No one liked her, not even her parents. She also had a problem with a tribe of goblins and nearly drowned in a muddy lake full of crocodiles. Then the goblins captured her and Makayla developed some pretty unique powers of her own. Good times.

We worked as a group and I taught them a quick method of planning and writing stories. I was so impressed with the kids’ ideas and the teachers were awesome too.

Then I spoke to three classes of sixth graders. We had so much fun in a very packed room. They came up with a bunch of amazing ideas and we created a story about Jose, a blond-haired, white-skinned orphan living in Mexico with a Latin family who had adopted him. He had a terrible burn scar on his neck from the fire his parents died in when he was a baby.

Jose also had a terrible power: he could see ghosts. In the story, Jose was chased into a traveling Haunted-Freakshow/Mirror House/Glass House/Fun House. Two boys had been lost in the Freakshow in the previous town and were never found. Bullies chased Jose into the house and he ends up using his power to see ghosts to save himself, and the bullies at the end. The ghosts of Jose’s parents help him escape, and Jose saves the bullies after being tormented by all sorts of evil ghosts—such as a werewolf ghost. You get the idea. The kids and I had a really killer story going. I enjoyed meeting them all and signed posters and books before I left. What a great bunch of kids.

Next, I hit the Southtown Mall Barnes and Noble (by the school) and signed ten copies of The Golden Cord per the Community Relations Manager’s direction. There should be signed copies at three local Barnes and Nobles now: Sugarhouse, Murray, and Southtown Mall.

Next I went to the hospital and visited one of my favorite patients. She’d been readmitted to the ICU and I had to see her. She’s hanging in there, but I’m quite worried. I liked seeing her and she liked seeing me. I had my black suit on with a cool tie. Everyone was impressed with my outfit—and I have to admit—I do like dressing up once in a while. My patient is such a cool lady. I end up connecting with some of my patients in a big way. Writing is great, but I’m never going to quit being a nurse. I love it too much.

Paul Genesse
Author of The Dragon Hunters
Book Two of the Iron Dragon Series
Releasing May 15, 2009

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