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Archive for March, 2009

Courtney Phillips graduated from the University in Houston and currently writes articles for a couple of different education sites, mostly tips and guides. She got in touch with me recently and asked if I would post one of her articles on my blogs. I think she makes some excellent points and am happy to post her article.

Tips to Help Your Writing Resonate with Readers
By Courtney Phillips

When creating works of fiction, especially science fiction and fantasy, there are many things that writers can do to make their works resonate with readers. Sometimes all it takes is the infusion of a few simple elements to make readers beg for more. Take a look at this brief list of things you can do as a writer to make your work strike a chord with a broader audience.

Character Studies

When it comes to having believable characters, it all has to do with just how well the author knows them. Creating characters is an art form that improves over time with many writers. Develop a questionnaire about your characters. What drives them? How do they interact with others? Who are their enemies and allies? Why are they important to the story itself? Use a notebook and keep detailed notes on your characters. This one strategy will help your story become more solid and improve readability.

Invent Your World

Nothing is off limits when writing, which is one thing that makes it truly liberating. Think of authors like J.K. Rowling. She created this entire world and all sorts of devices and vocabulary that made her world unique. Although it is very similar and somewhat familiar, it drives the reader forward and wanting to learn more when you don’t keep everything plain vanilla. Your creations can be steeped in symbolism, which can add dimension to your story as well.

Let the Story Lead You

You may have an exact idea of where you’d like your story to go, but be sure and keep your mind open and let the story lead you. When you explore uncharted territory in your writing, your readers will more than likely be more intrigued when you have completed your final product. Having an idea of where you’re going is great, but the journey to the end of the tale can be exhilarating when you are willing to let the story start telling itself.

Keep Moving Forward

Many writers are their own worst enemies when it comes to getting longer works completed. This is largely due to the fact that we continue looking back when we should be moving forward. Always remember that there is plenty of time when the story is completed to go back for editing and revisions. Get the bones of the story down and perfect it once the tale is told.

This post was contributed by Courtney Phillips, who writes on the subject of the best online college degrees. She invites your feedback at CourtneyPhillips80 at gmail.com

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PodCamp 2009

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Hello,

I learned a lot of great stuff at Pod Camp SLC 2009. Somewhere around 125-150 people interested in learning about podcasting got together to learn from the talented people in the area. Thom Allen, the founder/organizer/podcasting guru who put the whole thing on is a friend and I’m so glad I went. Pod Camp filled my little brain with great information and I’m going to do my first podcast when the headset/mic arrives from Amazon. com. I bought the LogiTech 350 for a total of about $110, which is the brand and model Thom suggested.

I’m planning on recording the prologue of my novel and the first few pages of each of my short stories. I think it’s going to be lots of fun.

I also got to meet several really cool people. Pod Camp was only $20 for a full day of learning, included lunch, and the opportunity to rub elbows with some amazing people. I’m definitely going again next year.

Best wishes,

Paul Genesse
Author of The Dragon Hunters
Book Two of the Iron Dragon Series
Releasing May 15, 2009
http://www.paulgenesse.com

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The Memory Palace

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I just read the poetry memoir of the bravest woman I know. The book is The Memory Palace, by JoSelle Vanderhooft. I’ve known JoSelle for a few years now and consider her a friend, as well as an incredibly gifted writer and poet. She’s had much critical acclaim and was recently nominated for a Stoker award.

She’s the real deal. Have no doubt.

The Memory Palace is so strong that it would have blown me away regardless if I knew the author or not, and was worth every penny of the twelve dollars I spent on it.

The first four poems, all in free verse, Entering the Memory Palace, Too Many Birthdays, Colorado, and Inheritance just blew my mind. She knocked the ball out of the park, got a standing ovation, and sucked me in like she had pulled me into the deep end of the pool and tied a bag of sledge hammers to my legs.

This is her life-story told with poems so engaging you’ll probably read the whole 161 page book in one sitting. I did.

You want to find out what happens next and I was captivated by her brutal honesty, and the poignant glimpses into the soul of the strange-looking kid nearly everyone picked on.

It takes a really tough guy to pick on the weird girl in the playground, terrorizing her physically and mentally all through their school years. The same assholes who did that are in jail now, or have turned their aggression to their wives or poor children—who will in turn probably keep the cycle going. We are sick and twisted maniacs to target the most vulnerable among us. And we call them crazy?

None of the idiotic muscle heads who now dig ditches for a living can even compete with the bravery JoSelle showed by writing this book and then putting it out there for everyone to read. Baring your soul to complete strangers takes tremendous courage and I applaud her for doing that.

She might be a bisexual lapsed Catholic with emotional problems, but she has balls of pure steel, and the determination to reach for her dreams no matter what tragedy or challenge befalls her. It’s never easy for her, but why should it be? Life sucks sometimes, but do you let it grind you into dust or do you become mud and stick to life’s boots? Like the rest of us, JoSelle does a little of both.

I would like to think that if I was there during the bad times in her youth, she would have been my friend and I would have stood at her side. Making someone an outcast doesn’t solve any problems.

The Memory Palace is a collection of life’s worst and best moments written down by an extremely talented writer and playwright. This is a memoir with love, hate, acne, frizzy hair, and lots of fear. Sound familiar?

The story of her life is mine now, and no one will read it exactly like I did. There is little doubt in my mind that when you finish reading, the work will simmer in your veins like it’s simmering in mine now.

Paul Genesse
Author of Greg and Eli
A short story featured in Imaginary Friends (DAW Books)
http://www.paulgenesse.com

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Young Writers’ Conference

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March 21, 2009

7th Annual Young Writers’ Conference
“What’s Your Story?”
Springville High School 2009

I was a guest presenter at the 7th Annual Springville Young Writers’ Conference on March 21, 2009. Over 450 kids and parents had were there. For $10 you got a t-shirt, a good lunch, and were able to attend classes given by professional writers and illustrators.

The big star was Brandon Mull, author of the Fablehaven books. Book four in the Fablehaven series is coming out on Tuesday March 24 at a huge book release party at Cottonwood High School in Salt Lake City. It’s going to be a massive event and at least 3,000 people are expected to attend! OMG! Check it out if you can. I had lunch with Brandon, I’ve met him before, and he’s a really good guy who deserves all of his success. Sometimes good things do happen to nice people.

Anyway, I’ve never given my autograph that many times before. I sold out of all my Golden Cords and a bunch of my short story books. Many of the kids were having us authors sign their t-shirts and their special autograph books. Everyone was having a good time.

The librarians, teachers and volunteers who organized this thing did a wonderful job. They deserve huge thanks for putting it together, and I will be volunteering for them again in the future. It’s good promotion for my books and I want to make a difference in the kids’ lives.

I’m almost out of promo material at this point. I need to restock! Hundreds of free bookmarks and posters flew off my table and in the classroom where I taught.

The best part of course, was meeting the students, parents and teachers. I gave two classes, one titled: Character and Plot, the other titled: World Building. I forgot to tell the kids to check the Writers’ Symposium Blog for all the excellent world building articles there. If you’re reading this, please spread the word. Link them to this blog!

The classes went really well and I was able to give the students a lot of my best material on writing. It was a mixed crowd, from 7-18 years old, but I didn’t hold back at all and gave them some advanced ideas. I put a lot into it and the completely full classrooms responded very well. It was fun for all of us and I will visit Springville again. What an energetic group of people!

The organizers, especially librarian Lanell Rabner need some special recognition for what they accomplished. Bringing in that many attendees and running such a cool conference is not easy.

Paul Genesse
Author of The Dragon Hunters
Releasing May 15, 2009

Book release party May 22 from 3-6 PM at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City.

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My Return to Bella Vista Elementary School

March 20, 2009

Hello,

I dropped by Bella Vista Elementary School again to sign some more books for the students—per their request that I come back. Check out the pictures, aren’t they a smart looking bunch? There’s also a picture of Mrs. Mary Lou Damjanovich, the literacy specialist who had me come back.

I got to chat with them for a little while about the book and then had a private talk with Walker, who had read thirteen chapters so far. He had some good questions and it was a charge for me to hear that he really understood the characters and the novel itself. He had all the big questions and I’m so glad he’s enjoying The Golden Cord.

Meeting the fans really does get me excited about writing.

Happy Reading,

Paul Genesse
Author of The Dragon Hunters
Releasing May 15, 2009

Book release party May 22 from 3-6 PM at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City.

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Fort Herriman Middle School

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Paul Genesse and a student (Alexandra, I think) at Fort Herriman Middle School in Herriman, Utah

March 19, 2009

Hello,

Fort Herriman Middle School was really fun. The librarian there, Barbara Hopkins invited me to be part of “Lunch in the Library.”

The kids had pizza while I juggled chainsaws and drank poison. Okay, I couldn’t get the permit to drink the poison, but they let me juggle the chainsaws. Mostly, I just cut the pizza with the chainsaws. Fine. I’m exaggerating a little. I didn’t cut the pizza with said chainsaws.

We did chat about writing and stuff. I got to hang with my buddies, Spencer, Amelia, and Noah, plus lots of other cool kids. I spoke to two different groups during the two lunch breaks at the school.

Spencer had read The Golden Cord twice and I gave him a gift, an advanced reader copy of The Dragon Hunters. A very rare gift indeed.

I hope to return to Fort Herriman Middle School. The place was beautiful and the students were top notch.

Happy Reading,

Paul Genesse
Author of The Dragon Hunters
Releasing May 15, 2009

Book release party May 22 from 3-6 PM at the Radisson Hotel downtown.

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Bella Vista Elementary School

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Hello,

I had an amazing experience at Bella Vista Elementary School in Cottonwood Heights yesterday. I spoke to an assembly of 5th and 6th grade students and then taught two mini-writing workshops, over an hour each. They were extremely great kids and so smart and imaginative. A special shout out to some of my new fans: Paul, Chase, Walker, Olivia and Julianna.

So, I was invited by the school’s literacy specialist, Mary Lou Damjanovich, a great lady who helps the students learn to love books. The kids need as many people like Mary Lou as we can get. She cares about those kids so much and I know that in her many years in education she’s helped so many children. I was put in touch with her by a friend of mine, Lois C., a nurse at the hospital. I really enjoyed meeting Lois’s son, a very intelligent and tall young man named Paul. He seems a little like me, except he’s already taller than me and he’s in 6th grade. He’s got a lot of potential and now he’s my buddy. I really appreciated his help during my visit.

The whole visit was fun, and I didn’t have any big time constraints. We could sit back and enjoy the process. I was able to spend over an hour with each group in the writing workshops.

During the workshops I was most struck by the quality of the kids ideas. Their brains were going a mile a minute and they came up with a lot of great stuff, though we couldn’t use all of them in our story. I hope they use the ideas in their personal stories later.

The first workshop (in Mrs. Raymond’s class) went really well.

We came up with a story about Sasha, a sixteen year old girl living in Tooele, with a Russian father and an American mother, who was pretty sure she was about to fail her driving test for the third time. She started driving and was immediately followed by a cop car, which turned on its lights wanting her to pull over. Her driving teacher turned out to be a bank robber on the run—pretending to be a driving instructor. He was an accomplice of Sasha’s father (also a bank robber), and wanted her to tell him where her father was hiding with the money they just stole.

Sasha was forced to drive 90 miles an hour as they fled the cops—in her new sports car—bought with stolen money. Sasha crashed and the cops crashed and then the foot race began as the bank robber chased after her, while the cops tried to recover from the accident.

Sasha was a special girl, with a special power. She could read minds and read the bank robber’s mind: he was going to kill her no matter what.

Poor Sasha fled into the hills in the middle of nowhere outside Tooele. She had been driving the bank robber toward the place where her father was hiding out. She did know where he was. However, during the accident, Sasha hit her head and lost her power to read minds. She also lost the memory of her father’s location.

Afraid, injured, and running for her life from a desperate bank robber, Sasha takes refuge in an old mine shaft. The robber finds her and ties her up. The cops do not find them. The robber interrogates her and things look grim. She can’t remember where her father is hiding.

Then Sasha gets loose when the cops come to the mine. The robber will be captured, but the cops fall through some rotten wooden planking, and the robber chases her deeper into the mine. Her little flashlight is dying and she is terrified. The robber catches her and then they see an exit to the mine. A man is standing there with a bag (full of money). It’s Sasha’s father. She is excited, for he will certainly free her. (He was hiding deep in the mine and thought the cops were coming.)

Sasha’s father aims a gun at his former accomplice. The robber aims a gun at Sasha’s head and says, “Give me the money or she’s dead.”

Sasha’s father says, “Fine. Kill her. I need the money, not her.”

Sasha is crushed emotionally. The robber hesitates, then Sasha gets her power to read minds back. She reads her dad’s mind. He’s bluffing. The robber takes the gun away from her head and Sasha knows her dad is about to shoot. She dives away at the right moment, when her dad fires and kills the robber with an expert shot.

Sasha and her dad get in the slightly damaged, but functional, abandoned cop car parked some distance away, and drive off with the money.

Last line supplied by a very smart girl in the class: That was the day I got my drivers license.

The second story in Mrs. Cope’s class was really challenging, but quite good and involved an orphan girl (her tourist parents killed by bandits) with lighter skin, adopted by a desert tribe in Morocco, who found out who she really was at her coming of age ceremony—an outsider who would never quite fit in. She has three small dots tattooed under her eyes and feels the pain. She also has a vision of the future, as she has the gift of foresight, and has had it all her life. She sees that if she stays there now, she will never be accepted and they might kill her for being a witch someday.

She decides to find her real parents and armed with her mother’s jade necklace and an ID card from when she was a baby with her real name—Jada—on it, she sets off to find her parents. She left behind her adopted parents and Akbar, a young man who loved her. She ended up in jail in a city with the prospect of disappearing permanently because of the corrupt police who had stolen her necklace and denied her claim, saying she was not the girl named on the ID card.

A crazed prisoner attacks the girl and she escapes, with the help of Akbar, who hits the prisoner over the head and helps her get back the necklace and the ID card. They run away and Akbar tells her he can’t live without her. She loves him too and then they flee. Akbar is hit by a car, apparently killed.

Jada has to run from the crazed prisoner, who is chasing her. He wants the necklace back and probably wants to kill her. He corners her in an alleyway and accuses her of stealing the necklace. She tells him it was her mother’s and the prisoner looks past the tattoos on her face, past the desert clothing, past the desert hairstyle, past three dots under each eye, and sees the face of his long lost daughter.

He has been searching for her for years, and finally the authorities threw him in jail because they wanted more money from him—bribes so they would help him find his daughter.

Jada sees her father, then has a vision of the future. If she goes back with him she will be ridiculed and will have a terrible life in a foreign country where she doesn’t speak the language, or fit in at all. She will miss the desert and her true people. She will miss Akbar. The injured young man shows up then, or perhaps she goes to the hospital to find him, as she knows he is alive. Her vision tells her he is alive.

Jada gives the necklace and the ID card to her father and tells him she is not going back with him. She sees the future will be difficult, but with Akbar at her side, her place will be in the desert and the people will accept her, for she has chosen them over her real parents.

Wow, cool story, eh? Those kids are so smart. They’re having me back to do a bigger book signing, as more of the kids want books now that they’ve met me. I’m really looking forward to going back and seeing them. I also hope I get to read some of their stories.

Here’s a salute to the great writers at Bella Vista Elementary School.

Paul Genesse
Author of The Dragon Hunters
Book Two of The Iron Dragon Series
May 2009
http://www.paulgenesse.com

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