How the Dinotopia Fantasy Book Series Saved Me

Breathe Deep, Seek Peace.

I know. I know. It isn’t Harry Potter, or Wheel of Time, or the Lord of the Rings, or the Dresden Files. It’s… dare I say… better?*

This post comes on the coattails of a delightful tweet where a class of students is reading Nic Stone’s Dear Martin, and one student’s reaction to an important part of the book. It warmed my heart so much to watch, and I immediately remembered when I was that age, or younger, and the series of books that hit me in the emotional space.

James Gurney - Design Heard 6

The book series was called Dinotopia, written in 1992 by James Gurney, surrounding a fictional island in the 1800’s where intelligent dinosaurs and people coexisted peacefully. The series began with three books that artfully depicted delicious, crisp scenes reminiscent of 1950’s art, da Vinci-esque machinery, and vibrant clothes, all surrounding a cast that felt almost small-town in nature; salt-of-the-earth folks. The colorful books won Hugo awards, and were apparently super successful.

And, I didn’t own either of the three of them. I read the first two, piecemeal, at Waldenbooks (rest its soul) because they were too expensive for me to buy. I randomly came across them at friends’ houses, but was too uncomfortable mentioning it because it was fantasy, and fantasy was fake.

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Should We Give Our (book) Babies Away For Free?

 

OldbooksHey everybody. A few months ago, while I worked with a SLPA (St. Louis Publishing Association)-affiliated editor–and by “working with,” I mean trying to establish how much it’d cost me to get Of Salt and Wine edited professionally–I was informed about his thoughts on how I’d get off the ground as a first-time, self-published writer. He informed me, under no uncertain terms, that I should publish and distribute my first novel entirely for free, to generate interest in my writing “brand.”

This came as no huge surprise for me, and since I didn’t have the $ available to actually seal the editing deal, I stepped away from the negotiation. There’s been enough time between our conversation and now, and enough Twitter conversation from established writers, to give me a pause. Should we, as self-publishers, give away our hard-earned first novels in order to create a base?

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I Tiptoe Around (Some) Empowered Women in Literature and TV

This semester, I’ve been studying American Indian Survivance Discourse. I’ve been studying code-switching and the importance of diversity in voice through minority writing. I’ve been studying transgender literature. Fairy tale literature. LGBQ literature. It’s beautiful.

Most recently, I’ve been studying the poet Adrienne Rich. While all the subjects I put in my head this semester has had an impact on me, to varying degrees, Rich never ceases to explode my thought. Boom. And the kicker is, I studied her seven years ago with similar effect. Her insights are mind-curling, deep and twisting and nearly self-aware. And she made sense, on Thursday, in a way that fit something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

She said that for her to be a truly independent woman writer, she had to stop using men’s sensibilities and styles while writing.

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A Short Bit From Corpus Paradiso

After slogging through disconnect and diabetic infirmary, I woke with my words wrapped snugly around me. I endeavored to write a difficult passage, and found it exactly what I sought.

I wanted to share!

Quick backstory: Susursal is trapped in dream-wanderings, and having just escaped a nightmare scenario where he was forced to live two mundane lives of gardening and housecleaning for what he perceives as “hundreds of years,” he’s wandering the ruins of his ancestral memory.

He has two gods: God and Lalatu, a Hecate-esque god of possibility that lives on the moon. Ineluctable Man is a representation of many things; his failings, his shadow self, a mythological Everyman, an outside influence that he has brought in, or childhood sleep paralysis issues. Continue reading

Writing to Scare Yourself

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Reading Simmons on the beach.

(Still love this pic. Wish I was still there)

 

I have one finalized and unpublished novel, four finished rough novels, forty eight unfinished projects, seventeen research files, and countless lost projects. My titles are, from my first novel project in 7th grade to now (including fanfic): Dinotopia!, Elementals, Lucky Sevens, Spark, the Mindgames Trilogy, Inhabitability, Infallibility, The Willow and the Sycamore, the seven Reverberant high fantasy novels that followed, the four planned Littrell sequels, Symbiosis, Of Salt and Wine and the six sequels planned, The Acorn King and sequel, David and His Shade and four sequels planned, Pris(m), Alexandrea, Nautilus, and Corpus Paradiso (my NaNo project).

I started my writing life piggybacking off other writers and other worlds, learning my basics by simply parroting. My parents told me my writing work was great. I won second place in 7th grade and first place in 8th for a pair of short stories written across two pages. When I was young and learning to write I was afraid just to put a word down. Words written meant you owned them. They meant you had an idea and you put it out there for others to read.

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Batman VS. Superman was Phenomenal

…despite so many critiques to the contrary.

SPOILERS SPOIILERS SPOILERS.

Why did I feel BVS was phenomenal? This will probably be a long post, so grab some popcorn and be aware of spoilers. BECAUSE I WILL SPOIL IT FOR EVERYONE.

For those of you who don’t care about lengthy one-sided discussion, I’ll lay it out nice and clean, without examples, so you may continue on your way.

Multi-faceted protagonists, including Superman; strong, aware antagonists, including Doomsday (Kidding about Doomsday. Dude was just straight up mad); complex plot that allowed characters to develop, including non-super ones, a world that existed before the movie began; philosophically sound motivations that were succinctly explained and developed; appropriate insights to characters through skilled storytelling; great filming, particularly in the beginning and at the end.

After explaining all this, I’ll try and hunt down why people are so disgusted by the movie.

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Using D&D to Understand Story

I haven’t been around for a while, and for that I apologize. I’m trying for a resurgence to this site, and writing in general. So hello.

 

This post has everything to do with my very, very amateur status in the world of Dungeons & Dragons. After studying the 5th Edition rulebooks, I recognize a deep vein of development that has been present since, well, I was born.

I’m falling into the D&D Dungeon Master development in a way I didn’t expect: I find studying a campaign actually improves my inspiration toward writing, and understanding a well-developed story, more adequately.

This is both a good and bad thing. The good is I am forced to develop peripheral aspects in a unique and new way, and in applying this to my book-writing, I find the world more saturated with individuality. The bad is I’m forced to cast aside my previous style of writing, which was unconventional, different, unique.

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