July 30, 2009

Bloggers Round-up

Today I'm going to share my favorite authors to follow online:

Brandon Sanderson
John Scalzi
Lilith Saintcrow
Neil Gaiman
Deadline Dames
(Actually several authors, all of whom are enjoyable)
Wil Wheaton
Kathy Reichs
Charlaine Harris

All of these folks post helpful advice for writers wanting to write, amusing anecdotes, and/or information on their upcoming projects.

July 22, 2009

Two blog posts in one day? What? Oh, the insanity! I felt the need to add a post in regards to writing in order to balance out the post about reading. In fact, the two are connected.

Here's the deal: I spend a lot of my time reading blogs and Twitter feeds of various authors. I have read at least one thing by all of these authors I follow, and I enjoyed their stories, which is why I decided to follow them. And most of these authors offer occasional bits of advice about writing. Writing advice is another reason why I follow them.

Do you want to know the number one piece of advice I've read? Every single author I follow that has offered advice on being an author has mentioned this one piece of advice at least once. In a way, this particular nugget of wisdom should be self explanatory, and yet there are so many out there who don't think they need to do it. Simply put, it's this: To be a good writer, you have to first be a good reader.

Like I said, it's pretty self explanatory to me. I am a voracious reader. I usually have at least two books going at once. I've even taken to listening to audiobooks while I'm working (please, don't tell my boss). By reading everything I can get my hands on, I expose myself to a variety of writing styles. It takes a lot of practice to be a good writer, and it takes a lot of exposure to the written word.

And so, in addition to writing when I can, I read everything I can, and here I will be posting reviews of what I read. See? It all fits together.

Stephen R. Lawhead's "Hood"

I've spent the last few evenings reading a fabulous new book. Let me preface the coming review with a bit of personal information about me: I love Robin Hood. Like, I get giddy with joy over every new Robin Hood tale that comes out, movies, from the serious to the ridiculous, (Men in Tights, anyone?), TV shows, mini-series, and books. There's just something that gets me about a single man taking up for a poor, oppressed, overtaxed people, doing what he can to make their lives better.

So, onto the book!

As the name indicates, Hood is about the legendary Robin Hood. But not in the way we remember. The story is set in medieval Wales, shortly after the Norman invasion of England. Anyone familiar with the common Robin Hood mythos will recognize the deviation in that. In fact, the main character's name isn't even Robin Hood. The character's have old Celtic and French names, which can be difficult to read.

And yet? I couldn't put it down.

Bran ap Brychan is the rightful heir to the currently Norman occupied throne of Elfael. This heir wants nothing to do with the throne and spends most of his days doing what he can to aggravate his father, the king. After the king's brutal murder at the hands of an invading Norman army, Bran's first thought is to flee, but is convinced to stay and try to reason with King William the Red to get his land back. When this attempt fails, he again, tries to flee.

A great deal of the story is Bran's personal acceptance of his role in the world and his responsibility for his people. But when he finally steps up to his destiny, he becomes the hero we knew he would become from the beginning.

The story is steeped in (accurate) medieval history and geography. I know this, because I looked a lot of it up online. I like a story that claims roots in the real world. The characters are rich, deep, and just as fickle and conflicted as most people I know, making it much easier for me to connect with them. Even the villians, who aren't as evil as they are ambitious.

All in all, I liked it a great deal, and will be purchasing the sequel, Scarlet.

And as a personal aside, when we were introduced to Friar Tuck and Little John? I squeeled like a little girl.