Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Do you have the Voice?

What is voice in a story?

Image Courtesy: Google
Voice is the dominant leg of the tripod of storytelling. It could be the voice of the narrator, the voice of the main character or the voice of the story itself.

Awakening the return of wisdom by the Awakening Poets: A review

The awakening poets, aka Sheena Zenz, Nicole North and Darren Garmer,  describe themselves as "an artists collective dedicated to sharing metamorphosical language codes with a growing, awakening audience"

When we were first asked to review awakening the return of wisdom, I admit I was a little unsure as to what I was going to discover, however as soon as I started reading I realised that the collection does indeed have an otherworldly feel about it, and to me it seems as if it has been streamed from a higher spiritual plane.

This stunning collection of over seventy poems is both enchanting and lyrical, and stimulates the senses in such a way as to leave the reader full, yet craving more. I can honestly say that I have never had the pleasure of reading a collection of poetry of this calibre, and constantly felt as if the poets were guiding me on my very own magical mystery tour into the unknown.  The language used is at times unusual, however it is completely accessible and I never felt out of my depth, or left behind. The artwork in the collection is also exceptional,  and whilst I have purchased the collection on kindle I think it would be better appreciated in book format as the collection totally lends itself to being read by candle light.   I also think that if at all possible the poets should consider having this made into an audio book as it would be a wonderful collection to meditate to.

My only real concern initially with this was the price;  the kindle version in particular seemed very steep, however now that I have read it  I don't begrudge a single penny.   If you only ever purchase one collection of poetry in your life, then make sure it is this one!

Awakening the Return of Wisdom is available on Amazon:


Find out more about the Awakening Poets:

Ingrid Hall is the author of Granny Irene's Guide to the Afterlife - Revenge.  She also offers free interviews, book reviews and spotlights to indie authors.  Find out more at http://www.ingridhall.com

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Interview with Dennis Higgins

This is the first installment of our interview series, headed up by author Ingrid Hall. Support up and coming writers by checking out her page as well the interviewee's information at the end of the article!


Hey Dennis, it's great finally getting the chance to talk to you today, let's grab the bull by the horns and kick things off by telling us a little bit about yourself..

Hi Ingrid, well I am a person that has always had a love of things from the past, you know things that are gone but not forgotten.  This is why I live vicariously through my writing. My characters can go where I can't.  I have written three books so far:  My Indie book Parallel Roads (Lost on Route 66) My traditionally published book: Katya and Cyrus Time Pilgrims, and my upcoming release Almost Yesterday.

I am fond of all things time travel too - My character Irene goes off on several jaunts of her own... So, tell me is writing your full time career?

I wish it were.  I have a day job as well but must admit I do a lot of technical writing for them as well.

So our own writing is kind of a busman's holiday then... What is the worst job that you have ever done, and why?

Hot, sweaty manual labor in a factory with a tin roof and no air conditioning.  This was when I was a young man.

Well, I guess everyone has to start somewhere!!!!  If you could have written any other book by any other author what would it have been and why?

Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson.  It was originally called Time, Bid ye, but when the movie was made they changed the name.  It is the perfect blend of romance and time travel. A love that is so powerful that it transcends time itself is the stuff that dreams are made of.

How do you think your parents would describe your book, and does this differ from how you would describe it?

My mom is an avid reader and my worst critic.  She read it but I never actually heard her describe it.

What genre is your work, and do you have any plans to work outside of it?

My genre is YA, Romance, Fantasy.  Is that an actual genre? I keep going back to a book I started years ago which is more of a ghost/paranormal story.  I may finish it one day.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I have always wanted to write.  I had all of these ideas in my head but never thought I could actually be an author. When I met my wife online, we started writing a never ending story of one of my time travel ideas.  The story was full of love, and would only be enjoyed by us, so years later she encouraged me to start writing my first book, which was a time travel adventure based along the famous American road Route 66.  This is my indie book called Parallel Roads (Lost on Route 66)  This one is loved by people, even if they don't like traditional time travel. It's more of a murder mystery.  I get great reviews on it.

I have downloaded a copy on kindle, and I am looking forward to reading and reviewing it for you!!!  Do you ever get ideas at random moments, and if so how do you hang onto them?

Good question Ingrid, I do get random ideas and if they are good enough I retain them. If I am watching t.v and get an idea, I write it down in a notebook.

Okay, do you have a structure when writing and if so, what?

I don't really have a structure that I am conscious of.  I do use an excel spreadsheet to keep track of my characters.  The structure just seems to fall into place as I write.

An excel spreadsheet? That sounds very organised to me!!!  Okay, which was your favourite character to write and why? 

Ha! I love your British spelling, but my spell check has underlined the word favourite with the extra u.  My favored is Katya from Katya and Cyrus Time Pilgrims.  She is a unique character because she is lost in time and has temporal amnesia.  She remembers her past, but not when she actually lived.  She had jumped around living in many timelines until she sort of ended up in Cyrus's.  As a result of this she speaks strangely because of the different periods she has experienced. But in many ways she is just an ordinary girl with extraordinary powers. She's plain but pretty.  Dyes her hair. She likes to have fun and shows Cyrus who is all business that they have fun just time travelling because they are together.

She sounds amazing, and I just love the way you Americans have taken our wonderful language and mashed it up lol... Do you read for pleasure or out of habit?

I read for pleasure and knowledge. It's funny,  I am so influential that I try not to read while I am writing an actual book. I afraid that it might change my own voice. My fans like my simple writing style. 

What are you reading at the moment and why?

I am reading the Awaking (The Judas Curse) by Angella Graff.   The premise intrigued me because it is about immortals and ancient Gods.  I liked the Percy Jackson, Lightning Thief series.   This is a subject not written about much.   There can be reasons for immortality other than vampires.

I LOVE the ancient Gods, you should check out my novel, it's all about the Norse Gods.

Meat eater or vegetarian?

Carnivore. I love my steak.

No-one's perfect I suppose!!  Sex or cuddles?

First one, then the other, then back to the first one, then sleep.

WOW!! Moving on swiftly,what is our favourite movie and why?

I know it's a cliche, but I love Titanic.  The history mixed with the fictitious story is how I write also.  In fact I talk about going to Southampton and finding the exact site where the great ship launched in my blog http://www.timepilgrims.com/blog.html

The theme music from Titanic always brings a tear to my eye, because we played it at my dad's funeral, which brings me onto my  next question.. Do you have an opinion on life after death and if so what?

My opinion is mostly from a traditional Christian perspective.  I do believe souls can come back and be around us at times though.  Call them ghosts or purgatorial spirits or whatever, but I do think they are there sometimes.  I don't believe in reincarnation as such, but I do feel that people can channel past lives and feel them.

I am heavily into life after death/reincarnation. It's such a fascinating subject and I could talk the hind leg off a donkey about it, but seeing as we don't have all year, I will move swiftly on!! When you eat out would you choose Chinese, Indian, Italian, or other, and if so what?

I love it all.  I am a foodie.  I actually learned to love Indian in England.  I love Chinese but I think ours is Americanized because I pretty much hated the food in China when I was there.  We ate pigeon and ducks feet.

My son has tried pigeon, personally though the thought of it makes me feel sick.  London, Paris, New York, and why?

I have been to France but never Paris. London was awesome but hard to drive in.  New York is most like my hometown of Chicago.  I pick Chicago.

You have been to France but not Paris, Nooooo!!!  What do you have in the pipeline?

Oil? Water?  This must be a British term but I can extract what you mean.  What is coming on my agenda, in my future, down my pike.  Well, my third book is being published by my publisher, Whiskey Creek Press, this July.  It's called Almost Yesterday and I am very excited about it.  In it my young time pilgrims have adventures in San Francisco during the gold rush, the summer of love, and the great earthquake.  I also take them to England to investigate the Titanic and they end up in the London Blitz.  Mixed with tragedy there is always fun and romance.  My books never get too heavy, but they are also NOT children's books.  I also introduce a loveable time travelling dog.

You make me laugh so much!!!! In fact my sides are aching, you are so funny lol!! Yes, pipeline is one of our curious little idioms, and I love your thought process; gold rush..titanic..and the blitz, yes I can see how you would have arrived at all of that! Your brain obviously works at the same frenetic speed as mine.

What is your earliest childhood memory?

One of fear. All I could remember was a cone shaped, black device coming towards me when I was laying on a table.  My mother told me it was an x ray taken of my ears because of an infection.  I was only one year old.

You can remember being one? NO WAY!!!  Where would you like to be in 5 years time?

A household name with movies being made of my books.. with time pilgrims being the latest craze.

All Hail Dennis Higgins!!!  If you only had 60 seconds remaining on this planet what would you say, and who would you say it to?

I would thank my wife for being the best mate ever.  I would tell her that I love her, and then go and pet the dogs.

What advice would you give your 18 year old self?

Stop eating pizza every Friday.  Quit smoking ( I did when I was 27) and exercise more.  Thank you for interviewing me Ingrid, I enjoyed it.

Dennis you are a SUPER STAR.  I have enjoyed our little chat, and my sides are still aching from where you have made me laugh so much. 

Find out more about Dennis Higgins at his website and blog http://www.timepilgrims.com/

Ingrid Hall is the author of Granny Irene's Guide to the Afterlife - Revenge. She is offering free interviews and book reviews to indie authors.  Find out more at http://www.ingridhall.com

Monday, May 20, 2013

Best Route to Success?

Image Courtesy: www.birminghampost.net

Lee Child, the bestselling author of the Jack Reacher series, once, in an interview remarked that the best advice for a beginning writer is not to listen to any advice at all. This seems to be the best advice any writer has given anywhere in the world, about writing to a beginner.

Beginning is always a confusing stage, where the person is not at all sure which way to turn at the fork on the road. Writing classes, interviews, biographies, memoirs, and newspaper advice gurus become the best way and the beginner is often lost in chasing one of them for the best advice.

If you listen to John Irving, for example, you will begin your novel writing the end of the story first. If your faith leads you to Jeffery Deaver, you will spend the rest of your life plotting and planning. Stephen King will tell you never plan, just follow your story, which is an advice much like what the great master Sidney Sheldon might give you as well.

The difference between writing advice and the materialization of a manuscript is a term called ‘Self’. Every snowflake is unique in its own way, says science. Every drop of honey is sweet with its own sweetness. Philosophy calls this uniqueness ‘qualia’. Similarly, every individual is unique too. This uniqueness has a name—Subjectivity. Creative energy takes its own course in through every individual. It is different with each individual.

The varying opinions of each of the above-mentioned masters of the craft prove the same. You have a way of yours’ own with words; this is the truth, the only, undeniable, unalterable, unquestionable truth.

Successful creation of a story of any length depends on the trust a writer develops on one’s own way with words. Plot your story or do not plot your story, you are still the best and no one can change that.

The only thing that matters is the finished manuscript of your book, short story, or poem and the courage to send it to a publisher or post it on your own blog, for the public to read.              

Monday, May 13, 2013

Pixar's 22 Rules of Storytelling

Pixar's 22 Rules of Storytelling
These rules were originally tweeted by Emma Coats, Pixar’s Story Artist. Number 9 on the list - When you’re stuck, make a list of what wouldn’t happen next – is a great one and can apply to writers in all genres.
  1. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
  2. You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
  3. Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
  4. Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
  5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
  6. What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
  7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
  8. Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
  9. When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
  10. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
  11. Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
  12. Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
  13. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
  14. Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
  15. If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
  16. What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
  17. No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.
  18. You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
  19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
  20. Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
  21. You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
  22. What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.