When Natasha and I spoke about her doing a guest blog entry on my blog I was very excited to have her voice speak through this conduit. She’s always been energetic and thoughtful about her approach to writing in the year I have known her. She has a video series on Youtube as well as your usual social media outlets. I suggest you follow her because she is bursting with ideas, and enthusiasm, which can be quite contagious.
Why the Literary World Needs Fantasy
By Natasha Lane
It’s no secret that when it comes to writing being considered literature, fantasy gets a swift kick in the head. Often so far stretched from reality, many snobs out there don’t consider any fantasy novel worthy of being called literature. “Lord of the Rings” is one of the most renowned book series in the world, some would even say it set the foundation for epic fantasy adventure, yet there are still those who would never equate it to works like “Pride & Prejudice” and Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Continue reading →
Don’t forget to check out their packages page – one of them includes some theatre and dinner and flowers.
Scarborough has graciously offered to host a reading of Red August just in time for the holidays. Also, did you know that you could get a room discount of 30% until March!? Trust me, I don’t even live that far from Baltimore, but I got the Grimm room (I mean, seriously – how could I NOT stay in the Grimm room?) for Will’s birthday a couple of years ago and we loved it. We kicked around town all day and then rather than driving back, we lounged around in our room, being sweet to each other and eating Dangerously Delicious blueberry birthday pie. Then to top off the amazing decadence of it all, we got to eat the wonderful breakfasts that Barry makes. Everything was fresh and homemade.
They also have a sampling of locally made items near the entrance – including locally roasted coffee and scarfs and stuff.
Erica Smith & William Hardy
The reading in Baltimore will be an expansion of our last reading at The New Deal Cafe. Actors Erica Smith and William Hardy will be reading passages for about an hour. The theatre in one of the packages mentioned above? That theatre is Spotlighters, which William Hardy (who also happens to be an amazing writer, and my lovah) used to perform pretty regularly at years ago. Baltimore is full of great stuff.
There will be some hot cider and traditional Scottish black bun (a Hogmanay tradition) as well as other refreshments. Stop by for the reading, check out the B&B and then go shopping.
“I absolutely loved this book and the characters! I immediately fell in love with August she is such a smart young lady, takes crap from no one and is a very relatable character; Oh, and Faolan, gosh that man is complete perfection such a gentleman and he loves to read, he is very swoon worthy. The side characters also have a place in my heart; the way H.L. Brooks wrote them just makes them so lovable.”
What if you found out that you were descended from a long line of clandestine fighters, and that your family was still at war? August Archer thinks she’s a normal teenage girl—even if she has been having disturbing erotic dreams about wolves lately. Still grieving over the loss of her father, and wondering over his final gift of a red hooded cloak, August is uprooted from her big city apartment to a tiny town in Maryland, where she meets an enigmatic, irresistibly fascinating man who refuses to talk to her, yet who fuels her most intense romantic fantasies. But it’s when August begins talking to her feisty Scottish grandmother that a strange tale of werewolves and hunters emerges—one in which the man of her dreams may be her family’s oldest enemy–in this modern-day telling of the Red Riding Hood story.
I took archery class last year from a guy named Doc who is an ex-Navy Seal. It was fascinating, and the most surprising part is that I wasn’t awful at it. In fact, I was pretty good for a first-timer. Even won one of Doc’s coveted “Eagle Talon” awards – which I have yet to string onto a cord to wear like a warrior queen, but I WILL! The reason I bring this up is because when I started Red August I was writing bits about August Archer and archery. And I could have actually used only what I found in my written research to write about those things. But I did find that connecting to the activity gave me a fuller range of language and tactile experience to help me to better write about the experience of nocking an arrow, for example. Sadly, I didn’t make it to this year’s class because I was working so hard on the book that every scrap of spare time was sucked up by it. But once we get it launched on August 19th, I’m hoping to take a break of a couple of weeks from writing and then start fresh with Red Archer. I’ve already started it, and I might not actually be able to stay away from it, but I am feeling pretty worn out at this point. Below are photos from my archery class.
While Will was editing Red August during the last round of editing, I was reading On Writing by Stephen King, which I highly recommend to anybody considering a career in writing stories. My friend Kristen, who I consider a brilliant person, recommended it to me, and it did not disappoint. On Writing made me feel both encouraged and excited about the gears of writing. That was a first! I have a whole list of other books I need to read about writing, but that was the the bunch that were suggested, and I loved it.
One of the things about writing a story that isn’t straight make-believe is that there tends to be research involved. Now, you could argue that there is no need to research werewolves because they are not real, but if I want to honor the tradition of folklore, I need to–at the very least–honor certain rules about werewolves that have been established. For example, werewolves are partly man and partly wolf. I can fiddle around with how they look when they change, where they originated from, how much of the creature is a man and how much is a wolf and so forth. But there are basic elements that I feel I have to respect if I hope to keep the interest of people who like werewolf stories. The same goes for fairy tale traditions. Red Riding Hood needs to have some familiar elements to make it Red Riding Hood, or at the very least a Red Riding Hood homage.
With other elements of the story, I need to be more careful about the origins. The internet has made research so much easier than it was when I was younger. I remember sitting in the local library as a kid studying lightening and its various incarnations. That was when I learned about ball lightening. As you can imagine, even with two or three books about lightening in front of me, the information was limited compared to what you can get on the internet, PLUS videos. At your fingertips! Of course the internet doesn’t replace all forms of research, nor should it. Fortunately I have a library two blocks away.
Here are some links that I am finding useful for my Red Archer research. Though reading about things is great, whenever possible I try to experience them. I would love so much to visit some of the places I mention in books, but even if I was a full time traveler, that might be hard. One of my favorite new ways of experiencing a place I am writing about, when I can’t actually go to it, is to use Google and their feature where you can drive around a place. If it has a public road, you pretty much can go there on Google. I’ve also found Pinterest to be helpful in certain aspects of story writing. This is my Pinterest if you’re interested in following me and looking at the boards that relate to the stories I’m writing.
Below is a video that is extremely interesting about Irish/Gaelic language. Last year I was learning a bit about Spanish and Arabic – just enough to say the most basic conversational things, because I work with people who speak those languages. I often wish somebody had plopped me into language immersion classes when I was in third grade. Anyway – language fascinates me. I am going to go back and see if this guy has more videos. Things like this are so helpful to me and I am grateful for them. In part, because I’m writing a story from scratch at 70-100k words and I don’t have the time to research every single thing that I write about, and of the things I do research, I need them to be easy to get through, otherwise the books would take five years to write instead of one or two. Incidentally, Red August is just shy of two years in the making–which makes all of this book writing stuff more nerve-wracking. I expect book 2 to go a lot more quickly because all of the main characters are fleshed out.
The links below are some examples of the things I’ve been using to research Red Archer. I have no idea how my book would do within the culture it pays homage to, but I think if nothing else it would help show things from the perspective of an American of descent from that culture. If there’s one thing I’ve found to be true, it’s that people’s tastes and interests vary widely.
Now that Red August is about to be published, I’m both excited and nervous. Doing this type of research helps me feel a bit more steady, not to mention it’s all fascinating! Also, I’m a lot more familiar with the wildflowers of Scotland, which I can’t be the least bit sad about.