January 25, 2009

WRITING ADVICE: Lin Oliver – “Be Brave In Getting Your Work Out There”

(For all of my WRITING ADVICE, go right to Labels and click on WRITING ADVICE...)

OK! Even before I heard Lin speak, I’d started doing this one. NOT the contest thing, though I’ve entered my fair share of them in the past, I prefer the grants, works-in-progress and guest blogs.

Example – I’ve been working on three story lines in my blog here. Three VERY different story lines.

First is a YA science fiction novel – HEIRS OF THE SHATTERED SPHERES that I’ve been writing in various incarnations for the past five or six years. After eight months of writing flash fiction in this universe, I’ve gotten comments and have grown much, much closer to having a clear image of what I want to say and how I want to go about saying it. Readers of all ages have offered up commentary and suggestions. I’m SO comfortable with HEIRS now that this summer, the flash fiction will come down and I’ll get to work on the novel that I’ve been practicing for!

Second is the middle grade flash fiction for my fantasy, THREAT OF MAGIC (which is, in fact, the name of the SERIES of books I’m planning). This has been a larger adventure for me. I am very selective in the fantasy I read. For example, I read the original SWORD OF SHANARRA by Terry Brooks, tried to read the second and gave up because of overwhelming déjà vu. I’ve avoided the series ever since despite the sprawling breadth of the story. I’ve never read Jordan’s THE WHEEL OF TIME; read the first nine books of Katherine Kurtz’s DERYNI books then stopped because of serious déjà vu there as well; Donaldson’s UNBELIEVER books; CHRONICLES OF NARNIA; LORD OF THE RINGS…well, I guess I have read some fantasy. Anyway, THREAT OF MAGIC is intended to answer CS Lewis’ question “…to some Maryland fifth graders in 1954: “[What if]…there were a land like Narnia and…the Son of God, as he became a Man in our world, became a Lion there…what would happen.[?]'" I’ve created Heartland. Qii, the sorcerer has revived Magic to overthrow technology that has made life better for everyone and brought peace to Heartland. Two kids from our world, both of whom are alive because of our science and technology, are called to Heartland to join with the lampmaker and become part of the quest to stop Qii before he subjugates everyone to his magic.

Third is my adult inspirational fiction, THIRTEEN SQUARE MILES. These stories take place among the people who attend Shingle Creek Community of Christ. They are decidedly varied and deeply committed to the Great Commission of Christ. I think of it as a collision between the kind, rural world of Jan Karon’s MITFORD books and the life most people live on the outskirts of large metropolitan areas – like North Minneapolis. I love the peace, kindness and enduring commitment to Jesus of the MITFORD books – but wondered what would have happened if the characters lived in a big city. THIRTEEN is my exploration of the lives of characters like that.

Oh – a few years ago, I accepted an invitation to write an essay in a blog administered by Bruce Bethke. He’s an old friend of mine as well as winner of the Philip K. Dick Award for his humorous science fiction novel HEADCRASH. He’s written other things as well and has maintained a blog for four years. He is letting some of the readers of his blog, THE RANTING ROOM (http://rantingroom.blogspot.com/ ), lead the Friday Challenge and post occasional essays (like the one I posted there on December 13, 2008 (http://rantingroom.blogspot.com/2008_12_01_archive.html )). I received and accepted the invitation to be a regular (unpaid!) contributor to the new site.

Finally, I’m blogmaster and occasional blogger for my church’s website as well: http://discoverchurchcommunityblog.blogspot.com/ and http://www.discoverchurchnetwork.org/index.php/blog/ .

The upshot of this is that if I can be brave and get my writing out there (the above is in addition to working on novels and short stories and submitting them in the usual fashion!) then anyone reading this can follow Lin’s advice and do the same!

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