Archive

Archive of : Books and Writing

The appeal behind Apocalypse and Dystopia in fiction

Dystopian worlds are braced within a malevolent system, apocalyptic worlds are breaking apart, and post-apocalyptic ones are picking up the pieces. They’re all hell on earth. And they’re all spectacular. I hadn’t examined the reasons why I like to read novels set in apocalyptic and/or dystopian environments. It simply...

How to read what a job ad’s not saying

Most people understand that when a real-estate advertisement promotes a property as ‘ideal for first-home owners’, they mean ‘nobody would live here if they could afford somewhere else’. And when those ads label a house a ‘DIY dream’, they mean ‘the roof is currently held on by duct tape’....

Poem: Without a Name (A Response to Angsty Heartbreak Poems)

I don’t always agree with with Past-Me. She made some stupid choices, and she thought some stupid things. (Like 5ive being better than the Backstreet Boys. She probably based that opinion more on her own hormonal response than on musical acumen.) But she seemed just as unmoved by angsty...

Book Review: Lexicon by Max Barry

A thrilling novel has to have the right balance of plausibility. If it tips too far in either direction, the thrill is replaced with either revulsion or ridicule. Too much plausibility, and it becomes a novelisation of horrific evening news reports. (I don’t know anyone who watches those for...

What is Christian Fiction?

Every public library I know of has a designation of ‘Christian Fiction’ among their genre sets. Yet ‘Christian Fiction’ seems to be a collection of characteristics that are vague and varying. And a term that can mean several different things isn’t a helpful term at all. For the purpose of...

My Not-New-Year’s Resolution: Write a Novel

Conversations with preschoolers can be hilarious. Perhaps it’s because after you reach a certain age, the simplistic becomes the ridiculous. But whether by naivety or wit, Timmy put a great spin on an otherwise blasé question put to him at the end of last year: “What’s your New Year’s...

The Stranger in the Mirror

When I saw my face falling off in the mirror, it was inevitable that I would turn it into a story. How can I not write something inspired by that? It was alarming! It was shifting even as I watched it, like I was viewing it through clear slow-moving...

How to make a Writers Group an unhelpful waste of time (in one easy step)

My need to write creative fiction overtakes my ability to invent it, so there’s usually been a blog or a typed diary on the go, so I can write creative non-fiction instead. It’s more for catharsis than anything. But sometimes, after enough time has passed, it can also been...

Multipotentialism: the art of being lured in all directions until you explode and die.

The proverbial ‘they’ say that the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging you have one. I don’t even know if I’ve made that first step, because I can’t decide whether this thing is a problem or a gift. If I figure out a way to make it...

Sex Scenes: The greatest betrayer of author gender

Outside of the Romance genre, the publishing industry is kinder to male authors. That’s just objective and observable fact. Author Catherine Nichols even did an experiment to demonstrate it—she took the same manuscript and pitched to the same agents, but used a different name. The unsurprising result: the male...

Oh, to be a Ghostwriter…

There’s something exciting in the secretive sound that a ghostwriter makes, when he’s ghosting around. A bookshelf he haunts, with no obvious trace— inaudible voice, incorporeal face. You want something written, but can’t write it yourself, or have no time to do so—you should hire someone else! That’s the...

Alex Kava and other Addictive Substances

It’s immensely satisfying to discover a novelist whose work is so enjoyable, so engaging, one delights to gorge on it in any free moment available. Particularly at the end of a long preschooler-filled day, which finally ends with quietness, stillness, and an opulent stack of pillows. Of course, the euphoria...

Needing to Write but Nothing to Say

I find myself with the unfortunate affliction of needing to write but having nothing to say. I love the feeling of the words unfolding in front of me. Of the keys clicking rapid-fire under my fingers. But, never-the-less, in this moment I have nothing to say. I want to...

The greater misfortune—apathy or incompetence?

Which is worse: to love writing stories but be atrocious at it, or to have the skills of a literary Rumpelstiltskin but no drive to do anything with it? I narrate in my head all day. Sometimes I tell myself the words are what I intend to write later,...

Soft and Easily Flattened

If I were a food I’d be a marshmallow. I’m soft and easily flattened. (Also white and spongy around the middle, but that’s neither here nor there.) Today I gave a small wave of thanks to a lollipop lady who’d waved me through a lane of road cones. You...

Learning ALL the things!

The only way to make someone want something is to take it away. Generally speaking, people are horrible value assessors. When I was in school, I hated it. I suspect that’s normal. But now that I find myself busied with the busy busyness of domestic this and that, and...

‘Shakespeare Saved My Life’

So claims English professor Dr Laura Bates in her like-titled novel, which is the Big Library Read until the end of this month. Fortunately, I haven’t suffered complete inoculation against Shakespeare by well-meaning high school teachers, who tend to force it on their students with the appeal of 400-year-old...

Breaking Up with Writer’s Block

The Writing Prompt Boot Camp — by Brian A Klems & Zachary Petit Day #1: Breaking Up With Writer’s Block It’s time for you and Writer’s Block to part ways. Write a letter breaking up with Writer’s Block, starting out with, “Dear Writer’s Block, it’s not you, it’s me…”...

Book Buffet of Literary Flavours

In the last couple of weeks I’ve tasted some diverse literary flavours. Not all of them I cared for. But trying a variety made me feel good about trying a food (or book) before deciding I didn’t like it.   ‘Devil Bones’ by Kathy Reichs. This was Marmite to...

Elements of Eloquence

I’d never enjoyed being insulted until I met Mark Forsyth, and then I couldn’t help myself. I use the term ‘met’ somewhat loosely. I was reading one of his books while on the other side of the world. But after his words were in my head, my life felt...