Now that the Quest of Shadowind series is complete, L.A. has been keeping busy with his other passion: Christian music. He invites you to check out his new site at WoodnNailsMusic.com. His music is free, so feel free to play a few tunes and click on some graphics and see what happens. Who knows? You might find the music uplifting (even though he's still seeking singers), and the graphics surprising. How many "Easter eggs" can you find?
You’re walking along, minding your own business on Shadowind, when out of nowhere, you spot a dancing cholla. What do you do?
As previously mentioned, Logan and Mindy nearly met an early demise. And yet they live on, thanks to some dear friends who would not let them die. Soon, you’ll be able to read about their continuing struggles to survive in the hopes of saving their beloved parents, friends, and all of humanity. Book 4, Spectral Stands, is already available, while The Killing Code, and The Guardian of Eden will be released in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
I’d like to express my deepest and sincerest gratitude to three friends who’ve help so much this past year. Scott Mayer, my dear friend, who continues to support Logan and Mindy as though he was their own father. Cheryl Datka, who worked energetically for me even though she already had heaping platefuls of tasks and duties to juggle. And Kelly Maddern. I’m not mentioning her last because she did the least. Far from it! She always made me feel like I was her only customer, even though I know she has many—including herself. She is an excellent author, web and art designer, and an incredible photographer. We mere mortals only see the tip of her vast iceberg of talent. She went WAY above the call of duty with her tireless work ethic, and supplied me with no end of encouragement. Kelly, my dear, you so totally ROCK!!! We can find some of her most excellent work not only in Shadowind’s realms, but also at http://www.madingenuity.com/
Thanks also to Logan and Mindy’s many fans who kept asking when the next quests were coming. Thanks to you and the aforementioned friends, I can say that the stories will continue until their dramatic conclusion and the big reveal in Book 8. Oh, yes. Just as with Scott, Cheryl, and Kelly, there’s much more to Logan and Mindy than meets the eye.
It’s been a summer filled with both clouds and sunshine. The clouds came and rained down pessimism and doubt on Shadowind. Honestly, I felt like dismissing Logan and Mindy to oblivion, never to fulfill their dreams of reuniting with their parents or returning home.
Trying to earn extra income as a writer (or any kind of artist, for that matter) has become increasingly difficult. There are people out there who expect our hard work to be free for the taking. Music even more so than books. Combine this troubling development with writing in a genre that has become dominated by female authors and readers, and I saw the makings of a fallen soufflé.
I’m very happy to see young women advancing the YA genre. In fact, I’m ecstatic! The hidden riptide of these current events is the underlying fact that teen boys aren’t reading, they’re playing. They prefer entertainment that is interactive. I like it too. A lot. But it hasn’t stopped me from reading.
But it almost stopped me from writing.
This summer, I saw the return of sunshine in the form of movies made from short stories and novels. I saw Tomorrowland and The Scorch Trials and was not only thoroughly entertained, but also motivated. The market is still open for YA material for guys. Perhaps if the storylines and characters are compelling enough, male teens will return to reading and realize how spoiled they are by the books available to them. There was no YA genre when I was that age, so I gobbled up Isaac Asimov and Alistair McClain novels (just to name two).
So after a summer hiatus, Logan and Mindy have jumped back into Shadowind’s perilous realm, hoping to rescue humanity from certain doom…or die trying.
This summer, they almost did.
Remember the line from the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol, “Out upon merry Christmas!"? Ebenezer Scrooge was complaining to his nephew about the “fools” who tried to find merriment and goodwill at a time when they had no money—and therefore no right or reason, in his foolish opinion—to do so. We all know that Scrooge learned a hard but valuable lesson that very night.
The Christmas season is fast approaching. Along with giving to my favorite charities, I’m also in the mood for giving UP…on outlines.
During a creative writing course at Marquette University in Milwaukee, our instructor listed the top ten ways to improve one’s writing. Taking the time to create an outline was critical, he said.
“Bah! Humbug!” I say.
I wrote outlines for two of the Quests of Shadowind books, the second being for Book 7, Dungeontomb. About 1/4 of the way through, the characters put a “stake of holly” through the heart of my outline and stole the story, including the "bed curtains." Once again, I find myself frantically chasing after those people with notepad in hand.
So as I abandon the labors of my outline, I only hope that I’m not visited tonight by the Ghosts of Past and Present Tense, and that my future is less tense without outlines.
I lost my train of thought again.
But how can I lose an entire train? It’s supposed to be on rails, isn’t it? Shouldn’t it be heading in one direction? Unless, of course, someone threw a switch. That has to be it! My wife interrupted from the other room — something about a water pipe bursting. Like that’s important!
Or maybe my train was derailed by my dogs. They tend to huff at me whenever I spent too much time with my computer and not enough time with them. Sorry, pups!
Are my thoughts like a runaway freight train? Well, no. I would need to have carloads of thoughts linked together at the same time. I usually struggle with just one. If more than one notion is in motion at the same time, my locomotive can’t handle the load and grinds to a stop.
And who’s the engineer of this crazy train anyway?
Or do my thoughts lack training? I can train my dogs (and my wife does her best to train me), but how do I train my thoughts to keep them from daydreaming? If I didn’t daydream, how could I write fiction?
So…what was I saying?
Parents know that knowledge is power, and reading is the key to this power. However, many parents struggle to find ways to make their kids be avid readers.
Children are more likely to read if parents let them decide what they read, however parents can give them directions and offer support, Scholastic suggests.
“... it’s your [the parents’] job—not the schools’—to find books to get your kids reading and to make sure they read them,” CNN suggests.
Parents are powerful instruments when it comes to setting the tone for whether or not a child will be a reader, and certainly what their children read.
Freedom of choice is key to getting them motivated and excited. Vampire sagas, comics, manga, books of sports statistics—terrific!—as long as kids are reading,” says James Patterson, a father and a “New York Times” best-selling author. “Should they read on e-tablets? Sure, why not? How about rereading a book? Definitely. And don’t tell them a book is too hard or too easy.
Learning to read does not always come naturally. This is a skill that must be taught, and it takes some work. Parents should show their children that reading can be fun and help to incorporate reading as part of the everyday activities the whole family enjoys.
In many ways parents’ attitudes can inspire their children to love reading. It’s important to create reading environments in and outside of the home, and to stick to it. I believe parents are good reading role models. If your child sees you and other family members reading, it’s more likely that he or she will pick up a book.
The National Education Association offers some tips for choosing books for children:
* For beginning readers, select books that match their skill level.
* Find colorful books.
* Pick books based on the child’s interests (hobbies, nature, science).
* Let the child make his or her own choices.
* Support every book choice.
* Ask librarians and teachers for book suggestions.
* Encourage your child to try different kinds of books.
Reading is one of the most important skills that parents can help to develop in their children. It’s a fundamental skill that will help children to be as academically successful as possible.
I’ve taken a break from music recently to do yet another rewrite of Books 4 – 6. I sometimes wonder what my characters will do next. They’re definitely OC — outta control. Many times I delete conversations or antics to keep the story moving. It makes me a little sad to do that. It’s as though I’m taking away some of their lifeblood . It’s like taking out a photo from an album, or deleting them from a hard drive, to make room for other stuff. Sad.
But they’re not real, are they?! I wonder… Ernest Hemingway once said, “When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters.”
If I think Logan and Mindy might be real, that’s okay, I guess. Writers are a little crazy anyway… and we’re never quite alone.
L.A. Miller, author of the book series Quests of Shadowind, shares his thoughts and news through this blog. Feel free to comment and interact!