Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Alabama Phoenix Festival 2013

I had the pleasure of speaking at the Alabama Phoenix Festival this year, and for whatever reason, I never followed up with what an amazing experience it was participating alongside so many unbelievably talented and creative people. So, instead enduring the inadequacy of me trying to capture The Awesome that was that weekend, why don't you just watch the following video instead?

Credit: https://www.youtube.com/user/InfectiousDesigner 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Unblocked at the Ollie Irene

I did this thing on Friday. Something I've never done as a writer. I took a pen and legal pad into a nice restaurant, sat alone at the bar, and made notes about a book I'm writing. I must have looked like a food critique, jotting little nitpicks about the consistency of the course-ground Dijon mustard.

How embarrassing.

Look, writing in public isn't really for me. Unless it's a coffee shop. For whatever reason, be it the smell of ground beans, the whir of the thing that does whatever that makes the slurping noise and the steaming of the milk, which results in my Big Girly Coffee - it all sort of fits together into this haven for writing creativity.

But something happened Friday. I had been blocked on this scene in my sequel. A frustrating, evil mix of plot, device, and character that I just couldn't fit together to carry the story forward, and all I wanted to do was escape. Little editorial fixes for another book were calling out my name, begging me to hop manuscripts. Basically, writing had become hard.

And then, a revelation.

When writer's block breaks, you can grab any number of cliched descriptions to explain what happens in your head. Flood gates, geyser, volcano...blah, blah, blah. Basically, you have lot of new ideas all at the same time.

That release causes a bit of a panic and you think if you can't grab all those ideas bouncing around your head that somehow, they'll bounce right out of your ear or something. The trick is writing down as much as you can, and hope for the best.

So there I was, me in a restaurant, sitting at a bar alone, scribbling in a notebook. A bit sad, really. Though, the wait staff seemed to really be on their A Game, if not a bit nervous about my opinion of the Boudin.

Figure I got, like, seventy-five percent of those ideas before they either bounced out of my ear, or were drowned in Old Fashions. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Great Expectations

So, unless you've recently chosen some Unibomber lifestyle, or you're camped out in some hole in the earth a la Saddam Hussein, you've probably figured out that the next actor to don the ole cape and cowl is going to be none other than Ben Affleck.

And, no doubt, being aware of such news you've probably had a somewhat visceral reaction to it.

Admittedly, I had a sort of WTF moment. But then, I did the same when Heath Ledger was given the role of The Joker. #spoonfedmyshorts

With regards to The Dark Knight, I'm no purist. Frankly, I don't read the comics. The only real exposure I've had to the character has been through the movies, beginning with Tim Burton's play. But even still, the announcement took me by surprise.

I think it did so because the Christopher Nolan trilogy is so recent. My enjoyment of that series probably prejudices my reaction to the Batman vs. Superman news. As did my love of Ben Affleck's movies. He's a brilliant actor, but I just can't see it. Then again, I wasn't exposed to the audition reading, and anyway, what the hell do I know about the movies? Without a doubt, the choice is interesting. Can't wait to see how it pans out.

All this reaction, by the way, was observed by me, an author who is currently writing a sequel to my debut book, coming out in one year's time. Not that Gabriel Adam will grab the hearts and loyalty of fans in the same way as Batman, but the fact is, there will be those who read the first book, like it, and then expect as good or better of a reading experience in its sequel.

Currently, that notion is freaking me the F out.

So. Expectations. This is a tough one. Setting a standard can be a lot to live up to. How is one to overcome it? Difficult to say. My current plan is to outrun the reviews. Basically, to have the book finished before any reviews chime in. The peanut gallery can be horrible under the veil of the anonymity of the internet and I don't want the discontent, however much, to influence the narrative that's working its way out of my head. I'm hearing the same from much of my OneFourKidLit author pals.

Anyone got a tip or two as to how to overcome the Sophomore slump? Writing that Sequel Equal? Any sequel out there that did it better than the the original? Any ones that were worse?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Operation One Year

This August marked the one year countdown to the launch of my debut book, The Revelation of Gabriel Adam. It's a weird place to be, this so-close-yet-so-far-away publishing limbo, and to be honest, being consumed by writing the sequel and editing my middle grade WWII story for another round of submissions for my agent, I hadn't much thought about the upcoming release. That is, until my editor sent me the jacket copy for approval. (It's the description of what the book is about.)

As it turns out, a year isn't very much time at all. There will be cover approvals, copy edits, advance reading copies, final pages consuming the days from now until then. The deadline list goes on and on. And after it all, in one year's time, my book hits the shelf.

What that means is that here, at INK ROCK, I'll be posting a lot more. I want to include you on the process, tell you about cool lit places and the characters that inhabit them. In addition, I'll toss in some interviews with some authors you really need to know.

So stay tuned!

Friday, August 16, 2013


A Repost from the Archive at FROMTHEWRITEANGLE:
by S. L. Duncan

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably read enough articles about the publishing industry to teach a writing studies course at your local community college. And no doubt, you’ve probably read somewhere that a big part of making it, of getting published, falls into the hands of pure, dumb luck.

This is not one of those articles.

Look. There are a hundred different ingredients in the recipe of becoming a good writer, and luck is absolutely one of them. With enough time and hard work, you’re going to pull something out of the oven one day that ain't half bad. If the stars align, maybe the world will get a taste.

So be patient. In the meantime, stop and take stock of just how lucky you already are at this moment.

I’ve suffered through a few identity crises. Probably having one right now. I think most authors do. Hell, I think most humans do. Nobody’s ever been born knowing what they’re going to be passionate about in life. No doctor ever popped a kid out of his mother, spanked him and announced, “He’ll make a fine plumber.” A lot of folks stumble through their years, bouncing off of failed efforts and lost interests, seeking something that sparks them to wake up to their own lives. It’s one of the biggest obstacles of growing up: discovering yourself through your passions. And who the hell knows what they're passionate about until they've tried it? How many would-be Speilbergs never held a camera? How many would-be Ronoldos never kicked a football?

It happens though - people luck into something they love. They discover a talent they want to grow and nurture. They figure out a small part of who they are in the world, and let me tell you, that is nothing short of extraordinary. But if you look hard enough you can spot them, these lucky souls. That actor that lets the role consume her. That artist that expands the notion of creativity. The teacher that opens up the universe to young minds. The janitor that beams with pride at the shine on the linoleum.

And then there’s you. 

You found a pen and paper and spilled a few words onto a page and in doing so, you found joy. How lucky is that? How lucky is it that you’ve found something you love? Maybe you can make a career out of it and maybe you can’t. Who cares, though? You’ve found this and it’s yours.

With all the distractions and pressures of life, it’s easy to linger in your day-to-day existence, consumed by work, by reality television, by whatever, carrying on just to satisfy that power bill. But even if that still sounds like your life, you’ve got your writing. It’s that little corner of light in your life that you can run to and just let loose your passion and somehow, everything else becomes clearer. You become clearer.

If only everyone were fortunate enough to find their passion. 

Lucky you.

S. L. Duncan writes young adult fiction, including his debut, the first book in The Revelation Saga, due in 2014 from Medallion Press. You can find him blogging onINKROCK.com and on Twitter.