Friday, May 11, 2012

The End

I spoke about cutting back on extraneous activities on Wednesday, and today is the day I will cut out blogging.  While I have learned much, it simply takes too much time, and it is not something that gives me enough return value.  I find myself using my free time to write blog posts, instead of using it to write fiction (which is my actual goal here).

So this will be the last post I make in quite a while (possibly forever).  It was great getting to know you all.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Choose Carefully

To paraphrase the saying, a jack of all trades is a master at none.  Why is that?  If you spend your time doing a hundred different things, you’ll be fairly decent at all of them, but never a master at any of them.

For example, I read about a world-class chess player (can’t remember his name and it’s not Kasparov), who had only one interest, chess.  He said that he was so crazy about chess that he spent nearly every waking second thinking of it.  In fact, it was so bad that his mother wanted to take him to a mental hospital (apparently she didn’t).  The point is, he is a genius chess player because he spent all his time improving one skill.

So now the question is if we should do the same.  Pick something you want to be a master at and obsess over it and spend no time on anything else.  Personally, I think that might be a bit overboard, but the fact of the matter is that you will be better at something the more time you spend at working with it.

Therefore, if you follow me so far, choose your battles.  Limit your choices and make sure that every minute you spend is spent the way you want.  I’ve often seen people saying that writers should stop watching TV.  I happen to like TV and movies, so I wouldn’t cut it out.  You have to ask yourself, is this thing worth my time?  Do I really want to spend time on this?  (Just remember to give yourself some off-time.)

Pick what you want to get great at and do it.  All the time.  Then a master you will become.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Quotation of the Week

Every week, I’ll put up a quotation related to writing or creation and tell you a little bit about the person who said it.  I’ll try to vary the speakers as much as possible.

“We read to know that we are not alone.” - C.S. Lewis

Clive Staples Lewis was an Irish writer known for his fiction, including Chronicles of Narnia and the Space Trilogy, as well as non-fiction such as Mere Christianity.  He was a good friend of J. R. R. Tolkien.  He died on 22 November 1963, the same day Aldous Huxley died and President JF Kennedy was assassinated.  Oddly, C. S. Lewis was known to his friends and family as ‘Jack’.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Breakaway - Released!

If you know Michelle Davidson Argyle, you should know that her newest novel,
The Breakaway
has been released.  She has already published Cinders (self-published) and Monarch (Rhemalda Publishing).  Today I host her here for an interview about the newest book release.

This isn’t your first book release, but it is special, because it has been a long time coming.  If I remember correctly, you originally wrote it somewhere in your teenage years.  How does it feel to finally get it out in the world?  Are you happy to see it go?  Or, if I can paraphrase Truman Capote, does it feel like you took it into the backyard and shot it?

Publishing a book always feels like I shot it, which might sound horrible to say, but it’s true! At least for me. It’s such a deeply personal thing, and selling it as a product is a bit unnerving. Attaching a price to anything as personal as a novel is a bit like killing it. But, I will say this … it’s also an amazing experience to get my work out there. The Breakaway is finally out there after 17 years, and I’m very, very relieved and happy!

Obviously, a lot of edits have been made, first by yourself and then by the editing staff at Rhemalda Publishing.  Did you write the whole thing from scratch again?  Did you reference from your original draft or did you write it from memory? (Do you still have your original draft?)

The Breakaway has been rewritten many times, yes. When I first submitted it to Rhemalda Publishing, they rejected it and asked for revisions and to submit it again. So I did, and it final arrived at a really finished state I was proud of. Then, of course, it went through even more edits during the publication process. I have one of my original drafts, but not THE original one, sadly. I wish I had it, but that was a long time ago. I did not reference my first drafts much, actually. I was so familiar with the story already!

How much of the original story is in the book that was released a few days ago?

Some of it is the same, but not much! The basic plot is the same. The ending has changed a few times, and ages of the characters have changed. But the main idea has always remained the same, and a few scenes.

The Breakaway is a very interesting case for me, because it is one of your earliest works that has somehow made a comeback.  A lot of people advise that the first few novel-length things you write are going to be bad, yet yours just got published.  What do you think is the key to redo older works and take out the kinks enough to make them publishable?

Distance. A lot of distance. Years. And several more novels. When I finally came back to the book and could delete thousands and thousands of words without caring, I knew I was ready to rework the novel to a publishable state. It was like hiking out of a fog and finally seeing the book in the sunlight. 

The Breakaway is very special to you.  So now I want to know, did you find it harder to be brutal in the editing with The Breakaway, as opposed to your other books?  Did you give in to less of your editor’s suggestions?

No, editing was never a problem for me after I reached the point I talked about above – finally being able to see it clearly. I had finally reached a point in my writing that I saw my books as fluid projects that made all the difference. Being brutal is not an issue when I’m doing it for the betterment of the story. My editor at Rhemalda was amazing, as well, and really helped polish it up. I accepted almost every single one of her edits.

Last question.  You mentioned on The Innocent Flower that The Breakaway had gotten a lot of mixed reactions, including some people mentioning that they liked Monarch better.  What do you think?  How does The Breakaway measure up to your other books?

Okay, honest, honest truth is that while I feel The Breakaway is well-written, and it is a huge accomplishment for me, it is not my best-written work. That said, I could probably feel that way about any of my published books, but the point of getting published is that it’s finished and it is what it is and to be proud of that. And I am. And when all is said and done, I’d like every new book I write to be better than the last!

I think The Breakaway is a fantastic accomplishment for me and my career, and I am so happy to have it out there and to a place that I am happy and content with it. Even more, I’m very excited that others can read it now!

Okay, I lied, here is the final question.  I know Bonded is coming out somewhere in 2013 and that you’re working on something new, currently named, A Curse So Deep.  What can you tell us about your new book?

Bonded will be published November 1, 2012. Yay! So a little sooner than 2013. I’d like my next novel, A Curse So Deep, to be published in 2013, so I’m trying to finish it as fast as I possibly can in a timely manner. Hah! It’s the story of a girl cursed with beauty—for as soon as someone falls in love with her, the beauty fades and she transforms into a monster. I’m afraid to explain more since I’m not very far into the book yet, but I am very excited about it! It’s historical, set in the late 17th century in America and Scotland. Lots of research and lots of fun!

I’ve been looking forward to Bonded, so it’s great news about the earlier release(though I’ll be waiting for the paperback)!

And there you have it.  Thanks to Michelle for visiting.  It’s been a pleasure.

Book Description: 
When Naomi Jensen is kidnapped, it takes her parents two days to realize she’s missing. Escape isn’t high on her list of priorities when all she has to return to is an abusive boyfriend and parents who never paid much attention to her. For the first time in her life she’s part of a family—even if it is a family of criminals. But she’s still a captive. In a desperate attempt to regain some control in her life, Naomi embarks on a dangerous plan to make one of her kidnappers think she’s falling in love with him. The plan works too well, and when faced with the chance to escape, Naomi isn’t sure she wants to take it.


Michelle lives and writes in Utah, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. She loves the seasons, but late summer and early fall are her favourites. She adores chocolate, sushi, and lots of ethnic food, and loves to read and write books in whatever time she can grab between her sword-wielding husband and energetic daughter. She believes a simple life is the best life.

You can find Michelle on her blog,

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pick the Extreme

I read somewhere (I think maybe David Baboulene’s The Story Book) that when you think of an idea, don’t stop, rather think again and try to come up with something more original.  I.e. the first thought will probably be a cliché or boring idea, so take it a bit further to get to a better one.

But I want to take it a step further and say that you should always look for the extreme.  Never settle for the middle or the safe.  Pick the craziest idea you can come up with and run with it, no matter how ludicrous it feels.

Think about it, if Bram Stoker had thought that crazy blood-sucking baby-eating creatures of the night were too ludicrous, where would we be?  If George A. Romero had thought zombies were too weird to put in a film, where would we be?  And finally, if Mary Shelley had decided to stick with something normal, there would be no Frankenstein(‘s monster).

The point is, everything seems crazy until you get used to it.  In fact, you will think your own things are crazier than other people will think your things are.

So go on and pick the weirdest, craziest idea in your head.  Pick the extreme and go with it.  You’ll be happy to see where it leads, or at least you’ll be in for a hell of a ride.