WRITING CRAFT RECOMMENDATION: MEANDER, SPIRAL, EXPLODE

I’m a total junkie for writing craft books. Lately, I’ve been fascinated with story shapes. Kurt Vonnegut wrote and lectured on some basic story shapes (his vids are on YouTube and always worth a watch), but Jane Alison’s recent release looks to patterns in nature in order to explore the idea of stories taking on shapes other than the tried-and-true arc.

spiral

From my Instagram: @hollyschindler

I’m fascinated by the idea–and absolutely agree that a story can be riveting and satisfying for the reader without being expected. In fact, it might be more satisfying if it does not employ the traditional arc structure.

Lately, I also feel that when my own manuscripts get stuck–when they just don’t seem to want to come together–it’s because the story doesn’t want to follow the rules. It doesn’t want to come together in that arc, or the POV doesn’t want to simply be limited 3rd-person.

The trick, of course, is to do something unexpected in a way that feels fresh and not confusing for the reader. The book also shouldn’t feel gimmicky, either–the narrative patterns that Alison explores aren’t to be used “just because.” They should have a purpose. Your story should be one that couldn’t be told without deviating from the old arc.

Alison’s work is definitely worth a read. Highly recommended for any author on the hunt for a fresh approach to their latest WIP.

CARRIE JONES – THE LAST GODS

LAST GODS

I gotta give Carrie Jones a shout-out for her Patreon page. She’s sharing a previously unpublished book (THE LAST GODS) one chapter at a time (audio and / or print).

She’s just at chapter three, but I’m already looking forward to Fridays (the day a new chapter goes live).

It’s really good. Seriously. And I love the effect of doling it out in small increments, a little at a time. The chapters stay with you, and you spend the week wondering where the story’s going, what turn it will take next.

And, like I said, she’s just on chapter three.

Highly recommended.

 

 

WHERE DO YOU DISCOVER BOOKS?

For my first post of 2019, I’m doing a bit of asking rather than telling. I want to know all about where you, as readers, discover books.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately. I remember, I was taking this night class my last semester of undergraduate school (you know,  back in the Pleistocene Era.) A Brit lit class. On the last night, as we were turning in our final papers, one of my classmates asked our prof, “So…where do you go to know about books?” She’d studied lit for four years. And she wanted to keep reading. She wanted to read good fiction. Quality fiction. But after four years of study, had no idea where to find good quality contemporary fiction. The prof didn’t really have much of an answer, either.

And it’s a question I still bump into online quite a bit: where do you find your next read? There is no single, clear answer. This seems to frustrate a lot of people.

The thing is, I think for avid readers, the hunt for the next good read really can be every bit as interesting as the next good read itself. I think the dig is fun. (It’s almost like antiquing, in a way.)

It’s funny–we’re all so focused on results, we forget the process and the search is supposed to be enjoyable, too.

I find my own books through a hundred different ways: trade reviews, online chatter, awards, direct recommendations from booksellers and fellow authors, BookBub-style newsletters, etc., etc., etc. I enjoy looking at books–the covers, the presentation, the finish on dust jackets. I like the smell of bookstores. I like talking about books. And I love hunting for my next favorite author.

I’d love to know how you hunt for your authors, too.

If you’ve got a sec, shoot me a message here. If that form doesn’t work, feel free to email me: hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.

I can’t wait to chat more…

 

MG BOOK RECOMMENDATION: SORCERY FOR BEGINNERS

As we wind down ’18, I had to shoot out one last book recommendation. I know it’s a little late for Christmas orders, but this one would also be a great just-after-Christmas read for any MG enthusiasts home on break:

618hfZkMT-L._SY346_

This tale of a 13-year-old magician in training is absolutely spellbinding!

Grab a copy here.

 

 

 

 

 

~

I also recently joined Instagram, where I’ll be posting plenty of additional reading recommendations. I’m always on the lookout for a new read myself. I hope you’ll join me for booktalks through ’19! You can find me here.

GET A LOAD OF THESE TITLES (SUMMER READING RECOMMENDATIONS)

Seriously. You want to get your hands on these books.

RUBY STARR: THE FANTASTIC LIBRARY RESCUE AND OTHER MAJOR PLOT TWISTS – DEBORAH LYTTON

IMG_0482

Like Ruby Starr, I also believe that every good book should always have a sequel…one that reminds you how much you loved the first, but takes you on an even more imaginative adventure—the kind that encourages every reader to put pen to their own epic poem. Besides, who could ever pass up a good pickle cupcake or another delightful dose of Ruby Starr? Brava!

Snag a copy here.

AUGUST AND EVERYTHING AFTER – JENNIFER SALVATO DOKTORSKI

IMG_0460

 

As a child of the ‘90s, Doktorski already had me at the title of this fantastic new read. But soon after wading into the pages, it became clear that AUGUST is Doktorski’s strongest work to date. A delightful mixtape of ‘90s music, humor, and the kind of young-summer-romance that makes a life-changing impact on the characters. What YA should be—do not let the summer get by without reading AUGUST!

Snag a copy here.

Happy summer reading!

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: SUPERFAIL

51rreo7lcul

I’m officially in love with this book!

SUPERFAIL:

Laser vision isn’t so hot when you’re cross-eyed, and supersonic flight’s a real downer when motion sickness keeps you grounded.

Twelve-year-old Marshall Preston is a Defective–a person with superhuman abilities that are restricted by some very human setbacks. While other kids are recruited to superhero teams, Marshall’s stuck in seventh grade with a kid who can run at super speed but can’t turn a corner, another with a radioactive peanut allergy that turns him into a swollen Hulk, and a telepath who reads everyone’s thoughts out loud.

Defectives like Marshall aren’t exactly superhero material, but when he uncovers a plot to destroy one of the greatest superhero teams of all time, Marshall and his less-than-super friends set out to prove that just because you’re defective doesn’t mean you can’t save the day.
~

Illustrated by a Disney animator, SUPERFAIL has such great visual appeal. It’ll immediately suck in any comic book reader. I couldn’t resist snapping a pic of one of my favorite spreads (love his Vans):

IMG_0083

Also, I love the fact that SUPERFAIL isn’t purely a graphic novel; rather than relying only on conversation bubbles, the book includes paragraphs of text, making it perfect for the reader you’d like to edge closer to non-illustrated books:

IMG_0085

This pic’s a little dark, because I might still read under the covers. 😉

And it comes with an uplifting, feel-good story to boot! Highly recommended for those looking for gift books for young readers. Grab your own copy of SUPERFAIL.

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: THE GREAT CAT NAP

51lw46wU17L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

 

Humor and intrigue aside, A.M. Bostwick’s penchant for literary description is spectacular.

My favorite passage opens chapter one:

“Outside the double pane window, leaves grew crispy and dry in the cold autumn wind. Their pigment was fading, transforming to crimson, copper, and gold. The wind shook the leaves loose and they fell below the barren branches. It was a beautiful way to die.”

What a tale! What a detective! What a cat! (Yes, cat. I’m a total sucker for animal narrators.)

Grab a copy of Bostwick’s THE GREAT CAT NAP.