My Most Important Writing Lesson

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Back in the monkey days, when Fs were real and our local university was still respected as a school, I took what may have been called English 101, a writing class with a widely dreaded three hour written composition for a final. Since I had long been praised for my writing, I was looking forward to it.

A Mr. Parks walked in with his greasy blond hair, crooked horn rimmed glasses, sandals and miss-matched socks, and announced that they couldn’t find a PhD., so he was teaching for the quarter.

A wave of groans passed through the class.

“Too bad,” he said. “See this book? Turn to page thirty-six.” We read a short story to ourselves and then discussed it as he paced about, white froth gathering at the corners of his mouth.

The next day we had an essay to write before we left.images

On the following day, he handed out a fistful of F papers and two Ds. There were no higher grades. I had one of the D papers. The kids from ‘way up in Chicago howled with indignation. Their daddies would see that he was fired.

“I got a D,” I said.

“Too bad.”

“But I don’t ever get grades like that…”

“Time you did,” he said.

“But most of my paper’s marked out with red ink…”

Ivy“That’s because it stinks,” he said. “Look. If you want to fix it, come to my office before the day’s over.”

I showed up and stood in line with the rest of the class.

When I stepped into his office, he had his feet on his desk, watching me have a seat.

“So what’s wrong with it?” I said as I read aloud a few lines.

“I already told you. It stinks.”

“But doesn’t this sound…?”

“Do you think anyone gives a shit about your choice of words or your specially chosen 2730510797_1a5b5af433_zphrases?” he said, tossing the paper back at me. “Look. The first paragraph. What are you trying to say?”

I started to read the first line.

“No! Just look at me and tell me about what’s in the first paragraph.”

“Well…” I said, “Nancy was in a state of bliss because she was naive?”

“Good!” he said. “That’s exactly what you should have written. “Now I’ve got Miss What’s Her Face standing in the doorway all anxious, with a slew of people behind her.”

TomI ended up with an A for the quarter, and came away knowing that it’s not the words you like which makes your writing good, but the words you have no problem throwing away.

 

Tom Phipps

Blog Tour for Harmony Kent Day 2

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Hi, there! Today is Day Two on my blog tour. If you missed yesterday’s blog post, you can find it by following the link on my  4WillsPublishing Author Page. Today, I continue to share with you my personal journey, and how I got to be where I am. Yesterday, I talked about the major injury that sparked a complete life change for me. Today, I concentrate more on the writing part of that journey.

It’s been an interesting journey since I published my first novel ‘The Battle for Brisingamen’. One that hasn’t always been easy. I had tremendous fun writing it, but I was also incredibly naïve. I’ve had a lot to learn.

For me, a huge part of being a good writer is to be a good listener. I do my best to take note of feedback and use all criticism constructively. Whilst my first book wasn’t a terrible book, not by a long stretch, it could have been better. Conversely, its first reviews were good ones—four and five stars.

Over time it’s had a couple of three stars as well. Regardless of rating, I’ve always taken note of the comments and have used them to learn and to grow. I have also taken an editing course, which has helped a lot, as well as giving me even more skills at my disposal.

Six months after the first edition was published, I did a major re-edit and I feel it is a much better book for it. I also review for Awesome Indies and The Review Board, as well as offering independent reviews via my website (http://www.harmonykent.co.uk/). I also write a column (All About Indie) for All Author’s Magazine.

So, these days, I’m really quite busy. I write, edit, proofread and review, and write my magazine column. Anything to do with books, basically … which makes me very, very happy. My second book, The Glade, was published in November 2013, and has received a highly positive response so far. Both the cover and the content seem to be a huge success. This second book is a different animal to my first, and is definitely more polished. In July 2014, it received the IndieBRAG Medallion.

I have just published a YA novel, which is to be part of a series. I also have another book in progress, which will see the light of day before the end of the year. I am taking a chance being a multi-genre author, as that means my readers can’t put all my books into one specific category. But then I’m a multi-genre reader and this probably has an effect on what comes out of my imagination. At least I’m doing this right from the start, before anyone has time to pigeon hole me! I don’t want to end up like some famous actors, who have become typecast and just play the same roles over and over again.

Had anyone told me two years ago that I would be a published author—as well as an editor and reviewer—I wouldn’t have believed it possible. Which just goes to show that we can never know what’s around the corner. The important thing is that we keep going. That we never give up.

Links to my tour stops can be found on my 4Wills Author Page.

 

For more on my books, see below:

 

The Glade

The Glade Front Cover with BRAG Medallion

 

Mystery, Thriller & Suspense.

 

You are being arrested for the murder of your husband…You have a secret you can’t tell…The evil is gathering…

The Wenstrops have it all: health, wealth and happiness. But then it all begins to fall apart. Helen is arrested for murder, yet is either unable or unwilling to give a defense. During her detention, vital evidence goes mysteriously missing and tensions are running high. Helen finds herself surrounded and yet alone: not knowing who she can trust or how she can tell her enemies from her friends. Helen has to work through her self-doubts and fears, in order to know whether her suspicions and misgivings are valid or simply products of an overwrought mind. There are those who would like to encourage her confusion, and those who would help her – but how to know one from the other? And then there are those who actively mean her harm. Meanwhile, malignant forces in the forest are gathering power, ready for a final assault. Helen finds herself in a battle of life and death, and faces having to lose everything in her attempts to thwart the evil that has insinuated itself into her very existence – but is she ready to make the ultimate sacrifice?

This sensational second novel by acclaimed author Harmony Kent will have you alternately laughing, crying and gripping the edge of your seat as this roller coaster ride of a plot unfolds. It will keep you guessing through its many twists and turns, and hijack your attention right up until you turn the final page. This book has it all: murder, intrigue, the supernatural, a broken marriage, a love affair, courage against impossible odds, suspense, and high drama.

The Glade is an Indie B.R.A.G.Medallion honoree!

 

The Battle for Brisingamen

New Cover with new AIA badge

 

Fantasy Fiction

There is a World not too Far Away …

Beneath the north sea a land of magic lies undetected. The lives of many are drawn inexorably closer together in a race against time, as both energy companies and evil beings attempt to destroy the magic which is protecting not just this land but all worlds. The unwitting protagonists have no idea of how suddenly and irrevocably their lives are about to change.

It is a race against time to try and recover the lost necklace, Brisingamen, which holds the ancient power of the Goddess Freya, and to prevent the undersea drilling from taking place. Are Aart, Matthias, Gemma and Dirck up to the challenges they now must face?

Here there be Dragons, and all manner of Creatures …

 

Elemental Earth (Book 1 of The Mysteries)

3D-Book cover Elemental Earth

 

Young Adult Fantasy Fiction

 

“You turned the god of gnomes into a garden ornament?”

Sarah looked closely, but couldn’t tell if her dad was annoyed or amused—perhaps he was both …

Whilst 15 year old Sarah may be struggling to regain her feet, after being ripped from her everyday mundane life and ending up in a whole new dimension, she still knows how to have a bit of fun along the way. The Earth Elemental isn’t the only one whose feathers she manages to ruffle, and it’s only been four days. Meanwhile, her best friend is missing, and big trouble is brewing. She soon has a lot more to worry about than what happened to her phone or iPod, or even how much of an idiot Caleb obviously thinks she is.

Elemental Earth is the first book in The Mysteries series, and is aimed at Young Adults. Even if you’ve already reached an age where the young ones might call you ‘old enough’, if you’re still young at heart then you’re bound to enjoy these books just as much as the next—err—younger adult.

Age aside, perhaps we should be more worried about what further havoc Sarah’s antics might be about to wreak on the universe as we know it? We’d probably all be sleeping a lot more soundly if she’d only stuck to applied maths and the odd pillow fight. But no, sadly the lure of the proverbial rabbit hole proved just a tad too much. And now she’s taken the plunge, there’s no turning back.

 

Look out for tweets @harmony_kent, and follow my blog: http://harmonykent.co.uk to keep up to date with new book releases, promos, cover reveals and sneak peeks. Feel free to connect—I’d love to hear from you.

 

Find out more at: http://www.harmonykent.co.uk

Twitter: @harmony_kent

Facebook: www.facebook.com/HarmonyKentOnline

4Wills Author Page: http://4willspublishing.wordpress.com/our-authors/author-harmony-kent/

 

 

Live What You Write

Back when I was an aspiring botany major, a heavyweight English student I knew showed up at my flat with a fifth of Jack Daniels to live the life of a writer, as he put it. He mentioned Faulkner. He made Hemingway watching a bullfight in Spain or sitting outdoors in a cafe along the Seine River, sipping wine with a crowd timthumbof angry young writers sound like a good thing. I don’t know what became of him. I turned out to be a writer. Maybe he’s counting tree rings.

If he understood what he was telling me, he did have a point. You do need to be familiar enough with what you are discussing in order to do a good job of writing about it. One would think that paris4your words will be best chosen when you are discussing elephants if you have ridden one. And it is much easier to make walking across freshly ploughed ground in your bare feet amongst the scattered blackbirds come to life for your readers if you’ve actually done it.

So how do you do such a thing if you are writing fantasy? How do you make unicorns, Elves and dragons come to life? Well, unicorns are very much like horses, except for the narwhal-like horn, so we can talk about them in terms of the horses which we’ve ridden. We can talk about their horn waving about above their feed boxes as they nibble up the last of their oats. We can talk about the Elf with his insides shaken to a jelly of soreness, from an afternoon’s frantic ride. And we can talk about a mob of dragons settling onto a sandbar in the dusk, as each one pauses to sort through the feathers of his wings before giving himself a thorough shake, if we have walked along a river’s sands at sunset and have indeed spent an afternoon in the desert mountains, watching a flock of buzzards come circling in to land on their customary rocks.

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Just how would you make an imaginary creature come to life for the readers you are trying to engage and entertain? Wouldn’t you need to draw upon similar things which you’ve actually seen? What do you think? We’d like to know.

 

Tom Phipps  

 

Minuet has a Strange Light in Her Eye

Stone Heart Render
Part Six

Rose stood stiffly on the stool as a pair of seamstresses pinned the hem of Minuet’s wedding gown. Minuet stood watching, radiant with happiness at her decision to wed as well as at her decision to wear her gown. “I’m more certain than ever that Mother and Father never expected me to marry,” she thought with a smile. “Mother,” she said, “I
suppose you understand that Fuzz and I want to wait for Lukus and Soraya to arrive
before we have the wedding?”

“That’s what your father and I assumed,” said Minuet as she stooped to examine just how her hem was pinned in a certain place, “but Lukus and his family should be arriving in a few short weeks, which really only gives us scarcely enough time for all the arrangements.”

“We have plenty of time if we keep it small enough, Mother,” said Rose with a smile.

Minuet opened her mouth to protest, but closed it with a grin. “It is your wedding, Rose. And I suppose you’re right, all things considered.”

“Yes,” said Rose, as she thought: “After calling off the extravagant affair with James, who knows how it would go? Besides, these are bad times upon us.” She stepped off the stool and out of the gown as the seamstresses carried it away for alterations. “Mother,” she said, picking up her robe from across a chair. “I’ve come to a decision. I want you to do something for me, if you will.”

“My word. Is something wrong?”

“Very wrong, actually. But to put you at ease, this has nothing to do with the wedding.”

“By all means dear, if I possibly can. What is it?”

“Could you teach me to use my powers?”

“Why, I thought you’d decided that you wanted nothing to do with becoming a sorceress, Rose,” she said with an astonished look.

“No, by no means. I never did. But I suppose I was doing little more than following in your footsteps, all these years. I think that under the current circumstances it would be irresponsible to have such an ability and not use it for the good of all.”

Minuet’s eyes flashed.

“Oh, my! I didn’t mean it to sound that way. I was only referring to me. Our circumstances are altogether different. I’m not queen of anywhere. Fuzz is a military man
and will undoubtedly be in the thick of what’s coming, and I’ve every intention of being
right beside him, so will you teach me?”

“Have you discussed this with Fuzz, dear? It would not be right to keep something like this to yourself.”

“Not yet,” said Rose with a sigh, “but rest assured, he’ll abide by whatever I…”

“Of course Rose, I’d not expect otherwise. But it would put me at ease, knowing that you’d discussed it with him.”

“You’re so provincial, Mother.”

“‘Considerate’ is what we once called it, I believe.”

“I’ll go speak with him this minute, but I suggest you go dig out your wand.”

“All right,” said Minuet, as a strange light kindled in her eye. “You’ve a bargain.”

Ch. 35, Stone Heart

Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps