Posts tagged with "Elitist University" :: Page 2


The Hero and the Crown

The Hero and the Crown

With all the popular YA novels out there sporting wishy-washy teenage ‘heroines’, it’s time to introduce you to a classic that does it right. For the kids of my generation there was Robin McKinley’s THE HERO AND THE CROWN (Amazon), the winner of the 1985 Newbery Medal Award.

Aerin is the only child of the king. The problem? She’s a girl. Since her deceased mother was a foreigner (and it’s whispered she was a witch), and Aerin has inherited her pale skin and red hair, she’s snubbed and ignored. She discovers a book about the dragons that used to threaten Damar, and on her own learns how to make kenet, an ointment that protects the wearer from the effects of fire, and trains herself to fight dragons. When word comes that a local village is being terrorized by a small dragon, Aerin with the kenet and her father’s old war horse, goes to fight it. Unfortunately, it’s not only the smaller dragons who begin to return.
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Blog-off Entry Commentary: Point of View

Point of view (PoV) is how a story is narrated, usually through the eyes of a main character.  If writers are doing PoV right, it shouldn’t even be noticeable, it fades into the background. But when it’s done wrong, it’s a slap in the face. First-time authors don’t give PoV the attention it deserves. They treat it like the short kid when picking basketball teams during P.E. because there are better athletes of storytelling: setting, character, and plot. But we need the short kid to have a full team, and ignoring PoV is like not having a full team. Viewpoint is important because it affects how the story is told and the connections readers feel with the characters.

Let’s define a few terms:

  • First-person–Uses “I” to tell the story. Not used as often as third-person because it isn’t as flexible, but when done right is fun to read (prevalent in thrillers, YA, Urban Fantasy, and the ramblings of narcissists).
  • Second-person–Uses “you” to tell the story (Choose Your Own Adventure, RPG adventure primers, technical manuals, and lectures from your parents).
  • Third-person–Refers to “he” and “she” to tell the story. Most commonly used viewpoint in SF&F (as well as Vulcan mind melds). Styles include “limited” (one head per scene) and “omniscient” (sees and knows everything within a story).
  • Alternating viewpoint–When you just have to be in everybody’s business. Switches viewpoints between characters within a story — i.e., first-person for one character, third-person limited for others… seen most recently in RESIDUE (EBR Review)! First-person PoV alternating viewpoints appear in books narrated via letters, such as DRACULA (EBR Review).

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Blog-off Entry Commentary: Internet Presence

Blog-off Entry Commentary: Internet Presence

Like all of the other reviewers here at EBR, I have a day job. It’s not one that I tout all that much as it’s a fall-back job that I kind of transitioned into after not being able to find a job in my field (rocket science). I’m a web programmer. So, I kind of feel obligated to say a thing or two about this relatively important part of the self-published author’s job.

My thoughts on the topic can be boiled down to something that is pretty simple (TL;DR):

Have an internet presence.

Ask yourself a question: what’s the first thing you do when you find a new author that you like? I don’t know about you, but I don’t pass go, I don’t collect $200, I go directly to Mr. Google. In that search, I look for a website, a blog, a Facebook page – something that will give me three distinct things:

  1. A listing of more stories by the author and possibly access to them
  2. Some kind of idea that they’re an active author
  3. A timeline looking forward to their writing activities/goals/publications

There are also a couple of things that turn me off rather quickly when I find them:

  1. No internet presence at all for the author
  2. An author-oriented site that is several months, or even several years, old

As a fledgling, self-published author what is the one thing that you want to do for someone that has very recently read one of your stories and absolutely LOVED it? You want to keep them coming back. Why is that? Because they are willing to exchange their hard-earned dollars for some more of your particular brand of story magic. And even though you love crafting stories, and having others join in the goodness of those things you create, let’s face it: a guy’s gotta eat, yeah?
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Gestures of Humanity

Posted: May 28, 2015 in Guest Posts Tags: Elitist University

The following editorial is a guest post from Epic Fantasy author Peter Orullian. When he approached me about writing a guest post for EBR, I jumped at the opportunity. It is a rare author that can so clearly share his or her views on various aspects of their craft. I’m so pleased and honored that Peter chose to share his thoughts here with all of us.


Gestures of Humanity

There’s every possibility that I wouldn’t be writing fiction today if it wasn’t for horror. More specifically, Stephen King. Hyperbole? Maybe. In recent years, I’ve mostly written epic fantasy. And it’s also true I’ve had the itch to be a writer ever since I was a boy. But if nothing else, Stephen King catalyzed that desire. How? One way to explain it is the contrast between light and dark. Or, said another way: gestures of humanity.

Stick with me.
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Blog-off Entry Commentary: On Beginnings

Beginnings. Always been a heavy topic of discussion here at EBR. A good beginning can make a book awesome. A bad beginning can absolutely ruin a novel. Think about it. How many novels have you put down because the opening was horrendous? We’re talking about books you pick off the shelves at your local bookstore. At EBR, we’ll admit to triple digits. You?

With the The Great Self-published Fantasy Blog-off, the importance of beginnings has become a major focus for us. Many of the authors who submitted their novels have questions. Why isn’t my book selling? Why am I getting poor reviews? What can I do to improve it? Etc, etc. A huge part of the issues these self-pubbed authors are facing stems directly from the writing, but even mediocre writing can be dealt with if the story is good and the hook is set. There are so many published examples of this that it’s ridiculous.

Let’s talk about general stuff to avoid though:

  • Slow pacing
  • Starting too early in the story
  • Description heavy
  • Cliché
  • History of the cosmos
  • Describing your map
  • Mysterious babies
  • Forwards used to tell the readers that if you don’t like the book, it’s YOUR fault

Okay, maybe some of those were not so general. Still, that is by no means a comprehensive list. Nor does it mean you can’t do any of those things. The better writer you are, the more you can get away with. Current fantasy novelists prove this all the time. But let’s get into the details of some of the things we saw, and why they didn’t work.
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Blog-off Entry Commentary: First Impressions

Blog-off Entry Commentary: First Impressions

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is a tired, old saying that should be put to rest in regards to actual books. It’s a fine sentiment when applied to people but taken literally it’s damaging to the practice of publishing. Call me superficial but I believe it’s only natural to judge a book by its cover. I also believe you should factor in title and plot synopsis (if you get that far). Browsing the aisles of a book store or scrolling through Amazon there are countless titles vying for attention. Great covers get lost in the midst of this sensory overload, it’s true, but bad covers are even more likely to be skimmed over. If your book reaches out to someone through all the clutter it better catch their eye for all the right reasons.

Self-published books carry a stigma for many reasons; but before a critic can even dismiss them for horrible grammar, typos, thin plots, thinner characters, wonky POV, or any number of errors the critic first  has to first be enticed to even pick up and open the book. It’s all about first impressions and this is one area where self-published authors have a notoriously hard time. I get requests in my inbox to read and review self-published books frequently.Read the rest of this post »

Guest Post: Peter Orullian

Posted: April 8, 2015 in Guest Posts Tags: Elitist University

Writers are the worst judge of their own fiction. And that works both ways. Meaning, often a writer’s story that he thinks is amazing… just isn’t; likewise, something he’s written that he thinks is crap… is the awesome.

Enter beta-readers.

A beta-reader is a person who reads that early draft of something the writer has written, and offers commentary and critique.

Some writers don’t use beta-readers. And I wouldn’t say a writer can’t succeed without them. But because I believe writers are the worst judge of their own work, I’ve come to feel beta-readers are worth their weight in books. The good ones, anyway.

See, all beta-readers aren’t created equal. Some are little more than fans who want the book as soon as they can get their hands on it. A good beta-reader, on the other hand, can help a writer see the flaws—as well as the successful bits—in a manuscript.

Often, this amounts to the fact that the writer is seeing the full story in his head, and so he fills in the gaps that aren’t actually on the page. So, because the beta-reader doesn’t have the story in his head, he can point out the absences. And, like I said, also help a writer see where the story is really singing.

So, now comes my story about one particular beta-reader. Steve Diamond.
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Beta Reading for Peter Orullian

Posted: December 8, 2014 in Editorial Tags: Elitist University

Beta reading is something I’m asked about at least once a week. Either I’m asked to do it, or I’m asked why I do it, or I’m asked how I managed to get the gig in the first place. I’m also frequently asked what I do when I actually sit down to read someone’s manuscript.

Why do I bring this up? Well, because you may have noticed we just published Alan Bahr’s review of Peter Orullian’s novel THE UNREMEMBERED: The Author’s Definitive Edition. The review was extremely positive. If you have been a long time reader of Elitist Book Reviews, you might recall that I personally reviewed the original version of the novel several years ago. Frankly, I didn’t like it at all. It wasn’t that it didn’t show promise, it was that it didn’t feel like the final version. It felt like the draft before cutting a bunch and cleaning up the rest. Again, that review was done in 2011.

So now, ladies and gentlemen, it’s story time.
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The Crystal Cave

Posted: January 21, 2014 by Vanessa in Elitist Classics Meta: Mary Stewart, Fantasy, Elitist University
The Crystal Cave

The first book of Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy, THE CRYSTAL CAVE (Amazon), was written in 1970 and continues to be one of the most accessible novelizations of the mythos surrounding the Arthurian legends. Told in first-person PoV as though it were an autobiography, Stewart writes about Merlin’s childhood as he travels across Britain, the people he encounters, and the discovery of his magic–all in her lovely prose with detailed attention to the landscape and era.
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This Immortal

This Immortal

Conrad Nomikos is not what he first appears. On the outside he seems to be in his thirties, walks with a limp, one side of his face is disfigured, and he has a government job working with Earth’s antiquities. Dig a little deeper and you learn that he’s been working that job at least twenty years, he knows the most powerful and influential people on a first-name basis, and he talks about historical events in a more intimate way than most.
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