Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Guest Post: Linda Schroeder - Legos And Words: Four Comparisons For Writers

           Take your kids to Disneyland and they will ride things that scare you or keep you singing It’s A Small World After All for the rest of the week. Take your kids to Legoland and you can learn what writing is all about.
            Now I admit that is an odd thing to say. But I recently spent the day with my granddaughter at Legoland. It is not such a hectic place as Disneyland so I had time to wonder who thought to build it. And that led me to wonder why we writers build stories. I’m a firm believer that you can, indeed, compare apples and oranges. So I stand by the following four comparisons between Legos and writing.
            1. Both Lego builders and writers deal in illusions. Both try to shape something that viewers think is real. Is that elephant real? Is Hamlet real? It’s all in the details. If you are precise, detailing what things look, feel, taste, sound, or smell like, readers will believe you just as kids believe the elephant at Legoland is real. In Artists & Thieves I created a “sensory overload” scene in a jazz club in Cannery Row with a lot of vivid colors, sounds, tastes, and emotions for the characters. I had real singers perform, but all else was fiction. Readers tell me they looked for the club but couldn’t find it.
            2. Both build elaborate structures with little interlocking pieces. Legos come in two basic shapes, rectangles and squares. But some are bigger than others. And some are cylinders. From these limited shapes, very patient people construct tiny cars and two inch people. They build a life-size Darth Vader and a Volvo. They also build replicas of cities like New York and Las Vegas, huge long units that form skylines about as tall as adult visitors. It helps that their fingers are flexible.
            Writers build with words, some are tiny, some long, some are loaded with hidden meanings, some crystal clear. There are at least three quarters of a million of them in English. That’s a lot of construction blocks. It is the writer’s job to interlock them into sentences, fit them together to build small haiku poems or long novels. It helps if the writer’s brain is flexible. It helps if the words are chosen carefully: a character who simply walks down stairs is not as vivid as one whose too large shoes slap loudly on the steps; a character who “ponders” which way to go when fleeing a killer doesn’t seem credible.
            3. Legos come in bright and neutral colors. The variety helps distinguish parts. So does variety in sentence structure. Write only with single syllable words? Not so interesting. Write only noun-plus-verb sentences? Boring. Dialogue adds color. When my character Hunter searched the heroine’s room for a stolen bowl, I didn’t tell the reader he knew she was a liar but the dialogue conveyed it:
            Give up,” she said. “That bowl is on its way to China.”
            “And you are Snow White,” Hunter said.
            4. One last comparison.  Breaks. Benches. Shade. Iced drinks. We need to rest in the midst of activity. We also need to catch our breath in the midst of a tense story. Give the reader some ice tea like an easy description or incidental dialogue between secondary characters. One reason some people read the end of a story first is so they won’t have to worry all the way through about what is going to happen to the hero. So be kind to the reader and provide some rest stops along the way.


Linda Schroeder divides her time between the bright sun of California and the high mountains of Colorado. She has a Master’s degree in English and one in Communicative Disorders/Audiology. In addition to her novel, Artists & Thieves, she has published a college text. Her early interest in English expanded to include language disorders and she began a second career as an audiologist and aural rehabilitation therapist working with deaf and hard-of-hearing children and adults. Currently, she studies and practices Chinese brush painting, celebrating the vitality and energy of nature. She follows art and art theft blogs and writes her own blog about art and sometimes includes reviews of novels. She is working on two more novels, a second Mai Ling novel about the Diamond Sutra, and a Sammy Chan art mystery about the forgery of a Goya painting. You can visit her website at www.artistsandthieves.com.


Winner of the 2011 San Diego Book Awards, Action/Suspense category Where there is art, there are thieves. Mai Ling is both. Artist by day, thief by night, she recovers stolen art for Interpol. It’s a business, not a passion, until her beloved grandfather reveals a family secret that is also a destiny. He is duty-bound to return to China an especially precious bowl which belonged to his ancestor. Mai must steal it for him. But Mai Ling is not the only one after the bowl. Four others plan to extract the bowl from a private California art collection. The rival thieves grasp and then lose the bowl until finally Mai is faced with the ultimate dilemma: save the bowl or save herself. Her duty to her grandfather gives her only one choice. Set against the vibrant backdrop of the Monterey Peninsula and peopled with quirky characters, this stylish art caper entertains on every page. Amazon Barnes & Noble



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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Armchair BEA: Day 2: Best of 2012

Well, we are on Day 2 of Armchair BEA.  I really have to start posting these earlier in the day.  Oh, who am I kidding.  This year, I'm playing catch-up so I will be lucky to get the daily topics posted.

I'm not hosting any giveaways today, but I will try to list some of my favorites from this year.

The short version... So far, some of the titles that I've read  and enjoyed include: Thomas Caplan's "The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen".  Once I got into it, the story just came alive.  I really enjoyed it.  I've read the first 2 books, "The Next Always" and "The Last Boyfriend" in Nora Roberts' Inn Boonsboro Trilogy.  As always, she hasn't let me down and I can't wait for the last book to come out.  I just finished Charlaine Harris's latest two installments of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, "Deadlocked" and "Dead Ever After".  I had a hard time putting them down, if only because I can't believe what is happening.

Now, I am off to get dinner together for my hungry horde.  Have a great day!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Armchair BEA: I can't believe it's here already!

Wow, I can't believe that I almost missed this.  This year seems to have flown by.

So, a little about me.  I've been blogging about books for 2 years.  (Boy, I had to check back to the first posts to see how long I had been blogging.)  I started blogging about what I was reading because I wanted to be honest with myself about what I am reading and to put my thoughts, whether others agreed with me or not, out there.

I have to admit that I need to post a couple of reviews about items that I have been reading.  Life has been crazy recently.  I'm going to try to get those up in the next couple of weeks.  Now, while I enjoy writing about what I have been reading, I especially enjoy having posts from authors.  I've read several books from new-to-me authors through virtual book tours and giveaways and have enjoyed them and having them post about their books, their thought process, etc.  Because of having the chance to try these authors, I've read books that I would have never given a chance otherwise.  I think this is a good thing since blogging is exposing me to things that I would never have tried.

I have a number of items on my Nook and on my reading table that I am currently reading.  These include: Nora Roberts' The Last Boyfriend, Rod Hoisington's One Deadly Sister, and Carrie Wilkerson's The Barefoot Executive: The Ultimate Guide for Being Your Own Boss and Achieving Financial Freedom.

One of my favorite authors is Nora Roberts so I would love to have dinner with her!  I would love to hear where she finds her inspiration for her books.