Monday, December 15, 2014

The Least Envied Blog Tour! (+$ 25 Amazon Giftcard Giveaway!)

Title: The Least Envied
Author: Sean DeLauder
Series: Songs Unsung #2
Pages: 336
Date Published: December 19th 2014
Publisher: N/A 
Format: N/A
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours!
Buy Me!

Synopsis:
Everyone Has a Story. Cast back in time to a perilous wasteland, Andrew is tasked with recording the fate of an individual history has chosen to ignore. Threatened by knee-high creatures called Wogs, an enigmatic beast known as the Forest Monster, and the man orchestrating the slow annihilation of the world, Andrew discovers all hope for salvation and survival rests with a boy without a history.
~Guest Post!~
Where do ideas come from? Is there a formula for beginning a story? What is that little candle you light to throw hints of stories upon the walls?

Frankly, I wish their origin was as simple as flexing a muscle or squeezing them from a tube of toothpaste each time a new element was necessary. It is possible to rev the engine of ingenuity.

There’s an idea dispenser in everyone’s brain, though it’s not so simple as identifying the right button and pressing over and over again until you have a handful of candy bars. Ideas are a product of the ingredients you put in it and the levers you pull to get something out. It’s work, but I promise it’s enjoyable work. At least, it should be.

As you have undoubtedly heard ad nauseum, if writing is what you want to do, and you want to do well, there are two crucial steps that you need to take. And not just take, but retake, over and over again, like an Escher staircase you can never stop ascending.

The first is Read. And read. Read frequently. Read deeply. Estrange your family and friends. If you enjoy writing, it’s probably a sacrifice you’ve already made. After reading, and in between, and during, you should write. And write. Read until your eyeballs are swollen and read until your fingers tangle.

Reading programs your brain to understand how stories work (admittedly, how your brain thinks a story should work may well depend on the stories you read). The writing allows you to apply that understanding and hone your abilities. But how do you get ideas for those stories? Simple. Plagiarism.

No, not really.

Finding ideas requires the same approach as reading and writing. In fact, it’s a matter of adding a layer to the onion that is read, write, read, write, read, write, read.

The fact of the matter is that if you want ideas and experiences to add to your works, as with reading and writing, you need to do some experiencing. You need to expose yourself to the larger world. It’s true that you should follow the maxim “write what you know,” but learning something new adds to what you know, or what you think you know, and that’s another facet on your diamond that refracts light in a new and unexpected way.

How to gain experiences? There are a multitude of ways. I like watching NOVA specials, or staring at objects until they become unfamiliar (it happens… stare at a word for a long time and your brain starts to wonder how it was put together, what are the semantics behind the word, etc.), or reading a book on ancient history. These are by no means the only methods—each person might have their own. Perhaps a long walk observing the world, a vacation, a bath that allows your brain to wander to unexplored places. Looking inward works as well as looking outward.

Where improving your writing involves exposing yourself to the writing of others (and editing, of course), the best way to formulate new ideas is to expose yourself to buttloads of them. Michael Crichton, for example, maintained a level of curiosity in cutting edge science and exploring how it could go wrong, resulting in works such as Jurassic Park (cloning) and Prey (nanotechnology).

Ideas are born out of exposure to other ideas. It’s why educators encourage a liberal education with a variety of inputs. Different inputs offer different perspectives. In addition to math and science, you get art, music, and physical education. Studies show an understanding of and exposure to the elements of music helps math comprehension, so it’s clear more esoteric forms of study can effect core learning areas in a positive manner.

Ideas come from strange places, popping through crevices where disciplines overlap, like lave creeping through a fissure in the Earth. Or, at least, mine do. And the greater the variety of influences, the greater variety to your ideas, and thus the more unique and intriguing they may be.

So use the world around you as your springboard. Expose yourself to experiences and ideas. Newton said his achievements were in part because he “stood upon the shoulders of giants”. Go to the club, chug some beer, stargaze. Dancing Beer Vampires from Venus may not be a commercial success, but it’s a step. Perhaps you can see farther by standing on your own shoulders.

How do you formulate ideas for stories? Do they emanate from characters you know, a funny word you heard, a strange circumstance you observed, an article you read, experiences from which you’ve learned? Sound off in the comments!
~Try an Excerpt!~
Gordimer’s focus returned and he leaned forward.

“Still want to be a hero? Or afraid?” he asked, teeth gritting. His eyes glinted with wildness, but his voice was biting and controlled. “A little fear is good, yes. It prevents you from becoming arrogant, forgetting your limitations. But to face fear and overcome it.” The old man punched a finger in the air. “Ah ha! Then the curtains of limitation begin to draw aside. Success is limited only by a lack of daring.”

Gordimer grinned and his eyes opened wide.

“And if death scares you, boy, perhaps heroing is something you should reconsider.”

If Gordimer was trying to frighten him, Billy-Bob thought, he’d been successful. At the same time, Gordimer seemed to be trying to encourage him. To face a fear and overcome it was to master that fear forever. And if he mastered one fear, how difficult would it be to master others? The first step in mastering fear must be to confront that fear.

“Where West do I go?”

For an instant Billy-Bob thought Gordimer’s sneer wavered, giving way to a smile of admiration that lit and faded in an instant.

“Doesn't matter, really. Just go West. All the way to Beta. It's where most heroes end up.”

“Beta?” asked Billy-Bob.

“It’s a town,” Gordimer explained.

“Where?”

“Over there,” said Gordimer. He pointed down the street toward the blankness beyond.

“I’ve been over there,” said Billy-Bob. “There’s just rocks and a crack that’s too wide to cross.”

“Past that.”

“Past that is nothing.”

“Past the nothing, too.”

“What is past nothing?”

Gordimer smiled.


“Beta.”
~Meet Sean!~ 
This author has held several positions in recent years, including Content Writer, Grant Writer, Obituary Clerk, and Staff Writer, and is under the false impression that these experiences have added to his character since they have not contributed much to his finances. He was awarded a BFA in Creative Writing and Journalism and a BA in Technical Communication by Bowling Green State University because they are giving and eager to make friends. He has a few scattered publications with The Circle magazine, Wild Violet, Toasted Cheese, and Lovable Losers Literary Revue, and resides in the drab, northeastern region of Ohio because it makes everything else seem fascinating, exotic, and beautiful.

https://www.facebook.com/seanquistador
https://twitter.com/SeanDeLauder

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5446542.Sean_DeLauder/blog
Sean DeLauder will be awarding $25 Amazon or BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $25 Amazon or BN GC to a randomly drawn host.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

23 comments:

  1. Magnificent site, Andra. Thank you for agreeing to host my book and myself. If anyone has any questions about me, my book, or the cosmos in general, I would be happy to try and answer them, though I'm probably best suited to answering one of the first two options.

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Mary. The cover is intended to represent the journal carried by a character sent back to compile the biography of another character.

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  3. I liked the guest post and book excerpt.

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    1. They were both a pleasure to write, so to receive this sort of acknowledgment is very rewarding. Thanks!

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  4. thank you for the excerpt, i enjoyed reading it :)

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    1. If you liked the excerpt, imagine an entire book's worth of excerpts just like this! *wink wink, nudge nudge*

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  5. Replies
    1. I know you--I also know you cannot resist reading any words set in front of you. This was, essentially, a trap that I set for you. You fell right in. All that's left now is a trip to the Taxidermist.

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  6. I enjoyed the excerpt, thank you.

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  7. FYI, there is also a giveaway for 10 free, signed copies of my book going on at goodreads until Thursday, Dec. 18--the day before the book is released. Enter soon!

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18649748-the-least-envied

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  8. I liked the preview and the book cover best, the cover art looks adventurous!

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    1. Thanks, Lauren. The book art was part of a collaboration with my friend, Ellie Augsburger. She also did the art on the print version of my first book, The Speaker for the Trees. I agree--she did a super job.

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  9. From the excerpt it sure looks like a "goodread" to me! :)

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    1. I agree wholeheartedly. So does LeVar Burton. But you don't have to take my word for it.

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    2. Woah woah woah...Jordy LaForge likes your book? ;)

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    3. Indeed! This book was written to appeal specifically to children's-television-show-host-turned-starship-engineers-with-impaired-vision.

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  10. Thanks again, Andra, for having me. Super experience. Best of luck to everyone who entered the gift card giveaway.

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  11. Thanks for the spotlight. The book sounds interesting!

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    1. Thanks, Glenda--be sure to check out the giveaway going on at Goodreads right now. And, failing that, the book will be released in print and electronic version this Friday, December 19.

      https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18649748-the-least-envied

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