Researching Away

Today I did not get much actual writing done on my draft. But that’s not really a bad thing. I spent the time instead doing a day’s worth of research for accurate world building, a TON of minor details here and there, and lots of backstory.

See, the story I’m writing now is essentially a Journey story, which means that the book takes place over a long journey(duh). It takes up more of the book than anything else, and if I want to sound like I know what I’m talking about as my characters travel cross country on horses, I need to do a lot of research. Thankfully I found a lot of blogs and articles with the sole purpose of clearing up a lot of misconceptions and myths about various things in both Sci fi and Fantasy. I found a blog series called Fact in Fantasy that was immensely helpful. Not just for horses and how to care for them, but for proper classification of trees in certain areas, what specific names of rocks and stone deposits are on mountains and what herbs grow where and what time of the year. That’s a lot! I mean, I could go out to a forest and learn each tree that way, or go to a farm and work with a breeder for a bit. But that would take much longer than a day of reading.

So today I read mostly. I read about how horses are measured in hands, from the ground to their withers, and I learned horses get shin splints often. I discovered just exactly what a deciduous forest is and the different foliage in each level of it; top canopy, second canopy, understory, floor. I downloaded map making software and actually developed the world and terrain my characters will be traveling over, then I discovered that through the course of the story they travel for more than 400 miles. Phew. Now that’s a journey.

Then, taking all of that freshly discovered information, I sat down with my trusty outlining notebook and got to work reworking bits and pieces of my story. In doing so I worked out many kinks that I had near the end of the book, and have really pumped myself up for the next book. Because in the next book there is no extremely long journey taking up the story, it’s thievery, magic and murder. That’s right, I said murder!

My goal is to have the story finished by the time I head to a writer’s conference at the end of this month. I’m… probably not going to make that. BUT, I’d at least like to have the first draft done by then. I already have the first few chapters how I want them, and could honestly hand them to a few agents if they show interest at the convention, but I’d rather have a finished product in my hands first. Either way, I NEED TO GET CRACKING ON THIS NOVEL.

Also, I now have several copies of my book on hand and am looking to give them away to some peoples. Free of charge. Well… sort of. All I ask is that you write a review about it. Good, bad, hated it, loved it, WHATEVER. A copy of my book is yours for a review.

And now I must return to more writing. For the end is nigh, friends…

From Afar

Hello again, and welcome back to another edition of In My Opinion. This post I’ll be reviewing a GREAT book by a GREAT author, who also happens to be a GREAT guy.

Buckle up, for I am about to regale you with a tale of woe and Russian women. A story of heartache and loss. A story of triumph… and then more Russian women. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you From Afar, by Frank Scozzari.

A little while ago I was lucky enough to get a tweet from an author pointing me towards an online hangout for writers to review each others work. I perused the place for a bit, then posted my novella and offered to do a review exchange with someone. I received a few offers, and among them was an exchange offer from a man named Frank Scozzari. In his email Frank was frank with me (heehee), sent me a copy of his book and asked for a copy of mine.

I had no idea what I was in for, but I am very glad I took the offer.

From Afar is labeled as a memoir, and Frank traveled to Russia several times in researching everything for it. It’s about a man, Morgan Stanfield, 38, single, who is lonely. Well, a little more than lonely. The story begins with him lonely enough that he might do something he will regret later. Morgan is looking for love, not just a woman or a girlfriend, but love, and he’s taken to the internet to find it. He has a fascination with Russian woman for some reason, and therefore gears his search for love towards that country. He meets a woman online who lives and Russia and is very warm, intelligent and wants to meet him. After some “careful” consideration, Morgan hops on a plane and jets over to Russia.

Plot: The plot of this story was painfully realistic in the beginning. I found I could relate to Morgan on a lot of levels when it started off. His friends, his thoughts, his feelings, all felt very accurate. And once he decides to head to Russia, I could not put down my tablet. I wanted to read it all at once, it was so good. The twists and turns that the story takes surprised me even when I thought I could call what would happen next. For all that it had going for it, the ending… was a little underwhelming. I guess I held out hope the entire time that somehow the story would end on a good note, but it didn’t. It just sort of happened. Like the story took so much effort, he just wanted it to be over. When I thought about, though, I wasn’t that put off by the ending. After all that Morgan goes through, it makes sense for it quit the way it did.

Characters: A+ Morgan, though a little heavy on the internal monologue at times, is funny and smart and not all a boring read. He has interesting flash backs that enlighten the reader to what is going through his mind during some scenes, and is always pretty honest. I found that I liked him right off the bat. He starts off as a wet blanket. A real sad-sap. But as the story progresses, he forces himself to be bold and go out of his comfort zone to experience life. By the end however, he’s more depressed than the beginning and just barely holding onto hope. Sad face.

Writing: As soon as I started reading and saw that it was in the first person, I thought this wouldn’t be a book I’d like. I usually don’t enjoy most 1st persons. Heck, I usually don’t enjoy most anything not fantasy or sci fi, but I really enjoyed this. Frank wrote very well, and you can tell from his vocabulary and use of language that he is highly educated. He got the skillz, is what I’m trying to say, and I might be a little jelly. But whatevs, it’s cool. Some paragraphs can run a little long, in my opinion, and by then end of the story, when Morgan is really down in the dumps, his bitter thoughts can turn into really long run-ons sometimes.

Imagery: Excellent. Frank actually went to Russia and all the places he writes about for this novel, and it shows in the imagery. He captures the feel of Russia perfectly, not just the visuals, but the actual aura and presence of the place. You actually feel cramped when he describes the underground tram, and you can feel the depressing grey when he talks about the run down neighborhoods. I say again, excellent job on imagery.

Verdict: As someone who normally doesn’t read anything unless it’s a type of fantasy or sci fi, I really enjoyed this book. Like I said, I couldn’t put it down and tore through it in a few days. I will definitely be talking about this book to others for its funny, unexpected story and great character. And great author. Turns out Frank isn’t just a prolific author with lots of published work, he’s a genuinely nice guy. He also wrote a kickass review for my novella, which made me feel all tingly inside.

Should you check out this book? Yeah, I think so. And you can find his site here and his book here. Persons of the female perspective might find a hard time relating with Morgan, but men will fit right in. It’s not long and it’s an enlightening read. In My Opinion.