Saturday, February 25, 2012

Surrounded by Talented Souls

By Keith N Fisher

According to Wikipedia, this is a picture of the corner in the pub called Eagle and Child, where The Inklings met after 1949. It is called the Rabbit Room and as you can see, houses a memorial to CS Lewis.

The group included CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Hugo Dyson. In 1933, they began to meet in various places to read and discuss various material including their unfinished manuscripts. Members of the group changed over the years. Even Tolkien drifted away in the latter part of 1950, but it was to this group, Lewis distributed proofs of The Lion Witch and the Wardrobe in June of 1950.

The pub was remodeled in 1962, which changed the private nature of the Rabbit Room. Lewis, of course, died in 1963.

Being a part of the group had it benefits and drawbacks. Williams inspired Lewis, and Dyson was instrumental in Lewis becoming a christian.

To meet with like-minded individuals and discuss your work can be beneficial. Even stark criticism can help. Apparently, Dyson, who was an expert in Shakespeare, preferred talk and literary discussion to reading manuscripts, but he didn’t like Tolkien’s work. The story is told that he would lie on a couch listening to Tolkien read from The Lord of the Rings and shouted, “Oh God, not another elf!”

In many circles today, Tolkien is more revered than Lewis. He is definitely better known than Dyson. Tolkien went on to be named The Father of ‘High Fantasy’, but that is not the way it used to be. Tolkien was a writer before his time, and I’m glad he persevered in spite of harsh criticism.

This is a picture of where my group last met. I doubt there will ever be a plaque on the wall honoring the Super Edits critique group, although it is possible for some of the members. Besides, we don’t meet in that cafe very often. We have been known to read our chapters in the upper room of a Mexican restaurant, between the stacks in the public library, and even in my backyard. We offer help and support to each other, we cheer each other, and we provide a listening ear.

I’m quite certain I would never hold up under the sarcasm Dyson gave to Tolkien’s work, and it took a while for me to humble myself enough to realize my group was right. I am a better writer because of them. I also get to read many popular books in the draft stages. I talked a little about that in my review of Tristi Pinkston’s new book, Targets in Ties. Go check it out and enter her contest.

In the meantime, listen to your critique partners. They might be the catalysts for your becoming a great writer. At the very least, you might learn a little humility.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Targets in Ties

A blogtour book review by Keith N Fisher

Dear Earl,
Here we are in Mayaland and Ida Mae is losing it. She claims she’s seen a certain wanted antiquities thief behind every corner. Seriously, though, we are having a great time. As you can see from the picture on the postcard, the sights are amazing. I was a little worried about leaving you home alone and hope you’re feeling better, now.
Love, Tansy

Dear Earl,
Ida Mae said, I needn’t waste my time because I will be home before it arrives, but I wanted to send another post card to put your mind at ease. Don’t worry. We are fine. We’re getting on the plane and we’ll be home soon. Ren is such a dear boy. He got us out of the cage and he’s been released from his mission. Agent Tulley sorted out the loose ends of our mystery, but I’ll explain about that later. Hold on, honey bear, I’ll be home before you know it and I’ll make you something special for dinner.
Love Tansy

What can I say about this wonderful story that would do it justice. As with the other books in the series, Targets in Ties, by Tristi Pinkston, is a must read. In the first two books, we got to meet the secret sisters. In Hang ‘Em High, we received insights into Ida Mae’s character that almost makes her real. In this latest installment, the author has given us a wonderful look at the relationships between these characters. I’ve grown to love them.

Tristi claims this was her favorite in the series, and I admit we had fun with it in our critique group. Discussions about shooting one handed while driving a car, were only part of it. Tristi does her homework, and that helps us, (the reader), relate to the story in personal ways.

Don’t forget this is a five book series, and the final chapter will be released this summer. Targets in Ties, however, will delight you. Look for it in all the usual places and on Amazon.

In the meantime, leave a comment on this blog post, and go visit Tristi's Blog and become a follower. You will then be entered to win this fun scrapbooking pack,

You have until midnight, Mountain time on March 3rd to enter to win. Good luck.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


By Keith N Fisher

I pulled another book from my (to be read) stack, and sat down with it the other day. After a couple of chapters, I had to put it down and searched for a bookmark. Since I couldn’t find one, I settled for a piece of toilet tissue.

I began to reflect on my practice of marking my place. Years ago, I would just turn down the corner of a page, but out of love and respect for the printed word, I don’t do that anymore.

I love real bookmarks. They are almost always made from laminated cardstock and hold my place with dignity and style. Also, I sometimes use the business cards authors hand out to advertise their books. I receive dozens of bookmarks at book signings and author events every year. You’d think I’d use some of them.

What usually happens, after using a scrap of paper, or a toothpick, I finally place a real bookmark into the book just in time to finish the story. The bookmark stays inside the book and I move on starting the process over. Why don’t I just collect the mark from the story I just finished? I wish I were that organized. I’ve revisited stories, years after reading them, and found bookmarks, long since forgotten.

There is a pile on my desk I intend to use but never do. I have several signed by authors. I need to develop a habit of picking a bookmark before I open a new book. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful world?

As my library grows, I will continue to need bookmarks, therefore, don’t neglect this effective marketing tool. When you get proofs of your new book cover, don’t forget to order the bookmarks. You will find that people will almost always take a bookmark even if they won’t look at your book. It gets your name and your book title out there.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

LTUE and the Celebration

By Keith N Fisher

I sat in the upper commons area of the Sorensen Student Center at UVU, writing and resting. A young man and his friends passed by after reading one of the signs directing symposium attendees toward the registration table.

Life, the Universe, & Everything,” he said, then he repeated it with emphasis on everything. The guy obviously had no idea what the symposium was all about, and made a mockery of it.

I looked up from my keyboard and made note of his appearance. He looked like the kind of a guy who would love LTUE, if he knew anything about it.

The symposium is 30 years old this year. It was started at a time when there was nothing on campus to support the creative urges of the like minded type of people who make Dragoncon a success. A group of science fiction & fantasy writers and artists were determined to hold that kind of event on the BYU campus.

Did I mention LTUE is thirty years old? I attended a panel discussion on the origins of LTUE and was impressed by the long list of famous people who have been guests.

Whether you write in those genres. Whether you draw dragons or anime. Even if you’ve a mind to dress in costume, you will find help, support, and camaraderie at LTUE. Hope to see you there. Because of health issues this year, I’ve been spending a lot of time on the mezzanine with my foot up. Come over and chat.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Randomly Foreshadowing

By Keith N Fisher

I’m writing to you from my living room this morning and that’s a blessing. If I had health insurance I would most probably be in the hospital. Life took a drastic turn for me this week when an ultrasound confirmed the swelling in my leg was indeed a blood clot.

Many things changed and new experiences were thrust upon me. I learned to give myself an injection twice a day, I went into deeper debt, and plans were changed. When asked if I could go to work, my doctor wondered if I could keep my leg elevated. “I work graveyard shift at a convenience store,” I said. I’m on my feet, lifting, organizing and cleaning all night.”

My boss is terrific, and arranged the schedule to give me time to get healthy again. I had planned to attend the book launch for Targets in Ties, by Tristi Pinkston, but was forced to cancel so a nurse could come and take my blood.

Also, I planned to attend LTUE next weekend, but I’m not sure I’ll be able. (Maybe if I promised to elevate my leg?) Anyway, with all this time on my hands, you’d think I’d be writing, but worry and other preoccupations have rendered me incapable. I agonized over what to write this morning, so I decided to tell you what’s up.

Have you ever noticed how random our lives seem to be? Things change in a heartbeat according to the old cliché, but do they? As writers we learn to foreshadow events in our stories. A reader hates to be taken completely off guard. They love to pride themselves on figuring out the mystery. We use foreshadowing for continuity because nobody likes a series of random events strung together in a story.

There is no foreshadowing in real life, however, or is there? We marvel how random accidents occur daily, in our lives. We wish for the ability to predict and avoid pitfalls, hoping for smooth paths. I admit, some things happen with no warning. Often, however, we look back on events and see a series of warnings left unheeded and kick ourselves, saying, “If only I had paid attention.”

So, it should be with fiction. Characters need to be able to look back and see the signs, but there is a danger. Have you ever read a foreshadowing event, so obvious, it insults your intelligence? You wonder how the characters could be so stupid as to not see it. Writers need to make it subtle. The reader (and the character) must be taken off guard, then realize they should’ve seen it coming. After all the signs were all there.

Give your character challenges, but make sure those challenges don’t randomly pop up. Don’t make her wreck the car without having established she owns one. Don’t kill him in a plane crash without showing us the purchased airline tickets. Why is your character on that flight anyway?

Hope to see you at LTUE. I’ll be the one with his leg up. Good luck in your writing---see you next week.