The Giver by Lois Lowry REVIEW

The Giver, recipient of the 1994 Newberry Medal, and considered by the American Library Association as one of the “100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000”.
The book is about a teen boy named Jonas who lives in a perfect community, a community that is sheltered from the world. In this community everyone has a special job; a job the council appoints them. The day called the Ceremony of Twelve. Jonas is 11 and his day to get his job is coming soon. He has no idea what his job will be. At the ceremony, he is called last. At the end, he finds out he’s chosen to be the Receiver. The next day, Jonas meets his trainer, the old Receiver.
Receivers “receive” memory from each other, and from generations of receivers past. With these memories, the Receiver gives advice to the council in making important decisions.
Jonas is shocked by the memories, he feels and sees things he hasn’t seen. He even feels pain, which he’s never felt. He also learns of the startling truths in his community, which makes him want to escape, and he comes up with a plan to escape; a plan that could get him killed.
The narration is told in third person. It will remind many readers of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and George Orwell’s 1985 in the way that it deals with society, censorship, etc.
Lowry uses simple language (unlike Fahrenheit 451) but it also could be the book’s downfall if you like more expressive writers such as Michael Moorcock and Terry Brooks.
The thing I enjoyed most about the book was the plot, especially when Jonas learns the dark secrets of what his community does behind everyone’s back. I hope this book will give you the same suspense and chills as it gave me.

Interview with author Will Kalif

Will Kalif is a self-published author, and this is an interview I took with him in March. Be sure to read his book Fulcrum Shift on his website http://www.stormthecastle.com/ or order on Amazon.com

Enjoy!

1. How did you get into the writing and self-publishing business?

Will: I have always been interested in writing since I was a teenager and writing a book has always been on my list of things to do but I never seemed to find the time. There is a story as to what happened to make me finally write my first novel. (I am currently working on my third) My sister called me and said that her gas stove for cooking wasn’t working and maybe I could look at it. I went over her house and stuck my head inside the stove to see what the problem was. The pilot light was out so I got a match and lit it. While I was in there I was thinking to myself gee, this thing is brand new and already not working! What has happened to quality in the world? Anyway I thought to myself “Is this what I want to do? And the thought about writing a novel popped into my head. I hadn’t given it a thought in a long time but I decided right then and there, with my head in her oven, that I would sit down that night and start writing my novel. I ran to the drugstore and bought a spiral bound notebook and sat down and started the first paragraph. “The figure walked quietly down the cobblestone alley with purpose”. And that is how my first novel (Fulcrum Shift) was born. I wrote every night after work until it was done.

I wanted to get into self-publishing because it seemed easy. At that time (2002) It was easy to get a book published online without anybody editing or criticizing it. I always heard stories about sending your book off to a hundred publishers and them all saying no! So I figured I would publish it myself. At least this way it got done and I could say I did it!

2. What do you like about writing and self-publishing?

About Writing: I love, absolutely love creating new worlds and characters. This is a lot of fun for me. And I love exploring ideas about life, living and the world. It really gets me excited. It’s a wonderful feeling to think up new things and ideas then put them into a book or story. I like self publishing because it gives me total control over my book and I don’t have to get anyones approval. I can publish whatever I want! How I want.

3. What do you not like about writing and self-publishing?

There are a lot of grammatical rules in writing. And I don’t like rules. I like to do things my own way. But I have to be sensitive and learn these rules and how to use them because I am trying to communicate to other people clearly. I also don’t like the fact that writing well is hard! It really is and it takes a long time to get really good at it. But I can see improvement in my writing from novel to novel. I also don’t like how sometimes I just can’t write because the creativity is not flowing. Writing is part hard work to stick with it and part inspiration. So you need discipline and creativity.

What I don’t like about self publishing is the stigma that self published works are junk. While it is true that an awful lot of self published stuff really is junk not worth reading it doesn’t mean all of it is no good. I am striving to make my self published writing of the best quality I can.

4. What would you tell a person who is planning to write and self-publish?

Be persistent! Don’t give up. Keep writing no matter what. And the most important thing in my mind is to finish the story first. Write out the whole story from beginning to end and don’t worry about anything else, how it looks, how it sounds, grammar – none of that stuff is important at first. The important thing is that you sit down and write – and finish the story. After that you will be proud of what you have done then you can edit and re-write and make it better. Good self publishing advice is that you should shop around different companies and see who has what you are looking for. Some companies will charge you zero dollars but you have to do all the publicity. Other companies will do publicity work for you but you have to pay. Me, I pay zero and do my own publicity. And I recommend a company called CreateSpace. They have a good affiliation with amazon.com. I am publishing my next novel through them.

5. What skills could I work on right now to increase my chances and success in writing and self-publishing?

There are a lot of things you could do. First off I recommend you do a lot of reading, but now do your reading from a writers point of view. Notice how the writer handles things and how he or she describes things. How does he handle sentences, paragrahs, events, characters etc. Read like a writer. You will learn a lot. I recommend also that you write every day if you can. But just write and not worry about it. Set things aside and let them cool off then return to them a month or more later so you can see things with a new eye. Just keep writing, thats the most important thing. If you define success in writing as making a living or money with writing through traditional means then you definitely have to include writing in your school curriculum. Take all the english and writing classes you can. In self publishing success is very largely dependent upon marketing. So you have to also learn how to market your novel, online, offline, to bookstores, to other people, write press releases etc. You have to be a writer, promoter, and marketer if you want to succeed in self publishing.

6. How do you promote the books you write in your community?

Within my community I do very little book promotion. I feel that I am not ready to do heavy promotion of my work because the quality is not yet where I want it to be. My next novel (The Left Handed Sword) is coming along nice though and I may heavily promote this book with book signings etc. Up until now I have been promoting my books through online channels and my websites. And I always donate signed books to charitable events. I get lots of requests for this kind of thing. It’s a novelty to have a signed book from a local author.

Conan stories on Project Gutenburg

Seen the Conan movies? You want to read the stories by Robert E. Howard but can’t find them? Project Gutenburg, which has put many classic books online, now has the original stories of Conan from the 30’s on the web!Here’s the link:
Also, onthe site it has other stories written by Robert E. Howard such as Solomon Kane, and El Borak. Have a sword close by. Enjoy!

The Real Tarzan book

Throughout the years in hollywood history, there have been many Tarzan movies. But theres always a common problem………….they have never been close to the books! Tarzan, is a barbarian, an anti-hero! The real Tarzan was just as savage as any ape! Heck, he kills many of them in savage, disgusting ways. He even kills cannibalistic natives with a noose he made from vines!
He gets civilized still, but he doesn’t say “Me Tarzan..You Jane.”, he learns how to speak French fluently! Man, when will hollywood get it right!

good fantasy sites

Hey all! Here’s a list of some my favorite fantasy sites:

http://www.epicfantasy.com/

http://www.stormthecastle.com/

http://www.terrybrooks.net/

http://www.swordandsorcery.org/

http://fantasy.fictionfactor.com/

http://www.sfwa.org/

Interview with Dennis L. McKiernan

Here is an interview I conducted with writer Dennis L. McKiernan author of the bestselling Mithgar saga. Enjoy!

1. How’s life recently? I’ve read that you were a judge for the World Fantasy Awards for 2008, how was everything at the World Fantasy CON?

Life is busy. I have written a couple of mysteries, and that’s taken a bit of time. My agent currently has them, and so I am not certain that they will ever be published.As far as the judging of the world fantasy awards went, over the summer five of us read something like 275 fantasy books, as well as several magazines (F&SF, Realms of Fantasy, etc.). We divided the work, and each of us would pick a novel and read at least 50-100 pages in a novel before we decided whether to continue or not. If it didn’t capture us by that time, we’d set it aside. But if it was a good one, we’d read it to the end and recommend that the other four judges read it as well. There were a good number of anthologies as well as collections of short stories, and we’d read them as well, again dividing up the work. But even though we divided the task, it was a difficult job to get through all of the books. At the end, each of us rank-ordered the ones we liked best, and then we voted. Without the Internet, it would have really been difficult, but we had a really nice way of choosing the winners. There were awards for Best Novel, Novella, Short Story, Anthology, Collection, Special Award Non-Pro, Special Award Pro, and Lifetime Achievement.The convention itself was fun, and the award winners were hailed by all the attendees.I did a reading at the convention, and served on a couple of panels. All the readings and panels were well attended.Oh, and the convention was held in Calgary, Canada.

2. Where do you think fantasy will be in 5 to 10 years?

If I knew the answer to that, I would be a Seer. I think it’ll keep clicking along mostly ion hardcovers and paperbacks, though somewhere along the line there will be electronic books. People like reading a book, rather than reading a screen, and so I think books will still be around.I also think that the entertainment dollar will be divided among books, video games, and other activities. Books will diminish somewhat, but not be gone.

3. For a reader of Fantasy finding a great fantasy novel can be a daunting task. What 5 books would you recommend that are from the sixties to modern day in the Fantasy genre?

LOTR, the Mithgar series (had to put that one in), any of Patricia McKillip’s books, Roger Zelazny’s Amber series and others, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan books (technically speaking, they are from the 1930s, but they didn’t get widespread publication until the 60s onward).

4. You have written many Mithgar books set in many different eras. What order would you recommend someone to read your Mithgar novels in?

On my web page, I list the publication order as well as the chronological order. I think anyone who would like to read them in any order should do so. However, I suggest reading Silver Wolf, Black Falcon third from last, City of Jade second from last, and Red Slippers last.

5. Typing in front of a computer (or typewriter.) can be a very lonely task, especially when writing non-fiction, so how do you stay sane?

Actually, the creative process keeps me sane. There is a lot of fun and surprises in writing a book of interest, and that keeps me happily busy.

6. What is your current project you are working on? (If it’s a secret, we’ll understand.)

At the moment, having just finished a mystery, I am goofing off. I’ll probably start another book sometime after the holidays. As to what it will be, I haven’t given that much thought.

That’s it, Jake. Thanks for asking. Regards,
—Dennis
http://www.mithgar.com/

*NOTE: If you would like to see a certain author interview on my blog, feel free to mention this.