Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

VIDEO CONTEST! October 3, 2011

Filed under: Grace Awakening — Shawn L. Bird @ 5:07 pm
Tags: , , ,

Create a short video relating to the first scene

of

Grace Awakening  Book one: Awakening Dreams

 that takes place in a school bandroom

(see the selection from the sample here).

Be creative!

Interview characters?

 Re-enact the scene?         

Report like a newscaster?

Describe the event from the characters’ perspectives?

Describe from curious anonymous classmates’ perspectives?

.

Rules:

  • video must be between 30 and 120 seconds long
  • video must show the full title and author’s name on screen for 5-10 seconds
  • video must be original and creative (For example, please don’t use music that you don’t own rights to)
  • upload your brilliant video to youtube.com and then submit the link to lintusen.press@telus.net or to http://www.facebook.com/shawnlbird.
  • DEADLINE for submissions: November 15, 2011.
Entrants are given permission to print off a copy of sample linked above in order to draft a script, or for other reference.

PRIZE:

Each winning team member’s name will appear in the print copy of Grace Awakening Dreams & Power

.  As well you will enjoy the admiration of those who see your brilliant results posted to a variety of websites!

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title as theme September 28, 2011

When my high school English students are struggling to figure out the theme of a novel they are exploring, I always suggest that they take a good look at the title.  Most of the time, the title distils the essential element of the story.  This is certainly the case in each book of the Grace Awakening series.

Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks this way.  According to Poynter, in 1962 songwriter Johnny Mercer was asked whether lyrics or music begin the songwriting process for him.  He replied,

First — the title. That encompasses the grand idea, the crux of the obsession, the thought; it all goes into that … that’s what hits first, that’s what’s way back in your mind brought together in sharp focus; the title hits like a bullet, and if it’s right, then you have it, all of it, ready to go, in a succinct package — all the crazy, unconscious groping has merged into something real. … A title sends me. Is it the title that comes first? Or is it all of the inside of you that has produced the title, and suddenly you recognize it, and you think there it is — and from there you go. When a title occurs — I have begun.

I have to say that when I began Grace Awakening, I had the feelings conveyed in youthful poetry and some nostalgia.  I started writing about the feeling and imagining a scenario that went with it, but it wasn’t long before Grace introduced herself, and once she had, the title arrived soon after.  The feeling scene that started the book was edited out rather early on, as Grace herself pulled the story in a different way than I originally intended, but from the first week, Grace awakened to herself, and her dreams held the key.

 

 

ridiculous love September 22, 2011

“It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them.”

-Agatha Christie

This quote came through my newsfeed the other day, just as I was working on a scene in Grace Awakening Myth, when Grace is appearing quite ridiculous, and Ben is thinking how paralyzingly adorable she is to him.  If you’ve missed it, the third and fourth books of Grace Awakening tell the same story as the first and second, only from Ben’s point of view.  Because he is spending a lot of time in the mythical realm, it is quite a different story, and it explains a lot of the mysteries in Grace Awakening Dreams.

As you remember from Awakening Dreams, Grace spends a lot of time falling apart in front of Ben, while he smirks at her.  Those are the moments he is finding her particularly adorable.  This happens a lot in the first half of the book, of course.

I love those nerdy moments that happen in my household, that make me flood with affection for the nerdy people I love.

How about you?  Are you frequently stricken with affection as you observe the ridiculous in action?

 

latest press September 21, 2011

I was recently interviewed for the local paper.  I ended up being interviewed by phone, and the interviewer did not have opportunity prep by visiting the blog and reading up on what the book was about.  I tried to explain succinctly, but her questions led to complicated places.  Had I been writing the responses for her, I could have been quite clear on the facts.  As it was, paraphrases were just off enough to twist the meaning.  The resulting interview was basically accurate, but had a section that was significantly off what I thought I’d told her.

I learned something from this experience. The journalist will miss something critical in your longish story! Typing and listening simultaneously is difficult. I must remember the Keep It Simple principle!

Aside from actually getting my website address incorrect, the biggest problem was that she missed that I was actually quoting from the poem for a bit there, and she wrote a quote as if I was speaking.  

Specifically, the article says,

Based on a poem she wrote the year she turned 12, Bird says the book started as a story about the power of her first crush on a musician

 That part is fine but then this 

“I think in another life we were lovers and belonged together,” she says.

 is a paraphrase of the quote from the poem that I recited for her which included, “I think we were loves once. In another life you and and I belonged.”  Since it is not in the context of the poem, it gets a completely different slant.

“When you have one of these strong stories, you have to imagine it has been around in the universe before.”

must be a paraphrase of “I think a lot of people have the feeling when they fall in love that it’s so profound that it must have been in the universe forever.”

Regular readers of the blog who’ve read about the development of the story, the poetry, etc, will spot these issues right away.  Other people will just raise their eyebrows.  I was rather alarmed.

Yeah.  Like I said.  A learning experience.  Keep it Simple. Simple. Simple.  Phone interviews are apparently dangerous!

Live and learn.

PS. If you’re curious, the interview is here.

 

 

sorry! September 10, 2011

I just received my first ‘low’ review of Grace Awakening: a 3/5.

I feel so badly!

Not for my ego, because I have no argument with any of the points raised.  No.  I feel badly because this poor reader felt at the end of Book One: Awakening Dreams that she was left hanging in the air.  She was irritated.

Oh dear.  When I read her review, I recognised the feeling only too well. After all, I wrote about it here in the blog just yesterday.

She felt I’d given her The Empire Strikes Back.

Darn.

I wrote Grace Awakening as a single story in one six month period.  When we decided that it would be better as two books, because of the two settings and character groups, the one thing I kept repeating to my editor was, “I don’t want anyone to have that Empire Strikes Back feeling!”  We edited and added to fine tune the story arc with that specific goal in mind.

I feel terrible.  I know I’m getting lots of great reviews from readers who are satisfied with the ending.  They know there is more to come and some mysteries need to remain to connect the series.  I still feel badly to have frustrated someone.  I really do know how that feels.  I hate it!

So if you’re a reader who felt there wasn’t enough resolution for you at the end of Grace Awakening Dreams, I promise you’ll be happier at the end of Grace Awakening Power.  Grace’s loose ends are all tied up there.  We’re going somewhere else for books three and four,so I am not going to torture you for years as you wait for books to come out. ;-P

In the meantime, please accept my apology about your frustration.

George Lucas never gave me an apology, and I’m still ticked off about it.

.

PS.

When Lintusen releases the paper version in a few months, we’re going to include both books one and two in an omni-bus.  I am wondering what people think about having both e-books combined as one e-book as well, perhaps offered for 50c less than buying them separately?  That means you’d be able to buy the first for 99c, as you can now.  The second book is being released at $2.99, so both are $3.98. The omnibus of both books would be something like $3.49.  It’d be kind of a 50c reward for people who already know they are going to want both because they’ve heard great things.  What do you think?    If you have an opinion about this idea, leave me a comment!

 

Where did it all begin? August 10, 2011

I was asked this question yesterday, and I figured you might be interested in the answer.

Short answer: it began with a poem.

Long answer: it’s been a long journey, but it began with a boy, a poem, and some books.

When I was ten, I developed a crush of epic proportions. Since I was an avid reader, I was also a writer. I’d been making up stories and writing poetry since I was in grade three. The unexpected, overwhelming emotions involved in this crush, led to outpourings of poetry. The theme was common: where had this emotion come from? Surely something this intense couldn’t just have happened? Surely such emotion must have been in the universe forever?  The year I was twelve, I wrote this poem, which summarizes this sensation:

When I look at you
I see sunshine in darkness
Passion through naïveté

I think that we were lovers once
In another life
You and I belonged
And that is why we were drawn

That is why I love you so much
And why your name
Brings happiness through sorrow

A wisp of a smile
When day dies
I remember you and I smile

You are my day and my night
Your face is a memory
That time cannot erase,
And someday
In another life
We will be lovers
Once again

It’s the poem Grace’s hand writes in the library. She is shocked and dismayed by what it reveals to her.  I know it isn’t a great poem, and I would tighten it up if I was writing it now, but I wanted it to be here as an authentic voice, flaws and all.

That poem begged to be a novel. There was a need to explore that sense of infinity that comes with a profoundly intense relationship like a first love, and like a lasting love, as well.

I tried to write it a few times over the years, but it didn’t go anywhere. I could get a narrative, but there was no hook to hang the story on. It was boring. If it was boring for me, it’d be boring for readers. Still, that love story wanted out, and it waited.

Then one day, I was reading some questionaires I”d given my students. In answer to the question, “What is the best book you’ve ever read?” About a quarter of my class had answered, “Twilight.” I’d never heard of it. I mentioned this to one of my older students and she told me she had all three of the books that were out, and that I needed to read them. The next day I had Twilight. A few hours later I was dying for the next books. They were delivered, and I read between work, dance classes and way too many Rotary meetings. I adored the story and I adored the characters. I was making connections like crazy- the key to one’s enjoyment of a book- and I had an epiphany.

Myth could be the hook. I started writing the week after Thanksgiving 2008. The characters started introducing themselves. I tried to move them in one direction, they chose to go another. The book was done the week before April. And it was good.

It wasn’t perfect, of course. The first readers picked out weak scenes, slow spots, confusing things, etc, but they loved it. They wanted more.

And that’s where it all began…

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If you’re visiting from Poetry Potluck 48, please include the link to your poem in any comment you leave!  Thanks and thanks for coming by!

 

Quatrain August 4, 2011

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 2:49 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Reality is a dream awoken
Truth is perception spoken
Wisdom is a lifetime’s token
Grace is long love unbroken

 

 
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