Special Guest: J. B. Garner

Hello legendary readers! Today, we have special guest author J. B. Garner. I recently read his book Rune Service and fell in love, but you’ll get to hear more on that one next week. This week, he’ll be sharing some seriously helpful advice on balancing your writing. And heeeeeeeere’s J. B.!

Hello! My name is J. B. Garner, author, editor, and fellow reader, living in Pensacola, FL. I hope you’re all having a great day, and I also hope you’re ready to talk writing! MeLeesa asked me if I could take a second to talk about one of my favorite topics when it comes to the art of wordsmithing, so thinking about it, I decided to have a chat with y’all about description in fiction and how we look at the world, both real and fictional. Enjoy!

As a writer, your job is a hectic one. Not only do you need to create and characterize your cast, you have to script the plot, provide dramatic tension, and so on. One of the most important duties you face is the creation and description of the world surrounding your characters. After all, every actor needs a stage on which to perform!

There are many theories and styles of writing descriptive text, too many for such a humble article as this. What I want to focus on today is the balance of description with the action of the plot. Essentially, the effect that unbalanced description and exposition can have on the pacing of your story and how to work around this unbalance in a natural way.

We all know what unbalanced description looks like. When every character is introduced with a paragraph of lovingly written description, from top to bottom and every bit of clothing, that is unbalanced. When every intricacy of the environment is laid out, that is unbalanced. When every action is laden with adverbs and adjectives, no matter how minor, that is unbalanced.

I’ve heard it said that the more senses you can engage with the reader, the more memorable your writing becomes. I don’t deny this, but it must come in a natural balance. Trying to engage too many senses at once or simply giving into purple prose causes the kind of unbalanced text blocks I talk about above. The detrimental effect this can have on your plot, especially the pacing of it, should be obvious.

Worse yet, unbalanced description is unnatural when it comes to how we perceive the real world. When you meet someone for the first time, especially in passing, do you really pay that much attention to them? The human mind loves to generalize and categorize things to deal with the amazing breadth of input our sense provide. On first sight, most things in our environment are categorized and then put into a box, then otherwise ignored until we force ourselves to focus on them.

That’s why unusual things draw our attention so easily. They don’t fit in a predetermined category and our brain sends the signals that we need to focus on this thing closely. Even on things that we focus on, data doesn’t just come in like a computer readout. Different people focus on different aspects of people and objects. Not every detail is immediately apparent or important. On top of that, the situation the observer is in dictates a lot about where his/her focus will be. A character in a dangerous action sequence will have far different priorities and focus than one sitting at a bar, for example.

You can use this naturalistic approach to description and observation to balance out your descriptions. As we naturally pick up details over time as focus and perception change, you can likewise parcel out description over a scene instead of clumping it all up in one paragraph. Consider what a character’s focus might be and use that to describe the most important details at the time, bringing the rest out as they come to the fore.

You can even use this technique to add to your characterization efforts. What a particular character sees first in another can be a clue as to their priorities, background, and knowledge. How a character sees their world can be as insightful as how they interact with it.

I hope that was helpful! Until next time, good reading, good writing, and good luck!

Wow! Thanks J. B.! I suddenly have the urge to go back and check my new manuscript to see how I’ve been ding with that. Lol.

Ok. To learn more about J. B. Garner and his work, just click here.

J. B. Garner was born in Baltimore, MD on December 1, 1976, the youngest of three children. While still young, the family moved to Peachtree City, GA. His parents always encouraged his creative side and J. B. began writing and drawing from an early age. Though considered talented by his teachers, he never fully applied himself and bounced through high school and into college at the Georgia Institute of Technology. During his freshman year, his father died suddenly.
Grief and lack of purpose caused J. B. to drop out of school. If not for a few close friends, he might have dropped out of life as well. Taken in by his friends and given a second chance, J. B. matured, applied himself, and finally, after over a decade of hard work, is now back to doing what he loves the most: writing.

Mobile Literary Festival

Next month is the Mobile Literary Festival! EEEEEP! I can’t wait!!!

I’ll be hanging out at the Ben May Library, celebrating a love of reading with some amazing authors from a variety of genres. Rubbing elbows with award-winning writers and sipping on soda with people who are passionate about books is a dream day. And if that weren’t awesome enough, guess who’s in charge of the children’s activities????

ME!!!!

I’ll be chatting it up with the kids while they make monster masks, write magical spells, and create their dream characters.

(If you can’t tell, I’m a little excited.)

If you live in the Gulf Coast area, you should totally come and hang out with us for the day. Information is below!

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Interview With Carrie Dalby

Hey readers! Today we’ll be talking with Carrie Dalby and I am taking full advantage. I have some major questions for her to answer! Since I’m super excited, we’ll just jump right in.

Hello Carrie!

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Carrie Dalby: Hello Meleesa and Legendary readers!

A few days ago, I reviewed your book Fortitude. Great job by the way! I loved the story! Okay, on with the question. Fortitude read very vividly. How much research went into this novel? Or are you like, a history major who knew everything?

Carrie Dalby: I’m open about admitting I failed my AP U.S. History test in high school. History wasn’t my thing—it was for old men, right? It wasn’t until I developed a love for historical fiction in early adulthood that the past came alive for me. Authors like Katherine Paterson, Laurie Halse Anderson, Avi, and Richard Peck wrote such amazing historical novels that I fell in love with the genre. How do you make a history buff out of an AP failure? Vivid characters!
(And yes, all those authors write middle grade-young adult historical fiction, among other things. But as a children’s literature geek, that’s what I turn to first.)

You’ll get no smirk from me about reading middle grade or young adult. I love the genre! And I agree about the vivid characters creating a love for the genre. Your characters did the same for me. So, in Fortitude who did you love writing the most?

Carrie Dalby: As it’s told from Claire’s point of view, I of course liked telling her story, but Loretta was fun. Her personality tends to steal the scenes she’s in. (I have a reccurring problem with secondary characters who take on a life of their own and become main characters.) And Auntie’s snappy dialog was entertaining. And on the opposite spectrum, I hated Joe Walker from when I first wrote those opening chapters. It wasn’t until the end of the first draft, when I was struggling with where his character was going, that I finally released my hatred and accepted him as a Gilbert Blythe. (Please tell me you understand that reference!)

Duh!! I had a crush on Gilbert Blythe! Ha ha ha! But I also have a crush on Joe Walker, so that makes complete sense! Okay. I know secrets that have yet to be released onto the world. I know that some of these characters continue on in your new series. Could we talk about that for a moment?

Carrie Dalby: Gladly! My project of the last two years has been crafting a multi-generation Gothic family saga for adults titled The Possession Chronicles. The eight book series spans 1904-1929 and takes place in the Mobile Bay area. A few of the characters live on/are from Dauphin Island, which sits at the mouth of the bay, so some of the characters in Fortitude have cameos in this series. Those wishing to know what happens to Claire should be satisfied. I’m in the process of querying publishers with the first book, Perilous Confessions, and hope to have news to share soon.

Well, I’ll definitely be watching out for that news. Gothic is a new genre to add to your list of writing styles. What have you found you enjoy the most? Where is your literary home?

Carrie Dalby: Historical for sure, though given the right characters I’d write a story set in any time. I do love to read and write coming-of-age stories, which can span anything from preteen to adults out in the world for the first time, which most of my stories encompass. Along those lines, I also have a contemporary middle grade novel in the process of revisions.

Wow! You are one busy woman! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today.

Carrie Dalby: No problem. Thanks for having me and thanks for chatting with me today. I always enjoy dishing about books and writing.

Thanks for joining us readers! I hope you enjoyed meeting author Carrie Dalby. To find out more about her and stay updated on her progress, click here.

Stay Legendary!

Book Review: Fortitude

Hello readers! Last week you got to meet Carrie Dalby a bit. Today I’m going to talk about one of her books, Fortitude. This book was actually the first time I’ve read a historical fiction for fun, and now I’m totally hooked on the genre.

Carrie does an amazing job of painting a vivid view of the South in the late 1800’s during the Spanish-American War. This story touches on some very sensitive racial issues and handles them brilliantly. Fortitude’s passionate approach to real issues entertains while educating. Would I recommend to others? DUH! Heck yeah! I’m making my youngest daughter read it now!

CampLife

So, what’s the book actually about? In Fortitude, you follow alongside main character Claire O’Farrell and her Creole best friend, Loretta Davis as they travel to Tampa, volunteering as nurses for the soldiers in the war. With the two being different races in a time where each color stuck to their own, they are slammed into a reality that is heartbreaking and eye-opening.

What’s my favorite part about the book? Well, I kind of know secrets that the world hasn’t been privy to yet. Two of the story’s characters continue on in Carrie Dalby’s newest series yet to be released.

If you want to check out Fortitude, which I highly recommend, click here.

Thanks readers!

Fortitude jpgGrowing up with a Creole best friend, sixteen-year-old Claire O’Farrell held little regard for the Jim Crow laws and the consequences of befriending those of a different color. But once she leaves the haven of her home on Dauphin Island, the reality of racial intolerance can no longer be ignored. Though she’s underage, Claire makes the bold decision to serve alongside Loretta, her best friend, in the “colored camp” hospital tents during the Spanish-American War, but her idealistic attitude and choice of working location immediately puts her in danger. Claire gives her heart to a soldier in the camp, only to find herself caught in the racial violence besieging the area. When the intolerant attitudes and stigma follow her home, she clings to her faith to navigate through her social isolation and find the path she was meant to travel.