A Review of “The Hike” by Drew Magary: The Odyssey of Our Time

 

Cruising down the aisles of my local Barns & Noble I remember the cover being the first thing that caught my eye. Bright neon pictures of strange monsters dotted the black cover drawing my attention immediately. I picked up the book, a hardback, and opened to the front flap to read the summary. A comedy! How delightful, as I was in the mood to find anything that might catch my eye to add to my Goodreads reading challenge. Well a few months later, I finally got around to reading this oddly decorated book, and I don’t think I was prepared for the ride it was going to take me on.

The story follows a suburban man named Ben, who works an office job, and is married with three children. While away on a business trip Ben finds himself on a path that would change the course of his life forever. In this page-turner, you are sucked in right along with Ben as you witness the ghastly torment the main character endures in order to return home to his family. The author does a good job of making you believe the weird and crazy things that happen in the story. I swear this could be an episode of “I Shouldn’t Be Alive,” at the same time you’re engulfed in an epic like tale, fit for a poet of ancient Greek times. You’ll have trouble putting this book down, as you’ll find yourself trying to piece together what exactly is going on.

I really enjoyed reading this book, I will give it a 4/5 for keeping, no, stealing my interest from page to page.

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Blog Hiatus

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The blog is going on hiatus so I can finish up the manuscripts I’m working on. Worry not I’ll post here every now and then when something peaks my interest, so be sure to follow my blog. If you haven’t already, please follow me on Facebook as well by clicking [here], as I will more than likely be posting more on there. Be sure to join my mailing list for updates as well, either on here, on my Facebook page, or by sending me your email address through the contact form.

Thanks for all your support and I hope to have more projects coming out soon.

 

Cheers,

Blair

My First James River Writer’s Show

This past Wednesday I finally got a chance to attend my first writer’s show, hosted by the James River Writers. The Writer’s Show brings authors and professionals from the writing industry to talk about a wide variety of topics, from novel writing to marketing. Ever since I joined the JRW back in January, I’ve wanted to go to a writer’s show, but as life will happen something always popped up, preventing me from attending. This month, however, despite my crazy day at work and little time to get ready, I put on my big girl’s pants and went to the show, and I’m really glad I did.

The topic of the night concerned something that plagues authors of every kind, and that is how to deal with the “squishy middle” as they coined it. The squishy middle is the condiments and meat of the story. It’s one of the most important parts. It’s where characters and plot are developed, the juicy middle that keeps your readers engaged, but it can also be a point of stress for many authors as well. So this show covered ways to motivate yourself to get through those tough squishy parts.

As I sat in the middle of the audience, struggling with an inner battle of sleep deprivation and trying to focus on the show, I learned that I am not alone on my journey through the squishy middle. Each panelist explained their own struggles with it and offered very helpful advice. Power through it, one author suggested, even if it sounds like complete crap write it down anyways because you can’t edit what’s not there. Another author suggested that you lay out an outline. Write down all the highlights and plot points you want to reach and fill in the gaps as you go. Walk away, sometimes it’s okay to abandon a story, don’t delete it, but let it sit and come back to it with fresh eyes. I’ve done this a few times, it’s especially helpful during the editing process.

All and all I had a really fun time. It’s nice to know even established authors struggle with the squishy middle. You’re not alone out there; just don’t stop writing. Next show I hope to be more outgoing and take better notes instead of a half-dead zombie. If you’re interested in checking out any of the panelists feel free to look them up. I’ve labeled their names on the picture below.

JRWS pic

**Forgive my blurry picture, it was taken on the sly.

Dress-Up Games: An Unlikely Writing Tool

As I traverse the bottomless pit that is my writer’s block, I’ve picked up one too many distracting habits. For example, I’ve rediscovered my love of dress-up games. You know, those flash games 90s kids were crazy about. Well, those blast from the past have come a long way, and they can be great tools for visualizing your characters or just a fun way to pass the time. I’m currently playing on a site called Doll Divine. They have a huge selection of free games, spanning various genres, including games that feature male and female characters including animals. Here are a few examples:

Sailor Senshi Maker 3

Angel and Vulva

 

Prince Maker

 

Kitten Creator 2

Of course, copyright belongs to the artist, but this can be a fun way to envision your characters, which otherwise you’d never get to see outside your mind. So if you’re not artistically inclined take a moment to browse through their selection, you never know, you might enjoy yourself.

Getting to Know Your Characters

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Just the other day I was speaking with a friend about how to get to know your characters better. As writer’s, it’s assumed that we should already know everything about our characters before we write, but that is far from the truth. More often than not, we get to know our characters as we write, but what if you wanted to get to know them better before you start writing? How do you go about doing that?

What I’ve found that really works for me, is starting a relationship with your characters, talk to them, ask them about their day. I know it sounds crazy, but it helped me overcome some really tough spots in my writing, especially with my current project, which has been plagued with spells of writer’s block and schedule conflicts. In the time away from the page I think of my characters often. I think what would they be doing if they were here, or better yet, what would they be doing on an average day. Of course, all this information won’t be included in the story, but these interactions may help reveal new character traits you may not have thought of before. I also spend time listening to my characters talk to each other. I have two characters, in my current project, that are best friends and I’ve learned so much about them just through listening to their conversations. This helps make the interaction between them more organic when I write. So I don’t need to come up with something random to feel a dialog gap. Instead, I can rely on what I’ve observed to create a better scene and don’t limit yourself to having them just talk to friends. Have your characters talk to other characters, whether they are side-characters or the shopkeeper in the market, even the antagonist. Find out what makes them tic, it’ll help down the line when figuring out how the characters will react.

I hope this helps in your character development journey, good luck writers and remember don’t give up on that story, the world needs your voice.