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Reviews: True Map of the City
“The plot is clever and delicately developed, the symbolism is richly layered, and every scene leaves readers asking head-scratching questions. The hyperbolic level of bureaucracy and hypocrisy occasionally comes across as satire, but also has the dark edge of Orwellian fiction.
"Creating such a surreal, vaguely impossible atmosphere in a novel is a challenging task, but Guenther plays masterfully with philosophy and language to achieve a singular mood. The stark, matter-of-fact narration and the intimacy of Horus' inner monologue gives the prose a foreboding sense, while the flashes of humor and ridiculousness give the book an odd balance.
"Guenther fits a whole tangled tale into just over 100 pages, with few wasted words.
"Capped off with a . . . completely unexpected conclusion, A True Map of the City is a truly good read, and Guenther humbly proves himself as a literary descendant of Kafka himself.” --Editor, Self-Publishing Review
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The stalwart GP over at Pacific Paratrooper Blog has posted a review of my WWII historical novel, In the Mouth of the Lion. As the German blitzkrieg stalls in Russia, Hitler’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic. The German High Command (OKW) suspects he is becoming mentally unbalanced and approaches Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung for an evaluation of the Führer’s sanity.
The OKW doesn’t realize that Jung’s close associate, Mary Bancroft, is an OSS analyst working for Allen Dulles in Bern, Switzerland. Dulles asks Jung to bring back Hitler’s darkest secrets, making the trip much more dangerous.
In the Mouth of the Lion contains information and conjecture not found anywhere else, including a new candidate for Hitler’s mystery grandfather, why Hitler murdered his niece/girlfriend, and how he got away with it. The psychology behind the Holocaust is also revealed.
Pacing is important in a novel or short story,, i.e., writing your text so that it carries the reader along. Choppy paragraphs can cause the reader to pause to parse them and lose the train of thought. Other things that interrupt readers include flashbacks, head-hopping (getting in the heads of multiple characters in a scene), and out-of-sequence descriptions (describing the front of a house after the POV character is already inside it).
You want to make the reader’s experience as pleasant as you can. Even if the writing is well crafted, poor pacing can take away from the effect. Below are some hints for matching pace to mood and making your story flow smoothly.
✫ Make your chapters shorter at key points, such as action or high suspense scenes. Shorter chapters give a sense of time flowing faster.
✫ In screenplays, watch your white space. As the action heightens, shorten description, minimize wrylies (parentheticals). Script readers are readers. Entertain them!
✫ Write action scenes as sumi-é, not trompe l’oeil. Readers don’t need a detailed account of the action, just enough of the important motion to give them a general impression of what is happening. They’ll imagine the rest to suit themselves.
✫ Vary the amount of dialogue to suit the tension. High tension calls for short sentences. A brisk pace gives a sense of speed.
✫ Use shorter narrative sentences, too, as you approach the climax. [h/t to Kay DiBianca]
✫ End chapters with a hook, a question or a motif. Make readers turn the page. A motif can make them wonder what it means, drawing them into the next chapter.. A good hook is also a powerful tool. The MC’s question becomes the reader’s question.
✫ Utilize polysyllabic verbiage only for more leisurely scenes; Don’t overdo it; let your normal vocabulary carry the scene.
✫ Use short words for fast scenes.
✫ Tighten fast scenes generally. Omit “…he wondered,” “tried to,” “they found themselves…” “…unlike his previous encounter,” etc. The word “that” can often be dropped.
✫ Maintain menace in “breather” scenes! Remind the reader of impending doom mentioned previously. Keep the tension up.
✫ Minimize head-hopping, flashbacks, data dumps. This sort of thing is a reader-stopper.
✫ Maximize linearity (chronology, etc.). Don’t have the MC jump into memory. Don’t describe places and things out of the order the POV character would see them. E.g., describing a house after the MC is already inside. Only use flashbacks when there’s no other way to tell your story. Never put a flashback within a flashback.
✫ Be kind to your inner muse, your Guardienne. Salute her! She is your creative center, your intuitive genius. Click the link to read The Guardienne and Creativity
1941: The Year Germany Lost the War by Andrew Nagorski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Nagorski’s book is tightly written and very readable, despite a mountain of research distilled into it. All the scholarly elements are included, along with engrossing text. The primary Allied and Axis leaders are presented in depth: Hitler and his megalomaniac anti-Semitism and lust for Lebensraum (or Totensraum); Stalin and his two front war against (1) Germany and (2) every Russian he even imagined might be a traitor; Roosevelt dancing skillfully around America’s isolationism; and Churchill, with the morale of an Empire on his shoulders. Some of the most interesting passages describe the incredible blunders of Stalin and Hitler as they, in the author’s words, competed “for the title of ‘the world’s most willfully blind dictator.’” A brief but crucial moment shows Stalin, pacing up and down on the platform beside a train waiting to take him to safety. An impressive book.
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Recently uploaded to Vella. Secret trick: Search for Sorcerer of Deathbird Mountain via the Kindle-Vella search bar, at the very top of the Vella page: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella
Hirand is a young messenger and helper at Castle Braegundo, the fortress protecting the city-state of Cis Braegundo. One morning, he is summoned to the King’s audience chamber and told that his secretly beloved Princess Janubel is dying and that the city’s wizard has been unable to cure her. All is not as it seems. The wizard is unable to heal Janubel for two reasons: 1. She’s not sick; 2. He has just died, leaving the realm without magical protection, a disaster.
The boy is given a map and a message and ordered to travel covertly to a far off realm, locate and bring back a reclusive wizard to heal the princess. Unknown to all, this wizard is actually a sorcerer of tremendous power and ambition.
Vella is Kindle’s new serialization service. The first three episodes of each story are available to read free. A handful of free tokens are also available. See Vella for details.
If you can’t access the book on Vella, please let me know.
Now available as a Kindle book, these stories cover an immense range of love and imagination. From the human condition, to the alien condition, to the plight of other entities. From Earth to the cosmos; from today to past and future. Click the link now and come along with us on these amusing and fascinating adventures. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0967XCT2V
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The Table of Contents:
The Outlining Your Novel Workbook computer program is a powerful brainstorming tool for writers. KM Weiland’s annual Advent Giveaways include a chance to win a copy of this program. If you would like the opportunity of winning some of these prizes, here is the URL:
People can enter ALL 14 draws up to and including Dec 19th.
The links to every draw are can be found on the page URL above.
Good luck to all, and happy writing!
~Angela & Becca