Monday, September 30, 2013

My Elusive Voice . . . a Book Update . . . And a Cool Picture.

Hey Everybody!

So here's a post with some thoughts about my writing—namely, how my style tends to replicate the style that I am reading. 

But first, if any of you are following the progress of my book (tentatively named Never Upon A Time), here's a little update: 

I recently gave a copy of my manuscript to a friend who is an English teacher and works with students that are around the age my book would be geared toward. She just let me know that she read through it once, to get an overall feel for the story, and is now about to go through it again in order to edit the novel. 

She said she liked the book and was excited that I had written a novel (until I asked her to read it, I had only told my wife that I was working on a book). But she also pointed out that the book followed an odd POV. For the most part I was going for Third Person Limited (you narrate the book as someone watching the story play out, and you can see the thoughts of one primary character), but I sometimes wrote chapters in Third Person Omniscient (you narrate the book as someone watching the story play out, and you can see the thoughts of all characters). This was leading to some confusion, especially since I was switching fairly rapidly between characters thoughts, so it's something I'll probably take a close look at when I go through the book for a fifth time. On an up note, though, she told the plot line to her eight grade class, and she let me know they seemed intrigued. 


(Here's a cool pic for no reason in particular. It's an HDR shot of my dining room, with a ink outline filter)

Okay, enough of that. Now for what I was getting at earlier in the post, the part about my recent thoughts about writing. 

Recently I perused through some of the short stories I've written throughout the year, and I couldn't help but notice a large difference in style from story to story. At first I found this odd, being I am the author who wrote all the tales, but then I thought about the books I was reading as I wrote the stories. And I realized the tone of my writing was imitating the tone of the books I was reading. 

For example, I was reading a lot of Neil Gaiman early in the year. He tends to write long sentences that have multiple tangents which are inserted via commas. Like this one from American Gods:

     "Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives."

And then I was re-reading one of my favorite series, Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials series (starting with The Golden Compass), and I found myself using paragraph-long sentences to describe scenes that often follow this pattern:
   
     Say something about a character approaching a setting then insert colon: then write a ton of stuff about the scene; separating each thought with a semi-colon; using a lot of vivid and creative imagery.


At first I was a little worried when I realized my writing was pin-balling around to match whatever it was I was reading, but I've recently heard that this is a fairly common phenomenon, and it mainly shows that you, as an author, are making observations of what you enjoy in other writers and using those observations to become who you are. And you're voice will stop behaving like Peter Pan's shadow the more you write!

So . . . anyone else experience this? 

-Daniel

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Non-Writing Post . . . Some Photography

As the title suggests, this post doesn't have much to do with writing. I still am writing, and am about to get back to work on a short story, but for now I thought I'd share some pictures I took recently. 

As well as being a hobby writer, I am also a hobby photographer. And while I'd like to turn into a paid author and do that as a living, I really don't care to try to make money taking pictures. It's purely a for-fun pastime. 

I especially enjoy taking pictures at night. It allows for interesting lighting you don't get with the sun. Also, when I wonder the streets and forests at night, I get a strange, warm, intoxicated feeling which leads me to believe I might be part wolf. 

So, here are a few of my recent photos, most of which will look better if you click them:


(St. Paul Cathedral—this is actually two pictures merged together. If you look long enough, you might be able to notice where. Although it's not the dark line to the right and above the door. Don't know what that is.)

(This is on a golf course near my house)

(This is the Steppingstone Theatre in St. Paul. I used two others like this to make an HDR pic, which is down further.)

(A pillar. If you couldn't figure that out.)

(The St. Paul skyline, from the east looking west.)

(This is a much loved pub near my house.)
I also recently tried my hand at High Dynamic Range photography (HDR). I used three pics with different lighting and merged them together using a free program called Luminance. After playing with the different filters in the program, this is what I got: 


(Steppingstone Theatre,  HDR)
I'm still learning about HDR, and I'm not sure if this pic looks cool because of the merged pictures or the filter used on the merged picture. I know the detail is boosted along with the contrast in certain ranges, but, like I said, I do this as a hobby, and I'm just doing it for fun!

Finally, here's an HDR shot of my living room, which I uploaded into Photoshop and applied an ink outline filter to, along with some other stuff that I've already forgotten:


(Weird, huh?)
Well, that's all for now. I'm gonna get a workin on writin. After all, this is the official Author Daniel Goldberg blog! 

-Daniel

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Best Background Ever . . . and my Twitter Handle

First of all, if you look to the right, you can find a "Follow @_DanielGoldberg Twitter" button that I added to the blog. I don't post a lot of stuff on Twitter, but when I do, it's pretty awesome. For example, here's a Tweet I sent out during the football games last Sunday:

"Watching a rerun of the 2011 and 2012 MN book awards #BestNightEver #WhoNeedsFootball #Channel2Rocks #lotsofhashtags #StillHaveSpaceForMore"

So . . . yeah. I'm pretty fun to follow.

Anywho, you may have also noticed the background image for my site is new. It used to be just black, and now it's that crazy lightning picture I took down in Tucson. I've tried to change the background a few times before, but when I loaded my own image into blogger, it just did that stupid looking tile thing, and I wanted the pic to take up the whole background. 


(This was the original picture I used for the background of the site, although I've cropped it a bit.)


I figured out how to do that from this blog. It's pretty easy, if you have a blog and want to do something similar, I suggest giving it a try. It helps to have an image that's about 200kb in size, so you may need to resize your image. I did that using Photoshop, but I think there's a way to do it with paint, too. 

That's all for now. I'm currently working on a SF story. Normally my short stories are slightly bizarre fantasy, but I thought of an interesting plot set in the not too distant future, and I'm having some fun with it. 

Hope you're having fun creating something new!

-Daniel

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Friday, September 6, 2013

Phew! Done With Book! Pretty Much . . .


Well, I haven't posted anything for a few weeks, and it's because I've been devoting my time toward finishing up my book, tentatively called Never Upon A Time. And now I can say . . . drumroll please . . . that I've finished it! (Pretty much).

I'm in the process of giving a copy to a friend who is an English teacher. She enjoys the genre (YA) and knows what a lot of kids are into right now. So once she goes through my book and gives me some suggestions/grammar and spelling corrections, and after I fix those things, then I'll be completely done. 

Here's a timeline on the book progress: I started the first draft at the end of September 2012, and finished that mid December; then I spent two months writing a second draft (rewriting most of the first half of the book); my third draft was more of an edit, but I did add two large sections to the second half, and then I gave the book to my wife to read/edit (this was completed around May? I think?); finally, this summer, I finished working on her suggestions and got the book to where it is now, a fairly polished novel that I'm proud to have written. Overall time—just under a year. 

I've mentioned this before on the site, but one thing I expected when I finished the first draft of the book was an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. I had written a book—a lifelong dream. But that really didn't happen. I just jumped straight into editing/redrafting, and didn't feel like I had climbed a mountain at all. 

I am proud, when I sit back and think about having written a book, but I learned two things that are almost more valuable: I love writing; and I recognize in order to get good at it, I need to write a lot more. 

And that's perfectly fine by me. 



(Here's a pic of the sky, for no reason in particular.)

-Daniel