Monday, May 21, 2012

"Written in Ashes" Guest Post and Giveaway (Ends 6/13) WW

Yesterday, I reviewed Written in Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt.  Today, I will be featuring a guest post by the author and an international giveaway!  So read on for your chance to win!

"Writing for me is not something I do but somewhere I go. It’s like traveling abroad without having to leave home.

Any day of the week you can enter the library and (free of charge) explore any culture or country you can imagine. The library is the peasant’s holiday, really. It’s remarkable when you think of it.

All through my childhood I took refuge in books. I loved reading books that were part of a series, because I often found characters that I wanted to know for a long time. I was a big fan of the Anne of Green Gable series, and The Little House on the Prairie series.

I loved these wholesome tales. There were abundant lessons of character, something I think our world could use more of. We don’t teach our kids about building character anymore; we tend to protect them from disappointment and failure. But just two generations ago, character was emphasized in curriculum. Plato was so convinced of the importance of character he said, “Your character is your destiny.”

I’m not a big fan of progress, as you can probably guess. I think we’ve lost craftsmanship by overvaluing convenience. We’ve lost morals. We’ve lost depth. We’ve certainly lost beauty.

Today when suddenly everyone is a writer and there are courses like “Book in a Weekend” (I cringe), we’ve almost completely lost the art of syntax. The art of penmanship was lost after my grandparent’s generation. You should see my great-grandfather’s hand! He kept a ledger of activities on his farm in Arkansas and his letters were so beautiful that these common documents could really hang in a museum today.

There’s probably no one alive more ardent about syntax than my mentor, author Tom Robbins.

I met Tom in 1993 when I was living on the island of Maui. How we met is a long story for another time. The short version is that I had always wanted to meet him and when I heard he would be coming to the island to teach a writer’s workshop I volunteered my time in exchange for a ticket. Our connection was established when we found out that he and my father have the same birthday, and so we became pen pals.

We had been writing one another for eight years when I admitted to Tom that I had penned the first draft of a novel, what is now Written in the Ashes. He was incredibly supportive, and mightily opinionated. He put every sentence of mine to the test and let me know when I was wrong. It was hard for my ego.

But this is what you want in a mentor. You want to find someone who has been at it for decades, who knows the ropes, and who wants you to be well-equipped. I earned Tom’s praise after another ten years. I had a lot to learn in the process.

Tom often points out that there are no young prodigy writers. There are young prodigies in virtually every other art from painting to singing to violin and piano playing. But not writing. This is because to write you need to know something about the world, and so you must have experiences first.

So this is my advice to anyone who wants to write: study the syntax, and get your heart broken. Live and lose. Pay attention to how people behave. Experience failure upon failure. Because then you will really have something to say, something others will want to read."

Guest Post from Author K. Hollan Van Zandt, Author Written in Ashes

I have the great opportunity to giveaway a copy of this book to one of my readers.  If live in the U.S., you will have the choice between a paperback copy or an e-book.  If you live anywhere else, you will receive an e-book.  Be sure to enter on the rafflecopter form below by June 13 at 9:00 P.M. Pacific time.  I am ending this giveaway on my birthday (and my daughter's too--we share a birthday). And be sure to follow the rest of the tour here for more chances to win the book and read more reviews.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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