Uplifting Diverse Writers
As you probably know, the kids and I thoroughly enjoyed The Dragon Warrior when we read it recently, I couldn’t go past giving author Katie Zhao a shoutout this month since we’ve started yet another of her novels and her brilliant writing needs to be shared.
Katie Zhao is the author of the Chinese-inspired middle grade fantasy The Dragon Warrior and its sequel, The Fallen Hero. She’s also the author of the forthcoming Asian American young adult thriller How We Fall Apart and middle grade sci-fi Last Gamer Standing.
Katie grew up in Michigan, where there was little for her to do besides bury her nose in a good book or a writing journal. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in English and a minor in political science; she also completed her master’s in accounting there.
In her spare time, Katie enjoys reading, singing, dancing (badly), and checking out new Instagram-worthy restaurants. She now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Find her on twitter at @ktzhaoauthor
Last Gamer Standing is on my to-read-with-the-kids list, since we’re a gaming family, and we love exploring cultures and possible future tech, this is right up our alley. Perhaps more-so mine, but the kids are excited, I promise!
Just have to wait patiently for its release in September, 2021.
Dragon Warrior‘s sequel, The Fallen Hero, will keep us busy in the meantime…
I’ve now finished Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee which was a fantastic read, especially for those with an interest in sci-fi and the origins of the genre in the western world. Nevala-Lee acknowledges the white-washing and male-dominated industry that the golden age of sci-fi truly was, and he also represents each of the four core authors in their human glory, not watering down any of their darker sides, but instead staying true to who they were as their personalities played vital roles in the course of the genre.
I’ve also finished The Future of Humanity by Michio Kaku which was a blast of a ride through the physics of the known universe and deeper onward into the unknown. Kaku knits together the current understanding of human potential, first contact possibilities and how we could survive the death of the universe in the distant future in seamless mini segments and well placed humour. The writing gets harder to follow through the final chapter for those less accustomed to the language of physics and string theory, however the entire novel before that is thoroughly readable and enjoyable. It opens our minds to the future with effortless positivity – though not blind – and is argued with science.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in science, fictional or otherwise.
The Future of the Mind by Michio Kaku, which, again, is another blast of a ride so far. So far, he’s covered the advancements of our belief about the human mind through history and how technology has changed that. Where we are right now and how that technology is already changing the lives of individuals suffering with severe epilepsy and paralysis of the body from the brain stem down.
I can’t wait to read the rest and devour his latest novel, The God Equation, soon after.
With the Kids
We’re reading The Fallen Hero by Katie Zhao, sequal to Dragon Warrior, which takes us on the next step of the journey for main character Faryn Liu. I’m excited for another dive into Chinese culture and to see how, powerfully flawed and loyal, Faryn helps her brother return to himself after experiencing a lifetime of ostracism from their own Chinese community, and stop him from destroying the known world.
The first two chapters hit hard with all the big themes from the first novel, but are riddled with the same touches of humour and pre-teen friendships that made the first such a powerhouse.
Current Project – Debut Novel – Plotting
Outlining/plotting this draft is going strong.
As you may be aware, early this year, I hand-wrote upwards of 25k of a first draft, writing towards the first ever ending I’d been able to think up ahead of time. I also focused on culture/world building as it was needed throughout the process, taking short breaks to clarify points that had me hitting a block.
I’ve always found endings to be a challenge and that was the first time I could picture one from the start of a first draft too.
However, I’ve kept all my world-building, my cultures and languages, but I’ve restarted the plot. I’m working on refining the characters, their needs, goals and decisions throughout the novel, and tightening the plot. So, when I return to writing, I won’t be discouraged by a 100,000 word draft of meandering story-lines and weak conflicts that I’ll just have to rewrite all over again.
Pants-ing hasn’t worked for me so far. How far wrong can I go with plotting?
Key to remember fellow writers and creatives: if you do follow this route, planning before drafting, ensure you keep an open mind about that plan.
Our plans need to remain malleable, and also, don’t let that plan keep you away from the work itself.
As of the end of June, I’ve written out 72 line-for-scene plot cards. My scenes average about 1300 words each, so that’ll amount to just over 93,000 words. Not including the scenes still yet to be added when I start drafting and developing the characters, settings and plot further.
I’d love to hear your advice on planning v pantsing.
We often find ourselves falling too deep one way or the other as we discover our own creative process.
What’s a crucial tip you’ve learned on this journey?
Leave your answers and thoughts below. I respond to each and every comment here on my website. Otherwise, pop over to the contact page and send me an email, I love to hear from readers and writers of all kinds.
For now, remember to:
Explore, create, repeat-
Also, I’d love to honor our old boy, Kobe, who spent his last few months with us this year as we helped him lay to rest on June 5th.
We will forever remember the love he brought our little family. His attitude and intelligence, always keeping us on our toes. We will miss your cuddles, the six am wake-up myyuungs, and pillow war-dancing for breakfast, and your presence in our home.
Thank you for your endless grace and unconditional self-respect.
Rest now, baby boy. The world is yours.
© 2021 Rebecca Glaessner
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