Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Guest post with E.J. Patten and Critique Giveaway! Beards Rule! Return To Exile Blog Tour

Everyone, please give a warm welcome to guest blogger, E.J. Patten, author of the fantastic middle-grade novel RETURN TO EXILE! E.J. has given us a great post on beards (because facial hair is cool, though I prefer lamb chops myself)  and is also generously giving away one query critique or ten page manuscript critique to one lucky reader! Rules to enter at the bottom of the post. Now, take it away, E.J!!!

First off, a big thank you to Project Middle Grade Mayhem for inviting me (E.J. Patten) to contribute to this blog as part of the Return to Exile blog tour. Since this is my first post here, I want to discuss one of the biggest issues facing authors and publishers today. No, I’m not talking about the role of ebooks, Pottermore, or the DOJ lawsuit against Apple. I’m talking about beards.What is the proper amount of facial hair for an author? Is a lot too much? A little, not enough? Look at this guy:

His beard is, like, eleven feet long. Could he be an author? How about this woman?

Perhaps you recognize this early picture of Jane Austen? No? How about this young man, could he grow up to be an author?

He’s obviously cool enough: sunglasses on in school, blurry girl high-fiving him, and just look at how that geeky guy on the left worships him—see the jutting jaw, the sparkling eyes, the slightly parted mouth? This hairy guy is definitely writer material. He can also spell the letter “B,” which is a good start for any aspiring writer and leads to all kinds of words like “banana” and “balderdash” and “boom goes the dynamite”—important words, especially for middle grade writers.
Clearly, there’s a link between facial hair and genius. The reason for the link is equally as obvious: if the hairs are on your face, then they aren’t poking you in the brain!
Conclusion: author beards = good.
Now, enough about that subject, even though those pictures are pretty sweet.
This post isn’t about facial hair, or Teen Wolf, or Jane Austen’s early experiments with Rogaine. It isn’t about Return to Exile, either, even though this post is for my blog tour, and you should all buy one or two thousand copies for everyone you’ve ever met.
So what is this post about? Honestly, I have no idea. I was really just looking for an excuse to post those pictures.
Let’s say it’s about a writer’s voice, shall we—that indefinable something that agents and editors are always looking for, but can seldom explain before I grow bored and wander over to the hors d'oeuvres in search of crab cakes.
Let me give you a few examples of voice:
  1. Basic sentence: The hungry man stood on the field looking down at a flock of geese.
  2. Horror: The hungry geese flew over the field, looking down at the lone man.
  3. Overdone Literary: The man stalked fallen bits of forgotten troves across the fields—bags of flesh and garlic, whistling winds, bottled, and sacks filled with fading corpulence. I found a way beside him, a way of cloth and tin and broken black cloves, peppercorn, and anise. I walked without moving, dragging decaying oleander and an iron carapace of my own making that stretched out around me, but offered no protection. Behind me, I trail; in front, I walk. Me of me, a million billion miles long, from dirty ridges, I fall to the waiting geese, who pluck and devour my bones.
  4. Hemingway Literary: The man watched the geese.
  5. Shakespeare: Forsooth! The geese a play do make of man. To spy, to see, to eat with one accord, and thereby impugn no false intent. Oh wretched beast! Oh fowl delight! Depart, and by my mouth return to earth!
  6. Middle-grade: “Don’t miss or we’ll eat you for dinner,” said the man as he looked over the flock of geese nesting in the nearby junipers. The boy beside him exhaled slowly, knowing the threat was said in jest, and at the same time, knowing it wasn’t. The boy squeezed the trigger and the gun bucked, knocking him backward into a ditch. He scrambled to his feet and the man jerked the gun from his hands. “It’s a good thing you’re an orphan, Boy,” said the man, licking his lips, “no one will miss you when you’re gone.” And then the boy did magic, and everything got really cool and better.
Anyway, you get the idea. Voice is about saying the same thing in different ways. When people say, “find your voice as an author,” I have no idea what they’re talking about. I’m an author. That means I’m inherently deranged. My head is full of voices and I pick the one I need in the moment. In fact, right now, a voice in my head is telling me that this post is stretching on and growing rather boring. At the same time, another voice is telling me to burn things, and still another is asking if there are any pudding tarts left. Since I haven’t had pudding tarts in years, I’m going to assume the answer is “I hope not.” If you’re looking for a challenge, pick a few genres from the following list and rewrite the sentence below using a different voice each time.
Sentence: The sad woman lost her hat soon after the child appeared.
  1. Return to Exile (It’s my blog tour, I can do what I want!)
  2. Middle-grade
  3. Fantasy
  4. Sci-fi
  5. Mystery
  6. Thriller
  7. Romance
  8. Horror
  9. YA
  10. Any of the above + funny
  11. Something else
Leave your rewritten versions and crazy voices in the comments for all to enjoy, along with your favorite beard picture (can you leave pictures in comments? I have no idea. Leave a link, maybe?). And buy my book, Return to Exile, Book 1 in The Hunter Chronicles, by me, E.J. Patten. Seriously. It’s cooler than Teen Wolf.
You can visit the other stops on the Return to Exile blog tour, and find cool giveaways including books and Hunter’s Bracelets (from the book) by visiting the blog tour calendar.
Happy writing!

To enter the critique giveaway from EJ:
  1. Please follow Project Mayhem if you don't already
  2. Leave a comment on beards, Return to Exile, or pudding tarts! (Really, just say something nice to E.J.!)
  3. Share the love, this is optional, but always appreciated! ;)


  1. Nice beard pictures! Here's my attempt at the sentence challenge. Fantasy: As the child materialized in a sudden poof of purple smoke, the glittering dragon ripped the hat from the miserable woman's arms and swallowed it in an instant.

    P.S.: Also a follower

    1. Connie, that awesome! Anything with purple smoke hooks me! ;)

  2. Everyone I know loves this book, and yet I still haven't gotten around to getting it. Why? Well, clearly because my hair was tickling my brain, and distracting me.

    Fortunately, my beard is in full effect (though, admittedly, more Aragorn than Gandalf).

    Anyway, this is such an excellent (and fun) post on voice! I love thinking about how, as a writer, I have my own voice, and then my characters have voices, and then sometimes, when everything is working just right, even each particular story has its own voice, only partially dependent on who's narrating. When they all click in to place together? It's like magic, and everything gets cool and better.

    So, I'm off to buy this book, and to Twit, Facespace, G-minus, and basically just tell everyone to read this post.

    1. Did you buy it yet? We're waiting.... ;)

    2. Yep. Took me literally 15 seconds. I can't get on Wifi with my Kindle at work, but I can read it on the cloud reader until I get home.

  3. I think this guy is a freaking genius. I wish I'd had the wherewithal to have him do a guest post for my part in his blog tour--forsooth, I feel dowdy compared to this word extravaganza.

    Good luck to all the non-Mayhem members in winning a critique from E.J.

    1. Ha! Michael, you crack me up! :) You are NOT dowdy! You are the Dapper Don of Middle Grade Writing!!

  4. Love this quote:

    "I’m an author. That means I’m inherently deranged. My head is full of voices and I pick the one I need in the moment."

    Thanks for a great post, EJ!

  5. Wowza! What a FANTASTIC post! L-O-V-E!!! And Paul, I totally agree with your quote love--perfect. I think my son MUST have this book. Yep! It's a need. :-)

    1. The cover is amazing and the book itself is prettier than most! Your son will love it even before he reads it!

    2. YES! You're exactly right on! :)

  6. I'm in!
    (Bad) Fantasy: The woman, weeping, watched her hat as it was whisked from her head, caught in the breezes from Mount Aerinuluk, just as the faerie child happened by.

    Sorry. That fantasy voice cracks me up when it's overdone. You know?

    Heads full of voices are the best kind!

  7. I went with the geese flying overhead sentence instead... because I'm a rebellious non-conformer like that.

    Return to Exile style: The geese flew overhead. Something wasn't goose-like about them. They stared at Sky. No, not stared, they glared at him. He removed his tuna can flinger from his belt. He pulled back on the rubber band tensioned trigger. Three cans of fish flew at the birds, winging one and scattering the rest.

    "Go spy on someone else," he grumbled, working his way through the thorny underbrush.

    Eric is one of the best middle grade authors out there, whose style makes his writing a lot of fun to read. My youngest daughter is one of his biggest fans.

    I must admit with shame that at Writing For Charity, I picked Tracy Hickman (one of my long-standing favorite fantasy authors) to critique my work, but Eric was my second choice, edging out Brandon Sanderson (don't tell Brandon).

    I'd love to get a critique of my writing from an author whose work I really enjoy reading (can't wait for #2 to come out in December). My daughter would also think it was the coolest thing ever if you read my writing.

    I can't wait to see what crawls out of Eric's imagination next! "Live, party, trap evil!"

    1. Yay for rebellious non-conformers, Steve!!!! I like the way you talk!! ;)

  8. I love his quote about being full of voices. I definitely feel like that more often than not!

    1. The voices don't shut up for me...ever! ;)


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!