an interview with the one and only Rob Bell on his book Where’d You Park Your Spaceship

an interview with the one and only Rob Bell on his book Where’d You Park Your Spaceship

Earlier this year I had the honor of setting up this Rob Bell book interview for his novel Where’d You Park Your Spaceship?  If you can handle my eyes TWICE THEIR SIZE because of my glasses, then you’re good to go, and, hey, this interview isn’t about me anyway! (And I’m a little exuberant at times so please have a lil’ mercy. I mean, I am interviewing one of my favorite people on this planet.)

My review on his book? Rob Bell takes you into another world— or more correctly, worlds, with creative, unconventional, and tender storytelling that moves you and leaves you wondering about the next book in the series. Loved it.

Synopsis from his website below:

Heen Gru-Bares has been SERIES 5 for most of his adult life, traveling from planet to planet collecting data and filing reports for the CHAIRS who run the universe.

And then he lands on the planet Firdus for his next assignment and he meets Borns and Lan Zing and Ziga Mey and Dill Tudd and something unsettling begins to stir within him, something unnerving and profoundly disruptive. Out of all the planets he’s been to over the decades he’s been doing this job, what is it about this one particular planet Firdus that so subversively affects him like it does?

And then Noon Yeah shows up and he learns that she’s a SIGN 7,
sent to Firdus to do a GRAINING because he failed to execute
the task at hand-it’s more than he can bear as what he thought
was his life begins to unravel around him…

Will Heen make it through this devastating turbulence?
What will happen to Dill Tudd?
And is all of this a setup, one of the symptoms of a larger malaise that will continue to spread through the entire universe unless someone does something to stop it?

It’s a galactic saga of struggle and survival.
It’s an interplanetary tale of love, loss, and bread.
It’s BOOK ONE of the WHERE’D YOU PARK YOUR SPACESHIP? Series.

Buy now: Amazon • Apple Books • Kobo • Audiobook

Download the first 100 pages for free
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Where’d You Park Your Spaceship? A Rob Bell book interview

Rob Bell

 

not a ball of flames…

more like fiery creativity!

rob bell book interview<br />
where'd you park your spaceship

Now let’s hear what Rob has to say on these two topics!

MY QUESTION:

In your book, there are reasons to be unhappy with how THE CHAIRS arrange things on the planets, yet they improved the education system, and, from an economic standpoint, they do “floor to ceiling checks” to make sure everyone has what they need, so it’s evident that THE CHAIRS do some things right. What are your thoughts on this?

MY QUESTION:

In your book, an event called “The Brownball” takes place when Earth is no longer inhabitable, and the fortunate inhabitants escape to other planets. Specifically, in the future, one teacher in the book says Earth was destroyed because of the plow. On your podcast, (The Robcast), you’ve had Jeff Tkach on as a guest a couple of times from Rodale Institute, and they specialize in organic farming and caring for the soil. Can you talk to us a little bit about the work Rodale Institute is doing to help us take care of Earth?

Netflix film Kiss the Ground

Rodale Institute

robbell.com 

check out his website to get the latest on his Where’d You Park Your Spaceship merch store, artwork, and Spaceship Sessions.

You can download the first 100 pages above.

Say buh bye! (I said podcast but meant to say for the listeners.)

to check out more from the blog and website, go to renecollier.com!

using iterations in your novel

using iterations in your novel

In my last post I talked about symbolism and realized afterward this closely relates to using iterations in your writing. This concept is taken from Stuart Horwitz’s work, and, specifically, Book Architecture. I’ve taken a couple of workshops at conferences from Stuart, and I can’t mention symbolism without mentioning his work, too, because, for me, they tie in.

To explain it simply, the first thing we do is determine our SERIES in our book. And from SERIES we then create ITERATIONS.

Stuart says, “…each SERIES has a type: it may be a person, object, place, relationship, or phrase… that repeats and varies. Each time a SERIES appears, we call those examples or occurrences ITERATIONS.”

Okay, that’s the groundwork.

In my last post I used bunnies as an example of symbolism in my novel Miserably Happy. If you haven’t read the post, it’s a quick read and can be found here.

The use of the bunnies represents the state of Livy and Anthony’s relationship.

The series is called “Will Livy and Anthony’s Relationship Survive?”

The iterations within this series are:

INNOCENCE:  In the beginning of Livy and Anthony’s relationship, there is harmony when they’re up at the park (symbolism of bunnies running to and fro on the footpath).

WHERE AM I: Troubles in Livy and Anthony’s relationship show up in various scenes (symbolism of rabbits showing up in different scenes as pests instead of cute creatures, including eating two saplings two different times).

LEMME OUT: Livy finally cuts the cord with Anthony when she grows tired enough of his withholding emotionally in the relationship (symbolism of rodents now kept away from her newly planted sapling, after she stakes chicken wire around the sapling).

To demonstrate the use of iterations as clearly as possible, Stuart uses the example Corduroy, a children’s book about a bear, from the first chapter in Book Architecture.

The Basics of Series in the Short Story Corduroy

In Book Architecture, Stuart breaks Corduroy into three different series and says,”When we start trying to find our series, all we have to remember is repetition and variation. What do we find repeated?”

The first series is the I’VE ALWAYS WANTED series.

This series asks the question, “What has Corduroy always wanted?”

Setting up a grid is easy. See the image below.

Stuart tells us, “The repetition and variation of a narrative element creates meaning in our novel.”

Something worth mentioning, too, is that one of the series in your book will be the central plot but not the entire book. The series in Corduroy most closely related to the plot of the book is the quest of the missing button.

The second series is the MISSING BUTTON series.

This series asks the question, “Will Corduroy find the missing button?”

And remember, in each series, something needs to change within each iteration.

The third series is the MONEY series.

This series asks the question, “What does it mean to be responsible?”

There are only two iterations, but as long as there are two, something changes. The repetitions let us know what we’re talking about while the variations give us direction: things are getting better or worse…

We can combine these three series together, and it will look like this:

Basically, by applying this method we can write our entire book. It really helped organize my thoughts and scenes for Miserably Happy, and hopefully this will help you, too. In the book Stuart uses other books as examples, too, and it’s a great resource overall.

On the Book Architecture website, the grid posted below is a resource you can download. Wowza! Don’t let it intimidate you! This is an entire novel placed into series/iterations on a grid!

using symbolism in writing

using symbolism in writing

Using symbolism in writing creates deeper meaning in stories and helps form a special inside connection between reader and writer. The dictionary from Oxford Languages says, “Symbolism is an artistic and poetic movement or style using symbolic images and indirect suggestion to express mystical ideas, emotions, and states of mind. It originated in late 19th century France and Belgium, with important figures including Mallarmé, Maeterlinck, Verlaine, Rimbaud, and Redon.” Symbolism takes the use of an action or object to represent an idea or quality.

There are different types of symbolism, and, for the sake of this post, we’ll talk about my favorite—metaphors. According to Indeed.com, “A metaphor refers to one thing by directly mentioning another. It essentially compares two dissimilar things while showing that they have something in common. Therefore, while a metaphor can provide clarity, it can also show the similarities between the two things or ideas despite their obvious dissimilarities.”

One example of using symbolism in writing is when we read “life is a rollercoaster.” This metaphor uses a rollercoaster to indicate the highs and lows of life.

Personally, I really like the use of symbolism. It can help evoke a certain mood in the story. Spoiler Alert: I used symbolism quite a bit in my novel, Miserably Happy, and if you plan to read the novel, just a heads up, in this post I use an example of one of the objects I used for symbolism in the novel. And that would be…

rabbits! (hey, it even works with Easter this month!)

Cute lil things, aren’t they? In fact, let’s call ’em lil bunnies. Even cuter. And in the beginning of the novel, Livy Miser, the main character thinks they’re cute, too. In fact, the guy she leaves her marriage for, Anthony, texts her pictures of bunnies often, since they run around his mother’s yard.

After Livy and Anthony move in together, when things are rosy between them, they’re at the park and bunnies run to and fro across the footpath. But as dynamics in their relationship grow progressively worse, bunnies chew up her sapling in the backyard.

So she replaces it with a new sapling, and, as Anthony breadcrumbs her and reveals he’s a taker not a giver, rabbits once again take her freshly planted replacement sapling and eat it up, too. Yeah, turns out this guy is bad news for her since his version of love is selfish and insensitive.

On Christmas Eve, her car won’t start, she opens the hood, and a rabbit jumps out, revealing not one, not two, but three chewed up cables! Not only does this create expense, she’s also left without a car on a holiday, since Anthony is out of town. Thank god for Uber. Well, actually, thank god for friends, too, because her best friend, Jess, picks her up.

Now Livy sees the creatures as rodents, and the third and final time she plants a sapling in her backyard, she stakes chicken wire around it, to keep it safe from those rodents, and this coincides with the last time she gives Anthony the chance to break her heart.

This article is simple yet helpful when explaining how using symbolism in writing can be effective. (Click on the headline or link below to access it.) The writer breaks down universal symbols by category, the two main categories being color and object, and then goes on to tell us symbolism is usually found in the most important scenes through reoccurring imagery.

The article provides downloadable tools to help plan the use of symbols throughout the book and gives examples of symbol overuse.

When I wrote Miserably Happy, I listed my symbols and wrote out how the symbols appeared throughout the book within the progression of the story. Hence, the example of the rabbits above: first, the bunnies hop to and fro on a sunny day, then the rabbits eat and kill two of her saplings, then she stakes chicken wire around the third sapling, to keep the rodents out. So, the animal didn’t change, but the main character’s feelings and actions toward the animal did change, demonstrating her strength in the end to guard herself from the same bullshit dished out from her ex-lover.

Check out the article! It’s a quick read.

And Miserably Happy is available at the end of April! If you’d like to download the first 50 pages, pop your email into the box below and open it in your inbox. I’ll send you an additional email as a heads up when the book is available.

outlining multiple timelines for your novel

outlining multiple timelines for your novel

I’m so excited, I moved on to outlining my second novel! The scenes have been simmering in my mind for at least a year, and it felt good to sit down and put cohesive structure to it.

I’ve known I want the novel to tell two stories, hence two timelines, and this is something I’ve never tried to do before now.

I’ll most definitely bring you along for the ride as I delve in!

As I began to write out my two timelines, following the guide from the source below, I began to feel a lightheartedness about some of the material that might make it into the novel. Unlike my first novel, I’d like this one to have more humorous scenes as the young girl protagonist comes of age. Incorporating her love rebellious nature, mixed with her love of Flashdance and Footloose began to bring me alive as I realized this book can actually be a little more fun than the first one!

I’d say that was one of the major benefits of sitting down and writing out the multiple timelines… within the cracks of the main storylines I began to picture more detail with how this young girl will come of age and the events that will come into her life to charge her up!

How to Write a Multiple Story Timeline in Four Steps

I can’t include a link to this article because it is for members only at medium.com.

For $5/month it’s a good resource for all kinds of topics, so you might want to check it out. (Nope, not paid to endorse them.)

I’ll do my best here to relay the information from the article along with adding my own two cents here n’ there. For the sake of this post, we’ll concentrate on two storylines, the primary and the secondary (rather than three or more).

Step 1 – select a primary storyline

The author tells us, “The primary timeline is the one that gets the most screentime. It has our main protagonist and antagonist. The secondary timeline mostly offers context to the events in the primary timeline.”

The author goes on to tell us that we shouldn’t divide up both storylines 50/50 because that is forcing the audience to follow two separate sets of characters for the price of one; rather, 70/30 or 80/20 are better ratios, in favor of the primary storyline.

Step 2 – create the story for the different timelines

The author tells us it’s important for us to know what happens in each timeline because then we can determine our transition points. Thankfully, we don’t need to know all the details at this point, just the beginning, middle, and end. “By fleshing out both stories,” the author says, “we give each timeline the best story treatment possible.” And whatever, we do, the author tells us, not to make one storyline more interesting than the other! I’ve seen more than my fair share of movies and read more than enough books with this downfall, and it leads to zoning out or skimming pages before getting to the good stuff again.

Step 3 – break the story into sequences

“Usually, this step will be carried out simultaneously with step four. I only separated it so that it’s easier to explain both,” the author tells us.

The author goes on to explain that once we know the story from beginning to end for both timelines, we can then break each storyline into blocks. We can move these blocks (or sequences of scenes) in a way that makes it easier to plot (arrange scenes) for maximum impact.

Step 4 – select your transition points

“The secret is to use the major beats (big character or story moments) in the primary story as transition points. Again, this depends on what constitutes maximum impact for your story,” the author tells us. Then, the author goes on to use Interstellar and Arrival as two good examples of multiple storylines.

This next bit is directly from the article, and I used it to write out my outline. I found it extremely helpful:

  • Timeline 2 begins the story. Think of this as a prologue.
  • If a film, this would be a great place for the title credits.
  • Then we drop into timeline 1 (primary timeline). We stay here until something major happens. Usually, this is the inciting incident (an event that changes the status quo in the character’s life)or the big event (the event that forces the character to enter act 2).
  • We switch back to timeline 2 for another short amount of time, picking up where we left off in the prologue.
  • Back to timeline 1 and we stay there until another major event. Usually, this is the midpoint.
  • Then we flip to timeline 2 for another short amount of time. This time, the connections with the first story should start to really show even though the way it connects doesn’t come together yet. It’s a delicate balancing act, but it’s very possible and it reaps a bountiful emotional reward.
  • Back to timeline 1 and this time we stay until the climax, the story’s most emotionally intense moment.
  • And then to timeline 2 for that last time for its own climax. This is the point where the connection of both stories is made explicit. How this section is handled determines just how good the story will be. If you nail it, you’ve got a winner.
  • And finally back to timeline 1 where we stay until the story finishes.

 

I hope you find this post helpful! Until next time, happy outlining!