Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Labors of an Epic Punk by Mark and Sheri Dursin - Book Tour and Giveaway

Mac is an epic punk. No wonder: after his dad went off to fight in the Trojan War and never came back, Mac spent his childhood evading his mom's scumbag suitors—all one-hundred-and-eight of them. Of course, he turned out this way—a moody, friendless sixteen-year-old who blows off work, alienates everyone at school, and pulls pranks. But when he trains a flock of birds to defecate on the headmaster, Mac (short for Telemachus) goes too far. The administrators give him an ultimatum: prove that he's truly the son of Odysseus by doing something heroic—or get out. A school story that just so happens to take place 3,000 years ago, Labors of an Epic Punk is a tale of friendship and transformation, regret and redemption, and a reminder to us all that even heroes need to survive adolescence.


At that moment, Mac felt a prickling sensation as the hairs on the back of his neck suddenly stood on end. Instinctively, he shouted, “Get down!” as he threw himself and Homer into the sand. He looked up to see a single arrow buzz over their heads.

“Homer!” A voice—gruff, but unmistakably female—boomed through the courtyard. “How many times do I have to tell you? Stop following me!”

Mac looked in disbelief down at Homer, pinned underneath him. “I said I knew her,” Homer shrugged. “I didn’t say we were best friends or anything.” As they both stood up, Homer called out to their secret attacker, in a lame attempt to sound chummy, “Hey, Andie! What’s up?”

“How did you find me? Did you follow me? Did my roommate tell you? She told you, didn’t she? I’m gonna kill her!”

Homer glanced nervously at Mac before calling out, “So, what are you doing way out here?”

“Why should I tell you?” the mystery girl shouted back. Meanwhile, Mac’s eyes flew around, trying to determine the source of this shouting. As he squinted, he could make out someone, silhouetted against the sun, half-hiding at the top of one of the stone towers.

“Now, get out of here,” the voice called out. “This is my beach!”

“Well, OK, but first, how ‘bout you come on down?” Homer continued. “My friend and I want to ask you something.”

“You don’t have any friends, you freak!”

“As a matter of fact, I just made one. Come on down, I’ll introduce you.”

Guest Post

Writing tips to new authors 

“Just enough.”

Apparently, that was E. L. Doctorow’s answer whenever anyone asked him how much research he did for his historical novels. And we’d like to pass on that same advice to new authors.

Now, we fully acknowledge that this advice is more than a little infuriating. After all, how do you know what ‘just enough’ research is? In fact, we only “got” what Doctorow meant when we started working on our own mythology-based YA novel, LABORS OF AN EPIC PUNK. Our novel is not historical, by any stretch. But it is indebted to mythology, so the process required a fair bit of research.

For example, the Minotaur features prominently in our novel, so we had to explore all the different legends surrounding that character. We have a chapter involving the Oracle at Delphi, so we had to research how that whole thing worked. We wanted to include some less popular myths, so we dug around until we found the story of Marsyas, a man-goat hybrid who basically challenges Apollo to an ancient “battle of the bands.”

In short, we did a goodly heap of research, but probably only half of it made it into the final draft of the novel. And why? Because it is a NOVEL. We were writing a narrative, not Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. We wanted to avoid long, information-heavy descriptions that could potentially take readers out of the story. If we had unearthed in our research a detail that was really cool but it didn’t service the story—if we realized we put it in there simply because it was cool—we had to cut it.

So how much research did we ultimately include in LABORS OF AN EPIC PUNK? Just enough. 

Writers can actually apply Doctorow’s “just enough” advice to so many aspects of the creative process. World building, for example: yes, you need to give readers a sense of your environment, but pages upon pages just describing the setting gets tedious real fast. Or symbolism: scarlet letters or white whales lose their effectiveness if you come right out and say what they “mean.” Or word count: why say in twelve words what you can in ten? In each of these cases, “just enough” suffices.

We definitely could say a lot more about this topic, but we don’t want to ramble on and lose you. As it turns out, the “just enough” rule also applies to blog posts!

About the Author

For many years Mark, a high school English teacher, and Sheri, a freelance writer and blogger, wrote independently. No matter the writing project—newspaper articles, retreat talks, college recommendation letters, fan-fiction, blog posts on spirituality or 80s pop songs—they tended to work alone. Separate rooms, separate computers. But raising their twin sons helped them discover an important truth: All Good Things Come in Twos.

Mark and Sheri Dursin will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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