Review: The Darkest Minds Review: Chasers Review: Cornered Review: Finale Review: Leopard Moon

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Blog Tour: Book Reflections: Paranormals

Hello fellow readers! Today I have author JL Bryan author of the Pranormal Series!!

You can visit the Paranormal Book Tour page for more information.

For today's post, Savannah asked me to talk about some of the influences on my writing.  The books that have influenced me are too numerous to mention, but the good writing teachers I've had are not.  So we'll talk about my best writing teachers today.  In chronological order:

1.      Mrs. Ewanowski.  My seventh-grade English teacher.  We had Creative Writing assignments where we had to turn in two pieces of writing, which could be poems or short stories.  I turned in a short novel (60,000 words) for one of them.  I don't remember what the other story was, but the novel was called Dogboy.  It centered on an eleven-year-old kid who wore a polyester dog costume and believed himself to be a superhero.  His best friend was Petey, also eleven, who constantly advised therapy and counseling for Dogboy (who never took off his costume, and whose real name we never learned).  They ended up busting some villains, maybe bank robbers or jewel thieves, I don't really remember.  My teacher was very impressed by the book and declared that I would be a famous writer one day.  Still working on it, Mrs. Ewanowski.

2.      Dr. Jeff Portnoy. I skipped my senior year of high school and instead did my first year of college at Perimeter, an Atlanta community college.  Dr. Portnoy was my English teacher, and he had a unique approach to essay assignments.  You wrote the  essay and turned it in, and then he went through with a merciless red pen and marked up everything you did wrong. (It's his fault that I'm so picky about restrictive versus nonrestrictive clauses, even to this day...) He would then return the essay to you, and you would revise it and return it to him.  This continued the whole quarter with every essay assignment.  You could do as many drafts as you wanted.  At the end of the quarter, he graded the essays in whatever form they'd attained by that point.  The constant feedback and revision greatly improved the quality of my prose and taught me how to look very critically at my writing.  I learned so much from him that, for the rest of my college career, I turned in first drafts and got “A”s on them (and my degree was in English, so that's a lot of essays!).  Much of what I know about revising at the language level was learned from Dr. Portnoy.

3.      Paul Farr.  He was my Creative Writing teacher at University of Georgia, and I believe he was a graduate student at the time.  He was generally very encouraging and told me I ought to expand a couple of my stories into novels because they were very idea-rich.  He would ask unexpected questions to make you reflect on your plot and characters in a new way.

4.      Debra Baron.  She was my screenwriting workshop teacher at the UCLA film school. Definitely the best craft teacher I've ever had.  There's just something different about studying under someone who actually makes their living writing stories—not lecturing or grading papers, not deconstructing Shakespeare, but actually writing stories to entertain the public. She dazzled me by having a solution for every imaginable problem.  She'd been there and done all of that.  I still constantly refer to her advice.  Example would be the principle of “reduce, reuse, recycle” applied to characters, settings, everything.  Roll minor characters together to create substantial secondary characters.  Really maximize your use of the characters and settings, too—one example I always remember is of characters are fighting in a fish market, and how you don't want it to be a boring fistfight or shoot-out.  Make sure they're hurling crabs and lobsters at each other, or spiky blowfish—you've created the setting, so use it.  The importance of subtext, using external objects and events to represent internal states and conflicts.   A lot of this is centered on the medium of film: fewer characters and settings mean a smaller budget, for example, but it also makes your story much tighter and easier to follow.  Less is more!  I couldn't possibly list all the great things she taught me, but whenever I'm in a tight spot with something I'm writing, I can usually remember a trick or a solution she taught me for that exact circumstance.

These are teachers who encouraged my writing, believed in me, and taught me useful things about how to write.  I'm very grateful that they were there to influence me and make me into a better writer!  

Thanks so much for being here today and sharing with us your inspirations!
About the author JL Bryan: 

J.L. Bryan studied English literature at the University of Georgia and at Oxford, with a focus on the English Renaissance and the Romantic period. He also studied screenwriting at UCLA. He enjoys remixing elements of paranormal, supernatural, fantasy, horror and science fiction into new kinds of stories. He is the author of The Paranormals trilogy (Jenny Pox, Tommy Nightmare, and Alexander Death). Fairy Metal Thunder is the first book in his new Songs of Magic series. He lives in Atlanta with his wife Christina, his son John, two dogs, and two cats.
Visit JL Bryan: Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook

Tommy Nightmare week:
Monday, October 24th - Reading in the Corner
Tuesday, October 25th - Books With Bite
Wednesday,October 26th - Paranormal Wastelands
Thursday, October 27th - Reading Angel
Friday, October 28st - About Happy Books

And now for the giveaways! 

And for this stop we get a TRICK!
That means a not-so-mean trick: THREE extra entries into the Kindle Fire give-away!  All you need to do is leave a comment on the post and they will automatically be granted THREE extra entries into the final tour give-away of a Kindle Fire!!
Enter here to win a Kindle Fire!!

Happy Reading!


  1. Great post, Mr. Bryan! It's nice to see someone give their teachers kudos. I know they are proud of you...and probably surprised you even remember them! Atta boy! You just made me want to read your books more...

  2. This tour is just fabulous! There's nothing better than to have plenty of great influences. Everyone needs a little inspiration.

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  3. What a great post! It was really interesting to read about the teachers who influenced J.L. :)


  4. Good teachers are so important. I had one in the fourth grade - she encouraged us to expand our minds and write down those things we could observe. She read everything and forced us to edit and rethink it all. She pushed us to our creative limits.

    So important.

    Thank you for sharing! And thanks too, to your inspirational teachers! Without them I wouldn't have gotten to read something so kick ass!


    Ammy Belle
    apereiraorama @ gmail . com

  5. I love hearing about the people who inspire/prepare others to do what they love. It sounds like you had a great group of mentors to motivate you and make you the best writer possible! :)

    vshanno1 (at) mail (dot) naz (dot) edu

  6. It's always nice to get a better look at what inspires writers. It's a nice look into their personal life.


  7. Wow, those people all sound like amazing influences! I have to say that Dr. Jeff's red pen sounds extremely intimidating and I'm thankful he's not reading my reviews because I have no idea what a restrictive or nonrestrictive clause is, so I can only imagine how much red I would see! Love JL and this series:)

  8. I wish I had a techer like Dr. Jeff Portnoy. I like his style and I think that is a great way to help people learn.

  9. Thanks for the interview Jeff! I loved the advice about the settings...flying spikey blow-fish indeed :P Sadly, I've had more professors and teachers who seem to want to stomp out your differences and creativity than point it in productive ways...oh well...they can't all be Dr. Portnoy's

  10. So you had a teacher that made your papers bleed aye - explains a lot. I definitely think teachers are not appreciated and valued enough. It sounds like you definitely appreciate and remember all of yours!

    Oh yes and reading your sharing reminded me of one of my english teachers - she always said - I won't mark your papers in red - I use a cooling blue. It made me think - so rather than my paper bleeding you are going to drown it?

    Pabkins @ Mission to Read

  11. I always find it amazing how the right teachers make all the difference. I have had plenty of teacher who have come down on and try to stop any individualism, but it the supportive teachers that get remembered.


  12. Difficult teachers can be hard to have but you appreciate them later. I had a history teacher who oddly was obsessed with the overuse of "the." Fifteen years later and I still carefully think about whether "the" is necessary or not.

  13. I have the first two books in this series but haven't had a chance to read them yet. It would be awesome if I could have all three when I do start it! I am definitely going to pick up a copy of this one:)

  14. Pretty blog! It's my first thing visiting but I think I'll be back =)

    I really like this post. Some of my favorite teachers were my English and Literature ones. They are definitely influential.


  15. What amazing teachers you had, but it seems you already had the wonderful gift of story telling. It great to think about those who helped shape your future.

  16. Wow you turned in 60,000 words in 7th grade. I'm sure Mrs. Ewanowski was very proud to be your teacher!

  17. It's always the teachers isn't it? Mine was my high school art teacher.

    I entered for the Kindle as Holly Storm. Thanks!

  18. Wonderful post. You are indeed fortunate to have had these teachers to help shape you into the writer you have become. I have no doubt that each of these teachers are incredibly proud of you!

    Donna @ The Happy Booker

  19. Aww, that was such an inspirational post! :) I've always been the type to believe that how well you're doing corresponds at least a little with how good a teacher you have, and this just makes me smile that you were lucky enough to have such awesome people influencing you!

    Awesome post, Jeff! :)

  20. That's awesome that you had so many people that influenced you and pushed you further! BTW overachiever on turning in a short novel for a short story assignment : ) I was never like that in English. I just try and get the writing done with and move on I'm a science girl but I love to read everything!

    ~Brandy Swain~

  22. I LOVE the tours! They are so much fun! misscrazej(at)gmail(dot)com

  23. I look forward to reading Jenny Pox. I now have it on my kindle app and its on my TBR list!


Hello lovely reader! Thanks for commenting! I enjoying reading what you have to say :) I have turn on the comment mod due to a large amount of spam. Thanks :)