75 articles tagged as writing

Rright now it’s hard cover and eBook, but trade paperback will also be available.

*pets the cover*  I love how the cover is done by the same man (David Howard Johnson) because they look so pretty together.

We know that Tasmin is dark-haired, so who is this playing with the wind sprites?


Are you excited?  Spread the word, please!  And leave a review if you can – the hardest part, the most crucial part for the success of any author that you like is reviews.  They don’t have to be long (and they don’t, actually, have to be nice, though we always hope and pray for nice ones) you just need a certain amount of reviews for the Amazon algorithms to kick in.  I think I talk more about it in the next blog post (which I wrote months ago, lol.)

I am also working on a blog post about my recent trip to the UK, or rather, how I made it doable for me, in the hopes that someone finds my ideas useful.

And…starting next week, there will be a blog tour!  I’ll try and post links as we go.  (No, really, I will.)

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Mmy dream life. Oh, wow.

I could say “I write them in my books” but I don’t.

Some of my dreams are prosaic. I want to be a hermit so badly that my teeth hurt. Freedom is the thing I might want most in life. Sometimes it is that companionship, (I’ll save some of these thoughts for a future entry on soul mates) that perfect idea of love.

So those dreams are about how I become a hermit, what I would do.

My dream life usually involves characters from movies and TV that I like. A handsome Russian soldier from a TV mini series – after I’ve explored that character he gets pulled out of that world, becomes a captain under orders to siege a town, hiding his magical powers. A Victorian scholar from a BBC movie goes from his gentle, boring life to that becoming a cover for him being a spy.

I get to explore romance and adventure in pieces. I get to use ideas I would never be able to use, fall in love and save the day in countless ways. My dream life has romance and swords and magic, and everything is ideal…except for those few times when things have to be less ideal for the sake of an interesting daydream.

Some of these bits and pieces will become stories that you will read, someday. But mostly, it is how I get along in life, how I color the mundane world into survivable bits and pieces.

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There’s a phrase in fencing called “Poke and pray” — basically you thrust your sword at a person and hope that your tip lands before theirs does. It’s inelegant, it’s just flailing and hoping. On the field you want to be mindful, you want to use your skills, but sometimes, well. Sometimes life is not ideal.

And sometimes, the writing world is like that. You like to think that it’s all about skill, right? But it’s not. It is much more about luck and having a good day. For instance, I am experimenting with the concept of the Twitter Pitch. Today, for several hours, people will be using twitter to pitch their finished fantasy books to agents. You get a max of 10 tweets, and if an agent favorites you, you get to look up their guidelines and send in a query package. Here’s the site for it, in case you are interested: http://dankoboldt.com/sffpit/ It happens every so often, and there are others, like #pitmad, so you’ve not really missed the boat.

To me it’s a clever concept — hey, look, people who actually WANT new authors, instead of just making a guess and hoping! But it’s also daunting. I hate my tweets — I think I reduced my beautiful book to a bunch of tropes. So, I just scheduled a bunch of tweets and walked away. I am not sure if I even want to go on Twitter today. Tweeting and praying, I guess. *grins*

But we try. Sometimes the try is half closed eyes and flailing and hoping we don’t get killed.

(Don’t close your eyes on the fencing field though. Never a good idea with swords coming at you.)

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(via Writers, we need to stop saying this – J.H. Moncrieff)

This is especially good for right now, when many of us are feeling disappointed in our lack of NANOWRIMO productivity.  Rule one of Write Club? Don’t hate on yourself.  

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Ii am seriously made happy by a package I got in the mail the other day…if you are on FB or Twitter you already saw it, but what can I say?  I am easily made happy.  (Well, not too easily, packing and buying and shipping this was not, I am sure, easy.)

Cates chocolate

But, a reader/friend from Dorset sent me a box of chocolates, a lovely card, and sherbet lemons.  I have not had the chocolates yet…I am enchanted by the fact they look like something that William, from The Chocolatier’s Wife, would make, but I wanted to save them for a few days.

I did have the sherbet lemons…I thought they might be sour, but they aren’t, and I love them…I love lemon, so these are fantastic.  They do taste like sherbet, and I – you can call me a silly American, but I am especially tickled to be eating something out of a bag that has the pound sign on it.  I have always harbored a not so secret love of the UK, and this just feeds (ha, ha) into it.

Nothing else really going on…Autumn is here, and when the days are bright and crisp, I’m excited.  It smells lovely, you can take long walks, enjoy the rustle of leaves.  But then, it gets cold and cruddy and I grumble about the Great Inevitable and wonder if it is too soon to just start wearing my sweater collection to work.  Last Saturday I forwent going to a fencing event to put away things and do yard work, and heard that I missed out on intermittent snow.   This is not my sad face.

Some students entered me in for Cal U’s Presidential Merit Award — I am not eligible because I am staff, not faculty — but it was nice to see that I am appreciated.  I know that I am, but sometimes it is nice to get a reminder.  The letter focused on my work with the fencing and medieval clubs, so the pool of suspects is pretty small.  🙂



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When I was in Ninth Grade, I won a thing.  

That thing, in particular, was a thirty dollar Barnes & Noble gift certificate.  I was still too young for a part-time job, so I didn’t have this kind of spending cash on me, ever.  I felt like a god.

Drunk with power, I fancy-stepped my way to my local B&N.  I was ready to choose new books based solely on the most important of qualities…BADASS COVER ART.  I walked away with a handful of paperbacks, most of which were horrible (I’m looking at you, Man-Kzin Wars III) or simply forgettable.  

One book did not disappoint.  I fell down the rabbit hole into a series that proved to be as badass as the cover art promised (Again, Man-Kzin Wars III, way to drop the ball on that one).  With more than a dozen books in the series, I devoured them.  I bought cassette tapes of ballads sung by bards in the stories.  And the characters.  Oh, the characters.  I loved them.  Gryphons, mages, but most importantly, lots of women.  Different kinds of women.  So many amazing women.  I looked up to them, wrote bad fiction that lifted entire portions of dialogue and character descriptions, dreamed of writing something that the author would include in an anthology.

This year I decided in a fit of nostalgia to revisit the books I loved so damn much.  I wanted to reconnect with my old friends…

…and I found myself facing Mary Sues.  Lots of them.  Perfect, perfect, perfect.  A fantasy world full of Anakin Skywalkers and Nancy Drews and Wesley Crushers.  I felt crushed.  I had remembered such complex, deep characters and didn’t see those women in front of me at all anymore.  Where were those strong women who kept me safe through the worst four years of my life?

Which led me to an important realization as I soldiered on through book after book.  That’s why I needed them.  Because they were Mary Sues.  These books were not written to draw my attention to all the ugly bumps and whiskers of the real world.  They were somewhere to hide.  I was painfully aware that I was being judged by my peers and adults and found lacking.  I was a fuckup.  And sometimes a fuckup needs to feel like a Mary Sue.  As an adult, these characters felt a little thin because they lacked the real world knowledge I, as an adult, had learned and earned.  But that’s the thing…these books weren’t FOR this current version of myself.   Who I am now doesn’t need a flawless hero because I’m comfortable with the idea that valuable people are also flawed.

There is a reason that most fanfiction authors, specifically girls, start with a Mary Sue.  It’s because girls are taught that they are never enough.  You can’t be too loud, too quiet, too smart, too stupid.  You can’t ask too many questions or know too many answers.  No one is flocking to you for advice.  Then something wonderful happens.  The girl who was told she’s stupid finds out that she can be a better wizard than Albus Dumbledore.  And that is something very important.  Terrible at sports?  You’re a warrior who does backflips and Legolas thinks you’re THE BEST.   No friends?  You get a standing ovation from Han Solo and the entire Rebel Alliance when you crash-land safely on Hoth after blowing up the Super Double Death Star.  It’s all about you.  Everyone in your favorite universe is TOTALLY ALL ABOUT YOU.

I started writing fanfiction the way most girls did, by re-inventing themselves.  

Mary Sues exist because children who are told they’re nothing want to be everything.  

As a girl, being “selfish” was the worst thing you could be.  Now you live in Narnia and Prince Caspian just proposed marriage to you.  Why?  Your SELF is what saved everyone from that sea serpent.  Plus your hair looks totally great braided like that.

In time, hopefully, these hardworking fanfiction authors realize that it’s okay to be somewhere in the middle and their characters adjust to respond to that.  As people grow and learn, characters grow and learn.  Turns out your Elven Mage is more interesting if he isn’t also the best swordsman in the kingdom.  Not everyone needs to be hopelessly in love with your Queen for her to be a great ruler.  There are all kinds of ways for people to start owning who they are, and embracing the things that make them so beautifully weird and complicated.

Personally, though, I think it’s a lot more fun learning how to trust yourself and others if you all happen to be riding dragons.

Mary Sues exist because children who are told they’re nothing want to be everything.

A girl making herself the hero of her own story is a radical act. Stop shaming girls for doing it. Stop shaming yourself for it. 

I have so much I want to say about this/add my own experiences and thoughts but can’t right now but am so so so so so glad to see this being discussed because it’s so important and people will so flippantly make fun of and dismiss anything perceived as a Mary Sue and stuff like this is exactly why I hate that.

I’ve written my fair share of flawed and flawless characters in the past. Although these days I tend to put them through the wringer, when I’m feeling shit, I’ll write a scene or a one-shot that will never see the light of the day. It will probably be a Mary Sue, because it makes me feel better to give someone (and in a way, myself) that boost of confidence, because the real world is hard and sometimes I just want to write Loki as a good guy who makes ice roses and likes holding hands goddamnit.

There are so many really marvelous things to think about, not just for fan fiction, but fiction in general.  So much good.

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So, I think I am finally wrapping up The Key to All Things.  It’s about stories.  And love.  And it’s a mystery with air ships and fae magic and swash buckling.

I am really pleased with it.  It FEELS right.

After this, I am unsure what to do…a screen play, a sequel to this, or a look at the hot mess I think The Chocolatier’s Ghost is.  If I do it right, and if I think it is a good book (it has to be worthy of The Chocolatier’s Wife) then I might write a third book, The Herb Mistresses’ Husband, and then that will close the door and Tasmin and William.  Probably.

It is taking me longer to key in the hand written edits than it took me to write the first two drafts, I swear.  But it is worth it, to present something beautiful to the world.

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Tthis post is part test, part catch up.

I am actually doing really well on The Key to All Things. I love Edward and Avriel, when I am writing, even though it’s the second draft, it feels like reading. I get pulled into the world, and I care about the people in it a great deal. So that bodes well.

Almost at the end of the second draft. That meant that I divided it into Scrivener as I went, so every thing is separated out into movable, findable, pieces. I think I need to sit down and do a motivation map and make sure everyone’s motivations and goals make sense and are sensible and worthy. I.E. not lame.

Mostly, the first part of the third draft, I think, MAY be a print out and scribble on the paper bit. Not sure. I’ve never been this far with a book on Scrivener, so I am not sure. I would like to avoid printing out until the very end draft (you are much more likely to catch all the typos if you read a printed copy at least once) but we’ll see. Very soon. (Which makes me feel giddy.)

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