Monthly Archives: November 2014

Obligatory Thanksgiving Week Post

Today seems like a good day to think about writing-related things that I’m thankful for. Except every time I start writing this post, I get all sarcastic. (I’m thankful for all the submissions editors who fail to see the brilliance dripping from my every word…)

Really, I’m just grateful that I have the opportunity to write: I was given an education; I can express my ideas without fear; I can devote a significant number of my waking hours to writing.

I’m also thankful for three different kinds of cranberry sauce, but that’s another post.

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Going quiet

I was going to say ‘going dark,’ but that just sounded too ominous, like I was headed off on a secret government mission.  Actually, I’ve just got multiple projects going, with work on book 2 (title coming soon, promise!), notes and planning on a secret project, preparing for end of year/tax season madness at the day job, and oh yeah, the holidays are careening toward us.  But I’ve also been squeezing in some fun here and there.  This little game called Dragon Age: Inquisition came out, so I’ve been making mischief in the world of Thedas.  More on that in a minute, for those interested.

So, I’m going quiet on the blog for a while, but I’ll pop back in whenever I can with updates on all things Dragonfly and Solace.  For those celebrating this week, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, and I hope the rest of the holidays are enjoyable for you as well.  I’ll be back when I can.

And for those playing Inquisition at home, I’m not too far in the game yet–so much to do!–but as with the previous games, I’m absolutely loving it.  I made it out of the Hinterlands and have been poking around the Storm Coast and the Western Approach while getting to know my companions and deciding if I’m going to let Commander Cullen woo me.  In my head, our courtship would go something like this (spoilers for the first two Dragon Age games:

Inquisitor: So, if we’re going to be in a relationship in this heroic fantasy RPG, I have a few questions.
Cullen:  Fire away.
Inquisitor: Are you going to try to kill me at any point in our relationship?
Cullen: Never!
Inquisitor: *still sleeping with a murder knife under my pillow*  Good then.  Next question: are you secretly the heir to any throne in Thedas, thus potentially complicating our romantic future?
Cullen: No.
Inquisitor: Do you have lyrium burned into your skin?
Cullen: Of course not! Why do you ask?
Inquisitor: Has the potential to give you an unbearable level of angst. Final question, are you now, or do you ever plan to become possessed by any spirits or demons?
Cullen: Absolutely not!
Inquisitor: Hmmm…might need a urine sample to be sure.  All right, I think you pass inspection.  You may woo me now.
Cullen: Er, what if I no longer want to?
Inquisitor: I’m afraid you have no choice.  I’ve already selected the ‘Heart’ dialog option.

Love this game.  🙂


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Of magic and mayhem

I have a story coming out Dec. 1 in the fifth issue of Fictionvale. I’m posting the cover because it’s pretty. Also because it has my name on it. (I believe it has all the author’s names.) I don’t think seeing my name in print will ever get old.

Fictionvale episode 5

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I had a story come out last month in Apex. Last Dance Over the Red, Red World. I worried a little about it.

I wasn’t sure how much people would like it.

This is a fairly generic fear among writers-well, let’s be honest and say humans. We all worry that people won’t like that thing we did, whatever it happens to be. But this time it nagged at me a bit more than it usually does. I think it was because this story was my homage to Poe, specifically to Mask of the Red Death, which I loved as a kid. I tried to let that story influence this one. Which worried me a bit- I was doing a bit of a different style, and I wondered if the story wouldn’t resonate as much, or would feel strange to people who hadn’t read (or who had forgotten reading) the Masque.

When it came out, I noticed two reviews of it. One was by someone who liked it, and mentioned the Masque connection. The other, well… They didn’t like it so much. And they didn’t mention anything about Poe. Now, they may have gotten the connection, and still just not liked it, but the two reviews sort of reinforced my worries. It wasn’t keeping me up at night, I’m not that anxious about such things, but I thought about it.

Today I was driving home and the radio started playing “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons. That song happened to be in heavy (too heavy) rotation when I was messing with this story, and for some reason my brain linked them up. So when I heard it tonight, I thought about the story and realized that I liked it. Yeah, I could reread it now and probably find a dozen things I might change, but I like it.

And really that’s about it. I write stories, and if I like them, I send them out. I hope other people like them too. I hope editors like them, and pay me for them. I hope readers like them. I hope reviewers like them. I hope, but I know that not all of them will. So it goes.

But I need to like them.

Otherwise, why the hell am I messing about with them?

(I know people that really hate this song. Especially after it got so overplayed. But the band seems to like it.)

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In the Word Mines

So I have officially started writing the new book–working title PROHIBITED–and I’m having a lot of fun. My usual process goes something like this:

  • Get idea for character/situation
  • Noodle around with worldbuilding
  • Answer most brainstorming questions with “I don’t know, I’ll figure it out as I get there”
  • Tear my hair out while writing the first draft
  • Figure out what the book is actually about as I finish it
  • Live large during the rewrite

This time it’s gone more like this:

  • Get idea for character/situation/setting
  • Research the hell out of time period
  • Noodle around with worldbuilding
  • Write/submit proprosal
  • Really flesh out the world/setting
  • Delve deep into character motivations
  • Write/submit detailed outline
  • Live large as I write the first draft

At least, so far. Admittedly I’m not far into it, but already I see a difference. I’m not wondering what happens next; I already know. I’m not finding out who my main character is; I’m already quite familiar with her. I find that I’m spending more of the writing time teasing out how to best present the information I already know rather than figuring out what I know. Usually I find first drafts emotionally draining. So far, I’m finding this book to be energizing. Each session I’ve exceeded my word count goal, and when I stop I can’t wait to sit down again. This is probably a combination of all the prep work I did and the setting (which I absolutely adore).  


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The subjectivity of humor

Being funny is hard work.

I recently competed in three rounds of a speech contest–the Toastmasters Tall Tales contest. Contestants have to write and tell an original tall tale, a highly exaggerated story. I’m not sure if they’re required to be humorous, but all the ones I heard were.

In between the first and second rounds, I added a great line to my speech. But not one person laughed. They laughed at all the other jokes, but for some reason that one fell flat. I must not have performed it well.

Despite that, I still came in first and got to go on to the third round this past weekend. I left in that great line because I still thought it was funny. Again, no one laughed. Since I didn’t place in that competition, maybe I still hadn’t performed the line well.

Or maybe it’s not actually funny.

Humor is highly subjective. The guy who won last Friday had one joke that got a lot of laughs, but that I didn’t get at all because it relied on knowing something about fishing. Other speeches in the three rounds of the contest had jokes about men and women not understanding each other, which I just never find funny. I admire people who write comedy for a living. It isn’t easy.

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Linkfetti: Scene templates, Marketing plans, and a Notecard system

Some writing-related links I’ve run across recently that might be of interest:

* Templates for Drafting & Revision – I first ran across Laurel’s scene template a year or so ago. It’s been helpful for getting started if I’m stuck on the scene I’m trying to write. Instead of struggling to figure out what’s happening and how to portray it in prose, I first decide what’s happening and then I write it. (This knowing what you’re going to write before you write it is also part of the advice in Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k method. The scene template is how you figure it out.)

* The “I Have a Life” Marketing Plan – A simple book marketing plan that doesn’t take a lot of time. Unless lots of people respond to all those postcards.

* The Notecard System: The Key For Remembering, Organizing And Using Everything You Read – I will never do this, but it sounds cool. What I usually do with things I read is immediately forget most of it, and then forget the rest more gradually.

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Family Reading Night

A note this week for local folks, I’ll be participating in Washington School’s Family Reading Night in Monticello this Thursday, November 6th.

The theme of the night (besides reading, of course) is steampunk!!!!!  Ahem, yes, I’m a bit excited about this.

Events kick off at 5:30 p.m. and are open to the public.  Guests, parents and students will be able to move among different stations to learn about steampunk and see some examples of its DIY aspects.   There will also be cosplay, and I’ve finished assembling the last bits of my steampunk costume just in time.

I’ll be talking about writing, steampunk, and Mark of the Dragonfly from 6:00 – 6:30 in the gym.  There will be plenty of freebies to be had and fun activities for all.  If you’re in the area, join us!

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