Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Notebook voyeurism - Found this photo for you on Tumblr

samiholloway shared a photo with you Open Open in app
mamisgarden herbgardening


☀ my transparent edit ☀

[OP: Decrypting the Most Mysterious Book in the World

In the six or so centuries that it's been floating around, bouncing from scholar to scholar and occasionally disappearing for decades at a time, the Voynich manuscript (as it's come to be called) has yet to be translated. That might be due to the fact that it's written in a language no one's ever seen before or since.

But it does have some grounding in the reality that we know, namely via the dozens of familiar plant species sketched throughout the pages of this manuscript. And some researchers think these botanical illustrations are integral to cracking the code that, as one expert put it, has proven "academic suicide" for so many scholars throughout the ages. Click through for the full story! —MN ]

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday Writing Prompts!

1. Someone notices that they're living in a different season from the people around them. When they decide to find out why, what happens to them? What caused it?

2. A modern human wakes up in the far future; as far as they're concerned, it happened between one blink and the next, but is this accurate? What caused it? How do they feel about it and what do they do about it? What's the future like?

3. A kid at the zoo discovers he can talk to certain animals--but there's no relation between which ones. What causes it, what does he do with this skill, and how does it change his life?

4. A princess in a tower gets bored and comes to the conclusion that waiting on a prince she's never met is stupid. How does she change her life after that conclusion? What happens when the prince shows up much later?

5. A kid finds a weird coin in the street and because it's enchanted, starts encountering weird people and events they never would have even guessed at before. How do they take it? Do they tell anyone? How does having the coin change their life--for good and for bad?

For more prompts, check out my Division Of Muse Relations in the SHOP tab at the top of this page!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

NaNoWriMo - Found this post for you on Tumblr

Tumblr This is an amazing idea that I never thought about and now want to use all the time. Also? You can look back over those pages years later and see how distracted you were, how hard those pages were, how much you knew and didn't know about what you were writing.

samiholloway shared a post with you Open Open in app
dakotaaaa beekayem

The Elephant Technique or How Not To Break Your Momentum During NaNoWriMo And Beyond


So there's this thing, National Novel Writing Month, where a person writes a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. These people are referred to as crazy. I am one of them.


And there's this guy, Chris Baty. Baty helped make NaNoWriMo a thing. He even wrote a book about it. A book about writing a book. It's meta. In this book he gave advice on just how to write a book in 30 days. Lots and lots of advice. Because writing is hard.

Really hard.

Really, REALLY hard.

But this guy, Baty? He's pretty smart about it. One of the things he talks about is to know your weakness as a writer. I have a bunch, but the main one is getting distracted by internetz.

See, the thing is, I try. I really do. I try to research all the things and stuff I need to research before I write, but sometimes I'll be going on my merry way and BOOM I forgot what I named that hospital. Or BOOM I don't know what the parts to a horse's saddle is. So I go to Google and Google tells me. But it never stops there. I always go, "While I'm here, I might as well check [insert your time-wasting social media site of choice]." And then, BOOM - an hour has passed and I haven't touched what I was writing.

This is no good. I need to focus and not break my momentum while I'm writing. Stopping to open a browser and searching on Google breaks my momentum. So what do I do? Research even more? As much as I'd like to think I can predict everything that happens in my plot, some things I just can't foresee. And that's a good thing! No, it's great! That's one of the best things about writing, when I'm surprised when X, Y, or Z happens. 

Instead of extensive, mind-numbing research, I do this. Whenever I find myself stalling to think of a name or an adjective or literally anything else, I write elephant instead. Elephant. And then go on my merry way.


It felt really stupid when I started. The worse is when I read what I've written and forgot that I slapped on an elephant in the middle of an intense scene.

But it works!

I promise, I wouldn't do it if it didn't.

And when I edit, all I do is find each "elephant" with the search option of whatever word-processor I'm using and insert it's rightful word - the well-researched-after-I've-written-the-book word. I've told a few people about my Elephant Technique, and I knew a few people who use different words: cantaloupe, poodle, febreze. It all works. 

BOOM, distraction gone. 

#sorry i took out like 10 gifs of people typing cause i can't handle that shit #but really good advice #i def let research of details distract me instead of focusing on big picture stuff and just doing it #writing

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Monday, November 10, 2014


Tom knows how to write a story.

A month ago, I joined the Puttytribe, the community that grew up around Emilie Wapnick's, and this past weekend, I participated in the very first 24 hr collaborative Puttython. My group of three, what we had in common was writing, so we wrote a round-robin story (though at least two of us prefer the weirdness of calling it an Exquisite Corpse), and it was so much fun. There was al OST no pressure except for the time-constraints, it was a brand new project for all three of us, and it was flipping amazing to see how three people who had never met could write a story 250 words at a time, and it feels consistent and logical.

I'm here almost in the middle of NaNoWriMo and I signed on to write more, and it went swimmingly. I loved it so much. If this is what school group projects were like when I was a kid, I never would have hated them so much!

I want more. When we're done with this story, we're going to figure out something to do with it--publication or some sort, even of just on our respective blogs--and I've already suggested that we could do more. And if these two don't have time or inclination, then I'm going to find other people in the Puttytribe, or in my SHUsters, or other friend groups. 

Because we could totally make a thing of this.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

NaNoWriMo - Poor quality videos for everyone!

This came out blurrier after upload than it looked during, but whatevs. Here's how I'm doing after my first full week of NaNoWriMo this year! How're you guys doing?


  • The chapter plan thing is a sheet I made myself, just sixty boxes with a title line and a space to mark what sort of chapter it is. Should've dug up the 30-box one, but I couldn't find it.
  • The wordcounter is the one from David Seah that I linked to on my post about word-counting calendars. I like filling in the little boxes.
  • Look at how much of my weird stuff you can see in the background. All that's going to be different, soon, since we're moving starting in, like, a week.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

BTDubs, I posted a new Hub about NaNo the other day

It's called How to Totally Fail NaNoWriMo (other than not writing), and it's a reverse-advice post! Because everyone (including me) is doing the actual straight-forward advice thing, and I wanted to do something different.

Go check it out!

Tomorrow at midnight, after an evening of scrounging candy with the kids, is NaNoWriMo!

I love this girl. She's so great.

I'm going to try to start with midnight and bank words. I learned last year that:
  • I falter somewhere in the middle, and having extra words is SUPER USEFUL
  • Life always gets in the way, especially in a month where there's four birthdays, early Christmas events, and a major national holiday
  • The Plan always goes awry
So this year's plan includes making more of the story at the front of the month so I can sort of...get it out before it goes awry? I don't know if that's a thing, but that's what I'm trying to do.

I'll probably have a few video updates along the way so you can see how this insanity is wearing me down as I go; don't be surprised if I forget to do it toward the end when I get sleepy and cranky and annoyed. I want to at least do weekly updates, through, and talk about things and stuff and how it's going, because I like when other people do that.

Are you doing NaNo this year? What're you doing? Here's the synopsis (written before any of the story is actually written), that I posted on the NaNo website:

     Maria had lived her whole life preparing for an adulthood of silent service with the nuns that raised her. She'd heard of wizards, how the power they used made them something other than human, how the people blamed them for everything, but she'd never really thought she'd meet one. There were only one hundred in the whole world, and she was the least important person around.
     Until one night she's whisked from her bed by the Birdsong Wizard, and set up as the long-lost princess of a kingdom far from her home--a task she's spectacularly ill-suited for, and when she fails, Birdsong is left with a girl he doesn't need, and she's left with a Wizard who doesn't make any sense.
      As she tries to figure out how to escape his house, she comes to know who he is and why he's doing what he's doing, she uncovers mysteries that define him--but also the world she's been brought into, and when dark magic from others creeps into her sunny new world, she's forced to decide whether it's a cage after all. Or the key that unlocks the whole world.
It'll be interesting to see what happens in reality as I try to actually tell this story!

I also have standing plans with some of my friends to do video write-ins by way of Google Hangout, for companionship and accountability, and because more and more of my friends are moving to Seattle without me. I don't think there's a single coffee shop close enough to my house for me to get there without it being a Big Huge Thing, so that's especially useful.

What's your plan?

Monday, October 27, 2014

NaNoWriMo - Word Counting Calendars 2014

NaNoWriMo Word Counting Calendar 2014: This one, from is clean and precise, which is something that doesn't matter day-to-day, but that I find wildly necessary for NaNo. It's got little boxes you fill in to show how much you wrote each day, a space for the daily count, and a space for the weekly count. It even tells you where you're meant to be by the end of the week!

Pacemaker: A Word Count Planner For Writers And Students: This one is a generator! You can get it to make you a calendar with word count goals, or a graph, or a plan where you write more on some days than on others. It's pretty great, and very simple.

K. Kitts' writing info pages: In here, there's a calendar or three, but there's also planning, plotting, background info and other pages for helping you write a book in general. Like a little treasure trove. I'll be using at least the shade-in progress bar and the idea of putting a star on the days when you make your goal!


'via Blog this'

* This is actually a cute NaNoInspo blog that I found when I was looking for calendars.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

SF&F book meme questions 2

A science fiction, fantasy or horror author I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t read yet is:
Oh, man, almost all of the Golden Age and Silver Age dudes called "greats"--you know, the ones who defined the genres? I've read stuff they have influenced, and scads of new stuff in recent years, but not a whole lot of the actual classics. Only what my dad had on his bookshelf.


  • I've only read Good Omens from Terry Pratchett, and that's half Neil Gaiman.
  • I've never read Robin Hobb, except maybe one short story? Maybe?

A science fiction, fantasy or horror book I would recommend to someone who hasn’t read sf/f/h is:
What a weird idea--someone who has never read SF&F&H. Probably my favorites:

  • Anything by Robin McKinley, Neil Gaiman, Peter S Beagle, Charles deLint
  • The starts of series I love--City of Bones, Scarlet, Storm Front, Godstalk, Dragonsflight
  • Short story collections or anthologies--I especially like the Year's Best anthologies done by Dozois

A science fiction, fantasy or horror book that’s terribly underrated is:
It's hard to talk about "underrated" in the genres; the whole category is underrated by the wider establishment, and it's divisive to talk about ranking something when all of it needs more attention, as far as I'm concerned.

  • Godstalk, and the Kencyrath books that come after it, by PC Hodgell--under-rated to the point of hardly being talked about at all, so I talk about them whenever I can.
  • Robin McKinley--respected, and revered, but I hardly hear people doing papers or talking about her stuff.
  • Jasper Fforde--weird, yes, but also hugely inventive, very human, often funny as hell, very literate without being literary.

A science fiction, fantasy or horror book that’s terribly overrated is:
I don't like talking bad about other authors--everyone does their own thing to the best of their abilities, and even when I don't like their work I often do like the people. But there are writers I just can't get into, no matter how popular they are:

  • James Patterson
  • Michael Crichton
  • I adore Stephen King's short stories and nonfic, but rarely like his novels; I don't know what the difference is.
  • Same thing with Larry Niven; love the shorts, get frustrated and bored by the novels.
  • I just couldn't get into the Shanara series, no matter how often I tried.
I'm not sure this counts as overrated so much as oversaturated, but:
  • I like reading about Tolkien more than I like reading what he actually wrote; so much of what he's created has been so over-used that I just can't even.


Saturday, October 18, 2014


So many links for youuuuu!!!!

Gorgeous Typographic Covers for 26 Classic Books
The Penguin Drop Caps series features bright jewels of book covers, each with an illustration of the first letter of the author’s last name, starting with Austen, Bronte, and Cather. The last batch of letters--X, Y, and Z for Xinran, Yeats, and Zafron--has just been released.
 These editions double as decorations, and convey a sense of nostalgia for the tactility and aesthetic power of a physical book and for a centuries-old tradition of beautiful lettering.

This is an amazing breakdown of a generic college paper--in the form of a paper. God, I love it. I wish I'd thought to write it and sell it myself!
Utterly contrived topic sentence revealing pretty much every flaw of structured essay writing. Therefore, supporting sentence invoking source that exists only in the bibliographies of other cited material (pp. arbitrary to arbitrary + 5). Contemplative question? Definitive refutation paraphrased from a blog found at 2AM

On After Hours Creativity with Gillian Flynn:
While working for Entertainment Weekly, Flynn made a second shift of writing for herself at night. She stopped and started several novels over the years, but it wasn't until she truly cared for the people she was writing about that she could complete the experiment of writing a book.
 It was a very good lesson, which is: don't let the outside voices tell you what you should be writing. You've got to write the book that you're supposed to be writing, not write the book that you think people will want to read or the book that will sell better or the book that the critics will like more.

This Supercut of Action Dudes Saying "Let her go!" To Villains Is A Reminder of How Action Movies View Women - And, I think, is a call to action to start writing other sorts of action movie characters, don't you? Because come on.
It's the most dramatic prelude to the climax in any action movie: The woman who has captured the hero's heart is in danger from the villain. Suddenly, the stakes are way up--not only does he have to beat the bad guy because he's a detective/knight/secret agent/rogue cop on the edge/Jedi/post-apocalyptic road warrior/Spider-Man/etc, but he really has to do it now, because the bad guy has his special lady friend. You've seen it in a lot of movies.

Doodling to increase memory and creativity -
"when the mind starts to engage with visual language, you get neurological access that you don’t have when you're in a linguistic mode,"

A write-up of the Rejected Princesses idea that I first saw on Tumblr--girls who are too badass to be appropriate for Disney (or too weird, or too psychopathic, etc). A really cool way to get thinking about non-traditional, non-stereotypical and non-cliched ways to create female characters!

Monday, October 13, 2014

New Release! Division of Muse Relations, Vol 1!

I announced this everywhere but here on the actual blog ::facepalm::! I just released the first of a series of collected writing prompts called Division if Muse Relations! This first one is, as you can see from the cover there, 100 prompts for fantasy stories. It's also the cheapest any of these are going to be, at a nice intro-to-the-series $2! (Future releases will be $5, so still totally affordable!)

This is 40 pages of ideas for Epic Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, weird Dark Fantasy, Fairytale and other fantasy stories. If you're looking for something to spark your creative juices, I bet you'll find something here!

I started this series because:

1. Coming up with cast amounts of ideas has never been a problem for me, but I've talks to plenty of people who say it is, so why not share the wealth.


2. A lot of the prompts around are really unimaginative, aimed at elementary school children, woefully nonspecific, and / or just basically dull, and there's that old saying, if you can't find the book you want, write it!

So here you are!

You can find the super-cool link to buy it under "Publications and Shop" on the menu bar up there, and as soon as you pay, you'll have access to a PDF download that you can read on your computer, tablet, or any ereader that displays PDFs! 

Look for the next one, 100 SciFi Prompts, toward the end if the year, and then more ever few months going into next year and beyond!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

What I know about surviving NaNoWriMo

Last night, I typed up a whole long list of tips for someone on Tumblr, but the app seems to have lost a bunch of stuff from last night, so instead of cross posting, I'll try to remember all I said. This is everything I can think to tell you about getting through the crazy idea of writing a whole novel in one month.

- 50k counts as a novel, but it's a technicality--the average novel is twice as long. That means you have so much space to fudge it--if something is holding you up, just skip it, and put [SOMETHING HAPPENS HERE], then keep going.

- Momentum is the key--it's more important in this challenge to keep going than to "get it right".

- Before you start, make a list of 30 plot points you need, so every single day you know at least something to aim for in that day's work and never sit down with no idea what to do.

- Update the list as you go, because the story is definitely going to mutate in unexpected ways. Run with it. Deadlines are the mother of creativity.

- Keep track of your word count. Make a sheet (or find one and print it) with the total you're to aim for each day, and fill it out after you write that day's words. And use a widget to visualize. The official NaNo website has a graph on your profile and a progress bar you can put in your blog, and it's SO HELPFUL to actually see it.

- Don't write in a vacuum. Follow #nanowrimo and #nanowrimo2014 and such on Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram, Google for blogs of people who are participating, and / or sign up on the official site and use the forums. Stress gets high as the end of the month approaches, and it helps SO MUCH to have other people who know what you're doing from te inside. If your library or bookstore has write-ins, try to go to them, too! Make friends!

- Don't over plan--flexibility is better than set plans, because it's easier to go with the flow than to battle the story.

- Bank words at the beginning, when it's new and fresh and exciting, and whenever it's really flowing, so you have a buffer--that way you can skip a day or so if something comes up, and you won't damage your totals. Much better to have more words than you need than to have not enough.

- They call it "winning" NaNo, but you don't lose if you don't make it. You learn what your limits are, how much fiction you can shove through your head and for how long, how your personal habits and thought processes work in a situation like this, and you get a feel for whether an idea has enough possibility to make a whole book about it. That's stuff you can apply to other projects. And I call that a win, too!

- Always revise this mess! First drafts are always a mess, and being written this quickly, they're bound to be even more of a mess. Don't go through this thinking you're creating a perfect final product--you're writing a draft-zero. No matter how messy it is, it will tell you what it actually about, and anything that's written can be fixed.

- Don't edit as you go, even if you usually do--one, there isn't time; two, sometimes (most of te time?), you aren't always writing the book you think you are, and when you get to the end it might need different work than it did at the beginning. If you edit as you go, you've wasted a lot of time you could have been writing.

- Have an idea of at least a main character, a starter setting, a tone, and a basic story goal--it doesn't have to even be a plan, just enough that you can start writing and know where you are.

- Run with it! Whatever happens, see where it goes. 

- Wake up early to get your words in, rather than staying up late, especially if you have a regular schedule; it'll damage your sleep less, and a well-rested brain works better. Also, writing right after waking is a way to get around your inner critic--those dudes are always lazy.

- Protect Your Magic. If the challenge is making you overtired, too anxious, crabby, or otherwise not-good, modify it or stop. You can always try again next year, or in June (where there's another official challenge and it's not right at te beginning of holiday season!), or you can pick any month when it's good for you and do it again. Pushing so much through your brain an your hand can be as exhausting as physical labor, and if it's too much, remember that no one is forcing you. This is supposed to be fun!

So good luck! And keep us (the internet) updated, whether you make it or not--it's the process and the experience that matters, until that moment when you have a finished book!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

So I'm going to self publish some things

I've decided, as an experiment, that the books I wrote for NaNoWriMo--and JulNoWriMo, when I get in the swing of doing this twice a year--will be self-published.

I figure it'll give me experience in case all my books are not what agents wish to take a chance on. It'll give me a chance to build an audience and prove my worth as a writer on my own, which really appeals to me. It'll get some of the projects out in the world without having to wait too long--and right now, I feel like I'm sitting on a whole bunch of eggs that won't hatch, so this is a way to hatch them. And it is, potentially, a way to make something of a living off my own work, something that has been my goal for ages.


First, I have to learn how to do it, and to finish revising Beacon before I start revising what I will be writing this year.

Then I need to do it--which I'm sure will be awkward and confusing as I figure it out.

But I know some pretty good self-published authors, and I am really good at googling and learning from experience.  And I already own my Amazon and Goodreads profiles, so. 

Beacon will be first. Probably with this cover, unless I figure out something cooler:

I don't know when it'll come out, but it'll hopefully be done revising before the end of October so I can go into The Sound of Birds, Singing without also having Beacon needing edits! So that's my job for the rest of October: finishing and posting Beacon so I can figure out how to do this thing.

Any advice?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

This year's NaNo

I made a cover for it, even though it's not written yet! I thought it might help to keep me focused as I actually do make with the words.

Last year was hard. I thought I broke my arm a few times with the effort, and I know I burned through my brain with all that fast-paced thinking about plot and stuff. I also made a terrible mess of the plot and I haven't finished editing / revising it yet.

But I also had a whole lot of fun, so despite the fact that I'll be babysitting at least four days a week*, and running a rolling series of competitions for my nail polish business**, and I have a number of other things I want to get done before the end of the year...Well, I decided to do it again.

This year, it'll be The Sound of Birds, Singing***, like so:

Maria was raised by nuns to accept that she's have a small, poor, unimportant life, until the day she's kidnapped by the Wizard Birdsong. He wants her to pose as a lost princess so he can get the treasure reward and the esteem of the king--only she knows nothing about courts and princess skills. When she fails, he curses her to only speak with the voices of birds, and to serve as his servant until her debt is paid...except that he immediately leaves her alone and she starts researching her new master, and uncovers secrets that go back to the dawn of the kingdom--and the war that's still going on even now.

I still can't write a quick blurb, but that's what I've got to write this November, and it's a lot more solid an idea than I had last time!

What're you doing this NaNo?

* I usually do one or two days a week.
* (end plug)
*** Which I've been calling Birdsong for the last year or so, until I decided to buckle down and figure out more than the first two chapters, and then decided to get poetical with it.

SF&F book meme questions 1

The first science fiction, fantasy or horror book I ever read was:
Well, almost every book I read as a child was fantasy. The first adult SF&F book I read was probably one of those skinny Bradbury anthologies from the 60s or 70s that my dad had on his shelves. The first one I read in an adult way--as in, I picked it up for the sake of reading an adult book specifically because kids books were boring me--was Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey.

The last science fiction, fantasy or horror book I read that I’d put in my “Top 20″ list is:
Oh, man. I've read so many books in the last few years, and most of them are solidly in the "good" category. From the last, maybe, five years, I'd put these in "best":

  • Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
  • Pegasus, by Robin McKinley
  • All the Shadowhunter books by Cassandra Clare
  • Changes, by Jim Butcher
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by NK Jemisin
  • The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun, by NK Jemisin
  • Throne of the Crescent Moon, by Saladin Ahmad
  • Name of the Wind and Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
I don't remember books in order all that much--the actual last one I read that I'd put at the top of the list? I have no idea.

The last science fiction, fantasy or horror book I couldn’t finish was:
Didn't finish and couldn't finish are different things. There's all sorts of books I start, and then put down and start something else--that's more about what my brain is doing and what book I want to read, than it is about the book.

The only one I can think of that I actually couldn't finish was probably Sphere, by Michael Crichton. It's the one that made me not want to ever read anything by Michael Crichton again. I don't like how he tells stories, and that book took me a year to get through and I never did read the last chapter. Much better as a mediocre movie.

A science fiction, fantasy or horror author whose work I cannot get enough of is:
Lots of them! Mostly mentioned before, but here goes again:

  • Jim Butcher
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Cassandra Clare
  • PC Hodgell
  • NK Jemisin
  • Robin McKinley
  • Peter S Beagle
  • Ray Bradbury
  • Marissa Meyer (NOT Stephanie)
  • Jasper Fforde
  • Books written by people I know in person


Monday, September 29, 2014

Questions you should answer for yourself about THE CONFLICT

Everyone knows that there's no story without conflict, right? I mean, if you're writing a story, you should have figured this out. But here's the thing: sometimes people just throw in a conflict for the sake of drama (::cough - nearly every show about teenagers ever - cough::), but they don't seem to understand that drama as a phrase, and the actual thing that is drama are not the same thing. The first one is just people fighting for no good reason. Think reality television. The other is a literary device that is closely linked to the struggle over the central conflict of the story.

So when you're deciding what your characters will be fighting for, here's some things to ask yourself and to find good answers for:

  • Is the conflict personal for at least one, and preferably more, of your characters?
  • Is the conflict both internal and external--just just other people or the world harping on your character, but some actual struggle over some Big Idea inside the character's own heart and head?
  • Is the Big Idea in question closely tied to the core of the story? If your story is about a guy trying to get out from under some oppressive social injustice to save the world, is his internal struggle over those things? If he's worried about something unrelated to social issues, family issues, Good and Bad, or personal doubt, maybe you should rethink that some.
  • Do the characters in the book reflect different opinions on the central conflict, and act in ways that cause plot-useful other conflicts? Do these other conflicts have as much meaning in the context of the story as the main one, or are they just there to be convenient?
  • Is the resolution of the conflict the main problem of the story? Because it should be.
  • Is the conflict too literal? Being totally literal--a war story about people shooting each other, only-- is simplistic and boring. Try working out a war story about how ideology makes it so that people do things they wouldn't normally do, and then have to deal with the emotional and mental fallout of having become something they aren't.
  • Is the conflict a believable outgrowth of the pasts of the characters AND the history of the land?
  • If the conflict can be dealt with just by talking to each other, it's not really conflict; there has to be a good reason they aren't talking to each other, not just childish stubbornness. Are they incapable of talking? Is there so much history and bloodshed that they have no common ground? Are they speaking different languages, or trying too hard for opposing goals?
  • Is the conflict big enough to run a story, but not so big that it's insurmountable? Nothing kills a story so well as setting up a challenge the hero/s can't get past.
  • Is the conflict multifaceted so that different characters can take different takes on it and act on them?
If you have your conflict worked out, even just a little, the rest of the story becomes a lot easier to write!

The Pipeline

This summer has been one big pile of stress and mess, and now that it's fall and I don't have so much of the heat and light beating down on me, I'm starting to unwind and get back on track. Again. I'm pretty sure the whole act of being a writer is the story of constantly getting back on track.

This morning, I replanned EMBER because I realized that even though I was writing a trilogy, it was actually one very long story, and I had to have a plan for it. I'm still not really a planner, but vague guidance is better than none at all. And Ember keeps slipping out of my grip and going wandering in the wilds, so it needs guidance.

I also set up the vague chapter outline of THE SOUND OF BIRDS SINGING, which is going to be this year's NaNoWriMo project. Last year's project, BEACON, turned out to be, like, half or less of the actual story I was trying to tell, and so it's still in revisions; I keep hitting horrible snarls that happened because I was writing really quickly without thinking about it much and skipping over a lot of stuff. I'm hoping this year's guidelines are clearer so that I don't get into that sort of a mess again, because damn, that's hard. Like, revisions are hard enough anyway, and then to find out while doing them that you haven't actually written two thirds of the story yet? Terrible. But I think it's going to be so good when it's done.

MARRIED TO THE WIND is still looking for a home. The longer it sits here, finished but unpublished, though, the more I think maybe I should go back and noodle with it some more...which is a very dangerous line of thought, because I have other stories that need doing.

Sometime next month, I'm going to launch the first of a series of prompt books called DIVISION OF MUSE RELATIONS. This one is all Fantasy-themed prompts, and I'll be selling it through Gumroad by way of the link up there in the top bar that says SHOP. I'm currently figuring out how to format a pdf so that it looks like a professional book, and I'm deciding on a cover that doesn't look cheesy or cheap. 
Each of these little ebooks will be 100 ideas for starting stories, and I'll price them cheaply so that everyone can get a copy. And I'd love to see the sorts of stories that happen because of this pile of sparks I'm handing out!

Also today, I decided that another story that's been sitting in my head for a while is not, after all, a novel. It's a comic book. And that's all I can say about that right now.

Next up, I'm figuring out what even I'm trying to do with the current new novel, the first in the Drae'Nati series, which is currently unnamed because I had a perfect name for it and can't remember where I wrote it down. That's a big one, probably maybe five books covering at least one generation on this planet, and is probably actually soft-scifi, which is a nice change.

What're you working on?

Website Tweaks!

Hello my lovely readers!

I cleaned out my menu bar a little, combined some of the pages that were starting to be redundant. Simplified my About Me page. And I'll probably do more, later, as it comes to me!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Self-indulgent questions about books and reading 10

46: Which author do you think you'd be friends with?
I feel like I'd get along with Robin McKinley, and Cassandra Clare. Last FM says I have similar tastes to Neil Gaiman, but I didn't get a chance to talk to him when I met him last year. I've had good random mini-convos with various authors online, and I think we could be friends if proper conversations went as well.

I'm already friends with some great upcoming authors!

47: What book have you reread the most?
Probably...Narnia? Maybe Last Unicorn? Wuthering Heights? I don't really re-read books that often because there's so many that I haven't read at all, so it's got to be one I really, really love, or one that I've been forced to read over again at school (Things Fall Apart, Outsiders).

48: Which books do you consider "classics"?
Having a degree in English, pretty much the ones that are generally considered classics--but I'd add more written by women, more from outside the US and UK, and more from the popular genres. My personal classics are the ones that really sank into my head when I was a kid, ones that shaped me and how I write, but are not necessarily ones that I'd make a class read if I had to teach a class on the "classics". I think everyone needs to have their own individual cannon like that, though.

49: Which books do you think should be taught in every school?
The ones that are least boring on the list of those usually taught--I'm convinced the reason why so many people don't like to read is because they're told that only this narrow category of complicated, dull, written-by-dead-white-dudes books are "good" and they're not given ANY CHANCE AT ALL to pick the ones they'd rather read. So they don't even know what they'd rather read, and think that only the ones they hated are readable. So schools need to make reading less boring.

50: Which books should be banned from all schools?
I don't believe in banning books. Banning books only encourages them to be read, only they'll be read without context or education. Schools should be teaching kids to read everything with words in it, to think about what they're reading, and to put down books that scare them or confuse them too much--and then to read them again in ten years when they have more understanding of the world.

This isn't to say that there aren't books I hated reading--because there are--but that there should be more options than just the ones that are so dull no one questions them, or the ones that only talk about and support one view of the world, or the ones that are so inoffensive that we don't learn anything from them. We need to expand the list of books read in schools, not limit it.

And that's the end of this list! I'll find another one and start doing those questions once in a while soon!

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