Wednesday, May 27, 2015

There's a word for that - Old-school naughty words via This tweet by Veronica Belmont on Twitter

Veronica Belmont (@Veronica)
Talk Dirty Using 18th Century Slang; It's Time To Take Your Sexting On A Time Machine Ride buff.ly/1d0u74W pic.twitter.com/lVk34Kyxbl

These are all the best ever and I want all of them to come back into common usage right now.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Story-starters from the Division of Muse Relations!



1. That old story: someone who thinks they are normal discovers they don't really know anything about themselves or the world they live in. But this truth is different than any other you've seen in any other story. What is it? How does it change your character's life? What choices does it offer them in the story to come?

2. If one supernatural being is real, which of the others will be real, too, and which will be still myths? How do they hide--far away or right among humans? How do they handle people knowing about their existence--and who does know, and how do they know? And most importantly, what common enemy can unite them?

3. In a near future where everyone everywhere is in deep debt and generally is from birth, how do they function day to day? What happens when the debt gets too high--and what counts as too high? Is there a way out, and how crazy is it? Who is crazy enough to try it? 

4. Someone discovers that they can't die. What do they do, knowing there's no mortality? Do they do good, or do they go bonkers? What happens when they fall in love with a mortal? What happens when they find someone else like them--who has a totally opposite view of what immortality is for?

5. A new device hits the market that helps people get into spectacular shape with very little effort. But too much use starts changing them--how? And into what? And what happens when word of the side effect gets out?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Book Feature - Untamed by Madeline Dyer




UNTAMED
(Book one in the Untamed Series)

Publisher: Prizm Books/Torquere Press
Release Date: 20 May 2015

Official Marketing Blurb:
As one of the last Untamed humans left in the world, Seven’s life has always been controlled by tight rules. Stay away from the Enhanced. Don’t question your leader. And, most importantly, never switch sides, because once you’re Enhanced there’s no going back. Even if you have become the perfect human.  
But after a disastrous raid on an Enhanced city, Seven soon finds herself in her enemy’s power. Realizing it’s only a matter of time before she too develops a taste for the chemical augmenters responsible for the erosion of humanity, Seven knows she must act quickly if she’s to escape and save her family from the same fate. 
Yet, as one of the most powerful Seers that the Untamed and Enhanced have ever known, Seven quickly discovers that she alone holds the key to the survival of only one race. But things aren’t clear-cut anymore, and with Seven now questioning the very beliefs she was raised on, she knows she has an important choice to make. One that has two very different outcomes.Seven must choose wisely whose side she joins, for the War of Humanity is underway, and Death never takes kindly to traitors.

How long did it take you to write UNTAMED from start to finish?

This is one of the most common questions I get asked!  
The first draft (70,000 words) took just under a month to complete in June 2013, and it was so messy and poorly written. It needed A LOT of work done to it. In the first half of September that year—after a few months’ break—I read through the whole draft and made a long list of stuff that needed to be changed: characters that needed to be cut, useless scenes, sub-plots that needed development. That sort of stuff.  
By November 2013, I had a completed draft that I was reasonably happy with, after countless rewrites and editing. Still, in January 2014, after feedback and critiques, I did another major rewrite, adding in a new sub-plot and character, which took about six weeks in total and brought the manuscript up to just over 100,000 words. 
By the end of June 2014 I’d received four contract offers from publishers, and I signed with Prizm Books, an imprint of Torquere Press. Then, in January 2015, the editing began. I was assigned a lovely editor (Deelylah Mullin) by my publisher, and she really helped me develop UNTAMED into a book that is a lot more concise—cutting out 10,000 words—and stronger in its overall plot, ready for its release on May 20th 2015. 
So, all in all, the writing and editing process for UNTAMED has taken just under two years.

About Madeline Dyer...

Madeline Dyer is a fantasy and science fiction writer whose work has been published by a number of small presses. By the age of 16 she had her first short story acceptance, and by the time she was 19 years old she’d signed a contract with a publisher for her first book, UNTAMED. 

Where to find Madeline:



Where to find UNTAMED:
Untamed (ebook format) is currently available to preorder from: Prizm Books

And from Torquere Books

And upon its release, UNTAMED will also be available in paperback from Amazon and good bookstores.

Friday, May 15, 2015

My books are available for Pay What You Will prices for a short time as a thank you for my birthday!



I decided this year for my birthday to do something for all of you wonderful readers and followers and Tweeps and Puttytribers, so I'm offering my books for pay what you will so you can get them before I put out my next book in June!

Just go to My Page on Gumroad, and you can get pretty pdfs that you can read on any device that reads pdfs. You can pay as little or as much as you want (they run for 4.99 on Amazon), and all I ask is that you tweet, review, comment, or otherwise share the word if you like it! There's a hashtag to use for each one so I can find your comments!

So happy birthday to me, for you! Go forth and become dedicated fans! Think of yourselves as my groundcrew, the front line of me being able to live off my writing alone! Thank you so much, all of you who have bought my books and commented on my blog posts and talked to me on Twitter and Tumblr and Instagram!

I did an interview with the lovely Madeline Dyer over on her blog!



I'm participating in Madeline Dyer's interview series over on her blog! I talk about how I started writing, what I'm working on now, how I feel about "real books" vs ebooks, and a lot more! Head on over and see, and keep an eye out for my full guest post there on Sunday about how I knew I was writing Epic Fantasy and what I did about it!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Guest Post - Why UNTAMED Began as an Experiment… and How it Ended up Being the Best Kind of Experiment - Madeline Dyer



I like to talk to writers about their writing process. I think, probably, most writers do! Here's a discussion about writing experimentally from the lovely author of the new YA Dystopian Untamed, coming soon from Prizm Books!

My favourite parts of writing are always the early stages—the thinking, the plotting, and production of the first draft. I love the freedom that a first draft has, and how it doesn’t have to be perfect at this stage. I can write messily—I can write badly—but it doesn’t matter at all. No one else is going to read it. It’s only a first draft and it’s where I get to have fun and not care about what I write. But most of all, it’s an experiment.
And that’s what writing UNTAMED originally was: an experiment.
Before, I’d always written in past tense. But I wanted to try out present tense. I already had an idea for a new dystopian plot, so I thought why not write this in present tense? And that’s exactly what I did.
I found that writing in present tense gave a different sort of momentum, and it spurred the plot along at a greater speed. Before I knew it, I was really engrossed in this new world I’d created. The characters evolved into seemingly real people and I just couldn’t stop writing about them. Nor could I leave them in danger for too long—typically, I end a writing session when the tension’s high and the characters are in sticky situations, as this makes it easier to get back into the flow of things the next day.
And, within a month, I had a 70,000 word draft done. And, sure, I’ve done that before, as I love to get my first drafts down on paper as soon as possible—but UNTAMED felt different. I was so caught up in the world and the characters that I kept writing. In fact, I wrote the first drafts of books two and three in the Untamed Series in the next two months that followed, before going back to rewrite and heavily edit book one to get it ready to begin querying publishers.
But it was this experiment with writing in present tense that really got me hooked on writing. And, although, I’ve gone back and written a new manuscript in past tense since, I’ve also written two others in present tense—and the ones in present tense feel more ‘real’ to me. I guess it’s because my past tense and present tense writings have completely different styles….
I found that when writing in present tense I focused much more on the immediacy of things, as well as the body language of different characters and how meaning was conveyed through methods other than dialogue. Writing in present tense really helped me with the whole ‘show, don’t tell’ thing, and I found it a lot easier to avoid instances of passive voice, as well as cutting straight to the action and the scenes that readers actually cared about. It gave me a new perspective on writing, and I feel that it’s greatly benefited me, making my writing stronger than it was before.
In short, I think that only by experimenting and writing UNTAMED in present tense, was I able to find my own voice—a voice that now carries through to my other works, even those that I’ve written in past tense. Writing UNTAMED has allowed me to sort of ‘find myself’ as a writer. And I’m glad. It turned out to be the best kind of experiment.


About Madeline Dyer...

Madeline Dyer is a fantasy and science fiction writer whose work has been published by a number of small presses. Her debut novel, UNTAMED—a YA dystopia with strong elements of fantasy and the supernatural—releases on 20 May 2015 from Prizm Books.




When an Untamed girl is kidnapped and converted by the Enhanced Ones, she must remember who she was meant to be, or else risk the extinction of her people.
Where to find UNTAMED:
Untamed (ebook format) is currently available to preorder from: Prizm Books

And from Torquere Books

And upon its release, UNTAMED will also be available in paperback from Amazon and good bookstores.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Weekly Dispatch from the Division of Muse Relations



You guys! They announced that X-Files is coming back in January and starts filming next month! And since my head is now full of X-Files-y goodness, here's some spooky and weird and obfuscating sorts of prompts for you this week!*

1. There's a conspiracy that only your two leads are aware of, and it sounds crazy enough that when they have to tell others, no one believes them. How do they handle it? What do they do about it? What does the Truth cost them?

2. Out in the deep woods, people have been going missing, and local cops think it's a rogue animal or a weird killer. Your characters know it's something weirder. What do they think it is? How do they go about proving it? What do they see? Does anyone else see it?

3. Your two leads have been through a lot together, most of it stuff no one else understands, and now they've been forcibly separated. One of them gets sick. The other can find the cure. How do they get through this?

4. There's something in the sewer, and it's terrorizing people. It's been going on a while but no one took reports seriously, but now it's come after important people. Who can stop it? Who can explain it? Where did it come from?

5. Aliens have arrived, but they did it ages ago in a sneaky way, and now there's a lot of lies and misinformation wrapped around them. What is their real purpose? Who knows about them an who finds out about them? Why are they being so secretive?


Any stories you write from these prompts are your own! If you link them here, I'll build a list of links, but what you do with your stories is your business! Thank you for reading my blog!





Notes:
*Im aware that I skipped a week or two--I just am not sure how I did? I just didn't write them?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Five + 1 Questions with YA Dystopian author Madeline Dyer!



Five +1 Questions is something I like to do to generate discussion about writing, books, reading and creativity with other writers. Today, we have YA Dystopian author of UNTAMED, Madeline Dyer! First, lets meet her:

Genre:
I write speculative fiction, with an emphasis on dystopias and science fiction.

Links:



Bio:
Madeline Dyer is a fantasy and science fiction writer who keeps dragons and is never far away from a notebook. In fact, at least one notebook is known to follow her wherever she goes, and she can frequently be seen scribbling on its pages. 
A life-long reader, Madeline has always loved reading, and, due to her love of mythology and folklore, the fantasy genre soon became her favourite; it seemed only natural that she would write her own short stories, and aged 16 she received her first short story acceptance for “The Silent Siren”, which was subsequently published in Iron Bound Issue 3. Since then, her short fiction has been published by a number of presses, including Mirror Dance Fantasy, Mad Swirl, Yesteryear Fiction and NonBinary Review. 
By the age of 19, Madeline had a book contract for her debut novel with Prizm Books. UNTAMED, a fantasy dystopia novel for young adults, will be published at the end of May 2015, and is the first book in a predicted series of four. 
Madeline is a regular participant in the NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo events, and has found that penning the first draft in less than 31 days is the best way forward for her. Indeed, the first draft of UNTAMED was written in 28 days, and then reshaped and edited for a further eight weeks, before it was ready for submission.

Current Project:
Untamed (Prizm Books, 20 May 2015)
When an Untamed girl is kidnapped and converted by the Enhanced Ones, she must remember who she was meant to be, or else risk the extinction of her people.


And now, her five questions:

What do you do when you write yourself into a corner or don't know what comes next?

Part of what I enjoy about writing the first draft is getting my characters into as many sticky situations as possible, and then desperately working out how to get them out! Once I’ve got a character stuck in a corner, and if I really can’t work out what comes next, then I usually sleep on it. 
If there’s still nothing there the next morning regarding how I’m going to rescue my poor characters, then I tend to skip ahead and write the next part of the manuscript—and I don’t always write in chronological order. For that reason, my first drafts often resemble a patchwork of sorts, with a few gaps and lots of overlapping fabric. 
It’s during the rewrites and editing when I’ll sit down and write in my notebook all the plot holes that have come about through writing myself into corners, and then I have a long think about how I’m going to sort it. Sometimes, I have to change details that I’ve already established earlier on. Sometimes, I move that scene to a more convenient place where characters’ motives are more apparent. Or sometimes, I find that having now written a rough draft to the ending of the manuscript, I know exactly how to fix the problems. 


Do you need silence, or do you prefer background noise to write?

This varies a lot, depending on what I’m writing. Strangely enough, if I’m writing in past tense then I prefer to have a playlist or background noise. If I’m using present tense, then silence works best. I don’t know why!


Does your writing tend toward gritty or more stylized, or does it change by project? By choice or by nature?

Okay, so I have two very different writing styles, depending on which tense I use. My present tense stories focus a lot more on building up tension and realism, as well as the immediacy of the situation and getting properly inside my main character’s head; because some of the stuff I write is quite dark, these stories do end up quite ‘gritty’. 
On the other hand, I’ve noticed that when I’m writing in the past tense, my writing (usually) tends to have a lighter, ‘friendlier’ tone, as well as being more stylized to specific genres.  
But I do like to experiment with different styles and genres. 


How many books did you read last year? Are you happy with that number?

The short answer: A LOT. 
The long answer: I honestly don’t know. I didn’t keep count, unfortunately. But I really wish I had. In fact, I’m trying to this year having just discovered the goal you can set yourself on Goodreads and how it logs your progress. I love charts and graphs like that. 
But I know I read a lot of books last year. I tend to read series, and I tend to read quickly. I try to read something for myself (as opposed to the books on my uni reading list) as often as I can, aiming for at least a few pages everyday before bed as a minimum. 


Do you think talent is innate, or can it be taught?

Now, this is a tricky one.  
I think partly it depends on what the individual person believes. If he or she believes they are a talented writer because they have the innate ability, then that person’s not going to necessary agree that talent can only be taught, and that anyone can write something brilliant. And vice versa: if someone really wants to learn how to write and believes that’s the only way to be a good writer, and that person willing to put in the time, then yeah, I think talent can be taught because that’s what that individual believes, and what they’ve found to be true for them.  
Overall, I think it’s likely to be a combination of these two things, as well as having the motivation to write and keep writing. Only by writing a lot—and writing regularly—do I think you can improve your ‘talent’, regardless of whether it is initially learned or innate. And I think everyone can improve.  
But I also think it depends on what you mean by ‘talent’. The ability to write breath-taking prose? Or the capability to come up with an intricately designed plot that holds suspense? Being able to complete a first draft? Successfully rewriting and editing and polishing your manuscript? Having the perseverance to keep going after rejection after rejection?  
There are a lot of things at play when it comes to writing and being ‘successful’, so I don’t think that talent can simply be defined as either innate or something that can be learned.  
I think to be a ‘talented’ writer you’ve got to have a passion for writing already inside you, the motivation to keep writing, the desire to improve and build on what you know, as well as time to read a lot of books—including those outside your genre. And there’s probably a hundred other things too that make up a writer’s ‘talent’. 

And the plus one that is the same for everyone:

What do you wish I asked that no one ever asks, and what is your answer?

Hmmm. This is tricky. I don’t think anyone’s asked me to what extent writing controls my life, so I think I’ll go with that.

For me, writing is a part of who I am, and it’s there in every decision that I make. I can’t escape from it. It’s part of me. I feel like I have to be a writer, that I have to get these words and stories out. All the time, I’m thinking about writing—even if it’s only subconscious. I see a nice car: oh, this character would totally drive that. I see some new food: oh, so-and-so wouldn’t want to try that no matter what he was offered.  
It’s almost like I live with all these people—uh, characters—in my head; depending on which story I’m writing, (and which characters are most prominent in my mind that day), I think I react slightly differently to situations than I might otherwise react. I suppose it’s because of my mindset—if I’ve just finished a sad scene, or killed off a character, then my emotions tend to be a bit darker than usual. (Now, if that hasn’t made me sound absolutely crazy, I don’t know what will… but I’ve spoken to other writers, and they’re like this too, I promise!)  
But, as writing is a part of me, it’s something I have to do. When I don’t write, I almost yearn for the time and place where I can write. I feel this drive within me—that I need to write—and I have to write. And when I do write—although I often moan and moan about how difficult I find it—I do feel a lot better afterwards. Especially if I’ve just finished a draft. I suppose it’s therapeutic, in a way.


***

Thank you, Madeline! My responses to your answers are in the comments below!


If any of you readers are writers, too, and you'd like to play along, contact me here or on Twitter and you, too, can get five questions and a little bit of spotlight!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Surprise Publication Announcement! - A New Sky To Burn: 100 Weird Haiku!


Do you remember back in February, when I kept mentioning on Twitter and Instagram that I was working on Weird Haiku? Well, I was trying to write 100 in one month. I actually wrote 157 of them, and they were varying degrees of strange, and this is the result of that fun side-project!


A New Sky To Burn: 100 Weird Haiku

On Kindle: and in Paperback:


Also Available in all these places:
US UK DE FR ES IT NL JP BR CA MX AU IN

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Come find me around the web!


I'm over on Kristina's blog taking part in her Proust Your Protagonist interview series! Go see how Annissa of Yorra handles Marcel Proust's favorite questions to ask people who come to visit!


And over on my NY Journal Of Books page, they recently posted by review of Willful Child, and will soon post my review of Seriously Wicked!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Five + 1 Questions with author Kristina Elyse Butke



Today we have Five + 1 Questions with one of my favorite people ever! Kristina Elyse Butke, a fellow fantasy-writer from SHU! Let's meet Kristina:

Bio
Kristina writes fantasy and horror, and occasionally dabbles in the world of digital art and comics. She has an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University and is adjunct faculty for the English department at North Central State College. Say hello to Kristina on her website or follow her on Twitter.

Latest Project:
I like to dabble in haiku! My latest poem’s at First Class Literary: Victor Stitches; Or, the Haiku Prometheus

Five + 1 Questions is a thing I like to do to generate conversation between writers and readers. I pick five questions from a list of 100 that I like to ask writers, by rolling dice (all very scientific), Here's the questions Kristina got!

Do you read the same genre / style as you write, or do you read outside what you're writing?

While I’ve dipped into other genres, I regularly read nonfiction, fantasy, literary fiction, science fiction, and horror. Since wrapping graduate school at Seton Hill, I’ve opened my mind to genres I wouldn’t normally consider outside of my own. I’ve read mysteries, romance, erotica, historical fiction, middle-grade YA...and it’s because I want to support my classmates and fellow writers. On top of that, though, SHU forced me to confront the reality that every genre has merit, and writers can learn so much just from walking outside of their comfort zone.
I like to call myself a writer of fantasy and horror, but I need to be a little honest with myself about what it is I write, and rethink that title. Fantasy is my predominant genre. But I’ve always liked works that have elements of horror to them, and although I enjoy reading straight horror from time to time, I don’t actually write it. 
It’s more realistic that I scrap the “horror” title altogether and just call it for what it is—dark fantasy. Author Alan Baxter defines it best: “[...] a work is dark fantasy if it deals with any elements of fantasy and/or the paranormal in a way that studies the dark and frightening side of our nature, psychology and the weird, sublime and uncanny.”
Although I haven’t seen bookshelves in stores labeled “dark fantasy,” if I flit between the horror and fantasy sections, I’ll find what I’m looking for after some digging. As for what I’m into currently? I’m obsessed with Sui Ishida’s Tokyo Ghoul series, which I think fits the dark fantasy genre perfectly. The fact that it’s Japanese manga is irrelevant to me. I’ll consume a good story no matter how it’s packaged.

What tropes do you think need to be freshened up?

“White man fantasy” and its outdated tropes need to call it in. While there’s the hullabaloo over the Hugos and geeks reacting against diversity, the outcry is not enough to stop the genre’s progression towards inclusivity. 
While many could argue that fantasy means “inventing whatever the heck I want to, because it’s fantasy,” or even worse, “it’s fantasy, it’s not supposed to be real,” one of the main components of successful fantasy is the suspension of disbelief. Samuel Taylor Coleridge (all the way back in 1817!) was right to suggest that a fantastic tale must contain "human interest and a semblance of truth” in order for readers to accept the absurdities that occur elsewhere in the story.  
In order for fantasy to endure, it must suspend disbelief by embracing reality. Fantasy must continue to acknowledge that readers of the genre are all ages, all races, and all genders, and to include characters and plots in fantasy that acknowledge this truth.    

Which writers have been your biggest inspirations, and what have you learned from them?

At one point, I stopped reading genre fiction altogether, and that was from the end of middle school all the way up to my freshman year of college. All I can remember is that I felt disconnected from the genres and their books, and felt tired of all of it. 
I don’t even know how this happened anymore, but at the end of freshman year, I found Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest and it reinvigorated the genre for me. It’s a work of historical fantasy, so while there are fantastic elements, the majority of the story is good, old-fashioned Celtic history, and feels very much based in reality. That might’ve been what drew me to the story in the first place—it was a fantasy that felt real. 
There were also some things that surprised me when I read it. There’s darkness in the book, and cruelty; but there’s a clear, constant presence of romance. I always hated romance because, like the genres I briefly abandoned, I was tired of it, and felt disconnected. Maybe it’s the tropiness of genre fiction that turned me away from everything during that period overall. But the romance in Daughter of the Forest felt real, and spoke of a love that endured. There was a presence that felt authentic, because such love was conveyed in simple imagery and gestures.  It made me realize that deep down, I actually adore romance (if done well).
While Marillier’s book turned me on to fantasy again, it was also the first book that made me want to abandon playwriting and consider the possibility of writing fiction seriously. It took a while for me to end my ties to theatre (for most of my life I wrote plays and musicals), but once I enrolled at Seton Hill, I knew fiction was the true dream worth pursuing.

What was the first book you read in the genre you write in?

In elementary school, the first traditional fantasy I read was “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C. S. Lewis. The first traditional horror novel I remember reading was “IT” by Stephen King in the 7th grade...although, looking back on it now, I remember being a fan of everything R. L. Stine put down; not just Goosebumps, but Fear Street, too! Oh, the memories are coming back, because now I’m remembering Christopher Pike as well...

What genre have you never written in, that you'd love to give a try, and do you have any ideas about what you'd write there?

I would like to try my hand at science fiction, but I don’t think I can pull it off. Same thing with romance. 
...But if I could figure it out, I enjoy science fiction that deals with AI and robotics; as for romance, it would be something adventurous and historical.

And the plus one that is the same for everyone:

What do you wish I asked that no one ever asks, and what is your answer?

Um...this is really hard...
I suppose, deep down, I’ve always wanted someone to ask me to justify my interests and how they relate to what I write. Maybe it’s just another trope—the writer who feels misunderstood—but I’ve always wanted to have the chance to defend my choices and interests, and how they all fit into this bigger picture  that allows me to grow as a reader, thinker, and writer.
...But, that’d be several pages long, probably.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Come see me answer Heidi's Pick Six!



Heidi Ruby Miller does a thing where she asks a handful of questions, and you pick six of them you want to answer. Mine just went up on her blog. Check it out!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Weekly dispatch from the Division of Muse Relations - Week 17 2015



This week's prompts!

1. A stealthy new illness crops up, with symptoms that could belong to any of a number of already known illnesses, so it's not immediately identified as new. But the more people get sick, the stranger those with the illness react--because they're all now tied together. And when the number of infected reaches a certain population, they all change. How? And into what? And what can everyone else do about it?

2. Two people live in side-by-side apartments on opposite floor plans, and have never met, but their lives fit together like puzzle pieces--the things missing from one being exactly what the other needs. They need to come together to beat a strange new threat to both their lives--but how? What finally gets them to meet? And once they do, how do they combat the threat?

3. A show no one remembers ever being on TV shows up on DVD, and people start watching it. And loving it. And creating a rich and vibrant fandom around it. But where did the show come from and why does no one remember it before the DVD release? And what are these strange special features certain people are discovering?

4. Time travel is invented, but it's so imprecise that almost everyone discounts it immediately, and it's mostly abandoned. Then someone discovers that there's a mental component to it--you have to be a certain type of crazy, and you have to be at just the right emotional balance to land where you aim. And someone is found who is jut that--but there are people who don't want him changing time. What happens next?

5. On the worst day in one girl's life, the whole world changes. She's one of sixteen people from all over the world who witness silver spires growing up out of the ground and shining a weird light all around them. These sixteen people are changed and are drawn to each other, and it turns out it was the absolute worse day o all their lives. But why are they so desperate to meet each other? And what do the spires mean? And do they all have the same purpose in mind when they meet?


As always, these prompts are free for you to use as you see fit! Any stories that come from them are yours, and you owe nothing to me, but if you send me links to them, I'll share them so people can see your work!

If you'd like more prompts like this, look under the Publications and Shop tab for the two Divisin of Muse Relations ebooks!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Cover Reveal of Liz Coley's new book Tor Maddox: Unleashed!



You can see the Five + 1 Questions feature with Liz HERE, if you want to get to know her a little better!

And here's a message from her herself!

What's next for Liz Coley, author of the international best-selling psychological thriller Pretty Girl-13
Pretty Girl-13, published in 2013, was a dark tale about uncovering the secrets you can't even tell yourself, of literally putting yourself back together after shattering trauma. And now for something completely different... 
The new Tor Maddox series comes from "the lighter side of Liz." The stories are still page-turning thrillers, but of the adventurous variety. In the first book, Tor Maddox: Unleashed, a contemporary teenage girl who cares deeply about people and her world topples into conspiracies, pandemics, and forbidden love. Releases May 1 in print and Kindle editions. Good news--you won't have to wait a year to see what happens next because Tor Maddox 2: Embedded releases June 1 and Tor Maddox 3: Mistaken releases July 1. 





Liz Coley has been writing long and short fiction for teens and adults for more than ten years. Her short fiction has appeared in Cosmos Magazine and several speculative fiction anthologies: The Last Man, More Scary Kisses, Strange Worlds, Flights of Fiction and Winter's Regret.

In 2013, psychological thriller Pretty Girl-13 was released by HarperCollins in the US and UK. Foreign translations have been published in French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Swedish, Norwegian, Russian, Czech, Slovakian, and Chinese (simplified and traditional).

Her independent publications include alternate history/time travel/romance Out of Xibalba and teen thrillers in the new Tor Maddox series.

Liz lives in Ohio, where she is surrounded by a fantastic community of writers, beaten regularly by better tennis players, uplifted by her choir, supported by her husband, teased by her teenaged daughter, cheered from afar by her two older sons, and adorned with hair by her cats Tiger, Pippin, and Merry.

Liz invites you to follow her as LizColeyBooks on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and visit her website at LizColeyBooks.blogspot.com.

Monday, April 13, 2015

This week's dispatch from the Division of Muse Relations!



This week, I'm gonna do something a little different. I'm going to give you five sort of structural and procedural prompts, because sometimes all the story starters in the world can't get a story moving, because the problem is in the shape or the execution of it!

1. Venn Diagrams
I'm a huge nerd (as you may have noticed), and part of my particular constellation of nerdisms is that I like Venn Diagrams. They're specifically created for showing how things overlap, and since stories are all about overlapping ideas, I don't know why more people don't use them as story-generation devices.

So do this:

  • Draw out a big Venn Diagram. You can do the classic two-circle kind, or you can get fancy and add more. Make sure most of the space is where they overlap, since that's where the story will grow.
  • In each circle, put an idea. I tend to start with really broad, metaphorical ones like Air and Water or something, but you can put anything. Pick things that're bothering you, or that you keep returning to, or that you want to tell a story about but haven't figured out how yet.
  • Start filling up that overlapping space with possibilities. Like, in the example of my Air and Water circles, I could put:
    • "The fish may love the bird, but where will they live?"
    • The steam rising off a lake is a host of spirits
    • If there's an ocean, you can build an atmosphere, and if there's enough atmosphere, eventually an ocean will rain out
    • Flying fish, leaping dolphins, people moving from air to water and living there
    • A place that has an abundance of one, but not enough of the other--who would live there?
    • And so on
  • And then, when you have a lot of stuff, see if you have a new story!



2. Steal that idea
You write books because you like stories. So what's the favorite sort of story you like to read? And which of that type is your favorite example? Inside of that, what is you absolute favorite idea that's presented?

Write that down.

Now see if there's a way you can show another aspect of that idea. What did the original story totally miss a chance to talk about? What does that idea make you think of, that you'd like to explore through prose? What sorts of characters would you like to see get tangled up in this idea? How can you add to it and trim off of it to make the story more your own?



3. Come at it from a different direction
So you've been working on this one piece for ages, and you're just up against a wall. Here's some ways to look at it from another side and see if there's something vital you missed--which, in my work, is usually the cause of getting stuck:

  • Write a haiku about the core idea, or the problem at hand. The extreme limit on size forces you to clear out all the side stuff and focus.
  • Pick a side character and write what they're doing right now, and why it matters.
  • Skip the scene (or scenes) and pick up where you next know what's happening; as you write, take note of things that have to have happened in that gap scene. Look! It wrote itself!
  • Stop entirely, and go take a shower or wash dishes. Don't think about it too hard, just let the sound of falling water smooth out your brain. Keep a notebook nearby, just in case. Maybe think about other stuff you want in the story, or in the series, but not the story problem you're working on.
  • Go to sleep, and tell yourself firmly that you'll dream the answer to this problem. The subconscious loves a puzzle!



4. List it out
Lists are so useful for story-writing! If you hit a rough patch, list out:

  • Every single thing that could happen here next, regardless of how ridiculous, then start eliminating the stupid ones and shuffling around the good ones until you have new options.
  • All the characters currently in play, what they want, what they're doing right now, and when was the last time you saw them. Who can you bring forward with a new plot point?
  • Everything you wanted to happen in this section of the story. What did you forget to include? What can be cut or moved to smooth things out? 
  • All the pertinent rules of the world you've set up. Can one be bent or broken? Is the story not working because one was?
  • All the details you haven't gotten to yet. Which piece of worldbuilding lore could you bring in now to ease the issue? Who comes along with it? What story is dependent on it?



5. Change the names
When all else fails, you can always write a scene or three that's actually someone else holding the place for the characters you've created, and just give them the characters' names. Like, who are some literary or pop-cultural characters you've been wanting to write for or emmulate? How would they handle this scene?


How do you get through the hard times, writers?

Because I don't have enough projects, I started another!



While I was working on all those fics for Theme Week, I accidentally started a new novel that's been swimming around in my subconscious for quite a while, and I thought, "lets make this an experiment". Because I need a way to get people to see my work for free, and I like feedback, and I feel like I've found a nice group of people who love fiction as much as I do, so I've decided to just basically write this new novel as a public display. The internet version of sitting in a shop window, making stuff.

Head over to: FRACTURE

I'm planning on posting a full chapter each week (probably somewhere around 33 of them, since there's three point-of-view characters), in segments so the posts don't get too long. It's tumblr, not long-form-reading-land. And I'll listen to comments and questions and reactions along the way. I don't know how long it'll take, or how far off the rails it'll go, I don't know if I'll make it into a regular book after I'm done (though I probably will), and it's a side-project so I'm going to keep it fun, but I think it's a cool idea.

Two years ago, Chloe lost her sister to a crack in reality; now, the cracks are picking up pace, and she's figured out a way to track them--but she's not the only one, and there's a lot more going on than she realizes.

Married to the Wind is being featured over on Heidi Ruby Miller's blog!


Go check out her blog, and see my pretty book there among all it's compatriots! She's got an awesome and active blog, so stick around to see her other posts after you check out mine, and sometime next week, tune back in for my answers to her Pick Six questions!



Saturday, April 11, 2015

Five + 1 Questions with YA Author of the upcoming Tor Maddox series, Liz Coley!




Today, I'm relaunching my Five + 1 Questions series with Liz Coley, who I met through the wonderful Heidi Ruby Miller (look for her Five + 1 coming up soon!).

Lets Meet Liz Coley:

Genre: YA
Social Media:
Bio:
    • Liz Coley’s internationally best-selling psychological thriller Pretty Girl-13 has been published in 12 languages on 5 continents and been recognized by the American Library Association on two select lists for 2014 including Best Fiction for Young Adults.
      • Liz’s other publications include alternate history/time travel/romance Out of Xibalba and teen thrillers in the new Tor Maddox series. Her short fiction has appeared in Cosmos Magazine and numerous anthologies.
        • Liz invites you to follow her as LizColeyBooks on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and visit her website at LizColeyBooks.blogspot.com.
        Latest Project: Tor Maddox: Unleashed
          • When sixteen-year old Torrance Olivia Maddox, self-confessed news junkie, figures out that the mysterious and deadly New Flu is being spread by dogs, she has one question—if the danger is that obvious to her, why hasn’t the government revealed the truth and taken action?
            • Her search for the answer will take her farther than she ever imagined. But then again, she never imagined that man’s best friend could become public enemy number one, that men in black might show up in her cozy suburban neighborhood, that she’d spend her sixteenth birthday as a teenaged runaway, and that her effort to save one dog would become a mission to save them all.


            Five + 1 Questions is a thing I like to do to generate conversations about writing, books, and creativity with other writers. I have a list of 100 questions, and I roll dice to see which questions each person gets. Here's Liz's!


            Where do you hope publishing is in 50 years?
            On Mars. Seriously guys. It's time to take this gig off-planet!
            I'd like to see the boom of new independent bookstores continue relentlessly. I also hope that people can still earn a living of sorts producing content. We've been brainwashed into thinking content should be free and completely on demand. Advertising has made that possible for so many things, but do you really want to see commercials in your books (ahem Kindle screen saver!). The only way free content works long term is if housing and food and clothes and education and medical care are also free. Homeless, hungry, naked, ignorant, sick authors don't work very well. Buy a book! Save an author.

            [NOTE: I want to publish on Mars, too!]

            What could you stand to see more of in your genre?
            Me personally? In YA? Plausibility. I like my dystopias as well as the next person but for me to buy it, that future needs to be something that we could conceivably stumble into for reals. I'd like to separate "fantasy" elements from "sci-fi" elements more in story telling.

            Do you consider yourself to have a Muse? What are they like?
            Oh wow. When the Muse comes and sits on my shoulder, writing becomes exactly like reading. The words and scenes spin out fast and smooth and I feel like the my fingers are incidental to the writing. I'm reading the story as they type it. When I finish that burst of inspiration, I walk away with that same feeling I have putting down a book to do something else. I can't wait to get back and see what happens next. This is not something, however, that happens frequently or predictably, but it's a real high.

            Do you write longhand or digitally?
            I wrote my first novel entirely longhand during the kids' piano and TKD lessons and typed it in each evening. After that, I began creating on the computer, printing out the pages to review and revise as I went along. Now I do everything on the computer and maybe at some point I think about doing a full printout to store in a binder in case civilization as we know it collapses.

            What is the first thing you wrote for yourself, not for a project or assignment?
            I suppose the first creations all for myself were maudlin middle school poems about butterflies and that sort of thing. The first really good (you know, for a kid) poem I wrote was in a flash of inspiration when I was babysitting. The little girl had gone to bed, and I finished reading Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. In one of those muse moments, I wrote a poem about being institutionalized. Cheery.

            And the questions everyone gets:
            What do you wish I asked that no one ever asks, and what is your answer?
            Who do you like--MaryAnne or Ginger?
            Does anyone even know what that means anymore? Google Gilligan's Island. It's supposed to be a litmus test for guys to figure out their values. I'm not a guy. However, for me, the answer was always MaryAnne--a cheerful, optimistic, nice, can-do kind of girl next door. That's the species of heroine I like. She's the soul of Girl Scout of Pretty Girl-13. She's the spirit of Tor Maddox.

            #12MonkeysThemeWeek Day 5 - Finale Wishes



            The end of the line! If my arm didn't feel like it was going to fall off, I feel like I could keep doing this forever--this show has so much open space for speculation! I went into the finale with no real idea of what would happen--and, like, none of this stuff I came up with that I wanted to see did--but it was so good.

            Day Five - Finale Wishlist

            Fork In The Road
            They came to a branch in the hall and were forced to stop holding hands.
            “Which way?” Cassie asked.
            “That way–should be the third door on the left. Go there, cut the power, stay hidden. Then get out. Don’t follow me.”


            Insurance
            “We have to at least try!” Cassie threw her hands up in the air and did her best not to throw something, but he was being stubborn and it was scaring her. He’d never turned that wall of solid denial against her before; it was always for her, with her. Against everyone else.

            Letters From The Past
            The scavs would be through their defenses soon, and if Jones was to die, she wished it to be on her own terms. And so she retreated to her own chambers, locked all the doors between the hall and her office, and opened her trunk. All that remained of her old life–all that remained of her whole world, and of the only few things she’d loved–was in this trunk. Hannah’s blanket, the one she’d brought her baby home from the hospital in. Pictures of everyone who had died around her. Her favorite books. Her parents’ wedding bands.
            And an envelope she’d never opened.

            Courting
            Jones had just decided not to smoke another cigarette and was still sitting on the porch when the man in the suit stepped out of the car and strode up to her. She’d never seen him before, but he looked like he knew where he was going, and she saw recognition on his face. She didn’t know him, but he knew exactly who she was.

            The Days After
            They hadn’t been able to get much from the bookstore–and there wasn’t much to get anymore–so they’d left as soon as they were sure no one saw them. Cassie drove, looking straight ahead, her knuckles white on the steering wheel. Behind her, Cole scrabbled into new clothes in the back seat. He moved easily for the first time in who knows how long. Weeks. And his skin was smooth and undamaged, all his scars smoothed away. All but a solar-flare shaped burn on his chest where the needle had gone in.
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