Monday, November 3, 2014

Off to the Editing Cave

How cool would it be if this were actually my editing cave?!
It's also the cave where this happened.
So...maybe not so cool.

I'm ducking into the editing cave for the next several weeks while many of you do NaNo. Here's a list of helpful archive posts to set you on your way!

Setting and Worldbuilding


Good luck with all those shiny new ideas, and see you in December!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Writing Poll: Re-reading, Yea or Nay?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Worldbuilding: What Are Your Constants?

Hello again! I took a bit of an impromptu blogging break there while I did some traveling and some beta'ing. Apologies for being absent in the comment trails of late.

Both the travel and the beta read were awesome experiences. Part of the travel involved watching last Sunday's game at a really great Packer bar in NYC (Go Pack!).

Being from WI, Packer games are sacred weekly traditions in the fall, where everything pauses until the game's over and the final score pretty much determines the state's mood for the next week. As always, this got me thinking about writing, and I wondered how to work this depth of loyalty and fandom into written worlds.

It can be profoundly powerful to create this kind of constant for your characters. The sport, tradition or aspect that's always there, that always brings people together, even when everything's falling apart.

Think of Quidditch in the Harry Potter series, for example. It's a huge part of each book (even and especially when it becomes absent), and in the face of worldly stakes and the fight to defeat Voldemort, people still care, and care deeply, about their favorite Quidditch teams. This detail makes Rowling's world that much clearer and real to us. It's also a chance to reflect the mood and tenor of the story without needing to be in an all-stakes battle.

The force of constancy in your world doesn't have to be a sport. I'd argue that in Chronicles of Narnia, for example, it's family. For the seafaring nation in one of my earlier novels, it's a summer fishing festival. But no matter what you choose, I think it's important to identify a force like this, because things will go bad for your characters and they will need something to hold onto.

So, go on. Create that James Earl Jones moment for your world.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Writing Poll: Crossing Genres

Monday, September 15, 2014

Seasons a'Changin' & Books a'Readin'

In my hometown just south of the Frozen Tundra, Autumn made its presence known last week. I'm not okay with it  accepting it in inches, and it got me thinking about the power of changing seasons in our novels.

Reflect the Mood or Theme
A classic use of seasonal change is as a mirror to the book's plot or theme. Got love, laughter and lighter topics? Spring and summer are perfect settings. Cue autumn leaves and winds when dramatic turning points emerge, and get ready for events to turn bleak and desperate for the characters once "Winter is coming." (I couldn't resist.)

Incite (or Delay) Action
Hand-in-hand with the thematic expression of seasons is a more practical side. What does the change in weather mean for the reality of your book's action. Heavy snows or hard summer rains can delay battles or close roads, while autumn often means harvest time and festivals. Whatever the change of season means in your book, make the most of it. Use it to push the characters into action. What options don't they have in this new season that they did before? What new options emerge?

Limit (or Expand) Geographic Scope
Just like cold and weary troops have to fight differently in the winter, your characters have to think differently about how they'll travel and what they can access in each season. Do falling leaves obscure a much-needed path? Does a frozen pass or swollen river mean your MC can't cross for days or weeks? Or, maybe she CAN cross the ice to a region that's never been accessible before. That happened with Apostle Island sea caves on Lake Superior last winter because of the record cold.

Mix Things Up with Fresh Descriptions
Seasonal change doesn't have to bring huge variations in your book. It's fun to play with the little things, too. How is the clothing different, the food, the customs? The list goes on. Get with the season and enjoy it!

The Read Shelf

I realized it's been a while since I shared my reading list. Lately, I've been gobbling up Veronica Rossi's UNDER THE NEVER SKY series and Jim Butcher's CODEX ALERA series, and THEY ARE BOTH SO FANTASTIC! The other book in the mix is K.A. Stewart's A Snake in the Grass, which I reviewed here. How about you?

Monday, September 8, 2014

In Which I Dispense Advice & Links

In case you're not on Twitter or not following me yet (Look right! Look right!), here's a fun recap of some character & worldbuilding pearls I shared last week. Two of my favorite topics in the writing world!

Hope these give you at least a few fresh ideas. There are lots of other truly great resources on both these aspects, so look around and talk with fellow writers.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fall Goals and Review at Fantasy Faction

Happy post-Labor Day everyone! Hope you all had relaxing weekends and are ready for the craziness of fall.


Sort of.

I had a grand writing plan for the second half of the year that essentially had me drafting two more novels, but I think I'm morphing that to drafting one new novel and editing a second. I'm excited for both of these, so it should be a fun way to round out the year.

How about you? What are you planning for the fall? Writing? Life? Amazing trips?

Jesse James Dawson Review

Speaking of amazing trips, my latest guest post is live at Fantasy Faction so travel on over and take a look (See what I did there?). I'm talking about K.A. Stewart's wonderful Jesse James Dawson series. Urban fantasy fans - it's a must!

Here's a peek:

I discovered K.A. Stewart’s Jesse James Dawson series several years ago when the first installment, A Devil In The Details, hit the shelves. Featuring demon-slaying samurai family man Jesse, the storyline and characters were a breath of fresh air in the crowded and often over-amped urban fantasy market. Jesse puts his own soul on the line in order to win back others’ from the demons. Sort of like betting at poker, except the cards are swords, the cash is souls, and the other players are demons! I loved the action, wit, and strong character relationships (not to mention a certain mysterious demon pal)...Read the full review at Fantasy Faction.