Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Your Punctuation Personality Type

September 24, 2015

In honor of National Punctuation Day, I give you the Punctuation Personality Type. This was originally a guest post on the blog of author Brian Thomas Schmidt.

Find Your Punctuation Personalty Type

A recent (totally made up) scientific study analyzed what your favorite punctuation mark means about you. Every writer, every person, over-uses and abuses at least one punctuation mark. Here’s what your particular weakness means about you:

Period (.): Type A personality. You are decisive and clear. You have no difficulty with setting limits. Often a stodgy person that no one else thinks is any fun to hang out with. You tend to be good with technology and have the latest gadgets.

Comma (,): The peacemaker. You like to help others, and you get along with everyone. You like to make sure people understand each other. You like clarity as much as the Period type, but, unlike him, you don’t subscribe to the “less is more” theory. You believe more information is better than not enough. For this reason you sometimes confuse others and can become tiresome. But, in general, you’re fun, or at least tolerable, to be around. If not, you can make people think you are.

Exclamation point (!): You are excitable and anxious. You don’t self-censor well and think that your opinion always matters. You use italics a lot in written communication. You get nervous easily and are often too loud. You’re either an overly-affectionate or a mean drunk. You’re fun at parties.

Question mark (?): Indecisive and uncertain. You over-analyze. You may be shy and have low self-esteem. People usually have no idea you’re there.

Colon (:): You like things to be well-delineated. Much like the Period type, you like order. You make lists. People always know where they stand with you. You usually get asked to organize the office parties and school functions.

Semi-colon (;): You’re well-read and urbane. You knew where this was on the keyboard before it became part of the winky emoticon. You’re more easy-going than Colon or Period types, but you’re still put together and usually organized. People are comfortable around you and tend to like you, though they may not be able to say exactly why.

Hyphen (-): You like having fun. You are often creative and are very social. You like throwing parties, though you may call on your Colon type friends to organize them. You’re more likely to be impulsive and throw unlikely things together. No one would be surprised that your decor is shabby-modern or artsy-classic.

En-dash (–): If you knew this was a different mark than the hyphen, you are way too into punctuation. You’re either an editor or a schoolteacher, or else no one likes you. At all.

Em-dash (—): You’re stuck up and pretentious. You correct people’s grammar and complain about how stupid kids are these days. You like to show off. You made good grades in school and perform well at work. Your boss loves you, even if your co-workers don’t.

Parentheses ( () ): You’re scatterbrained. You throw things together at the last minute. You’re often hopping back and forth between different tasks and think you’re multi-tasking. You tend to bore people with your stories because you think every detail is important and you repeat yourself. You are often sarcastic but are good at making other people laugh, often at someone’s expense. (Including your own.)

Ellipses (…): An indecisive and flighty person. You lose your train of thought easily. You are a follower and like to let other people take the risks. You often misplace your keys or spend ten minutes looking for the glasses you’re already wearing.

Apostrophe (‘): You’re casual and carefree. You’re always the one who has random things in your purse or glove compartment that no one else would think to carry around but somehow you end up in situations where it’s a good thing you had that thumb-tack on you. You have lots of friends, usually without really trying. People just like you.

Quotation Mark (“): You aren’t very original. You tweet famous quotes a lot. You are nosy and like to gossip; mostly because you don’t have anything of substance to add of your own. People like to hang out with you for a coffee break but don’t really consider you a friend.

Slash (/): You’re a complicated and complex person. You can be secretive and have a hard time trusting people. You like to keep your options open. You’re the respectable housewife your friends will be shocked to see coming out of the S&M club.

Brackets ([ ]): You are snobbish and self-important. You are likely to use these to add “[sic]” to other people’s comments. You have no friends and probably have a “kick me” post-it on your back right now.

Asterisk (*): Nothing is ever final with you. You can justify anything and have an excuse for everything. You would make a good lawyer. People either find you entertaining, or really boring, because you know lots of random trivia.

Ampersand (&): You like stuff. You collect things and are a packrat. You’re friends with everyone, whether they know it or not.

At symbol (@): You’re very social, sometimes overly. You’re the one who always takes a phone call in the middle of a conversation. You also spend way too much time online. Go get some fresh air. Taking your iPhone out on the porch doesn’t count.

Hash/pound (#): Much like the @ type, you’re online too much, but, unlike @ types, in real life you have few friends and are reclusive. Before the internet, you called customer service lines just to have someone to talk to.

Bullets (•): You have OCD.

Interrobang (?! or !?): You have a multiple personality disorder. Seek help.

Don’t miss the follow up: The Grammatical Error Personality Type

Quick and Fun! Blog Hop!

May 6, 2014

So, once again, the enabler of this blog tour thing…ahem, I meant, the person who invited me to participate in this blog hop is the lovely and talented J.M. Frey, Lambda Literary Award nominated author of Triptych. Check her out here.

Now that the introductions have been made, the way this works is that I answer a few questions about myself. These are short and fun. Hope you enjoy! And make sure to check out the amazing authors linked at the end of the post.

1 – If you could time travel and steal somebody else’s novel/short story/film for yourself, what would it be?

The first book in Anne McCaffrey‘s Pern series, Dragonflight. It’s not currently my favorite book of all time, but it certainly was at one point, and it–and the following series–affected my life profoundly, and my writing. To have been able to start in that world and take it through the worldbuilding she did, would have been an amazing experience, I think.

2 – What writing sin do you actively have to struggle against in your own work?

In first drafts, I tend to use too many adverbs, echo the same reactions over and over (shrug, smile, etc.), and fail to indicate who is speaking in long passages of dialogue. Thankfully, those are pretty easy to spot in editing.

3 – Pick three writers, past or present, that you would want to have dinner with. Why those writers?

IV CoverMary Shelley, Brandon Sanderson, Carol Berg. Thankfully, two of those are still alive, and I might just get lucky enough one day…

As for why, Mary Shelley not only wrote the original science fiction novel, Frankenstein, but she was a woman writing something completely original–and heaven knows how that might have been received, woman or no–more than a hundred years ago. Anyone close to the industry knows that women writing science fiction and fantasy are STILL fighting for acceptance and equal standing among our peers. What must it have been like for her?

Brandon Sanderson is a name everyone reading this probably already knows. He’s an amazing fantasy writer and he doesn’t need me to sing his praises. But what fascinates me about him and what I’d love to talk to him about is his worldbuilding. He writes the most original worlds I’ve ever read, barring perhaps Elizabeth Bear. It’s not that they’re so mindboggling foreign that we can’t even relate, it’s that they take a world like ours, and they make something about it amazingly different, in a way that’s mindboggling and changes everything. To be able to invent worlds like that…

Carol Berg writes the most amazing characters I’ve ever read. And then she combines them into situations and relationships that could just tear your heart out or make you dance in the streets, depending on what page you’re on. I’m a character-centric writer, so for me, that’s magic.

So, quick and painless, more or less. 😉 Be sure to check out these other authors, and their amazing writing.

Marie Bilodeau: Aurora nominated author of science fiction and fantasy. Destiny’s War, the final book in the Destiny Series, is available now!

Erik Buchanan: Fantasy writer, author of Small Magics, Cold Magics, and the upcoming third in that trilogy, True Magics.

K.T. Bryski: Fantasy author of Hapax, and something Victorian and creepy and awesome sounding coming soon.

Gabrielle Harbowy: Editor and author extraordinaire. Co-editor with Ed Greenwood of the When the Hero Comes Home, When the Villain Comes Home, and When The Hero Comes Home 2. Also my co-author in a short story in Carbide Tipped Pens, coming soon from Tor.

And the talented authors in the anthologies When the Hero Comes Home, When the Villain Comes Home, and When The Hero Comes Home 2.

Tag! You’re It! Blog Tour

April 28, 2014

So, I’ve been just dreadful about blog writing, updating, all that nonsense lately. I’d like to say it’s because I’ve been doing nothing but writing, but that would be a lie. I HAVE been busy though, with about a bazillion different things. Some of those things have more merit than others.

IV CoverBut Impact Velocity‘s just come out, so that’s cool, right? Have you checked it out yet?

Jake has finally found peace and a family with the man he loves. But when the unimaginable happens, Jake finds himself on the run with his greatest enemy and the man who betrayed them both.

If he can’t find a way to bring down the man who now wields the power of an emperor, he’ll lose not just his own life, but his daughter’s as well.

So, the lovely and talented J.M. Frey, Lambda Literary Award nominated author of Triptych, has tagged me in this blog hop thing. Looks like fun. Check her out and her post here.

Now for my part in this party. I get to interview myself. Here goes:

1) What am I working on?

Not going crazy? Oh, you meant writing? Well, I’m working right now on a YA scifi. It has no title yet so right now I’m calling it Snow White and the Seven Genetically Engineered Teenagers. It’s fun. 🙂 I have a YA fantasy I’ve completed but it’s being shopped right now and doesn’t have a home yet. Soon, I hope.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I think a lot of that depends on how you’re defining genre? Broadly? Well, in both fantasy and scifi I try to always write characters that aren’t straight, white, whatever, in worlds that look disturbingly like our own. The Physics of Falling took that farther than I had in the past, which is to say, not terribly far because I’d never really considered gender issues in my writing before. So simply writing a gay or bi character was a new thing for me. These days I find myself writing characters in a lot more interesting places on the gender scale. And the fun thing about that when it comes to scifi and fantasy, is that you can make it something that is integral to your world for all kinds of interesting reasons.

Other than that, I have always written character based stories, even when it’s hard scifi.

3) Why do I write what I do?

Because it’s fascinating. Because anything’s possible. Because I live in the real world all day long and find the process of seeing how far from it I can get with my character and worlds to be something that is very satisfying to do. And when it comes to queer characters, because I know what it’s like to be different, or to be perceived as “wrong” or “flawed” by the “normal” people. I want to write about and for people like us.

4) How does my writing process work?

I wouldn’t say it works… Ah, the question that drives all my stress. How I got to be a person who works a nine to five, freelancing on the side, AND writing novels, I’ll never know. I don’t do organization and I don’t handle stress well. WTF, right? Somehow it happens anyway. I’ve learned about myself that I don’t accomplish much just sitting down to write because it’s “time.” So I don’t have a schedule. When I’m seriously in a writing-the-novel phase, I will set myself daily goals, but I’ve discovered about myself that I need to write in my head before I write anywhere else. So I’ll spend at least as much time writing in my head as I do sitting at the keyboard. Once I sit down to actually “write,” I’m really just transcribing. Oh, new and unexpected things can come out at the keys, but that’s only when I’ve brought something with me to the table.

Once I’m really down and dirty, ready to tackle that novel, I make up for weeks or months of not writing by writing a LOT all at once. For every novel, I take at least one “writingcation” in which I go out of town and just write all weekend. My record is just north of 30,000 in three days. And for that one there was fourteen hours of driving to account for. Still, it’s what works for me. Some good stuff has come out of such panic-writing. It’s definitely gotten the novels written.

Well, folks, there it is. Everything you didn’t know you wanted to know about me. 😉 Here’s where I’m supposed to tag two other authors, but, since I managed to flub this up and get the dates all wrong, everyone else is taken. Instead, I’m going to link you to the amazing Dragon Moon Press authors. I first met most of them three years ago when I went to Toronto for the launch of Fighting Gravity. They’re talented, fun, and just some really good people. You should check them out. Fair warning, you may find yourself buying books. But, that’s why we’re all here, right? Enjoy!

Marie Bilodeau: Aurora nominated author of science fiction and fantasy. Destiny’s War, the final book in the Destiny Series, is available now!

Erik Buchanan: Fantasy writer, author of Small Magics, Cold Magics, and the upcoming third in that trilogy, True Magics.

K.T. Bryski: Fantasy author of Hapax, and something Victorian and creepy and awesome sounding coming soon.

Gabrielle Harbowy: Editor and author extraordinaire. Co-editor with Ed Greenwood of the When the Hero Comes Home, When the Villain Comes Home, and When The Hero Comes Home 2. Also my co-author in a short story in Carbide Tipped Pens, coming soon from Tor.

And the talented authors in the anthologies When the Hero Comes Home, When the Villain Comes Home, and When The Hero Comes Home 2.

Want An Agent? Here They Are!

October 4, 2012

It’s time for that lovely thing, the third annual Baker’s Dozen Agent Auction over on Miss Snark’s First Victim!

Have you seen this lineup?

 

Think you’d like one or several of these agents salivating over your novel, fighting other agents (hair pulling and bitch-slapping optional) just to get their hands on your full manuscript first?

Then GET IN THERE!

There’s still time to enter and, if you have a completed manuscript, YA or Adult (anything but erotica) then you’ll kick yourself if you don’t at least try to get involved in this. There are deadlines all through October and November leading up to the big event in December.

GO!

 

 

This Scares The Crap Out of Me: The Journey to My Logline, Revealed.

September 25, 2012

Ugh. Loglines. Authoress over at Miss Snark’s First Victim is running the pre-Baker’s Dozen logline critique sessions right now and I’ve been reading and adding my two cents and I’m reminded of how much query and logline writing sucks balls. So I’m thinking a concrete example of how you can go wrong, and then distill it down to something right, might help others going through this hell.

So what’s a logline? Essentially, it’s the pitch for your book distilled to one single sentence. Holy… Well, like most people, I started from the query and worked down. Want to see?

Now, I’ve never publicly owned some of this because it’s so embarrassing. But, in the spirit of helping others, and because this way you can laugh at me when I can’t see you doing it, I’ve decided to share my full novel-pitch evolution. That’s right, you get to see the bad stuff I actually put my name on and emailed to people.

Disclaimer: I’m not showing you the first one I wrote, or even the tenth. The very, very first stuff was pure garbage. Even I knew that. I worked and worked it until I got one I thought was pretty good. Here it is:

You can never trust anyone in authority. Jacob Dawes always knew that; but he fell in love with the Emperor anyway. The dangerous mess his life has become really is his own fault.   

Jacob is nothing and no one in the Intergalactic Empire where birth, wealth, and social status mean everything.  But when his incredible genius is identified, he becomes a valuable commodity to the Empire and he’s taken to the Imperial Intellectual Complex.

The Empire may want him, in spite of his origins, but the scientists and scholars at The Complex don’t.  His groundbreaking discoveries in physics overcome prejudice, and earn him the favor – and friendship – of the Emperor.

In time, the friendship becomes more and Jacob, cynical and wary of anyone in power, is now the Emperor’s lover. 

The Emperor’s favor isn’t a protection, and Jacob soon finds himself embroiled in dangerous political games he’s ill-equipped to play that may cost him the man he loves, and even his life. 

Wow, that’s long. Well, it’s a complex world and a complex character with complex problems. There’s only so much you can cut out, right? Here it was after I got some seriously good quality (and professional) help with it. This is the version that I queried with that led to the sale of the book:

Jacob Dawes’ scientific genius got him out of the slums and into the Emperor’s bed; but when a very public mistake gives his rivals an opportunity to be rid of him, Jacob discovers that fighting his own execution would mean betraying the man he loves.

Well that’s a bit less, isn’t it. Barely even a pitch, more like a logline. It got me a book deal, though.

Here’s the back cover copy of the published book:

When Jacob Dawes is Selected for the Imperial Intellectual Complex as a child, he’s catapulted from the poverty-stricken slums of his birth into a world where his status as an unclass is something no one can forget, or forgive. His growing scientific renown draws the attention of the emperor, a young man Jacob’s own age, and they find themselves drawn to each other in an unlikely, and ill-advised relationship. Jacob may have won the emperor’s heart, but it’s no protection when he’s accused of treason. And fighting his own execution would mean betraying the man he loves.

Here’s my editor-approved logline:

A brilliant young physicist is accused of treason; to fight for his own life, he’ll have to betray his lover, the Emperor.

Let’s be clear, I didn’t come up with that one, that was the combined effort of my editor and another author who is actually good at this stuff. I COULD NOT get the above back cover copy distilled to one sentence. What about all the stuff about his past? That’s Important! What about why he was ever in danger in the first place? That’s Important! What about the setting? That’s Important!

Well, sure. But that’s for the “oh, tell me more” version of a pitch, or the one you use when you’re querying. That’s not what a logline is. You often hear it called the elevator pitch. You find yourself on the elevator with your dream agent and she asks what your book’s about. That’s not the time to recite your full query from heart. That’s where you use a logline.

What do you NEED in a logline?

Character, conflict, decision, stakes. 

A brilliant young physicist is accused of treason; to fight for his own life, he’ll have to betray his lover, the Emperor.

Character: Brilliant young physicist.

Conflict: Accused of treason.

Decision: Betray the man he loves or not.

Stakes: Death.

It can feel impossible to convey what is unique and interesting about your story without at least some of the trimmings. But there’s no room for that in a logline. Every word counts. Make one word and the one you put next to it convey whole volumes of information. Well you can do that, right? That’s what you do! You’re a writer!

Yes, but one of the hard things about writing a logline isn’t that you don’t know how to write a sentence, it’s that you have to learn to see down to the bare bones of your own story and find the very, very few things that truly matter in conveying an idea of the story in one breath. That’s really really hard for the writer because you are so close to the story you usually can’t see it clearly. That’s why things like Authoress’s logline critique sessions are so helpful! It’s HARD to be told you’re wrong, that what you worked SO HARD on doesn’t work, that your beloved Very Important details aren’t important to anyone but you.

Get used to it. Once you sell the book, you get to do that over and over and over again. For a living.

Have fun! 😉

And good luck!

(Check out, too, Authoress’s own post on loglines. As usual, the comments from the community are helpful as well. Don’t skip them.)