Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Want to Help Me Brainstorm?

September 25, 2012

I need to figure out who killed the king.

OK, there’s a bit more to it than that. I’m in the will-this-shiny-new-idea-work stage of a new novel. It’s coming together beautifully and I’m in love with the main characters. But I’m still trying to fill in pieces of the overall plot to make sure it works. It’s a high fantasy sort of setting. Here’s the basic premise and where I’m running into trouble.

Basic premise as it applies to current problem: The King is assassinated. His teenage stepson walks in on it and sees it done. Stepson escapes that night and is missing for ten years. He comes back. Conflict that’s been raised/resolved/brewing/etc over all this time comes to a head/ensues.

The plot turn where I’m having trouble: One of the ways the shit hits the fan with this return is that it was never determined all this time who actually killed the king. There have been powerful dukes and the king’s younger brother implicated in the overall plot, but no one knows who wielded the knife, or if they do, they’re not telling. But the stepson saw who it was all those years ago. So now that he’s back, he can out the killer.

Problem: I need a character for this killer. Thing is, there’s an alternate world attached to this one where each person has a counterpart, though, as often is in one of these stories, ones who are good in one world are evil in the other, etc. I have a counterpart for this character in the alternate world that I need to match up to someone in this one. For that reason, I need this person to be:

A woman.

Someone both the king and the stepson would know.

It doesn’t have to be someone they liked or trusted but there’s no reason it couldn’t have been, either. It would probably fit better with the alternate world if this one wasn’t clearly and obviously a friend of the king.

Someone who is now safely out of the way, her compatriots probably know where and have means to contact her. She may or may not have disappeared as soon as the deed was done, but she’s not in reach now that the stepson is back at the palace to name her.

She’s someone no one suspects. (This one makes me leery of using wives/sisters of any of the known plotters.)

Limitations: The boys’ mother was already dead, the king had no other lover. They have no other close female relations, except possibly a wife for the king’s brother, a known plotter.

I’ve got no major female character already in this part of the story at all–it’s one of those icky patriarchal societies–;) except one who is too young to have been involved. I don’t have a problem inserting one, and she doesn’t have to play a hugely important role otherwise, but does have to be enough a part of the backstory that it’s not a “who?” moment when she’s revealed. (Obviously she can’t play a huge role now, since she’s not around to be captured once the prince names her.)

Anyone have any ideas? Or have I backed myself into a corner and need to revisit some of my limitations?

The Next Big Thing! – Author Edition

August 22, 2012

So, I was tagged to do this “The Next Big Thing” meme, by one of my favorite author people, J.M. Frey. The way it works, I tag five other authors in turn to participate by answering the questions below.

Naturally, I tagged the following authors:

Anthology J.M. Frey and I are in together. Check it out!

R.B. Wood

Steve Umstead

Roni Loren

Angela Ackerman

Peter Salomon

Now, not all of them could participate, but you should check them out anyway because they’re talented writers, great people, and they all work really hard to give back to the writing community as well.

So, there were questions, right? Here they are with my answers. And check out writers all over the web participating in The Next Big Thing!

What is the working title of your book?

Cascade Effect

 Where did the idea come from for the book?

This one’s the sequel to Fighting Gravity, my debut novel that came out this past spring.

 What genre does your book fall under?

Science fiction with a bit of a gay love story on the side.

 Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I haven’t the foggiest. I’m not a very visual person, so even if I knew the names of more than the top five or six actors right now, I’ve never been able to picture any of them as my guys.

 What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Jacob thought marrying the emperor would make him safe; but he’s in more danger than ever, and this time, his worst enemy knows the one secret Jacob’s desperate to keep from the emperor.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Neither. I signed with a small publisher without an agent.

 How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took shape over the course of about four months, but if I’m honest, the actual writing time was about three weeks worth of eight hour writing days sprinkled out over those four months.

 What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

If anything, I think my brand of scifi most resembles Anne McCaffrey’s style of light but plausible sci-fi that’s very character centric.

 Who or What inspired you to write this book?

The writing fairies? I’m not sure “inspired” is the right word, but my husband was the one who convinced me to actually put it down on paper instead of just storing these stories in my head.

 What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

One thing people really seem to like about the series so far is that it addresses prejudice and social injustice in a story centering on a same sex relationship—where the sexuality of the people involved is a complete non-issue. It’s not only not what you’d expect, but really refreshing to me to get to read about a same-sex couple without their sexual preferences being The Issue.

OK, now that you know what I’ve got going on, check in with J.M. Frey and the other great authors on the tour. And Have Fun!

Grammatical Error Personality Type

June 18, 2012

As a follow up to last week’s wildly popular Your Punctuation Personality Type, a post Bryan Thomas Schmidt, @BryanThomasS hosted on his blog, we’ve dug through the (imaginary) research archives for similar studies.  Not only is English the most widely spoken language in the Western world, but most of us sat through torturous high school English classes that should have cured us of our grammatical errors. Yet we all have grammar issues that trip us up in writing. A recent (totally made up) study examined what your grammar weakness means about you. - Let's meet offline to lower the odds of me being turned off by your shoddy grammar and punctuationRun-on sentences: You don’t know when to stop. You never shut up and you never stop going. People find you and your nervous energy nerve-wracking. You tend to have trouble with moderation. You can’t eat just one.

You work well with: Comma, Hyphen, Exclamation, At Symbol

Avoid: Period

Comma splice (comma used to separate two simple sentences): You have trouble setting yourself apart from others and tend to blend into the crowd  Not assertive enough to use a period, confident enough to use a semicolon, wacky enough to use parentheses, or snobbish enough to use an em dash, you’re always looking to someone else for acceptance or permission. You have a hard time saying no to people. You may be described as a wannabe or as trying too hard.

You work well with: Comma, Question Mark, Ampersand, Hash

Avoid: Brackets

Incomplete sentences, Split infinitives, Beginning a sentence with a conjunction, Ending a sentence with a preposition: You’re a rebel and like to live on the edge. You know these aren’t really errors but that editors dislike them and they make people over 50 twitch. You like to stick it to the man. You may be a daredevil and/or a drug user.

You work well with: Slash, Apostrophe, Hyphen

Avoid: Em dash

Using an apostrophe for plural: You are the confident, laid back type. You give the orders, someone else handles the details. You can bullshit your way through most things. You have colleagues and followers more than you have friends.

You work well with: Em dash, Asterisk

Avoid: Question Mark

Missing serial or Oxford comma: You’re British.

You work well with: Semicolon, Full Stop (Period)

Avoid: Ellipses

Using adjectives in place of adverbs (“ly” words): You are very social and like to hang out. You’re too busy having fun to care how those stuck-up writing people use language. You are at every party. You have 500 contacts in your phone and don’t remember who half of them are. You may be in college.

You work well with: Hyphen, Comma, At Symbol, Parentheses

Avoid: Hash - It's not you, it's your grammar.

Using “suppose” for “supposed” or “of” for “have”: You need to read a real book once in a while. Facebook is not a real book, and doesn’t count.

You work well with:  Quotation Mark, At Symbol, Ellipses

Avoid: Brackets


Using “I” when “me” is correct (example: He gave the candy to Jane and I.): You follow the rules. You are so afraid of being wrong by using “me” when you should use “I” that you always use “I” and therefore still get it wrong half the time, just the other half. You were the teacher’s pet and are the boss’s favorite. You apologize a lot.

You work well with:  Question Mark, Period, Brackets

Avoid: Bullets

Homonyms/Homophones (you’re/your, their/they’re/there): You tend to be wrapped up in yourself or your own world. You can be casual to the point of carelessness. You’re not very observant and you’re never on time. You think the rules apply to other people. You’re the one who won’t remember the name of the person you wake up in bed with.

You work well with: Ellipses, Apostrophe

Avoid: Semicolon

Who/Whom: You’re one of the good guys. You like to have fun and you have a lot of friends. You don’t want to know when you should use “whom” because who says that anyway besides pretentious twats? You spend a lot of time on Facebook.

You work well with: At Symbol, Ampersand, Comma

Avoid: Quotation Mark

Whom/Who: (using “whom” when “who” is correct): You’re the pretentious twat.

You work well with: Em dash, Brackets

Avoid: Ellipses

Its/It’s: You are dedicated and responsible and make a lot of sacrifices. You’re the one who worked your butt off to get a C average while the nerds got A’s just by showing up to class. You let that sort of thing motivate you, though, and you get ahead by being consistent and reliable rather than because you’re particularly skilled or talented. People admire your work ethic.

You work well with: Comma, Semicolon, Period

Avoid: Em dash

Affect/Effect: You are easygoing and fun to be around. You know a lot of things, but the difference between these two words isn’t one of them. You make other people feel comfortable and like to make sure everyone is included. You were popular in school but stood up for the kids getting dumped into the trash cans after lunch.

You work well with: Comma, Parentheses, Ellipses,

Avoid: En dash

Use of ALL CAPS: You are either still trying to get a handle on this newfangled thing called the Internet, or you’re a complete moron.

You work well with: Ampersand, Exclamation

Avoid: Hash

Special thanks to Gabrielle Harbowy, @gabrielle_h for editing this for ~ahem~ grammatical errors.

Your Punctuation Personality Type: A Guest Post

June 11, 2012

I’m guest posting over on the blog of Bryan Thomas Schmidt, @BryanThomasS, with a funny called Your Punctuation Personality Type.

It’s sort of a combo of Jung and Briggs Myers and your daily horoscope that I totally pulled out of my ass.


Your Punctuation Personality Type

In Which I Am Wounded But Triumphant

May 29, 2012

Or: What a SciFi/Fantasy Writer Can Learn From A Gatoraid Bottle

I met and did battle with a worthy foe this weekend. He was tenacious and strong, with the heart of a warrior. But in the end, I went home and he went in the recycle bin. As a consequence, I woke up on the Saturday morning of my planned Writing Retreat with a swollen, infected finger and a bunch of crazy ideas about the connections between being a scifi/fantasy writer and life.

I think the first parallel is rather obvious. The fact that a Gatoraid bottle being so frickin’ impossible to open that I scraped half the skin off my finger trying to get a drink from that evil thing has now become a story worthy of a blog post and the words “warrior” “evil” and “triumphant” is, I think, a consequence of being a writer. It colors our lives in a way that makes it impossible to talk about the cap on a bottle of a sports drink being stuck without making it into an epic drama.

But what really made me write this post was to point out a way, not at all related to writing, that being a reader of scifi/fantasy, or of anything really, can improve your everyday life. See, that Gatoraid bottle, (which I FINALLY got open) took a chunk of skin out of the side of my finger. Now, me being that kind of girl, I was inclined to ignore it. Bit of soap and water and once it stopped bleeding, life goes on. At least, until I woke up in the morning and the area was hot, red, shiny, and there was a suspiciously yellow lump that yielded nasty, gooey pus when I squeezed it. Nice.

So as I’m showering and planning where I need to go to buy a first aid kit, it occurred to me that the last description I’d read of an infected cut was in a scifi book. (Specifically Hunger Games.) In fact, it’s something you encounter fairly often, especially in fantasy, what with all the swords and epic battles and primitive conditions and the fact that there always seems to be a need to take a journey on foot through the winderness. (You get a horse if you’re lucky.) And I thought that it was a good thing I knew all the symptoms from all that reading I’d done.

(Not that I wouldn’t have pulled up WebMD if I hadn’t known why my finger was hot and swollen and oozing puss. Not that I think I would have made it to 33 with two kids I haven’t killed yet and not have known what that meant already.)

Still, the moral of the story (yep, there was a point) is: READ! You never know what you’ll learn or when you’ll need it.

Oh, and in spite of my (hugely over-dramatized) encounter with a (minor, almost nonexistent) medical emergency, I managed to average 9,000 words a day over my three day weekend. That’s right folks. Nine Thousand Words a Day.

Holy $*#%!