Friday, December 30, 2011

Link Blitz

Science fiction really isn't my forte.

That being said, I'm excited to start Scion next week! (Sweet, beautiful fantasy. You will always mean more to me than rockets and black holes.) I'm going against Kristen Lamb's advice and starting with an action scene. I'm fairly confident it will work--my alpha readers will let me know if it doesn't, right? ;)

Writer's Potpourri:

The Top 3 Things You Should Keep in Mind When Selling Your eBook

Ten More Shining Inspirational Exercises or, Thirty Shots at Creative Inspiration, Part 3

The 10 Commandments of a Successful Author

How to Get More Blog Comments on Your Blog

7 Secrets to Successful Book Promotion

10 Things Authors Should Know about Twitter

2012 Publishing Predictions

Top 10 Best Fantasy Debuts of 2011

Other Babble:

Tell me you don't love that song. I dare you.

 (And a happy birthday to sister #4!)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ah Yes! Notes on Christmas

Christmas was really fun this year. Spent Christmas Eve with my in-laws (eating the most amazing crab wontons), playing games, and doing a candle nativity. Christmas morning husband and I had our own bout of present-opening, during which I received what may be my favorite gift of all.

Yoshi Story for the N64.

I know, you were expecting something sentimental (coming later in this post), or jewelry, or the like. But let me tell you, I LOVED this game as a kid. My parents wouldn't let us own game consoles (they melted your brain, after all), so I always had to go to my friend's house to play. Said friend wasn't much into video games, so my Yoshi adventures were few and far between. But now.... now I can play as much as I want!*

Anyway. We headed over to my parents house and opened presents there (and I got a dehydrator! Fruit chips, here I come!) and we had a big breakfast with the standard cream cheese crepes and grits.** Went to church where my sister, mother, and brother-in-law participated in two choir numbers and an elderly Austrian couple spoke about the mission they would soon be serving in Germany. For dinner we had ham, broccoli au graten, and the baked mac and cheese that goes with every holiday meal (including Thanksgiving). Then Sister and I made my dad a mincemeat pie, which he then proceeded to chase me with, threatening to put it down my shirt.***

Then back to Husband's side of the family to wind down the Christmas festivities. We got Firefly and Serenity (which if you haven't seen, you NEED to, regardless of whether or not you like science fiction. It's Joss Whedon, for crying out loud) and more gaming stuff. (I'm really not that big of a gamer, despite what this post communicates.)

Oh! Right, sentimental thing. When my family still lived in our (or rather, my) first house, my dad poured cement for a window well and had all us girls stamp our hand- and footprint into it, marked with the date. I was three at the time. My parents moved my freshman year of college, and thus the window well was left behind. But for Christmas, my youngest sister went back to the house, and, with permission from the current tenants, took molds of our prints and recreated little cement plaques for each of us. Needless to say, I cried. :)

*On my first attempt in story mode, I killed all the Yoshis. Let me tell you, my heart broke when the pink one fell down that chasm and was taken away to baby bowser's castle...

**Mom's from Maryland. It effects our diet.

***My dad served an LDS mission in London for two years. Every holiday, he'd be forced to scarf down five or six mincemeat pies per day. He hates mincemeat. I don't blame him, but it was hilarious all the same.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Kristen Lamb's Five Common Writing Hazards

I think I've mentioned this before, but if you don't follow Kristen Lamb's blog, do it! It's very helpful, and she updates frequently.

Monday she wrote a post entitle 5 Common Writing Hazards that "seem to plague virtually all new writers." I've listed them below, but I recommend reading the full article.

1. If your novel has more character than the cast of Ben Hur, you might
    need a revision
2. If your novel dumps the reader right into major action, you might
    need a revision
3. Painful and alien movement of body parts
4. Too much physiology
5. Adverbs are evil

For #3, if possible, I recommend actually trying the movement out yourself to see if it works. (I recall straddling my sister in the dining room trying to determine if a certain move would work in a fight. It didn't. And I think it left her slightly traumatized.)

#2 is interesting, since I've heard both sides of the argument on this. What's yours?

(Note: image taken from

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Christmas Story

Told by the children of St. Paul's Church. SO cute.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Link Blitz

A smoking car and husband's phone being dead does not equal for a joyous evening. I spent a good chunk of Monday emotionally traumatized and driving all over the west side of the valley trying to find him, but all is well now. :D

Also, CHRISTMAS. My favorite holiday of the year by far! I'm so excited! I've staged relevant videos to post on my blog over the weekend.

Writer's Potpourri:

Why I Went Traditional and 7 Reasons Why You Should (or Shouldn't)

No One Ever Bought Anything in an Elevator (Elevator Pitch)

Humanize Your Book's Villain

If I'd Only Known Then...

25 Ways to Improve Your Writing in 30 Minutes a Day

Other Babble:

Send a Call from Santa (Amusing if nothing else)

The Fanciful, Chocolate-filled World of 2012

Resurrecting the Reality Show: Winning Mars

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Want to Write a Dictator?

Because Kim Jong Il is a great example.

My friend Jessica (currently living in Japan) linked me to this article the other day, and the stories are astonishing. They're excerpts taken from a book written about North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, as told by his sushi chef. It includes everything from routine pain killer injections to forcing women to dance naked.

A bit of an eye opener, if nothing else.

Monday, December 19, 2011

World Building

Another post inspired by my Sanderson notes. World building is one of the most crucial elements--if not the most crucial element--for fantasy and science fiction stories. Sanderson is excellent at creating very diverse worlds for each of his books (eager to see what he's done for The Alloy of Law*), so I jotted down some of his tips.

1. Think of the setting as a character. What are its quirks, and what makes it unique?

2. Look for points on conflict. Conflict doesn't just come from the characters--what does your world do that creates problems? (The original Mistborn trilogy is great at this)

3. Consider cultural vs. physical setting. Culture is just as important, if not more important, than the geography.

4. Generally, more imagination = slower pace. The more details you cram into the setting, the slower the read.

5. Get the setting across without info dumps. Let the reader discover it gradually, as it pertains to each scene/situation.

In related news, I drew a larger version of Armaze (the city where Scion will be taking place) on parchment paper and stuck it up on the wall. Since the setting is so condensed in this book, I want to make sure I stay consistent with the streets and such. 

My outline is just about done too, and I'm getting really excited for the story. Here's hoping I pull everything off!

*Which I purchased at the signing last week, but cannot read it as I am STILL working on The Black Prism. It's a really good book, don't get me wrong, I just haven't been reading it very quickly. (Indeed I think there have been perhaps two days where I actually read it outside my lunch break.) Goodreads recently let me know just how slow I'm being. I am scum. (But close to finishing, which is great considering that the library will seize my copy in four days.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Link Blitz

We've had an odd lack of snow around Utah this December; Christmas is 10 days away, and yet it doesn't feel  like it, and not feeling like Christmas is depressing. It also means that winter will stay until well into spring, clinging to May like a malnourished leech to a naked baby. And snow in May is far more depressing than a dry Christmas.

But Christmas shopping and Temple Square lights make Charlie a happy girl. Plus I get the new Mistborn novel tonight (and signed! Hopefully the line at B&N won't be too long), plus a pomegranate party with the girlfriends.

AND as soon as my father clears a security check, he has a new job. :D Huzzah for Christmas blessings!

Writer's Potpourri:

The 56 Best/Worst Similes

Writer's Christmas Wish List (Very entertaining)

What Really Drives Your Characters?

Top 10 Book Covers of 2011

12 Things You Were Not Taught in School about Creative Thinking

How to Make the Most of a Scene

Which Sample Chapters Should You Send to Agents?

The Single Best Piece of Query Writing Advice I've Ever Heard

Other Babble:

Beyond Barrel Roll: 10 Hidden Google Tricks

Daniel, Cat with 26 Toes, Comes to the Rescue of Milwaukee Animal Shelter

The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells (Currently FREE for Amazon Kindle)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

11 Days 'til Christmas

Note to my fellow Utahns: Brandon Sanderson doing a signing in the West Jordan Barnes and Noble this Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. (And in Orem on Saturday, his schedule is here.) I will be purchasing the new Mistborn, finally. :D

In the meantime, there's 11 days left 'til Christmas, so start getting excited.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Continuing Affair with Science Fiction

For some reason all my short stories are being dominated by science fiction.

Why? I don't know. Maybe I've read too many WotF anthologies.

I have an idea for my next short story idea, and it's completely sci-fi. Not brushing shoulders with it like Piscis. As in I actually have to figure out how a rocket works (and what a landing sequence would be. On another planet. What.)

I don't read science fiction outside of WotF and the occasional writing group submission, so it's funny that all my short fiction ideas are coming from there. Still muchos gung-ho fantasy for long fiction, but yeah, epic fantasy doesn't make great short stories. Not enough time to develop (and I can't come up with a decent urban fantasy plot line to save my life).

Any sci-fi short fiction you recommend reading to get my brain in the mode? This is something I'd like to do over Christmas before I start Scion. Gonna look into some more Eric James Stone and Brad Torgersen, of course. ;)

Monday, December 12, 2011

My First Time in a Corset

Husband and I went to the Charles Dickens Christmas Festival at the Utah State Fairpark this last Friday. It was fun--a lot like Renaissance Faire, but with the shops designed like 1800s England. (Though I did eat a gyro for dinner...)

Anyway, there was a shop there manned by two girls decked out in full steampunk gear--the hats, the frilled skirts, the corsets. They were very friendly and even let me take pictures of them (one looks astonishingly similar to a friend of mine). I had never worn a corset before, so they suited me up in one. (No pictures. I think Husband was too busy ogling to think about the camera.)

I chatted with these girls (sisters-in-law) whilst being laced, and it turns out they were at Renovation as well! They make all their clothing by hand, and there was a lot to choose from. The corsets have fiberglass rods in them, and the materials definitely didn't come from the local Walmart.

Though I didn't purchase any of their wares, the gals impressed me, so I thought I'd put in a plug for them. They're called Damsel in This Dress; they do a lot of traveling, and even have their own magazine (the one they gave me included an interview with Amy Brown, an artist who's especially popular at Hot Topic).

So if you're into steampunk or Victorian wear, check them out. They also do custom orders. ;)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Biggest Pieces of Writing Advice to Take Home

Last year Brandon Sanderson held a Q&A session to wrap up his writing class. Someone asked him the biggest pieces of advice we should take home. He said the following:

1. Great writing takes PRACTICE.
     --If I remember correctly, Sanderson was working on his 13th book when he finally sold to Tor--and Elantris was the 6th book he'd written.

2. Good stories are about CONFLICT.
3. Good writers are also good revisers. You don't have to do it all at once.

That last part is something I really had to internalize. The Day the Sky Fell is the first story I've written where I didn't try to get all the revisions done in one go (which is also why the revising process took so much longer!). And because of that, I feel a lot more confident with this novel than with previous ones. Hopefully that's a good sign!

I'm at the point where I have to start weaning my brain from Chicken Little goodness and shift it into the next, untitled story (which I may have to refer to as "Scion" for now on, but I know if I do that, "Scion" will magically become the actual title). I've got some outlining to flush out and more antagonist angst to delve into. Wish me luck. :O

Monday, December 5, 2011

Re: The Synopsis

The second draft of my synopsis is done--hopefully one more go and it will be ready to send out. :D

After seeking help from a recent writer friend on Twitter (@lroseriver, go follow her!), dear Lora wrote A Synopsis Checklist for those of us struggling to summarize our work; she also includes some excellent references. Whether you're at the final stage of your WIP or not, check out the post.

In other news, I've gotten more beta reader feedback and hope to start querying next week! Just in time for Christmas...