Monday, August 26, 2013

The Seam-Ripping of THE GLASS MAGICIAN

I've been doing a lot of adding, and then a lot of cutting, trying to get the sequel to THE PAPER MAGICIAN ready to fork over to Marlene.

First I added a bunch of scenes, but they were so filler and contrived and horrid that I destroyed them.

Then I went through and added a second POV, but it wasn't doing the book nor the character justice, so I've cut all of them but one, which I'm still working on (and will hopefully finish on Monday).

Hopefully I will stop dissecting and organ-transplanting the book by then, and I can move on to my alpha comments and solving the story's other problems. :D With luck, I can get this manuscript to beta readers fairly soon. /whinefest /itisn'tactuallythatbad

(It will probably be a good idea to work on something else before diving into the last book of this series.)

So what are your problems today?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Adding a POV and an Extra Three Pounds

On writing:

Decided to add a second POV character to THE GLASS MAGICIAN, which will solve a lot of problems with the book. I really think this will only help me (though it will be strange to write from the male protagonist's head!)
Image courtesy of

On baby:

He/she is the size of an APPLE and weighs 2.5 ounces. :D

I've gained three pounds.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


This took me longer to finish than I thought it would, due to about six weeks of pregnancy-induced nausea that made me not really want to sit at a sewing machine.

What's that? Sewing machine?

Yes yes, onto it, though we all know you skipped to the picture first.

Drum roll, please!

[fake drum roll]

I give you . . . .


If you look closely, you can tell both husband and I recently had colds.
(AKA the drugs on the night stands)

Every white square on this ridiculously HUGE quilt (about 7.5' by 9', ask me how easy it was to sew this beast together) holds a unique rejection letter from an agent or editor (I believe there are 49 of them). No repeats! (I could have done a whole row on Nelsen Agency rejection letters alone, but I never graduated above their standard, so they have only one square.)

The quilt even includes a rejection from Marlene. ;)

Now, the process:

First, only a sucker cuts her own squares. I used a knit (I think it was a knit?) fabric that let me rip 'em instead. Saved time!

This is me being dressed only from the waist up.

This is Husband helping.
Next I had to print out my selected rejection letters on printer paper (had to type some of them up to do this) and cut them out. Imagine my glee when I realized I hadn't gotten iron-on prints, but prints you have to actually sew around the edges. +2 hours of work to this project, at least.

Now, I didn't know this, but there is a TON of ironing involved in making a quilt. Especially when you have an easily-wrinkled fabric and printer ink that needs to be ironed in order to set.

Then I had to lay out the pattern. Pretty simple, white-black-white-black. Though I did organize diagonal rows by rejection letter length. And I ran out of room in my office to lay out the squares. That was fun.

Right: I had to pile the squares up in order and give them numbers so I
remembered what went where.
Then I had to sew the buggers together.

Three rows done! Each row had 11 squares.
9 rows total.
....and then my 1960's sewing machine busted, and the price it would cost to fix it was roughly the price of a new sewing machine.

So I got a new sewing machine. It came with a CD. So high-tech.

Cue getting nauseous right . . . here.

[Six weeks later]

I finished sewing the rows and had to lay them out over the batting and whatever you call the under-fabric. (I am obviously not a seamstress.) However, there was one problem.

The quilt was too big to fit anywhere.

So I almost took it outside to work on, despite the fear of creepy crawlies getting stuck in my batting. But then, thankfully, if we moved the table into the corner, the quilt just barely fit in the kitchen.

I did a lot of sweeping beforehand. Is "beforehand" hyphenated? Hmm...
Then I lucked out and found out that my church actually has a quilting frame in stock. You know, because old ladies like quilting and whatnot. Husband helped a lot in setting that up. Actually getting the huge needle and yarn through the seams required work gloves, pliers, wax, and Pandora Internet Radio.

Ain't he cute?
Then I had to sew up the hole I used to turn the thingy inside-out (uh... see YouTube?) and voila, done.

The quilt is definitely flawed, especially since some of my fabric bunched at one of the seams... but that's okay! You know why? Because it's a QUILT OF FAILURE ANYWAY.

And it will be very warm come winter. :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

SpoCon 2013 Overview and Exercises on Characterization

SpoCon was last weekend, and it was a pretty good place to be! Things got started rather slow, but overall it was a good experience for the following reasons:

  1. I got to talk to Brandon Sanderson a few times (even go to dinner with him!) and he was super nice to me, which is great because I'm actually not 100% sure if he likes me or not. XD He gave me some pitching advice and I got to ask him a WoT question that's been bothering me since January. 
  2. I had good company. Stayed with some coworkers from SEL, and they were very fun to hang around with.
  3. Good panels. While no convention has all flawless panels, I was able to attend some good ones, including a character panel, a WoT panel, and a funny (if slightly crass) improv performance called "Whose Plot Is It Anyway?"
  4. New friends! I met three guys, one of which runs 17th Shard, at the convention. They were very nice.

I will say I was surprised that I like Super 8 hotels better than the Doubletree by Hilton. They're basically the same hotel, except Super 8 gives you a microwave, free breakfast, and doesn't charge for parking! But it was nice to be able to stay at the actual hotel hosting the convention. Never gotten to do that before.

My biggest suggestions for next year would be to start the convention on time, not in the late afternoon of the first day. I was very, very bored Friday until 3:00 PM. That, and do more with the special guests. The filk guest was hilarious, but I only saw him, briefly, at one event.

To end, I'll post my notes from the last panel I attended, which was on using RPG experience to build better characters. This panel was given by Deby Fredericks.

(Please excuse the formatting, Blogger can only go so far.)


Lesson 1: Every Character Has a Role to Play

  • Every character does something that the other characters cannot do
  • Characters cannot just appear in the story randomly; they have to do something for your story

*Exercise: Write down principal information on two primary characters and what roles they have

Lesson 2: Balance

·       All characters cannot have the same abilities
·       Writers need to consider the emotional balance between characters
o   Who is in charge, who has power, how do they keep it?
o   What if the characters cannot work together?
o   What if they’re a traitor?
§  The above are subplots

*Exercise: Describe the balance between characters. Power balance, emotional balance. How does the balance shift over the course of the story?

Lesson 3: Skills and Powers (Character Class)

  • If your character is going to suit the role you want them to play in the story, you need to know what skills they have that will allow them to fulfill that role, or how will they obtain those skills

 *Exercise: Writer the characters’ background, motivations, and how they bring in their skills to the story.

Lesson 4: Gaining Experience
  •  One way to show the gaining of experience it to have young characters.
  • It’s always more fun for readers to cheer a character who starts at “level 1” and grows as the book advances.
  • If you character can do everything, the reader won’t worry about them.
  • If the villain is weaker than the hero, the story will either lack drama, or your reader will cheer for the villain.

 *Exercise: What skills do the characters need to improve during the story? What skills will they need that they don’t have from the start, and how will they gain it?

Lesson 5: Strengths and Weaknesses

·       The story is a finely tuned machine, otherwise it will go up in smoke.
·       In roleplaying, buying skills with “points”
·       Using disadvantages justifies powers and abilities
o   Every character can’t be good at everything
·       Ultra-powerful characters aren’t interesting if there’s no chance that they will lose.
·       It’s crucial that your readers believe your characters can fail.
o   Killing characters (like the Shepherd in Serenity) shows that your characters are vulnerable

Disadvantages can motivate, limit powers, threaten the characters, make things complicated or cause trouble. People can be hunted or have people you want to protect. Some disadvantages are huge handicaps (Like Xavier from Xmen) or small handicaps (like Spiderman's bad luck).

*Exercise: Write your character’s disadvantages.

*Exercise: Describe how each character’s disadvantages brought them into the story, and how will they interfere with the plot?

Lesson 6: The Big Dream

  • The big dream is a long and complicated task with a lot of steps. It is too much to do in a single book, so it works well for series. (ie, Ash in Pokemon who wants to "catch them all")

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Third Anniversary!

Three years ago today I married this lovely specimen of a man:

Note the sexy man hips. Mmm.

Love love love him with all my feelings and organs.

And now we're even making spawn! :D

I'll be out gorging myself like a true American today and celebrating the union of TRUE LOVE AWWWW.


(Also, happy birthday to my nephew whose untimely birth on this day made some of my in-laws absent for my reception. No hard feelings, kid. ;) I will always remember your birthday now!)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Update on the Secret Project

I've created a monster.

And it's taking up my entire kitchen.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Some Direction for Pregnant Women with Colds: The OK Drugs

I figure I'd post this on here in hopes that, someday, some pregnant woman suffering with cold symptoms will stumble across here and know what meds she can take without damaging any spawn growing amidst her insides.

Me and a nurse had a chat. Here's what's safe:

  • Plain Sudafed (have to ask the pharmacist for it, but you don't need a prescription)
  • Benadryl
  • Regular or extra strength Tylenol 
  • Claritin
  • Saline nasal spray
  • Any cough drop
  • Vicks Vapor Rub
  • Unisom (You know, since you can't dope up on Nyquil anymore.)

I was actually really surprised that I have as many options as that (yes, I have a cold. Wee). I do miss IB Profen, though.

I did ask about Zicam ahead of time, but it's a class C drug--basically no one is sure if it will harm the fetus or not, so it's best just to avoid it. Too bad. Zicam was always #1 in my arsenal.

Having a husband who lets you boss him around and who responds to your bell smartphone app helps a lot, too. :)