Fantasy, Romance, and Other Genre Fiction

Posts tagged ‘other writers’

LTUE 32: Friday

Doing the last of my LTUE summaries instead of talking about the craft this week and next week, because they are quite a bit about the writing craft.  It’s one of the reasons I love LTUE as much as I do.

Friday, 14 Feb. 2014- Sessions Attended

  • Reading: Sandra Tayler
  • Query Workshop
  • Writing Fantasy: Using Words to Build Worlds-  A paper presented by Douglas Whittaker (a good friend of mine, yay!)
  • The Rules for Writing Magic- John Brown, Al Carlisle, Teri Hartman, Brandon Sanderson, Natalie Whipple, with Emily Martha Sorensen moderating
  • Mass Autograph Signing

Best points picked up from Sandra Tayler’s reading:

  • It’s okay to treat yourself kindly.
  • It’s okay to do your own thing.
  • It’s okay to pursue a life of creativity.

Best points picked up from the query workshop:

  • You have three sentences or less to grab attention.
  • Watch out for wordiness.
  • Use the RIGHT words.
  • Have a really clear idea of what you’re pitching!

Best points picked up from Using Words to Build Words:

  • World building is what separates speculative fiction from all other genres.
  • Conflict is what makes writing into a story (Dan Wells).
  • Iceberg theory: Show 10% of what you’ve built, but know the other 90%.
  • Geography affects the way culture and society develops.

Best points from The Rules for Writing Magic:

  • “Been done before” doesn’t mean anything- be creative.
  • A story with great characters and weak magic will sustain better than strong magic and weak characters.
  • Set your rules early on.
  • Maintain consistency.
  • Know your limitations (geography, cost, genetics, range, etc.).
  • Know the purpose of your magic (scale of sense of wonder to plot tool).
  • Magic should be grounded in reality.
  • Magic should be AWESOME.
  • Focus on one thing and dig in deep- have a deep system rather than a wide one.
  • What does magic teach us about ourselves and our worlds?



Book of the Week: Drawing out the Dragons

(So a note about my book of the week posts: they’re not meant to be reviews.  They’re more about what I’ve gotten out of the books as a writer.  If you want reviews, especially spoiler-free, I highly recommend Goodreads instead.)

Today’s book is Drawing out the Dragons, by James A. Owen.   It’s a short, beautiful little hardcover book with the tagline “a meditation on art, destiny, and the power of choice”.    It only takes about an hour to read, but much longer (and perhaps a second or third read-through) to digest it all properly.

At first I felt like there was some “look how lucky I am” going on in the narrative.  But as I continued to read, and see just how the power of choice came into play, there was less resentment for my own unlucky, undesirable situation and more admiration for what this talented artist and writer has been able to do with his life.

Reading this book now, given where I am within The Artist’s Way, felt like nothing short of synchronicity.   Or serendipity.  Whichever you want to call it.  I came out of this book feeling more determined than ever before to make creativity work with me and for me.  And I now know the secret to drawing which I’m just not going to reveal here.

For me, the whole book can be distilled down to three important ideas that may become a personal mantra:

  1. Never give up, and never settle for something less than your dream.
  2. There is always a choice, and the choices you make determine your path.
  3. You are more likely to get what you want from the Universe if you make your desires known.

Now, Mr. Owen put this all into much more poetic language than I, and I highly encourage everyone who can to buy a copy of this book.  It is for the creative and non-creative alike, and will leave a person feeling inspired.


Life, the Universe, and Everything 32 is this weekend.  I’m excited.  I’ll be heading out here in a few minutes.

I’ll probably be tweeting more than blogging over the next few days (not that this is anything new) but I guarantee that I’m going to have a lot of racing thoughts and good ideas.

And maybe next year I can be a participant and not just an attendee, right?

An update on this draft…

So I was rolling along pretty dang well for a bit there, and then suddenly I get stuck.  I’m stuck for three days or so… and then when I finally get unstuck, I have an epiphany that makes me cry out of sheer frustration.

This stupid book wants to be split in half, have both halves expanded, and become two books.   This makes what was going to be three books into four (or more, depending on what the subsequent books do to me in the writing).

Now, this is okay in the long run.  It really is.  I thought about it a lot before deciding to go ahead and give the series what it wants.  But in the short run, I hit that point the other night in the novel-writing process where I hate this stupid book and I want to throw it out the window and it needs to DIE IN A FIRE NOW.

So in desperation, I reached out to twitter.  And then nearly died of fangirl-ing when I got an answer back that I less-than-half-expected.   (more…)

Hugo Awards 2013

Congratulations to all of the winners of the 2013 Hugo award!  And congratulations to all the nominees, as well!

For those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s the most prestigious award that you can win for science-fiction and fantasy.    (I hope someday that I might earn one.)  I think the most well-known analogy I have would be that it’s like winning an Academy Award (Oscar) for your speculative fiction writing.   IT’S A BIG DEAL.

I don’t know that any of the authors I’m about to congratulate specifically even know I exist, but I’m going to congratulate them regardless because they continue to inspire me.  I wish I felt comfortable enough to be the fan that shares things like this on their twitter/facebook/other social networkings, but I’m not.   (Maybe when I feel like I can call myself a colleague as well, instead of just a fan. But enough about me.)

We’ll start with Brandon Sanderson.  He actually won two Hugos this year, for best novella and as part of the Writing Excuses team for best related work.  Not only is his writing extremely excellent, but I’ve met Mr. Sanderson at book signings several times and every time I have been so very impressed with the way that he treats his fans.  He is always willing to answer questions, and to take time to give a little bit of encouragement to those of us who are aspiring to be where he is someday.   I keep telling myself that when I make it big, THAT is the kind of person I want to be to my fans.   So congratulations, Mr. Sanderson!   I can’t think of a more deserving person to win two Hugos in one year.

Next, I want to congratulate the Writing Excuses team: Mary Robinette-Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells.   The Podcast won the Hugo this year for best related work, and I really can’t think of a better group of people to give that award.    The Writing Excuses podcast has been the best thing to happen to my writing since realizing so very long ago that I wanted to be a writer and nothing else.    Because of Writing Excuses, I now know that writing really is an attainable goal for what I want to do with my life, not just a hobby, and I’m better armed to get to that place.  (I also have more competition from other new writers than ever before, but I think that would have happened with or without Writing Excuses).    Congratulations, Writing Excuses!  

Last, but not least, I want to congratulate John Scalzi.  His novel Redshirts won best novel for the year.  Going back to the Oscar analogy, this is like winning Best Picture.   Now, I want to say that I’ve read the book, but I haven’t yet.  It’s been sitting on my shelf for a while, waiting for me to work my way through the books that are ahead of it on  my list.  I have known since the very beginning that it is a book that I am going to like.   I love Scalzi’s style, I love his humor, and I love the Star Trek phenomenon of the red shirt from which the concept of the book derived.  Now I’m even more anxious to read it.  I think it might be jumping to the top of my list.  Scalzi’s winning is even more wonderful when you consider that humorous works are rarely winners in the Hugos.   I haven’t been privileged to meet Scalzi as much as I’ve been able to go to Brandon Sanderson’s book signings.  (Sanderson is local to me, Scalzi is not).  But he is also the sort of author who treats his fans well, and he uses the popularity he has to fight for good causes.  The convention anti-harassment movement is Scalzi’s brain child, for example.   He is another of those authors that I look at and say, “when I make it big.”    Congratulations, Mr. Scalzi.

Congratulations again as well to all of the other winners and nominees.  Even if I’ve never personally encountered either your work or your public presence, you give me hope that someday I can be on that list too.  We all have to start somewhere, and I’m sure that many of you never dreamed when you started writing that you’d be where you are today.   What an accomplishment even to be nominated.  Congratulations to you all.

Starting to process LTUE

It was a wonderful, fabulous weekend.  I think the only low was when I lost my jacket and couldn’t find it, but everyone was so helpful and I was able to find it again.  (Even if it did take seven hours.  I still was able to find it thanks to awesome people, and everything was still in the pockets.)

I can’t even begin to process ALL of it just yet.  I want to do this write-up properly, so I’ll probably write more extensively on the experience tomorrow after I have had time to digest.  It was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.  It’s the best decision of 2013 so far, and the best decision I’ve ever made as I work on moving my writing from deeply-involved hobby to career.

I got lots of neat stuff, and not all of it was flyers and bookmarks and nifty things from all the vendors.  The information I received was far more valuable than any physical thing.  I never knew both how ready I am to jump into the publishing world, and how much I didn’t–and still don’t–know.

There was a question on one panel where the moderator asked, “when did you feel like you could call yourself a real writer?”  One of the answers really struck me, because I think it hit on what I’ve been missing up until very recently.   When you are ready to commit to writing as a life, then you are a “real” writer.

I’m ready to commit.  Like the badge ribbon I got from Howard Tayler’s vendor table says, “I am out of  excuses.”

No more excuses.  No more whining.  No more letting fibromyalgia or depression keep me down.  This is the Year of Doing for me, and I am getting out there and doing.  (And getting in here and doing, and getting into Word and doing, you get the idea….)

All-in-all it was a very positive and encouraging experience, in spite of that little voice that keeps saying “too much competition; look at the people that are here and multiply that by a million or more”.  For the first time in my life I feel not only capable of competing, but READY to compete too.   So bring on the rejection letters and the eventual successes.  This is my year.

Networking Noob

I ran into an old friend from high school a couple of weeks ago.  His wife just got her first book published, and going to her release event was both reassuring and disheartening.  It was disheartening because I wanted to be published by now, and I know I haven’t put in all the work that I should have to meet that goal.   It was reassuring, however, to know that hey, people I know are getting published.  People I know are actually able to follow this crazy dream.  Why can’t I do the same?

I think the thing that stands most in my way at this point is not knowing the right people.  I don’t know any agents, I don’t know anyone famous who has read my work, and I certainly don’t know any editors, publishers, or marketing experts.   I’m a fairly naturally antisocial person, so getting out of my comfort zone socially is really difficult to do.  But as the old adage goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who.”    I’ve got good material… but it hasn’t gotten to the right person yet.

I guess I’m asking for help.  I don’t know if anyone who has the right advice reads my blog, but I imagine that all sorts of business networking and the like have principles that might be relevant to what I need.  I need to learn how to schmooze, socialize, and network without fear.  I need to learn how to recognize the right people, and then, how to impress them.

Does anyone have any advice on this?

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