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Nov 30, 2010

In Which I Pass The Ball...

30. Final question! Tag someone! And tell us what you like about that person as a writer and/or about one of his/her characters!


I hate this, I think that “Tagging” someone is silly. And thusly I’m refusing to do it.

Instead I’m offering you the chance to participate in this 30-day writing meme by listing all of the questions below. Have fun (and feel free to tag someone in your #30 if you’d like)

1. Tell us about your favorite writing project/universe that you’ve worked with and why.

2. How many characters do you have? Do you prefer males or females?

3. How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you’re writing about fictional places)?

4. Tell us about one of your first stories/characters!

5. By age, who is your youngest character? Oldest? How about “youngest” and “oldest” in terms of when you created them?

6. Where are you most comfortable writing? At what time of day? Computer or good ol’ pen and paper?

7. Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? Are there any songs you like to relate/apply to your characters?

8. What’s your favorite genre to write? To read?

9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.

10. What are some really weird situations your characters have been in? Everything from serious canon scenes to meme questions counts!

11. Who is your favorite character to write? Least favorite?

12. In what story did you feel you did the best job of world-building? Any side-notes on it you’d like to share?

13. What’s your favorite culture to write, fictional or not?

14. How do you map out locations, if needed? Do you have any to show us?

15. Midway question! Tell us about a writer you admire, whether professional or not!

16. Do you write romantic relationships? How do you do with those, and how “far” are you willing to go in your writing? ;)

17. Favorite protagonist and why!

18. Favorite antagonist and why!

19. Favorite minor character that decided to shove himself into the spotlight and why!

20. What are your favorite character interactions to write?

21. Do any of your characters have children? How well do you write them?

22. Tell us about one scene between your characters that you’ve never written or told anyone about before! Serious or not.

23. How long does it usually take you to complete an entire story—from planning to writing to posting (if you post your work)?

24. How willing are you to kill your characters if the plot so demands it? What’s the most interest-ing way you’ve killed someone?

25. Do any of your characters have pets? Tell us about them.

26. Let’s talk art! Do you draw your characters? Do others draw them? Pick one of your MCs and post your favorite picture of them!

27. Along similar lines as yesterday, do appearances play a big role in your stories? Tell us about them, or if not, how you go about designing your characters.

28. Have you ever written a character with physical or mental disabilities? Describe them, and if there’s nothing major to speak of, tell us a few smaller ones.

29. How often do you think about writing? Ever come across something IRL that reminds you of your story/characters?

30. Final question! Tag someone! And tell us what you like about that person as a writer and/or about one of his/her characters!

Nov 29, 2010

Art Immitates Life/Life Immitates Art

29. How often do you think about writing? Ever come across something IRL that reminds you of your story/characters?


I think about writing (more specifically books) all the time. I realized, quite recently that I am one of those people who has become completely alienated from those around her because I read books no one ever reads… and most of those are actually published (aka. Written by someone other than me.)

I come across things that remind me of characters quite often, mostly music. I’ve had Pandora on and suddenly a song hits me and I’m like, “OMG, this is totally x character!” though a little less valley girl-ish than I feel that came off.

Also, there is a strange rock in front of a church here in phoenix… A part of the original Duty and Death that was pulled from the revised version (because it’s mostly back-story) is about a meteor… and this rock totally looks like what I was thinking of when I wrote that scene.

Nov 28, 2010

Moral Disabilities

28. Have you ever written a character with physical or mental disabilities? Describe them, and if there’s nothing major to speak of, tell us a few smaller ones.


I’m not sure I’ve written anyone with either mental or physical disabilities… I think that I stick to Moral disabilities – a sort of blemish of the soul, if you will. I like to write terribly flawed characters. The type of people you hope you aren’t, but occasionally see a bit of yourself in –as much as it may rankle.

Impetia is one of those characters of flawed character. She’s so desperate to please her father that she’ll do anything for him – including play executioner – and yet it goes deeper than that. She’s seeking acceptance in any way she can and she finds it in the arms of a man her father would never approve of. In the end… her willingness to be accepted and loved and considered, well, normal… it is her undoing.

Nov 27, 2010

Intelligent Design?

27. Along similar lines as yesterday, do appearances play a big role in your stories? Tell us about them, or if not, how you go about designing your characters.


When I’m writing in the first person… I try not to describe my main character (Duty and Death is an exception to that) I like the idea of the reader forming their own opinion about the character who’s in the driver’s seat of the novel and for the most part, I’d like them to be able to picture themselves as that character. As for third person, I describe appearances only when I think it’s necessary to the story or understanding that specific character.

I think a lot of times my characters don’t really flesh themselves out for me until later on. However, I’m willing to admit that if there are certain personality traits resembling to someone I know it isn’t rare for those characters to physically resemble that person also…

Nov 26, 2010

Characters Can Be Eye Candy Too

26. Let’s talk art! Do you draw your characters? Do others draw them? Pick one of your MCs and post your favorite picture of them!


I don’t generally draw my characters. I’m not a big drawer of realistic things. Everything turns out very cartoon-y. I would be honored, though if anyone who had read one of my novels took the time to pay enough attention to the character descriptions and do a little doodle.

When I think of Flynn I totally picture Joseph Gordon-Levitt and this picture comes to mind -

(with less stubble of course and he wouldn't be caught dead in a suit.)


My artistic nature is confined to writing novels and abstract oil paintings…

Nov 25, 2010

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

I hope you're all having a wonderful day and dont over eat!

25. Do any of your characters have pets? Tell us about them.


Footprint is awesome. She’s a seven-year old rat terrier that belongs to Flynn the main character in my space opera and she’s a total sweetheart. Also, if you need a wrench – and don’t mind a smidge of drool – Footprint’s your dog.

This picture is what drew me to make Footprint a rat terrier. Could you resist?



Gus isn’t really a pet, he’s a dragon – but I think that he qualifies as a pet, since he acts a little like a dog and is very pet-like toward Liam throughout Magic is for the Birds. Oh, did I mention he’s pretty tiny? He is, after all, only a hundred years old.

Other than that there aren’t many pets I my stories… D&D has a few horses and elephants, but hey, they’re not really pets… they’re transportation.

Nov 24, 2010

I'm A Murderer

24. How willing are you to kill your characters if the plot so demands it? What’s the most interesting way you’ve killed someone?


I kill characters all the time… though I will admit that there is one character I know I have to kill and every time I sit down to write it out, I can’t. It’s like writing his death is threatening to suck the life out of me.

The most interesting way I’ve killed someone… I think that I can better answer this question with an example of the way in which that death is witnessed.

In Duty and Death, Skydra witnesses her father kill her mother in a heated moment of rage. However, she wasn’t there when it happened. In fact she was still a toddler at the time, but she has to relive the memory through her older brother’s thoughts. She dreams from Drake’s perspective and sees the murder over and over again.

Nov 23, 2010

I Laughed Aloud When I Read This Question

23. How long does it usually take you to complete an entire story—from planning to writing to post-ing (if you post your work)?


Well, that depends entirely on the story. My first drafts have taken anywhere from 20 days to 2 years (this includes planning and research). Then I try to let them sit for a month before I go back over them and put in the things I’ve left out/try to fix any mistakes I’ve made – I make a lot of them. And then they go to my editors and betas… who usually shake their heads at me and wonder if I truly passed the third grade. Honestly though. I don’t think you can call a novel finished until… well, it’s finished.

Basically what I’m getting at is that this question isn’t technically answerable. I don’t consider a novel completed until it’s in line at the publisher to be printed… and frankly, I’m not there yet.

Nov 22, 2010

A Question I Don't Really Have An Answer For

22. Tell us about one scene between your characters that you’ve never written or told anyone about before! Serious or not.


I don’t think that scene exists.

I do have ideas for novels I’ve never told anyone about, things that will most likely never be finished… but then, I can’t be sure I won’t pull them into another novel or finally get around to working on them and potentially finishing them… it would be silly of me to tell you about them now!

I think another question comes from this one… how much of yourself, as an author, should you put out there on the internet?

This, like so many other aspects of writing is not a question that comes with a simple answer. Just as you have to create a balance between plot/dialog/back-story/and character development in your novel, on a blog, you have to strike that perfect balance between too much and not enough…

Nov 21, 2010

Kids Are The Future... Let's Try Not To Mess Them Up Too Bad

21. Do any of your characters have children? How well do you write them?


Yes, I hope well, but I’m not sure. I haven’t had much response to the children that are “normal” but that’s because I don’t generally write normal children. There’s something about them that is different and that makes them – usually – a little less child like.

The first children I wrote – Thomias’ 9 year old twin sisters and Skydra’s Ten year old nephew are very different from what I would call “normal” children. The twins are being taught by an instructor whose people worship knowledge and they are very adult for it. Skydra’s nephew is being raised in the care of her father and in many ways is just as vile as her father. He’s definitely a bad seed.

Maddie, my four year old in my space western is not like any four year old you’ve ever met. I just can’t tell you why right yet.

Nov 20, 2010

I'm A Lover, Not A Fighter, But Watch out. I'm Also A Fighter.

20. What are your favorite character interactions to write?


I definitely like fight sequences, be they physical brawls or annoyed banter back and forth between two characters. There’s something about a conflict between two characters that always seems to get me into a writing mood. Joann made several comments about the banter between Thomias and Clarke, and I’ll admit, that was some of my better writing. But her comments made me hopeful. I honestly have a hard time judging what other readers are going to like in a story I’ve written.

I also like scenes in which I can use a lot of imagery… as I’ve said before I love me some imagery. Now, that being said, I tend to shy away from imagery in my SF pieces – because I feel that SF should remain a very plot driven genre. But I know of one chapter in D&D that I will continue to love for it’s allowance of imagery.

Nov 19, 2010

Query Critique #1 – Emma Forever

Emma Forever by Karen





Query:

Eighteen-year old Emma Bolyn can read peoples’ thoughts - just like her mother. And her body will last forever, never aging past twenty-five years – a little gift she inherited from her father. Before she discovered these things, Emma’s life was practically perfect; like a fairytale.


But every fairytale has a dark side, and hers was revealed with the disappearance of her father and the death of her mother at the hands of his enemies.

Then there’s her stalker, Jackson Holt. The fact that he’s gorgeous doesn’t make his immunity to her powerful telepathic probe any less scary. Could this Adonis be an agent of the ancient cult she learns has been hunting her since her birth?

Unaware of the battles ahead of her and ignorant of her father’s true identity, Emma confronts her handsome observer and begins a journey of stomach-clenching danger and stunning self-discovery as she faces an Immortal King who thinks he’s a god and a mad, talented telepath who wants nothing more than Emma’s destruction.

Emma Forever is a modern day paranormal-romance, complete at 81,000 words. The tale will appeal to fans of Nora Roberts’ romances and Anne Rice’s paranormal dramas.

May I send you Emma Forever?

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 
Redline:
 
Eighteen-year old Emma Bolyn can read peoples’ thoughts - just like her mother. And Generally speaking it’s not good to start a sentence with a conjunction. I do it all the time, but it is frowned upon and you want your query to be as strong as it can be, I’d leave that out and start your sentence here: Hher body will last forever, never aging past twenty-five years – a little gift she inherited from her father “a little gift she inherited from her father” seems off to me. Before she discovered these things, Emma’s life was practically perfect; like a fairytale. This final line is very generalized, how is it practically perfect? I like the final part of this sentence “like a fairytale” especially since it creates a seamless transition through to the next paragraph, but tell us how her life is practically perfect before you compare it to the fairytale.

But Eevery fairytale has a dark side, and hers was revealed this is passive (agents supposedly hate passive voice. with the disappearance of her father and the death of her mother at the hands of his enemies. I would make this: “Every fairytale has a dark side. When Emma’s father disappears (shortly?) after her mother’s death at the hands of his enemies (and then explain what she does because of it).”
Then there’s her stalker, Jackson Holt. “Then there’s her stalker” is very casual, you might want to change that, you have a very serious paragraph above this: mom dead, dad disappeared, oh… and then there’s her stalker. Stalkers aren’t really something that should be played off like that… so unless he’s not really a stalker (and in that case I’d find a different term for him) I’d make this a little less nonchalant. The fact that he’s gorgeous doesn’t make his immunity to her powerful telepathic probe any less scary. Could this Adonis Stephenie Meyer killed this word (and while I don’t want to offend you by saying this… being able to read everyone’s thoughts except the one guy that I’m guessing based on his appearance in the query is going to be the love interest… seems a little close to that particular part of Twilight, so “Adonis” just kind of adds to that connection)  be an agent of the ancient cult she learns has been hunting her since her birth? Okay… I think that you need to either leave the part about this cult out… or the part about him being a stalker out. Pick one because there’s too much going on even in just three sentences with this.
Unaware of the battles ahead of her and ignorant of her father’s true identity, Emma confronts her handsome observer and begins a journey of stomach-clenching danger and stunning self-discovery as she faces an Immortal King who thinks he’s a god and a mad, talented telepath who wants nothing more than Emma’s destruction. This is all generalization. It leaves me asking too many questions and I don’t really know where we’re going in the book. Because it is an agent, you can give a little away that you might not want to give away to a broad base of readers. (Assuming the novel is in third person) you can tell the agent what her father’s true identity is. But I think that instead of telling us that there will be “stomach-clenching danger” and “stunning self discovery” give us examples and leave those words out entirely. Also, unless “Immortal King” is a his actual name (not King Pythagorean or something), it shouldn’t be capitalized. I think the “Mad (crazy, right?), talented telepath” could be left out of the query. You’re already stacking a tall deck against Emma, perhaps you should leave some of these threats for discover in the book itself.

Emma Forever is a modern day paranormal-romance, complete at 81,000-words. The tale will appeal to fans of Nora Roberts’ romances and Anne Rice’s paranormal dramas (you may want to say why, especially if you are going to use these two heavy hitters).

May I send you Emma Forever? You’ve told them it’s complete, you don’t need to ask them if they’d like you to send it to them.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Notes:

From this query I think that your plot catalyst is the sudden death of her mother and disappearance of her father. If that’s not the case, you’ll want to rearrange some things so that you get a clearer picture across.

“every fairytale has a dark side” could be a great hook, but even if you don’t use it as a hook, I’d suggest letting it stand on its own. It will make the statement stronger if it’s its own sentence.

Your query is within a good range for length. I think that if you just put in a few more specifics about key points and pull out some of the superfluous information, you’ll have a good query.


I'd like to thank Karen for being my first query critique. I hope that my perspective helped.

 - Amy


I Don't Know About You, But I Love Me An Underdog.

19. Favorite minor character that decided to shove himself into the spotlight and why!


Paul. In forfeit souls, he started out as a very minor character… and by the time I “finished” the novel, half of it was told from his perspective. He truly took over that novel. It is entirely about his struggle and I think he’s a better character than I ever expected he would be.

I’ve shelved that novel since, but I have dreams of returning to it one day to pull Paul out of the novel and begin a new with his own story. Actually, as I’m writing this I have a strong urge to go back to that story and rework it… we’ll see what comes of that.

Another minor character that I love – and talk way too much about – is Clarke. I love him as much as I do because he’s the character who got the ball rolling. He’s who started my first novel and the reason I’ve fallen into this writer-ly world head over feet.

Nov 18, 2010

... And All Heroes Need A Villain

18. Favorite antagonist and why!


That I’ve written: Calliope Druthers. She’s such a bitch it’s not even funny. And I love that. By the end of the novel you want her to die a horrible death (at least I hope you want her to, and my betas have so far.) I think that part of the reason I love writing stories is because I get to be someone I would never be, and do things I would never actually do.

Someone else’s antagonist… I’ve always had a thing for Baron Harkonnen from Dune (even before I read the novel). He’s just so gross; you can’t help but despise him. Also, and this is a weird one… (also not from a novel) I’ve always loved Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty (the Disney version), even when I was a little kid I thought she was oddly pretty. And heck, she could turn into a crazy cool dragon! Who cares if she gets it in the end? That is awesome.

Nov 17, 2010

We All Need A Hero...

17. Favorite protagonist and why!


Um… that I’ve written? It would most definitely be Skydra. I envy her in a few ways and I definitely want her masks… however, the main reason she’s my favorite is because she has to make tough decisions and her ability to hear her family’s thoughts doesn’t really help her. When you get down to it, she has to make a very tough decision and the things pulling at her from either side are terribly strong.

Someone else’s protagonist… I have to say I really like Edie in Sara Creasy’s Song of Scarabaeus. She’s not perfect, but she does what she thinks is right and she’s willing to put aside everything that she needs in order to save Finn’s life and get him the freedom he deserves. But I think over everyone else I really love Beatrice from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. She’s just so snarky and there is a quality about her that makes me forgive all of her faults and love her truly – her loyalty.

Nov 16, 2010

Fogging Up The Literary Windows

16. Do you write romantic relationships? How do you do with those, and how “far” are you willing to go in your writing? ;)


Haha, well, I’m sorry if you were hoping for more, but I do cut to black fairly quickly… my mother has to read these books! I’m a firm believer that readers have good enough imagination to take it from there. In most cases, I don’t even get into foreplay. (Okay, novel number five pushes my envelope a bit more than the first 4 – enough that I’m not sure I’m going to let mom read it. Sorry mom)

All of my novels have romantic relationships in them. I’m always worried that the scene’s I’ve written aren’t believable, because, having written them I can’t really see them the same as a reader… but so far they’ve been good, or the changes necessary have been the kind that were easily fixable – that’s why we have betas!

Nov 15, 2010

In Which I Gush About A Woman Who's Helped Me Immensly And A Published Author I Love

15. Midway question! Tell us about a writer you admire, whether professional or not!


I think I’m going to have to give this one to my critique partner Joann. I’m an emotional reader, but it’s not often a book will get me to cry. Hers did… each time I read it. Joann is a wonderful writer, and I’m certain she will see success when she takes her novel to agents. Her blog is amazing and the voice that she carries from it, through her novel and even into personal correspondence is just incredible. I have no doubt she’ll find her way to the shelves as soon as she tries to get there.

I’m also going to mention Sara Creasy – Her debut Science Fiction novel, Song of Scarabaeus is amazing. I read it twice. Starting the second read less than a month after I’d finished the first. It’s that good. She recently moved from Tucson, AZ back to Australia where she grew up – which was kind of a bummer for me because I would have loved to meet her. As it is I can’t wait for the sequel to SoS and I’m also looking forward to her husband’s novel which I know nothing about – but I figure it’s bound to be just as intriguing as his wife’s.

Nov 14, 2010

Please Note All Paths of Egress Upon Entering The Facility

14. How do you map out locations, if needed? Do you have any to show us?

For most of my novels, I haven’t really needed to map things out… other than floor plans. However, Magic is for the Birds required a map, as the main characters are more or less questing…

With Duty and Death, I have a general map – it’s basically just an outline of countries. And it was by no means difficult to do, since the story is set in the distant future on earth… I had an easy jumping off point… aka earth today.

For my two SF novels, I haven’t mapped anything out because, well, there’s a lot of crap to take into account… have you ever designed a galaxy? I think not! (and if you have I’m sorry if you found that insulting.) I do still plan on drawing out the mining compound in my 5th novel. I do however have blueprints for my spaceship in my space western.

Nov 13, 2010

We Don't Take Kindly To Ethnocentrism 'Round Here

13. What’s your favorite culture to write, fictional or not?


I think this is a tie. It’s between the Aegeans in Duty and Death (and subsequent novels) and the Tarin – the people in “Magic is for the Birds” who can all turn into birds.

The Aegeans are in the running because I’ve always loved the idea of a society that (more or less) worships knowledge. The Aegeans hide themselves away on their island country in the middle of the great sea and consume themselves with learning. Those that leave Aegeanosis do so only to observe the current affairs of the world and report back to keep an accurate history. Julius, the Aegean who is in Duty and Death does this while tutoring Thomias’s twin half sisters. They are a reclusive race and will do anything to see that the knowledge they possess, even from before the time of darkness will never fall into the wrong hands.

The people of Tarin, are fascinating because they’re all born with the ability to turn into birds and acquire magical abilities by the time they are 16 and so they basically allow their magic to do everything for them and live lives of abundance and leisure. These people rely on their magic too much and it comes down to them needed in an earthling and a girl with defunct magic to save them. I really do enjoy the idea of a society built on excess needing to be saved by the very thing they thought their magic made obsolete.

Nov 12, 2010

Calling All Queriers!

Querying is tough. It’s difficult to nail your pitch paragraph on your own because frankly we’re all a little too close to our work to see what’s unnecessary when distilling the soul of our novel into a teensy pitch paragraph. But I’m here to help.

I’ve decided, after discussion with my critique partner, some feedback from a few members over at Query Tracker and after being sought out by a few others specifically for query critiques that I am going to offer my services in the realm of query critiques.

A few things before I get into particulars:

  • First, I’d like to state that I am not an expert in this field. What I offer is an outside perspective on your query from a writer’s point of view. You can get an agent’s perspective at Query Shark, or an editor’s perspective at Evil Editor.
  • Second, there is obviously no cost associated with this other than your query’s appearance on my blog when it is featured on its Friday Query Critique.
  • Third, I’d appreciate it if you took the time to carefully edit your query on your own before you submit it to me. Think of it as a mock agent query. Send to me what you would send to the agent you intend on querying.
  • Fourth, I can’t write your query for you. The only one who knows your novel well enough to do that is you. Don’t bother asking. I’ll say no.

How it will go down: Each Friday I’ll post a query critique – assuming I have one to post. Queries will be critiqued in the order in which they are received.

What you can expect: A redline edit with notes following. My in-depth opinions on what may or may not be working and why. Honesty.

How to submit: If you’d like me to critique your query, send me an email [abkeuser@gmail.com]. In the subject line make sure you include the words “Query Critique.” In the body of the email please paste your first name and novel’s title followed by the query. Also, if you'd like me to link to your blog, include the address. Please, NO attachments.

On The ___ Day She Created The Hetians And The Vinyalans

12. In what story did you feel you did the best job of world-building? Any side-notes on it you’d like to share?


I think that the world of Duty and Death is the most coherent. That’s because it’s been in my head for so many years I’ve had the ability to let it fully form up in my noggin.

The different parts of the world are definitely symbolic of the type of people/governing body that rules over them. Hetia is a desolate wasteland and the home of an Emperor bent on conquest of the known world… he cares not for anything but power and does everything he can to oppress his people, including his family. Vinyala is what remains of the picturesque landscapes of France and northern Spain. Everything is green and supple and it’s ruled over by a monarch who will put his people’s survival above even the happiness of his own son.

Nov 11, 2010

How Do You Pick A Favorite Child? No.2

11. Who is your favorite character to write? Least favorite?


I love all of my characters… and I don’t think I’d write any of them if I didn’t like them… so Instead I’ll tell you which characters are the easiest and hardest to write.

Impetia, the sister of my main character in Duty and Death, was the easiest person to write. I think that the reason for this is that Impetia is definitely a little part of me that I’ve spent a long time dealing with and trying to stamp out. As a result, I’ve had a lot of time to think about that part of me and how that part has affected me… unfortunately, while this makes her the easiest to write, it also makes her the hardest to read.

The hardest characters for me to write are the ones that aren’t integral to the rest of the story… I try not to have many of these for that exact reason. The characters that are there for a brief moment of the other characters life and then disappear into oblivion, those are the ones that are hard to write simply because I just don’t need to know more. And that makes me less likely to care about them and thus I don’t spend much time thinking about them, then I don’t have a handle on them... it is a horrible thing.

Nov 10, 2010

Sticky Situations

10. What are some really weird situations your characters have been in? Everything from serious canon scenes to meme questions counts!


Skydra can hear the thoughts of her demented family… Most of those could be considered really weird situations… How would you feel if you witnessed your mother’s violent death at the hands of your father through your brother’s memory?

Joellen died at the hands of a red-eyed werewolf, or so she thought, until she’s surrounded by a host of wind demons and finds out that she can manipulate all of the elements… Also, she woke up in a claw footed tub, covered in a rubbery skin that she had to peel off being watched over by a little old man… He’s a creeper.

Liam, in my YA Epic fantasy get’s swallowed whole by a toad and when he’s spit out (after Nerina beats the toad in a duel of riddles) he’s covered in green glue-like globs.

Flynn has two choices, he can try to take off from the planet and risk his shuttle being torn to shreds by surface to air missiles, or he can set back down and be eaten by a race of aliens that resemble white gorillas with alligator snouts. What to do, what to do?

Tim just thanked the Dragon Spirit for Ash’s life, that’s not something you do unless you’re engaged to the person or they’ve just been born…Ash only met him three days ago.

Nov 9, 2010

Bringing New Life Into The World

9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.


Sometimes they just come to me. Other times they appear to fill a role in a situation. My space opera for instance I knew I needed three main characters for the main premise that started the whole thing. A guy, his ex and the little girl the ex is claiming is his daughter. From there I thought about what the guy needed… well, he’s got himself a space ship and he’s more of a fighter than someone who’s going to be inclined toward things like mechanics and piloting, he just didn’t have the time to learn all the ins and outs necessary to keep a ship afloat. So I need a pilot and a mechanic, frankly, I don’t like even numbers, so they couldn’t be the same person, that would put me at 4 principals, so I split the jobs in two and got myself to a nice, uneven 5. Now, the mechanic I knew was going to have an inconsolable crush on the pilot and he wasn’t going to have any problem being insubordinate to the captain… it made the most sense that he was his brother….

It’s really a long and drawn out process and frankly, I could go on for days, but I’m sure I’d bore the snot out of you. After I determine who I need, I make an excel spreadsheet – frankly, I do this with just about everything under the sun. That spreadsheet makes me really think about how they grew up, the things they don’t want people to know, their dreams… basically what makes them who they are. And then I move on from there. Determining whether or not the character is true to themselves through out each thing they do in the novel.

Nov 8, 2010

On Genres

8. What’s your favorite genre to write? To read?


When it comes to writing I definitely think I prefer SF&F. I’ve dabbled in some other genres, but honestly… they’re not as fun. I have to say that if I could choose the career I would most like, I’d love to publish in YA Fantasy and Adult Science Fiction. That being said, I’m still going to write whatever book I want to write – at least until I’m under contract and have to write what I’m signed to.

Reading is different. I’ll read anything. I think that SF&F along with some classic literature are probably my “favorite,” if you want to put a label on it… However, I’m non-discriminatory towards most types of novels. Generally, though, I read things in the genre and age range for which I’m currently writing.

Nov 7, 2010

If You Would Mourn Me And Bring Me To God, Sing Me A Requiem

7. Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? Are there any songs you like to relate/apply to your characters?


Generally I don’t listen to music when I write, mostly that’s because I’m at work and cant. However when I’m home I turn Pandora on to my Beethoven station and drop it down to quarter volume just for some ambiance. However as I was doing dishes and listening to my Lilly Allen station, I heard the Tiborg Remix of La Roux’s “Bulletproof”… the beat of that song and well, just everything about it really, speaks to the Pilot in my space opera. Also, Big Iron by Marty Robins is definitely resonant of Flynn in that novel.

I started a playlist for the Space opera… I’ll post it below if you’d like to look into it, but I will warn you, it may induce whiplash.

One Armed Scissor - At the Drive In
Big Iron - Marty Robins
Everybody Knows - Leonard Choen
Aint No Rest For The Wicked - Cage the Elephant
Bulletproof (Tiborg Remix) - La Roux
Lay Your Weapon Down - Tim Miser
Reflection - Tool
I, Robot - Screeching Weasel

Nov 6, 2010

What Eer Moveth My Soul Does So Softly

6. Where are you most comfortable writing? At what time of day? Computer or good ol’ pen and paper?


I do most of my writing at my desk on my work computer – I’m one of those lucky ones who has a day job she can write at when there’s down time and in this economy… there’s down time. This means that I do most of my writing between 8am and 5pm almost all of that is done at a computer, though I always have a notebook handy too. When I do work at home, my “office setup is not ideal. I’ll generally write with a “good ol’ pen” in my notebook from the couch while trying not to watch whatever Earl’s got on – Usually DIY or SyFy (which, if I may say so, is a horrible re-naming choice).

The worst thing about working at home is that I don’t have an actual desk… so when I’m on my computer it’s at the dining table… it’s not very comfortable.

Nov 5, 2010

Age Is Just A Number

5. By age, who is your youngest character? Oldest? How about “youngest” and “oldest” in terms of when you created them?


Michael is my youngest character… technically as he’s born in the book he first appears in. Julius is my oldest “principal” character. His race of people age very differently from the others in his novel. I think age is a tricky thing. I like knowing at least the approximate age of a character as I’m reading, if I don’t know their age I often spend too much time trying to figure out how old they are and get distracted from the story. If I don’t know their age, sometimes I just assume that they are generally my age – this can get confusing if something arises later to contradict the age that’s cemented in my head. My mother, on the other hand, always tells me to take ages out when she’s reading my drafts.

My oldest character (since I started writing seriously) is Clarke. He was the first character I penned and the one who brought me into the world of my first novel. My newest would be Bonnie. A character I thought up in search of something new to create, as she is new, she’s not fully fleshed out yet and may not survive to see a full novel.

Nov 4, 2010

In Which I Embarrass Myself By Posting My First Short Story

4. Tell us about one of your first stories/characters!


I wrote a short story in the seventh grade – it is nowhere near publishing ready and I doubt I’ll ever revisit it to make it so. I called it the Squijum. I was just going to give you a basic premise, but hey. I’m a writer – I’ve got next to no shame…. I’ll just post the thing as it is and let you laugh at my seventh grade self in all my ill attempts at beginning my writing career. The poem/riddle half way through is enough for me to know why I didn’t come back to writing real stories for a while. Enjoy…

***

As Aiye walked along the beach she looked up and saw a trail. It looked like no one had used it in a long, long time. It was very beautiful. There were many different types of trees and shrubs as well as flowers. There was a bend in the trail and as Aiye turned it, she was amazed. There in front of her was a beautiful waterfall with a pond and stream. The flowers were more abundant here and the shades of purple, pink, yellow, white, and light blue gave it more beauty and splendor. Aiye was reluctant to leave such a place, but wanted to see what was around the next bend. She walked for awhile and then BOOM! She was out of the forest and on to one of the sea cliffs. About sixteen feet away was an old cottage. Aiye walked toward the cottage, turned the knob and pushed. The door to the old cottage creaked open as if no one had opened it in hundreds of years.

Inside Aiye saw a green trunk in the corner. She walked over to it and opened it. Inside were a pair of men’s slacks, a white shirt, and a blazer. Under these was a journal with the name Edgar B. Fitzgerald. Inside, it read:

“Jan 19, 1498 ~ To whoever finds this journal:

I have found a magical orb, which can turn the person who touches it into an animal, imaginary or real. The person will have to do three tasks to get back to human form.”

Aiye turned to find the orb in a claw shaped holder. As she approached the orb, it lit up. It grew brighter with every step she took. Aiye was entranced; her hand slowly lifted and touched the orb.

Aiye was not in the cottage any more. She was in a black room.

“Where am I?” Aiye wondered. She felt weird. She was changing. To what she did not know! Aiye gazed at her hands. They became flat and grew together into one gigantic flipper, all green and scaly. And her feet did the same. Her head became fat and she grew a tail. A crown of horns and seaweed grew out of her head. Aiye was a huge sea monkey and she was in a cave in an ocean.

She swam out of the cave. Surprisingly, swimming came easily to her. Aiye had the knowledge of the creature, as well as her own. As she swam, she found a rock tablet. It read:

“To the north, to the south

There are many caves,

But to the east is the cave

Of pearl and peril.”

“Yes, a clue,” Aiye thought, and she swam eastward. She never really noticed how beautiful this place was until just now. As she thought this, she heard two fish arguing and went to investigate. As she approached, she could hear them more clearly.

“It’s mine, I slept there last night,” one said.

“But, I’ve been living with others while you got Daddy’s mansion,” the other said.

“Um, excuse me, but I couldn’t help overhearing you two fish talk, I might be able to help you,” Aiye said.

“Please don’t call us fishes. We are Angeline and Angel,” Angeline said.

“I should have known, you are angel fish, right? You look so angelic to me.” They both blushed.

“She won’t let me stay in Daddy’s mansion, and it’s half mine,” Angel said.

“And it belongs to me also, and we agreed to a four week split,” Angeline argued.

“I didn’t agree to it. You made it up and said I had to do it. I get four weeks, you get eight,” Angel debated.

“It seems to me that you have been unfair to your sister by making her go from place to place, searching for a home,” Aiye said. “Why don’t you both live in it, it is a mansion, isn’t it?”

“Well, yes. But we don’t get along,” Angel stated.

“So live in different parts of the house.”

For the first time in the conversation, Aiye noticed that her voice was not low and deep sounding, but sweetly high pitched and soft sounding.

“Good idea,” they both said. “And thank you, so much. What was your name again? And, what are you?”

“My name is Aiye, and I am a sea monkey, I guess. But I like the name squigum better,” Aiye said.

“Then we shall name one of our statues after you,” they said.

“Oh, by the way, do you know of the cave of pearl and peril…”

“That we do, ma’am, but I would not go there, myself,” they said, and they went back into their father’s mansion.

As she swam away, Aiye thought of how much her Aunt Martha must miss her and how bad she must feel. She should know how it feels. After all, she was abandoned by her mother and father and sent to live with her Aunt in Dover, on Golden Street. But it turned out to be more of a blessing than a burden.

Aiye noticed that it was getting late, so she looked for a place to sleep. She laid down in a bed of kelp, but it took her some time to fall asleep because the little fish that swam by tickled her as they passed. Sleep finally came and it was pleasant dreams until a walrus who could use some fresh deodorant swam by her.

The next morning, she woke and started off again. She was swimming and had to stop because of a school of fish being pursued by a very hungry walrus.

She swam for a while until she found a cave the light poured out of. She looked inside to see a trillion pearls in clam cases. She waltzed in and found one she liked and turned to see a large red octopus staring straight at her. It reached a tentacle out and snatched her. He squeezed really tight. So tight, it squeezed a liquid fire out of her. This burned the octopus’s eye and he let go and she fled.

One task down. Two to go.

Aiye was back in the black room. She was herself again. But she was changing again. This time her hands and feet turned into hooves. Her face became thin and white and she grew a muzzle. A long, slender horn jutted out of her head. She grew a pink mane and tail. She was a unicorn and now was in a beautiful meadow.

This meadow was very strange. The grass was blue, the sky orange, and the water purple. But again, she had the knowledge of the creature and she knew she was in a land where this was normal. She was very thirsty and she walked over to a pool and drank. After this, she walked and found another tablet. It read, “fire, water, earth and sky, four gems all surround one great one.”

Clue number two. I guess I have to find four crystals and put them in a ring and they will form an all powerful one.

She ran until she found a small crystal that was as red as fire. She put it in the pouch that she found around her neck and she placed the fire colored crystal with the single pearl. She looked carefully now for a blue stone. She found many stones that were blue but she did not stop looking until she found a small, blue crystal. She trotted on for a green crystal, which would stand for earth. When she found this, she looked for a white one. When she found all of them, she placed them in a circle around a medium, everyday, ordinary gray rock. Then she sat and waited. When she had sat for a while, she accidentally fell into a deep and dreamless sleep. While she slept, the crystals transformed into one multicolored gem. She woke an hour later to find the gem. She placed it in the pouch with the pearl. And was suddenly back in the black room, herself once again. But this time she only changed a little.

Other than the black hair all over her and stunted growth, Aiye didn’t feel that different. Now she seemed to be in an Asian jungle. She found a carving on a tree. It read, “A civilization that thrives on one thing, to them gold is a necessity and necessity is the mother of invention.”

“Okay, I must find an invention that has something to do with gold,” she thought. She moved as fast as she could, which wasn’t very fast. She was exploring a cave when she found a small opening in the wall of the cave. It came out to an ancient Indian village. She walked toward the main structure, its entrance looked like a gorilla with a diamond in its forehead. The mouth was the door and the tongue was the floor.

Aiye walked in. The walls were covered with ancient writings and paintings. She stepped forward and fell through the floor. When she looked up, she saw a million eyes staring straight at her. She was scared. She looked at each one and the more she saw the more scared she got. When one stepped forward, she was bewildered. It asked, “are you looking for the golden invention, too?”

“Yes, I am,” she said.

“When you fell through the floor, you gave us quite a fright.”

“Oh, I am sorry. Why aren’t you trying to get out of here?” Aiye asked.

“Some have tried. They said that if they found a way out they would come back and show us the way,” the other gorilla said.

“Maybe they got excited and forgot to come back. Why don’t we all go together?”

“Good idea,” said the gorilla. “Let’s go.”

They were a large group, seventy eight at the least. They walked and found many places to rest. They were rounding a bend when all of a sudden, they were in a great hall with a dome ceiling, and the only way out was though the roof. There were a great many pillars leading to the top. Aiye started to climb up one of the pillars but it was very slick and she slid down and landed with a thud. She then found another way out. About twenty feet away were three vines that Aiye twisted together to make a rope strong enough to hold her. It hung from the ceiling and out of one of the window holes in the top. Aiye pulled herself up. It wasn’t very hard, after all she was a gorilla. When she reached the top, she had the others come up. But, she soon realized they were on top of the giant gorilla head, and now they needed to find a way down.

Aiye looked at her surroundings and found that she was completely surrounded by trees on three sides. She flung herself at one of the trees and grabbed onto a branch. She then swung herself down to the ground and hollered to the other gorillas to come down, but they were gone and she was back in the black room.

Aiye was herself again. All of a sudden she heard a booming voice that said, “You have shown yourself worthy of my gratitude.”

“Who are you,” Aiye asked.

“I am Sheetha,” said the voice, and a large white horse appeared.

“But I didn’t find the golden invention,” Aiye said.

“Yes, you did. By helping the others with your invention of the rope, you showed that your heart is golden towards all those in need. I now give you the power to call on animals for protection and to tell animals what I have done for you. Now I shall take you back to where you belong.”

Aiye was back on Golden Street, in the living room, asleep on the couch with her puppy in her lap. When she awoke, it was her aunt’s soft voice that woke her. She was back and she was glad.

“How long was I asleep?” she asked.

“Four and a half hours,” her aunt replied.

“Maybe it was a dream,” she thought, “but it seemed so real.” As she got up from the couch, she was sure her puppy winked at her.

Nov 3, 2010

What's in a name?

3. How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you’re writing about fictional places)?


Oh, names. *Sigh* Names are sometimes the easiest and sometimes the most difficult to come up with – titles are worse. The thing about a name is that it holds so much in the terms of a story. I’ve known people who hated a character for no other reason than their name. Names do have a pension to control our first impressions.

I pick my character names based on several things: a) Where the character is from. If the person is British, I’m not going to give them a name that is more likely to be found in Zimbabwe – unless of course other factors dictate that a Zimbabwean name would fit the character. b) The age of the character and the time in which they are living. In a contemporary novel I’m more likely to pick Anne or Zoey over Mary of Virginia. c) the character’s personality. I’ll admit. I give pretty names to characters who are nice, and ugly names to characters who are just horrible people.

Now, when it comes to my first novel, some of the characters were a little easier than others. Clarke came to me first, both as a character and then as a named character. I named him after both my grandfather and a good friend of the same name. The perspective character, Skydra, was named such because of a dear friend who sadly succumbed to cancer before I could finish the novel. Her eldest daughter’s name is Skaedra. Skydra is also a town and municipality in Macedonia in Greece.

My latest novel, the antagonist, Calliope was named after a steam pipe-organ. And yes, I did mean for there to be a connotation of blowing hot air.

So, naming characters is a very subjective business – it also involves visiting baby naming sites and then explaining to your coworkers that, no, you’re not pregnant.

Naming places is generally a little easier. I found that naming planets in my space opera was remarkably easy…. I named one of the planets Django in homage to the early western film and another Ludo in honor of that big orange lug in the Labyrinth. However, naming my space ship took ages and ages. I envy Sara Creasy and her spaceship’s name, Hoi Polloi. I love it on so many levels.

Nov 2, 2010

Battle of the Sexes

2. How many characters do you have? Do you prefer males or females?


How many characters do I have? More than I can count… Duty and Death (and the subsequent story lines) has over 100 characters (now, that includes everyone and all of the characters so, it’s not a realistic count.

My last novel – the space western – has a total of five principal characters and a host of secondary characters.

As far as the hero/heroine of the story, of the five novels I’ve completed (to at least a fully fleshed first draft), the majority of the protagonists are female more accurately four of the five. However I don’t think that that is due to any particular forethought, it’s always based on how each character fits into a storyline.

Believe me, I’ve given characters sex changes half way through a novel before, so I’m not one of those people who refuse to be flexible with my characters after I’ve initially conceived them.

Nov 1, 2010

How Do You Pick A Favorite Child? Which One Screams least?

1. Tell us about your favorite writing project/universe that you’ve worked with and why.


You know, the world of my space western is very fresh in my mind and thus it is attempting to make the cut for this, but I think this is a case of “you never forget your first” as Randine brought up in September. The universe that my first novel, Duty & Death, is centered in is my favorite.

I think that part of the reason for this is because I spent so much time thinking about it. I started writing and doing research for in March of 2006… it’s also the reason I think I have such an easy time diving back into it each time I need to change/fix/add something.

Another part of the reason I think I love this world so much is that in creating it I came up with both the world I would most and least like to live in. That being said, even the part of the world I’ve created that I’d hate to live in still holds a special fascination with me. The diversity of the geology in each of the two main locations in the Duty & Death make for the abundant overuse of imagery… and any of you who know me, know that I’m a lover of imagery!