Monday, April 30, 2012

Parts of a Story

For once, I'll get to the meat right off and leave my personal exposition until the end. :)

Dave Farland recited to us the nine parts of a story, in order. While at first this might seem pretty obvious, it's interesting to actually map out a plot chart using these. I've never physically drawn a plot chart for any of my books, but doing so might show me areas of weakness. Something I should do this week!

Photo Credit
Parts of a Story:

1. Setting
2. Character
3. Conflict
4. Theme
5. Inciting incident
6. First try/fail
7. Second try/fail
8. Climax
9. Resolution

Extra notes:

  • Start with what the story is about. (Think of Card's MICE: Milieu, Idea, Character, Events)
  • An interesting trick to use with the climax is a reversal: making it look like the good guy has one, but the villain turns the table.


In other news, I found out this weekend that an old college roommate of mine (one of the ones I liked!) lives in Moscow! I had no idea she and her husband had moved up there. So, not only will I actually have a friend when I move, but she generously offered to house Husband and I when we go up next week to look for apartments. Hello, I am making her the BIGGEST CAKE EVER.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Link Blitz

We've got some fantastic links this week! But first, let me introduce what I think is the most important one.

Brandon Sanderson is the best writing teacher and panelist ever. He's smart, he's animated, and he encourages participation. As you may know, I took his class at BYU twice (once as a student and once as an auditor), and it is hands-down the best class I've ever taken for my craft, and better than any book I've ever read.

SO GREAT NEWS. Brandon (or someone) has recorded his classes and posted them online for our enjoyment. Not as great as being there in person, but I very strongly recommend watching these! It's like Writing Excuses only visual and a MILLION times better.

The "Intro to the Class" video is here. Or skip it and use the navigation bar to find a topic you like!

Writer's Potpourri:

Tips for Non-corny Romance Scenes

Master Class: The Devil is in the Details (SIWC 2011 Notes)

The Key Ingredient for Dramatic Tension--Understanding the Antagonist

The Criterion for Evaluating an Agent

Psychoanalyze Your Characters

The Birth of a Book

Other Babble:

TellTale Titles (Renaming popular books to match obvious titles like "Snakes on a Plane" and "Man on a Ledge")

Backwards and in Heels (Women in cover art)

Posing Like a Man (Cover art)

Google Gravity (try searching for things and moving them around)

Leaked Oreo Ad Shows Breastfeeding Baby Holding Cookie

Honey Badger | Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin' Ad

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Someday Stars: Meet Juliana L. Brandt

What’s your name, and where are you from? 
I'm Juliana L. Brandt and I currently live in Tennessee, though I'm originally from Minnesota (and if pressed, I'd also say I'm from Mississippi. My Bf says I'm an honorary Southerner :))

How long have you been writing? 
As every writer says: I can't remember a time when I didn't write. I have been seriously writing though (aiming for publication) for about two years.

What genre(s) do you write?
I write a wide variety, but mostly stick to YA fantasy.

What’s your current WIP? Can you tell us about it? 
My current MS is YA speculative fiction and involves a post-apocalyptic Drought, genetically engineered humans and a pack of wild dogs.

What’s your current day job? How does it help or hinder your writing? 
I am a secretary and it helps my writing immensely. As long as I'm answering the phones, I can work on anything I need to.

Who is your favorite author? 
Why such a difficult question?? Ahh...RowlingJonesVanWredeNixSnyderTolkienMorgenstern...Does that count?

Favorite book? 
I think I'll go with Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.

What other hobbies or activities do you do outside of writing? 
I do a lot of trail hiking/running. My weekends are spent mostly outside with my dogs :)

What is something unique about yourself? 
I love marshmallows. During the winter, I'll sit in front of the stove with marshmallows on a fork so I can eat them all melty. Yum.

Do you have a blog, Twitter, and/or Web site we can link to? 
Absolutely! and my handle on twitter is @julianalbrandt.

Always looking for aspiring writers for the Someday Stars series! If you're interested in being interviewed, please email me at CNHolmberg (at) gmail (dot) com.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gots Me a Miche Bag

(No, I was not paid to say this, I'm just really excited about it. :D)

I am not a fashionista. All my pants fit in one drawer and I only own perhaps 10 pairs of shoes (for a woman, that is a small number). I won't spend more than $10 on a shirt.

However, the one thing I LOVE is a good purse.*

Monday I got my first, very-own Miche Bag.

Miche Bag is a company that makes purses and related accessories--but the cool thing is that they have a base bag, and then different shells/straps you can put on it. So when you want to switch purses, for whatever reason, you just take off one shell and put on another instead of having to dump out your purse and rearrange everything into a new bag.

So I got one with the money my generous in-laws gave me. (I also got a friends-and-family discount since my friend/neighbor works there as a graphic designer. WIN.)

This is the bag I bought:

It's so nice to have multiple pockets again...

Now I just have to save up $500 to get a Vitamix. Yeah, that's not happening anytime in the next decade...

*Mayhaps the only thing I like more than a good purse is a spunky pair of glasses.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Writing for an Audience: Notes from David Farland

Went to David Farland's Million Dollar Outlines this weekend! Good experience, if not quite what I was expecting. Dave is full of knowledge, for sure, but 16 hours of sitting in the same chair while he talks is a little physically and mentally tolling, to be honest. ;) Still, I took a bunch of notes and met some more aspiring authors, which is always great! And I got an idea for a short story; perhaps I'll give WotF another try between CoT beta readers and drafting book #6.

Day 1 Dave talked a lot about keeping your audience in mind when outlining a novel. Here are a few of my notes:
  • Make sure your protagonist is the right age for your audience, and the right gender
  • Play on the primary emotional draws for your audience. For example:
    • The biggest drawn for 16-year-old girls is romance
    • The biggest draw for most men is adventure
    • The biggest draw for children is wonder
    • As women moved into their thirties, they lean more towards drama and mystery; those genres start appealing to men in their forties
  • 32% of males can't identify with a female protagonist
  • 12% of females can't identify with a male protagonist
  • You can pull in more than one audience by staggering multiple protagonists and different conflicts

Interesting statistics, no?

I would recommend Dave's workshop for people who a) have a lot of patience/butt-endurance, and b) those who are fairly new to writing, especially those who have yet to finish their first book.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Link Blitz

[[EDIT: For some reason Blogger hasn't posted my last two scheduled posts... troubleshooting now.]]

So yesterday I realized I have a LOT more revisions to do than previously thought. A lot. Big plot things that I have to cut and rewrite and reshape, right smack dab in the middle of the story. Time consuming, but I shall prevail!

Today and tomorrow is the Million Dollar Outlines workshop with David Farland, so I'll be more or less MIA. :D

Writer's Potpourri:

Pinterest and Blogging: 7 Keys to Success

How to Write Effective Supporting Characters

No Capes (Are you putting "capes" on your writing?)

The Secret to Success--Quitting

What did you always want to know about query letters but were afraid to ask? (Closed to questions, but there are gold nuggets in the comments)

Picky Picky--The Danger of Authors Being Too Clique-y on Twitter

Learn How To Motivate Your Characters

Other Babble:

Centaur Anatomy Revealed: Two Hearts, Six Limbs, One Brain

50 People You Wish You Knew in Real Life

And the adorableness of my four-year-old niece:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Open Door Submissions at Angry Robot

Angry Robot, British Publisher, has a open door for submissions for fantasy novels (adult and YA) until the 30th. This is a great opportunity to get your stuff looked at; they signed five new authors from their 2011 Open Door.

Check it out here.

Extra points if you include a one sentence summary of the novel with your synopsis! Pay attention to the formatting guidelines; they're a little different (for example, manuscripts need to be single spaced).

Monday, April 16, 2012

7-7-7- Challenge

Whilst I was pondering what to blog about today, I got word from Juliana Brandt (who is our next Someday Stars interviewee) that I was tagged in a 7-7-7 challenge. This is a fun one, methinks. (And you can see Juliana's here.)

The 7-7-7- Challenge

  • Flip to page 77 of your curent WIP.
  • Find line 7.
  • Post the 7 sentences that follow.
  • Tag 7 more writers.

Picture from

She crawled along the pathway itself, open air on all sides of her. She reached the next wall as two guards passed, each with a rifle resting on their right shoulders.
            Exhale, inhale. She turned the corner and searched for Eloise. Was that her on the distant wall, or a trick of the light? Lanterne waited for something to happen, for some sign of movement, but it was too far to see clearly. Hopefully the distance worked both ways.

7 tags:
Erin Summerhill
Tiffany Demings 
Angela Brown
Jeff Hargett
Nathan Major
Leigh Covington
Laura Christensen

Friday, April 13, 2012

Link Blitz

Early birthday shout-out to my husband! He'll be turning 24* on Sunday, but I won't be posting again before then.

Love you so much! Hope your birthday is a blast! (Of course it will be, you'll be spending it with me. :D)

Writer's Potpourri:

Interview with Isaac Stewart, the man behind the maps of Mistborn and The Way Of Kings

Writer's Roadtrip (Traffic signs that epitomize the process of writing a book)

Top 10 Don't Miss Site for Marketing Your Writing (Without Breaking the Bank)

The Ultimate Guide to Building a Tribe on Twitter

How to Talk to Agents

How to Pitch

Don't be THAT Writer (Reacting to negativity)

Other Babble:

What might be the most insane Easter prank ever:

Mistborn Fan Trailer (because I thought it was cool):

*I'm a real cougar--older than my husband by 11 days. :O

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Someday Stars: Meet David Powers King

Hey, Charlie! Thanks for having me over.

What’s your name, and where are you from?

It depends on who you ask. Most know me as David Powers King, but some have called me P. King Duck or Earthquake (don't ask), and I am a product of Southern California, now living in Utah. Like Bilbo Baggins, I like mountains.

How long have you been writing?

Almost 15 years now. I started writing seriously at age 15, so that pretty much gives my age away…

What genre(s) do you write?

I write MG/YA/Adult science fiction and fantasy. Right now, I'm in YA fantasy mode, seeking representation/deal for my 7th novel.

What’s your current WIP? Can you tell us about it?

It's called The Dragon's Heart, a rewrite of my first stab at fantasy (after my wife challenged me to write something she would enjoy). I wrote it three years ago, a blending of Grimm's Beauty and the Beast and Rumpelstiltskin. It's about a princess with an unusual curse which causes her to black out and do terrible things to her suitors, just when she falls in love with them. With the help of a dragon, she searches for an ancient relic that can absorb magic from whoever possesses it. This is great for her, but fatal for the dragon - and a cursed prince who is trapped within.

What’s your current day job? How does it help or hinder your writing?

- (This is totally going to give away my secret identity) I'm a psychometrist (psychological test administrator). It keeps me busy, but the multiple opportunities to meet with and help evaluate clients and their problems is not only great for helping me step out my comfort zone (I'm not exactly sure where that is anymore), but for understanding the wide range of the human experience - an asset to excellent character development.

Who is your favorite author/favorite book?

So many great ones to choose from, so I'll go with the author who has influenced me the most and inspired me to start writing—Orson Scott Card and his novel, Ender's Game.

What other hobbies or activities do you do outside of writing?

Aside from writing, I'm a LEGO collector, a FPS gaming addict (you won't like me if we play Halo), a reader of books and a film connoisseur (Hollywood culture has a way of ingraining itself in you when you're raised near LA), with a strong background and knowledge base for animation. I'm also a jungle gym for my two kids and a cheesy romantic to my forever girl.

What is something unique about yourself?

I can whistle film scores without pausing for breath (inhale whistling - very fun), I use jellybeans as a "dangling carrot" to help me get through my blocks, and I can make you the meanest homemade pizza that may put your favorite franchise to shame (subjectively, of course). 

Do you have a blog, Twitter, and/or Web site we can link to?

I have both! You can find my blog at and my Twitter handle is @davidpowersking. Stop by any time. I post about story devices (tropes) and general writing advice each week—along with query critique offers and other random awesomeness.

If you're willing to be interviewed for Someday Stars, please email me at CNHolmberg (at)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Random Updates

  • I am on day two of CITY OF TEETH revisions. Yesterday I wrote 4,500+ words. I think that's a new second-place record.
  • I am half way through book five of The Wheel of Time. Still love it, but Robert Jordan's women all have the same, stubborn, strong-willed personality and it's starting to grate a bit.
  • Husband has caught onto the WoT bandwagon and is on book one.
  • I got Jon Sprunk's Shadow's Master in the mail yesterday! So excited to read it! I have that, the rest of the Wot series, Howls' Moving Castle, Everneath, Partials, and now Glamour in Glass to read as well. (Plus I want to re-read Writer's Portable Mentor before I do my prose revisions.) I remember that time in my life where I didn't know what to read next. That was nice. :O
  • Still looking for a job in Moscow. I found one that I would LOVE, but it's only part time and doesn't pay enough per hour. Major bummer. I've applied to two other jobs but have not yet heard back. (I would love to work at a school, though...)
  • I've been using my new pedometer this week and I totally made the 10,000 steps-a-day goal on Saturday and Monday.
  • I'm officially resigned from LDStorymakers, but I'm stoked for David Farland's workshop. Found out a friend of mine is going, too. (OH. If you are going to LDStorymakers, please let me know so I can make you do me a favor. Please.)
  • I officially only have to wear my jaw-tainer at night now. :D

So, what's new with your life?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Winning Streak Bust

My winning streak continued throughout the week. I won a gym bag from work (with a pedometer, water bottle, and $25 Subway gift card), alpha reader comments, and presents for my birthday. I even got the first pages of THE DAY THE SKY FELL into a workshop with Weronika Janczuk for LDStorymakers! Awesome stuff.

However, on Friday, when I went to see which day I'd need to take off for LDStorymakers, the winning streak came to a screeching halt.

May 4th.

May 4th. Husband's graduation.

Cue me staring at the computer screen in near-tears.

I know, I know, most of you are probably thinking, "So what? Graduation is boring. Skip it." But alas, I can't. It's Husband's big day, graduating from the University of Utah. Walking, getting the degree he worked so hard for, going out to eat afterward to celebrate. I can't miss that. He was there for my graduation, and we weren't even married yet.

For a minute I try to work it out. Maybe the ceremony would end by 10 AM and I could speed to Provo and still make it in time for Weronika's panel. Or maybe I could catch the second-half of the day. But no matter how I sliced it, it just didn't feel right. I needed to be at graduation, not rushing anyone, celebrating the day. Even if Husband did say he wouldn't mind if I went. (Yes you would! And he says this after surprising me at work with lunch because I had forgotten to bring one. ;_;)

So I'm not going. I'm sad about it--especially since I was really hoping to talk to Weronika and show her how great I am XD--but it's the choice I feel best about. I'm going to give my registration to a friend, though he will likely have to pretend to be "Charlie" for the day. Fortunately the name is masculine and no one will be the wiser.

So if you're going to LDStorymakers and you see my name tag, say hi. ;)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Link Blitz

I only made it through three layers of my six-layer Great Wall of Chocolate birthday cake from PF Changs. I am ashamed.

Now it's sitting in my fridge waiting to make me fat. So much cake...

Husband got me a year's subscription to Writer's Digest Magazine for my birthday! I am so excited! First issue comes in May. :D (He also made me a The Wheel of Time birthday card, which  he was very proud of, so I'll go ahead and mention it.)

To the blitz!

Writer's Potpourri:

"Creating an Effective Battle Scene" by epic fantasy author Janet Beasley

Content Marketing for Authors

Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone

Character Development--GET REAL!

David Farland's Daily Kick in the Pants--How Does Your Character Feel?

The 10 Most Harmful Novels for Aspiring Writers

The Importance of Perspective

Author Blogging 101: Widgets, Sidebars and You

Other Babble:

Literary Style: 15 Writers' Bedrooms

Harry The Hungry Hippo Gives His Happy Handler a Loving Lick (Click on it. The pictures will make you squee unless you're a heartless bastage. [<--That's how we swear in Utah*])

Simpsons' Game of Thrones Intro (I had to get the lamer version because FOX copyright says it doesn't like people promoting its shows.)

* (You know you want to hit play)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It's My Birthday

Today is my birthday.

That means today I am off from work and trolling restaurants that offer free food for people on their birthday. (Firehouse Subs, here I come!)

In the meantime, please enjoy this brief but hilarious video:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Why I Am in a Very Good Mood

This has been a great week so far. Because I keep winning stuff.

First, I got an email on Sunday from Jon Sprunk telling me I won his photo contest and therefore will be sent a free copy of his third novel, Shadow's Master. (Will have to figure out how to balance that on with The Wheel of Time. I'm currently on book five of that one.) I'm very excited about this, though now I'll have to go buy books one and two to complete the collection (I rented them from the library because I'm cheap that way).

Second, I found out yesterday that I won the Murray City Literary Contest grand prize! I am ECSTATIC about this! I sent in my short story, "Piscis," back in February. I win $50 for placing first in my category (science fiction), and $400 toward a writing workshop of my choice. I will be going to David Farland's Million Dollar Outlines at the end of the month! I've really been wanting to take one of his classes.

And then tomorrow I get presents because it's my birthday. :D WIN.

Maybe I should start doing giveaways so I can spread the winning goodness....

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cosmopolitan: 18th Century Edition

So I found this picture on a friend's blog, and besides being funny, it got me thinking.

What would a magazine (especially something like Cosmo) read like if I pulled it from one of my stories? Sure, a big question is "What are the big stories?", but what about smaller things, article I might not think of at first? Are my characters concerned with slimmer ankles? Is there a local celebrity who could be interviewed? What's the fashion, the concerns, the diet, the gossip?

Perhaps a new way to look at worldbuilding. Makes me want to fire up my InDesign skillz and put something together....