Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Trip to See My Sis Get Hitched

Today I am undertaking the long drive to Utah to see these lovebirds tie the knot:

I'm going to be seriously ticked if their children are cuter than mine.

I'm a little bummed that plane tickets are so expensive, because I'd be able to stay longer that way, but alas. It'll be good to see the family even if it's only for 2.5 days. :)

Monday, June 24, 2013

This Writer's Smartphone Apps

I got my first smartphone in August of last year--a Samsung Galaxy S2. This was was the fanciest thing I had
ever placed a call on. It introduced me to touch-screens, voice command, Swype . . . and the glorious world of apps.

Apps are terrific, especially for writing, so I wanted to share with you what apps I use when it comes to putting pen to page. Love being able to have a digital thesaurus at my fingertips. And the dictionary side is pretty nice, too.

Google Translate. In the last year I wrote two novels with heavy foreign-language usage. This app has been priceless to me, especially in drafting EMPIRE OF CRANES AND SPIDERS. It will also pronounce words for me, which minimizes my butchering of foreign terms.*

Wikipedia. Never know when an idea requiring lore research might pop up, or when I need to look up random facts away from my computer.

Lightning Bug. My newest acquisition. Great for when you need to listen to something non-musical. I recently wrote a piece of flash fiction that took place in a rainstorm, so I had rain playing in the background for almost an hour while I drafted it.

Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads. These are pretty self-explanatory.

Had TweetDeck for a while, but it turned out to be more trouble than it was worth. :/

I don't personally use note-taking apps because I find that carrying small notebooks allows me to record ideas faster and access them easier.

What apps do you love? What am I missing out on?

*NOTE that Google Translate is not reliable for grammar. If you're translating long phrases, best to get a native speaker's input!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Sexy Commission for ECS


Remember my artsy friend, Sara Radice (AKA "Nurt")? The one who did this and this and this?

Well she did another commission for me. And I love it.

This picture is of Crow and Chunhua, the two protagonists from EMPIRE OF CRANES AND SPIDERS.*


It's my desktop background. I just like staring at it. Mmmmm. :) The detail is amazing too. Feel free to compliment it in the comments. :)

You can find Sara's Deviantart page here, and her prices are more than reasonable if you're interested in commissioning her. :)

*My husband thinks I should rename the book "The Crane and the Crow." Thoughts? (Probably won't happen, but I'm curious.)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Review of The Mythic Guide to Characters by Antonio Del Drago

Today I'm reviewing The Mythic Guide to Characters by Antonio Del Drago of For
your information, here's the book description from

As a professor, writer, and philosopher, Dr. Antonio del Drago has immersed himself in the literary and mythological traditions of the world. 

Applying this knowledge to the writing of characters, he has developed a systematic, layered approach to character development that is based on psychology and archetypes.

In this guide, you will discover:

  • The secret to writing multidimensional characters
  • How to develop your character's unconscious motivations
  • Four ways in which characters interact with their worlds
  • Five formative relationships that shape your character
  • Nine mythic character archetypes and how to use them
  • The difference between proactive and reactive protagonists
  • Ways to define a character through dialogue and physicality
The guide also includes a detailed worksheet that walks you through the stages of character development.

This is more than a book on how to write characters. This guide offers a practical, step-by-step approach to character creation that is sure to take your writing to the next level.

Now for the review:

Overall, I give this book 3.5 stars.

I was a little on the fence with this book when I received it. It's got some good writing advice in it, but I'm a little wary of a "how-to" writing book by an author who, as far as I can tell, has never published anything outside this book (though he does have a PhD and runs his own writing forum). That alone would prevent me from picking The Mythic Guide to Characters off the shelf at the book store, but since I got a free copy, I decided to give it a go.

The book reads like a popular essay, which is different form many of the writing books I've read. Drago is really good at giving examples (drawn from well-known books and movies) of varying character and relationship types. I especially liked the connection between how a person plays a video game and how a character interacts with his world.

The book dives into the ideas of "enneagrams," archetypes, and soul triptychs, which made for an interesting and enlightening read.

I didn't entirely agree with the section on physical characteristics--I think there was a lot of general assumption being thrown around, and the advice flip-flopped a little. Drago also addresses the use of "real-life" dialogue (writing as people actually speak) in a way that almost went overboard for me. Sort of like he was venting a pet peeve. (I will note that I've never seen broken, "natural" dialogue in any amateur [or professional] writing. Bad dialogue, yes, but not in the way this book describes.)

With all that said, if you're a beginning writer (especially in the fantasy or science-fiction genre) and can get
this book at a good price, go for it. It has some insightful, psychological insights on character, as well as some handy worksheets in the back. And if you do read it, let me know what you think!

Monday, June 10, 2013

When Someone Else Has Your Great Idea

Ever had someone steal your idea before you thought of it?

What I mean is that you come up with a great idea for a story, start planning, even start writing, and then you find an eerily similar idea in a pitch contest. Or on the shelves of Barnes & Noble. Or on Tor's blog.

Guess your story wasn't so unique after all. :(

I had a scare like this the other day when I saw a Tweet from Tor depicting a book that sounded an awful lot like the epic fantasy I'm planning. My stomach sunk, and then my Internet went out, so I had to ask Juliana to scope it out for me while I chewed my nails to stubs.

Fortunately, it seems the two books are very different, so I'm safe. What a relief!

Not too long ago a friend of mine told me about a magic system in a new novel incredibly similar to what I have in CIRCUS SOUL HEIRESS. Guess I won't be rewriting that book anytime soon.

Have you ever had an idea swiped out from under you, or actually stolen? What did you do?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Submissions and Freelancing

So my book is out on submission. First round.

I cannot begin to explain how surreal and amazing that is.

It's actually happening. I'm on that publishing road and really, actually, moving forward. My fingers are crossed. (As are my arms, legs, and any other body part that is physically capable of crossing over another.)

Marlene has been wonderful to work with as well. She really believes in my book, and she's got a good head in the business.

Speaking of business, on another note, I've dabble with the idea of opening up my freelancing again. It's something that I enjoy, and I like having that option available to me. With self-publishing on the rise, I'm hoping there will be more fiction opportunities on the market (not that I don't welcome nonfiction with open arms!), but it's hard to gauge. So I'd like to run a little poll.

Are you in the market for a freelancer? For what project? Or, do you know someone in the market who could be interested in my services?

My freelancing tab and separate website are in dire need of refurbishing, but I don't want to get ahead of myself. ;)

That's all for now, folks!

Monday, June 3, 2013

My Brain Takes Form in Tiny Notebooks

All authors have methods for tracking their ideas--napkins, notebooks, software, smartphone apps, even just their brains.

I am a notebooker. I'm a big proponent of pocket-sized notebooks, though I've never actually carried one in my pocket. (#women'spantsFTW)

My Writing-for-Children professor at BYU wisely advised me to start every notebook with a few blank pages for a Table of Contents, which I can then fill in as I go. Makes notes much easier to find.

I love these notebooks because whenever I have a thought, I can jot it down--I never have to worry about forgetting it later. And, when I'm really bored, I can draw up the blueprints of my male lead's house from THE PAPER MAGICIAN in there. True story.

My architectural skills are weak at best.

How do you record your thoughts and ideas?