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Author August 2011
Hello and welcome to my professional blog. In this blog, I will mostly write about writing, editing, publishing, slush reading and the calls for submission I am making or responding to. There will be writer advice based on whatever lesson I am relearning, interview links for current projects and random bits that relate to writing in some emotional or technical way. I have no filters and make liberal use of the tag system.

See my profile for my event appearances, book covers, bio and other such things.

My personal blog, gaaneden, is where I talk about my husband, my cats, my gaming and other randomness of everyday life. It is a lot less structured and a lot more fluff. Feel free to add my personal LJ as well.

APOCALYPSE GIRL DREAMING Cover Reveal

Author August 2011

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

This is my favorite book cover to date.



Cover art by Fernando Cortes.
Cover design by Matt Youngmark.
Published by Evil Girlfriend Media.
Introduction by Jody Lynn Nye.
Release date: 16 Jan 2015


 

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Tell Me - Donald J. Bingle

Author August 2011

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Don Bingle is a longtime convention buddy who is as kind as he is well spoken. I’m happy to let him tell you about the Frame Shop and why he, as an author, will never use you in one of his books.

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Writing Characters to Fit the Plot

Every once in a while, I see a t-shirt that says “Be nice to me or I’ll put you in my next novel.” My non-writer friends think it is funny. Heck, a few writers I know have worn such shirts. Truth is, those t-shirts really irritate me. Why?

First, they disrespect writers and the process of writing. They suggest that writers don’t work and struggle and subtly mold their own creations; they just steal them fully-formed as they are walking by. This is a corollary to my irritation when I hear people—not just people, but authors—say that the characters simply tell the writer what to write and he or she just writes it down, like a scribe or personal secretary who takes dictation. Writing is simply not that easy; writing characters is not that easy.

Look, I’m not only a character, but I’ve played lots of different characters (about six hundred different characters) in classic roleplaying tournaments), from dwarves and elves and orcs to spies, princesses, occultists, librarians, paladins, thieves, mercenaries, monsters, pirates, artists, clerics, mages, kender, femme fatales, little kids, clones, and aliens (even sentient weapons and insects). So I know about getting into character and creating dialogue and actions that remain true to that character’s personality, abilities, and world view. I understand how certain behavior or dialogue may not ring true for a given character. But, that doesn’t mean it springs forth from the ether and doesn’t take any effort to create. Even if struck by sudden inspiration, a writer must craft an idea and word and place it so as to effective for his or her purposes in a story or novel.

Second, they misunderstand the relationship between characters and plot. When I was writing classic roleplaying adventures, one of the key components was building characters with the correct skills, equipment, abilities, personalities, and motivations to be able to take on the quest and, with difficulty, be able to handle the tasks necessary to succeed. On top of that, the characters had to have a reason to stay and work together, but enough conflict to make the group dynamics interesting.

The same is true in writing stories and novels. You just can’t drop your buddy, Bill, into whatever you happen to be writing. Your psychotic neighbor, Adriane, also isn’t a natural fit to be a mob boss or liche queen. The characters need to have motivations, quirks, flaws, personalities, abilities, and speech-patterns which are appropriate for the setting and story you are telling. Sure, everyone’s a product of their environment and their experiences, and there may be aspects of characters, turns of phrasing, physical features, personality quirks, flaws and phobias, and minor vignettes or small pieces of business (business in the theatre sense of identifying or defining physical movements) that are translatable into your writing project. But that’s different than wholesale incorporation of a real life person into a story.

Since my most recent project, Frame Shop is a mystery/thriller set in a writers’ group and I am, not surprisingly, in a writers’ group, this topic has been much on my mind. I confess that I hid much of this project from the group during most of the primary writing to avoid speculation about whether this or that character was, or was based on, this or that real life person. I showed the group action scenes or bits of dialogue between one of the writers and a hit man, but I never asked the group to review the scenes that take place at the writers’ group, itself. Even then, when I sent the full draft to a few beta readers who are in the group, cautioning them that I build characters with the characteristics needed for the story, the first responses I got were all about who they thought the various characters resembled.

For the record, none of them are meant to be anyone I know. Sure, some are of the same age or sex or artistic specialty or profession as people I know, but one or two superficial attributes does not a three-dimensional character make. To the extent the characters were based on anybody, I’d have to say they were all based on various aspects of me (including the hack writer, the aw-shucks NYSE best-seller, and the self-doubting, shy memoirist), especially the unlikeable ones.

So the next time you read a book or chat with a writer, give the author a bit of respect, because writing, especially good writing, takes some work. And, if you think you recognize a personality characteristic or quirk or bit of dialogue from real life, chalk it up to their ability to weave their experiences into credible, realistic fiction, not laziness and theft.

Some writers only write what they know, but plenty of writers make up most of what they write. As I put it in a bio once:  “[Donald J. Bingle] has written short stories about killer bunnies, civil war soldiers, detectives, Renaissance Faire orcs, giant battling robots, demons, cats, time travelers, ghosts, time-traveling ghosts, barbarians, a husband accused of murdering his wife, dogs, horses, gamers, soldiers, Neanderthals, commuters, kender, and serial killers. Of those subjects, he has occasional contact in real life only with dogs, cats, gamers, and commuters (unless some of those are, unknown to him, really time travelers, ghosts, demons, serial killers, or murder suspects).

Sorry, but no, you won’t be in my next novel.

Aloha.
Donald J. Bingle
Check out the Kickstarter for Frame Shop.

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Bubble and Squeek for 14 Oct 2014

Author August 2011

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Busy, busy, busy writing and editing. Here are some links for you.

Authorgraph: You can get a number of my books electronically signed by me.

Article: The Anthology Balance. I wrote an article for the Locus blog about the balance between diversity and what sells. Hint: diversity sells.

Review: Shattered Shields video review by Other Realms Book Reviews. This is a first for me. Kind of exciting. She liked it.

Review: Shattered Shields. This one is from 50 Book Challenge. Another good review.

Podcast: Geekerati interviews me and Bryan Thomas Schmidt about Shattered Shields and a myriad of other things.

Horror Selfies: Read more horror! It's good for your heart. Also, don't forget about All Hallows Read. Give a scary book for Halloween.

Tell Me - Derek J. Goodman

Author August 2011

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

As a fellow Permutant, I'm happy to showcase a new endeavor by Derek J. Goodman and our mutual publisher, Permuted Press. I would love to have one of my books turned into a movie.

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Hi, my name is Derek J. Goodman, and I would like to talk about the Kickstarter for the movie The OneStop Apocalypse Shop, based on my novel The Apocalypse Shift.

The one thing I get asked the most about the novel is if I, like the characters, have ever worked the graveyard shift at a convenience store. The answer is yes, I did indeed work for a year doing the night shift at a 7-11 in a seedy section of Denver. It is, without a doubt, the worst job I’ve ever had. I could tell you stories. But after a certain amount of time passed, I found myself actually growing nostalgic about it. Not because I actually wanted to go back and do it again, but because, unlike most of my jobs since, it was interesting. The idea occurred to me that if vampires, werewolves, and zombies had walked through that door, it wouldn’t have changed anything. That job would have been equally as crazy.

And so I came up with stories of the OneStop and the poor schmucks who worked there. The OneStop was in a special section of the city that tends to attract magical forces once the sun goes down. Most of the monsters that walk through the door are just minding their business like any other customer. They want Twinkies, nachos, doughnuts, Slim Jims, and Froztees. But every so often some mad power-hungry demon might come in for a quick bite on their way to destroying the world. The crew at the OneStop need to stop them. It’s part of their job, right up there with mopping the floor, keeping the coffee pots full, and ringing up the customers.

The Kickstarter is being run by my publisher, Permuted Press, who happen to have several really talented film students among their staff. The script will be by Ryne Driscoll and it will be directed by David Walker. I recently had the opportunity to talk to them in person and I’m confident that the project is in good hands. This is all around a great opportunity and I’m happy to be a part of it.

For further information about the Kickstarter and how to donate to it, you can go to the OneStop Kickstarer site. I really hope that other people will be as excited about this as I am.

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Not Our Kind

Author August 2011

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)


I usually like what I write. Then there are those stories that make me sit back and think that I’ve leveled up as an author. In my story, “Making Amends in Fanghan”, I’ve taken something relevant and inexplicable (to me) and given it an explanation that is both supernatural and plausible for the culture as I understand it.

I’m talking about the Ghost Cities of China.

Why would the Chinese government built beautiful cites—whole cities—that remain uninhabited? Why would they build more when there are several unoccupied?

You can read my answer in the Kickstarter NOT OUR KIND. I’m dead chuffed to be sharing a TOC with the likes of Alex Bledsoe, Erika Holt, Lucy Snyder, Maurice Broddus, Marissa Lingen, Tim Waggoner and so many more. I hope you join us for the ride.


 

Tell Me - Erin M. Evans

Author August 2011

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

I've had the pleasure of meeting Erin M. Evans several times and we will be reading together at the University Bookstore in November. She is here to tell you how to do romance in Forgotten Realms—epic style. FIRE IN THE BLOOD comes out on Oct 14th and is available for pre-order.

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Love is a many-splendored thing. Except when it’s messy. Or boring. Or downright frustrating. Or heart-breaking. All the highs and all the lows, the swamp of emotions and risk-reward assessment. Love is a fractured, fractious thing and who and what we choose to share our lives with is one of the greatest decisions in a person’s life. But it doesn’t always get that kind of respect in fantasy.

Oh, I don’t mean paranormal romance, stories where the romance is the driving force. I mean the vaunted “romantic subplot” you’ll find in every subgenre, in nearly every classic. Too often it’s treated as “Here is your partner, a reward for successful heroing.” When you don’t have both parties points-of-view in play, it’s an easy route to take, and even when you do, it can be tempting to mold one party into a gift of sorts for the other.

When you’re a woman writing fantasy—even blood-and-guts sword and sorcery—your romantic subplots get an extra special scrutiny. After all, romance is What Women Write. Make romantic relationships 10% of your book, and you’ll find folks talking like it’s all bedroom eyes and unfortunate misunderstandings, Moonlighting-style arguments and sexy makings up. I’ll admit it, I took this a little personally. So I decided why not unleash the kraken? Why not write a Forgotten Realms story about romances?

Of course, it’s a story about romantic relationships when the one you choose might determine the future of a kingdom at war, or the success of the god of sin, or whether you’re assassinated by the shadowy empire to the north. It’s about realizing love is not a panacea and the good doesn’t always make up for the bad. It’s about people dealing with life and this big, messy series of decisions that hinge on your life continuing on, while the world seems to be trying to end it. (In other words, a fantasy novel.)

Delving into matters of the heart—really diving in, looking at it from the perspective of an individual character—can add dimension and tension and realness to a story about wizards and ancient kingdoms and looming empires of shadow. But I think it’s critical that you really rip into it. No easy answers. No “rewards for heroing.” Consequences, choices, pushing yourself to do the right thing—realizing you don’t want all that heartache or realizing it’s all worth it. Fire in the Blood begins with a love triangle of sorts—Brin loves Havilar, but is engaged to Raedra. There’s a well-worn formula here—Havilar is the true love, and Raedra is the mistake, the one who exists to make you see how loveable Havilar is—but it doesn’t work for me. Raedra’s only engaged to Brin because it helps keep her country stable—did I mention she’s a princess? Did I mention the kingdom is really her truest love? We decide who or what we share our lives with, and sometimes it’s not a person at all. So why demonize her? Readers can handle a little complexity, after all. It’s part of being human.

Romance may not be the first thing you think of when you hear Forgotten Realms or sword & sorcery or even fantasy, but when we’re talking about crafting characters for readers to fall for? It’s worth all the frustrations and heartache (and occasional miscommunications) to make it work.

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ERIN M. EVANS got a degree in Anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis–and promptly stuck it in a box. Nowadays she uses that knowledge of bones, mythology, and social constructions to flesh out fantasy worlds. She is the author of The God Catcher, and she lives in Washington State.

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Freelancer Summary September 2014

Author August 2011

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)



Ever wonder what a freelance author/editor does? Each month of 2014, I’m going to list my daily notes on what I do. As I always say, being your own boss means you choose with 70 hours of the week you work. None of this talks about the random pub IMs, time doing research, time reading books for blurbs, introductions, and reviews, or short author questions. It doesn’t cover my pays-the-bills work either. This is just publishing industry stuff. “Answered pub industry email” can be anything from a request for an interview, to contract queries, to reading anthology invites, to answering questions about dates… and the list goes on.



September



 



2014.09.01



Answered pub industry email. Googlegroup posts. Tell Me blog post. Copy edits on The Bringer of War. Wrote 668 words on Chimera Incarnate 7.



2014.09.02



Answered pub industry email. AIP Blog post. Freelancer Summary blog post. Quarterly tax payment. Personal blog post. Copy edits on The Bringer of War and sent to proofer. Edited Chimera Incarnate 7 and sent to alpha readers.



2014.09.03



Re-outlined last third of Chimera Incarnate for pacing. Wrote 1205 words on Chimera Incarnate 8.



2014.09.04



Paid SFWA dues and updated profile. Wrote 2110 words on Chimera Incarnate 8.



2014.09.05



Answered pub industry email. Wrote 1855 words on Chimera Incarnate 8, edited and sent off to alpha readers..



2014.09.06



Wrote 1405 words on Chimera Incarnate 9.



 



 



Sunday


2014.09.07



Wrote 600 words on Chimera Incarnate 9.



2014.09.08



Answered pub industry email. Convention hotel booking. Reconfirm travel arrangements to Context 27. Phone call with publisher. Wrote 2253 words on Chimera Incarnate 9.



2014.09.09



Answered pub industry email. Sent author interview out. Processed Proofer notes on The Bringer of War. Edited Chimera Incarnate 9 and sent to alpha readers.



2014.09.10



Answered pub industry email. Wrote 2150 words on Chimera Incarnate 10. Phone call with publisher.



2014.09.11



Answered pub industry email. 2nd notice on an invoice to a client. Wrote 2027 words on Chimera Incarnate 10. Tracked now authors new addresses for royalty checks.



2014.09.12



Answered pub industry email. Wrote 671 words on Chimera Incarnate 10, edited it, and sent it to alpha readers. Shutterstock search for cover art. Blocked out the fights in Chimera Incarnate 11.



2014.09.13



Blocked out the final fight scenes in Chimera Incarnate 11. Wrote 1730 words on Chimera Incarnate 11. Logged royalty reports/checks.



 



 



Sunday


2014.09.14



Answered pub industry email. Wrote 1163 words on Chimera Incarnate 11.



2014.09.15



Answered pub industry email. Invoiced a client. Wrote 2140 words on Chimera Incarnate 11.



2014.09.16



Answered pub industry email. Edited Chimera Incarnate 11 and sent it to alpha readers. Context workshop prep. Wrote 1012 words on Chimera Incarnate 12.



2014.09.17



Answered pub industry email. Wrote 1632 words on Chimera Incarnate 12. Consultation for contracts. Blog post.



2014.09.18



Answered pub industry email. Wrote 1650 words on Chimera Incarnate 12. Context workshop prep.



2014.09.19



Answered pub industry email. Podcast prep. Wrote 868 words on Chimera Incarnate 12 and typed THE END on the rough draft of Chimera Incarnate, fourth and final book of the Karen Wilson Chronicles. YAY. Send Chimera Incarnate 12 to alpha readers. Approved Famished #3 outline.



2014.09.20



Answered pub industry email. Plotted out the novel due dates vs conventions dates for 2015. Geekerati podcast interview.



 



 



Sunday


2014.09.21



Answered pub industry email. Convention questionnaire.



2014.09.22



Answered pub industry email. Wrote Context convention card. Processed The Bringer of War proof marks. Character Tour blog post.



2014.09.23



Answered pub industry email. Convention prep. AIP Blog post.



2014.09.24



Answered pub industry email. Convention prep. Pack. Leave for Context.



2014.09.25



Arrive for Context. Context guest dinner, etc…



2014.09.26



Context. Panels



2014.09.27



Context. Anthology Workshop, panels, signing.



 



 



Sunday


2014.09.28



Context. Outlining Novels Workshop, panels. Travel Home.



2014.09.29



Answered pub industry email. Convention Catch-up (so much email). Publish The Bringer of War. Proof edits for Apocalypse Girl Dreaming. Paid PA.



2014.09.30



Answered pub industry email. Chasing down invoices. Context write up blog post. Processed final proof edits on Apocalypse Girl Dreaming. Wrote 70 words on Lovecraft story.



Context and the Great, Big Shock

Author August 2011

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

I'm back from Context 27 and it was a great time. Steven Saus and Lucy Snyder did an excellent job of Programming and Workshops. My audiences were engaged, inquisitive, and eager to learn. That's ideal for workshops. I'm so pleased that many of my students thanked me after my workshops and panels were done.

Betsy Mitchell was wonderful to talk to and Jonathan Maberry was a joy to meet. He really is that awesome. I finally got to go to an Apex party and taste Jason's "red stuff" and "purple stuff." The Apex parties legend for a reason. Geoffrey Girard was part of it with his Cain's Blood (too tasty for safety for me).

Context 27 really was a good conference. If you are looking for an intimate, informative writing convention, Context is a good choice.

And now for the great, big shock...

I spent a lot of time talking with the convention attendees. One guy, RR, dropped this little factoid on me. He has 6 completed genre novels but he is afraid to send them out because, according to his writing professors at Purdue... “If your first novel is not the 'great American novel' you will never have a writing career.”

WTF?!

When I was told this, and it was confirmed by another student from Purdue, I was aghast and outraged. Every single publishing professional I told about this was just as shocked and angry as I was.  “If your first novel isn't a Great American Novel, you will never have a writing career.”? This is so wrong as to be farce. At best, it is pure ignorance. At worst, it is pure maliciousness. Either way, it sounds like the Purdue English department (or some of its professors) are so out of date and out of touch with the publishing industry as to be a detriment to its student body and need a refresher course themselves.

This is one of the most exciting times in the history of publishing. There are so many avenues to take, so many opportunities to be a success as a writer. Your first novel tank? Try again. Use a pseudonym if you need to. Investigate traditional press, small press, self publishing, crowd funding, and anything else that comes up. (Except for vanity presses. Those guys are scammers.)

Good gracious, things are changing so fast and there are so many ways to get your words out there. Don't say a writer will never succeed if they don't succeed with their first novel. That’s just dumb.

You have to get your novels out there. It's the only way to learn and grow as an author. You have to fail, to only partially or fully succeed, to go through the submission process, dealing with contracts, dealing with revision and rewrites, to work to a publishing house schedule. You have to get out there and learn by doing. It is this process that makes you a better writer and a professional. Until you do, you can't understand what is expected.

And another thing, Purdue...

While talking to RR and the other student, I noticed something. Anytime they spoke about themselves or their writing, their shoulders hunched in anticipation of pain. Both of them marveled at just how much the publishing industry professionals, and the other convention members, were positive, helpful, and supportive. How much they worked to help each other to advise, or direct each other to needed resources.

Apparently, at Purdue, the writing students are mentally and emotionally beaten about the head and shoulders and told how much the publishing industry is all about competition. When the idea of being supportive and collaborative is foreign, there is something wrong.

Almost every successful writer got advice as they emerged. They learned, grew, and were support as a writer by other writers. Mentorship is not an extinct concept. Don't teach that it is. One author does not need to fail in order for another to succeed. Publishing does not work like that. And no, it's not all roses and sunshine. For that point of view, read Chuck Wendig's Tough Talk post. But still. Your students shouldn't walk around wincing like a veteran with PTSD.

Meet the Character Blog Tour

Author August 2011

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

I got tagged by Jody Lynn Nye to do this Character Blog Tour. Since I just typed “The End” on Chimera Incarnate, the fourth and final book in the Karen Wilson Chronicles, I figured this would be a nice wrap-up to the titular character.

1.What is the name of your character?
Karen Wilson

2. Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
She is a completely fictional character who is vaguely based on the looks and personality of several authors I know. I absolutely adore Karen.

3. When and where is the story set?
It is set in the modern day in the fictional city of Kendrick in Washington. It located between Port Angeles and Port Townsend around the left and bottom edges of discovery bay. In truth, I took the weirdness of Port Townsend and it historical weirdness of Seattle and riffed off it for Kendrick.

4. What should we know about him/her?
At the start of the series, Karen is a mundane 911 operator. Her parents worked in Emergency Services and she followed in their footsteps. Though she gains supernatural allies, she does not have any powers of her own. She is forthright, determined, and willing to take changes. This often gets her hurt.

5. What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
The main conflict is that the “Master of the City” has chosen Karen to be his representative because “she helps people.” Karen knows nothing of the unspoken rules to interacting with the supernatural factions of Kendrick and breaks them all. She forces the cold war into a hot one because the status quo isn’t healthy for anyone. But, as you might imagine, that doesn’t go well for Karen.

6. What is the personal goal of the character?
Now that Karen’s eyes have been opened to the supernatural dangers within Kendrick and threatening the city, she just wants to protect as many people as possible. She also wants to help forge a new understanding between the various factions. As an outsider, she is most qualified to do this. With some of her allies, she has a chance of succeeding.

7. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
The Karen Wilson Chronicles is made up of four books: Caller Unknown, Children of Anu, Keystones, and Chimera Incarnate. These books are available on the publisher’s website, Amazon. Barnes & Noble, and DriveThruFiction.

8. When can we expect the book to be published or when was it published?
The first three books are already out and Chimera Incarnate will be out in March 2015.

I’m going to tag:
M. Todd Gallowglas, Ivan Ewert, Dylan Birtolo, Peter M. Ball, and Wendy Hammer. They may choose to do this blog tour or not.

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