Collecting quirks

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Character questionnaires are something I like filling out, but the one that always trips me up is the “Quirks” segment. I always end up waffling around it and putting something that doesn’t fit or else just a bunch of question marks and moving on. Part of that comes from how vague “quirks” can be in a character. Part of it is other things. Continue reading

Babysitting: Communication Skills

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Lately I’ve been reading a lot about building a platform as a writer. And one of the books I’ve read emphasized that it can’t just be about writing, and it can’t be fake. It has to reflect you, and be about building a relationship with the people who read your books. My day job is as a babysitter, which means that I probably ought to write a little about that. So here’s one of the main things that bugs me as I go about my life. It’s kind of on my mind since it happens a lot. (As such it expresses a certain amount of frustration, so if mild rants are not your thing feel free to give this a skip.)

Topic: communication skills, lack thereof. Continue reading

Brand new synopsis

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With the help of my writing group, I spent the last month writing and polishing and perfecting a blurb for one of my novels. It was hard, but it was worthwhile. Writing a brief teaser for a book I’ve spent years writing is a tricky task, but the book (How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis, by Bryan Cohen) and the people in the group who did the exercises and critiqued the blurb (thanks to Elise for starting the whole process).

And here’s the blurb itself. Enjoy!

They came, they saw, they failed.

File clerk Elere Versan should not be in charge of the Earth Invasion Fleet, despite what’s written in her dossier. She finds herself leading the most ill-fated assault in the history of the Katule Empire. Spies fall for alluring rebels, soldiers catch the dire “flu”, and members of Elere’s crew plot against her. When the inertial regulator falls off, it’s a setback. When it lands in the hands of human revolutionary Kavan Crowell, it’s a crisis. Soon Elere will have to decide between letting Kavan save his planet or protecting her own crew. With no way home and conspiracies threatening the ship, Elere must rely on her ingenuity and cunning to survive the invasion and uncover the true menace.

Straw Commander is the first book of the Blankety-Blank (as in I don’t know what to call it, not that it’s actually Blankety-Blank) Series of sci-fi novels.

I Lost My Side Characters

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I’m writing a sequel to a book I wrote a while back, and for this one the plot circles around revolution and how the various characters respond to it. For it to work, I need a bunch of fairly well established characters reacting in various opposing ways that still meld with their personalities. Unfortunately, except for the two mains I’m having trouble picking out details for a sequel (which tells me something about how well written those side characters were in the first place).

First problem is my notes are shoddy. I have a vague sense that certain details exist, but I don’t know them so I’ll have to read through the book to find them. Probably multiple times, when I could have saved time by just making note as I wrote it in the first place. So oops. It’s been kind of a long time since I wrote the book, so it’s not exactly fresh in my mind.

Of course, there’s not a ton of the information I need to be gleaned, anyway. These characters tend to lurk in the background, and don’t really have any plots of their own in that book. Which is fine, because too many plots spoil the book and all that. But in my experience and from what I’ve read, well-written side characters might not have much happen on the page itself, but there’s at least a sense they have lives, and rationale for being involved in the plot, and they need to be involved in the story arc in an essential way. As in, you can’t just swap out one person for another and have the story develop exactly the same way.

Not every person needs an essential role, of course, but right now almost none of them do. Which makes them all pretty flat. So now I need to go through and figure out who they are, and maybe if I’m lucky a few subplots will pop up along the way.

Software Endorsement Warning!

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This month has, overall, been pretty productive in the writing department thus far. Unfortunately, that productivity has not come with any kind of inspiration for writing blog posts. This just isn’t my thing. I keep reading about how you’re supposed to write nice long posts, and I can never quite manage it. Mostly because I can’t find good topics. Continue reading

I’m In a Book!

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I have some exciting news. I’m getting a short story published in an anthology, and this is what the cover looks like! I’m so excited. The book comes out June 17th, and (if I remember correctly) will be available on Amazon’s Createspace in paperback, and on Kindle as an ebook. The ebook is already available for preorder here: Continue reading