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Archive for the ‘Writing About Writing’ Category

What’s Happening? Things are going well at work for once. I feel comfortable the teacher I report to and I’m forming good bonds with the students. It’s a relief after so much tension at my previous school.

What I’m Working On. I’ll bet you can guess. If you said The Tale of the Drakanox, you are right! I’m up to about 98,000 words, which is definitely into novel territory as opposed to novella. I hope for a complete first draft by the end of the year.

What’s Next? October’s going to be busy for me. There’s Bad Moon Rising, a book event run in the month of October by horror author Teri Polen. My feature is The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh and it’s coming up fast. At the end of the month is the SpoCon science fiction convention. It’s nice to be this busy.

Fun and Games. I’m still playing Subnautica, but it’s become a struggle. There are an awful lot of glitches that corrupt my saves so I have to start over. One time I bumped my mini-submarine into a boulder and all the land disappeared! I’m still trying to finish a playthrough, but also looking around for my next game.

We’re coming up to the spooky season around Hallowe’en. Have fun, everybody!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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As the funeral preparations for the late Queen Elizabeth II continue, I’ve pondering the role of royalty in fantasy stories. Last week I wrote about how royal figures feature so prominently in legend and contemporary writing. But there’s another connection with the real world that may not be quite so benign.

The way royalty is depicted in stories can make it seem quite simple. A ruler is chosen by God (or gods) and therefore has divine wisdom. Even if the ruler doesn’t make such claims personally, you can be sure that people around them are making it. Because the ruler is vouched for at this ultimate level, everyone should follow them without question. Sounds easy, right?

Unfortunately, there are always people who want to take this concept from stories and apply it to the real world. So you get small but noisy movements to put aside established laws and make one person an absolute ruler. Worse, there are enough people who will try to twist the laws and make this dark vision a reality. I don’t need to name names here, I know. In America and around the world, the fight goes on to maintain democracy in the face of those who would make a king.

What’s ironic in the adulation for Queen Elizabeth II is that neither she nor her successor, Charles III, actually have the ability to make changes that effect people’s lives. Britain and its Commonwealth are governed by a constitution and elected officials who write the laws. Here in America, the British monarchy is even less able to effect us.

So there’s an element of safety for Americans who admire British royalty. The House of Windsor has that shine, but they can’t touch us.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Why are people so fascinated with royalty? And how does this relate to the bedrock of modern fantasy? These are the questions I put forth last Saturday. Today I’ll start spinning a few theories.

My first thought is going to seem obvious: Tradition. Fantasy is just the latest chapter in a long tradition of storytelling that begins with religious mythology, flows into more general folk stories, and has persisted into the age of professional publishing. If you think about it, some of the most enduring characters from around the world were all royalty.

Half the cast of the Iliad and Odyssey were Greek rulers. King Arthur was royalty. Even Sun Wukong, from Chinese legend, began his career as King of the Monkeys. So it’s traditional for the main characters in many stories to be kings or princes (more rarely queens or princesses). Sometimes the ruler is more of a background character who delegates tasks to other protagonists, but in an awful lot of tales, the king goes out having adventures personally.

Perhaps this is part of humanity’s ancient legacy. Descended from social apes who were led by an “alpha,” we may have a predisposition to look for such leaders in the real world, and in stories. We watch what they do, admire their actions, and share their victories. As humans have granted rulers ever more ceremony and finery, there’s the additional lure of riches and glamor that comes with being royalty.

After centuries of adulation, the concept of royalty has built up a mythic quality. We often see legends like that of King Arthur, where a king is prophesied to begin an era of peace and justice. Fantasy is full of chosen ones, lost heirs, and other characters that embody the mystique of royalty.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Unless you’ve been living in a cave somewhere, you must have heard that Queen Elizabeth of England has passed away. I find myself puzzled, as always, by how interested people are over here in the United States. This is something I noticed when I was finishing up college, and there was such a furor over the marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana. The media was obsessed with their royal marriage, and I felt… disinterested. I mean, I am not British or Canadian, so why does this matter to me?

So now here we go again. Wall-to-wall coverage of Elizabeth’s passing, the ascension of Prince Charles to King Charles, tributes from around the world, and much dramatic speculation about whether Prince Harry will be clawed back into the family so the new king can put himself out there as a “unifier.” (And also a few, mostly overlooked, voices commenting about finally ending colonialism.)

I really don’t know what to think about Americans, with a well established democracy, being so drawn to a non-democratic institution like the British monarchy. However, monarchies are well entrenched in the fantasy genre, so this is something I will be pondering about in coming posts.

First, though, I’m interested in what you think. Why are people so fascinated by royalty?


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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What’s Happening? The school year has officially begun, and my schedule is in disarray. I’ll get a handle on it soon, I’m sure. The other thing is, we’ve been lucky with the wildfire smoke, but now it’s arrived in force. That will be a challenge to my schedule if I’m not able to ride my bike to work as I had hoped.

What I’m Working On. The Tale of the Drakanox, of course! Sometimes it feels like I’ll never finish. That’s the thing with not having a firm plot. I’m not sure what’s going on — but in a good way, if that makes sense. It will look like everything is falling apart at once, that’s all I know.

What’s Next? I think I mentioned writing a short story, “Mistress Henbane,” earlier in the spring. A follow-up is nibbling at my mind. I’m also looking forward to a busy October, with Bad Moon Rising, a book event run in the month of October by horror author Teri Polen, and the SpoCon science fiction convention.

Fun and Games. I’m still playing Subnautica. I finished the first play through and am replaying at a higher difficulty. As part of the game I built a sweet undersea base, and that has been fun. As mentioned above, SpoCon is coming, and I’m preparing an Animal Crossing treasure hunt for that.

The summer never lasts long enough. I hope all is well for you as we move into the final third of 2022.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Today I’m going to dive into my technique for writing a plot that weaves several points of view together.

There are a couple of reasons I like to use multiple points of view. With a single POV, I’m limited to one location (at a time) and can only show what that POV character witnesses. Plural POVs allow me to broaden the canvas by having things happen in more than one location. Often such events are related, but each POV character only knows part of the story. Readers, who see it all, can build their own tension as they see how conflicts are building.

One way I make this work is by alternating among points of view. I’ll go for a bit with one POV, then turn to another POV for the next section. When I have more than two POVs, it gets more complicated, of course. (Whose turn is it to talk next?) The important thing is how I end each section. Sometimes I stop at a point of rest, since I know readers have to do other things like going to work, having lunch, etc.

More often, I stop with points of tension, such as in the middle of a conversation. This could be irritating, but I do it for a reason. The point of tension draws the reader forward. It also gives the reader “think time” to ponder what may happen next. This is important to keep them engaged. If they guess right, they have satisfaction with that. If they guess wrong, then I surprise them, and that’s even better.

That’s my lecture for today, class. Any questions?


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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The end of summer, that is. The next school year has been creeping closer, and tomorrow is the first piece of it. Okay, it’s a staff barbecue. No big deal. This is a new school to me, so I’ll be there to start introducing myself. Should be fun, honestly.

Next week, there will be principal-led training. Normally I’m strict about not working outside my contracted days and hours. However, since it is a new school, I might go for the parts that cover the school’s policy and philosophy around student discipline. There are more ways to approach student discipline than you might think. I’d like to be on the same page with everyone from the start.

This also means I need to keep pushing on The Tale of the Drakanox. I feel like I’m about 3/4 of the day through it. I wrote out a big crisis point right before my trip to L. A. The two weeks since have been about reactions and coping. After today, though, I’ll be moving into the end game.

I’d say to wish me luck, but we all know with writing the results come from patient effort and skill. So, wish me patience! (But maybe a little luck, too.)


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Among other things on my recent trip for elder care, I had a chance to fact-check with my dad about Aunt Joyce’s poem. So here’s an update!

Gypsy, the horse in the poem, was definitely a real horse. Its full name was Gypsy Royale. Aunt Joyce received Gypsy as a graduation gift after completing 8th grade. She spent a lot of time with Gypsy, just as the poem describes.

I was wrong about the dates, though. Dad was born in 1928, and Joyce a year later, so her poem probably was written in the later ’40s.

These bits of family lore are such a treasure, even if only for the immediate kin.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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My journey has reached its conclusion! I got to hang out with my father for a week, while my sister had some much-deserved respite time to visit her oldest daughter in Missouri. I thought that my niece was going to give birth, but actually they were just setting up the nursery. That’s fine, though. My sister has Dad all the rest of the year and she deserved to get the break for any reason she wanted to.

It wasn’t super hard to watch over with Dad. He mostly took naps, but I did have to make sure he took his correct medications (and didn’t accidentally take them twice) and ate meals, etc. Dad claims to never be hungry, but I did notice he would take his walker into the kitchen and snack on chocolates or garlic-stuffed olives. Which sounds bad, but at age 93, what are we trying to save him from? Everyone agrees that the man can have an olive or three if he wants them.

No surprise, traveling and getting myself familiar with Dad’s care threw me off my pace for writing. I joked to my brother that my characters were walking down a slope for three days, and it was about time to let them move on. So I did write the rough outlines of three really good scenes during the week, and now I have the task of getting them written into the manuscript.

I’m also going around the yard gathering vegies and snagging the occasional weed. My husband did a good job of keeping things watered, but didn’t pick any of the tomatoes or blackberries. What a hardship it will be to eat those yummy blackberries this week!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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My husband came back from a horror movie he had been looking forward to. When I asked how it was, the first thing he said was that people kept doing stupid things. It made me wonder why some authors (not only in horror) seem to develop their plot so that it depends on characters being stupid.

Okay, sure, not every character will be quick thinking or a good judge of others’ motives. We want characters to be fallible so there’s real suspense about whether they’ll get out of whatever the situation is. In fiction, there’s also a theory that things need to get worse before they get better. Having the characters do dumb stuff can be one way to worsen a situation.

However, the audience for a book or movie probably IS smart and a good judge of people’s motives. Like my husband, they can be irritated when characters act too silly or get careless in dangerous situations. Raising the stakes this way can feel forced or manipulative.

I guess it’s something that creators have to balance as we plan our projects. How many dumb mistakes are too many for the credibility of the story?


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my websiteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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