On images and social media

I’m by no means a graphic designer. When my first book came out in 2009 I relied on a friend to design my bookmarks, and while she’s wonderful and did a fantastic job, I was always frustrated that I had to rely on someone else. I felt like being able to do this sort of thing myself would be a useful skill. So I downloaded a trial of Photoshop thinking that maybe I could figure it out, and was immediately overwhelmed. I looked into actually taking a Photoshop class but it was absurdly expensive (and I knew that if I didn’t use what I learned regularly, I would just forget it all).

Then about two years ago, another friend told me about GIMP, a free program similar to Photoshop, and she gave me a brief overview of the basics. For a while I used it to play around, Googling for […]

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On working with others

Often people will find out I’ve co-written a novel with my husband and they’ll say, “I could *never* do that — we’d kill each other!” And to be honest, even when JP and I started writing The Map to Everywhere, we weren’t sure how well it would work. We’re both stubborn and opinionated and I don’t think it would have surprised either of us if we’d had to scrap the project (we’d already agreed that our marriage came first).

Happily, we found that we compliment each other in the best of ways and writing Map together was a fantastic experience! But there were a few things we had to learn (or re-learn) along the way. First, we had to both be willing to let go — this project didn’t belong to either of us more than the other. We were both invested, we both brought a lot to the table, […]

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On goals and collaboration

I’m so excited that it’s finally release week for The Map to Everywhere, the first in a four book middle grade fantasy adventure series I’m co-writing with my husband, John Parke Davis! YAY! In honor of the release, I wanted to share a bit about the origins behind the series because this entire journey really has felt like a dream come true.

From an early age I knew I wanted to be an author even though I wasn’t really sure how one became such a thing. During my final semester in college I realized that if I wanted to write for a living, I’d better get started actually writing something I could sell. So I picked up a romance novel I’d begun drafting years before. I finished that book in 2000 and shopped it to agents, and while I got a few positive responses, nothing much came of it. I […]

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Going hybrid

Over a year ago, John Hartness expressed dismay that I wasn’t self-publishing the short stories I had the rights back on and politely insisted that I do so ASAP. I believe his exact words were something along the lines of how those stories were making nothing just sitting on my hard drive but could be making me money if I put them out there for sale. Unfortunately, it took me more than a year to do so, but finally last month I self-published, The Dead and Empty World, a collection of short stories (I’ve begun publishing the individual stories as well).

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | kobo

I have to tell you, it’s addicting! I hired someone (Jeremy West at Red Creative Design) to do the cover and design the inside. He was going to also do the file conversions, but I started reading up on it and […]

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On deep POV

I recently had dinner with several writers who were attending a week long writing workshop, and the conversation turned to what each of them felt they needed to work on. One of the writers brought up that she was struggling with “deep POV” and several of the other writers mentioned struggling with that as well. A few mentioned having felt like they’d “gotten it” only to have crit partners tell them they hadn’t gone far enough.

So they asked me: how do you deepen POV? I asked them for examples of what they meant by deep POV, and they mentioned Cut by Patricia McCormick and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Which are both intensely emotional, issue-centric, contemporary stories with very deep and personal POVs. However, the writer asking me about POV was working on a middle grade action adventure book, which means it will almost definitionally have a very different […]

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On being bored

Recently, a friend on Twitter noted that some days she feels like 90% of her time is spent on the business of being a writer and only 10% is spent on the actual writing.

And it got me thinking about time as a writer — what we spend our time and emotional energy doing. It seems like there’s never enough time to get it all done. Someone once said that being an author is like being in school — there’s always homework. It’s true — there’s always more you can be doing. For example, today has been about catching up on the business side of things since I had a deadline on Friday and while I’ve been on hold with various companies, I’ve been flicking through Twitter or making to-do lists or cleaning up my desktop because what else are you going to do?

You finish one task […]

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On the relationship between plot and character

Protagonists are the reader’s conduit into the story — without them, the story pretty much wouldn’t exist. Often I think there are two ways writers come up with characters: either the characters come first to mind and you then figure out what story to build around them, or you come up with a story and you then figure out what character to put into it.*

Either way, at the end of the day what you want to end up with is the right character for the right story (or the right story for the right character). There should be a reason *this* character has to tell (or experience) *this* story. There’s an interlocking relationship there. If we can pull out the character from a story and replace them with someone else without affecting the story, then the relationship between plot and character isn’t strong enough. The same is […]

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