Party Talk – Cons, Part 2

Continuing the con chat we started a couple of weeks ago, our guests are back to answer some more questions about cons. Remember, if you want to throw in your two cents about cons, how they run, what you’d like to see or whatever, don’t be afraid to chime in on the comments!

A) What is one thing you wish you’d known before you attended your first con?B) This one time at con… (tell us something funny or weird or bizarre that happened at con.)

Chloe Neill

A) Pack some essentials in a tote for an all-day con experience: water, snacks, hand lotion, and hand sanitizer. B) I went a little fangirl on some of the authors with whom I appeared at a panel. And then I was in the green room at C2E2 on year pre-panel, and Sean Astin happened in. I was torn between yelling out “Samwise!” and […]

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Cartwheels on the Tightrope: Finding Balance in the Writing Life

Chloe Neill ( Photo credit: Dana Damewood)

Let’s get the disclaimer out there and up front: I have absolutely no clue how to find balance in a writing life. But I’m trying to learn.

I have a full time (plus) dayjob, and a very full writing life. I’ve written a YA series (Dark Elite), a PNR/UF series (Chicagoland Vampires), and I’m hoping to announce my next project within the next couple of weeks. That one will intersect with CV, so I’ll be writing two projects at a time. Not unusual for a genre author, but not the easiest course for someone with a dayjob.

So, yeah. Professionally, I lead a pretty full life.

I try to compartmentalize the professions as much as possible. Daylight hours during the week are for the dayjob. Evenings and weekends are for writing. Obviously, the divisions aren’t always that clean: my editor may […]

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About Character, and a New Thieftaker Short Story

Today, I have a new short story out at, under the D.B. Jackson pseudonym. The story is called “The Price of Doing Business.” It’s set in the Thieftaker world and it tells the story of Ethan Kaille’s first encounter with Sephira Pryce, who later becomes his rival and nemesis. The artwork is by the marvelous Chris McGrath, who also has done the jacket art for the Thieftaker books. [Update, 2/19/2014, 10:00 CST: The story is now live on the site and can be found here. And here’s the updated artwork as well; I wasn’t sure which image they would use. I actually like this second one better.]

Last week we talked about plotting here at MW. This week, starting with Di’s post on Monday, and continuing with Chloe Neill’s post yesterday, we are talking about character. And so the release of this short story comes at a perfect […]

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That Time Merit Was In A Band . . .

I’ve shared with a few readers that the first iteration of SOME GIRLS BITE was, well, regrettable. Merit, the earnest main character, was in a band with her friend, Mallory. Merit was insulted by a club’s demand the band, which had performed at the locale many times prior, audition for its new owner. Merit went to the manager’s office to complain about the inconvenience, and she was attacked by a vampire in a dark, back hallway.

I know. Awful, isn’t it?

The next draft of SOME GIRLS BITE had very little in common with the first one—primarily the sneaky vampire attack and the friendship between Mallory and Merit. It took another character coming to mind – Ethan Sullivan – before I knew who Merit really was. He provided a foil: fusty, imperious, gorgeous, and political to Merit’s earnestness, her desire to do good, her intelligence and stubbornness.


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The Plotter Goes Pantsing: The Relationship Between Process and Product

Thanks to Lyn Nichols for today’s title . . .

I hadn’t planned it this way, but this post serves as a nice follow-up to Chloe Neill’s excellent post yesterday.

I have recently started a new book, the second in my Weremyste Cycle, which will be published by Baen under my own name. And though I am now several chapters into the novel — close to 20,000 words — I have not yet completed an outline of the book.

All of you who have been reading my posts here at MW know that I am a dedicated planner, or at least have been in recent years. I have posted several times about the benefits of outlining a novel, of knowing where a story is going so that we can introduce themes, foreshadow plot points, plant the seeds of the twists and turns that will make our narratives capture the imaginations […]

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Chloe Neill — To Plot or Not to Plot, That is the Pantsing

Hi All,

I’m about to begin writing my fourteenth novel, and my plotting style has evolved considerably over time, from plotting absolutely nothing and seeing where the world took me (SOME GIRLS BITE), to using an almost absurdly detailed outline (FIRESPELL), to using a plot board (BLOOD GAMES).

Today, I thought I’d share a little bit about how my process has evolved, and the plotting methods I’ve used to prepare for and draft my novels.

Plotting refers, as you’ve probably guessed, to creating an outline of some degree for a novel before writing it. “Pantsing” refers to the act of writing by the seat of one’s pants. No outline, no plan, no agenda but to fall into a story, create a conflict for a character, and pull her out of it again.

I wrote SOME GIRLS BITE, the first Chicagoland Vampires novel, as a pantster. It was […]

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Magical Words Party Talk – Cons!

Hey y’all, it’s time for another Magical Words Party Talk! Spring is coming, and that means it’s almost time for con season. We writers love cons as much as fans do – a con is often the only time we get a chance to get together and gab with each other about upcoming projects and ideas in person. Today we’ve asked our most recent guests for their opinions on a few questions about cons. Feel free to chime in (via the comments) to tell us what kinds of panel topics you’d love to see!

When you’re asked for panel suggestions by con program directors, how do you come up with panel topics to submit?

Alethea Kontis: I like to suggest topics that make me angry…things I would love to vent about for an hour in person, but don’t feel like starting a never-ending flame war over online.



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