Brandy Schillace: HIGH STAKES, book I of the Jacob Maresbeth Chronicles

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Characters and stories come to me in the strangest ways. “Mattie Hornbecker’s Other Bag” (a short story) evolved from the bird-shaped sweat-stain on the back of a neighboring cyclist—and the Jacob Maresbeth Chronicles was born of an exam-induced stress dream.

It was a cold day in late November, after leaves and before snow: the perfect setting for a class on gothic novels. I was a graduate student then, and we were plotting to convince the prof that exams should be foregone in favor of fiction writing. Why not? We were discussing vampire stories; wouldn’t it be a better test of our ability to write our own? Not surprisingly, the professor didn’t see it that way. Ah well, I thought. Worth a shot. I went home that night with plenty of studying to do, little suspecting that an idea had taken hold in my subconscious.

Sometime late that night, [...]

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That Time Merit Was In A Band . . .

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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 Wicked Wind Whispers and Moans

Diana Pharaoh FrancisDiana Pharaoh Francis

Fantasy and SF writers talk a lot about world building, and for very good reason. The world in a novel functions inevitably as a character. It has a strong influence on plot, on other characters, on tension, pacing . . . every aspect of your book. We’ve talked here on Magical Words about world building before, but I wanted to spend a little time talking about Crosspointe and the world, because it’s was both super different for me and very challenging.

Let me first say that The Cipher will be released March 31. Look for it. Put it on your calendar. All right, on to the show. Crosspointe is an island nation set on a changeable sea. The ground under the black waters will change at the drop of a dime. What was once a shoal will suddenly drop away into a deep trench. Underwater mountains rise and fall without [...]

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Revisiting Old Friends

Diana Pharaoh FrancisDiana Pharaoh Francis

As I mentioned previously, The Cipher is going to be reissued and I’m getting a chance to look it over again and make changes. This is something most writers don’t get to do. Or rather, this is something that we didn’t used to get to do. Before the rise of self-publishing (as well as small press publishing), once a book went out of print, it wasn’t all that feasible for a writer to republish her novels. Most publishers weren’t willing to reprint books without some major impetus–like the writer’s more recent books had hit big, for instance. So older books languished and writers didn’t have a reason to revisit them. I never thought I would revisit The Cipher with an eye toward revising. I thought it was a good book, so even with the reissue, I didn’t really think about it a lot until my editor suggested that if could [...]

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A new old project only half-baked as yet

Diana Pharaoh FrancisDiana Pharaoh Francis

Hello everyone!

I’m back today as the writer of a new book. Only it’s not a new book, it’s a reissue of an old book, and despite plans to release it this next month, it will probably be longer, possibly another month or two. The fabulous Bell Bridge books is reissuing all the Crosspointe books and publishing the rest of the series. Where we’re at now is that things are slower than expected and hence I’m not able to show you a fancy new cool cover or anything else. I can’t tell you much at all, which makes me feel like a bit of a fraud to be in this space right now. I’m not linking to it on my website, because the cover will change, and I’m not linking to the sample chapters, because I’m revising stuff and it’s going to be changing some. More on that below and [...]

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Alethea Kontis — The Year Without A Book

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On January 11th, I had a birthday. (It was wonderful and surreal, thank you!)

Less than a week earlier, my editor at Harcourt made it known to me that Book Three in the Woodcutter Sisters Series–now called Dearest–would be releasing on February 3, 2015. It seems that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has only two publishing “seasons.” They call these seasons “Spring” and “Fall.” So when I was told that Dearest would be releasing in “Fall of 2014,” what HMH actually meant was Winter of 2015.

My deepest apologies to all the fans I’ve misled for over a year.

Sneaky stuff, this is. Very, very sneaky and mind-bending stuff. For me, the toughest thing to wrap my brain around has been the realization that between the discovery of Dearest’s release date and the books actual release, Enchanted will have been distributed to roughly 50,000 people on World Book Night, and I [...]

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Chris Marie Green –on worlds

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Worlds Can Be So Mean

Hi again! I’m glad to be back with another guest post for this month, and I’d love to talk about one of my favorite elements of writing. World Building.

In general, I’m sure you all have read a lot of posts about this topic already, but how about looking at a different aspect of world building? How can you flip a world that’s already familiar—or one that you’ve already started to build—to make it something totally different from anything a reader has ever experienced?

Before I really get started here, I’d like to mention that, oftentimes, world building is perceived as something exclusive to paranormal authors. I, myself, have built worlds for my Vampire Babylon series, my Bloodlands series, and my upcoming Ghost for Hire series. But writers of historical fiction or, yes, even contemporary fiction need to build strong worlds [...]

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