Multiple Projects, E-Readers, and Struggles: The Emphera of a Winter’s Day


I have a bunch of ideas for things to write about today, and not one of them is substantive enough to sustain an entire post. And so it’s time for me to do one of my miscellanea posts. A paragraph or two about several things. Feel free to comment or ask about any one of them.

Are you working on a book right now? People here in my little town ask me this all the time. They know that I write for a living. They know that I write full-time. But they don’t really understand what this means. My standard answer now is “Yes, I’m pretty much ALWAYS working on a book.” But even that isn’t accurate, because the truth is I’m always working on several books. For the past couple of months I’ve been writing the fourth Thieftaker book, Dead Man’s Reach. I hope to finish my first […]

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On Writing: Knowledge Versus Wisdom


I love doing the puzzles in my local newspaper. (Kids, newspapers are collections of paper that are delivered to your home each morning. They include all the interesting stuff that you saw on Twitter and YouTube yesterday . . .) I do the Sudoku, the crossword, and, my favorite, the Cryptoquote. The Cryptoquote is that puzzle that gives you an encoded quote; you have to figure out what each letter represents to discover the quote and its author. I bring this up, because this week I solved a puzzle and discovered one of the best quotes I’d ever heard. It’s from Miles Kington, the late British journalist:

“Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”

Yes, this does have something to do with writing. In fact, it has everything to do with writing. This site offers a lot of knowledge, and, […]

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“It’s Just Business”: Loyalty Versus Pragmatism in the Publishing World


How many of you remember the movie Prizzi’s Honor? It came out in the mid-1980s and starred Jack Nicholson as a mob hitman who allows his personal life to get in the way of his professional responsibilities. Throughout the movie, his character, Charley, is reminded by higher-ups in the syndicate that he shouldn’t take personally all the things they’re telling him to do, even though one of his assigned tasks is to murder his new bride. “It’s business, Charley,” they tell him. “It’s just business.”

Yes, there is a point to this.

My post last week, in which I discussed the sale of a new series to Baen books, prompted an interesting question from long-time Magical Words reader and commenter, Mark Wise. Mark, who has followed my career for quite some time and knows that every book I’ve published to this point has been with Tor, wrote, “I find it […]

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On Publishing and Writing: A Sale, and a Study in Perseverence


Some of you may have seen this news on Facebook, but I wanted to share it here, as well: I have recently signed a three-book contract with Baen Books for a contemporary urban fantasy. The series is called the Weremyste Cycle, and the first book, Spell Blind, will be coming out in about a year. Obviously this is big news, and I’m very excited. But the sale of this series is important to me in a number of ways and lends itself to what I hope will be an interesting post.

I first mentioned Spell Blind (or at least the book that eventually became Spell Blind) on Magical Words back in June 2008, in a post titled “The Book I Love and Can’t Sell.” At that time, the manuscript had a different title, a different magic system, a different plot, and a different conceptual core. Which I suppose begs the […]

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On Writing: Creative Intersections — Point of View and Dialog


A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about point of view and the ways in which it could help us address nearly all the narrative problems we face when writing. In comments to the post, Donald “SagaBlessed” Kirby, mentioned that making our dialog feel natural can sometimes be difficult, which is absolutely true.

More to the point, of all the writing problems that point of view can help us address, perhaps none is better suited to a POV solution than that of contrived dialog. Frankly, I can’t believe I left it out of my previous post.

Here at MW, we’ve discussed dialog quite a bit over the years, and I’m going to do my best not to cover the same ground in this post. This is not a post about how to write dialog, or how to make the spoken words themselves sound natural. (Carrie did this very well […]

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A Halloween Post: What Scares This Writer


It’s Halloween week, and as this is the season for all things spooky, I thought it might be fun to look at things that scare me. I’m not talking about big hairy spiders (like the Huntsman Spider in Australia that was in the bathroom one night when I got up to pee — it was sitting on top of the door and when I shut the door, it fell off and landed on my hand. I jumped up and back — simultaneously — about six feet, screamed like a little girl, and never, ever used the toilet again) or axe murderers (I have no colorful stories about them, though I think that if one fell on my hand as I closed a bathroom door, I’d freak out a little) or Dick Cheney. No, I’m talking about writer stuff that scares me professionally. Maybe some of these fears will sound familiar […]

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On Writing: Solving Writing Problems with Point of View


I have written about point of view many times before. A couple of years ago I did a whole series of posts on it, and one of my “Creative Intersections” posts earlier this year dealt with POV as it related to worldbuilding.

But here I am again writing about POV, and there is a reason for this. During the course of the summer, I attended several conventions, and I also taught a writers’ workshop up in Calgary. And it seemed that at every turn I would bring one writing issue or another back to POV. It happened so often, that I began to rethink one of my own foundational beliefs about writing. I have said for years that I believe character to be the single most important element of successful storytelling. I realize now that this is not quite true. To my mind, the most important element of storytelling is […]

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