Christina Henry — A BOOK IS BORN

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It’s finally here – the release of the final book in the BLACK WINGS series, BLACK SPRING.

In the autumn of 2008 I had a vague idea about writing a book about a grim reaper. I’d assumed the protagonist would be male, but other than those two facts I knew nothing about the story. Then I heard Maddy and Beezle talking in my head, and suddenly the plot just unfolded organically. There was a whole world – the Agency, Maddy’s job as an Agent of Death, her missing fallen angel father, her other dark family ties, and Beezle’s identity as a gargoyle, home guardian, and lover of all things fried and crunchy.

I wrote the first book just hoping I would be able to sell it. I never thought I would have the opportunity to write seven books in the series. I’m so grateful to everyone who has read [...]

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Jagi Lamplighter: All About That Spook, ‘Bout That Spook. No Terror!

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My youngest son has a longstanding problem with nightmares. So he has learned to avoid things that might spark them. He will not walk through a modern bookstore, unless either he’s mapped out a safe route to the kids section that passes through language tutorials and books on auto repair, or I am there to cover his eyes. He knows I am also not a huge fan of horror and gore, and nowadays, many Halloween displays are quite horrific.

So it has been quite a challenge to make it clear to him why I love Halloween so much. I tried to explain:

Me: “I love the parts of Halloween that are creepy and spooky, but not scary or horrific. There are a lot of movies like that.”

Son: “Like what?”

Me, thinking: “Well, Arsenic and Old Lace.”

Son: “What’s that about?”

Inexplicably, I totally failed to convey the humor of [...]

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Pantheons and Pantsers

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The absolutely fabulous Faith Hunter offered to let me step in today, so I typed up my post over the weekend, hoping my stream of consciousness screed would actually form a coherent posting come today. Well, you’ll all have to be the judge of that. But it’s so funny coming on the heels of Christina Henry’s wonderful blog yesterday, which I read thinking, “Yes. Yes! Oh, thank goodness I’m not alone.” It’s no wonder I adore her too! Anyway, without further ado, here are my thoughts about:

Pantheons and Pantsers

You’d think a bunch of ancient gods talking in your head would have a lot more decorum than Donkey from Shrek jumping up and down yelling, “Pick me! Oh, pick me!”

You’d be wrong.

The toughest thing about writing a series is knowing where to start and winnowing down all the many ideas flying around in your head to what [...]

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Beth Bernobich: The Time Roads

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Once upon a time, I had an idea for a story. It was tentative, as ideas sometimes are. All I had was an image of a young woman reciting prime numbers as her brother listened. The seed for that image was easy to identify—Oliver Sacks’s essay “The Twins,” which describes twin brothers, autistic savants, who recited prime numbers to each other. I chose to make my twins a brother and sister name Síomón and Gwen Madóc, both mathematical geniuses.

That initial scene came to me complete with setting and emotions and full-color video, but I wasn’t sure how the story would unfold. So I wrote as much as I knew, following the brother from the visitation room of the sanitarium (because Gwen is mad, suddenly and mysteriously mad from too many numbers), down to the lobby where a police detective introduces himself and…

…and all of a sudden, I had [...]

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Christina Henry — Talking to Characters

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I wish I had some really interesting, profound statement to make about the process of creating characters in fiction. I’ve read lots of well-written and well-considered pieces about finding out who your characters are and their motivations and how all those things can make your story better and more interesting.

I’d genuinely like to write one of those pieces for you. I’d like to tell you that I did this writing exercise or that I carefully craft each character and have background histories for all them even if all of that information doesn’t make it into the story.

Unfortunately, my writing process might kindly be termed “intuitive” and less kindly be called “half-assed”.

Take Madeline Black. The heroine of my BLACK WINGS series just appeared in my head one day. Well, I probably shouldn’t say “appeared”. That implies that I saw her, and I didn’t see her. I heard her. [...]

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R S Belcher: Double Barreled Sequel

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My second novel, The Shotgun Arcana, releases on October 7th from Tor Books. Shotgun is the follow-up to my debut novel, The Six-Gun Tarot and takes place in the same weird western fantasy world—the tiny frontier town of Golgotha, Nevada, in 1870.

Shotgun Arcana takes up a year after the events of Six-Gun, and follows my ensemble cast of characters that were introduced in that novel—Maude Stapleton, Deputy Mutt, Jim Negrey, Sheriff John Highfather, Auggie Shultz, Clay Turlough, Jillian Proctor, Mayor Harry Pratt and Malachi Bick. Everyone has changed and grown a bit from the first book, some in good ways, others, not so good.

I also introduce a few new characters this time around, like the infamous pirate queen, Black Rowan, from the Barbary Coast, and her loyal, and pedantic, manservant, The Scholar. Another new addition to the cast is Emily Rose Bright, a young woman who comes to [...]

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R S Belcher: Taming Fire

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Many years ago , I had the distinct privilege of interviewing David Drake for Starlog Magazine. Drake, the author of numerous science fiction and fantasy novels, is best known for his military SF offerings, including the Hammer’s Slammers series. He’s a hell of an interesting guy and a excellent writer. At some point I think I called him an “artist”, and Drake was quick to correct me, saying he was a craftsman, like a guy who makes cabinets, not an artist. Drake’s point was that writers craft a story, they build it, refine it and as they build more, they become better builders, better crafters.

I’ve heard the craftsman/ builder analogy used before from Stephen King as well, in his fantastic book, “On Writing”. If you haven’t read it and you are interested in writing, or want to get better at writing, I highly recommend you read it. King says [...]

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