Joshua Palmatier — Plot: Losing Control

admin

SHATTERING THE LEY: Plot: Losing Control

Welcome to my third guest post about my new novel, SHATTERING THE LEY (in stores now)! Again, thanks to Magical Words for inviting me.

As you may have read in my previous post about character, I’m an organic writer, sometimes also called a pantser. What this means is that I don’t have much of a plan when I sit down to write my novels. Usually I have a few “guideposts”—basically a couple of plot elements that I think are going to happen (usually something about halfway through and something at the end). But when I sit down to write, I let the characters take control. Most of the time, the characters end up in situations close to those initial guideposts. But sometimes . . . not so much.

That “not so much” happened with SHATTERING THE LEY. Almost as soon as I sat [...]

Continue reading Joshua Palmatier — Plot: Losing Control

Joshua Palmatier — Character: Taking Control

admin

SHATTERING THE LEY: Character: Taking Control

Welcome to my second guest post here at Magical Words! Thanks again for having me, guys.

I’d like to focus on characters, now that the main promo push is over. (You did run out and buy SHATTERING THE LEY, right?) As I said in the previous post, when I described the setting for LEY, having a great idea or setting isn’t enough for a story. The world of LEY had been simmering inside my head for quite a while, but it’s necessary to take that cool idea and make it come alive with the intervention of some cool characters. For this world, I knew that one of the main characters would have to be someone who could manipulate the ley lines that powered the city. If that’s the central element that makes my world different, I needed someone who would be working intimately [...]

Continue reading Joshua Palmatier — Character: Taking Control

Writer’s Retreats — Our Thoughts, Part Two

admin

***THE BLOGGER***

Two years ago, I went to my first ConCarolinas and had the great good fortune to meet several of the MagicalWords.net authors, as well as several fans and MW participants. One group of us in particular really hit it off and agreed to meet up again the next year. At the end of *that* con, as Melanie described, our final gathering resulted in “let’s have a writers’ retreat next year”. Like you do.

Imagine my surprise – all of our surprise, I think – as we started trading emails and beginning to discuss plans, and everyone remained enthusiastic. Along the way, a couple of people had to withdraw from the retreat itself for different reasons, but they stayed active and encouraging in the discussions all the same.

And what a real thrill to learn that Faith would be able to join us, both for some much needed post-con [...]

Continue reading Writer’s Retreats — Our Thoughts, Part Two

J. Kathleen Cheney — Historical Research

admin

Over the last few years I’ve had to do tons of historical research for my writing, quite a bit of it in foreign languages. I’ve even spoken about this at the DFW Writer’s Conference. I’ve had to wing a lot of it. But we writers have one major advantage that didn’t exist twenty years ago. If you’re reading this, you’re looking right at it: The Internet.

(Now don’t dismiss the first line of attack, the public/university library system. Via the public library system, I can get my hands on almost any book/DVD/map in the statewide system. The library also has one thing the internet does not: Research Librarians.)

Even so, when looking only at the internet, there are several resources that might not occur to the newer writer. Yes, there are search engines and via those you can find specialized web-pages that deal with your time period (always [...]

Continue reading J. Kathleen Cheney — Historical Research

J. Kathleen Cheney — The Delicate Balance

admin

I’ve been writing Historical Fantasy for a few years now. I’ve had novellas set in 1905 Saratoga Springs, short fiction set in 1200 Northern China, and just turned in the last of three novels set in 1902-3 Portugal. Those publications have taken up the bulk of the last five years (so it was jarring when I started working on a new series in May that’s a second-world fantasy.)

I do love my Historical Fantasy, and I’ve found some real advantages to writing it.

The main thing that separates Historical Fantasy from other types of Fantasy is that the backbone of your setting is based in an actual historical period. You’re working in a real place that has real history and a very real setting, and in that setting, you’re writing fantasy.

So your setting already comes half made for you. Culture, events, religion…they’re mostly laid out. You don’t [...]

Continue reading J. Kathleen Cheney — The Delicate Balance

Writer’s Retreats — Our Thoughts, Part One

admin

There were six of us… There are three posts today, and three more next Friday. And this is how it happened.

***THE INSTIGATOR***

‘Till Birnam forest come to Dunsinane,’ or, How a Writers Retreat Took Root

Like so many other rooms hosting writer panels at 2013′s ConCarolinas, this particular one—”Burnham”— was overgrown with people. Overgrown, not overrun; we had planted ourselves there to hear published authors discuss a specific topic. Considering the quantity of us listeners squeezed in and barely keeping our feet, in the chaos it wouldn’t have been a stretch to be mistaken as trees. Maybe even a forest. Couldn’t tell ya since it was hard to see. But, as such things happen, especially when everyone is so squashed together, you becomes friendly with others around you. Doubly so when you later discover them also hanging out with authors from Magical Words. Bonus! And so, maybe unsurprisingly, a [...]

Continue reading Writer’s Retreats — Our Thoughts, Part One

Explaining it All — J. Kathleen Cheney

admin

Last week I talked about how most Fantasy writers do a great deal of Worldbuilding. We like to be able to explain every aspect of our worlds, even if we don’t do so on the page (in order to spare the reader.)

But what about those things we can’t explain?

I’m not talking about Differential Equations or Quantum Physics. I’m talking about some piece of our world that we simply can’t pin down. It happens.

Here’s my example: I’m very cautious about shapeshifters. I like to have a reasonable explanation of how they’re doing what they do. At a most basic level, what they’re doing is Magic, but…what kind?

For most of the shapeshifters I create, I use a physics-based standard; if their mass changes, then I like to have an explanation for the difference in mass. For my horse shapeshifters (puca), they draw energy from the world around [...]

Continue reading Explaining it All — J. Kathleen Cheney