Jennifer Estep — The Writing Life


Hello! First of all, I want to say thanks to Faith Hunter for inviting me to guest blog on the site this month. Thanks so much, Faith!

So I thought I would start off things by introducing myself. My name is Jennifer Estep, and I’m the New York Times bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. I’m also the author of the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series for Kensington and the Bigtime paranormal romance series.

All put together, I’ve written more than 20 books, along with many short stories and novellas. Today, I’m going to talk a little about my writing life.

Whenever I tell someone that I’m a writer, they usually ask me a lot of questions about writing and books and publishing. But one of the most memorable comments I ever got was this one: “Oh, you just sit in [...]

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D.B. Jackson: Drawing Inspiration From Short Fiction


Hello, MW! It is great to be back — I’ve missed being here. [Glances around] The place looks great — you’ve taken good care of it while I’ve been gone. And now that I’m here, I’m sticking around for a while — I’ll be posting for the next five weeks, kicking off the promotion for A Plunder of Souls, the third book in the Thieftaker Chronicles (which began with Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry). The book will be released on July 8, exactly one week from today.

So, let’s get to it . . .

You’ve heard me say it before: “Write short fiction about your characters. It will help you get a sense of their background and their voice, and it might even result in a sale.” Or, as in this case, it might lead to an entirely new novel.

A Plunder of Souls has its origins in a single [...]

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Writer’s Retreats — Our Thoughts, Part Two



Two years ago, I went to my first ConCarolinas and had the great good fortune to meet several of the 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 [...]

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Alyx Dellamonica: Slivers of a Writing Life


I call myself a full-time writer.

What would be more accurate (and it’s something I do sometimes say) is that I have a handful of interrelated part-time jobs.

For two to four hours a day, I write fiction. There’s another one to two hours I spend teaching writing, via the UCLA Writers Extension Program. I review books and write articles about pop culture within the SF/F field (my recent Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch on, for example). I sometimes pick up one on one mentoring gigs, helping writers work on completed novel manuscripts.

Part of what makes it possible for me to have this lifestyle, which is rewarding but also a bit catch-as-catch-can where income is concerned, is that I am also the primary homemaker for my two-person family unit. This means cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping mostly falls to me. (As John Scalzi says, in his brilliant [...]

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Writer’s Retreats — Our Thoughts, Part One


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


‘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 [...]

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Darynda Jones — The Day-to-Days



So, as I head into my third year as a published author, I am still struggling to find a balance in how I write. And believe you me, I have tried it all.

For example, I’ve tried sleeping late, attending to business when I get up, then staying up all night to write.

ADVANTAGE: No distractions. (Bwahahaha, it’s called the Internet. Let’s change that to LESS distractions.

DISADVANTAGE: I’m on Mountain Time, so by the time I got up to start my day, NY was almost done with theirs, which meant my editor, agent, publicist, marketing team, audiobook producer, everyone was calling it a day. I felt like I was missing out and I would often get to emails late in the day that should have been answered sooner.

I have tried getting up early and writing BEFORE the world needs my attention.

ADVANTAGE: I got my [...]

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Joshua Palmatier — Zombies Need Brains


Welcome to the first post here at Magical Words related to the upcoming anthology CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK vs ALIENS, the first release from the new small press I’ve founded called Zombies Need Brains. The intent behind this press is to produce quality SF&F-themed anthologies, hopefully a couple a year, with an escalating schedule after that. Since I’m writing these posts as the EDITOR of the first anthology, I figured I’d direct the topics more toward what the editor is looking for in terms of Character, Plot, etc. This first post is about Character, so let’s focus in on that.

What is the editor looking for when perusing submitted stories? Obviously, different editors look for different things, but I, personally, am mostly focused on character. If the story I’m reading doesn’t have an engaging character, then it’s extremely unlikely that I’m going to be interested in buying the story [...]

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