Quick-Tip Tuesday: Challenge Revisited, and Setting Our Work Goals

Back in February, in a post called “A Challenge to All — Time to Take the Plunge,” I issued a challenge to readers of Magical Words. Take that novel that you’ve been working on, the one that you know is almost done, but feel needs one final tweak, and get it ready for submission to some publisher by October 1. Remember?

Well, we’re in the dog days of summer and fall begins in less than a month. So how’s it going?

Setting goals of any sort can be a tricky business. I had goals for this year, and while I’ve met many of them, I still have several more that I’ve yet to address and, frankly, I don’t know if I’ll complete all of them before year’s end. Sometimes life gets in the way, as it has this year for me. Issues come up that we can’t possibly anticipate, family […]

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The Top Ten

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Every August for over a decade, I’ve walked into a classroom full of (mostly) eager freshmen and spent the next few months teaching them to write. During that time, I’ve developed a few “tips” that I tell students to help avoid a “look-I’m-new-to-college” faux pas. I was thinking (as I was editing, of course) that many of these apply not only to the relationship between professor and student but also to the relationship between editor and writer.

When you work with someone, no matter what the capacity, you are creating an unspoken contract. It’s not legally binding, I’d imagine, but it’s one of those things sort of like the “bro code” that you really don’t want to mess up. But, often we do because we don’t know any better.

So, here are my top ten things that you might learn as a freshman in college that also apply […]

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Pop Culture References and Dating a Book

First, let’s be clear that I’m not suggesting that you take your book out to dinner and a movie and possibly a little nookie on the side. That would be oh so weird and also wtf? No, I’m talking about relevance and putting in references or language that doom your book to being considered old fashioned or out of touch after being out a few years. This isn’t usually a problem for second world fantasy, but often is a problem for SF, UF, contemporary fantasy, and most any contemporary novel. That’s because trends change, fashions change, language changes, and what’s ‘cool’ changes.

Now there are some things you’re stuck with. If you’re writing a book set in 2016 Greece and use current descriptions (which you’d have to do), ten years from now, when hopefully Greece isn’t flooded with refugees trying to escape certain death, Greece will look considerably different. What […]

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Faith Screwed Up

And yes, I can look at the title and see the play on words. But what happened was — the Hubs took me on an unplanned 4 day, 3 night trip to the mountains, so nothing (NOTHING) got done. Why? I was spazzing out about the release tomorrow. BLOOD OF THE EARTH lands Tuesday.

I was in a nail biting ruin. I needed rest. Hence the vaca and the total dropping of the ball on today’s post and the blog at my own site, and …. yeah. Faith Screwed Up. But I’m glad I waited.

Because, um, this at B&N.

Yeah. Number two. No–it never happened before. No–I didn’t expect it. No–I never expected Nell to create this much excitement. (Yes–that’s a confession.) Yes–my tummy aches. I don’t really chew my nails. But I may not sleep.

Making Money Mondays is about making money in the field of writing. Despite […]

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Summertime Blues

Does anybody else get lazy about writing in the summer? My kids are home, and it’s sunny, and there’s so much to do. And to read. And movies to catch up on.

Every year in August, I have this urge to go shopping for office supplies and clothing and shoes. I know this is a holdover from going to school (and given that I have a PhD, I went to school a LONG time, plus I taught for another 15 years, plus now the kids are in school–can we say it’s ingrained? Yes, we can).

But I think summertime vacation is ingrained in me, too. Again, up until three years ago, I taught or went to school, and summer was the time to catch up on everything else. Of course, I also did a lot of writing, but because I lived in the land of the ice and snow, summer […]

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The Magic of Elsewhere

Sometimes, I think my writing life echoes the Dr. Seuss book “Green Eggs and Ham.”

Would you write it on a train? Would you write it on a plane?

Would you write it in a car? Would you write it near and far?

I can write it here or there. I can write it anywhere!

I’ve written book chapters and short stories just about everywhere. A big chunk of Deadly Curiosities was written on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean. Most of the time, it’s not nearly that sexy. A lot of times, I can picture the hotel room where I wrote a story or chapter whenever I re-read it. Which means that a lot of my stuff reminds me of Hampton Inns.

I wrote the short story No Reprieve at my vendor table at last year’s Origins. I wrote my alternative Sherlock Holms story for Baker Street Irregulars […]

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Quick-Tip Tuesday: Writing With Emotion

Sometimes we writers overthink our work (and in that spirit, this will be a brief post). We try to create spectacular worlds and amazing magic systems and plots filled with surprises and twists. And all of that is great. When I read, I love narrative complexity, rich settings, and remarkable magic.

But I read for emotion. I read, as do so many, because I want to delve into the internal lives of compelling characters. Humans are natural voyeurs and eavesdroppers. We are curious about other people, sometimes to a disturbing degree. (See: Kardashian, Kim) One of the great allures of reading, I believe, is the chance not only to listen to and watch characters, but also to have access to their thoughts and emotions.

I bring this up because I have noticed in working with students and less experienced writers, a tendency to shy away from exploring the emotions of […]

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