Carol Berg: Answers, Plain and Tall

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Thanks again to the Magical Words crew for welcoming me this month.

There is a set of standard questions that authors hear all the time. When did you start writing? How did you get published? Do you outline? How many hours a day do you write? Do you have writing rituals? Do you use writing tools? Why are you so mean to your characters? We’ve answered them so many times, we don’t even have to think about them.

- I started writing halfway through my software engineering career, as my kids were needing less of my time. – I read the opening of Transformation for an editor from Roc Books in a Friday afternoon read-and-critique session at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. She ended up buying it and my next seven books. – I do not outline. Nor do I start out with a blank page and type Chapter [...]

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Delilah S Dawson: Sorry, I Blew Up Savannah!

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Bad news, y’all: This November, a freak hurricane will tear through Savannah, Georgia, destroying the amusement park and flooding the cemeteries and generally beating down an historical gem that even General Sherman admired too much to damage.

Even worse news: Hurricane Josephine isn’t just a meteorological phenomenon. She’s a demon. A mean one. Who sometimes takes the form of a monster albino alligator and makes people do horrible things.

At least, that’s the premise of Servants of the Storm, my YA Southern Gothic Horror now available online and in bookstores. What started as an obsession with pictures of Six Flags New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina became a paean to friendship, a love song to my husband’s home town, and a great reason to take a horse-drawn carriage tour with my favorite Savannah pirate, should you want to see Dovey’s neighborhood before Josephine makes a big ol’ mess.

I’m from [...]

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Pop Author Psych

Lucienne DiverLucienne Diver

You know, it’s crazy. If you try to build psychological profiles of authors in your mind based on their works, you might come to the conclusion they’re some of the blood-thirstiest, most creatively-evil people in the world. Law enforcement agencies the world over assuredly have them on watch lists because of the odd little things they’re drawn to research, like making bombs out of household items, Babylonian plague demons and how much over-the-counter analgesic can kill when combined with alcohol… Ahem…

Well, I can’t speak for all authors or all conductors of such searches, but I can say that the writers I know are pretty awesome people, having gotten their aggressions out on imaginary characters.

Writing is not polite. Or anyway, it shouldn’t be. Whether you’re writing humor or horror, prose needs to reveal something very true and basic at its core, something that the reader can identify with, something [...]

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Diamonds, Magic, and Mystery

Diana Pharaoh FrancisDiana Pharaoh Francis

Whenever I get sick–like the flu or something like it–I watch TV. And not just any TV; when I’m sick, I watch fairly specific kinds of shows. I look for documentaries first. Even though I normally like regular hour-long dramas and comedies and movies and HGTV, I always head for documentaries. If I can’t find anything I like there, I will go to the shopping networks. I know. The two together don’t make any sense, and I don’t go to the shopping networks at any other time. Ever.

The last time I was sick enough to do that was several years ago. In that session, I learned a number of things that have found their way into my writing. (I believe I also bought some blankets and sheets and called my husband at work about a vacuum cleaner, which I did not buy). In particular, I watched a documentary on [...]

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Carol Berg: Blowing up the Dam

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I would love to say my stories blossom fully formed, and the words always flow like water from a faucet, ready to fill the empty vessels of scenes and characters, ever easy to turn on and off. But, alas, not so. Sometimes, I just can’t get that word count to budge.

The world-at-large calls this condition Writers’ Block and expects that a writer who suffers this debilitating condition might be sitting around for an indeterminate time waiting for it to ease, like toughing out a bout of spring allergies. But a working writer can’t just say oops and blow off a day, a week or a month. Working writers have deadlines.

Does this occasional incapacity mean I’m a bad writer? No. My books are by no means perfect, but I am very happy with them.

Does it mean I have a bad process? No. My creative process works very well [...]

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Delilah Dawson: Paying It Forward

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There are many rewards to being a writer, although most of them aren’t the six figure deals and Tom Hiddleston movies we all dream about. I didn’t write my first book until I was 32, and one of the first things I did was hop on Twitter and start meeting other people treading the same path. I found agents, editors, bloggers, famous novelists, and other people following their literary aspirations, people just like me. Little did I know that I had stumbled into one of the most thoughtful, generous, supportive communities on the internet.

The best writers, to me, are not only amazing storytellers but also relatable and generous teachers. They understand that wherever you are, there’s someone else who wants to be there, and you’re uniquely qualified to help them get there. From big-name authors who blurb debuts (thanks, Nancy Holder and Cherie Priest!) or offer blog space to [...]

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It’s a boy thing…

Lucienne DiverLucienne Diver

There was a minor kerfluffle on Twitter, blogs (like here on The Mary Sue), and elsewhere yesterday because a children’s shirt of The Guardians of the Galaxy included every major character but the female, Gamora. The explanation given by the company, “It’s a boy’s shirt.” As usual when something gets me all worked up, I have so many initial responses that they sort of bottle-neck up and I have trouble getting the words out.

But let me try.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no! (*sung operatically as Queen might do*)

It’s a boy’s shirt. Really?

Now, I know that I’m here to talk about writing. Or maybe my new release—actually two of them in a series featuring a kick-ass female who can, literally, stop men in their tracks. Or stop women. Her power isn’t particular. AND HERE’S MY THING—there are people who will never pick up these books because [...]

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