Friday, July 15, 2016

Publication News: "Salty Tea and the Sea"

Photograph nymph by elena strawberry on 500px:
My selkie-inspired story, Salty Tea and the Sea, is out today. It’s a short (just under 2,000 words) piece about families reuniting, fairy tales, and, of course, tea. I’ve wanted to write a selkie story for ages, and this one couldn’t have been published in a nicer magazine. Kith Issue 03 is full of other food-themed fantasy stories, so do go check it out if you’re interested!

There’s a sense of loss, loneliness, and mystery to selkie folklore that’s always inspired me, and I hope it comes across in my own story. In hindsight, another big inspiration was Jane Yolen’s poem The Selchie’s Children’s Plaint, especially these lines: But Mama goes first, leaving us/ with only a box empty of promises/ and a cold kitchen.

You can find my story here.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Writing Resolutions 7.4.16


* Write the stories you want to tell, not just the stories you want to read.
* Work hard and make your stories the best they can be.
* Know when to stick with it.
* Know when to quit.
* Giving up isn't always a bad thing, if you've done your best.
* Be crazy.
* Experiment.
* Have fun.
* Worldbuild.
* Pay attention to atmosphere—it's really important if you want to enjoy what you're writing.
* Check the logic of it.
* Nothing is wrong with middle grade.
* Nothing is wrong with YA.
* Nothing is wrong with any other age category/genre/tense/type of story. Do what you want.
* Your routine doesn't have to be like anyone else's.
* Productivity just for productivity's sake isn't worth it.

I’m posting these here mostly so I won’t forget them. I might elaborate on a couple later, especially resolution #1, which I’ve been thinking about A LOT lately. Writing has been tough lately, but getting better.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Birthstone Book Tag

  I stole this one from Joni. It looked way too cool to pass up.

  January - Garnet
  Name a character who you think is evil/dark
  The Governor from The Walking Dead comics is pretty much irredeemably bad (the guy could eat puppies for breakfast and it wouldn’t surprise me). Opal Koboi from the Artemis Fowl books is pure evil but also hilarious. The Beast from The Magicians is terrifying.

  February - Amethyst
  Name a book you think of as regal
  The Lord of the Rings trilogy, obviously, but also the Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin, especially book number three, The Farthest Shore.

  March - Aquamarine
  Name a character who you think of as weak, or as more of a follower
  My birthstone is aquamarine, so I kind of resent the “weak” implications. :) I’m going with Clover from Entwined. On first impression she is more of a follower (quiet, cripplingly shy, avoids conflict), but as the story goes on she proves herself just as strong as her sisters.

  April - Diamond
  Name a book that you love, but isn’t very well known
  Her Own Song by Ellen Howard is one of the saddest, sweetest middle grade books ever, but it’s been out of print for a while. On the plus side, you can still find cheap used copies on Amazon. It’s about a white girl growing up in the early 1900s who discovers that her first adoptive parents were Chinese.

  May - Emerald
  Name two characters who balance each other out.
  Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson from Marvel’s Daredevil comics, Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth from DC’s Batman comics, and Willy Henry and Pellinore Warthrop from the Monstrumologist series.

  June - Pearl
  Name a character who’s loyal
  Leo Demidov from Child 44.

  July - Ruby
  Name a book that aggravates you/makes your blood boil
  Not too many. I tend to be pretty laid back about most books. Charles Dickens’ treatment of most of his female characters does get on my nerves, and anything with a really strong patriarchal bent (so, some classics and a certain subset of Christian books) rubs me the wrong way.

  August - Peridot
  Name a supporting character you preferred to the main character
  I waver back and forth on whether I prefer Susan to Lucy in the Narnia books.

  September - Sapphire
  Name a book that you found to be calming.
  Reading anything by Susanna Kearsley is very relaxing.

  October - Opal
  Name a book with a pretty cover
  I ADORE this copy of Peter Pan.

  November - Topaz
  Name a book with a resilient protagonist
The first one to jump into my mind was The Outsiders. Pretty much all the main characters are resilient, in their own individual ways. S. E. Hinton’s other book, Tex, has a main character who doesn’t appear to be resilient at first, but actually is.

  December - Blue Zircon
  Name a fictional friendship you’d love to be a part of
The entire gang in The Outsiders (kind of feel like a girl would throw off the dynamic, though). Most superhero groups, but especially the batfamily. Hanging out with the Pevensies (or just C. S. Lewis) would be fantastic. Gen and Costis from The Queen of Attolia have the weirdest, most adorable bromance ever, so I wouldn’t want to intrude, but then again...

Friday, July 1, 2016

Problems With Plotting

Delta Breezes...:

So, I’ve been plodding semi-steadily through the fourth draft of my mermaids & Neverland short story, and trying to get some other projects off the ground. It’s been slow going, guys. Partly because I’m feeling drained and a little discouraged, partly because summer isn’t usually a productive time for me, and partly because I can’t plot to save my life.

My idea-getting always begins with relationships. Not even specific characters, but a specific type of dynamic I’d like to explore. If I’m lucky, there’s enough to this relationship to suggest the kind of characters who’d be involved in it. For my Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling, I knew I wanted to explore the relationship between the sisters, plus the eldest princess’ interactions with the soldier. I was also lucky enough to have the basic plot already laid out for me. Most times, I don’t, and this is where things get tough.

I can’t plot, at least not as well as I’d like to, and never easily. For some reason, getting characters from point A to point B is a struggle for me. They’re so many times when I’ve written a decent opening scene before realizing that I have no clue where the story should go next. I’ve tried outlining, flash cards, and freewriting, but so far I haven’t found the magic bullet that will turn me into a plotting whiz. Mostly I just have to muddle through and hope I make it to the end.

Maybe I’m more of a character writer, but 100+ pages of nothing but pointless conversations and introspection do not a good story make. I love tightly plotted books, and I’d love to learn how to improve my plotting “skills”. So my question today is, how do you guys plot? Whether you outline or don’t, whether your stories are plot- or character-focused, I’d love to hear how you navigate from point A to point B.

Picture Credit: X