Monday, May 31, 2010


This video has been making the rounds. I found it funny and something I'm sure will happen to me someday, when it won't be so funny. I'm going to practice singing this song :)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

One Artist

I ganked this from Wordslayer Cometh. And since it's fun and a chance to pimp my favorite singer and one of my favorite authors at the same time, how could I pass it up?

Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. Try not to repeat a song title. It's harder than you think. Let's hear some of yours!

Your Artist: Seanan McGuire

Are you male or female: What a Woman's For

Describe yourself: Downhome Aphrodite

How do you feel about yourself: I Am

Describe where you currently live: This is My Town

The first thing you think of when you wake up: Maybe It's Crazy

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Silent Hill

Your favorite form of transportation: Still Catch the Tide

Your best friend is: Dear Gina

Your favorite color is: Vampire Slayer Blues

What's the weather like: Earthquake Weather

If your life were a TV show, what would it be called: Modern Mystic

What is life to you: Protective Coloration

What is the best advice you have to give: Causes and Effects

If you could change your name, what would it be: Dorothy

Your favorite food is: In This Sea

How I would like to die: Pretty Little Dead Girl

My soul's present condition: Wicked Girls Saving Ourselves

How would you describe your love life: Four Color Love

What are you going to post this as: Snapshots

If you're intrigued by the titles of her songs, you should hear the songs! Check her out at

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Plea to friends, Gods, and family

Someday, gods willing, I will have a book published. With my first book, I don't expect this to happen. And if I'm lucky enough and stubborn enough to sell a second book, it probably won't happen then, either. But when/if I get a third book published, I'm asking now, please don't let it happen to me, and if you see that I'm doing it, kindly thonk me on the head, ok?

"It" is called by different names in different industries. With cops, "it" is called "badge heavy". It means tossing your weight around. It means you feel you've paid your dues, and now you're an expert, but no one else is calling you that, so you just tell everyone you are. With authors, I'm guessing it would be called "ink heavy". It's conveyed in a slightly jaded, slightly patronizing tone, and invariably it causes you to mention how many books you have published. It doesn't even have to be relevant to the topic of conversation.

Newbie Questioner: "I'm thinking about getting a puppy! Does anyone know where I can get some good books on picking a breed of dog?"
Ink Heavy Author: "I've published three books, and while none of them have been on picking dogs, I can tell you that picking a breed of dog is like picking an agent. In fact, I remember when I picked my agent...(blah, blah, blah)"

Another example:
Newbie Questioner: "I'm going to make some cookies for my True Love, but I don't have any good chocolate chip cookie recipes. Can someone recommend one?"
Ink Heavy Author: "In the third book that I had published, one of my characters makes a killer peanut butter tart. In fact, I have some mention of food in all three of the books that I've published, even though none of them are about cooking."

Some authors grow out of it, some never seem to. I'm hoping it's not a write of passage (groan for bad pun).

(Side note, taking pride in being published, and being overjoyed in the publishing of your books is an entirely different thing, and both wonderful and appropriate, to my way of thinking.)

(Side, side, note. No one on my friends list is doing this, because if you were doing it, you wouldn't be on my friends list :)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Labyrinth plotting method

As I promised myself, I've been doing some work on that labyrinth outline form. This is only going to make sense if you have some familiarity with labyrinths. Later, after I'm done tweaking and expanding, it will make sense even if you don't have any familiarity with labyrinths. Unlike "The Hero's Quest" it's not based on myths, but is instead based on fairy tales.(Little Red Riding Hood, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Tam Lin, and Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz)

Also unlike the Hero's Quest, it didn't take 20 years to create (more like 20 minutes :)

An important thing to remember is that labyrinths distort time and space, so this isn't necessarily the order things need to occur in, just the elements that need to exist for the labyrinth style story.


The Outer World:
This is the character's ordinary world. What is she risking? What is she working to save? What is it about the ordinary world that's most lovable? (family? pets? home? what?) Show it here.

First Turn: The Sign
Something is wrong. What is it? How dangerous is it, and who needs to do something about it? (All is not revealed, this is just the character's first introduction to the problem. It may even be a minor problem, and not the main problem, but it will lead her to the main problem.)

Path 3 Someone's mistake:
Like any good labyrinth, you don't start on the first path. The labyrinth and the story both drop you in the middle. In this case, you're dropped into the middle of story, and it has all started with someone else's mistake, usually long ago. It's not her responsibility. She could walk away. Everyone else has let it go on this long, why shouldn't she? This is the moment where she proves her worth as the heroine. Because she decides to do something about it.

Second Turn: The Wolf
This is the first appearance of the villain. It can be a literal appearance, or it can just be an example of what the villain does. It's just a hint, to start the tension. It's also her first challenge. She must face it and solve it. However, the solution only brings her closer to the main problem. Whether the solution works or not, it makes the main problem worse/clearer/closer. She may be led astray by the ill or well meaning advice of someone else.

Path 2 The Secret
Now the character learns the secret which has been hidden from her all this time. It changes her view of the world as she knows it. Can be delightful (you've got a fairy godmother) or horrible (your mother wants to kill you).

Third Turn: The Warning
What can I say about the warning? It's traditional. Everyone gets a warning ("don't stray off the path", "don't look back", "don't take any apples from strangers") but no one ever listens to the warning. Think of it as a way to heighten conflict or foreshadow disaster.

Path 1 The Gift
This goes hand in hand with the warning. Sometimes the warning is about the gift. ("The spell will only last till midnight") In any case, the gift is an important part of the story and may be given "just because". or because the character has proven her worth by taking up the challenge of someone else's mistake. Sometimes she gets the gift as a result of the first challenge (The Wolf).

Fourth Turn: Hope
After everything she's been through, your character may find herself having hope that everything will turn out all right, and the worst is behind her. Silly character. The worst is yet to come. But this moment of hope is nice. (And makes the worst seem worse by comparison.)

Path 4 Midnight
The hour has struck and disaster has arrived. This is a huge test, which she must pass. How will she handle the strike of midnight?

Fifth Turn: Discovery/Threshold
A discovery is made, a threshold is crossed. Nothing will ever be the same for the character and she can't go back. Everything is turned on its head and what she thought was the goal, isn't. Even if it means starting over, she must keep working.

Path 7 Betrayal
Someone she thought was on her side has betrayed her. Or she may have accidentally betrayed someone she cares for deeply. In any case, the betrayal is another set back on the journey. She may not be able to repair the damage, if she is to continue to the end of her journey. She may have to repair the damage, to continue to the end of her journey.

Sixth Turn: The Mirror
Revelation. She learns something about herself, or maybe the villain learns something about her. Maybe she even learns that someone she loves is in great danger. The mirror shows all, but even the most perfect mirror shows everything in reverse. (Maybe what she's seeing isn't the complete situation.)

Path 6 Self Reliance
This is where she discovers that to create or discover the solution, she can't rely on anyone except herself. If she fails, she will need a rescuer. If she remains strong, she can find it on her own.

Seventh Turn: Trick
Our heroine has been playing this whole thing on the straight and narrow, but part of growing up is learning that not everyone else does. This is the moment when she learns that. Either the villain tricks her, or she decides to use a trick to reach the solution. Either way, it's a transformative moment, and one more aspect of innocence is lost.

Path 5 Test
The final test, where she takes everything she has learned, holds tight to the memory of why she has endured all this, and prevails. The trick may help her pass the test, or it may have only allowed her to gain access to the test. But she must pass this final test.

Eighth Turn: Transformation

The Fairy Gate
After discovering her transformation, she now returns to her former life. She has solved the situation caused by someone else's mistake, but more than that, she has wrought a solution for herself. She has tools and abilities available to her now, to bring a positive change into the world. Her world.

Combined archetypes

Archetypes are nice, and we all know and love them. But what about archetypes that combine? Or transform through the story arc to something else? Personally, I think that as a character grows, their archetype will (hopefully) change. I also think each archetype needs it's own complete story arc (beginning, middle and end) before the transformation occurs.

For example, if I have a character start out as an Outsider, and then he becomes a Mentor, I don't just switch to a different archetype.

I let the Outsider aspect have its own complete story arc (with a beginning, middle and end) before the character transforms to a Mentor. This will usually (though not always) happen before the end of the book. If there is a sequel, the Mentor archetype story arc then picks up and continues.

In other words, character archetypes can be a subplot for me.

If I know before I actually do any writing that a character's archetype will transform, I try to do a little blending. Some foreshadowing of the archetype to come. There are some I would probably never blend (for example Hero/Herald) but many of the others can be blended in surprising ways.

For example, I think the shape shifter/mentor have been blended so often that it became the trickster archetype (though I'm sure others have their own opinions about this).

Now, you'd never know it to look at me, but I'm a rule breaker. so as soon as I thought "I would never blend Hero/Herald") I started to think about ways and reasons to blend those two types. I started to see if I could mix and match any two types. So here are my quick thoughts on blending and transforming.

Hero is a natural to be combined with a Mentor. Usually to a kid, that idolizes the Hero, who then takes this opportunity to teach him something. Heinlein did it in "Glory Road", and I think a strong case could be made for Obi Won Kenobi as a combined Hero/Mentor, depending on which of the movies you're watching. "Shane" is probably that way, too.

Hero and Threshold Guardian. Hmm... I don't see it. Something to think about. Maybe an aspect of the Hero's personality could be the Threshold Guardian, but I can't see it working well. (Aha! A challenge!)

Hero and Herald. This one I think is impossible. How can the Hero act as his own Herald? (Oh, wait. Prophetic trances?)

Hero and Shape shifter, been done to death, I think, as the anti hero.

Hero and Shadow. It could be (and frequently is) the "dark side" of the Hero's personality. So, yes, this one gets combined a lot.

Hero and Trickster. I'm thinking Gambit from "X-Men" or Ananzi from "Static Shock". Could be done well, and isn't over done. Some good possibilities I think, but not as a view point character. (Hmm.. I wonder if "Star Girl" would qualify? I haven't read it. Which leads to glamor bombing in general, which leads me to realizing that these archetypes could combine well and be used as a view point character. Not overdone, either.)

Mentor and Threshold Guardian. Probably done to death and I'm not going to do it unless I think I can do it better.

Mentor and Herald. I can't think of any examples off the top of my head, but it's an easy mix.

Mentor and Shapeshifter. I think I'm going to do this with Oubliette. It's not overdone, but I'm sure I've seen a couple of examples of it.

Mentor and Shadow. I can't think of any examples, but again, I think this one is a natural.

Mentor and Trickster. Raffiki in "Lion King", and if Disney is using it, it's over done.

Threshold Guardian and Herald. That's an easy mix.

Threshold Guardian and Shape shifter. That's another easy mix, but at least a little more intriguing.

Threshold Guardian and Shadow. Eh, nothing to write home about, but looks like an easy mix.

Threshold Guardian and Trickster. Oh yeah, been done a lot, but still things of interest to tap into here.

Herald and Shape shifter. Easy!

Herald and Shadow, more complicated than it sounds, I think.

Herald and Trickster. Easily done, but I can't think of too many examples. There may be untapped riches here.

Shape shifter and Shadow, way too easy.

Shape shifter and Trickster. Way too easy.

Shadow and Trickster easily done.

World Building

The "problem" with having an urban fantasy setting, is that so many people think that the world building is done. It's set in the world around you, what more building do you need to do?

If a reader is thinking that, then I think you've done your job. You've done such great world building that to the reader it comes across as totally believable. Good job!

If the writer is thinking that, there are either major problems with the story, or the writer is in for a rude awakening. Or both :)

I think the problem lies in the words "world building". It definitely gives the impression that you are making things up for this world you're writing about, doesn't it? But what world building really is, the goal behind it, is to make the world that you're writing about (real, imagined, or a combination of the two) both believable and invisible to the reader.

I guess (after some thought and many attempts at failed metaphors) to me, world building is like a bridge. It lets people cross into your world. You want them to enjoy the experience (where "enjoy" means, get out of it what they wanted to, whether it's supposed to be scary or relaxing), but you don't want them spending any time thinking about the construction process of your bridge.

Well, even that needs work, but still...

In the meantime, I'm writing this urban fantasy and it needs world building. Not just things like how magic works, but also things like "what happens when you put a dollar in the tip jar at the Cold Stone Creamery?" If I hadn't actually done it, I would never have known, and my book would have been short one less scene where that happens.

It's all about the research, or so I say as I head out to Cold Stone Creamery for more "research" :)

Affinity groups

Sometimes I think that, in addition to writers groups that are affiliated by genre, there should be affinity groups of writers that are affiliated by theme. Mostly because, while two people that are writing about fantasy will have lots to offer each other, I also think that two people that are writing about "love conquers all" will have lots to offer each other, even if (especially if?) they are writing in different genres. I think of these "theme affinity groups" as supplements for writers :)

Journal Purpose

I'm writing down fragments, scenes, ideas. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes, feelings for possible use in my work in progress. It won't make any sense, and sometimes will just be plain disgusting. I'm also writing about writing, which is an odd type of navel gazing. Mostly, I'm porting entries over from my LiveJournal. We'll see how it goes :)