Speaking to a Book Club

Speaking to a Book Club

A book club recently decided to read The Wysman and invite me to speak at their meeting. Actually, I should say “our” meeting because it’s a club I belong to. I swear I didn’t suggest the book! Someone else did. The members are all avid readers though, so they decided that having an author to talk to would be interesting. I was, of course, happy to oblige. I love talking about writing. I must say it was a different kind…

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Using Our Own Lives to Write

Using Our Own Lives to Write

I sometimes see people asking if a story a writer tells is based on their own life. I’m not usually asked, though, probably because I write YA fantasy set in a secondary world. So it’s hard to see the connection. However, I’d say a writer always draws on their own life. What else would we draw on? Usually, though, that drawing from life works differently than the question implies. Drawing on Emotion We draw on emotion as much as or…

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What Makes a Strong Female Character?

What Makes a Strong Female Character?

In a recent article in Washington Monthly, Nancy LeTourneau wrote about how the web of ideas we have inherited from the patriarchy had distorted our idea of what it means to be a strong man. What’s disturbing to me is that, in young adult fantasy fiction, the distorted notion of strength also warps how we imagine a strong woman. We have moved along from writing the female character as a damsel in distress, but instead we often borrow the limited notion…

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On the Need for a Project

On the Need for a Project

I am working on the theory that having a project makes people happier. By “project,” I mean something that requires a person to make plans and carry them out. The plans are for something they do freely rather than being assigned or forced to do. I first thought about this when someone gave Mr. DAW and me a book about wine that took up a different kind in each chapter and recommended some varieties to try. Each week, we read…

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On Book Covers

On Book Covers

Book covers are supposed to serve as little billboards that tell the reader what kind of book they are and invite the reader to pick them up and examine them further. Read the back cover copy, maybe, or browse chapter 1. What makes a good cover? I’m probably not the person who should be answering this question because I’m not very visual and am terrible at telling good covers from bad. I’m so bad that my writer friends laugh at…

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Remember the Dog

Remember the Dog

I’m drafting a book tentatively called The Trickster. Its central character is Dilly, who appears as a secondary character in The Wind Reader. There, she’s nearly always accompanied by her dog, Tuc. I can’t remember why I originally gave Dilly a dog. It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. And Tuc turned out to be useful to the three street kids who mobbed up together in that book. He guarded them. He hunted the rats in the abandoned…

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First Drafts: First Paragraph Edition

First Drafts: First Paragraph Edition

On “The Late Show,” Stephen Colbert occasionally does a bit called “First Drafts.” He shows greeting cards and then what he claims were the first drafts of those cards, all of them hilariously wrong. I’ve written before about how often the first draft of a book’s first paragraphs go wrong, usually in ways I don’t find hilarious. So I thought you might be interested in seeing early and final drafts of the openings of some of my novels. I can’t show…

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How to write disabled characters

How to write disabled characters

A hopeful current trend in fiction is the press for diverse characters. I’ve mostly seen this call for inclusiveness aimed at diversity in sexual or racial identity, but we need to open up the kind of characters we read and write even further. If we want to write inclusive books, we need to include disabled characters. On June 27, my publisher, Inspired Quill, will release The Wysman, a sequel to The Wind Reader. The Wind Readerfeatured a group of three street kids: Doniver, Jarka,…

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Book trailer for THE WYSMAN

Book trailer for THE WYSMAN

My fabulous publisher, Inspired Quill, made a book trailer for The Wysman. It makes even me want to read the book! THE WYSMAN is available for pre-order and will release on June 27. “The Grabber is just a fright tale.” Former street kid Jarka was born with a crooked foot and uses a crutch, but that no longer matters now that he’s an apprentice Wysman, training to advise the king. When poor kids start to go missing from the city’s streets, though,…

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On Interviewing Characters

On Interviewing Characters

One thing I sometimes do in the name of character development is interview my characters. I have a list of questions I reuse that fit my genre, plus I add some questions that seem right for the particular character. It’s possible to conduct an interview as part of the preparation for drafting, but I get to know my characters by watching them act. So I usually wait until I finish my first draft. Below are some of the questions I…

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