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A Socially Conscious Publisher: Inspired Quill

A Socially Conscious Publisher: Inspired Quill

There are a lot of ways for writers to be published these days—big presses, small presses, independent or self-publishing platforms. But even within each of these categories, there are differences. I’m very proud of my current small press publisher, Inspired Quill. IQ is located in the UK, and one reason I’m proud of them is that, in the UK, they are a registered social enterprise. I’d never heard the term “social enterprise” before I read IQ’s site while researching them….

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The Story Idea Notebook

The Story Idea Notebook

Recently, I was walking down my building’s hallway behind an old guy with a cane. He was talking very loudly on his cell, and he said, “I am driving in my car, and I cannot take your call.” At that point, he turned down a side hall, so that was all I heard. I went home and wrote what I’d seen in my story idea notebook. The Story Idea Notebook My story idea notebook is exactly what it sounds like:…

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Voice: Creating It Through Microrevision

Voice: Creating It Through Microrevision

I recently read Maggie Stiefvater’s Call Down the Hawk, and as I read, I admired how thoroughly she saturates every line of the book with the voice of the point-of-view character. When I refer to a character’s “voice,” I mean the way their experience, education, emotions, and attitude affect the words they use. It’s what turns point of view from a pair of observing eyes to a revelation about the observing character. I was in the process of doing a…

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Eight Recent YA Fantasy Novels with Handicapped Main Characters

Eight Recent YA Fantasy Novels with Handicapped Main Characters

When I was writing The Wysman, I realized that fantasy novels in which a handicapped teen was allowed to be the central character were few and far between. I occasionally saw them as sidekicks, but not as the heroes and heroines. This list includes as many more recent books as I could find in which the handicapped character is the star. I haven’t read them all, but I tried to get some sense of them from their descriptions and reviews….

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Power in a fantasy novel

Power in a fantasy novel

Power is a ubiquitous theme in fantasy. Over and over, we see questions about who has power, how they got it, and whether they wield it wisely. The Quest for Political Power One of the most common elements in a fantasy plot is a struggle over who should rule the kingdom. That quest for political power is often backed up by military might, i.e. physical power. So there are lots of exciting battles, ranging from single combat to large scale…

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Cover Blurbs

Cover Blurbs

Cover blurbs are always tricky to write, which is why it’s so useful to have a collaborative approach without too many cooks spoiling the broth. In this post, I’m going to take you through the steps of editing, tightening and polishing the blurb for my latest book, The Trickster. If you watch people in bookstores, you see that a book catches their attention, either from the cover (if it’s shelved face out) or the title (if only the spine shows)….

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Creating culture to help the story

Creating culture to help the story

Note: This post originally appeared as a Big Idea post on John Scalzi’s blog, “Whatever.” My thanks to him for hosting it. Not long ago, I realized that I always wind up writing about family, whether I intend to or not. That may be because I write YA and my characters are breaking from their birth families. But themes of family can work even with adult characters. We humans generally need the support of other who love us, most commonly…

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Getting the Most from Your Critique Group: Part II

Getting the Most from Your Critique Group: Part II

Because I have a new book coming out on March X, my publisher asked me to write a post for the Inspired Quill blog on how to get the most from a critique group. I’ve belonged to a lot of different crit groups over the years and was happy to share whatever bits of wisdom I’d picked up. After I wrote that post, though, I realized that I’d only talked about how to get the most from being critiqued. But…

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Advice to Myself: Write True

Advice to Myself: Write True

Sometimes I put sticky notes to myself around my computer screen. They’re advice I know I need to write well. One I have up often is “Write True.” To Write True Is To Write Well The value of writing true has been brought home to me by listening to audio books as I drive. In them, I find that good writing overcomes a lot of drawbacks. By “good writing,” I don’t mean fancy writing. I mean things like interesting voice…

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Rising Action: An Essential Element of Plot

Rising Action: An Essential Element of Plot

I recently read Lionheart by Ben Kane. This is historical fiction that is, unsurprisingly, about Richard the Lionhearted. The book is well written enough that I finished it. However, reading it made me realize the problems presented by some kinds of plot lines when the author tries to achieve rising action. Repeated plot elements Richard the Lionhearted is a fascinating historical character. We’re probably all familiar with him at least from tales about Robin Hood, who struggled against oppression in…

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