Monthly Archives: September 2014

Writing 101: Serially Found

On day four, you wrote a post about losing something. Today, write about finding something.

I found my creativity. I spent my whole career (except for brief excursions as a waitress and a cashier) in the legal and related professions, where my job was to be analytical and reasonable. Any creativity advanced at that time was in logically obtained new ways to handle legal cases, or to argue to a judge. It is only with a few years of retirement, and taking my mind out of that hellhole, that I finally could allow the right side of my brain to relax and exhale.

And what an exhalation it was. Within two months, I had completed a 102k word novel, and was looking into what I did next. I was advised to start a blog, ergo, I am here. It entertains me that a blog meant to show my fantasy chops has turned into a hodgepodge of personal narrative, fantasy, politics and climate change. I write substantially less than half of my posts about the stated goal of this blog, fantasy. Every once in a while, I notice I have not said anything about my book (I hope to have it out in time for the holidays, hint, hint) or fantasy in general, and I write the next thing that pops into my mind on those subjects. Hence, the Dragons post yesterday, or was it the day before?

This would never have happened before, that I could rely on the right side of my brain to show up at need. Previously, I would have pounded my head against the door jamb and then give in to some logically acquired idea. But now, joy of joys, I have a creative stream that flows from my right brain until, usually, sleep overtakes me. Most of that 102k word monstrosity came out of me with no conscious thought at all, just a straight line from my right brain to my fingers. I learned the story after my fingers finished tying. It’s still working. While my first book is going through the workshop and editing process, I have started my second book, and it is already pressing 50k words.

I’m going to keep riding this wave from my right brain until it runs out. Feel free to join the fun!

Daily Prompt: Truth Serum

You’ve come into possession of one vial of truth serum. Who would you give it to (with the person’s consent, of course) — and what questions would you ask?

You ruined it by saying “with the person’s consent.” Because I would have put Mitt Romney under the juice and asked him what percentage he paid for taxes for the past twenty years. He is the poster child for the “too rich to pay taxes” syndrome. Most of the rhetoric on paying taxes deals with the federal income tax. And in fact, most of what the richest 2 percent pay is either income tax or capital gains tax. But the people on the other end of the spectrum pay their share of taxes in payroll taxes, state income taxes, sales taxes, and all the myriad ways that the state and federal governments have for relieving people of their money.

So why a guy like Mitt Romney gets away with paying so little (and I’m betting the truth serum would show that 15% is the most he has ever paid) is an issue that should be raised again and again until the rich pay a reasonable percentage of their income in federal income taxes.


Whenever I am asked what my favorite creature is in fantasy, I say dragons. I have no idea why this is true. I generally do not like lizards or scaly things, and the idea of a scaly, lizardy creature the size of a dinosaur flying down on me is frankly terrifying. But many fantasies I have read have had dragons who were wise, intelligent, kind and inspiring. We have the Pern books, where dragons, full-sized, were grown up from little flying lizards. This was one of the first series I read when I became involved with fantasy, decades ago.

The dragons in my WIP are sentient and powerful. They scare the sorcerers who banished them ten thousand years before. But the question is whether the dragons could have changed in ten thousand years. Think about that for a moment. Can you think of anything other than the geographical history of this earth that has remained consistent for ten thousand years? Perhaps the moon? So I have resolved some interesting things in this section of the book. My heroine likes the dragons, but can she win this debate?

I’m not going to tell you what happens, but I will tell you that my favorite dragon in the story is named Conradio. How would you pronounce that? I have a friend who is convinced it’s like  Con Radio. I have another who thinks it’s Conrad-io. I will give you a hint. I was a public defender for many years and I hated my clients being called “cons,” a shortening of the word “convict.” That word is full of negative connotations. I should also point out that, to date, the king of the dragons does not have a name. Should he have a name, or is it a reasonable tradition to have the king nameless? To have him known only as the King, the ruler, where the title outweighs the name?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on dragons. It might allow me to clarify my own view of the beasties!

Daily Prompt: No Excess

“Perhaps too much of everything is as bad as too little.” – Edna Ferber

Do you agree with this statement on excess?

Sometimes you don’t want a lot of something, like fat, or cholesterol, or allergies. Obviously in those situations an excess is a very bad thing. So her statement is confirmed as to these items, and millions like them (acne, for example). The things that are good in excess are money, good friends, happiness, sanity. This also does not appear to contradict her statement.

But is she saying that too much is as bad as too little when considering everything, or is she saying that too much of everything in the world is a bad thing. The answer to that is “Duh!”

What should I do? Help!

I have been workshopping my book as some of you know at the Burlington Writers Workshop, a free writing workshop for all Vermonters. I originally had three writers lined up to critique it, but one bailed before the first session and I have been going on with just the two, both male and both good writers. One likes to tell me that I do lots of the same things he does, but when he is critical of one of those things in my work, he begins to examine that practice in his own. This is one of the best uses of the workshop process: by focusing on a new work by another writer, one can learn much about one’s own writing.

I write fantasy, because that way, nobody can tell me that I’m not true to real life. Ha! But what these fine gentlemen have told me is that fantasy readers love to be immersed in the new worlds they discover. I know a lot about my world, but I don’t want to put in things that don’t push the story forward. They accuse me of writing as if I am running a race. They want me to slow to a walk, or maybe even a crawl. I guess my problem is that I write for readers like me. I inhale books. Too much description bogs me down, unless written by someone like Patricia McKillip or Robin McKinley. Or Charles deLint. I could go on. The very best writers can slow down and I don’t care because their writing is a joy. But I read a lot of fantasy where the over description of a world by a plebeian writer is annoying or stultifying. Do I write a novel that will annoy me and readers like me, or do I write a novel like my heroes? I don’t think my writing can be compared to any of theirs.

If I slow down, and add the detail, I will have written two novels and not one, as I imagined. They want me to split the book in half, and put in lots of description. While I agree that the first two parts, Book1, could easily bear some beefing up, I have beefed it up to the tune of 11,000 words so far. But the story is only complete with all four parts in it. If I put it back together, I am at 110600 words. If I keep them apart, I have to find another 14k words for the first part, and I have to add another section for the second part (and I already know what it will be). Since sections run between 24k and 30k, that will complete the second book.

So if I publish them together, as Parts1 and 2, the reader can get the complete story or not as they choose, but at least they have the option. I may even have a deal where each Part is $4.99 but get both for $7.99, as an ebook. Unfortunately the paperback book buyers will not get such a deal because of the costs in printing. Does anyone have any suggestions for me? I would dearly love to hear if others have run up against this issue, whether trad-pub or self-pub. Otherwise, I will continue to add detail until I have reached the goal, or I will rebel and write a single book.

Celebrating #BannedBooksWeek With Some Information

I saw this and thought my readers might like to see what is still being banned in the U.S. Spare me the censors!

International Book Promotion


It’s 2014 and reading materials with sexually explicit contents, nudity, and HOMOSEXUALITY are still being banned because these books are offensive. Can you believe it? Well, they say the pen is mightier than the sword. It surely is and that’s why we are here, celebrating #BannedBooksWeek to honour books and writers who enjoys writing as much as you and I do.

Books giving misleading facts should be banned. However, no one has the rights to ban a book that is educational particularly one that is written to raise the awareness of the public in issues like human rights. What do you think of banned books?

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Handle with care: The Daily Prompt

How are you at receiving criticism? Do you prefer that others treat you with kid gloves, or go for brutal honesty?

I take the criticism as gracefully as I can when first given. I take good notes, and then go home and argue it out with myself. I do not want kid gloves. Where is the learning in that? Brutal honesty is neither necessary or required. Why is plain honesty not enough? I have been workshopping my novel with two fine writers who tell me what they think. They give me the unvarnished truth but in a positive and encouraging way. I engage them in dialogue to make sure I understand the scope of their comments. It worked very well the first workshop, but fell a bit in the second.

They made a rather radical suggestion, that I expand the first two parts of my novel to novel length. There was, they said, plenty of room for me to make the second part three times as long. I wondered, a little to them, a lot to myself, whether this was necessary. Having worked my way through the first two parts, which started at around 50,000 words, the first time, I had added only about 5,000 words. I have now added almost another 5,000. According to them, I still have another 40,000 to go. I have my doubts, but it is a noble experiment, and I have until October 7 to work on the conundrum they have laid at my door.

I may not have taken their criticism as gracefully as I could have. But they are good writers, both, and they like the underlying story. And they just want more. That is not necessarily a bad thing!