It’s Almost Time for the October Writing Challenge!

typewriter-1386501-mWhere did September go? Though it went by quickly, it was still a productive month, and much of that was thanks to the monthly writing challenge. It was my second month participating, and I got a lot done. I also noticed a lot of my fellow participants logging big word counts, finishing drafts, and finishing editing passes. It turns out, if you write or edit every day, you get books written! Who knew? And having a supportive group to be accountable to is incredibly motivating.

This is how it works. Announce your participation on Twitter using the #OctWritingChallenge hashtag. Write at least 500 words, or edit for at least an hour daily. Then, log what you did in the participant log, and tweet your accomplishment using the hashtag. That’s it! It’s also nice if you check in with the hashtag every day to provide favorites, retweets and encouragement to your fellow writers. You can get all the info you need at the Writing Challenge website.

So, how were my September numbers? My month turned out differently than I had planned. Midway, I decided I needed to cut my book in half and started investigating how to do that. I was staring down a minimum of 800 pages while I had a perfectly reasonable place to end it near the middle. Since the challenge gives you credit for outlining and editing, I could count all of that time, which was considerable. By the end of the day today, I should be over my 30,000 word goal and pretty well done with a second draft of the first book in my series. I won’t give myself credit for done-done, because I still have to fill in a chapter or two, but it’s pretty darn close.

I’ll spend the first half of October editing book one and filling in those gaps. Then, I’ll switch gears and start doing research and outlining for book two. I don’t like to stop before having the first book pretty polished, but I’d like to take advantage of NaNoWriMo to knock out a first draft for the next one. 50K words won’t complete it, but I should be able to cover at least one storyline. Yes, I know. Too many characters and subplots, as per usual. And after spending so much time editing recently, I’m looking forward to just writing again!

Book Review: The Mirror Empire- Kameron Hurley

We spent much of last week in Florida, which on the surface, sounds awesome. The reality is, I kind of hate Florida. It’s hot, muggy, and smells funny. Plus, I seem to be allergic to much of the state. So, I spent several days lolling around, trying to fend off an asthma attack and breathing shallowly. On the upside, I had more time to read than I normally do. So, I was able to blast through Kameron Hurley’s epic fantasy in fairly short order.

the mirror empireI approached The Mirror Empire with mixed feelings. I’m already sort of a fan of Hurley’s. I enjoyed her Bel Dame Apocryhpa series- though I’m not sure that “enjoy” is quite the correct term to apply to any of my readings of her work. Let’s face it- her books are a challenging read. I found The Mirror Empire a bit easier to get into because I think there was a bit more descriptive set-up of the world.

But with something like ten POV characters (and here I thought I was overdoing with 4-6), the book is still a pretty wild ride. In fact, trying to create a coherent review is a bit of a challenge. I don’t even know how to begin to describe the world and the plot. Suffice it to say, Hurley has created something pretty original here, and I feel like a few years down the line, people will point to this book as a possible game-changer in the genre.

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Weekend Writing Warriors- Chapter 5b Snippet


It’s time for Weekend Writing Warriors! Every Sunday, a bunch of writers post 8-sentence snippets from their WIPs on their blogs. There’s a lot of reading, commenting and great writing. Click on the link to see the full list.

So, last week we saw Kendryk barging in on Julia Maxima. I was just going to move on to Chapter 6, but it didn’t seem very nice to leave all of you hanging without giving you a tidbit of the lengthy conversation that followed the barging.

Since It’s hard to pick eight sentences out of this that make any sense at all, I’ll give you a bit of a summary.

Kendryk really doesn’t believe Father Landrus should be arrested at all, and would like to call a public council to have an open discussion about the issues he’s raised. Julia does not agree. To make things worse, she’s already let the Empress know about all of this, so she and Kendryk aren’t at liberty to do what they think is best. Normally, a troublemaker like Landrus would be shipped off, tried somewhere far away and never be heard from again, but there are political reasons that make this a bad idea. They finally compromise by deciding to request a public trial on neutral ground.

Kendryk asks:

“What happens to Father Landrus in the meantime?”

“I had thought to keep him here only a short time before sending him to Atlona, but I can keep him in my dungeon for a few months, if that will help.”

“Could I have him instead?” Kendryk asked. “Not that I don’t trust you,” he added. “But I think his congregation might be less offended.” He didn’t say it, but he hated the idea of never speaking with the priest again, which would be a certainty if he was imprisoned here. He also wanted to make sure no accidents would befall him before he could be taken to trial.

After a second’s hesitation, Julia nodded.

Previous excerpts can be found here.

Cyberbullies, Trolls, Mobs & Haters—How to Protect Yourself & Others in a Dangerous World

Some good advice on dealing with trolls.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image via "The Terminator." Image via “The Terminator.”

As the WANA Mama, I am fiercely protective of my writer peeps…like Giant Kodiak Mother Bear Protective. I will and have gone to the mattresses for fellow writers who’ve found themselves under senseless attack.

Yet, as a counterpoint, I choose my battles. I love Sun Tzu, and have read his Art of War until the pages were falling out. When it comes to dealing with a formidable enemy, Sun Tzu is the master tactician. One of my favorite quotes?

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. ~Sun Tzu

A few days ago Psychology Today posted an article I found interesting in that 1) this article gives data to support what we all know deep down but 2) don’t want to believe. We know there is something different about trolls. They exhibit what is called The Dark Tetrad Personality—Machiavellianism, narcissism, sadism, and…

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Book Review: World-Building for Beginners by Karla Erpenbeck

worldbuildingAfter several other fantasy authors praised this book to the skies, I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve pretty much already built my world, but I’m always open to some new tips and advice. The first few chapters were probably the most helpful in a general sense, although not for me personally. It was all about building a world from scratch, and the things you have to consider about climate and geography. The author also has a cool trick for figuring out where to put rivers and mountain ranges using dice and string. Since I’m not building my world from scratch and simply pasting it over Early Modern Europe, with perhaps a few slightly magical variations, it wasn’t altogether useful to me.

If you need help with maps though, there are a lot of good tips and tools and it’s probably this book’s greatest strength.

Beyond that, I ended up skimming over most of the rest of the book. Partly because it wasn’t relevant to me- I’m not creating completely new flora and fauna- and partly because of the way the information was conveyed. A lot of it was done in a list form: “do this, then this, then this,” but not really formatted well, so it wasn’t easy to read. Maybe it was just the ebook version, but the book was overall poorly formatted and put together, and there were a lot of typos and errors. If the author is a professional novelist, I hope she puts a lot more care into the finished product than she did in this one.

If your story involves a lot of magical creatures and spells, there might be some useful information there. I was more interested in setting up realistic battle scenes, but there was little to no help in that direction. There was a laundry list of medieval weaponry and the demonstrably false statement that “collateral damage back then was much like it is today,” at which point I stopped reading that chapter.

So, this book was a combination of a poor fit for me, simply because of what I’m writing and where I am int he process, and overly general, poorly presented information that at most should inspire someone to research further on their own.

Weekend Writing Warriors- Chapter 5 Snippet


It’s time for Weekend Writing Warriors! Every Sunday, a bunch of writers post 8-sentence snippets from their WIPs on their blogs. This week, there are 58! Lots of reading, commenting and great writing. Click on the link to see the full list.

After detouring to Kaleva for the past few weeks, we’re back in Terragand with Kendryk. Julia Maxima- the highest cleric in the land- has just had Father Landrus arrested, and Kendryk has decided to intervene. He and Count Faris-his chief adviser- have just pushed past Julia’s guards, and into her private study. Greylen is Julia’s secretary.

“Prince Kendryk is here to see Her Holiness,” Count Faris said, as the door opened.

Greylen opened and closed his mouth a few times,but no sound came out. He looked like a trout gasping for air, and Kendryk had the sudden urge to laugh. Before he embarrassed himself, he swept off his hat and handed it to Greyeln, then stepped into the room, flinging his cloak back so the secretary had no choice but to take it.

Julia had already risen from behind a gigantic, ornate desk carved in ebony, and Kendryk kept his eyes fixed on hers. “I apologize for bursting in on you, Your Holiness, but  I must speak with you immediately.”

He nodded toward Greylen, who had put Kendryk’s outerwear on a chair, and now stood near the door, wringing his hands. “Alone.”

Previous snippets below:

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four

Blogging 101: Say “Hi!” to the Neighbors

Somewhat late in the day, I noticed that I’m not getting all posts in my reader. Or, what is more likely, I’m following too many blogs and skipped right over the ones I should be paying attention to. Looks like tomorrow’s assignments are already up, but I won’t let that stress me out, not even a little bit. Uh-uh.

Today’s assignment: follow five new topics in the Reader and five new blogs.

Well, that’s just dandy, considering my above problem. It appears I have no problems being social as long as it doesn’t involve actual face-to-face interaction. But, being the dutiful student I am, I completed the assignment anyway.

First, I searched some of the keywords I frequently use on my blog posts, like “historical fantasy” and “thirty years war.” And guess what I found? Mostly my own blog posts! Well, in the unlikely event of anyone searching those keywords, they will definitely find me. There just don’t seem to be many friends for me to find there, aside from the occasional book reviewer. Although the first one I saw was titled something like, “Ugh, most boring war in history!” To which I say, there are no boring wars- only boring writers. LIke me, for instance.

Anyway, I moved on, but in lazy fashion because I have yet to do anything else important with my day. I blame asthma at 7,000 feet. I did a quick scroll-through of the “blogs you might like” feature in the WordPress reader and added five new friends. Hopefully I have time to read their posts!

Waves to:

The Manicheans

Tammy Salyer

Lynette Noni

Erik Conover


Writing 101: Into the Woods

For today’s assignment, we’re writing a description of a place. Those of us foolhardy to already be in the middle of some other project can describe our setting.

Kronland, is a slightly alternate early modern Germany.made up of twelve loosely associated kingdoms. Of these, Terragand is the largest and most important and where much of the action takes place.

forestLike the rest of Kronland, Terragand is a green, rainy, heavily forested land. Several large rivers cut through forest and mountains, and it’s along these that the biggest and most important castles and cities have sprung up and flourished. While there is a lively culture of commerce, art and scholarship, much of the land is still drenched in darkness and superstition. The forests are vast, terrifying places; many who go in never come out again.

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Writing 101: Unlock the Mind

Apologies to my followers. You’re about to see a lot more posts from me as I do the WordPress Blogging 101 and Writing 101 courses simultaneously. I’m trying to multitask, so today’s assignment is also going to count for my 1000 words for the September Writing Challenge. How many challenges can I do at once while keeping the tattered remnants of my sanity?

The first Writing 101 assignment is to freewrite for 20 minutes. I don’t know if this qualifies, exactly. It’s a very rough draft of the beginning of Chapter 21. I write my first drafts pretty fast- maybe not exactly stream-of-consciousness, but pretty close- and there’s usually a lot of unnecessary dialogue and backing and forthing until I finally get to the point. Eventually, I”ll edit ruthlessly. This probably won’t make any sense to anyone but me, since those of you following along with the snippets are only on chapter four. Suffice it to say, a lot of stuff has happened, and Prince Kendryk has gotten himself into a real pickle. Now he has to figure out how to defend his country without an army.

Rambling excerpt ahead: Continue reading

Blogging 101: Introduction

I haven’t yet decided if this will be a help or a hindrance. WordPress is offering this blogging course, and even though I’m not a novice, I do feel like I still have a lot to learn. With any luck, I’ll pick up some good tips and build a consistent blogging habit- something that has eluded me so far.

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?

I do keep a personal journal, but it’s not on the internet. I started blogging several years ago to help support a book my husband and I wrote. It was mostly dating advice, and while I enjoyed it, it’s not really what I want to be doing long-term. This blog is mostly about my journey as I write a series of historical fantasy novels. I’m about halfway through the first one.

  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?

So far, I’ve been all over the place. I’ve done some writing about the writing process, highlighted some of the research I’ve done, reviewed books I’ve read, and profiled some of my main characters. Before all is said and done, I’d like to find a narrower focus. Maybe. I’m hoping this course might point me in the right direction.

  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?

All kinds of people. I think I’m supposed to say that I’m looking for potential readers for my books, but I don’t like the idea of this being only a promotional place. I don’t like reading blogs like that, and I don’t like writing what I don’t want to read. So, while it would be lovely to connect with potential readers, I also love communicating with other writers of all sorts. I’d love to draw in more history and historical fantasy geeks so I can pick their brains and they can nitpick at mistakes I make in my writing. . I’ve found the WordPress writing community to be very supportive, and it’s great to connect with people who are in varying stages of the same journey I’m on. I love reading blogs on a variety of topics, so if this blog is simply a way to meet other bloggers, that makes me pretty happy, too.

  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

I will be in the habit of blogging multiple times a week, with a growing and varied readership. I’d like to find a clearer focus, or at least be more comfortable with the approach I’m currently taking. As a side effect, the blog will be part of my platform to help me promote at least one book that will be finished and published by then. I’d love to have a good-sized following that is interested and engaged.