Tag Archives: fantasy

Win an agent critique!

Hey, just learned about a wonderful contest but hurry, it ends tonight!

The winning entry receives the chance to send a 40-page partial submission to agent Suzie Townsend, who will also critique those pages.

Suzie is a junior agent with Peter Rubie’s agency Fine Print Literary Management. The title “junior agent” means Suzie is actively building her client list!! And for my fellow fantasy writers, she is interested in repping fantasy!

To enter the contest, go here. To see more about Fine Print Literary Management, go here.

Oh yeah, and there’s also some books being given away and stuff. But we’re entering because of Suzie, right? 🙂



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So Many YA Books!

The size of my reading que approaches unbelievable lengths this week.

I’m still trying to finish PURE by Terra Elan McVoy–I started this one primarily out of curiosity, to see how an author would handle the Christian faith in a mainstream YA novel about sex and friendship.

My search for further volumes of Tanith Lee’s CLAIDI JOURNALS turned up empty. Oh, I found them at the library all right, but what I really wanted was to purchase them from Border’s, since I adore the first installment so very much and want the full set all to my little self.

Despite what I said upon finishing Libba Bray’s A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY, I do, in fact, want to read the sequel. I checked that out from the library last night, along with BECKA COOPER by Tamora Pierce.

Yes, I know, I’m behind on all the new and hot series right now. Ditto for HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins, which I tried to find at the library but could not. Sad face. I consoled myself by grabbing Elizabeth Bunce’s A CURSE DARK AS GOLD.

On top of all this, I’m still trying to find time to read THE PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS. Gah! Too much! When will I get it all read?

I have a college professor for whom reading YA seems to come as easily and quickly as breathing, and I’m really wishing I could borrow his brain about now.



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Sci Fi, Fantasy Lovers Unite!

Most Sci Fi/Fantasy lovers agree; our beloved genres take a lot of abuse from the general public. Whether it’s outright disdain for the genre, or a passive disregard for it, we’ve all felt the sting of having our great worlds, stories and concepts dismissed as fringe hobbies for “losers.”

But what if Sci Fi and Fantasy are already an integral part of our culture–so integral that people would be forced to admit their value? The World in the Satin Bag has a wonderful article about this phenomenon. Blogger Shaun Duke talks about “cultural literacy” (the shared knowledge set which members of a society use to communicate), and how SF and F have invaded our cultural literacy in the past few years.

Read Shaun’s post. Forward it to someone, Tweet it, or post a link on your own blog. It’s time to give SF and F credit where due, and it’s up to us to make people aware of it.



Filed under General Writing

Second Book in Trilogy

Nano has begun, and so has my feverish dash through a first draft of FLYNN Book II. I find writing the second installment in a trilogy much different from writing the first. Authors usually have a clear idea of the story’s beginning and end, but the middle–well–that gets kind of muddy.

When written well, second installments can be the filling in the proverbial sandwich–every bit as good and wholesome as the bread. But they need a certain blend of elements to accomplish this.

Continued conflict. First books set up the conflict. Third books bring it to fruition. Often, second books get lost in the shuffle. They end up the “catch-all” for any scenes that don’t have a home in the other two books. This

The best antidote to this dangerous trap is to devise a specific point of conflict related to (but not identical to) the overall conflict of the trilogy. Take, for example, THE TWO TOWERS. While the overall ring quest continues from FELLOWSHIP, Frodo and Sam are also occupied with the new challenge of how to deal with Gollum/Smeagol.

Continued character development. Authors feel pressure to wrap things up at the end of first books. Even if several sequels follow, that first one still needs a sense of closure. This often leads to the wrap-up of character development, leaving nowhere to go in the sequel.

But consider real life people for a moment. We all develop continually, not just at certain points. Just as fast as we gain closure on one issue in our lives, another opens up. Storytellers must take that attitude to their characters.

For example; at the end of Star Wars: A New Hope, Luke has grown from a farm boy to a fighter, Han has decided to be a good guy, and Princess Leia–well–actually, she pretty much stayed the same 🙂 But their development doesn’t stop there. Empire Strikes Back finds a blossoming romance between Han and Leia, and opens the door to Luke’s ultimate struggles against the temptations of the Dark Side.

A tone of their own. I don’t know why, but most successful second books share one overarching quality; they set the tone for the remainder of the trilogy. Usually, Book III looks a lot more like Book II than it does like Book I.  Let’s take our two previous examples and add some others.

In TWO TOWERS, Tolkien began the trend of splitting up the protagonists. This increased their danger and gave the story the larger, more sweeping feel which remains constant almost to the end of the trilogy.

Empire Strikes Back introduced a dark feel to Star Wars not present in A New Hope. It also introduced the central plotline of the entire trilogy; Vader’s true identity and path to redemption.

In Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders Trilogy, MAD SHIP plucks the protagonists from the situations they lived out in SHIP OF MAGIC, and sets them into the roles they will fulfill in SHIP OF DESTINY.

What about you? What really turns you off in a second book? What really works? I feel like there are tons of great trilogies I haven’t considered in this post that need to be mentioned. Feel free.


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Trekking Through the Rockies

I just finished up my long trek to Colorado for the inaugural year of the Sirens conference, and boy oh boy was it a week of adventure! It was an exercise in socializing, networking, intellectualizing…and survival.

The altitude alone took some endurance. Crammed into the car with my husband and parents (our luggage practically spring-loaded the trunk), we made the ear-popping climb to Vail, CO, to be hit with thin air, altitude headaches, scaly lips and aching noses (from the dry air). The town roundabout nearly got the best of our online directions, but at last we found our lodge and settled in.

The conference itself was amazing. Everyone had one big thing in common–our love of female fantasy lit. We found a library book table to tempt us with fresh fantasy releases, and a myriad of classes, presentations and keynote speeches. The danger of the conference lay in the sheer enormity of the “To Be Read” list that every attendee inevitably went home with.  And don’t forget the Night and Court Ball, at which everyone busted a move on the dance floor at least once. (Think a whole roomful of girls dancing to “Love Shack.” And singing it. Even the weird-voice-guy’s lines).

The highlight of my weekend was, of course, getting personal advice from author Sherwood Smith on writing war scenes in fantasy novels. I mean, how often do you get personal tips from a successful writer about the very thing you’re working on?

The rest of my trip has been…interesting. After the conference, we came to Estes Park for two days. Estes Park did not get the memo about fall lasting through October, so it skipped to winter instead. We did our hiking through snowstorms, narrowly avoiding hypothermia and starvation at every turn (we were on a trail for two hours with only granola bars. Oh the horror!). I have to admit, it was an incredible feeling to be literally in the middle of the wilderness during a snowstorm. Puts a whole new perspective on respecting mother nature.

I made it through the week without adding TOO many books to my ever-growing “to be read” pile. Not too many. I think.

The Prophecy of the Sisters

Mad Ship

Ship of Destiny



Song of the Lioness (and following volumes)

This is my last night in Colorado. Tomorrow, we’ll do horseback riding and then head home. I love the mountains, but somehow I can’t wait to see flatlands again.



Filed under YA lit

Publications of all sorts

I got another article published over at Friends of Lulu. If you’ve ever wanted to know the five most important things about creating graphic works, read it here.

Things are getting exciting around here! I’m checking out contests for a couple of my short stories, querying FLYNN, and a friend of mine just launched a small publishing company which is desperately seeking submissions. Just what every writer wants to hear. If any of you ever write short stories geared to the Christian market, visit her site at Written World Communications.

Meantime, I’m on my way to the Sirens conference in Vail, CO, a conference dedicated to women in fantasy literature (authors, characters, and readers alike). I’m writing this from Hays, KS, in a Motel 6 where I just paid a little under four dollars to access the Internet.


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Captivity: The Inevitable Turnoff

I’m about two-thirds through THE WARRIOR HEIR and enjoying it pretty well. The middle dragged a bit, and for awhile my attention flagged. In fact, I almost lost interest in the thing and stopped reading entirely. Here’s why.


Teenage warrior Jack is on the run from two wizarding Houses, the Reds and the Whites, both of whom wish to catch him and force him to participate in the dangerous Tournaments on behalf of their House. He must also avoid the Traders, who want to capture him and sell him to the highest bidding House. About midway through the book, it looked as though the Traders were going to get him. I expected the rest of the story to play out as follows: 1. Jack is shuffled through the grim slave trade world, and all escape attempts fail. 2. One of the Houses buys, trains and manipulates him, and all escape attempts fail. 3. Jack is forced into the tournament, and all last-minute escape attempts fail.

The bottom line is, I cannot stand stories that revolve around heroes in captivity.

Captivity is such a common theme that you really have to do something innovative to impress me.  A proud and patient hero suffering a thousand little indignities at the hands of gleefully cruel enemies sends me to sleepy land faster than tranquilizers.

Now, stories which begin with the hero in captivity and go on to chronicle their escape interest me. Think Maerad at the start of the PELLINOR series, or Harry living with his cruel relatives in HARRY POTTER. They go on to bigger and better things, making us think that maybe we can, too.

But when the hero’s capture and imprisonment interrupt the middle of the story, I begin to suspect the author of falling asleep at the wheel. First of all, nothing much happens plot-wise. Secondly, what does happen plot-wise is just a series of events constructed to prove to the audience just how trapped/humiliated/impotent the hero is. Such incidents pile up to ridiculous proportions, as if the author worried that he hadn’t accurately portrayed the utter hopelessness of the hero’s situation, and so added in “just one more” scene of failed escape/villain humiliating hero/hero being frustrated at own impotence. Think third season LOST (come on, writers, where were you?).

But I’m happy to say that THE WARRIOR HEIR did not disappoint. Thank the sweet heavens Jack escaped his would-be captors, and we actually got to see more action in the storyline–rather than a long exposition on how cruel the magical slave trade is.

I hope to be done with this book soon and post a full review.


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