Wednesday, October 11


I have moved my blogging activity to LiveJournal, and my new blog can be found here:

Street Magic

Anyone can comment, not just LJ users, so come on over! I'll be migrating all of my posts here to LiveJournal over the next few days.

Wednesday, September 20

Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens (writing rant #2)

Or, writing the unsympathetic main character.

If you decide to do this, prepare yourself for pain unlike any you've ever experienced during character creation. It's like medieval childbirth--even if you survive, there's the good chance you'll be carted off as a witch and burned at the stake and all that work will be for nothing. Writing an unsympathetic MC has been the hardest thing I've ever done in a book.

My current WIP, BLACK ARTS, which just got kicked back to sentence one, has an unsympathetic main character. This is largely the reason it got kicked back to plotting. I started out with Jenny being sort of nice, and that just wasn't happening. She's not nice. She's evil. Evilevilevil. Dammit.

People confuse unsympathetic MC's with antiheroes, I've noticed. Nothing wrong with antiheroes. They're a lot of fun to write, and thanks to Raymond Chandler, Clint Eastwood and others, widely accepted in this day and age and in some genres highly preferable to white-hat heroes. Truly unsympathetic MC's have a harder job. They have to be compelling yet evil, make readers recoil while they draw them closer. Lord Voldemort is not a UMC. Lord Voldemort is a villain. They're a whole other post. A better example of a UMC is Little Bill Dagget from Unforgiven. He doesn't fill the requirements of a villain, but he sure as hell is front and center for the entire film. Poor Will Munny, the ostensible hero, is relegated to narrator's eyes and ears. The Drifter from High Plains Drifter is another. (I reference a lot of Eastwood films because I watch a lot of them...if this example becomes tiring substitute your antihero film of choice.)

I don't claim to be any sort of expert on the UMC. I have Jenny do horrible things in BLACK ARTS like murder her sister's roommate for no more reason than she was a "self-absorbed cow" (and later bring her back from the dead, cruelly.) Jenny uses her sister Amelia to gain power over the Synod, a mage organization that is rather shady in it's own right. She is selfish, sociopathic and deadly. Yet I absolutely fell in love with her, so much that I gave her center stage. UMC's work, in certain cases, because they speak to our id. That's really the crux of the matter, I'm finding--if Jenny acts out my own worst impulses, I will have found that connection point with readers, who can hide their eyes and gasp but still be thinking "Yeah, I'd do that if I could get away with it." If they're just running around eating people's faces like Hannibal Lecter (also a villain, so HIS antics were okay) then they become tiresome, and we're glad when the hero stabs them in the eye with a fork or something.

I'm still at the point with Jenny that I have some choices--she can continue to be evil right on down the line, growing and evolving in the direction of Evil (to use a D&D reference) or she can reform/redeem herself or be reformed/redeemed and skew towards Chaotic Neutral/Good. The way the Threadstone Sisters series is plotted, there will have to be a bit of both, because Jenny is able to Save Teh World! because of her cynical and evil nature. Good is not always good, and bad is sometimes a viable alternative. The entire theme of the series hinges on a power of great good being abused for great evil, and how irredeemable evil can sometimes spell salvation in the face of beatific annihilation. Jenny begins as an abuser, and ends as a savior, and yet is not redeemed. And no, in case you were wondering, I haven't worked out the mechanics 100% yet. Won't that be fun!

I told you it was going to hurt. The only real advice I have for attempting this is DON'T. It's awful, and it hurts your brain. However, another thing that I've struggled with is 'unsympathetic' doesn't mean 'no feelings'. Jenny's beloved (eeevil) father is dead. She's young and alone in a hostile world full of magic. But she's still bad.

And let's face it, it feels good to be bad.


And no, in the words of the old man from Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail, I'm not dead! I'll have a detailed post on my editorial submission process in the next few days as well as a general life update for those of you who care. Thanks for being patient with my flaky writer behind.

Meantime, please check out Magical Minxes, Jackie Kessler and Richelle Mead's new succubus blog (Warning: NOT worksafe!) You'll be, ahem, happy you did.

Thursday, September 7

I'm alive, I promise

Or at the very least an animated member of the undead.

I've been very tired this week. Very busy, very tired, very stressed out about the new book. About subbing the old book. Money and time and relationships.

I haven't forgotten about this blog or that there are people reading it.

Things should commence as normal this weekend. Thanks for being patient with my neurotic ways.

Hey, at least I got an idea for a future post from this rant...coming soon, I'll do a bit about how I cope with real life versus writing life, with less complaining.

Until then.

Tuesday, September 5


...And get your mind out of the gutter.

Today NIGHT LIFE goes to the top-tier editors that RV selected for it. You'll know more when I know more.

Wednesday, August 30


Have added a new blog, to the delightful Kit Whitfield. British, witty, writes books about werewolves. What's not to love?

She also penned this delightful article about publishing and submitting.

Tuesday, August 29

Eeeeevil Plotting (writing rant #1)

First in a series of promised screeds about writing n' stuff, from a writer who might be published some day!

I thought I'd begin at the beginning, namely the plot. Before you have anything written down, before there's more than a germ of a seed of an idea in your head about story or characters or anything else.

Sometimes, I find, plot will be hidden. Many times I start with a character or a concept I love and build around that. I'll use two examples for the rest of la belle essay:

Prince of Bones, abortive dark fantasy novel.

Night Life, successful urban fantasy novel.

Attempt 1: Prince of Bones was born out of a question I asked myself, namely, "What if Sauron had been the hero of Lord of the Rings? What if Voldemort had vaporized that twit Harry Potter and gone on to become the most powerful wizard evar? What then?" What if the "dark lord" was the central part of the story? I really wanted to answer this burning question and so I started with a central concept of a pagan-ish dark lord oppressed by a good-but-not-really "Christian" regime in the form of an overbearing king person. Lucius, the "dark lord" was marked at birth by the ancient god of death to serve as his avatar during armageddon, the Prince of Bones. He raided villages, had an awesome punk-rock goblin second in command and was generally evil and despicable. However, in the end of the story, he was supposed to defy the death god and save the world. Looking back, a number of things sunk this plot. I was working from not one but two high concepts (dark lord as hero/Christians bad pagans good.) I had a flawed main character, and not in the good way. I had set a task for poor Lucius that he was never going to be able to fulfill. He wasn't the savior of the world. He was the god-damned dark lord! And fun as he was to write, in the end, the world must be saved, or blown up. Sure, you can end with a third option, if you want readers to rip off your head and spit down your neck, but satisfactory resolution is a must, and Lucius wasn't having any of it. Prince of Bones was abandoned at the 35k word mark, although if I ever bridge the chasm of nothingness where a third act should be I may revisit it.

Attempt 2: Night Life came from a crappy blockbuster movie. I, out of a misguided and foolish love for all things Hugh Jackman, journeyed to a movie theater to see Van Helsing. The movie was terrible but I came away thinking, "Hey, it would be really cool to write a badass werewolf protagonist who fights crime! And stuff!" Night Life was the exact opposite of Prince. Luna, the character, came first and stood around poking me in the arm until I wrote her a world to live in. And the world did not come easily. First, Luna lived alone, with no family except for a dead grandmother who had raised her. Then Luna became a private detective, not a cop, and had an obsessive-compulsive vampire partner. Then she was a cop again, only werewolves were a super seekrit society that no humans knew about. Then everyone knew. Then some people. At this point, I decided there needed to be magic. And demons. And a love interest who wasn't really interested in her at all in the first draft of the novel that eventually won me representation. The sole reason Night Life came into being was because Luna would. Not. Shut. Up. Luna had a plot. She knew exactly where she'd end up at the finale of the book. It was getting her there that was the bitch.

I learned from both projects. Prince taught me that yeah, not outlining is all fine and good and freespirited, but you can't make a weak third act into a gripping climax no matter how cool your concept is. Details and concept must work in tandem, like those people movers at the airport, so that they don't trip over one another and result in small children getting sucked into the gears. If a concept just isn't working for me, I've been doing this long enough to realize that I probably need to tilt it at a different angle and/or leave the project be for a few days and rethink my committment. Night Life proved the old adage that great characters do not a great story make. There needs to be some actual story, and not just a generic Plot-o-Matic plot either. (There's one for every genre!) Again, the whole working in tandem concept comes into play.

One last thing about plotting...start writing. If you get an idea, try banging out the first few pages. I've ditched more crappy plots this way than I could tell. If the writing isn't fun, if it doesn't flow out of you (even if it's crappy) you have a clunker concept behind it. Save yourself the pain and do a practice first page when that germ of a seed of a thought pops into your noggin. If you're totally OCD and outline everything first, writing a nice narrative-style outline serves the same purpose.

And just in case anyone was wondering where my ideas generally come from...everywhere. Movies. Songs. Other books (usually nonfiction.) Paintings and photographs. A lot of them happen while I'm in the shower or vacuuming or doing some other mundane task that frees my brain from immediate worries. Sometimes I'll have moments of "Wouldn't it be cool if..." and boom, a story idea springs from that.

Here endeth the evil plots.

Thursday, August 24

I was going to put a snappy alliterative title here, but I couldn't think of anything.

There is seriously nothing worth writing about going on with me right now, so I've decided that I'd like to write a series of how to/rambling/ranty/insert word of choice here pieces on writing, submissions and stuff.

Since I don't pretend to know everything (I'm a Virgo, so I secretly think I DO know everything, I'm just too insecure to say it) I'd like to keep this really open-ended, with the actual entries being MY thoughts and MY opinions/experiences, going to the comment section so everyone who reads here can add their collective wisdom. Because let's face it, unpublished authors who try to give writing advice as if it were the be-all, end-all of writing advice just come off as pretentious gits.

I have a variety of topics in mind, some of them standard (queries, plotting) and some more off-beat (the internet writing community, scams) but if there's anything specifically you-all would like to discuss, please leave a comment here and I'll add it to the list.

Also, feel free to tell me I am, in fact, a pretentious git and to just abandon the whole idea and write about what I had for dinner last night.*


About the Writer

  • Luna
  • Nocturne City
  • I've been a homcide detective in Nocturne City for two years and a werewolf for a good bit longer than that. I wasn't born this way, but now it's who I am. Sure, balancing my work life and keeping my secret from almost everyone I care about can be stressful, but after a few full moons a girl learns how to deal--or at least how to accessorize for fur, fangs and claws.