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Hi, everyone. I'm still doing my blogging over on my own site (http://margaretmcgaffeyfisk.com/myblog/), but I'm looking into cross posting tools for those who prefer this interface, and plan to try out stopping by more often. However, I can't figure out how to subscribe to new people. I'll get it at some point, but if you want me to see you and you to see me, please don't wait for me to figure it out. I'll get notified when you link us and can check the right boxes (I've done that already).

Ah, to new digs and new adventures.

See you around,
Margaret
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I've started on a new venture in Indie Publishing. Some of the titles that will be released have been mentioned here when I was writing them and on my other blog.

Check out my titles here. Some are detailed below:



Shafter


Trina dreams of escaping the colony of Ceric and joining the spacer guilds, but it’s just that: a dream.



Reality is a fight for survival in the abandoned subway tunnels beneath First City. Her father may be a polit, the wealthiest of the surface people, but she’s been raised by her shafter mother, taught to thieve by her friend, and mastered knives on her own.



Even though her mother clings to the idea that her polit lover will rescue them from this life, Trina knows better. But when staking out a square during Festival, she catches the attention of her wealthy grandfather. Her life is about to change, but the price of starting over may be higher than she’s willing to pay.

War Child


A Lover’s Passion. A Warrior’s Loyalty. A Mother Divided.



Melnae grew up on tales of fire-eating demons and even fought in the shahran’s army. Now, a demon force approaches her home while her daughter bears the mark of a fire-eater. Can she protect her daughter without betraying her people?

Beneath the Mask


In the flash and glitter of the Regency Era, a young noblewoman craves to dance not in the ballroom but on stage, blending music, movement, and soul. Will these scandalous dreams destroy her family, or gain her a loving patron?



Lady Daphne’s duty as daughter to the impoverished Earl of Scarborough is to be chaste and pretty. Instead, she dreams of being a professional dancer at a time when stage performers are considered little better than harlots. Talent and determination compel her, but discovery would cost her the wealthy husband her parents have under negotiation and ruin her family.



Baron Jasper Pendleton has learned love does not exist from suffering his parents’ barely civil marriage. He plans to accept the bride his ambitious mother secured, get her with child, and go his own way, confident there is nothing to be had beyond momentary pleasure. But when a masked dancer’s passion enflames his frozen heart, will he follow convention or risk everything to take a chance on love?
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I have moved my posting activity to the blog on my site rather than maintaining an LJ and Blogger blog. I occasionally remember to crosspost, but if you want to keep up with me, please go directly to Tales to Tide You Over Blog.

For my Renovation (WorldCon) 2011 experiences, go to the Renovation Tag.
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Sorry I haven't been cross-posting as often as I should, but since this blog's focus was specifically on writing, I thought you might want to check out my latest post on my main blog:

I was commenting on a friend’s blog post about author branding (linked below), and it got me thinking. I thought I’d share some of my thoughts with you all and see what you think as readers and writers.


Since the Internet opened ways for authors to have more control of, and responsibility for, marketing their books, writers at all stages have been told to develop a brand, something that would be tied to their books in readers’ minds.


On the surface, this makes a lot of sense because you want your name or titles to come to mind whenever a particular concept is mentioned. This is what advertising attempts to do with other types of products, which has proven successful. Marketing journals often talk about how what matters is name recognition, which is why good and bad attention serves a purpose. When someone is scanning the shelves, they’re more likely to pick up the book with an author they have heard of, even if they don’t remember where or when that connection was made. Read the rest of this entry »

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Okay, I received a spam with the above title, but a moment before I confirmed it to be spam, it got me thinking.


I hear people complaining about the hoops we have to jump through to submit our manuscripts, or talking about this or that exception who managed to ignore all the requirements and still get an agent, publisher, or sale.


To them, I say, “Looks matter.”


When you’re at the grocery store and there are twenty different zucchinis in the stack, do you just randomly grab one, or do you take the one that looks healthy? Maybe you’re not the type to poke and prod your way through the whole pile, but it’s rare that someone doesn’t at least check for tears or soft spots. No one wants to waste their money on something rotten.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Or A Day in the Life of a Writing Parent


Most novel writers have a few stories that were started long ago and never finished. Some of these stories continue to poke and may eventually see the light of day, but it’s usually with a sense of “when the time is right.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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On one of my writing listservs, the question came up about alternate locations to avoid clichés. There are several writing books that
mention no kitchen, no coffee shops, no bars, no whatever.


The point of those mentions is not so much the setting as that these places tend to have low potential for conflict. The characters are most often sitting down and musing over things with their friends. Read the rest of this entry »

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I drive my son and another student to school in the morning, a commute which brings us through rush hour traffic complicated by a lot of road construction with varied speed limits. This morning, as I was accelerating out of a 55 MPH zone up to the now 65 MPH speed limit, a silver sedan cut sharply over from the right.


Now the driving behavior was obvious. She hadn’t expected me to accelerate, and there was a truck right in front of her going even slower, so she wanted to move into the faster lane ahead of me (still slow moving in her mind) rather than behind. No problem, though she cut it a little close.

(more…)

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I drive my son and another student to school in the morning, a commute which brings us through rush hour traffic complicated by a lot of road construction with varied speed limits. This morning, as I was accelerating out of a 55 MPH zone up to the now 65 MPH speed limit, a silver sedan cut sharply over from the right.


Now the driving behavior was obvious. She hadn’t expected me to accelerate, and there was a truck right in front of her going even slower, so she wanted to move into the faster lane ahead of me (still slow moving in her mind) rather than behind. No problem, though she cut it a little close.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Thanks to my webmaster duties for Lea Schizas and her publishing venture MuseItUp Publishing, I have the privilege of listening in on the conversations among editors and artists for the press. They’re an interesting group, and a lot of fun, but this time one of them, Karen McGrath, offered something so profound that I asked for permission to share it with the rest of you.

Whether your days of being edited professionally are still ahead of you, or you’re in the thick of it right now, I think all of us can benefit from considering the following stages a writer goes through:
Read the rest of this entry »
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It's been a while since I put something up on my main blog that was distinctly writing related (besides the interesting links every Friday), so I thought I'd crosspost this one here in case some of you don't know about my main, or are finding this one anew.

The spell check really is your friend. No, your word processor doesn’t know how to spell everything, and it may suggest some bizarre alternatives, but again, it’s pointing out possible problems. Now here’s the trick. When you’re writing an otherworld piece, a fantasy, science fiction, or other variation, you can run into a lot of words that are not in the default business dictionary. However, all is not lost. Word (and most word processors) offers the option of custom dictionaries, text files that contain words you choose to put in there. This serves two purposes: you only have to verify the spelling once by adding it to the dictionary instead of using ignore. Second, when you’re done with your spell check, you can open the text file and compare the entries to make sure the main character isn’t Kitath in most instances but Kiteth whenever followed by an “‘s” for example. In my most recent copyedit, a minor character’s name changed spelling (an “i” to a “y”) in the last thirty pages. Without the custom dictionary, I might have missed the change since that character had been off-screen for some time before those thirty pages. It also provides a simple way of collecting the “unique” words if you choose to have a glossary for your work. All you need then is to define the terms.


To create a custom dictionary in Word 2003 (works with modifications for later versions of Word, and concepts should be similar for other word processors).

Read the rest of this entry »

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First of all, the good news. I managed 16,500 on Dry Boiled, give or take a few words, for the March Madness (MM) challenge at Forward Motion. I’ve found challenges are a good way to jump start a novel and get me rolling so I can keep up a reasonable pace all the way to the end…not that the 6k a day I’d been planning for MM was at all reasonable. The just over 2k average is much more so, but in general I go for 1k a day average when I’m not in a challenge.


The story is an interesting one for me to write, mainly because of the point of view. A flip comment from a friend when I was talking about how this voice is a new one for me (neither serious nor sweet) led me to start out in first person, and even more than that, first person present tense, something I’ve never done in a novel before. So far, this is working out quite well. My main character has a strong personality that she throws around the page with a delightful effect, at least I think so. Which is to say, I am enjoying the novel quite a bit as it comes together…or at last I was until an epiphany last night.

(more…)

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Several people have been asking me about my pulse pen and what I thought about it. Only thing is that I hadn’t had the chance to take it out on a road trip yet. Well, now I have and here are the results. This is what the pen captured. You can see my lousy handwriting in its full glory…and I was even sort of trying to write well, okay, trying when I remembered :p. Then I ran it through the OCR software. It certainly isn’t perfect, but the reason for the picture is so you can see what it had to work with. My older son wrote a sentence to test it in his cursive and it translated perfectly. Maybe I should improve my handwriting? Oh, and the pen also recorded the audio for the whole presentation in a usable sound file despite sitting in the left-hand, second to last row of a curved lecture hall.


Anyway, on to the show! (more…)

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I recently RT’d the following message because it is a concern I’ve had before: @matociquala, @stillsostrange: Withholding obvious information from the reader/viewer/player is not actually narrative tension. The resulting Facebook comments reminded me that (back in 2007) I posted a blog post on this very topic. Since it’s no less relevant now, I’m reposting for my current readers.



I always thought there was nothing more frustrating than an “I’ll know it when I see it” answer, but I’ve found something…it’s when that’s the answer you give yourself. I recently did some critting (multiple authors and both novels and short stories) where I raised an issue with POV and the author hiding secrets. I thought it was simple: if you’re in someone’s POV, you know what he/she/it knows. Finding out later that they knew something important they didn’t reveal is just frustrating to me because it feels like author intrusion. If I’m holding a big secret, you better bet it crosses my mind a thousand times a day in a myriad of ways. I might not talk about it, I might not even mention it, but how I react and what I think will be governed at least in part by the thing that’s bugging or consuming me. (more…)

Dry Boiled

Mar. 13th, 2010 11:09 pm
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I know it’s been a while since I posted something about my writing. It’s not that I haven’t been writing, editing, outlining, planning, submitting, etc. It’s that those activities are standard fair and so provoke little comment.


However, I am currently outlining a new story, and I’m watching it change as the story unfolds. I thought this might prove of interest to some of you.


Those who took my workshop Idea to Outline should find some of this familiar, but for the rest of you, my process goes in stages from idea, to initial synopsis, to breaking down that synopsis into scenes, to filling in the holes, at which point I’m ready to write.


Dry Boiled came to me as a voice, one I don’t normally do, but one perfect for the genre it seemed to be. (more…)

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If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll find the statement that I enjoy Steampunk a little obvious, but I learned as I read Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi that I have a very clear sense of what Steampunk is to me.


I have devoured the current Steampunk trend, delighting in the innovative designs and the literary analysis of the phenomenon. I can’t tell you how many attempts to define Steampunk I’ve read over the past couple of years. A recent one stuck with me, though, because it was a tirade against Steampunk design, a rather articulate analysis of how changing your laptop, etc. to look Victorian with a mechanical brass edge actually goes against everything Steampunk stands for. I didn’t blog it because I prefer positive over negative, and have now lost the link, but it clearly had more of an impact with me than I’d expected (had I known, I would have blogged it, negative or not).


So why, you might ask, do I feel the need–nay, the urge–to offer up my own definition of Steampunk? Well, because I’m curious about whether others feel as I do, and because, having thought it out, I want to share.

(more…)

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Writer's Flood


You hear a lot about writer’s block, but I’ve never heard anyone mention what I’m suffering from.


This is not the first time I’ve had this problem, but it still took a bit to realize what is happening, and I’m determined to come up with a better solution this time.


So what it writer’s flood you ask?

(more…)

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Dragons have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My father told us bedtime stories about an unusual dragon he met while boating in Lake Michigan. My parents were Peter, Paul, and Mary fans, so Puff the Magic Dragon was a common song on our many road trips. Even Elliot made an impression as he tried to rescue Pete from slavery in the Disney movie, Pete’s Dragon.

Since those days, I’ve been introduced to mechanical dragons in real life, the thought that dinosaur bones could have begun the belief in dragons in the first place, wise dragons, horrible dragons, dragons that were brought to life through myth and magic and those crafted by genetic science. I can’t imagine a world without dragons in it, whether you hold to the Smaug image of a monstrous creature that hoards treasure and eats people, the helpmates of Pern, or the wise creatures who try to steer humanity in the proper direction only to fail time after time. (more…)
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I know it’s been a while since I did a writing post on my blog or LJ, but I’ve been having some difficulties there related to health issues that made me less inclined to keep up with things. However, that didn’t stop me from progressing, so here I am, finally updating NaNo.


I went back and read my posts (as sparse as they were on the topic) and realized that any reasonable person would assume the life block surged up and swallowed me again. That is far from the case. (more…)

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Notice: I have been getting up-to-date market news from Ralan.com for years, and so know that the information is kept up and accurate. That’s where I point people first. With the proliferation of searchable databases, apparently Ralan.com is slipping out of the public eye despite reliability being key. Ralan has asked, if you benefit from his efforts, that you tell Writer’s Digest, using the information below:


* Send an e-mail to writersdig (at) fwpubs (dot) com with the Subject line: “101 Websites”

* Write a short note asking them to check out the site for possible inclusion

* Specify the name and URL: Ralan’s SpecFic & Humor Webstravaganza, http://www.ralan.com

* Mention why you think the site should be included


What I Am Reading


I’m in the middle of enjoying Crystal Healer by S.L. Viehl, but I wanted to, oddly, mention something I haven’t read yet. I got my first issue of Weird Tales in the mail the other day (I have been an on-and-off subscriber), and I left it in a prominent place, pointing it out to both my sons without a lot of expectation. They’re avid readers, but not particularly interested in short fiction. However, the youngest (15) picked it up on his own, and made a point of telling everyone how much he enjoyed the story he read (which of course I can’t remember the title of). Still, it’s a worthwhile recommendation because both of them have good taste when it comes to speculative fiction. (more…)

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