Current WIP 1: Two Kinds of Darkness

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Very early sketch of the city’s  two halves.

My excitement with this novel has yet to wear off. I’m currently editing the fifth draft, preparing it for my test-readers.

Two Kinds of Darkness began as a tiny idea that struck me two and a half years ago. It was a question that came to me while sitting on a sofa during a young writers’ group and staring at a blue wall. The question was this: “What if someone could only see the color blue?” Continue reading

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Midwinter = Celebration?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn some sense, winter doesn’t seem like a good time to have a big celebration. It’s cold, hard to travel (if one lives in a place with snow), and every other person is ill.

But there’s Christmas and Chanukka. And there used to be Saturnalia and Yule. And what about all those fantasy novels with solstice celebrations?

Apparently, winter festivals are common.

They’re also fun to create. Partly because weird behavior gets pardoned if it occurs during a festival. Continue reading

Writing Junk is Important

I’m confident that nearly every writing book out there has this piece of advice in various forms:

“In order to write well, you have to write a lot of garbage.”

But what is this garbage we’re all talking about? On which ‘level’ of writing does this junk appear?

Well, just as there are numerous different words for unwanted items (junk, garbage, rubbish, trash, 废物, etc.), there are many ways to think about our literary waste. Continue reading

Fantastical Creatures

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Electoad– the electricity producer

Some writers have a specific genre or style that they love to use. For me, it really depends on what I’m writing. I love experimenting– I’m like a crazy artist playing with mediums. But some genres don’t appear to like me. For instance, if it’s modern realism, anything longer than a flash piece sort of… well… morphs into fantasy.

Fantasy ≠ modern realism. Yeah.

I have several theories as to why my unconscious writer-mind appears to be smitten with fantasy: it could be the ability to bring in flying carpets or sea monsters when things ‘go bad’, or maybe it’s the free pass to ignore the laws of physics, but most likely it’s the ability to create my own creatures. Continue reading

How to Write a Unique Story

You can’t.

Okay, the title of this post is misleading, but bear with me.

The issue of creating a unique story used to constantly plague me while I was writing Aza. I could see so many connections to my favorite books at the time– the tribes came from Warriors by Erin Hunter, the camouflaged cloaks were from Ranger’s Apprentice (even though I came up with the idea before I read that series) by John Flannagan… the list goes on. There were times when I considered giving up just because of Aza’s lack of uniqueness.

Luckily I didn’t, and now I realize something: no one can write a truly unique story. Here are the reasons why: Continue reading

Figuring Out the Middle of Your Story

Anyone who has ever tried to write a story has been there: We know how to begin, and we know how to end, but… what about the middle?

I am currently struggling with this problem in my re-write of Marsip, the sequel to Aza. I’ve taken the lamest way to deal with the ‘middle problem’, which is to ignore it and work on a different novel*. I would suggest not following my bad example and saving the option of ignoring your story as a last resort.

Because there are many other ways forward. Continue reading

Writing Memorable Characters

The man was standing stiff and upright, which made his stomach strain at the buttons of his white shirt. His face was screwed up like a bulldog, and his beady eyes shifted slowly back and forth over the crowd like everyone was up to no good.

If I was writing about a security guard, I might describe him something like that. Capturing someone’s character is an important skill to have, because without characters you have no story. Continue reading

Inspiration for the Forest of Monsters in Aza

 

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Monsters loomed behind the trees.

Inspiration can come from anywhere– music, gossip, personal experiences, other stories. No matter what you’re doing, your brain is stockpiling information to use for later. The harder part is to actually produce writing from it.

When I sit down to write my brain isn’t absorbing new information (besides the feel of my pen or the sound of my keyboard). I have to use what’s already there. Most of the time, new information or “inspiration” comes when I’m doing something new and exciting without any way to write it down. When you start feeling inspired, slow down. Think about the way you’re feeling. Notice the details. Even if you don’t plan to write anything, taking a moment to observe will help you remember better. Continue reading

A Dream in the Shape of a Book

For as long as I can remember I wanted to make books. When I was four or five I was the illustrator. I spent hours drawing pictures of me going to the library for storytime or doing cartwheels in my gymnastics class. I remember writing stories about fairies who lived in trees, and re-telling little red riding hood. I dictated the stories to my mom and she wrote them down.

It was after the excitement of learning to read and write wore off that I discovered my dream.

I was going to write a real book. Continue reading