Weekend Workout: How To Be

Just because it’s NaNo month and I’m on Team Pantser this year, doesn’t mean I’ll stop doing my long-hand exercises. I’m sure a lot of people (especially Pantsers) type everything straight into their computer. During NaNo month, far more of my first draft definitely happens through my keyboard. But, I almost always warm up with a hand-written exercise and when I get stuck, I always reach for a pen. Writing by hand, for me, opens me up creatively,  frees my ideas, my blocks, and my editor. Whether you are participating in the NaNoWriMo this month or not (and cheers to you if you are), I’ve cooked up a little exercise that you might find helpful at some point when developing a character. A few weeks ago, the students in one of my...

Hellooooooo! Weekend Workout: We Got Talent

Wow. It’s been over a month since I’ve blogged. I’ve been trying to get back to it, but life kept happening. I won’t go into all the details, but let’s just say the circumnavigation included a computer death, a back injury (unrelated to the computer death), 3 elementary school visits (also unrelated to the back injury), a flashmob, a haircut, completing my latest rewrite on a new novel (yay), a dream about a roller coaster for executives. And this: The back injury happened while falling into a pile of logs trying to retrieve this one for my garden: Okay, the part where I carried this by myself to the car may have exacerbated my back injury a bit. But lookie how cool my garden driftwood log is! And my free beach log only cost me $300...

Weekend Writing Workout: Add a Little Magic

I’ve developed a course called Introduction to Speculative Fiction and there’s a particular brainstorming exercise where students do sub-genre mash-ups to generate stories. Once when I was teaching the class there was a woman in the front row who spent most of the class scribbling in her journal. She was a contemporary fiction writer working on a semi-autobiographic story. I thought she wasn’t interested in the class and was off on her own adventure. Turns out she had been inspired by the exercise. She told me later that she had been stuck in her writing and depressed about it. She had been having trouble letting go of parts of the story that weren’t serving it because they were “true.” Even though it was a work of fiction, she...

Weekend Workout from FaerieCon West

Greetings from FaerieCon West, where I will be storytelling and causing mischief all weekend. Before the workout, I have a few announcements: First, today is the LAST day to enter the drawing to WIN a copy of the FUTUREDAZE anthology of YA science fiction. Co-editor Erin Underwood has generously donated a copy. (I’ll close comments at midnight PST) Second, the 2013 Nebula Award nominations are in and Hydra House’s own Cat Rambo was nominated for her short story “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain” from her Near + Far collection. The Nebula’s Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy nominees are: Iron Hearted Violet, Kelly Barnhill (Little, Brown) Black Heart, Holly Black (S&S/McElderry; Gollancz) Above, Leah...

Weekend Writing Workout and Writing Workout Groups

Many people have writing groups where they read and critique each other’s work. It’s definitely a challenge, though, to find a good critique match. You want critique partners who have similar experience and who write in the same genres. And are just as committed to writing and critiquing as you are. My critique partners are separate from my writing group. I have a handful of friends I trust with early drafts of work and they trust me with theirs. We’ve been reading and critiquing each other for years, growing together as professional writers. My writing group does something else. We write. The idea for our writing group stemmed from a long-standing writing group in Seattle called the Louisa’s Writers. (named for both Louisa street and...