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Diagramming your book’s conflicts

This weekend I knuckled down to sorting out the overall plot of my work-in-progress, Serpent’s Tooth. I have a setting, several main characters and some ideas for conflicts, but nothing was pinned down, hence my struggles to get on with writing the book. This is pretty par for the course with me; I tend to get bogged down in plot possibilities because there are so many directions the story could go in and I can’t decide which one is best!

I started with my usual process of “thinking aloud” on paper, and suddenly the pieces began to fall into place: I knew who my main opposing factions would be, and that there would be factions within those factions, divided loyalties, betrayals, etc. It was starting to get quite complicated, so at the suggestion of my writer friend Adrian Faulkner I broke out my trial copy of Scapple, a simple diagramming program for Mac and Windows, produced by those lovely people who brought us Scrivener. Read more

Friday Read: The Dragon’s Path, by Daniel Abraham

Way back in 2011 (gosh, was it really that long ago?) I read Abraham’s debut, A Shadow in Summer, and loved it for its beautiful writing and unusual Eastern-inspired setting, so when I heard he had written a more conventional epic fantasy series I was a little conflicted. I couldn’t blame him for wanting to write something more commercial than The Long Price Quartet, but I’m not a huge fan of bog-standard medieval EF so it didn’t exactly leap to the top of my TBR list. However I’m currently waiting on several much-anticipated books that aren’t out until spring, so I decided to bite the bullet and give The Dragon’s Path a go… Read more

The Musketeers

So, the BBC have a new “historical” drama series based on that much-loved classic The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. So far, so awesome for any fan of swashbuckling action, right? Well, yes and no…

Mmm, look at all that leather! (Photo: BBC)
Mmm, look at all that leather! (Photo: BBC)

On the one hand, The Musketeers offers a wealth of eyecandy to…I was going to say ‘ladies’, but maybe that’s too heteronormative – to anyone who appreciates the sight of attractive young men in leather doublets and bucket-top boots. The settings are excellent too; the series is filmed in the Czech Republic, which stands in for so many historical locations these days. I also love the opening titles, which have a “Young Guns” vibe, blending gorgeous artwork with live action to a foot-stomping theme tune. Read more

GTD for beginners, Part 3

With apologies for the skipped week, here is the final post in my introduction to GTD!

(ICYMI: Part 1 and Part 2)

Unlike many organisation methods, Getting Things Done works in a bottom-up way; that is, you start with the small tasks and work your way up to the big picture. This has the advantage that you can get to work right away and only have to worry about the long term once you have the day-to-day landscape under control. However you can’t put off the higher-level planning forever! Read more

Guest post: Kameron Hurley on combat in fiction

This week I’m delighted to host an article by award-winning author Kameron Hurley, whose Bel Dame Apocrypha trilogy is at last being published in the UK. Kameron and I first met in 2012 at Chicon 7, where she was giving away books if you ate a bug (dried mealworms and crickets, designed for human consumption, I would add!); I ate several bugs but did not take a book, for the sake of my luggage allowance, but would heartily recommend her work if you’re into SF with tough female characters. Read more

GTD for beginners, Part 2

This week’s post is a tad later in the day than planned, as I’m back at the day-job this week and – more crucially – didn’t put “Write next GTD blog post” in Things (the ToDo app I use on my phone and various Macs). A good example of why you should write things down the moment they occur to you!

So, last week I talked about setting up your buckets: places to save everything that needs dealing with, whether it’s a bill to be paid (your in-tray) or a blog post that needs writing (your notebook or ToDo app). If you’ve been following along, you’ll probably have a long list of stuff in your bucket and may be feeling a little overwhelmed by it all! Don’t panic – today I’m going to cover organising your tasks. Read more

GTD for beginners, Part 1

One of the things you get asked a lot, as a writer (after “Where do you get your ideas from?”) is “How do you find time to write?”. The simplest answer is that you have to give up other time-consuming activities: watching TV, playing video games, even—to some extent—reading. But even that will only get you so far if, like me, you are juggling other responsibilities, such as a day job or family. And you still need some time for yourself to recharge your creative batteries, or you’ll burn out. Read more

Distractions

I thought I’d better write about why I haven’t been posting much here or on social media of late. Don’t panic, nothing’s amiss – I’ve just been somewhat distracted by major goings-on at my day job. I don’t normally post about personal stuff on here, but as it’s been impacting my writing and internet presence, I wanted to reassure people I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth :) Read more

Smells Like Tudor Spirit

16th century Italian gilt pomander
16th century Italian gilt pomander

Ever wanted to smell like an Elizabethan? OK, maybe not literally (eww!), but it was in the sixteenth century that perfume and scented items became popular with the wealthy. If you’ve read The Alchemist of Souls, you may recall Mal’s encounter with Jos Percy – and the loss of an expensive silver pomander!

When my friend and fellow writer Naomi Clark set up an Etsy store for her homemade fragrances and began tweeting about all the lovely essential oils she was buying, that got me wondering what scents my characters would like. Long story short, I met up with Naomi and we collaborated on two fragrances, one for Mal and one for Coby – and they’re now available to buy! Read more