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Anyone can call in and ask questions: At the appointed time, dial 1-857-232-0155 (long distance charges may apply, depending on your phone plan). Enter the Conference Code: 245657. To raise your hand and ask a question, dial 5*. To Mute yourself, dial 4*.


New interviews are being scheduled. Watch this space for details.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

29: Jessica Day George: Retelling Fairy Tales

Jessica Day George  has written many Middle Grade books, three of which are based on fairy tales: PRINCESS OF THE MIDNIGHT BALL is a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. The sequel, PRINCESS OF GLASS is very loosely based on Cinderella. SUN AND MOON, ICE AND SNOW is a faithful retelling of East of the Sun and West of the Moon. She's currently writing another book in her princess series that is based on Little Red Riding Hood.

We discussed the origins of fairy tales, how to use them well, whether people are getting sick of them, and all sorts of other things.

The way you retell the story depends on what you want to do with it. Do you want to just retell the story, filling in the parts that might not be as fleshed-out as they ought to be? You can do that. Or you can tell your own story and just incorporate elements of your favorite fairy tale.

Have a listen and see what else Jessica had to say. You can listen to it below, subscribe to the podcast here, or download the MP3 here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

28: J. Scott Savage on Middle Grade Voice

Our guest tonight writes as J. Scott Savage, mainly because "Jeff Savage" was already taken (by another Middle Grade author who writes about sports--not fantasy). He goes by Jeff, but answers to just about anything now. He is friends with James Dashner and Nathan Bransford. They have a podcast together, called WordPlay Podcast.

Jeff is amazingly knowledgeable about the Middle Grade genre, and shared with us his tricks of the trade. Among these are:

  • Middle Grade spans from about 3rd grade to 7th grade, and the protagonist should be at the upper end of those ages
  • Short chapters equals happy kids who might get mom to read "just one more" (1500 words or less)
  • Each chapter should be a complete story
  • Kids are fanatical about the rules of the worlds they play in, so you better get it right ALL THE TIME or they'll call you on it
  • You have only a few paragraphs to catch a kid's interest... and you can lose it just as fast
  • Girls and boys are much more similar at that age... but girls still like a bit of romance
  • Kids like scary stuff, but make it safe scary
He has a new series coming out in 2013: CASE FILE 13, starting with ZOMBIE KID.
For about an hour and a half, Jeff shared his wisdom with us. You can download the MP3 here, listen to it below, or subscribe to the Authors' Advisory podcast here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

27: Steven Savile: Genre Hopping

Steven Savile writes religious political thrillers (SILVER), Germanic and Celtic fantasies,  projects for Sci-Fi TV series (including Stargate, Torchwood, Primeval and Dr. Who), Golden Age Sci-Fi (TAU CETI in collaboration with Kevin J Anderson), "Fabulist Victoriana," Arthurian Historical novels (BLACK CHALICE), YA Paranormal (THE MOONLAND DIARIES), Horror, and "Weird Western." He describes himself as: ".. the bestselling author you've never heard of". Part of that is because he lives in Europe, but part is because he's like a magpie when it comes to genres. He likes bright, shiny new things, and can't stay put in just one.

Steven told us about his drive to genre-hop, why he doesn't use a pseudonym, why he's an agent's worst nightmare, and why he's able to defy the odds as an author. He's planning to take a couple of  years building a brand in a single genre, but he'll inevitably return to... whatever strikes his fancy next.

If you've ever wanted to write in more than one genre, this is the call for you.

Listen below, subscribe to the podcast, or download the MP3.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

26: Tim Powers: Talking Writing with the Author of On Stranger Tides

Tonight for the first call of the official Second Season of Farland's Authors Advisory Conference Calls,  we had the distinct pleasure of welcoming two time World Fantasy Award and Philip K Dick Memorial Award winning author Tim Powers as our guest.  Tim is the author of such award winning novels as: The Anubis Gates, Last Call, The Stress of Her Regard and On Stranger Tides.  Tim shared with us a literary concept that has been in existance for a long time and has become connected with his works. The concept of  "Secret Histories", which is defined as a " revisionist interpretation of either Fictional or real (or known) historical events which  claim to  be deliberately supressed, forgotten or ignored by established scholars".

Tim answered such questions as:
  • What makes real world history a good starting point for writing a Fantasy novel?
  • How much of your historical research is used in your novel?
  • How would you accurately portray an historical figure and have them as a character in your novel?   
      For over an hour of answers to these and even more intriguing and insightful audience questions, press "Play".

Click here to download the MP3.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

25: 2011 Debut Authors: Book Launching

Tonight we heard from four amazing, enthusiastic, and very knowledgeable newly published authors. They're fresh from the querying/submission trenches and have all sorts of advice.

Tyler Whitesides is the author of JANITORS, a middle-grade fantasy book inspired by his own experience as an elementary school janitor. Unsurprisingly, the janitors help the kids battle the creatures who suck kids' smarts out and make them sleepy in class. JANITORS came out in August, and Tyler is currently on an extensive tour, courtesy of his publisher Shadow Mountain.

Amber Argyle is the author of WITCH SONG, a YA high fantasy about the last untrained witch standing against an evil witch who has steadily taken over all the other witches. Amber's magic system, uses singing to help the witches manipulate the forces of nature. WITCH SONG launched September 1, and Amber has been busy presenting at local conferences. She is published through Rhemalda.

Michelle Davidson-Argyle   is the author of MONARCH, a spy thriller involving a framed spy, a lost love, and lots and lots of butterflies. MONARCH launched September 15, also through Rhemalda. She has one coming out next year and an anthology coming out in 2013.

Robison Wells is the author of VARIANT, a YA sci-fi with dystopian elements.  Published by Harper Collins, VARIANT launched early on October 4 to accommodate Barnes & Noble's promotion schedule. It deals with a foster kid who goes to a strange new boarding school, which turns out to be more like Lord of the Flies meets Maze Runner. Rob, whose day-job is in marketing, suggests that you should promote our books in ways you enjoy. For example, he does a podcast with Sara Eden and Marion Jensen called The Appendix.

Listen to all their amazing advice below, download the MP3, or subscribe to our podcast.

In other news, this 'cast marks the end of our first season here at Authors' Advisory. It's been an amazing ride, full of such powerful, informative guests and loyal callers. Thanks to everyone who has helped make Authors' Advisory a success!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

24. Brandon Sanderson: Magic Systems

Bestselling Epic Fantasy author Brandon Sanderson was our guest on this edition of Farland's Authors' Advisory. Along with a spirited question and answer session, Brandon gave us three guidelines to use if the magic in the magic systems of our works aren't qute as magical as we'd hoped.  If you're writing a work that would benefit from having a magic system of any complexity in it, that is.

For nearly an hour of advice and answers from the author graced with the writing task of bringing a conclusion to the late Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series and the creator of such series as The Mistborn series,  (Including the latest "Mistborn" novel The Alloy of Law which releases November 2011) and the  novels in the  Alcatraz Smedry series  to name but a few,  press "Play".

You can download the MP3 by clicking here. Or, new this week, at the top of the right sidebar, you can  SUBSCRIBE TO THE PODCAST through Feedburner.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

23 Becca Stumpf: Querying with the "Dreaded" Synopsis

Becca Stumpf is one of the nicest, most personable agents out there--but she still requires authors to send a synopsis as part of the query package. The synopsis isn't the most important part of Prospect Agency's query package, and it rarely makes-or-breaks the submission, but Becca finds it helpful--and it turns out she knows what she's talking about.

For the first half of the call, Becca gave us the skinny on what sort of submissions she's looking for, what goes into a great query letter, and what she does with those three chapters she asks for. For the second half, she treated us to an insider's view on exactly what she uses the synopsis for, what it should look like, what it should include, and why we should all stop worrying about it so much.
Some highlights:

  • For agents like Becca, a synopsis should be between 2-3 pages long. She doesn't want to read a lengthy synopsis for a query package--save the longer ones for when you're trying to sell your book on a proposal.
  • What Happens is the most important part of a synopsis--but include enough motivation so you don't lose the reader. It's usually not good if they have to stop and wonder why that happened.
  • There are good ways to sneak in sub-plot tidbits (just don't go crazy)
  • Include the ending, and don't worry about spoiling it. If she likes the book, she'll probably forget the ending while she's reading, anyway.
  • If she really likes the writing sample, she can overlook a less-than-brilliant synopsis. (Though it's probably better to be good all around.) She knows successful writers who aren't good at writing a synopsis.
Listen in below or download the MP3 here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

22 Sarah Eden: Research

Sarah's advice on Research is guaranteed to make you want to go out and research something yourself.
Some of the basics:

  • You should do research anytime you are writing about:
    • A character with a different job, religion, race, medical history, gender, family background, hometown, or place of residence than yours
    • A time period or location other than your own
  • You can start with the internet, but don't stop there
    • Sarah is unsure about Wikipedia
    • Verify important facts with three independent sources--though the US Mint likely has pretty accurate information about coins
    • Use the internet to point you toward primary sources, etc
  • Read books--they help with info, dialogue, little-known details, and they're all grouped together on the library shelves
  • Experience anything you can--wearing a corset you made yourself really helps you understand your characters. :)
  • Experts like to share--be professional and courteous of their time, then put them in your acknowledgments
  • Professional researchers can help--but you might have to pay them
Sarah also answered such burning questions as the worst mistake she's seen in a book that research would have fixed, the character that sprang from a couple of letters, and the quirkiest thing she found and actually used in a book.

She MC'd for LDStorymakers 2011 and was asked to do it again for 2012. You can see her awesome MC videos on her site.
Also, in case an hour of advice from Sarah isn't enough for you, you can hear her every Wednesday on her own podcast (with Robison Wells and Marion Jensen): The Appendix, where they give general writing advice and play writing-related games, perfect for getting the old writing juices flowing.

Listen to it below or access the MP3 by clicking here.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

21 David Farland: Authors and New Media

    Tonight we were privileged to once again recieve a word from our Sponsor, David Farland. For this call, David was kind enough to illuminate for us the un charted waters of New Media, or "non traditional" media (Internet related media and e books) and how these new forms of information collection and distribution are already (and will potentially) change publishing as an industry and novel and short-story writing as a career.

    Some of tonight's topics of discussion were:
    • Potential benefits and challenges of New Media for both established and aspiring authors.
    • Being more than an author: other facets of e publishing that are involved in publishing a book the New Media route.
    • Market trends: Where will they go?
    For over an hour of discussion about this game changing development in the publishing world from a true industry professional, just push "Play".

    Click here to download the MP3

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    20 Janette Rallison: Romance, Romance

    Tonight we were privileged to talk to Janette Rallison, who is a master of YA romance. She has published 15 YA contemporary romance novels, 2 YA Fantasy (romance) novels, and, in October, will be branching out into YA Urban Fantasy (with romance). Her upcoming novel, SLAYERS, tells the story of a group of youngsters descended from a long lineage of ancient dragon slayers... whose skills are needed again in modern times when the dragons threaten mankind. Watch for it under the pen name of CJ Hill.

    Janette shared with us all the tricks of writing a great romance. Though she focused on YA romance, she also taught us how to create a believable romantic subplot, why subplots are important, and the elements of any great romance.

    Some highlights are:
    • Romantic (or, really, any) characters, should have Grit, Wit, and "It"
    • Romances are mostly for women--add them to "regular" books to attract a female audience
    • Romantic men should be a "catch"--Lord Somebody, or a talented high school artist
    • Romances are about wish fulfillment
    • Don't worry about the first draft so much--fix it later
    Janette has generously agreed to give two of her books as prizes to two lucky callers/listeners:

    How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-Boyfriend - Sixteen-year-old Giovanna Petrizzo finds it hard enough to fit in. Three years since her family moved to Texas, she’s still the newcomer compared to everyone around her. It doesn’t help matters when her twin brother, Dante, takes on the mayor’s son by running for class president. The least she could expect, though, would be for her boyfriend, Jesse, to support their cause. But Jesse’s apparent defection triggers Giovanna’s rash emotional side, and before she knows it, she’s turned Jesse from the boy of her dreams to the exboyfriend she dreams of winning back.
    UPDATE: And the Winner is... Erin Edwards!!

    My Fair Godmother -Finding your one true love can be a Grimm experience! After her boyfriend dumps her for her older sister, sophomore Savannah Delano wishes she could find a true prince to take her to the prom. Enter Chrissy (Chrysanthemum) Everstar: Savannah’s gum-chewing, cell phone–carrying, high heel-wearing Fair Godmother. Showing why she’s only Fair—because she’s not a very good fairy student—Chrissy mistakenly sends Savannah back in time to the Middle Ages, first as Cinderella, then as Snow White. Finally she sends Tristan, a boy in Savannah’s class, back instead to turn him into her prom-worthy prince. When Savannah returns to the Middle Ages to save Tristan, they must team up to defeat a troll, a dragon, and the mysterious and undeniably sexy Black Knight. Laughs abound in this clever fairy tale twist from a master of romantic comedy.

    UPDATE: And the winner is... Kathryn Packer Roberts!!

    Here's how you win:

    Required: Comment on this blog post
    • Certify that you listened to the call 
    • Say which piece of advice was the most helpful to you 
    • Say which book you’d rather win
    Calculate Your Points:
    • 2 Points for listening to the call live
    • 1 Point for asking a question during the call (no extra points for extra questions)
    • 1 Point for listening to the recording 
    Congratulations, Erin and Kathryn! Please email Robin with your snail-mail addresses: robinweekswriter at gmail dot com.

    As always, you can listen to the recording below, or access the MP3 by clicking here.

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    19 Lisa Mangum: Slush Pile Dos and Donts

    Lisa Mangum was our first editor guest. That's okay, though, because she's also the award-winning author of THE HOURGLASS DOOR, THE GOLDEN SPIRAL, and THE FORGOTTEN LOCKET. We talked to her tonight about her decade wading through the slush pile for Deseret Book and Shadow Mountain, where she still works as an Assistant Editor (with her own Editor's Assistant!).

    She broke her advice down into ten simple tips regarding what we can and can't control about the publishing industry:

    Five Things You CAN'T Control:

    1. Publishing is a Business
      • Publishers want a book they can sell to hundreds of thousands of people--not just your mother and your neighbor
      • Authors who aren't willing to be business-like make it easier for the publisher to take a pass on their book
    2. The number of manuscripts submitted in a given year
      • At Deseret Book, out of over 2000 yearly submissions, they will only publish around four
      • 80% of those submissions aren't ready for publication
      • 30-40% of those that aren't ready didn't follow the guidelines
    3. The number of available slots a publisher has for new writers
      • Lisa has seen a debut author published every year she has worked for Deseret Book
      • If a publisher doesn't have room for a book, they can't publish it even if they love it
    4. Other submitted manuscripts that are similar to yours
      • If they get four books on Themes in the Book of Revelation, they can only publish one
      • They will publish the one that they like best
    5. An editor's mood
      • Lisa tries to do her critical work in the morning or after lunch
      • Don't put the editor in a bad mood by making your manuscript hard to get to
    Five Things You CAN Control:
    1. Do your homework
    2. Follow the posted guidelines
      • See above
    3. Write a killer cover/query letter
      • Don't say "This is the next...."--Editors want the first book in a new trend.
      • Be authentic, professional, and memorable
      • Include the hook: what is the price of failure?
    4. Showcase your talent
      • Write what you're passionate about
      • Let your strength show in your cover/query letter
    5. Deal with rejection
      • You can let rejection stop you in your tracks or you can get over it and get on with your life
      • Remember that you can't get out of the slush pile unless you are IN the slush pile
    Hear all of Lisa's awesome advice by accessing the MP3 here, or listening to the recording below.

    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    18: Elana Johnson: Queries

    I first heard about Elana Johnson last year, soon after she'd signed her book deal to publish her debut novel, POSSESSION, a fun, snarky, YA dystopian. I was at a conference with her when she was awarded the prize for "Most Query Rejections in a Calendar Year" or something like that. To win the award, she had submitted 189 queries over the course of about 8 months and was rejected 188 times (you only need one agent to say yes, obviously). Through all the querying and rejections, she learned a lot about querying. Enough to write a book, in fact. So she did! Her free ebook FROM THE QUERY TO THE CALL is a wonderful compilation of what she learned.

    On this call, Elana reviewed the basic parts of a query and explained what elements should be in each one. She used examples from real-life query letter drafts submitted by callers beforehand, and described what worked and what didn't.

    The basic elements are as follows:
    1. Introduction: Here, you show off your industry knowledge, and demonstrate that you know what THIS agent is looking for.
    2. Hook: Should sum up the novel in one sentence, not be a question, and propel the reader to read the rest of the query.
    3. The Set-up: As the bridge between the Hook and the Conflict, the Setup provides a few details about your world, your main character, and your setting, but is short (75-100 words). This is the catalyst that moves the main character into the conflict.
    4. The Conflict: Tell what your character wants and what is keeping him/her from getting it.
    5. The Consequence: What will happen if your main character doesn't solve the conflict? Leave the agent on a cliff-hanger, hungry to read more (in your manuscript). Try to craft this as a complement to your Hook, so your hook and your Consequence can work as a mini-query, and bring the query full-circle.
    6. Everything else: I can't possibly summarize all the great advice she gave us on Marketing, Publishing Credits, word count, etc. You'll have to listen to the call. :)
    I'm including Elana's own query blurb for POSSESSION, so you can see how a master crafts a query letter:
    In a world where Thinkers brainwash the population and Rules are not meant to be broken, fifteen-year-old Violet Schoenfeld does a hell of a job shattering them to pieces.
    After committing her eighth lame ass crime (walking in the park after dark with a boy, gasp!), Vi is taken to the Green, a group of Thinkers who control the Goodgrounds. She’s found unrehabilitatable (yeah, she doesn’t think it’s a word either) and exiled to the Badlands. Good thing sexy Bad boy Jag Barque will be going too.
    Dodging Greenies and hovercopters, dealing with absent-father issues, and coming to terms with feelings for an ex-boyfriend—and Jag as a possible new one—leave Vi little time for much else. Which is too damn bad, because she’s more important than she realizes. When secrets about her “dead” sister and not-so-missing father hit the fan, Vi must make a choice: control or be controlled.
    You want to read it now, don't you? Of course you do!

    Thanks go to all those brave souls who sent in their queries, and extra thanks to Elana, for critiquing each one.

    As always, you can access the MP3 by clicking here, or listen to it below:

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    17: Steven Gould: Consequences In Fiction

    Tonight we spoke with Steven Gould, Science Fiction and YA author of the books: Helm, Reflex and Jumper and the soon to be released Seventh Sigma (Release Date: July 5, 2011). A cohesive narrative is integral to a successful story, be it in short fiction or novel format. An integral part of such a narrative, especially to maintain believability for your reader is, making sure:
    • When you set up a premise (or a consequence for a character's actions)make sure it pays off well in the end.
    • Your character's actions in your work are affected by their environment.
    • Too much tension for your characters without periods of rest tire your audience.
    If you've ever read others works (or your own) and thought: "Hold on- why did they do that, again?!" and need to know how to fix or refine that aspect of your work, give this episode a listen!

    Access the MP3 here or listen to it below:

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    16 Larry Correia: The Mechanics of Writing Action and Pacing

    Tonight we spoke with Larry Corriea, author of the Monster Hunter series and Hard Magic: Book One of the Grimnoir Chronicles. During our conversation this evening, Larry "The Action Guy" shared with us ways we can improve the pacing and the flow of the actions our characters choices (or the choices placed upon them by the circumstances we put them in) play out in our books or stories.

    Improving the action in our writings can include (but is not limited to):

    1. Balancing the amount of action vs the amount of characterization.
    2. Making sure you as the author don't overstimulate your reader with Action sequences.
    3. What "If its boring, fix it!" actually means.

    Put on your "Big Boy" (or Girl) pants, sit down, belt up and hang on- Larry "The Action Guy" has something to tell ya!

    You can access the MP3 here or you can listen to it below:

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    15 Gail Carriger: The Business of Writing

    I have a friend at work who reads a lot of the same books I love. We're constantly trading book recommendations. One day, I stopped by her counter and she had this new book: SOULLESS by Gail Carriger. I read the back and couldn't wait to read the whole thing. It's an amazing comedic blend of Victorian steampunk and fantasy (think werewolves and vampires, out in society, winning wars for the crown and influencing fashion). I was hooked. I wasn't the only one: it was a NYT Bestseller, won an ALA award, and forced debut author Gail to learn a lot about the publishing industry, like NOW.

    On this call, she shared her knowledge with us, for when it's our turn. Some (but not all, by a long shot) highlights:

    • It is still possible to be plucked from a publishing house slush pile.
    • Pick an agent who can help you negotiate a favorable contract, and who has time for you on her client list. (Gail's agent is Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency. Kristin also blogs at Pub Rants.)
    • Pick a publishing house with an editor you can trust to be professional, and with whom you can relate (Gail's publisher for the SOULLESS series is Orbit Books).
    • Your publisher's marketing efforts will likely correspond to the size of your advance.
    • There are a lot of things an author can do to market her own books--calling in favors is often involved.
    • Blending genres is cool, but can be confusing to marketing departments, bookstores, and other industry professionals. Be prepared to explain your book, but you might get to help design your cover. :) (Well, at least Gail did.)
    • If you perform well in public, your publisher will give you more opportunities to do so.
    • Publishing money comes in stages: upon signing, upon delivery, upon publication, upon winning of awards, hitting benchmarks, out-earning advance, etc. Don't expect a big fat check all at once.
    Gail stayed extra long to answer caller questions and to make sure we knew everything she thought we should. Plus, she pointed us to this post on her blog, where she talks in detail about her post-sale events and marketing efforts. Be sure to check it out!

    You can access the MP3 by clicking here, or you can listen to the call below.

    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    14: Peter Orullian: Daring to Fail Spectacularly as a Writer and Writing About Hope In a World of Grey

    Tonight, we spoke with Peter Orullian, author of The Unremembered, the first in a new Epic Fantasy series called The Vault of Heaven. Peter spoke at length about how daring to fail (spectacularly) as a writer and still keep the joy of writing and how to imbue your novel (and yourself) with hope.

    Some of tonight's topics were:

    • If you're serious about writing professionally, write the best you can and "swing for the fences" with every effort.

    • Don't write to the market, write your story and what you're passionate about, your market (and your audience) will often find you.

    • "If a writer can be discouraged, help him build his ego."
    Whether you're at the beginning of your writer's journey, or reflecting on the sunset phase of a long, illustrious career, everyone needs to be emboldened at one time or another. Take heart! Push "Play," bend an ear, and be encouraged!

    Listen to it below or download the MP3. (Download may work better with Internet Explorer.)

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    13: Laura Anne Gilman: Professionalism and the Aspiring Writer

    Tonight, we spoke with Laura Anne Gilman author of the Paranormal Scene Investigation series , The Vineart War novels and The Retrievers series. Although the writing in your work (s) must be as polished as it can be first, LAG shared:

    • The best (and worst) novel pitches she's ever heard as a former editor.
    • Whether or not you have a presence on Social Media (Twitter or Facebook etc) it shouldn't make or break your writing career.
    • Ways you can properly "work" a Convention (be it a writing convention or a genre centric convention) as an aspiring author.
    And much much more!

    If you've ever wondered how "The System" works from an editor's standpoint and an author's standpoint, lend an ear and be informed!

    Listen to it below or download the MP3.

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    12: Q & A with Mary Robinette Kowal

    Tonight, we had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America 's current Vice President, Campbell award winner and 2011 Hugo award winner, Mary Robinette Kowal.
    Many topics were bandied about this evening in a spirited, free form question and answer session.

    Topics of discussion included:
    • Novel ideas or short story ideas- How do you know which one you have?
    • Expanding a short story into a novel- How is that done?
    • Magic systems in Fantasy novels and one way they're developed.
    • How much background information readers need and want in a novel or story.
    • Professional puppetry and personal space when filming- How close is too close for your human co stars?
    For a little over an hour of answers to these and other scintillating questions, give this episode a listen!

    You can also download the MP3 here.
    (If it's not working, try switching to Internet Explorer.)

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    11 Aprilynne Pike: Outlines

    You just have to love Aprilynne Pike. Not only is she the #1 NYT Bestselling author of WINGS, SPELLS, and the upcoming ILLUSIONS, but she's down to earth, with a dry wit and an excellent sense of who she is, where she's going, and what she needs to do to get there. She's humble, ever trying to improve, and willing to share what she knows with those of us who haven't "made it" yet. She was my bootcamp instructor at LDStorymakers in 2010 and she completely tore my pitiful chapters to bits. It was awesome. So is she.

    Tonight, Aprilynne taught us how to create a simple outline. Here's the basics:

    1. Draw a big timeline long enough for 60 ticks.
    2. Mark a tick about 5 ticks from the beginning for your inciting incident: 
      • This should fall within the first ten pages of your book
      • This is where your plot is set in motion
    3. Mark a tick about 5 ticks from the end for the climax (where everything goes boom)
    4. Around 25% from the start (with 60 ticks that's... carry the 1... 15 ticks) is your first Turning Point
      • This is where everything goes in a different direction
      • Harry discovers he's a wizard, Bella discovers Edward is a vampire, Marly appears to Ebeneezer
    5. Around 75% from the start (calculating... 45 ticks) is your second Turning Point
      • Once again, everything changes
      • Main suspect is murdered, Darth Vader is Luke's father?, Westley stops being mostly dead
    6. Fill in the rest with plot points--one per tick
      • Plot points drive the plot--they are interesting and active
      • Romeo goes on vacation is NOT a plot point
      • Romeo leaves town hours before the letter reaches him IS a plot point
      • Baby has green eyes is NOT a plot point
      • Detective realizes green-eyed baby can't come from brown eyed parents IS a plot point
    Aprilynne also gave us a lot of advice on how to be a discovery writer ("pantser") AND use an outline (plan the main ticks and discovery write the rest), how to make sure your book has enough emotion, and how to deal with love triangles. Plus, we talked a bit about her books. :) (Did I mention ILLUSIONS  is coming out on May 3?)

    Listen to it here:

    Or click here to listen to it on your computer's Media Player.
    (If it's not downloading, switch to Internet Explorer.)

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    10: David Farland- How to Sell Your Novel

    Tonight, we took time for a word from our Sponsor, David Farland. Dave shared with us five key factors an aspiring author or newly published author must have for a novel that sells. Those five factors are:
    1. Make sure your novel is as good as it can be stylistically and grammatically before you try selling it.
    2. Research prospective agents and editors for your work.
    3. Crafting well written query letters.
    4. Where (and how) to best meet agents and editors who will properly market your work.
    5. Personal persistance and tenacity, how much is too much?
    Dave took ample time to field questions from our Forum members. If you desire to astound the world with the brilliance of your prose, amaze humanity with your heart-rending flights of literary fancy, why haven't you stopped reading and started listening to what Dave had to say?

    You can listen to it here on our handy-dandy player:

    Or, you can listen to it on your computer's Window's Media Player by clicking here.
    (If it's not downloading, switch to Internet Explorer.)

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    09: Dan Wells: Monsters, Sociopaths, and Other Sympathetic Characters

    Tonight Dan Wells told us about the secrets of creating sympathetic villains, heroic sociopaths, and many other things he learned as the author of I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER, MR. MONSTER, and the soon-to-be-released I DON'T WANT TO KILL YOU.

    When he's not writing, Dan also co-hosts Writing Excuses, a weekly writing-advice podcast with Brandon Sanderson and Howard Tayler.

    Among Dan's advice:
    • A humorous sociopath with a lousy life who wants to be good will evoke reader's sympathies
    • A good villain will be flashy and/or relatable and/or fascinating
    • Villains need a believable goal--if they want to blow up the world, they'll be just as dead as everyone else if they accomplish it, so it might be a tough sell to your readers
    • A villain can have a try-fail cycle, too--if you're careful
    **Warning, this call contains spoilers for I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER**

    As always, you can listen to the call here:

    Or you can listen to it on Window's Media Player.
    (If you're having trouble downloading, switch to Internet Explorer.)

    Thanks to Dan and to everyone who called in!

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    8: Michaelbrent Collings-- Ten Steps to Overnight Success OR How it Only Took a Decade to Get Paid

    Tonight Michaelbrent Collings shared his presentation Ten Steps to Overnight Success OR How it Only Took a Decade to Get Paid. I saw him present this topic in February at BYU's Life, the Universe, and Everything symposium and loved it so much I just had to hear it again. I think you'll agree--this is great advice, and Michaelbrent had lots of great stories to go with it.

    Michaelbrent is a novelist, screenwriter, martial artist, and until recently, was a practicing lawyer (he quit when being a writer started to pay better). He has written numerous novels, including RUN, BILLY: MESSENGER OF POWERS, THE LOON, RISING FEARS, and THE MERIDIANS. Michaelbrent has also sold, optioned, and done rewrites for screenplays for major Hollywood production companies, and is currently developing several movies and television shows. He couldn't give us details of his movie deals (yet), but maybe in a few weeks....

    March 11 Update: Michaelbrent can finally confirm that his screenplay BARRICADE is being produced by WWE Studios, starring Eric McCormack. See the announcement by The Hollywood Reporter. Congrats, Michaelbrent!
    In a nutshell, the ten steps are:
    1.      Write.
    2.      Involve yourself in marketing.
    3.      Plug your book (or script, or whatever)!
    4.      Make connections.
    5.      Play nice with others.
    6.      Constantly improve…but don’t over study.
    7.      Be clear.
    8.      Be interesting. And interested.
    9.      Be prepared to be part of a big game hunt. And you’re not the hunter.
    10.    You cannot fail…if you don’t give up.

    To get the explanation behind the steps, you can visit Michaelbrent's website and read the PDF of his presentation under the tab "LTUE Papers" or you can download the MP3, or listen to it below:

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    7.Ken Scholes- Self Awareness: A Writer's First, Best Tool.

    Tonight we spoke with Ken Scholes, author of the Psalms of Isaak Fantasy series from Tor books. Ken's topic for the night was an important one for beginning writers: knowing yourself as a person and as a writer. Knowing what methods work for you to not only thrive personally, but to thrive and succeed in your writing aspirations as well!

    We were able to hear from Ken's own experiences that :

    • Working without an outline can (and does) lead to success.
    • Having a strong support network of family, friends and colleagues to encourage, motivate and even pester you can be intergal to your success as an author .
    • Triumph can often spring from personal tragedy.
    • Whether you're a seasoned professional, or a beginning writer- You're always "in the trenches".
    And much much more!

    If you missed it, you can listen to it below:

    Or, you can download the MP3.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    6: Robyn Carr: Developing Strong Characters

    Tonight we chatted with Robyn Carr, who has been my friend and mentor for years. Way back when I was putting my first (really bad) stories together, my friend Ian mentioned that he'd practically grown up in her house (he was her son's best friend), and that she was really nice... so I emailed her. Turns out, he was right... and then some! A few thousand emails later, Robyn is one of my favorite people, one of my favorite writers, and as down-to-earth nice as it is possible for a woman to be--especially one with her accomplishments!

    New York Times Bestseller Robyn Carr has been writing—and publishing—for almost three decades. In that time, she’s written screenplays, historical romances, a psychological thriller, and even a writing help book called PRACTICAL TIPS FOR WRITING POPULAR FICTION. Eventually, Robyn found her calling writing women’s fiction set in a rugged small town in the mountains of northern California. Her bestselling VIRGIN RIVER series debuted in 2007, and quickly started gathering awards. The series is now in its fifth year and, by the end of March, will have 13 books, 3 novellas, and a legion of fans, with over 5 million copies in print.

    Our main topic was Developing Strong Characters, which Robyn does in spades. Her Virgin River series is home to an extensive cast of memorable characters who continue to grow and develop as more and more couples hook up, get married, and have babies amid log cabins, dirt roads, and towering Sequoias. Her books (and therefore her characters) are classified as romantic women's fiction, but her advice can be applied (with some modifications, where noted) to any genre.

    Some high points:
    • The best writing advice is to write the book you want to read. The worst writing advice is to write what you know--first you have to learn to write, and then you can research whatever you don't know.
    • Characters have layers: Dominant, Complimentary, and Contrasting traits. These traits should not conflict with each other in the same moment.
    • When writing characters, there is no substitute for good instincts--and you can develop your instincts by practicing and by reading hundreds of books in your genre. You have to think like a real, live human being being before you can write a believable character.
    If you missed it, you can listen to the call below:

    You can also download the MP3 here.