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Recent Highlights from WriteOnCon

Recent Highlights from WriteOnCon

Recent Highlights from WriteOnConThings have been scarce on the blog recently, and that’s down to three things:

  • Deadlines for The Eleventh Trade revision
  • The Invisible Boy draft 2 writing
  • WriteOnCon‘s fundraiser!!!!!

It’s the last thing I want to talk about today. If you don’t remember, WriteOnCon is an online kidlit conference covering everything from picture books to young adult, featuring tons of industry specialists from all around the spectrum.

(I am personally incredibly ecstatic about GAIL CARSON LEVINE who is COMING TO THE CONFERENCE and I CAN’T EVEN DEAL!!!!!!!!!!!)

Since I’ve been doing a lot over on WriteOnCon, I don’t want you guys to…Continue Reading

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In Video

My First Interview!

My First InterviewBack in the spring, Bath Spa University contacted me about an opportunity to film an interview with the British Council in Manchester. I was all, “Pffft, why would they want to fly me out to talk to me?” But they were all, “We’re actually making these cool videos for every UK university and we’d like to cover your story and we’ll pay for all your expenses.” And I was all, “WELL OKAY THEN.”

So the last week of June, I found myself flying over the Pond yet again. This time I brought my sister along as my travel companion. I know, I’m super cruel.

On a very rainy morning in Manchester, I found the studio and got to meet the wonderful team. I’d already emailed with some of them and done a test run over the phone with my interviewer, Matt Cook (who did a fabulous job turning our hour long conversation into something that made sense in under three minutes), but it was nice to put faces to names. Too nervous to do more than sip on my morning tea, I was bundled off to make-up for the obligatory swan transformation every movie has promised me.


Once I was suitably coated in make-up and my hair was sprayed to a stiffness beyond starched military uniforms (so that the editing guys wouldn’t have to paint over stray strands), I was ready to go! The camera guys spent a little longer preparing everything, allowing me a few minutes to chat with Matt and Bryony — which was great to help me work through my nerves.

Talking about Bath Spa University, The Eleventh Trade, and my writing methods is all actually a very centering process for me. I mean, it’s almost as if I’ve written an entire blog series on BSU and also regularly mentor writers. Straaange.


Then Matt and I got settled in our places. I’ve been on the other side of the camera numerous times back in my job in Philanthropic Communications at Berry College, which gave me a foundation of familiarity with the situation. I hate being in front of the camera, but who doesn’t?

We did three takes of the interview — one where I was very rambly, one where I was slightly more intelligible, and finally one that was as condensed as possible. These were frequently interrupted by Manchester traffic sounds from outside, as one might expect. Also I had to work hard to keep my hand motions under the camera frame.

hands are hard

Hands are hard.

But in the end, it all came together, and the process was a lot less nerve-wracking than I thought it would be. I even had some fun! And that’s how I had a Super Official interview and got to talk about my amazing university and my exciting debut The Eleventh Trade, annnd it was all paid for!

(Except for my visit to Paperchase. Manchester has a three-story Paperchase. Stationary lovers beware.)

Huge thank you to the British Council for having me, to Bath Spa University for being awesome, and everyone along the way who’s shared enthusiastic encouragement for The Eleventh Trade!

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In Standard

Stop Glorifying the First Draft and Finish It

Stop Glorifying the First Draft and Finish It

As a mentee for writers, a critique partner, and person who generally has a lot of friends in very different stages of the author business, I end up talking to a lot of people about their first drafts. Especially their first-manuscript first drafts.

The attitude of many first-manuscript writers can be summed up nicely in this graphic, which I’ve grabbed off Pinterest:

Tangled Meme
(So much is wrong about this graphic, but I only got time for the starry-eyed attitude today.)

There’s something very sweet and appealing about this. It reminds me of the sentimental early days of writing,…Continue Reading

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In Standard

10 Travel-Themed Exercises for Character Chemistry

10 Travel-Themed Exercises for Character Chemistry

As you may have gathered, I travel. A lot. So I figured — why not take a look at my travel experiences and see what brought out the biggest differences among my companions? That way I can steal from our adventures and use it for character chemistry in my writing. (If you travel with me, there’s an 85% chance this will happen. That’s the risk you take being friends with a writer-person.)

Even when you’re traveling with great people, there are subtle conflicts and compromises along the way. If you’re less lucky, those little adjustments can become stewing rage or explosive…Continue Reading

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In Standard

Story Graphics: Theme Collage

Story Graphics: Theme Collage

Story Graphic- Theme CollageContinuing on in my (somewhat infrequent) story graphics series, let’s talk about one of my favorite things to make: Theme collages! These can be a fabulous way to visually brainstorm your project from all angles (character, setting, conflict, you name it). I particularly love to make collages for my fantasy stories, because there are so many pretty pictures to choose from.

For maximum brainstorming effectiveness, I recommend putting on your story playlist (or a playlist of fitting music), getting a cup of tea, and snuggling down to put all this together. The music in particular really helps!

Full…Continue Reading

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5 Free Scrivener Writing Backgrounds

5 Free Scrivener Writing Backgrounds

FREE SCRIVENER WRITING BACKGROUNDS(This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and end up buying something, I’ll receive 20% of sales. Why? Because Scrivener is amazing. I’ve used it for five years and love it. And I thought, you know, since I talk about it literally all the time, maybe I should have it help pay for this blog.)

Many moons ago, I posted a picture of my writing progress in Illuminate using one of Scrivener‘s special features: Composition background. First, I’ll let you know how what…Continue Reading

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How to Make a Killer Character Sheet

How to Make a Killer Character Sheet

HOW TO MAKE A KILLER CHARACTER SHEETI’m very visually oriented, if you haven’t guessed from the graphics series that appears periodically on this blog. I brainstorm and process stories best through tactile exercises. This is one reason my character sheets are a little bit ridiculous, but also very thorough. My friend and partner in crime, Annie, is much the same way — and at any given time you should assume that these blog entries were created by our hive mind because we steal each others’ stuff constantly.

Anyway. Today I’m going to walk you through making…Continue Reading

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