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Monday, September 29, 2014

Dr. Who Giveaways: Defeat Daleks when Washing Your Hands, Travel through Time by Wearing this Ring

As promised, our Dr. Who giveaway is here! There are two prizes (in other words, two winners!) because I'm teaming up with James Duckett for this one. Follow us, like us, all that good stuff for a chance to win. James is a cool friend of mine and a writer too, so check out his blog.

You can win these awesome Dr. Who soap bars, a Tardis and a Dalek. (Please note color of soap may vary somewhat.) Or you can win a Tardis ring*, so you can travel through time wherever you are (it's bigger on the inside). 

Unfortunately, we can only afford to ship these items in the U.S. But don't forget, I still have my Attack on Titan giveaway happening, and that one is international. So if you haven't entered, and you want to, go here. (Winner for that one will be selected Oct. 10th.)

Enter the Dr. Who giveaway by using this rafflecopter. Enter now! Tell all your friends!! Climb in your time machine, go back five minutes, and enter again**!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Smaller print: 
*The winner of the ring will need to send us your ring size, because this will be especially crafted for your finger by the talented 3D printer-er, Joseph Larson. 
**Multiple submissions will require proof of ability to time travel, which you can email to us a year ago today… just so you know, we already know who is eligible. 

By the way, when I started prepping for this giveaway, I hadn't actually seen Dr. Who, I just decided to do the giveaway because that's what fandom my followers wanted. Now, I've seen three episodes. You can thank James for introducing me to two of them. I liked them. I'll definitely have to watch more.

Lastly, Trigun giveaway is still on the horizon, if you are a fan of that series.

Thanks for following!

Friday, September 26, 2014

How to Pick the Right Character Names

(Listen to this tip on Youtube.)

sabryth said: I can't for the life of me get my character's names right. I have two main characters and I just can't find satisfactory names for them. Do you have any tips on how to find the right names?

(with examples from Harry PotterThe Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, Trigun, Divergent, How to Train Your Dragon, and more.)

Hmmm, names can be tricky. Setting and origin is an important factor. If I lived in China, my name might be "Li Ming Fan." Names like "Alohilani Smith" suggest a mix of ancestral heritage or perhaps the character's mother is Hawaiian and the father American. I have one friend who has a Native American name and she's super pale, yet she has Native American blood, so you could even play around with things like that to make your character a little unique.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Maze Runner Movie--Win or Fail?

The Maze Runner book by James Dashner was one of my top three reads last year, and I knew about the movie and went to a couple writing classes from Dashner at a conference (he's a super nice guy) way before that, so needless to say, I've been waiting for this movie for a while. At the writing conference, Dashner was fun to hear from because it was just after the movie started production, and he was way excited about it. He was very positive and a bit passionate, and I loved hearing that come out of him.

But when I heard that 20th Century Fox was adapting The Maze Runner movie, I said, "Heck no!" I will never forget what they did to this adaptation:

I still talk about how much I hate the Eragon movie often. Other times I forget it even exists because it was so awful.

But The Maze Runner movie? I loved it.

Does it deviate from the book? Yes. But it was more similar than different. It hit the same points and they had the overall concept of it down. And the changes they did make didn't irk me hardly at all. But one of the best things about the movie, is that it evoked almost all the same emotions in me that the book did. I was immediately sucked in and felt it all--fear, dread, morbid curiosity, disgust.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Are You a Passive or Active Audience Member?

You'll have to thank my brother for my blog post today, because he pointed out to me that there are two different ways to watch a movie or t.v. show (or, I'll add, read a book)--actively or passively. And honestly, I think a lot of people are passive.

Since movies, t.v. shows, books, and games tend to be something people wind down to or a means to cope with stress, we sit back and relax and simply let those mediums entertain us. We're being spoon-fed a story. We're letting the story take us on it's little ride. We might miss some minor details of the plot, setting, or characterization, but we get most of the story. Being a passive audience takes no effort.

A passive audience member isn't necessarily bad, but an active one is better, particularly for writers. Active audience members are constantly consciously putting themselves in the story. They are participating in it, actively looking for the fine details, that little snippet of dialogue that implies why a character is a certain way, exactly why that fighting maneuver worked or didn't. They will come up with questions and actively listen or watch or read for the answers. They will make fine-tuned predictions and have little questions about the characters' world. They will find the minuscule plot holes, not just the blaring ones. They will pick up on the gestures a character makes and what they mean.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Why We Get Writer's Block (and How to Overcome it)

(Listen to this tip on Youtube)

whendaylightstrikes said: So when you have writers block, how do you deal with it?

No, really though, so far I've found six reasons we get writer's block.

A Lack of Brainstorming
Usually when I get writer's block, it's because I haven't brainstormed enough. I'm stuck because I don't know what to do next. That's when I stop and have a few brainstorming sessions to get the ideas flowing. If you're having a hard time with your brainstorming, you could try brainstorming with someone, another friend or writer. He or she may have different ideas than you and one of them might spark. You might need to brainstorm more plot, a new character, or a new setting, depending on what you're stuck on.

The Wrong Turn
I've heard other writers say that if you get writer's block, it means you've taken a "wrong turn" with your story, and you need to go back a few pages to figure out where you strayed. Maybe you got writers' block because you sent your character to a Vegas hotel, so you go back and realize she really needs to go to a circus instead, or maybe you realize she fell in love with the wrong person, and she really needs to fall in love with the cowboy, not the police man.

Writing into a Corner
Sometimes you can get writer's block because you've written your character into a corner. Maybe you've had a kidnapper tie her up and you can literally think of no way she can get out of the situation. In that case, you may need to go back and rewrite the story so she doesn't get that stuck.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Writing (Magical) Items: Weapons, Attire, Potions,Tools, Steeds

I used to loathe the idea of having to research things like weapons for my fiction. It's just not something that interested me. I'd rather just say "he had a sword," or "she pulled out a gun," and get back to the plot and characters. But I know some items, especially if they are important to the main characters, should be specific, should have names technical or given. Then one day this part of the writing process came alive for me when I applied The Legend of Zelda to it.

I don't consider myself a "gamer," but there are some games that I fangirl over and have played with a deep love. Zelda is one of those. I haven't played all of them but several. One of the coolest parts about The Legend of Zelda, is that Link, the protagonist, acquires all these wicked weapons during the course of the game. They're unique. They're personalize. They're awesome. Once I married my love for Zelda with writing, I finally gained an understanding of and appreciation for characters' items.

Whether you write speculative fiction, like fantasy and sci-fi, or stick to the real world, you can get something out of this post. Even if your characters' items aren't Magical they can still be "magical," and should be. In this post I'll be talking about how to take your characters' items to the next level, what makes an item a good one, and how to use an item well in your story. But first, lets talk about the different kinds of items your character might have, both fantastical and realistic.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Attack on Titan Giveaway (Pick Your Prize!)

This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Sesshyowl for winning! She picked the cape:

Way excited to announce my Attack on Titan giveaway, where you get to pick one of nine prizes! You have several opportunities to enter. (You must be a friend/follower to win)

Like or share the giveaway post on Facebook. Do both to enter twice. (Make sure when you share that it's set to "public" so that I can see that you shared it.)

Like or Reblog this post on Tumblr. Do both to enter twice.

Comment on this blog post (must be a follower of this blog)

If you win, you get to pick from these prizes:

Monday, September 1, 2014

Plotting Tool: Death by Surprise

Today I'm bringing you a plotting technique I call "Death by Surprise," and it works as a great pinch to your readers. It can give them a twinge of suspense, shock, dread, and sorrow all at once. It works like this:

Your character is battling his way through your story, facing villain, monsters, or whatever kind of obstacles you are throwing his way. Then something out of the blue actually inflicts a fatal wound to him. It's something the character (and maybe the reader too) never saw coming. The intensity of this plotting technique comes from the shock and surprise the character has as he realizes, he's come so far only to die from this.

Let's look at examples to see some different ways "Death by Surprise" can be done.