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Showing posts from September, 2014

Mary Sue

Hello, friends.  This week I'm talking about a problem every author will face at one time or another.  I'm talking about the Mary Sue.

If you don't know what a Mary Sue (MS) is, I'll give you my version and then point you toward some other resources for more in-depth reading.  To me, a MS is a character, usually the main character, that is inexplicably awesome, stuff always goes right for them, and if it doesn't they are usually prophesied/fated to "win" at the end of the story.  Their enemies lose, big time.  And they get the girl/guy/unicorn/whatever.  They might be remarkably similar to the author, probably a very idealized version of her or him.  TV Tropes has a great article on the MS.  Here's one from Know Your Meme and another from Fanlore.
Curious if you have a MS in one of your stories?  There are a few online tests to run your characters through here, here, and here, plus others I'm sure.  Some of these questions need to be taken with a…

Background Noise

Hello, friends!  Today I'm sharing some of the music I listen to while I write with you. (Read: cop out because I couldn't think of anything else.)

I love soundtracks.  But when I listen to movie soundtracks, I think about what happened during the movie.  I can't get that story out of my head, so it makes it hard for me to think about my own story when it's playing.

Instead, I listen to video game soundtracks.  I still have to eliminate some that are too recognizable (any of the Legend of Zelda franchise), but there are plenty others with great soundtracks that I don't already have memorized.  To sample new soundtracks, I've been listening to the Top Score podcast which features composers talking about their work and the games it's featured in.  Another place I find music is MyAPM which is a site for sounds and songs available for mixing into commercials and other forms of media.  You can sort songs and albums by categories on the left-hand side of the pag…

Got the Herp

Happy Friday!! Today I went to the Houston Zoo and spent about 3 hours in the Reptile House as part of my research for Spitfire.  Special thanks to keepers Monty and Greg who were gracious enough to answer questions and make suggestions.  They were happy to humor me, even if they were a bit bemused at the idea of dragon people.

I have lots of pictures so I'll just post those and talk about what I particularly liked from each of these animals.  I went to get some questions answered but also to watch some behavior and get ideas for possible physical attributes to include.  Please forgive the pictures, I like my camera because it fits in my purse, not because it makes me an amazing photographer.  Also I refrained from using flash so I didn't freak out the animals.  And I have shaky hands.  And these are through glass.  Anyway, consider yourself warned.

Ricord's Anole - I liked this one for the white around the eye, highlights the eye
Boelen's Python - The glass is foggy b…

Class Divisions Are Nothing New

Happy Friday!  This is my first research post for my project Spitfire.  Click here if you have no idea what I'm talking about.

One of the things I learned when I met Mary Robinette Kowal and Marie Brennan on their book tour was to start wide when doing research and progressively narrow in on your subject of interest.  (Read more about the signing here.)  If you've ever used a compound microscope, you know that you have to start at the lowest magnification, bring the sample into focus, and repeat at every successive magnification as you increase in power until you reach your desired point.  Research is like that.

This week I have been reading The Refinement of America: Persons, Houses, Cities by Richard L. Bushman.  One good thing about living in a college town is that used bookstores are full of educational books just like this one that someone had to buy for one class and then only opened once (seriously, there is only underlining on one page and that's in the intro) tha…