To All the Bookstores I've Loved Before

When I was a kid, my favorite store in the mall closest to our house was a Waldenbooks. When I say "closest to our house" this particular mall was still roughly 30 minutes away, but in those days it was the mall that everyone went to. There are more than a few things I loved about country living. Lack of proximity to bookstores was not one of them. I loved that Waldenbooks. It was a small store and you could see all the way to the back looking through the glass front. It was filled with books, as you would expect. The counter was on the left side, with a wall of new releases and magazines behind it. My favorite section--the young adult and middle grade section--was at the back. The trip that I remember most was July 21, 2007. A week before my birthday. The release day for Deathly Hallows.  I'd pre-ordered it long before, not wanting to risk going into the bookstore and it not being there. I needed that book. My mom didn't understand the draw of a midnight releas

What's New Monday - October 29, 2018

What I'm Reading:  I finished Pride by Ibi Zoboi and came out of it with an overwhelming desire to watch Pride and Prejudice again. Weirdly, I think I would've enjoyed this more without the P&P connections (I really don't know how to handle it when "Mr. Darcy" is their father), but it's a solid book nonetheless. Next up is Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak. What I'm Writing:  In terms of word count, October has been my most productive writing month this year. A Thousand Miles is in the home stretch. What I'm Listening to:  Right now, a lot of things, but I want to make a special shout-out to The Good Place podcast. It's such a wonderful, upbeat podcast about the best damn TV show. I love listening to a group of people who love their work and hearing the behind the scenes stories of how the show is coming to be. What I'm Watching:  Let me say how much I love This is Us and The Good Place. So much. Last week's episodes for bot

Formatting Dialogue Crash Course

The punctuation of dialogue is something that I see a lot of new writers getting wrong. It's something that immediately turns me off, no matter how promising the rest of the story is. So, today, I'm going to do a quick crash course in how dialogue is formatted. Quotation marks go around the speech. Closing punctuation marks go inside the closing quotation marks at the end of the dialogue. If the dialogue is followed by a tag, you use a comma. If it's not, you use something else. The only exceptions are question marks and exclamation points, which are used as appropriate whether or not there is a dialogue tag. Actions are separate from dialogue. What not to do: "This is my favorite song." He said. "This is a good movie" she said.  "Do you want chili for dinner," she asked.  "I haven't read that book," she pointed at the book in question on the shelf. What to do: "I have a cat," they said. "I'm alle

What's New Monday - October 22

We seem to be dangerously close to skipping right over autumn and straight into winter. Otherwise known as just another October in the Midwest. What I'm Reading:  I finished Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram over the course of a couple afternoons. It's a very heartfelt book about an Iranian-American boy going to Iran and meeting his family there for the first time, while dealing with depression and coming of age. I spent a good chunk of the week with Mirage by Somaiya Daud and loved that as well. The worldbuilding is absolutely gorgeous, the characters well-rounded, and the love interest...well, I might be in love with him. I've barely started Pride by Ibi Zoboi. What I'm Writing:  A Thousand Miles is still flowing well. I'm a little worried that the first draft is going to be under 50k but I'm sure I'll find plenty of room to expand in the next one. What I'm Listening to:  I mostly got caught up on everything Critical Role t

Writing About Other Sexualities

This post was originally made in August 2014. I felt like it was time for an update.  Representation is important and publishing is finally starting to embrace diversity. If you're thinking about writing queer characters, there are many things to consider, especially if you're writing about a sexuality that is not your own. The most important thing when writing queer characters is that being queer is not the only thing they have going for them. They have pasts, futures, hopes, dreams, motivations just like any other characters. They shouldn't be here to play the role of "Gay Best Friend #1." Coming out stories are not the only queer stories that matter. They're extremely important, don't get me wrong, but we also need stories about characters who just happen to be queer, just like we have thousands of stories about characters who just happen to be straight. Do your research. Don't rely on stereotypes or misconceptions. Not all gay men are intere

What's New Monday - October 15, 2018

Curious. I definitely wrote a post for last Monday but it seems to still be in my drafts. Autumn is coming on quickly. It's cold outside and the heat is on in the house and the leaves are changing colors. I still haven't had my apple cider but I did have my first pumpkin latte last weekend so all is not lost. I love fall but I can already smell the snow. What I'm Reading:  I ended up DNFing When I Am Through With You because I just wasn't connecting with the characters. Instead, I read Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel.  It was a nice quick read but struck me as more middle grade in feel than young adult. I also picked up Dread Nation by Justina Ireland from the bookstore and adored it. I'm not usually one for zombie novels but if this is the last one I ever read (okay, last series because I desperately need that sequel) that's fine with me. The concept is great, the execution is even better, and the characters are all well-rounded and fascinating. The last

The Answer to Most Writing Questions

I've seen a lot of writers ask questions that come with a very simple answer: Read More. "Is sex okay for YA?" "What's the difference between YA and MG?" "How long should be chapters be?" "Can I do this thing?" "How do I write a long scene of dialogue?" "What genre is my book?" If you read more books, you'll often find the answer to your question. Be well-read within your genre. Read other genres. Read for other markets. Read non-fiction. Read books from authors you like, authors you don't, authors you've never heard of. Find those books you love and then think about what's so compelling about them. Think about the characters, the plot, the pacing. This doesn't mean try to turn those books into a formula for your own book, it just means studying from the masters to figure out what you can do to make your book better. Read. More.