Video Saturday (not quite) – Writing Advice, or more truthfully #Writing Infographic

Now THIS is a Writer’s Retreat I’d love to explore!

Writers Restreat Graphic

And once again this amazing image is brought to you by Grant Snider. (Why is it I love his stuff so much? Oh yeah, he’s brilliantly talented!)


Video Saturday – Quentin Tarantino on #Writing Dialogue

I’m going to just leave this here. :)

So, after watching that, who are your dialogue influences?

Video Saturday (Not quite): #Writing Advice – Other Ways to Say it

Okay, this Saturday, I once again found something I liked a little better than video.  Below are a couple of great infographics from “We Are Teacher’s” Pinterest Writing Workshop Board. As writers, I have no doubt that we all have pretty decent vocabularies, but like anyone else, we can and do fall into traps of using our much fewer preferred words.  This is a nice reminder that there is a whole world of words out there to choose from.  As Mark Twain said, “The difference between finding a word and finding the right word, is the difference between lightning, and a lightning bug.”


Circle of Emotion Words and their Alternates

Other Ways to Say - Emotion Word Chart


Note: Our apologies as we are aware that these structures/infographics are not necessarily the most accessible.  Please contact us at if you would like/need us to provide an accessible version. Thank you for your patience!

What does #Steampunk Mean? 10 Authors Share their Vision of the Genre

COGWHEELS Ten Tales of Steampunk Cover - Woman in Victorian Corset with a Fan Okay, okay, this post a is a little bit of a promotional post as the 10 writer’s whose thoughts I’m collecting are all in Rayne Hall’s anthology “Cogwheels.”   And in full disclosure, my short story “Touch of Love” is one of the stories in the collection.

‘Cogwheels: Ten Tales of Steampunk’  is available as an ebook from Amazon and will soon also be on Barnes & Noble, iBooks and other bookseller sites. The introductory price is 99c. Not a bad price for what is actually more than 10 stories which the editor talks about here:  and can be explained with the statement, “Don’t let your cat help with the editing, even if he does have good taste!”  Anyway, Rayne was kind enough to pull together the post below that gives us insight into the views of the authors featured in the anthology.

“Steampunk is a marvellous genre—a blend of historical, fantasy and science fiction, often with elements of romance, horror, humour, mystery and more stirred into the mix. It has been evolving constantly, like a fabulous machine inspiring variants, experiments and derivatives. Writers of all kinds have used it, tinkered with it, and enriched it with their creative concepts.

“Many Steampunk stories explore the relationship between humankind and technology, some delve into social issues, while others toy with the costuming, etiquette and gadgetry of an age that never was but might have been.

The writers whose stories are featured in the anthology Cogwheels: Ten Tales of Steampunk reveal what Steampunk means to them and what attracts them to the genre.”  – Rayne Hall

Pic Bob Brown Bob Brown
“Steampunk is half what could have been and half what could be. Knowing the history of all of the different cultures of mankind, one thing rings out, you are either afraid and suspicious of strangers or you learn to be. ”




Nied Darnell
“Steampunk equals imagination gone wild. I’ve written novels set in the 19th century but history had to hem me in, keep my wildest fancies tromped down. Steampunk, on the other hand, asks if they can come out to play.”

Pic Mark Cassell Mark Cassell
“Steampunk is new territory for me, although it does share threads with the SF genre. It gives the writer, and reader, freedom to explore not the furthest reaches of space but of a land of what could have been.”




Pic Kin S LawKin S. Law
“The turning point between 19th and 20th centuries was also a turning point in attitudes, how we viewed the world. You can’t unite a world with ships, or telegraph, or internet, without expecting a radical, revolutionary change, and Steampunk is the best vessel for reflecting the changes of today.”




Pic April Grey April Grey
“To me, Steampunk means a fun take on my favorite stories of adventure from the 18th and 19th centuries, when the magic of science was still fresh and innocent. It’s also a chance to re-examine how far we have come. In the past 200-300 years we’ve made great strides and also some spectacular failures in human rights…I don’t think Steampunk should gloss over that, at the same time, every writer needs to write their own vision of this genre.”



Pic Day Al-Mohamed Day Al-Mohamed
“Steampunk to me is a reflection of a different time (albeit a created one), where science and discovery were moving rapidly forward and we learned more about the world around us and how it worked in intimate detail. There was a sense of adventure and the fantastical exemplified by Verne and Wells. I find that Steampunk is similar to science fiction in the interest and emphasis, and inherent connection to technology, but it differs in that science fiction has tended to show us a future and time that is dystopic, where Steampunk is inherently optimistic. There is a belief that all the world’s ills can be explained and solved, if we just go out and seek it.”


Morgan A. Pryce
“Writing my first ever Steampunk story, I may have fallen in love with this rollercoaster of a playground where the mad kid rules: nothing is too crazy as long as it rattles, ticks, tocks and steams. I found the tension between a historical setting, technology that doesn’t belong and the age-old question of ‘What if….?’ highly inspirational.”

Pic Kevin O McLaughlin Kevin O. McLaughlin
“To me, Steampunk is partly about the period—but is more about the flavor, the feel of the story. I enjoy it because it’s a structure with limits within which the writer can create from a dizzying array of possibilities.”




pic Jonathan Broughton Jonathan Broughton
“Steampunk can be fun. It can also be horrific. Surprise arises when the two are mixed.”





pic Liv Rancourt Liv Rancourt
“Beyond the corsets and goggles, Steampunk is about optimism. The genre is grounded in a time when human ingenuity was going to solve all the problems in the world. Because of that, I find it a lot more appealing than, say, dystopian or even 1980s nihilistic punk.”




Pic Rayne HallRayne Hall
“Steampunk fiction takes place in a culture that’s similar to our own yet different, so we can recognise ourselves in the characters and at the same time view our situations and social issues from a new perspective. The Steampunk world is based both on historical fact and on creative imagination, so when we read the stories, we are able to suspend our disbelief.”



Pic Joanne AndertonJoanne Anderton
“To me, Steampunk is all about an old-school awe at technology and machines, and it reminds us of a time when it felt like science could do anything. Cogs, gears, steam, they’re are all so much more physical than the sleek, neat computers we have nowadays. It’s that physicality we love, the way you can literally see the way the machines work. But there’s also a hint of darkness in all this optimism that particularly appeals to me. Amidst all that Victorian-era wonder there’s the spectre of pollution and inequality.”




Do you agree with these authors, or do you have a different perspective? Leave a comment and tell us what Steampunk means to you.

Top 10 Most #Read Books (via @GalleyCat)

Top 10 Most Read Books

I found this on GalleyCat’s page from December 27, 2012 and it is listed as “by far the most popular (and controversial)” infographics they had posted that year. Jared Fanning created it using a list compiled by freelance writer James Chapman–based on the number of copies each book sold over the last 50 years.

The ranking and numbers in millions of copies:
1. The Bible (3,900)
2. Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tsung (820)
3. Harry Potter (400)
4. The Lord of the Rings (103)
5. The Alchemist (65)
6. The Da Vinci Code (57)
7. The Twilight Saga (43)
8. Gone with the Wind (33)
9. Think and Grow Rich (30)
10. The Diary of Anne Frank (27)

There are several that for sheer sales I would think the list makes sense, with but I have to admit I have some serious skepticism. In part because this reads as a very Western-centric list and I have to wonder that there is not a Chinese or Indian author with significant popularity who would achieve significant sales numbers and yet be a relative unknown in Europe and the United States.

What comes to mind for me are some of the amazing actors and actresses, and singers with massive followings that I grew up with overseas that no one had ever heard of here.  That is what makes me question this list.

What do you think?  And if not these, what books would you have expected (or wanted) to see on the Top 10 Most Read Books in the World List?

Once More Unto the (Camp NaNoWriMo) Breach…

So, the CampNaNo July event is about to kick off, and I find myself preparing to do it again.  Many of the writers I know don’t do these events, although a few folks I’m friendly with do.  For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month (although it’s now a global phenomenon).  The main program is in November, but they have also spun off into a few other events, like this one.  What’s the benefit?  Why do I keep doing it?

A few reasons, for me.  There are probably as many reasons to do this, or even not to do it, as there are writers.  I get the ones who feel they’ve “outgrown” it, I do.  A lot of people tend to look on this as an event for amateurs, and I can somewhat see that.  I, personally, don’t.  My first published novel, In My Brother’s Name, started off as a NaNo project.  The Night Circus, a novel I really enjoyed (and that hit the best sellers’ list) also started off as a NaNo project.

Now, I’m not saying I’ll get another salable novel out of this.  At least not at first.  It’s a very rough process.  You get from the first to the thirty first of the month to get down fifty thousand words of a story.  50,000 words in 31 days.  It sounds daunting, and it can be.

But here’s the thing.  I spend a month really focusing on my writing.  You need discipline to crank out that word count, and discipline is something a writer needs, especially if they are trying to become a professional.  Kevin J. Anderson, an amazingly prolific best-selling writer that I’ve had the good fortune to hear speak and learn from a few times now, calls NaNo a vacation.  For him, it probably would be.  The man eats, sleeps, and breathes writing to an extent that no one else I’ve ever met does.  But for the rest of us, 50,000 in a month isn’t bad, really.

A suggestion I’ve heard from many different professionals is that you should keep a writing journal, and record ideas, or fragments, as they come to you.  I have found this to be a great idea for me, and I do that.  Most NaNos, I go through that journal (a file, in my case) and pull out an idea I want to explore more.

One of the ideas behind NaNo is just get the words down, don’t self edit.  For me, I”ve found that to be a great way to get going on an idea I haven’t really played with.  I don’t always get something I can sell out of it, I admit.  Once, I did a story that was a modernized version of the Lone Ranger, dealing with the cartels on the Mexico/Texas border.  I don’t have the rights to the Ranger, so I can’t sell it, but it was a good writing exercise.  And honestly, I really like how the story came out, as does everyone I’ve let read it.  So this whole thing can get the ideas flowing in an unrestricted way, which is great for creativity.

If you think of yourself as a writer, that’s a good first step.  The next step would be actually writing.  It doesn’t matter how many books about writing you read, or own.  It doesn’t matter how many workshops you go to, or how much you talk about writing.  Writers write.  It’s what makes them writers, and the only way to ever get better.  You might got the full 50.  You might go way over it.  But if you try, you pretty much always learn something.  Maybe about your writing, how you handle deadlines, or what works for you (or doesn’t) when you’re trying to settle down and really write.  But I’d be really surprised if you gave NaNo your best shot and got absolutely nothing out of it.

So, for the next month, I know I’ll be working pretty hard on my writing.

How about you?

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