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Shanna's Journal
Shanna's Adventures in Publishing (and in life)
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25th-Jul-2016 12:06 pm - In the Home Stretch
shoe
I've reached the 3/4 mark of this book, with about 100 pages to go (if the plot cooperates). That means that if I write 25 pages a day this week, I can finish this draft before ArmadilloCon. Then the con weekend can be my between-drafts palate-cleansing break, and then when I get back I can dive into the major surgery revisions. I'd like to finish those in the two weeks before WorldCon, which can be my break before I do editing/polishing and proofreading. This may be the fastest first draft I've ever done for a book this length. I may have writtenone of my category romances in about that time, but it was only 50,000 words. Otherwise, I believe Once Upon Stilettos was done in something like 5-6 weeks. And then it took me months to revise. I haven't re-read what I've written, so I don't know how heavy the revisions on this one will be. I know of some tweaking I want to do, and there's a character who'll need to be better established to set up something I want to do with her. There are also some scenes I'll need to amp up or flesh out, and probably some scenes that need to be trimmed or cut entirely (I suspect I've got a lot of Plotting on Paper in this book, where the characters discuss possible things they could do so that I can figure out what they will do).

Then I'll spend September playing with a new idea to see if it's viable. In October, I'm hoping to dive into the next Rebel Mechanics book.

Speaking of which … the hardcover edition of Rebel Magisters is now available at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble (and through other places, like the Ingram catalog, for library purchases). It's part of the overall book listing, so if you click on the book, it will show the formats that are available. I'm hoping to have news of audio soon.

In other news … I saw the new Star Trek movie this weekend, and I think I liked it better than the other ones in the reboot series. I'm still iffy on the concept of the reboot, and there were a few lines and scenes that were on a fine line between "homage" and "parody," with a set of scenes that were straight out of fanfic. But in general, it felt a lot more like classic Star Trek than the previous two films did.

Though, to be honest, I was far more excited by the new trailer for Rogue One, the new Star Wars movie. That looks like it's going to be so much fun.

And now off to get my 25 pages written. I'm going to try to get more than that to lighten my load for Thursday so I can deal with packing and preparation and get to bed early.
22nd-Jul-2016 02:09 pm - The Geek Double Standard
R2D2
I spent the morning buying new glasses. I've had more or less the same prescription -- not changing enough to make enough difference to bother with new glasses -- for about fifteen years, and have had the current glasses for almost 11 years. At my eye exam yesterday, my prescription changed the tiniest amount that it could change, and I figured that was a good excuse to update my glasses. That also gives me the chance to get bifocals, but with the reading part blank. I only wear glasses to drive or watch TV, or when I'm out of the house. I don't need them for anything else, but I've reached a point where I can't wear them to read. I've been taking them off to read, or else I've been looking under them, but that's kind of a pain, and my doctor suggested the bifocals as a way to get a similar benefit without having to take the glasses off (that's what she has). Now I have to wait about 10 days for them to come in.

But shopping for glasses, and realizing that the geek chic frames don't work on my face, made me think of another movie/TV trope involving women, in light of my earlier discussion about the creepy behavior. It's what I call the Geek Double Standard.

In movies/TV shows with a geeky male hero or major character, he's probably fallen madly in love with some beautiful supermodel type woman, often without her having anything in common with him, or with him not even knowing enough about her to know whether she has anything in common with him. This is portrayed as romantic, and we're supposed to cheer for him, even when he engages in creepy behavior in pursuit of her -- sabotaging or interrupting her dates with other men, stalking her, hacking into her online accounts to learn more about her, spying on her, etc. Often, she ends up finding this charming and falls in love with him. If she doesn't, she's portrayed as shallow and bitchy for rejecting him. The only reason given why she might possibly be rejecting him is his geeky appearance. Apparently, not being into stalkers or wanting a man to have something in common with her aren't even considered as possibilities. Even if she is rejecting him because of his geeky appearance, it's okay for him to be into her because she's beautiful, but it's terrible and shallow of her to not be into him because he's not conventionally attractive.

On the other hand, if a geeky female has any romantic interest in any man, it's played for laughs. She's depicted as a pathetic loser. It's especially bad if her interest is in an attractive, heroic type, but even if she's after a fellow geek who has a lot of things in common with her, she's shown to be an annoyance to him. She might get in the way of his pursuit of the supermodel, I guess. He's not depicted as being shallow for not being receptive to her advances because of her appearance. The only way she can get any man is to take off her glasses, let her hair down, wear makeup, and dress up in sexy clothes.

I will give the original Ghostbusters some credit in not falling into this trap. Sigourney Weaver's character was never portrayed as being an awful person for not being into her geeky neighbor or for initially resisting Bill Murray (they just forgot to show the transition between her not being impressed with him and her falling in love with him). Though they did sort of portray Janine's interest in Egon as pathetic, even though he was nerdier than she was.
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I suspect that doing the re-read and commentary of the earlier books in the Enchanted, Inc. series had something to do with sparking an idea for a new book, or else it just reminded me of how much fun these are to write. Working on it is almost like taking a vacation from my other writing.

So, we're at chapters 11-13 of Damsel Under Stress, where the Spellworks ad campaign is in full force, and they've realized that they've even opened a store. Yes, this is all a deliberate riff on Apple, but I should say that I'm a rather loyal Mac user. I have a MacPlus from 1990 in my closet (thinking of turning it either into a terrarium or a fish bowl), and I'm on my sixth Mac (probably soon to be a seventh, as the current MacBook is more than five years old, and that's getting into the danger zone). Mostly, all this came from the idea that the magic industry was like the computer industry, with spells being the software. At the time I came up with the idea for the series, I was working in high-tech public relations, so I'd dealt with software companies. These were the people I knew and the part of the business world I was most familiar with. When I was researching the first book, I read a few books about Silicon Valley and life inside Apple, the battle against IBM and Microsoft, etc. Since my "hero" company was the establishment, that meant the villain had to be "Apple." Plus, Phelan Idris isn't particularly imaginative, and he was deliberately and blatantly ripping off Apple because that's how he saw himself. I don't know if the "I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC" ads were yet running at the time I wrote this book, but that was the basic attitude behind the way Spellworks was set up.

In the planning for what to do about all this, I set up a couple of things. One was Katie volunteering to lose her immunity so they could have a "normal" person who was in on the secret. That's a progression of her character, after she spent much of the last book trying to get her immunity back. Now she's being pretty brave in offering to do it (and that sets up something that happens later). We also start getting the sense that Owen is letting his personal feelings get in the way. We've seen that he has the potential to be dangerous, and does it make him even more dangerous when he's more worried about someone he cares for than he is about the greater good?

Then we get to the dragons. This whole bit was inspired by the chapter header art from the first book, which showed a dragon twined around the chapter number. When I saw that, my first thought was, "You know all those urban legends about alligators in the New York sewer system? They're not alligators." I'd already written the second book before I saw the interior of the first book, so this book was my first chance to play with that. It was a nice fit for the incompetent and out-of-date fairy godmother subplot, since there are all those stories in which rescuing a maiden from a dragon was a surefire path to romance. Of course Ethelinda would set up something like that in her matchmaking efforts. Only, as Katie told her, dragons really aren't that romantic. Then again, it did lead to a cozy evening in at Owen's place, so maybe she was on to something …

And then Ethelinda intervenes yet again in a way that could be disastrous, or it might actually be helpful, when Katie and Owen end up getting their dinner plans hijacked so that they're sent off to a fancy restaurant -- where they just happen to see a celebration dinner between their enemies. I think this scene was largely inspired by reading restaurant reviews in the local newspaper. I'm not a super picky eater, but I'm also not a big gourmet foodie. I tend to read restaurant reviews with a sense of morbid fascination because most of the dishes they describe sound rather revolting and really just an excuse to throw together things that should never go together in the name of "innovation." In this scene, I created a restaurant that sounds like the kind of place you'd read about in a restaurant review. And then, because Idris is there, chaos ensues ...
20th-Jul-2016 12:00 pm - Creepy Behavior
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Every so often, I seem to hit a kind of perfect storm of things coming at me from a variety of angles that makes me realize something. Lately, oddly enough, it's been the way that really creepy behavior is so often portrayed as romantic.

I guess part of what started me down this train of thought was a picture I saw on Facebook of the Phantom, from Phantom of the Opera, sitting on his throne, and with a caption saying something about how he now realized that the way he'd pursued Christine might have come across as rather creepy and unsettling. That made me laugh because that's always been my view of the story. I've never been able to see that relationship as romantic, never saw it as a beauty-and-the-beast tale. I was Team Raoul all the way (plus, in the musical, the original Raoul was a fellow Longhorn). Then I watched the original Ghostbusters over the weekend, and I found the way Sigourney Weaver's character was treated to be very unsettling. That was a big case of having had way too many experiences that were way too similar. The way the Rick Moranis character acted toward her is a lot like the way I sometimes experience science fiction conventions, where people mean well and aren't really doing anything mean, but they can sometimes be a little over the top while not picking up on clues that their interest isn't reciprocated in that way. I haven't had anything quite that bad happen, but I have had a lot of experience with people who misinterpret generic author-mode friendliness. The way Bill Murray's character acted was the other end of the spectrum, where he was being creepily present and intrusive, but with the air that the relationship was already a done deal and the implication that he knew she was interested, regardless of what she said, and acting like she was the one more interested than he was, even though he was the one practically stalking her.

Then, to cap off the train of thought, I left iTunes playing while I was cooking dinner last night, and there was enough noise from the kitchen that I couldn't quite hear the music, until there was a bloodcurdling scream from the living room. I realized it was part of the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack, leading to the ending where Christine has to tell the Phantom that she's not into him that way (though she still has to kiss him).

I find all that behavior horrifying and rather scary. There have been way too many cases in real life of women and girls being hurt or killed because they didn't return a man's affections or because they dared to break up with a man who claimed to love them. And yet, fiction is full of men engaging in creepy, stalker-like behavior that's portrayed as romantic. There was the Twilight series and 50 Shades of Grey, but it's also all over romance novels and movies. In Ghostbusters, it was played for laughs, and the behavior worked for Bill Murray's character even if it didn't work for the dweeb, which sends the message that it's only creepy if the woman isn't interested, but it's cool if the woman is. And that just makes things even more confusing.

It's something I try to be conscious of as a writer, especially now that I'm overtly writing for teens (though I've always had a big teen readership). I may not get the obsessive fandom that the creepy stuff seems to attract, but I hope to portray more positive relationship models, and I like to show healthy relationships as romantic. I just don't get the idea that the more "wrong" a relationship is, the more sexy and exciting it is.
19th-Jul-2016 12:30 pm - Madness and Movies
shoe
Yesterday was the day of getting my to-do list dealt with -- ordering promo material, paying bills, making appointments. I don't know why all that is so draining, but it is. And that means today is a day for writing. I was so tired last night that I went to bed super early, which meant I was up early today and got my errands taken care of. So I can spend the rest of the day hiding in my air conditioned cave, sitting under the ceiling fan, drinking cool beverages, and writing like a madwoman.

I mean in quantity, not in quality. Then again …

In other topics of interest …

I have not seen the new Ghostbusters, mostly because that would involve leaving the house, and see above about writing. However, I did watch the original two on cable over the weekend, and you know, that first one is really not a good movie. The premise is fun and the cast is great, but the script is awful. I like the first half, when they're actually, you know, ghost busting, but then it jumps the rails entirely when it goes off on the tangent of Sumerian deities. There's no real worldbuilding, no character development, and yet there's potential there. The treatment of women is pretty awful. The stuff around Sigourney Weaver's character was really uncomfortable, both with the creeper neighbor and the way Bill Murray's character treated her. I don't think I'd seen the second one since I saw it at the theater, but I was surprised that I mostly liked it better. That may have been because it was relatively fresh and I didn't remember any of it, but I liked the plot better. There weren't as many funny lines or comic set pieces, but the story was more coherent. Really, though, the entire thing in both movies was the charm of the cast and the novelty of it. There's a lot of room for improvement in those films.

And then there's this news: The Jim Henson Company is developing a movie of Terry Pratchett's Wee Free Men, with script by Pratchett's daughter (who is actually a professional screenwriter, so it's not just a nepotism thing). Her involvement suggests that they won't screw up the spirit of it, and the Henson people do good stuff. It seems like they would "get" it. The project is "in development," so there's no guarantee it will actually make it to the screen, but Brian Henson himself is involved, which probably helps.

I'm going to have to see the new Star Trek movie this weekend (my friends are going) because I'm on the Star Trek panel at WorldCon, with people who've actually written for the series, including David Gerrold. I haven't been keen on the reboot movies and might have skipped it otherwise, but now it counts as work.

Speaking of work ...
18th-Jul-2016 12:14 pm - New and Upcoming Stuff
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In case you missed the big news on Friday, the book I've been talking about working on is a new Enchanted, Inc. book. I've been saying all along that although I was satisfied with the ending of book 7 as an ending to the series, I wasn't closing the door on it. If I got an idea, I'd write it. And then I got an idea. Since I'm halfway through with it, I'm pretty sure it's viable and will turn into a book. There's some stuff to work out before I can settle on a release date -- like getting booked with the copyeditor, seeing about audio and coordinating that production, etc. Oh, and finishing writing it -- but I would guess that it will be out by the end of the year.

I did a bit of a social media experiment to see how the news propagated and where it got the most reaction, and it seems like Facebook is where I get the most response and readership. My Twitter followers seem to be more in the Rebel Mechanics camp and/or don't follow links to my blog. I'll have to do more thinking about strategy in social media and stuff like that, but probably after I finish this book and get convention season out of the way.

Here's a general list of what projects I have planned for the near future (and this list is subject to change based on lots of variables):
Right now -- Enchanted, Inc. book 8 (still no title, that usually comes later)
Next -- a totally new YA project that I just want to play with for a while and see if it's viable. It's burning a hole in my brain, so I need to do something with it, enough to see if it either forms into a book or if it needs more development
Then -- Rebel Mechanics book 3
Then -- I'm not sure. I'm planning a fourth Fairy Tale book, and I even have some brainstorming done on it. But that series is weirdly hard to write for me, very nebulous, so it may need more brewing time. I have an idea for a main plot and a few scenes have popped into my head, but the scenes and plot haven't yet clicked. Otherwise, I have this idea for a big romantic fantasy that's starting to demand attention and development. It's very different in structure than anything I've done before, and that means I can't quite tell if it's going to be a standalone or a series. I'd like to spend some time playing with it so I can see how it will shape up and if it needs more development or if it's ready to go.

And there's that TV Christmas movie script I wrote a few years ago -- I'm not sure how likely it is that I'd be able to sell it as a script. I wrote it more with Lifetime or ABC Family in mind, since they did a lot more fantasy/paranormal stories, but now most of the movies are on Hallmark, and I don't recall seeing anything with magical elements there in ages. I've thought of writing it out as a novella and getting it out as a seasonal thing, but I guess I'd need to do that quickly if I'm going to do it for this year. In my head, it would be quick and easy since it's already plotted and with the dialogue written, but reality might be different.

And yeah, this is all stuff I'd like to do this year. Which means I need to spend more time writing.
15th-Jul-2016 10:53 am - Halfway There
shoe
First, a bit of housekeeping …

Since LiveJournal is apparently soooo 2004 and is now mostly used by Russians rather than being a community where there was a good chance of my blog being stumbled upon by people in the network and discovering me due to common interests, I didn't renew my paid membership and will probably be transitioning away from LiveJournal entirely in the near future. I have some work to do on the Blogger site, but that's where I've been directing traffic from Facebook and Twitter. You can find that site at http://shannaswendson.blogspot.com/. In the longer run, I aim to transition to a blog that would be part of my web site, since the discovery thing seems to happen via Twitter and Facebook now, and then I want to direct people to my site. I'd talked to a web designer earlier this year and liked the way he does things. Now it turns out that the company that makes my web design software has closed and they won't be supporting it anymore, so if I needed a sign that it was time to make a move, it seems I have one.

I have reached the halfway point of the current book, but now I think I need to take some brainstorming time. I had a very vague outline starting out, but I've mostly been pantsing this book (writing by the seat of the pants rather than with a plan). Most of what's happened has been whatever struck me at the spur of the moment. I haven't planned the new characters who've popped up. I've just been going with it as it comes to me. But now I think I need to take some time to figure out exactly who these people are and what they want, and I need to look at what they're doing to get it.

When I'm on a roll with the writing, sometimes I resist stopping to think because that doesn't look like forward progress, and I've been so very excited about all the progress I've made. I have to remind myself that a day of thinking will lead to faster progress in the future rather than several days of frustration, staring at the screen, and then more extensive rewrites later. In this case, I think I have a character who's potentially fascinating because he doesn't fit expectations at all, but I need to dig a little deeper into him and how he works (he's a very nice villain -- good to the people around him, probably helps little old ladies across the street, but utterly ruthless when it comes to achieving his goals).

But since I am at the halfway point and it seems like the book is viable, I now feel safe in announcing what I'm working on:

It's a new Enchanted, Inc. book!

I've been saying all along that I was open to writing one if I got an idea, and then a couple of months ago I got an idea. It was easier than I expected to fall back into that voice and into Katie's world, and I'm having a lot of fun with it. No firm release date yet, since I'm not done with it and there are things to work out (like whether Audible wants it and we have to sync release date with them). I haven't even talked to my agent about it other than to tell her I was planning to do it when I got the idea. I would think that unless something horrible bogs down the process, it will be out by the end of the year.

And, yes, I know I buried the lead in not making this announcement the headline, but as I evaluate what to do with my blog, I thought this might be a fun test of how many people read it and how much they read it.
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It's Book Day Plus 2, and the new book seems to be pretty well-received. Whew! I'm always nervous about that. I work in a fairly isolated bubble, and then suddenly hundreds of people are reading something that was pretty personal to me up to that point.

But enough of the new book. Now, back to an old one, with chapters 8-10 of Damsel Under Stress.

We start with Katie and Owen arriving at his foster parents' house in his hometown. Before I wrote this book, I had a very particular image in mind of the kind of town I thought he was from, which was possibly informed by some small Connecticut towns I'd seen when I was on a business trip visiting a client, and the co-worker I was traveling with and I did a bit of sightseeing after the meetings ended (one of those occasions when we were assumed to be on a date when we went to dinner). When I visited New York to do my location research, I decided I needed to get out of the city and visit one of these towns. I got a map and the railway schedule and ended up picking a town called Irvington to visit, mostly because it looked small enough to fit what I had in mind, had a train station, and wouldn't be too long a train trip. Also, I live in Irving, Texas, so I felt like it was kind of a sister city (there's some debate as to whether Irving really is named after Washington Irving, but the Irving library has decided that it was and has run with it. Irvington is definitely named after him, as that's where his house is). For even more of an Irving connection, my mental location for Owen's house is near Irving Place in New York. So there's a definite Irving thing going on with a tribute to my hometown (I didn't grow up here, but I've lived here my entire adult life, which should count for something).

And boy, was I glad I made the site visit because it was nothing like what I imagined. It was possibly better for my story than what I had in mind, but my mental image was all wrong and needed to be corrected. I didn't describe too much, but I need to see what I'm writing about clearly. I'd pictured something more Colonial, but this town was very Victorian, kind of Dickensian. It was December, so they had the Christmas decorations out, and it had snowed the night before, so it was just perfect.

I struggled with how to write Owen's foster parents. That part of his backstory was some of the explanation for his shyness. For reasons that become apparent later in the series, they were worried about his power, so they were concerned with keeping him from getting too full of himself, and they may have overcorrected. The way Owen has talked about them, they sound very cold and intimidating, but once Katie seems them for herself, I wanted to show that there was a lot of love and concern underlying it all, that these were people given a very difficult task in very difficult circumstances and were doing the best they knew how to do. They may not have been totally right, and there may have been some pain caused, but he did turn out okay, so maybe they were right, in the long run.

For the melee at the post-church fellowship, I had some fun with taking a real situation and amping it up to about 13 on a scale of 1-10 by using magic. In just about any small town, if a local boy made good comes home and is still technically single (a new girlfriend doesn't count), the mothers of daughters will get really competitive to try to reel him in. It's just usually more polite than an all-out brawl, though what I've depicted is probably what's happening in people's minds. These things can also get pretty competitive in who baked what and whose is best (speaking as the reigning champion baker at my church, with the blue ribbon to prove it).

I will admit that the brownie cleaning the house at night is a bit of wishful thinking from folklore. I'd dearly love to wake up in the morning with a clean house.

When I was trying to figure out how Owen and Katie were going to get back to the city in an emergency, I used the technique of making a list of at least 20 things, and I tried all kinds of ideas. I thought borrowing the parents' car was probably the least interesting. I'd already used flying carpets. I considered making a pumpkin coach. I ended up coming back around to a car, but with crazy gargoyle drivers. I'm still not sure where that came from, though I guess the tag-team driving method is the ultimate backseat driver. Rocky and Rollo sprang fully formed into my brain, complete with names and their boastful chant. Their voices were utterly vivid to me. I had so much fun writing their scenes.

Then we get to see why, exactly, people were a little nervous about Owen when we see him able to momentarily freeze time in Times Square. It's a show of raw power, and we get the idea that if this guy had gone bad, everyone would have been in a lot of trouble.
13th-Jul-2016 12:07 pm - Writing the Antagonist
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After the excitement of Double Release Day, it's time to get back to routine with a Writing Wednesday post, this time with an excellent question posed by a reader about writing antagonists.

This is something I hadn't put a lot of thought into because I tend to be very protagonist-focused, so it forced me to think about it. Here are some initial ideas I came up with.

First, you probably should care as much about creating your antagonist as you do your protagonist. I've heard writers say that the difference between protagonist and antagonist is perspective, that the protagonist is the one whose viewpoint you're in. I don't entirely agree because it depends on the story. There are cases where the roles could easily be switched, where no one is doing anything actually villainous, and the "good guy" is only the good guy because that's the one we're being led to cheer for. But there are also deeds that are objectively villainous, regardless of perspective. If a protagonist did those things, we'd call him an antihero.

However, if you're looking at it from the antagonist's perspective, then the antagonist is the hero of his or her own story and will find justification for even those villainous deeds. You don't have to write the story from that perspective, but it's a perspective you need to be able to consider in order to figure out what the villain will be doing.

Treating the antagonist like the hero of his own story means that, like the protagonist, he needs to have a goal -- something specific and concrete that he wants to accomplish. It needs to be specific and concrete enough that you can picture a scene of him achieving it (even if he's not going to because the protagonist will foil him). So, not just "world power," but standing on a stage, addressing the entire world via satellite, with his armed minions positioned to shut down any opposition.

Because this is an antagonist, this goal needs to be something that will have negative consequences for the protagonist or for something the protagonist cares about. In that picture of the antagonist achieving his goal, things have to look very bad for the protagonist. These potential negative consequences have to be enough to force the protagonist to take action, so the antagonist's goal needs to be in proportion to the situation and to the protagonist. If the antagonist's goal is to take over a small town's garden club, that's not going to work if your protagonist is the police chief (unless, I suppose, the chief is an avid gardener) or superhero because why would they care? It might work if your story is a cozy mystery (and the antagonist is knocking off rivals), a small-town romance, or possibly literary or women's fiction about the relationships among women in the town and your protagonist is desperately clinging to the one bit of status she has left. She'll be left a nobody and outsider if she's no longer garden club president, so she's going to fight to stop the antagonist.

The antagonist also needs a motivation, a reason for the goal. That doesn't mean it has to be a sob story, though that's become something of a trope. Someone can want to take over the world or rob a bank or take over the garden club without having had a sad childhood. Money and power are perfectly good motivations on their own. Look at the real world and the people involved in insider trading and corporate raiding. Most of them come from a background of wealth. They're motivated by greed and entitlement. I might have a minority opinion on this, though, since I see a lot of readers swooning over poor, sad villains. I just tend to roll my eyes at villains who justify all their evil actions on this one slight they suffered as kids. My response is to want to tell them to grow up, or else I hear a Dr. Doofenshmirtz monologue from Phineas & Ferb in my head (a cartoon villain who tied each of his evil schemes to some incident from his childhood, like being forced by his parents to serve as a garden gnome). You'll need to figure out for yourself what effect you want to achieve -- do you want readers feeling sorry for your antagonist, or do you want them hating her? Are you planning to redeem her or vanquish her? That will determine how sympathetic you make the villain's motivation. Mostly, the motivation needs to be strong enough to explain why the antagonist is bothering with everything it takes to achieve the goal. The protagonist is generally motivated by the potential negative consequences of the antagonist winning, but that means the antagonist has to have a good reason to kick things off in the first place.

A specific, concrete goal that has negative consequences for the protagonist that's driven by a strong motivation is the basic building block of an antagonist. From there, you can do other things to make the antagonist and his relationship to the protagonist more interesting, and that's a subject for the next post.
12th-Jul-2016 12:07 pm - Double Release Day!
It's double release day for me! <i>Rebel Mechanics</i> in paperback and <i>Rebel Magisters</i> released into the world. Fly, fly my pretties! And yes, I know, the Kindle version of <i>Rebel Mechanics</i> is now more expensive than the paperback, but I don't get to set those prices.

To address a frequently asked question:
Yes, there will be more books in that series. I originally plotted a trilogy, but the second book veered from my original outline, which may have a major ripple effect on the next book, so I don't know if the next book will end the series or if it will take more books after that. There are a couple of other things I need to work on first while this one brews in the back of my head, and then there will be some research required. I hope to get to work on the next book this fall.

In fact, that was a big distraction for me yesterday, when I was supposed to be writing. I found myself fantasizing about a writing retreat -- going away somewhere without a lot of distractions and just writing for a few days. I had this idea in my head of a cabin on a lake in the woods, then I got really sidetracked searching for such a thing. I kept finding places that were near lakes, but not on lakes. A lot of the state parks in Oklahoma have cabins, but very few on lakes.

Then I found one that's not too long a drive away (near the Texas border) that has lakeside cabins they call "primitive." They're not too terribly primitive, as they have electricity, AC/heat, and a bathroom. They just don't have TVs, WiFi, or kitchens. But they are right on the lake, with a screened in back porch overlooking the lake. I figure there's a lot I could do with an electric teakettle and my mini crock pot for food without needing to haul around perishables, and think of what I could get done with nothing to do other than read or write, with no Internet or TV. I could spend most of the day sitting on that porch and writing. When I hit a rough patch or get stuck, I could take a walk along the lake or in the woods. You have to supply your own bedding, but that just means I can haul up my featherbed and make myself a comfy nest. So, that's my incentive -- when I finish the project I'm working on and one other thing, I'll go to Book Camp and get a solid start on the next Rebel Mechanics book.

But in the meantime, here's a little something I put together last night, using vintage film footage from around the turn of the century. It's not actually taken from an airship, but rather a pan around from the top of a tall building, but it feels like you're flying, which reminded me of the airship scene in <i>Rebel Mechanics</i>.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/NLcS9PrHdMc?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
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