This week, a very special cookbook has come into the world: A LITERARY TEA PARTY, by Alison Walsh, founder and cook at Alison’s Wonderland Recipes. Yes, it’s exactly what you think – a collection of recipes inspired by classic novels and perfect for afternoon teas. Alison and I have been following each other’s blogs for some time; and after she invited me to write the introduction for the cookbook, I knew I wanted to have her stop in for a guest post. So here is Alison, with her tips on planning a fun and delectable tea party.
Tea has been my drink of choice since before I was old enough to work the tea kettle, so it’s no surprise that tea parties are my favorite way to socialize. Four years ago, my bachelorette party was a quiet Irish-themed tea party held with a few friends at my mom’s house, and it’s still one of my fondest memories. I’ve hosted a few teas of my own (and a hot chocolate party!) and even wrote a literary-themed cookbook on the subject.
What is it about tea parties that charms me so? For one thing, I love that they’re designed to facilitate rather than impede meaningful socialization. It’s so much easier to talk in someone’s living room over a cup of tea than in a noisy, crowded bar or restaurant. I also love how, despite having a reputation for formality, tea parties can be as fancy or informal as you want (think high tea in an English manor versus a child’s imaginary tea party with plastic cups and teddy bear guests).
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Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in a blog tour for one of my writer friends, S.J. Higbee! She recently self-published her debut novel RUNNING OUT OF SPACE, the first installment of the Sunblinded Trilogy. I was one of S.J.’s beta-readers for this novel a couple years ago, and I remember being swept away by her futuristic universe of spaceships, interplanetary travel, and a young woman who can’t seem to keep herself out of trouble. Now she’s here to share five novels that inspired RUNNING OUT OF SPACE – and I think you’ll be surprised at the variety of her picks.
Also, thanks to Lola’s Blog Tours for letting me be part of S.J.’s blog tour, which runs until October 31st. Check out the complete schedule here.
Thank you so much, Sara, for inviting me to give my Top Five List of books that have influenced my writing and probably contributed towards the themes and ideas in Running Out of Space. I say “probably” because I am very much someone who gets an idea and then goes for it, so it is only during the layers of editing and rewriting that I get a chance to reflect on the books that have affected my storylines and themes.
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Oh, am I excited about our returning guest! Fantasy author Maria V. Snyder stopped by here 2 years ago for an interview on SHADOW STUDY, her fourth Study novel and the return of Yelena and Valek, her two most beloved characters. Today, the series ends with DAWN STUDY, and Maria was gracious enough to take time out of her schedule to write a guest post. So, let’s celebrate DAWN STUDY’s book birthday with a “study” of master spy-assassin Valek, his growth since SHADOW STUDY, and the challenges of writing from his perspective.
When my first book, Poison Study, was published over (*cough*) eleven (*cough*) years ago, I had no idea I’d go on to write five more Study books and the spin-off Glass Series. Nine total books and four short stories! I’d also didn’t know that Valek would become my readers’ favorite character (according to an unscientific Facebook poll).
While planning Poison Study, I knew Valek would be Ixia’s Chief of Security and the Commander’s assassin. He’d be distant, cold, and good at killing people with all types of weapons – basically, a stereotypical bad ass. After that, I didn’t really consider him to be more than an antagonist to my main protagonist, Yelena. In fact, I thought if there would be a romance in the book, it would most likely be between Yelena and the Commander. Yeah, well, I’m not the best at planning books, and I tend to discover the true story as I write.
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Today I’m thrilled to have one of my DIY MFA colleagues here for a guest post! Leanne Sowul is a historical fiction writer, music teacher, and the insightful mind behind DIY MFA’s “Be Well, Write Well,” which offers tips and wisdom for writers on maintaining a healthy well-being. She’s also an advocate for cultivating creativity in our lives and recently launched her new project, The Creativity Perspective, to explore this further. I invited Leanne to write about the importance of creativity in writing, and this is what she had to say.
When I first decided to write a novel, I wasn’t sure what genre I wanted to specialize in. I read widely, so I had interest in writing many different things, but I was intimidated by working in the sci-fi, fantasy, or mystery genres because I thought they required a higher level of creativity. Building a world from scratch, or crafting a suspenseful crime, felt beyond me. I wanted to choose a genre that had some rules I could follow; a creativity “support,” if you will.
I have a longtime love for history, so I decided to write historical fiction. I figured I could use historical facts to hang my story on, and felt comforted by the element of nonfiction in my fiction to keep me on track with my story. I thought it was the perfect solution. Oh, how little I knew back then! I didn’t understand I was making the enormous decision of my novel’s genre based partly on fear and partly on an incorrect assumption.
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Oh, am I excited for our latest guest! Angela Ackerman is one half of the duo at Writers Helping Writers (her co-blogger is the equally awesome Becca Puglisi). And not only do they run one of my favorite websites dedicated to the craft of writing, but they’re also the authors of the best-selling Thesaurus collection – all of which have become instrumental parts of my writing process. Today, these ladies are releasing two new additions to their collection, and I couldn’t be happier to have Angela tell you more about them. Read on!
As we storytellers sit before the keyboard to craft our magic, we’re usually laser-focused on the two titans of fiction: plot and character. Yet, there’s a third element that impacts almost every aspect of the tale, one we really need to home in on as well: the setting.
The setting is so much more than a painted backdrop, more than a stage for our characters to tromp across during the scene. Used to its full advantage, the setting can characterize the story’s cast, supply mood, steer the plot, provide challenges and conflict, trigger emotions, help us deliver those necessary snippets of backstory… and that’s just scratching the surface. So the question is this: how do we unleash the full power of the setting within our stories? Continue reading →
Today is the second half of a guest-post swap I’m doing with WriteOnSisters. My article on high fantasy vs epic fantasy is already live at WOS. Now, it’s one of the “Sister’s” turns to post here! Heather Jackson lives in Canada and writes YA novels as well as television and video game screenplays. In fact, she began with screenplays before tackling novel-writing. Here’s what Heather learned during that transition.
I started my writing career as a television screenwriter, but my first love has always been books. So, after screenwriting for what seemed like an eternity to my young self (though I’d only been making a living at it for five years), I decided it was time to write a novel. Being a “seasoned professional,” I estimated I could develop a book idea and write a first draft in one year. After all, I already knew how to craft great stories. Novels simply used more words to tell those stories, right?
Oh, the naiveté of inexperience. I soon learned that more differentiates novels and screenplays than the number of words.
But let’s start with the similarities. I wasn’t totally wrong; many screenwriting skills do transfer to the process of writing novels.
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Please give a warm welcome to our first guest blogger, Victoria Grace Howell! Tori is a fellow speculative fiction writer whom I met last year through the monthly Beautiful People link-up. I was thrilled when she suggested today’s topic, since it immediately resonated with me – because like Tori, I’m not a plotter or a pantser, but a “plontser.” Never heard of a plontser before? I’ll let Tori explain…. 😉
When I first started writing, I discovered pretty soon into the game that there are two types of writers: plotters and pansters. Plotters like J.K. Rowling plan out each event meticulously and know everything that happens in their stories before they write them. Pantsers like Stephen King know hardly anything about the story when beginning to write and discover as they go. My first choice was a panster. I liked seeing where the story took me, but as I soon came to realize, in my spontaneous writing my story lacked structure and a secure plot.
At this point, I was torn. I had to choose one, right? Wrong. Continue reading →
Exciting news, everyone: As of today, this blog is open to guest posting!
This is something I’ve been contemplating for a while, and for several reasons. It allows you to offer greater variety in content, helps you build relationships with other writers / bloggers, increases traffic… Basically, it’s a win-win situation for the host as well as the guest. And you bet I’m game for that!
So, what am I looking for from guest posts? How can you pitch your idea to me if you’re interested? Well, you can check out the Guest Posting Policy page, but let me go into a little more detail below. Continue reading →