Sunday, May 27, 2012

Come Thou Fount

On Saturday, my son Daniel and I had our musical duo debut at his end-of-year violin recital. He's only been playing for one year, so I'm singing the praises of the Suzuki Method for enabling my son to quickly pick up this tune that I usually do with my Irish band, South Wind.

We've got a few kinks to work out. First of all, Daniel started playing the instant I had my harp on my lap, before I was really ready, so the camera didn't catch the first few notes and my music stand isn't quite where I'd like it to be. Second, I made the mistake of putting my hair up with a chopstick. Every time I turn my head to look at the sheet music, my hair is being yanked as my chopstick catches on the top of the harp.

I made it through in spite of it all, and Daniel did a wonderful job. A big thank-you to Daniel's teacher, Amy Gold, for all she does to promote music learning in our community, and also to Dr. Suzuki! Arigato Gozaimasu!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Writers Club Wednesday: Anti-Heroes

Yesterday we had our first LIVE author visit from Steven L. Kent, journalist and author of a military sci-fi series, who shared some of his thoughts on anti-heroes. We talked about the advantages and disadvantages of making the bad guy the main character. Often, in a story, the villain is more interesting than the hero. So why not make him or her the protagonist? Some stories have done it and been successful, but most people like to identify themselves with a character who makes good choices rather than bad ones. Still, writing with anti-heroes can be a lot of fun.

For more on anti-heroes, let me direct you to the writing excuses podcast on the subject:
And I know I'm a day late on this, sorry Sue, but I'm still excited about the launch of the second book of the Mindjack trilogy, Closed Hearts. So in spite of play practice, creative writing homework, end-of-school-year music recitals, teenagers with last-minute Shakespeare projects, and all that jazz, here it is:

Announcing the release of Closed Hearts, the sequel to Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn.
Book Two of the Mindjack Trilogy
When you control minds, only your heart can be used against you.
Eight months ago, Kira Moore revealed to the mindreading world that mindjackers like herself were hidden in their midst. Now she wonders if telling the truth was the right choice after all. As wild rumors spread, a powerful anti-jacker politician capitalizes on mindreaders’ fears and strips jackers of their rights. While some jackers flee to Jackertown—a slum rife with jackworkers who trade mind control favors for cash—Kira and her family hide from the readers who fear her and jackers who hate her. But when a jacker Clan member makes Kira’s boyfriend Raf collapse in her arms, Kira is forced to save the people she loves by facing the thing she fears most: FBI agent Kestrel and his experimental torture chamber for jackers. Now available! $2.99 Ebook at Amazon (and Amazon UK) and Barnes and Noble Request a Kindlegraph Paper copies available at Amazon or get signed copies from the author
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling YA novel Open Minds,  Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy, available on AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iTunes. Susan's business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist," but she mostly plays on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.

Mind GamesOpen MindsClosed HeartsIn His EyesLife, Liberty, and PursuitFull Speed Ahead

Monday, May 21, 2012

Can't Wait for WIFYR!

My daughter said to me today, "I can't believe I'm finally going to Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers! I've been wanting to go for five years now!"

Five years? Has it really been that long since the first time I went?

I guess so. My first experience at WIFYR was attending Brandon Sanderson's class in 2008. He told us that in five years we could be supporting our families as a writer.

I decided that I could do better. In in five years, I wanted to be the one teaching the class.

It's been five years. I'm a bit behind on some of my goals.

But although this process has taken longer than I expected, I know this year's WIFYR will give me renewed enthusiasm to forge onward, and lots of shiny new writing tools for my toolbox.

Can't wait for June!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Writers Club Wednesday: Fan Fiction

One of our club members began e-mailing us episodes of an Avengers fan fic this past week, much to everyone's delight. It got me thinking about the benefits and uses of writing in someone else's imaginary universe.

When you write fan fiction, the world and the characters are already there. No need to spend a lot of time developing back-story, building scenery, hammering out a magic system or inventing new technology, anything like that. You can focus on other aspects of the writing process, like pacing, dialog, and character interactions. Get right to the high-level stuff.

And fan fiction is fun! It is fun to write, and your friends will probably have fun reading it since they know and love the characters you're working with.

You may have so much fun writing fan fiction that you never get around to doing your own stuff.

Don't do that.

You can't publish fan fiction. It's illegal, unless you get hired by the owners of the intellectual property to write it. Some people make good money writing novelizations of popular movies, but they've been asked to do it, or else they asked permission to do it by submitting a book proposal and having it approved. If you really want to know more about the process, I know some authors you can talk to.

For most people, writing fan fiction as a career is not an option. I wouldn't even post fan fiction on the internet as a hobby. Some intellectual property owners are cool with it, but others are not. And besides, you don't want to be known as a writer of fan fiction.

You want people to write fan fiction about the characters and worlds YOU create.

Writing fan fiction is GREAT practice. In fact, most artists begin by copying other artists that they admire. The goal is to keep writing and reading and writing and reading until you develop your own style, something unique, something that others will admire and want to emulate.

Today, the fan. Tomorrow, the challenger.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


In Hawaii, we import 80% of our food. It comes in every day on planes and boats. They say we have only a week's supply of food on the island at any given time. Scary. Apples cost $3 a pound since they have to come over on a boat. Milk has to come by plane. $5 a gallon. Even bananas are more expensive here. Go figure!

A few of us have banded together to fight back. We're the Faculty Townhouses Tomato Co-op.

Last Wednesday, my secret mission was to pick up the tomatoes from the local farmer who GROWS HIS OWN. Right here on the island. What a concept! I donned my trench coat, hat, and dark sunglasses, and slipped into my sporty spy-car. Okay, its only a mini-van. Twelve years old. With a dented side door. Perfect cover.

I drove through miles of trackless jungle:

Up into the hills until I reached the pick-up location:

I crept into the creepy old warehouse:

Tomatoes everywhere! But which ones were meant for me?

There they are! The box on the counter, just like my top-secret mission instructions had said. I left the check and took the goods back to my get-away car.

Safe at home again, I divided up the tomatoes into shares, then delivered them to the other members of the co-op. Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Writers Club Wednesday: Author Heather Dixon

We had a delightful skype visit today with Heather Dixon, author of Entwined, which made the ALA's Best Fiction for Young Adults list and was in the top ten for romance in 2011.

Heather talked about writing romance, especially about the importance of keeping the romantic relationship in suspense. She also shared some of her writing process with us, which includes ripping out and rewriting entire portions of her books. As a storyboard artist, she says she's used to this sort of thing.

To get to know more about Heather, read her charming and hilarious blog, Story Monster, where you'll see her storyboarding skills in action.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Superstars Writing Seminar 2012

I used to think that if I wrote the most amazing, brilliant book ever, I wouldn't have to do anything but send out a handful of query letters and my authorial success would be assured.

Then I went to the Superstars Writing Seminar.

For three days, some of the most successful writers in science fiction and fantasy told us how they got where they are. They busted common myths about publishing, walked us through a standard writing contract, discussed taxes and copyright issues, told us how to stand out in the slushpile, and so much more, all with an attitude of sharing their knowledge and giving us the best chance of joining them as professional, full-time authors.

I think there were about 60 participants, so each of us had plenty of opportunity speak to the presenters on a one-on-one basis, either between sessions or at meals. I made lots of new writing friends, recruited more authors to skype with the Laie Young Writers club, and found out about writing contests, publishing opportunities, and information resources that I never knew about.

Here are few of the gems I gleaned:

1. Think like a small business owner. You have a creative, artistic writer side who produces the good stuff. You also need to cultivate an entrepreneurial marketing side to sell that stuff.

2. New authors are practically invisible. You must find a way to be seen.

3. An offer is only an offer. Don't get giddy and jump on the first offer to be represented by an agent or be published by a big publishing house. Protect yourself and your intellectual property. Never trade what you want in the long run for what you want now. Be willing to walk away if it isn't a good deal.

4. Most important, write a lot of stuff, put it out on the market, and keep it all out there until something sells.

How am I different after going to this seminar?

I went to this seminar feeling uncertain, not knowing what to do next as a writer. I came home determined to hit the ground running, to rework some old projects and get them back on the market, to start submitting all the short fiction languishing on my hard-drive, and to order a set of business cards. But most important, I've realized that as an author I'm always on stage as my number-one PR person. When my friends ask me, "how's the writing going?" I'm never, ever going to say, "Eh, going nowhere slow." Instead, I'm going to tell them about my latest, most exciting story ever. Because what really sells books? Word of mouth! The recommendations of friends! And that begins with the people I know and every new friend I meet.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ran off to Vegas

No midweek post this week! I'm in Vegas at the Superstars Writing Seminar.

Promise I'll make up for it on Saturday when I reveal all the top secret, insider, publishing know-how I gleaned over the last several days.