Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Yesterday, author Carrie Ryan released a new e-short set in THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH world. The story, "What Once We Feared," is available now, and it has my husband, the resident zombie expert, saying:
I just really liked it."
For the record, this is my fave Carrie Ryan story, too :) You can read more about Carrie's inspiration for the story here and you can buy your own copy here--just $1.99!
Monday, May 13, 2013
So, the husband and I were recently watching Doctor Who, as we are wont to do.
And we noticed something.
And, sadly, rather frequent.
A plot hole.
Well, actually, several of them. Sadly, in the past few seasons, the Doctor's been riddled with them. Rules are established in one episode and ignored in another. Characters feel one way, then change their minds with seemingly no reason. Logic sometimes fails.
Now, first things first: no writer is perfect (and no show is, either). But thinking about my issues with Doctor Who led me to this comment showrunner Steven Moffat tweeted, and that led me to the idea for this post.
|Found via stfu-moffat.tumblr.com|
(Also more here.)
Moffat makes an excellent point here--actually, several. First: All stories have plot holes.
Cracked has a great (nsfw) article on 5 Gaping Plot Holes many movies have that we easily forgive. Of course we don't really question why all the bad stuff happens to the same guy in all the Die Hard movies. Despite the fact that Joss Whedon made fun of it in Cabin in the Woods, we forgive the horror movie victims when they split up and go down the dark alley alone.
All stories have plot holes.
One of my favorite quotes when thinking of stories is by Mark Twain: “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn't.”
When creating a story, one thing the writer must consider is believability. All stories require the reader to suspend his or her disbelief for a certain amount of time. And the reader will forgive certain things. Is it really likely that everything happens to the main character in a short amount of time? No. Is it really likely that a teenager can solve all the problems in a YA novel? Honestly, not really. But the thing is, in a story, we're likely forgive certain things. We know we're reading a story, so we're okay with the timeline being shortened or the characters being quick witted, because we want the story.
There is, of course, a limit to the reader's suspension of disbelief. In a fantasy, we'll believe in magic for that world, but there needs to be a system to how that magic works--you can't just wave your wand and have everything fall into place. In a sci fi, we'll believe in warp drive, but (unless you're Anne McCaffery) don't add dragons. And a contemporary romance can have a happily ever after, but probably not Jedi mind tricks.
It comes back to logic. There's a famous principle applied to writing called "Chekhov's Gun"--it comes from Chekhov's famous quote in which he says that if you see a gun in the first act of a play, it must be fired before the end. In this conversation, what it means is that you have to layer in the clues. You need to show the possibilities before the characters live them. If you set rules for your world, you have to follow them.
Let's go back to the second part of Moffat's tweet: "[plot holes] are only visible to the bored."
As long as the reader is entertained, the suspension of disbelief works. When I'm reading a romance, I want my happily-ever-after, and I'll forgive a pile of coincidences to make it happen. But every reader has a limit. When the reader reaches that limit, however, there's no going back. Therefore, establish the rules, the logic, the world, and the characters, and follow the rules you, as a writer, make.
That said: story comes first. While it is true that I've descended into a loop of pointing out the plot holes in Doctor Who with my husband, it's also true that I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for the next one. Plot holes exist in all fiction. How many and how big is a judgment call on the part of the writer--just be aware of what you're doing, and the choices you make as a writer.
This post is a part of my series on writing.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
When Dol and Ro are taken to the Embassy they discover they are not the only ones who are special. Caught between the known and unknown Dol must decide who she trusts and just how far she is willing to go to save the only home she knows.
Check out the interactive map and tour stops below. Also be sure to enter the giveaway which includes a Kindle, autographed copy of Icons and much more
View YA ICONS TOUR: TAKE ME TO YOUR READER! in a larger map
San Francisco – Tuesday May 7 at 7:30 pm – Icons Launch at Books Inc – A Not Your Mother’s Book Club (NYMBC) event – Margaret Stohl with Andrea Cremer, David Levithan, NinaLaCour.
San Francisco area – Wednesday May 8 – Keplers – Margaret Stohl with Melissa de la Cruz, Leigh Bardugo, Kim Derting, Kami Garcia.
Seattle – Thursday May 9 at 7:00 pm – Pierce County Library – Margaret Stohl with Leigh Bardugo, Kim Derting, Marissa Meyer.
Seattle – Friday May 10th at 6:30 PM – Third Place Books – Margaret Stohl and Kim Derting in conversation with a Special Guest Moderator. Details TBA.
Los Angeles – Saturday May 11th – Dark Delicacies – Margaret Stohl with Melissa de la Cruz, 5 pm, Signing only.
Los Angeles – Sunday May 12th – venue TBA – Margaret Stohl with Ransom Riggs, TaherehMafi, Melissa de la Cruz, Marie Lu, Alyson Noel, Kami Garcia.
Salt Lake City – Tuesday May 14th – the King’s English – Margaret Stohl with Ally Condie, Shannon Hale and Stephanie Perkins.
Provo – Wednesday May 15th – Provo Library – Margaret Stohl in conversation with Stephanie Perkins.
Rochester Teen Book Festival – Saturday May 18th, all day – Nazareth College, Rochester, NY - see website for more information.
New York Area (Long Island) – Sunday May 19th – Barnes & Noble Carle Place – 2 pm - Margaret Stohl in conversation with Eliot Schrefer and Barry Lyga.
New York City – Monday May 20th – 7 PM - Books of Wonder – Margaret Stohl with Gayle Forman, E. Lockhart, Robin Wasserman, Barry Lyga and Tonya Hurley.
Charleston, SC- Thursday May 23rd – Blue Bicycle Books – Margaret Stohl with Beth Revis, Michelle Hodkin, Kathy Reichs and Brendon Reichs – A Yallfest event!
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Monday, April 29, 2013
(Sorry for the late notice on these, guys--I've been on the road, and thought I had these scheduled to post sooner.)
Tuesday April 30th
Kansas City Libraries, Trails West Branch
11401 E 23rd St, Independence, MO 64111
Come for a Q&A session with yours truly, followed by a signing and various shenanigans!
More details here.
Note: the address on the website is wrong--I just confirmed with the librarian that the address in this post is the correct one.
Wednesday May 1-Saturday May 4
RT Booklovers Convention
I'll be on various different panels throughout this event at the Sheraton KC Crown Plaza, and don't miss the fantastic HUGE booksigning event with hundreds of authors on Saturday!
More details here.
Friday, April 26, 2013
Dead Man's Hand is a Western anthology...but a weird one. The stories all take place in the wild, wild west, but there's a twist--each one has a fantastical element. As editor John Joseph Adams says in the press release,
“The weird western is the forefather of steampunk, with a history that includes Stephen King’s Dark Tower and Card’s Alvin Maker,” editor John Joseph Adams explains. “But where steampunk is Victorian, weird westerns are darker, grittier, so the protagonist might be gunned down in a duel, killed by a vampire, or confronted by aliens on the streets of a dusty frontier town.”Of course when I was invited to submit a story, I was all for it. First of all, Westerns are the way to my father's heart. But second of all, Firefly and Serenity were totally weird westerns, and they are my model for all things good.
My story in the anthology is called "The Man With No Heart." And it will be my first published short story that doesn't take place in the world of Godspeed. Instead, it tells the story of a man on a quest that takes him to the bottom Grand Canyon, following tiny mechanical spiders that should be impossible...but then again, he's impossible, too. And it was fact-checked by my father, who's read every Louis L'amour in print.
The anthology won't be out until next year, but the line-up is amazing. It's such an honor to be with such a long list of amazing, brilliant authors. You can read more about the anthology here, and you can add the book to your GoodReads list here!
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Are you blogging because you enjoy it? Good. Carry on, my wayward son.
Are you blogging because you think you "have" to? Quit blogging.
Are you blogging because you think publishers or agents consider it a requirement? Quit blogging.
Are you blogging because you think it will sell your books? Quit blogging.
Are you blogging because you feel like you owe it to your readers to blog? Quit blogging.
My point? Blogs don't sell books. Blogs don't get you a book deal. You should only be blogging if you enjoy blogging. Yes, it can be a marketing tool. But there is a lot of other ways you can get your name out into the world without blogging. I recently had a conversation with a friend who told me she spent a considerable amount of time working on blogs...to the detriment of working on her book. And she didn't enjoy blogging. It was a task, a choice.
My advice? Quit blogging. If you don't enjoy it, you won't make good content (which is true of nearly everything--if you have no passion for what you're doing, typically, you will not do it well). If you go into blogging expecting to sell books, then you're like that person on Twitter who only tweets about her own books. That's not respectful of your readers or yourself.
There is advice on the internet and sometimes from real people that is along the lines of If you want a book deal, you have to have a platform. Blogs are a great platform!
This is b.s. You know what sells a book? A good book. That's it. Blogging is an easy answer. That doesn't make it the right one. If someone tells you that you need a blog to sell a book, kick that person in the shins. They're lying to you.
Just write. Write the best book you can. Quit worrying so much. Just write.