Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Okay, first I have some shameless self-promotion. If you haven't already entered The Motherload Contest, stop what you're doing and ENTER! You can win three free books AND an ancient Roman coin!

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

I was recently thumbing through my copy of Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, and read an interesting chapter on beginnings, middles, and ends. Now, this sounds basic, but I think many of us have read (or written) a novel and struggled with at least one of those three. For me, it's the middle. I know when I hit about 100 pages that I'm going to start wandering and a lot of what I write will be cut. My next few posts will be about these pieces; today we'll start at the beginning.

Beginning: It's the job of the beginning to start with the question, "Who?" Imagine if Gone With the Wind started in the scene where Sherman is marching on Atlanta. You wouldn't know anything about Scarlet, or Rhett, for that matter (and that would be a crying shame!). You wouldn't feel a connection to either main character, but you might actually like Ashley. Blecch! According to Bell, the beginning has four main goals.

1. Present the story world. We know from the get-go that Gone With the Wind is set in the antebellum South.

2. Establish the tone the reader will rely upon. Some books start out humorous, others are deadly serious. Some are more languorous, while others hit off running at a break-neck speed that never stops.

3. Compel the reader to move to the middle. And don't lose them there. (More on that next week!)

4. Introduce the opposition. These could be internal or external forces. Or both.

Which pieces of a novel do you excel at- beginnings, middles, or ends? Which do you most struggle with?

Details, Details, Details

So I've talked about research and its importance to crafting a vibrant story -- you don't want to make a faux paus like having a fictional doctor prescribe the wrong medication (unless that's part of your plot), for example. Similarly, you don't want to give knowledge to a 17th century natural philosopher that wasn't discovered until well into the 20th century. More important than this, though, is knowing which information to include and which to leave out.

In this manner, one rule and one rule only needs to be considered: What is important to your plot?

You can have books upon books of research on 17th century science or 19th century medicine (I'm almost certain such things exist), but if it's not germane to your story then there's little to no point in including it anywhere within your text. An example from my own writing -- one main character started his life on a farm. I show little to no aspects of farm life in the story, except in the very beginning of the story where he's discovering certain things about himself while doing the farm work. I'm not going to do a lot of research on the proper operation of a Renaissance-era family farm when the farming section of the book is perhaps fifteen to twenty pages out of more than 200. There's no point to communicating that much detail when it doesn't influence the plot.

Similarly, the steam-engine science and biogenetics of my current WiP are at or slightly above basic understanding. That's all the research I need to include in order to craft a vibrant world in the story. I could go into much more detail, and perhaps might now that I think about it, but one of the things I know I'll have to remember is not including details for their own sake. If it's relevant to the plot, then it's included. Otherwise it's left on the proverbial cutting room floor.

What about your own WiPs? What is the most interesting piece of research you've done that wasn't important enough to include in your story? 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Michael Jordan vs. Bruce Bowen

Who else's bracket is completely obliterated (I'm hoping for Butler all the way now; sorry about your Wildcats, Susan)? Last week, I gave some SWAG stats on the likelihood of becoming the literary equivalent of Michael Jordan.

If you don't know who Michael Jeffery Jordan is, you should probably stop reading. Odds are, unless you're an NBA fan (class: non-casual) or a resident of San Antonio, you have no idea who Bruce Bowen is.

Sartorially challenged perhaps, but resilient as a male praying mantis.
Undrafted out of college (corollary: agented, but no bites from publishers), Mr. Bowen played a couple of years in France and the CBA (corollary: dropped by his original agent, he published with small presses, minimal market exposure). The next year, he signed a 10 day contract w/ the Miami Heat. He played 1 minute in 1 game before being let go (corollary: fancy-pants magazine buys a story, but then decides not to publish it).

The following season, his fortunes began to change (corollary: still honing his skills, a big-house agent saw something she liked and signed him). He bounced around for a couple of years as an NBA benchwarmer, but he was still in the quasi-public spotlight (corollary: mid-list, but some people actually might recognize the name). Then he caught on with the San Antonio Spurs (corollary: one of the major publishing houses). In the years from graduation, he had developed his platform (defense) and became a key player in San Antonio's championship success over the next half-dozen years (corollary: his books showed on the front shelves of bookstores, garnered good reviews, and generated strong sales). And now he's a talking head on ESPN (corollary: hot shot author speaking at major conferences)

So, what's the difference between Mr. Jordan and Mr. Bowen? They both had talent and they both worked hard for success, but early on in their careers, BB was toiling anonymously in France while MJ was making commercials w/ Spike Lee.

Most of us won't/can't be Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown, etc., but that doesn't mean success can't be had. Talent isn't the only variable in the equation. Be willing to develop and adapt your game. You probably won't be able to buy your own NBA team (corollary: publishing house) like MJ just did, but one day you might have a shot at wearing a bowtie on TV.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Plot Thickens...

Reminder: if you have been collecting followers to win a critique (see details here), tonight is the last night to email us your list. Be sure to have it to us by midnight Pacific time tonight.

It's been a sad, long while since I've gotten to write.

I finished my most recent novel in October, and since then, life has been speeding up. Seriously. Whoever has the remote for the DVR of my life needs to let up on the freaking fast-forward button already. (I hyperbole, I hyperbole).

So it is that while I query said last novel (lazily), I have been itching to write a new idea but simply haven't found the time. I tend to write all at once, as writing in pieces stymies me. But there's more reason than that-- I simply love the process of writing all at once. It's like a big puzzle to work out where all the pieces go, and discard and collect the right ones at the right times.

I see my plot first in my head as a general idea. (This is also where I try to write my query, as it's easier to expand a one-sentence idea than it is to condense a 300-page one). Then my main character floats in. There's usually something about them that pre-disposes them to the story-- i.e., plot point A will be more realistic if MC is in their 30's, or female, or a banker. The rest comes as the story unfolds in my head. As I learn more about the story, I learn more about my MC.

Then ancillary characters come in. These are sourced from a need in the plot-- basically, I need X to happen and a Y character to help it there. For example, in my new idea, my MC needs a fated love-- so he gets a wife. This may seem beyond simple (and it is the most simple of examples), but it's endlessly fascinating to me.

Why? Because for some reason, in the end, it all works out. Granted, I heavily manipulate it to get there, but I love the feeling I get when I've set something up all along and only come to realize why when my character does. It's like reading the book as I write it. Of course, it's not always that easy-- my wonderful fiance can attest to the hours of "storyboarding" he does with me, where I basically rattle ideas off and have conversations with myself while he agrees or disagrees.

This is why I write. To put the pieces of story together, to make them shiny and new, and love them, and tell them, and package them off to be read.

Lately, I've only been able to think about my new project. I was able to write the first 15 pages a while ago, before life got turbocharged. But even so, I feel the pieces sliding together as it mulls in the background. I feel the weight of the story calling me, pushing me towards the keyboard when I should be sleeping, or blogging. I feel a big thirst to solve the puzzle. I think I will, if life will allow it, very soon. But in the meantime, I'll let the plot simmer and thicken. (Ha! I can never resist a pun. It is, perhaps, my fatal flaw?)

So tell me-- how does plot come to you?

Friday, March 26, 2010

GUEST POST: The Natural Order

Amalia Dillin is the proprietress of the blog Good To Begin Well, Better To End Well; and is an avid student of mythology. She is hard at work on several stories -- shorts and novels -- several based around Norse, Christian, or Irish myth.

Miriam-Webster defines heresy as "dissent or deviation from a dominant theory, opinion, or practice" or "an opinion, doctrine, or practice contrary to the truth or to generally accepted beliefs or standards"

Storytelling, to be sure, often requires a little bit of heresy to spice things up. Our characters usually have to go against the grain of an established order once in their lives, and that's what makes them heroes-- this strength to stand up for something they believe in, no matter what the consequences, no matter how heretical they might appear to the masses. Villains are often heretics too, from the extreme and simple example of devil worship, to simply setting self-interest and self-service ahead of the common good, and how could we forget the drive for power that sends a villain on the quest for world domination, heedless of all those who are crushed beneath his heel along the way!

You see, storytelling is a way to see the world, and a way to test the boundaries and the rules of the world. A good book challenges the established order, challenges the personal beliefs of its entire readership. The word controversy is maybe a bit more P.C. than calling it heresy, but it's usually something of the same coin. And there's nothing wrong with that. We are, as authors and writers, all heretics.

Maybe the comparison is most easily seen in writers of fantasy or science fiction, with the outlandish and impossible set out openly for everyone to wonder at, but this is only the most superficial of heresies. Fantasy writers dare to suggest that other worlds might exist outside our own perception, outside of what science can define at this time. But so do the writers in every other genre. Writers of historical fiction pry open the lives of the dead and find the conflict in their lives, raising up the struggles of those characters (often against the natural order of their times) from the ashes and birthing heroes we didn't necessarily expect or realize existed. Literary fiction writers send their main characters into the world hoping to challenge the essential nature of writing, language, and form. Romance writers use form to challenge ideas of love, relationships, and faith. And every book in every genre that has ever suggested that the world might find a better way of solving its problems than the established order, or touched upon the social issues which we find ourselves mired within, has challenged those content with dominant practice to consider something ELSE.

As writers, as ARTISTS, it's our job to question, to deviate, to be contrary. Don't be afraid to re-imagine stereotypes or well known archetypes into fully developed people who go against everything we expect they should be, and absolutely buck THE MAN in your books, whoever or whatever it may be. Don't be afraid to be a heretic! Embrace it, and keep writing.

What's the heresy in your current WIP? Is your hero a heretic? Say it loud and proud in the comments!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Interview With Agent Mark McVeigh

On Saturday, February 27th, amid snowstorms and tsunami warnings, I had the awesome opportunity to sit down and Skype with literary agent, Mark McVeigh. Here’s our conversation in a nutshell.

ST: There is a lot of conflicting advice on the web about writing and publishing these days. I write historical fiction and some agents say it’s a hot genre while others say it’s a hard sell. What’s your take?

MM: The important thing is to take a story and put a new twist on it. It helps if the story is character driven, and the extent to which the author can bring the setting to life for the reader. And of course the historical setting should have something inherently interesting about it. In theory it's hard to sell a story about an 18th century Venetian lace maker because that’s not something that will appeal to a broad audience--but stranger things have happened in the right hands. Writing about a particular character in history often works, although it can be difficult to pull off, especially if the historical figure is the protagonist. A major historical character in YA or MG historical fiction can also be great because it might appeal to school districts or get teachers excited about the book.

ST: So my novel, Hatshepsut: Female Pharaoh, is a new spin about the first great female ruler of recorded history. Her mummy was just discovered a few years ago along with some new evidence that has changed the typical viewpoint of her as the evil stepmother usurping her stepson’s throne. I’ve portrayed her as a heroine instead.

MM: That sounds really interesting!

ST: I’m also interested to know about the importance of word counts for various genres. I went to a writer’s conference in August with an early estimate that my 1st draft would hit 120,000 words. An agent running a seminar on queries said it needed knocked down to 90,000, which I did. However, I have another friend who writes fantasy. Would he be okay in the 120,000 range?

MM: It really just depends on the story. A lot of fantasy fans enjoy a longer, meatier story. One problem with word count is that in terms of dollars, the longer the story, the more paper, the more costly it is to print the book, and that affects the cost-benefit analysis.

ST: Another piece of conflicting advice I recently read was that it’s virtually impossible for a debut author to get noticed in the slush pile. A blog I was reading this week said now you really have to know someone or be referred to an agent by another author in order to get published. Do you have any advice for debut authors?

MM: It is very, very difficult to get noticed among an editor’s slush pile. The industry has changed and slush doesn’t work the way it used to. Having an agent, or at least a personal referral will definitely lift you out of the slush.

ST: What’s your take on blogs for debut authors?

MM: A blog is great, especially for people (like you) who might not be able to meet other writers face-to-face. It’s also a good way to see that there are people who are interested in what you’re writing. Having a blog with a large number of followers makes you easier to sell down the road.

ST: And how about critique groups?

MM: Skype is a great tool for critique groups. There’s actually a feature where you can do audio with a number of people. The face-to-face is wonderful too. Some people get weirded out about being on video, but once you've tried Skype a couple of times you hardly notice that part.

ST: I have to admit this is my first time Skyping aside from sitting down with my three-year-old and the grandparents. I had never considered using it for critique groups, but that’s an awesome idea!

MM: That’s why I was pushing for people to sign up for Skype for this contest. It’s a great tool for writers.

ST: Finally, I was wondering about something I’ve seen recently on a couple agents’ websites. A few state that in the initial query letter you need to include whether the query is exclusive or if it’s been sent to multiple agents. Is this a new trend?

MM: I haven’t heard of that before, at least not for a query letter. But every agent is different, and larger agencies, especially, have to have rules in place to keep some sort of order, just like a corporation. If they said that it HAD to be an exclusive--that would be odd, but if they just want to know, that seems reasonable. I think it's a good idea to include that sort of information anyway.

There you have it, folks! I’d like to thank Mark for taking the time to sit down with me- the chance to talk to an agent face-to-face was invaluable. If you haven’t signed up for Skype or become a follower of Mark McVeigh’s blog by now, you need to do so ASAP!

The Importance of Research

I'm known around these parts as the guy who does mounds of research on seemingly unrelated topics. My favorite list includes the following: Ancient Chinese Weapons, Victorian Social Structure, Weapons of the 18th and 19th Centuries, Steam Engines, Victorian Clothing for Men and Women, Victorian Building Materials, and the logical progression of a thunderstorm. I also instigated a discussion on Twitter about the proper usage of a grappling hook ... but that's not important. The reasoning for why I research these things is simple really, and a powerful truth that any writer should acknowledge.

You Don't Know Everything

Invariably, there will be a part of your novel that the story requires, but you know nothing about. Case in point -- in CALLARION AT NIGHT, there's a scene where Moriah (the MC) is being tortured in a fairly gruesome way. Now, I know very little (read:nothing) about the mechanics of torture, the best feasible kinds of torture for the situation, or really where the best places are to make deep cuts so the subject will bleed without dying.

I do, however, have friends with medical knowledge enough to bounce ideas off of. They'll be able to tell me in enough detail where I'm completely off base or whether I'm spot on. With research, you gain this same ability.

Say your steampunk aeronaut flies a giant balloon across the world. Well that's all fine and dandy, but how does the flying machine actually work? Pedal power? Steam power? Some kind of magical source that amounts to authorial handwaving? And what does the balloon look like?

Research answers these questions about power sources and mechanics and such. If you did a good deal of research on this topic, you'd find that the size of the balloon needs to increase every time you had extra weight. Soon you end up with either a balloon roughly the size of Montana or some sort of handwaving that amounts to praying the reader doesn't notice the implausibility of the machine.

Because for every author who does that, there's a reader like me who will dislike the book because he or she can tell the author didn't do a scrap of research on the topic. And sometimes, research will even bring up a new plot point that you hadn't thought of before. Double whammy, that.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Call Me C-3PO

Though I do like Mr. Bane (thanks, Harley :)... Well, today, Mr. Bane (I could get used to talking about myself in the 3rd person) is going to combine his love of basketball with his frustration of writing, and his somewhat questionable skill at Math.

Now that my Mr. Bane's bracket has been riddled with holes (thank you Villanova and Pitt -- stupid Pennsylvania... but how sweet it was to see No. Iowa take it to the Jayhawks), it's time to move on to the NBA (that's National Basketball Association). One of the questions many a schoolyard boy will ask: "what are my chances of making it to the NBA?"

Google this and the answer will be some variation of "pretty low." Mr. Bane prefers real answers. So, let's do some quick math:

Each year, there are roughly 100 roster spots open for new players (via the draft, older players retiring, etc.).
The max lifespan of a basketball player is roughly 20 years, so for a particular wannabe, there are potentially 2,000 spots available (that's 100 roster spots/year * 20 years). Stick with me  Mr. Bane, we're almost done w/ the math.

Now, assume there are 1,000,000 kids who want to make it to the NBA and the answer to the bolded question would be: 100*2,000/1,000,000 = 0.2%.

In reality, this is EXTREMELY optimistic. First, there are way more than 1,000,000 grunts out there who dream big. Next, your chances of making it to the NBA outside of the age range 18 - 22 are almost 0. Third, unless you're a FoN (Freak of Nature), your chances are further reduced. So, let's divide that 0.2% by a factor of 100. That gives us a still  highly optimistic chance of 0.002%

Now, on the bright side, one can still play basketball and make a living. Play in one of the minor leagues or in Europe. Mr. Bane has a friend who played in a British league. He didn't get paid much and needed an extra job (as a Nurse), but he was still a professional of some sort. A mid-list basketball player.

SEGUE -- This odds breakdown is, of course, analogous to what writers face. In our battle to become relevant, here's what we've got in our favor over the hoopsters:
 - We don't have age limits.
 - There's a much larger market (according to Wikipedia, about 172,000 books are published each year in the US) for authors than hoopsters.

Here's what we've got against us:
 - The pool of competitors for publication is potentially significantly (that's 2 adverbs for the 2 orders of magnitude) larger than the one for basketball roster spots.
 - The payoff is significantly lower - almost every NBAer is a millionaire; almost every author (even some who've hit the NYT lists) needs a second job.
 - Fewer people are reading, or at least willing to pay for reading.

This is grand simplification, but Bane put the odds of becoming an independent author (i.e., one who can support oneself without secondary means) at 0.001%, or 1 in 100,000.

Replace independent with successful, and the odds change, depending on how you define success. If you're never published, but happy in what you write, your odds are 100%. Is that good enough? Are you playing for the love of the game? What are your goals? Remember, not everyone who climbs the mountain, no matter how hard they perseverate, will get there. Some will perish. Don't let the destination destroy the journey.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I admit it, I just can't stop talking about myself. Blah blah blah...

I thought I'd share a little bit more about me as a writer so you know where I'm coming from with my posts here.

I'm the one (of the Alliterati) who writes commercial fiction. The first novel I finished was fantasy, and while I love that story with all my heart, it's turned out to be too close to justabouteverythingelseoutthere. So I drawered it. (Note to self: "drawer" doesn't make a very good verb).

Writing my next novel-- my first commercial fiction novel-- felt like coming home. The connection I felt with my new characters made the story pour out of me like a woman possessed.

Once the story was on paper, I did the editing/ beta-reading/ editing-some-more thing, and started querying. And that's where I am. In the trenches, waiting on The Call.

I have another project waiting in the wings, but it's going to be an involved one, and I haven't had the time to devote to thinking about and researching it that I want before I start writing. So it will have to wait a little while, but in the meantime, I have a million other things to work on.

I'll be sharing with you a little bit of everything from this phase, and hopefully more as things happen. Thanks to everyone who's following us, and we are returning the favor for those who are new to us (we already follow quite a few of you). Be sure to email your lists of any other followers you've brought on board in exchange for critiques from us by midnight Pacific on Monday, March 29th. Email address again is alliteratiarchives[at]gmail[dot]com.

I'd also like to get to know you better. What genres do you write? Where are you in the process right now? Do you have any questions for me?

Friday, March 19, 2010

GUEST POST: My Study of Characters

Harley May is a YA author who's hard at work on an urban dystopian fantasy. She is the writer of several short stories, a member of SCBWI, and the purveyor of all things sarcasm. Visit her blog at

First I’d like to thank the Alliterati for having me on their blog. They’re too kind to host me on their maiden Friday Guest Spot. My name is Harley May and I’m a wife, mother, and writer. These three roles keep me rather busy, but when I find a moment for myself, there’s nothing I enjoy more than stealing away and people watching. I love people. I love expressions. Expressions of joy, heartbreak, angst, fear, anger, and peace.

As a child, I wanted to know characters. Where did they come from? What made them laugh? What did they want? When the unsuspecting character studies interacted with one another, I soaked up every tender word, tense glance, unspoken look, quiet laugh, and I wondered what their lives were like.

For me, nothing is more revealing than dialogue. Writing dialogue is difficult. I’ve talked to myself in the mirror, pulled my husband in to play (I’ve stopped that method. He ends up doing/saying something inappropriate and distracts me from the task at hand), but find that simply listening to dialogue is the best way to write it.

One of my favorite places to people watch is Target. On one people-watching excursion, the tables were turned on me. I was pregnant with my third child, in my fourth trimester, and ridiculously uncomfortable. 

I heard a loud voice behind me. “GEEZE! You’re huge. I don’t think you should be walking around.” (He really said that)

“Yup, I’m big.” I turned my back to him and hoped that would be the end of the conversation.

“Do you know what you’re having?”

“A boy,” I answered as politely as I could manage.

 “How many do you have in there?” (He really asked that)

“Just one.” Hopefully, with minimal eye contact, he’d get the idea and leave me alone. I began to walk away. Some might call it waddling.

“Can I touch your belly?”

At this point, I turned to look at him. The middle-aged man with crinkly eyes, shaggy salt and pepper hair, and faded jean jacket just insulted my size. He now asked to fondle my unborn child? This made no sense.

“I’d prefer not. Thanks, though.” I smiled and “ran” to the check out line. When I got there, guess who sidled up behind me? Yes, it was our friend. I handed the cashier my things.

“This lady here is about to pop.” (Yes, he said that to the cashier) I wanted him to die a slow and horrible death.

She smiled sympathetically. “When are you due?”

“Any day now.” This was probably the thousandth time I answered that question.

Our friend interrupted again. “We’re going to see this lady on Oprah.”

I kept my eyes on the total but the cashier bit. “Why is that?”

“She’ll go into the hospital for one baby and come out with three.” (I know)

My eyes welled with tears as I punched in my pin number. My already fragile feelings were wounded. I was hot, fat, and wanted this baby out. I saw the man’s smile in my peripheral and felt the cashier’s stare. I could sense her imploring him with her eyes. I took my receipt and left.

This was not a happy trip to Target, but an educational one in the area of character study. Who was this man? What kind of society taught him it was acceptable to berate a very pregnant woman? Did he think himself funny? Did he think I enjoyed being teased? While I didn’t enjoy the experience, it made me think. I went home and cried. I couldn’t shake him. His persistence. His gall. His comfort to make fun of a complete stranger. Why was he like that? I didn’t know. I never would, but I could create a reason. His past slowly formed in my mind and I wrote it down. I imagined the first time he fell in love. Their first kiss and his heart break when she left. His eccentricities drove her away, of course. He smoked too much and laughed at inappropriate times. Like when her mother died.

We’re all fiercely different characters with varying upbringings, regrets, and hopes. I love this about humanity. I love how we fight, make up, and keep going. Those that can’t play nicely break my heart. Their stories are the most interesting and oddly endearing. So if you offend me, make me cry, or hurt my feelings, I’ll get over it. We all go dark places and I’m forgiving. But I’d be careful; you might end up on somebody’s blog.   

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Enter the Supreme Dictator

Okay, I only get to be the Supreme Dictator around these parts on Thursdays, but it's always been my life goal to be a dictator so I'm milking it for all it's worth. I'm going to have to find myself a cool uniform. Maybe something red. I like red.

Since L.T. and Bane did the head sharing format for their intros, I thought Matt might want some company with the dossier. And really, I talk to myself enough as it is. (My dad tells me the only time he can have an intelligent conversation is when he talks to himself. He's cool like that.)

So here's some random info about me:

Age: 29. So long carefree 20's. Hello responsible 30's. Sniff.
Location: Alaska. Yeah, you know you're jealous. Except for the fact that I still have another month of winter. Blecch.
Favorite Active Activity: Yoga!
Favorite Vegetables: Heirloom tomatoes from my greenhouse
Favorite Country Visited: Egypt. Obviously.
Least Favorite Country: I can't even follow my own rules. I'm not going to pick a country because I absolutely detested Siena, Italy. And everyone else under the sun loves it. Whatever.
Favorite Book: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Favorite Writing Book: On Writing by Stephen King
Favorite Writing Quote: "The first draft of anything is sh*t." -Ernest Hemingway

There you have it- a little snippet of me. Next Thursday I'll be posting my interview with agent Mark McVeigh. Yahoo!

And don't forget about the CONTEST!

- You follow us: We follow you.
- From here on out, you can "save up" for the prize of your choice. You can:
- Send 5 more followers our way (you have to keep track and send us their names when you reach your goal): All of us take turns critiquing your query or the first five pages of your manuscript.
- Send us 10 followers: We'll take turns critiquing your first chapter.
- Send us 20 followers: We'll take turns critiquing your first 50 pages.

Now, these are "rolling" prizes-- basically, you can send 5 people our way, claim the query critique, then send another 5 people and get your first five pages critiqued, -or- you can "save up" the first five until you have the second five to get the first chapter critique. Confusing? Probably. We'll clear up any questions you might have in the comments.

We'll be doing this for two weeks. You have til midnight Pacific on Monday, March 29th, 2010 to send your list of followers to alliteratiarchives[at]gmail[dot]com.

Zee Introduction

It's kind of fitting that I'd be posting this on Saint Patrick's Day. Fitting because I adore the Irish above practically every other culture (my other half is primarily an Irish/French-Canadian blend; she's got some interesting stories about her Irish grandfather, but that's neither here nor there). But it's also fitting because I like to imagine that if I'd lived in an earlier time (and on the Emerald Isle), I'd be one of the Irish bards. That and I'm just eccentric enough to make it work.

And on to my introduction. I'm going to eschew doing the interview in L.T.'s head (it's awfully crowded in there already), and just give you some general background like I'm profiling one of my characters. So here goes.

Name: Matthew D. Delman
Age: 26
Height: 6 foot
Weight: Average (what you thought I was going with actual pounds?)
Hair color: Brown
Eye color: Hazel
Favorite book: Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
Favorite author: Terry Pratchett
Style of writing: Fantasy/sci-fi/horror blend with a focus on steampunk
Brief biography: A native of Upstate N.Y., Matthew moved to Eastern Massachusetts with his parents in 2004. He transferred colleges (again) to Salem State College, from where he received his Communications degree in 2006. The youngest of three children, Matthew took a job first as a newspaper reporter in Gardner, Mass., and then shortly moved to a large regional publication in North Andover. He worked for that company for two years before taking a job with the press-release distribution company he now works for.

In 2009, Matthew was married to a fellow Salem State alum who also studied Communications. Their "love story," if it can be called that, has an interesting turn in that when Matthew and his wife began dating, they discovered that roughly half of their friends were mutual and they had the same professors (different class times), and knew many of the same people.

Matthew has been telling stories since the age of 5, and wrote them down intermittently until high school when he began work on his first "drawer novel." Now he's serious about publication. Watch out world!
So yeah -- that's me in a nutshell. Well, no I'm not actually IN a nutshell. Though that would be kind of cool. Hmm ... writing a story about a guy in a nutshell.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

El Día de los Muertos

Today is Tuesday, what the ancient Romans called the day of death… at least according to me. I’m not as comfortable having conversations in my head as Ms. Host, but as the elder statesman (or to be PC… nope, screw that) of the group, I’m entitled to a bit of peculiarity (and grumpiness).  So, by way of introducing myself to those who don’t know The Bane of Anubis, the following is a conversation that takes place in L.T.’s head… at least according to me.

Q: Bane of Anubis – awesome name, btw, if a bit macabre.
A: Um, that’s not a question.

Q: Were you born a smart-ass?
A: Alec, according to my mother, but I’ve probably progressed.

Q: Do you have a real name?
A: It’s Joshua, but that’s too Biblical. I prefer the more interesting myths.

Q: If you were a book, what book would you be?
A: This sounds like a plant… I’d probably be an unread book, because I don’t like being touched.  Before L.T. has me drawn and quartered by her pack of wallabies:: Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America.

Q: Writerly stuff?
A: I write mostly MG/YA stuff because I believe kids are the future (full disclosure: I believe kids have better imaginations… them being our future is inevitable). I do horror well (to the dismay of me mum) and will have a short story published in an upcoming Apex anthology, so my kid stories tend toward the dark side (take that, Luke). Other than that, I’m still swimming in a pond… and it’s frickin’ murky – no idea about its volume or the size of the surrounding fishies.

Q: Personal stuff?
A: I’m married, no kids, a dog (Anubis ;), a cat (Mouko), and an inherent fear of hippies - I'm like a grown-up, slimmed-down version of Cartman. I’ve done construction, telemarketing, cashiering, baseball card collecting, rowing, basketball playing, and, currently, engineering. I love quotes, but only good ones. Yes, segues are a weakness of mine.

Q: Whatcha gonna be bloggin’ aboot? (yes, L.T. just went South Park Canadian on us)
A: Most often writing... Frequently in the form of a rant or a ramble, but never in a poem. I like random ranting and rambling. And animals, too. Lemurs and squirrels for me. What the heck is a wallaby?

Q: If anybody's got any other questions, feel free to ask. I will try to be serious when answering... at least according to me.

PS - if none of this makes sense, it's probably because I wrote it at high altitude and was overly worried about fatigue stress.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hello and Welcome!

Hi everybody!

(Hi, Dr. Nick!)

I'm L.T. Host, and I'm going to be taking Mondays here at the Secret Archives of the Alliterati. I know a lot of you out there have questions, or might be wondering who the heck we are, so I thought that instead of writing something generic, I'd interview myself for your benefit. (Don't worry, I'm totally pro at having conversations in my head).

So, let's get this going!

Q: What the heck are the Secret Archives of the Alliterati?
A: Well, for that I'll just direct you to our little dsecription over there in the sidebar. ----->

Back? Good. I just don't think I can put it much better than that!

Q: Who are you?
A: I'm not Alice, that's for sure.

I'm an aspiring writer, like so many of us. I work in real estate to pay the bills and write to stay sane. Which is ironic, now that I think about it-- that whole "conversations in my head" thing. I write primarily commercial fiction, with some forays into fantasy. I was teethed on Mercedes Lackey and Piers Anthony (okay, not literally. Literature-ly, not but literally. The books survived). And my real first name is a character in a book by Anne McCaffrey. Books and writing are in my blood, and I can't help but want to add my own stories to the world.

I love animals, especially my own, and especially wallabies. Expect a lot of wallabies on Mondays.

Q: What is this blog about?
A: A little bit of everything. No, really. We all write, but we all also have other driving forces in our lives, and we'll be sharing thoughts and musings on all of it with you.

Q: So, is there any sort of incentive for following you?
A: Of course there is! It's about time I asked myself this question. Here's how it will break down:

- You follow us: We follow you.
- From here on out, you can "save up" for the prize of your choice. You can:
-Send 5 more followers our way (you have to keep track and send us their names when you reach your goal): All of us take turns critiquing your query or the first five pages of your manuscript.
- Send us 10 followers: We'll take turns critiquing your first chapter.
- Send us 20 followers: We'll take turns critiquing your first 50 pages.

Now, these are "rolling" prizes-- basically, you can send 5 people our way, claim the query critique, then send another 5 people and get your first five pages critiqued, -or- you can "save up" the first five until you have the second five to get the first chapter critique. Confusing? Probably. We'll clear up any questions you might have in the comments.

We'll be doing this for two weeks. You have til midnight Pacific on Monday, March 29th, 2010 to send your list of followers to alliteratiarchives[at]gmail[dot]com.

Q: You guys ROCK! Is there any way I can join your awesomeness and write for the Archives?
A: Yep! We are looking for guest bloggers to take spots on Fridays. If you might be interested in anything from a semi-regular feature to a one-time spot, please email us at alliteratiarchives[at]gmail[dot]com.

Q: Do I have any other questions for myself?
A: Hm, no. But I bet you lovely people reading this might! If you have any questions for me or in general about the blog, leave them in the comments.

Thanks for joining us on this little adventure and welcome! :)