Nathan Bransford, Author


Monday, May 18, 2009

Must. Drink. Coffee

Hello! I recently returned from the SCBWI Western Washington, which was a truly fabulous conference where I got to listen to incredible keynotes from such authors as Adam Rex, Grace Lin, Ellen Hopkins and Jon Scieszka (these people have turned the Power Point presentation into an elite art form), where I met with very talented and friendly editors and agents, and also got a chance to meet some blog readers in person (hello blog readers! Thank you for introducing yourself!).

I realized this morning on the bus that by Friday I will have worked 28 out of the last 31 days on account of going to conferences three out of the last four weekends, and thus whatever brain resources I have left at my disposal today are going straight to clients and work, where they are most needed. It's like mental triage.

So rather than risk giving you hallucinatory advice like "only query in iambic pentameter" and "the best synopses include every single character in your entire manuscript no matter how minor," I thought I'd turn it over to you for an open thread.

Open thread!






202 comments:

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abc said...

But I really like hallucinatory advice. Of course you deserve your rest, though.

Bane of Anubis said...

Hope the weather up there was as nice as it's been in Portland - it looks like the gray is finally going away :)

Anonymous said...

You know what they say. All work and no play....

Laurel said...

Clearly your work ethic is suffering. I don't know if they have it on the West Coast but BC Powder is great...powdered aspirin and caffeine! Not for the faint of heart. It's my favorite food group. Which is why my second favorite is Tums. But it will wake you up!

abc said...

One thing Malcolm Gladwell left out of Outliers: how important napping is to success. I'm going to take right now. Discuss.

Has anyone ever come up with a book idea from a dream? Besides you, Stephenie Meyer.

Joel Q said...

So iambic pentameter is a bad thing? What about free verse?

150 said...

My word ver. is "netholym." Chemical substance? Egyptian god? Ancient song of grieving?

Julie Weathers said...

First off, glad you enjoyed the conference. It always makes me feel good to see an agent say they had fun at a conference. I am always afraid they feel like hanging beef in a meat house filled with blind dogs.

I do have a question that came up in a writing discussion. POV characters. How many and how many are too many? I'm writing epic fantasy so I don't know if that has any bearing on the question.

No, I am not admitting how many I have, nor how many are being cut due to good advice from a friend.

Annalee said...

I have nothing witty or interesting to contribute(1). I just can't resist an open thread.

Hope you found the conference pleasant and productive. I recommend hitting up that awesome candy shop near Chinatown (Because there's only one, right?). Fudge nomnomnom.

(1) yes, yes, I know: which makes this post no different from my others; hahaha.

Mira said...

Ooooo.

Open thread.

Ooooo.

I just need to take this in for a moment. So many possibilities.

The first possibility is, of course, to waggle my finger at you, Nathan, for not resting more.

Waggle, waggle, waggle.

Go get some rest. Call in sick. Take a day off. Stick your toes in the sand. Or better yet, your head on a pillow.

We need you to take care of you!

On the other hand, kudos for being out of town this weekend. Very good choice. It hit over 100. Ridiculous. I'd file a complaint somewhere, if I wasn't so HOT.

Julie Weathers said...

Has anyone ever come up with a book idea from a dream? Besides you, Stephenie Meyer.--

Yes. I used to dream scenes all the time also.

Anonymous said...

Log onto eBay and see what coins are selling.

Rebecca Knight said...

Julie Weathers said "POV characters. How many and how many are too many? I'm writing epic fantasy so I don't know if that has any bearing on the question."

Hi, Julie! I'm writing epic fantasy, too, and had to ask myself the same question. Some of my favorite authors, like George R. R. Martin, have at least a dozen characters we follow around. However, I noticed that there seem to always be between 2-3 main characters, and the rest are subplots or there to suppliment the journey of the main folks.

Any more than 2-3 main POVs tends to get confusing or too widespread, like Robert Jordan. I hope this helps! To each their own of course, so please take this with a large grain of salt (and a margharita beneath it).

Bane of Anubis--I'm a Vancouver/Portlander, too! *waves*

Martin Willoughby said...

Open thread...someone get a needle quick!

Scott said...

Star Trek at the IMAX theater was pretty damned good.

Great script, great storytelling.

Amy said...

Re: abc
There's a house that comes up in my dreams a lot and is now one of the settings (and practically a character itself) in the book I'm working on. And there are a couple of lines of dialogue in the book that came from dreams too. But I have pretty normal dreams, so they work with my genre. It's darn fun, though! (Excellent question, by the way!)

RW said...

RE: POV and how many changes can still work.

This is an issue in mine too that I'm anxious about. Anxious because I want to keep them but I fear they might not work.

I don't think the changes in my case (3 characters who aren't the main character step forward a couple times each) are confusing, since they are pretty clearly flagged and happen along strict chapter divisions. But I'm worried that they seem like a distraction for the reader. Is the reader going to be feeling "Why am I heading off in this direction now when I thought I was following that story?"

In other words, I'm trying to make sure that the changes in POV are not simply digressions--even if they are interesting in their own right--but somehow continue to serve the main story about my main character.

So, I continue to seriously consider cutting out these chapters, but for the time being I'm trying to make them work by relentlessly revising so that, while they are from the POV of minor character B, they are still ultimately about major character A so that his story is developed and complicated.

David said...

My non-writing-related question for the day: When are the Cleveland Indians going to fire Eric Wedge?

Then again, when you pencil Carl Pavano in as your #3 starter, ou shouldn't be surprised when you find yourself in last place on May 18.

Dawn said...

I get ideas as I'm falling asleep or just waking.
Speaking of which, no ideas today...couldn't sleep last night...too cold (yes, it's too freakin cold in West Virginia!) and frustrated with ridiculous crap on fanboard I moderate...on top of that, Cain on The Young and the Restless apparently has ulterior motives and is not the perfect man after all...I've stopped watching.
On a lighter note: I'm LOVING twitter and polishing my book who's query got such a great response in Agent for a Day. I hope the iron isn't cold by the time I finish this thing.

Cass said...

It was great meeting you this weekend Nathan. You are as pleasant in person as you are on your Blog.

You are right, the keynote speakers were really good. This was my first conference and I was happy to find it was exactly how I expected it. (sigh of relief)

Cassidy

Elaine 'still writing' Smith said...

INSPIRATION, OTHER THAN STANDING IN CROWDS AND LOOKING AND LISTENING?
I have a story-telling box - best £5 I ever spent - designed originally for pre-schoolers. It contains character cards, setting cards, real objects and phrases.
For my class: I provide three (I've selected) to get them writing.
For me: I dip totally at random and have 30 minutes to plan something original from whatever turns up.

Vegas Linda Lou said...

For the past few years I’ve facilitated sessions at the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference on a variety of topics including “How to Get the Most of a Writer’s Conference.” Two questions I’d like to ask those of you who have been to a conference: 1) Did anything about the experience surprise you? and 2) What do you wish you had known beforehand that would have made the conference more beneficial to you?

Thanks!

Neil said...

Well, if I may, I'd like to ask all you other writer-types: what's the hardest scene you've ever had to write? There are scenes that are difficult from a logistical POV, an emotional POV, and from the POV of tone or style, or from the complexity of the character interactions (or a combination of all of these). I reckon the hardest scene I've written so far was having my MC in a previous book getting brutally beaten up from a first-person perspective, and making it feel authentic and suitably wearing. I was aiming for the reader to feel punchdrunk afterwards. Took months and a lot of late nights to get right. Anybody else care to share?

Diana said...

Two questions:

1. When writing about a true crime, where's the line between narrative non-fiction and historical fiction?

2. Are editors and agents wanting computer-generated word counts now? I keep hearing conflicting stories.

Thanks for all you do, Nathan!

Eden said...

Ooh good opportunity to ask something I've been wondering about lately.

I understand what "upmarket" means. Should the idea that the book is/might be "upmarket" (as well as lit fic, women's contemporary fic, etc.) be added or even mentioned at all in the query stage?

Thanks for the open thread :)

Anita said...

JULIE WEATHERS: The other night my husband had a nightmare there were two of me. I think this would make a great story idea. :) I don't dream scenes at night, but I daydream them when I'm out hiking or whatever.

Jarucia said...

Though I talk about the experience in my blog, I do want to mention here that Nathan is taller in person and he looks different and, IMO, better than in his photographs.

This is the simple truth and not a suck up.

Oh, and, Nathan, I'm sorry to have caught you in the middle of eating your croissant and my name is Jarucia, by the way.

Yeah, rookie mistakes, but I am who I am :)

Anywho, as an SCBWI conference attendee I'll say it was a pleasure to hear what all the agents and editors had to say.

I enjoyed two sessions Nathan spoke at and his frank and helpful advice giving manner translates to the real world. Go figure.

No matter how much I think I know about the industry as a writer, I find there's always something new.

And to Julie Weathers question: yes, though I've yet to write it.

karen wester newton said...

Well, once you're fully caffeinated and rested, I'd like to know your thoughts on the AmazonEncore launch. Do you see it as a sign that a) Amazon views the cream of self-published books as a revenue stream that they want to divert from traditional publishers, or b) Amazon is looking for a way to become a publisher, or c) both a and b.

Vacuum Queen said...

Oh my gosh! DAWN!!! I cracked up at your Y&R reference. All I said as I watched it on Friday was "finally...now that guy has some personality." Personally, I was hoping he and Lily sailed off to boredom land and never came back. I prefer Billy. :)

Congrats on your hot query from AFAD.

PurpleClover said...

Oh, my bad. I thought every post was open thread. Whoops!

;)


Scott - I didn't get the IMAX experience but I thought it was FANTASTIC. I would spend the $12 all over again. I laughed every time Kirk's weapon was kicked or punched out of his hand. I thought they did a great job.

Okay, well I'll come back later when I'm feeling a bit more inspired (having a rough day).

Lisa Schroeder said...

I love the WA conference. I wish I could have went with my friends Suzanne and Laini, but alas, it was my son's birthday weekend. Sounds like a good time was had by all!

I have a darling cover to share for my mid-grade novel being released next year. If you like cupcakes (does anyone NOT like cupcakes?) check it out on my blog.

http://lisa-schroeder.blogspot.com/

Patrick Rodgers said...

I would think many authors would get ideas from dreams. I just finished writing my first book and my second book that I want to write the idea came from a dream. It was actually two dreams, the first was a rough outline being one of those 3am dreams you have trouble remembering the next day. The second dream filled in the details as it was a nap dream that was easy to remember. So it must be prophetic as I had two dreams about the idea.


Here is my scary thought of the day, can you imagine having to edit and write a manuscript only using a typewriter. No computers, just the old fashioned way meaning that first drafts are vastly more difficult to edit. The idea scares the bejesus out of me.

hippokrene said...

Re: Minority characters

I'm become increasingly frustrated lately about the treatment of minority characters in fiction, especially speculative fiction.

On a message board I frequent, people have told me that it's perfectly fine to have minority characters (gays, characters of color, various religious groups) be portrayed as evil.

In my opinion, it's good for authors to include minorities in their writing, and do so in a positive light. I have many friends who love fantasy and science fiction, but rarely get to see people like themselves as heroes. Speculative fiction is my favorite genre, and the one I write it, but I think it’s sad the extent to which it alienates people who aren’t white and straight, or to a lesser extent male.

To the other aspiring writers out there: please remember when you write that the world is full of a large variety of people, and so some readers it can mean *so much* to see themselves on the page.

Marilyn Peake said...

Wishing you the best of luck with your "mental triage" day. Sometimes it's the perfect thing, although I must admit I’m quite curious about all the "hallucinatory advice" you might have given.

Patrice said...

Stop reading the Comments. You're supposed to be working.

Polenth said...

I think iambic pentameter would improve queries. If you can't sum up the main conflict in verse, there's probably something wrong with the book.

Dara said...

LOL Patrice. :P

What if there's absolutely nothing to do at work? It's been pretty slow today :)

Then again, most days are slow because most real estate agents work from home. I'm only here to process their closings when they have them (along with whatever random thing they need help with).

Scott said...

Reporters write stories mostly in "inverted pyramid" style, meaning the most important fact go first and the less important stuff follows.

While I haven't written a query letter, it seems like inverted pyramid might be a good formula, too, (aside from Nathan's suggestions, of course!)

David, sorry about your Indians.Losing Sabathia and, essentially, Carmona, too, is finally catching up with them. As a Detroit Tigers fan, though, I have to say that your team still scares me.

Alan Orloff said...

There once was an agent named Nate,*
The writers all thought he was great,
He helped them so much,
Conquering the slush,**
May all his hats levitate!


*Work with me here
**Work with me here, too.

Christopher M. Park said...

Definitely a good day to eschew the advice. After all, everyone knows that the best queries come in dactylic hexameter.

Marilyn Peake said...

Neil asked:
"Well, if I may, I'd like to ask all you other writer-types: what's the hardest scene you've ever had to write?"

I don’t know about the hardest scene to write, but the science fiction novel I’m almost done writing is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever written. I almost gave up about halfway into it, and again three-quarters of the way through it, but I finally pushed myself very hard, wrote eight or more hours a day for a couple of weeks, until I wrapped up all the major story lines. Experiencing blinding migraine headaches toward the end, I was only able to tack on two possible endings, both of which are quite shoddy, so I’m planning to return to the book in the fall and write a brand new ending. What made this book so difficult to write is that I attempted to intertwine the stories of the main characters around each other like a braid until, toward the end of the novel, it would hopefully become clear that all their stories are closely related. I was determined to develop each character’s story according to the way the overall novel was unfolding, rather than write multiple stories and edit them together later on. In addition to that, I had to research many different topics: time travel theories, ancient Egypt, specific cities and towns, etc. Except for the ending, I’m very happy with the way the novel turned out, and am looking forward to finishing it in the fall.

Lucy said...

Nathan, what Mira said. Now, repeat after me:

I ... will ... take ... ONE WHOLE DAY ... to ... relax.

Suzanne Young said...

Revising without coffee = a really bad idea.

Bane of Anubis said...

hippokrene,

Though I'm one of Louis CK's privileged white, hetero males, I see your point. In most of my stories (speculative fiction), I have positive minority characters - though certain types I definitely shy away from b/c I have no resonant understanding (e.g., gay) and wouldn't want to write superficially or stereotypically.

Neil,

Anything with extended description :), good actions scenes, resonant introspection - all pains in the arse to do well (i.e., this is where I spend most time re-editing).

Julie, Rebecca (Hi, another beautiful day),

I imagine it's easier to start with a few POV and expand outward if so desired (like Jordan) than to start with several (like GRRM, though he has expanded, too).

Some of my first (atrocious) writing was Epic fantasy and it had way too many characters (and words :) - if you can trim minor characters and viewpoints, I'd imagine you'll be able to pull in a larger audience without alienating the multi-multithreaded readers.

Moth said...

Has anyone ever come up with a book idea from a dream?I have. :) No sparkly vampires, tho. Guess my subconscious just doesn't work like that.

The full is out with an agent right now.

Bane of Anubis said...

Marilyn's reference to time travel and a recent mention of Harry Potter in a previous post a week or so ago reminded me of something that's bothered me for awhile.

For anybody who plans on reading the series or hasn't read through book 3, please skip this:

Book 3 gets some of the highest praise from readers, but I find it the worst in the series (by leaps and bounds)...

The darker tone is nice and all that, but the ending is ridiculous, IMO.

Time travel is a tricky beast and was used as a deus ex machina plot device in the book... the logical ramifications of having this simple time machine are extraordinary (um, like, let's go back in time and fix any of our problems and keep anybody from dying).

I know this is a bit outdated, but I've never gotten a satisfactory answer from anybody as to why this was okay (and, yes, this is my left brain hard at work).

Amy said...

All I got to say is I loved Jarucia's blog post about meeting Nathan in person at SCBWI - I choked on my coffee laughing. Great post Jarucia!

Too bad I don't write children's lit, I would have liked to say "hello."

Ash D. said...

I like the topic of dreaming up scenes!

Unfortunately, it has never happened to me. I remember a lot of my dreams, and they are usually very vivid, but I have yet to dream about any of my characters (or anything that sparks the creation of a character or scene).

In my dreams, I'm usually trying to survive a zombie outbreak ;)

Mira said...

Bane - right there is the difference between Sci Fi and Fantasy.

Sci Fi needs to be plausable.

Fantasy is MAGIC. No logic required.

Otherwise, really none of it makes any sense whatsoever.

I wrote a kid's story awhile back, and the MC is a little heart made of ice. I took it to my writing group. A couple of them were very critical: how can he walk around without melting? Doesn't he fall down and crack? Where do you stick his eyes?

Give me a break. Like kids care.

Actually, I'll tell you where to stick those eyes....

Laura Martone said...

abc -

I get ideas from dreams all the time - sometimes, I even write dreams down as soon as I wake up... but my dreams are fairly weird, and my writing is more mainstream, so I find that dreams are more influential in smaller aspects of my stories, like minor characters and settings (not major plot points).

Last night, I dreamed about Karl Urban (but I'm sure that was only due to my recent viewing of STAR TREK - he gave my favorite performance, for sure)!

Bane of Anubis said...

Mira - agree on the difference, sci-fi may need to be plausible, but fantasy still needs to be logical (so if you're ice cube doesn't melt in the desert, he shouldn't melt in Houston either - that's fine - it's not plausible, but it's logical).

It's like NBA officiating - all I'm asking for is consistency.

Laura Martone said...

Bane of Anubis -

I am so WITH you re: HP III. I love Lupin & Sirius, of course, but the time travel was ridiculous - if for no other reason then that it begs the question: Why didn't Hermione use this device in every book? How much would that have changed? Like reversing key deaths, for instance?

Sloppy writing (and editing), if you ask me. Course, you didn't. But that's never stopped me before!

Rick Chesler said...

Stopping in to say hello.

Laura Martone said...

Anita -

I think the real question here is why your hubby would consider it a nightmare to have two of you.

Personally, I think it would be cool to have a twin. But that could be the only child in me talking.

Anonymous said...

Mira,
I am so shocked. You said you never wrote more than two words in prior posts. But here in your own words

'I wrote a kid's story awhile back, and the MC is a little heart made of ice.'

So disappointed.

Jo

De-stalking now.

jessjordan said...

Ooooh, I'm going to the SCBWI conference in Cali in August, and I'm sooooo stoked! :)

Ian said...

Neil, toilet scenes are usually the hardest, which is why so few get written.

Ian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ian said...

Jessjordan, SCBWI is a very poor excuse for an acronym.

Mira said...

Bane -

Yes, but it was consistently logical in Rowling's book....I think....?

Jo -

I'm so sorry. I realize I've let you down. I feel just terrible about the fact that I did write something.

However, the few things I have written are extremely short, completely unpublishable and clearly make no rational sense whatsoever.

I realize that's not as good as having written nothing, but it's pretty darn close.

Ian said...

El Aleph had the best plot of any short story ever written. It was almost nothing and yet it was everything. Discuss.

An open question for an open forum: which novel has the best plot?

Neil said...

Marilyn -- nice answer. Good luck with finishing the book, you sound like you've really put the work in. I too am familiar with the blinding headches (it's called Writer's Head, I think). Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "this book is blindingly good". For my latest effort I've been neck-deep in research too, the first time I've ever really immersed myself in research for a book, and I have to say so far it's been one of the best writing experiences I've ever had. So, should you need advice about Spanish architecture, the streets of Liverpool or the most-rented car in contemporary Europe, I'm your man.

Oh and Ian -- you're right. Toilet scenes are difficult. As are sex scenes, IMO, especially if your main character is a half-drunk raging narcissist. Sex scenes and toilet scenes: woe betide the writer who combines the two. Though if anyone knows of any examples...I'm kidding, keep them to yourself. Sheesh.

Nathan Bransford said...

ian-

I signed with a Sharpie specifically so you could wash them.

Really, you should wash them.

Matilda McCloud said...

If you're writing children's books, join SCBWI! Maybe this is obvious, but I mention it just in case some people out there don't know about it. When I read slush (for a children's book publisher), I would read the letters a bit closer if the person mentioned they were a member and went to conferences etc.

Also, I worked with John Scieszka when he was just getting famous, setting up his author appearances, and he was great to work with--wonderful, kind, and so funny. He's started a great organization called Guys Read, which is about encouraging guys to read and that recommends guy-friendly books.

Scott said...

I once wrote a fun and twisted screenplay based on a dream. If anyone's curious, you can check out a short pitch video and a synopsis here.

Jarucia said...

Amy,

I'm finding that my post was funnier than I intended...mostly because so many people could see themselves doing the same thing.

:)

I'm now officially pride-free.

Other Lisa said...

Nathan, "read this over coffee." Coffee is good for you!

Ian said...

Seriously, it really perturbs me that they are creative writers and they can't come up with a decent acronym. I am going to sleep badly tonight, worrying about this, have lots of dreams, including the best plot for any novel ever, forget it and then, Nathan, in a Saul Bellow kind of way, feel strangely reassured by the sight of my grubby shorts hanging on the back of a chair, waiting for me to breathe life into them and steer them through another day.

Marilyn Peake said...

Bane of Anubis,

I didn’t have a problem with the time travel sections of the third HARRY POTTER novel because I accepted the Time-Turner device as part of the fantasy world J.K. Rowling was presenting. In science fiction, I like time travel based on scientific theories; but, in fantasy, I’m satisfied if the story’s interesting and the fictional world is consistent.

SPOILER ALERT:
Professor McGonagall gives a Time-Turner device to Hermione so that she can handle classes not normally possible to take at one time, and tells Hermione to keep it secret. Hermione later shares the secret with her friends and they use the device for more important matters. In the THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, it turns out that a large supply, maybe most, of the Time-Turners are kept in the Ministry of Magic, so it seems that they are both powerful and forbidden. It made sense to me that McGonagall had a Time-Turner in her possession and wanted to share the device with an outstanding, driven student to help her advance her studies. That was my take on it, but I think the HARRY POTTER novels definitely require constant willing suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader. :)

Jil said...

The most difficult thing I ever wrote was a computer novel backed by Art Linkletter.The reader would get to a certain point and have choices about where the story went, follow that to another choice etc. etc. Everything had multiple choices and then each of them had multiple choices. It was a nightmare to do but by a miracle I did it and the sample disc turned out well. However the money vanished and my summer's work went with it. Bummer!

Marilyn Peake said...

abc said:
"One thing Malcolm Gladwell left out of Outliers: how important napping is to success. I'm going to take right now. Discuss."

My contribution to the thread: Good idea! Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ...

Lori Benton said...

abc,

I woke up this morning from a dream that had the most vivid, weird, and horrific supernatural story premise my brain has ever produced. My conscious mind would never have gone there. My first thought was, "Okay, I see how this could have happened to Meyers." My second thought was, "Just shake it off... shake it off."

Jil said...

I must mention- Did anyone watch the end of Survivor last night and catch the fact that Coach has either written or had someone else write a book about his life? Is that why he behaved like such an egocentric jerk on the show? He certainly got himself noticed and either hated or loved. Nathan, would that get you to take on someone's work?

Jil waiting to see whether she should do something really weird.

Marilyn Peake said...

Dawn,

That’s wonderful that you’re in the manuscript polishing stage of your "Agent for a Day" book. Congratulations!

Kristi said...

Coffee and napping are two of my most favorite things!

SCBWI rocks!

abc - I'm working on a YA ms right now and I dreamed the ENTIRE book (including character names), not just one scene. Once I dreamed an entire screenplay but since I don't know how to write one, I just have notes on it until I have more free time to learn that process.I dream stories constantly - but for some reason, even though what I read is mostly literary, I tend to dream in paranormal/sci-fi (so my YA is paranormal - sans vampires or werewolves.)

Maybe that's why I love napping so much since it gives me great ideas. Must go consume more caffeine as can't nap today :(

Mira said...

Oh.

Since this is open post day, I can tell you, I'm so excited. I found the next word! For the first sentence of the book I'm writing for Nathan.

The sentence thus far is:

The ostrich-pickle conspiracy

Now, following the advice of my mentor, Stephen King, I needed an adverb.

But how to find one? Of course, I went to Wikipedia, the source of all knowledge that is good and wise, and it told me there were alot of adverbs. How many adverbs? Wikipedia said there were more adverbs. More.

Wow. That's a lot of adverbs.

So how to pick just one?

Obviously special measures were needed.

I decided this task was beyond one lowly human being. I needed to get the Universe in on this. I needed the Universe to show me the magical adverb that would bring more light and love to the world, besides getting me a signing contract with Nathan.

So. I got my tarot deck. I consulted it. I waited until midnight, bowed to the moon, and drank sacred golden liquid as an offering. I did a little moon dance (the sacred golden liquid is called beer.) I praised God, Allah and anything else that happened to be passing by. I then asked for guidance, a guiding star that would lead me to the right adverb.

Then. I placed the holy dictionary on the patio table. I opened it to a page (tricky, due to the golden liquid) closed my eyes, and pointed. With great anticipation and serene trust, I lowered my finger onto the page.

A noun.

Whoops. Try again.

An adverb!! Oh, happy, happy day! This is it, my adverb, the special adverb that was waiting just for me. Here's what the adverb was:

"gracefully"

Hmmmm.

Nah.

I don't like it. Let's find another one.

Well, it took awhile, but I finally narrowed it down the perfect adverb:

Vociferously

Isn't that a cool word? And not only that, the next word practically writes itself. Obviously if you're going to write vociferoulsy, the next word has to be "sanctified."

Oh, happy day, happy day. I almost have my whole sentence:

The ostrich-pickle conspiracy vociferously sanctified

Wow. What a wonderful sentence. I can hardly wait to see what comes next!

Nathan Bransford said...

jil-

Coach's biographer must have been the one who had the true pygmy encounter.

KayKayBe said...

I had a dream about a friend's story I am trading crits on. No miracle breakthroughs for my own story. However, I did come up with the initial idea for my current project while exfoliating. That's close to a dream-state, isn't it?

MaLanie said...

Oh goody! Open thread day!!

So Nathan, do you give new writers second chances when they make REALLY dumb mistakes? Kind of like an Accident Forgivness Program?

Like sending your first five pages in a hurry that had three mistakes! I know, I know but I did learn my lesson (I have the bruises on my backside from kicking myself to prove it!) and I will never ever do it again!

Katherine Grace Bond said...

Enjoyed meeting you at the conference. I'm putting my query together and am very tempted to use iambic pentameter. BUT, I WILL RESIST.

Marilyn Peake said...

Neil,

Isn't research fascinating? I know an author who actually travels to the places he's writing about in order to do the research, but I mostly read books and search the Internet. I love that some places even have virtual tours on the Internet, so it's the next best thing to traveling there. I've researched Roswell, New Mexico, for both a short story and part of my current novel, and feel at this point like I've actually been there.

Marilyn Peake said...

Julie,

I don’t remember ever coming up with a book idea in a dream, but I’ve had dreams based on books. Yesterday, I read 100 pages of THE LACE READER by Brunonia Barry, and loved the main character’s description of wandering through an old, large house. Last night, I had a really cool dream about wandering through a very large, seemingless endless house.

Cat Moleski said...

I used to get a lot of ideas from my dreams, but none of them worked out very well. I did work one up into a partial novel and then abandoned it. Lately, I'm thinking I'll go back to that story and pull out the elements I think are good. Probably not the dream ones, though.

Lisa Lane said...

Did somebody mention coffee...?

Marilyn Peake said...

Coffee ... Drooooool ...

Mocha lattee ... Double drool ...

How very Pavlovian of me.

Neil said...

Marilyn - yep, I'm with you on the net tours. My tip is a really, really fantastic website featuring composite satellite photos that make up virtual tours. It's called panaramio.com and it's come in might handy!

Anonymous said...

Can you do a post on how to drop an agent? Mine will not give me the list of agents he's submitted to. Nor has he heard anything about the MS he submitted 8 months ago.

Dawn said...

Oh no, Vacuum Queen! Hahaha! My mother and I have loved watching Cain's kissing skills for weeks. The first time I saw him kiss Lily I almost fell out of my chair. However, I do understand the boredom aspect of it. It's not a soap without the mess. I just wanted a real Prince Charming for once, I guess. But honestly, as long as continues kissing like that and doing it well...I'll probably be lured back, wicked or not. ;)

Kiki Hamilton said...

Hi Nathan! Saw you at SCBWI WWA this weekend and unfortunately didn't have the nerve to waylay you in the crowded hallway and introduce myself. RATS! I wanted to take a picture together and show it to my online critique group (who are all over the world) since we all think you are the rockstar of bloggers!

Anyway - since I didn't have the nerve to tell you in person I just wanted you to know you are the ONLY blog I read every day. I so appreciate your humor and kindness. YAY for you!

Dawn said...

Marilyn Peake: "Dawn,
That’s wonderful that you’re in the manuscript polishing stage of your "Agent for a Day" book. Congratulations!
Thank you. If I could shove the rest of life out of my way and out of my mind, I could get it done and start querying.

Richard Lewis said...

How many of you kalian (as we say here in Indonesia for "y'all")) have been to Indonesia? Plan to be in Indonesia? The UBUD READERS AND WRITERS FESTIVAL (7 - 11 Oct) in Bali has in a few short years become one of the world's best, this year Coetzee and Nam Le and others are resident. (This is not a plug,as I don't have anything to do with the festival, but if you show up, drop me an email, would be cool to actually meet somebody upon my small rock)

Maria said...

"All seasons of the year are nice,
For eating chicken soup with rice." Carole King

Especially Tamanishiki rice in the gold foil bag.

Thank you Nathan for your presentations this past weekend. If the mayor of Redmond belonged to SCBWI, you'd have a key to the city in your luggage.

Lupina said...

abc, I have dreamed four novels, three of which are written and in eternal revision stage, and one of which just won me an agent-partial read on another blog. I have several others with at least short story potential. I think this is not so very unusual; Jacquelyn Mitchard dreamed her "Deep End of the Ocean," for one other example.

Nathan, may you find some quality chillax time.

Audrianna said...

Regarding "Has anyone ever come up with a book idea from a dream?":

I totally write down every dream I have. It's this weird OCD thing I have, especially if the dream freaks me out or makes me cry in my sleep or what have you. I've used aspects of the dreams I write down in my books - not that any of them are published. Yet. :)

Nathan - Just keep going until you're slap happy and then it won't matter how tired you are! You could just keep going and going and going and going.....

Jill Lynn said...

I guess it wouldn't be right to take advantage of open thread day, and post my entire novel, huh? First hundred pages maybe? :-)

Jen C said...

Hmmmm.

1. If today is open thread day, does that mean the other days are kind of, closed thread days? Ahem, all you people who regularly go off topic, stop that now. (LOST OMG).

2. I have crazzzzy dreams all the time, and I've had some great story ideas from them. I like the weird dreams, way better than the dreams where there's the guy that you're into and you meet his girlfriend and she's really nice and cute and peppy. *shakes fist*

3. I don't drink coffee, but I'd kill for a good soy chai latte right about now.

4. Mira, I'm going to lobby to have the Ostrich Pickle Conspiracy added to the reading list for Uni. Please finish ASAP.

5. RE: POVs in fantasy, I think that you can potentially have a lot of them, but you need to be skillful in the way you do it. I've read fantasy before *coughterrygoodkindcough* where you forget which character's POV you're reading from because it's all written the same. They need to be different in the way they're written.

Patrick Rodgers said...

Ash you should write a book then about being chased by zombies, heck isn't their that popular series out right now of famous books with zombies.

My dreams seem to revolve around science fiction so it may be strange to go from a crime thriller to a sci-fi piece but it's worth the try.

Sex in books is a good topic, I don't want to write children's or teen literature so yes I included sex. Not graphic or harlequin by any stretch of the imagination but sex all the same. I just wonder how much is too much or when it's not enough and whether it hurts your mainstream appeal.

Dawn Maria said...

On the subject POV- I love reading books with multiple POV. This happens frequently in women's fiction and I've chosen to do it in my novel. I rotate between four main characters. I don't think you can do more that four without it getting confusing, unless you follow Tracy Chevalier's great example in THE LADY AND THE UNICORN.

I keep seeing the term upmarket, but I don't know what exactly it means. Will someone (kindly) enlighten me?

Jen C said...

Jarucia,

Your blog was hilarious! I don't think there's anything wrong with geeking out when you meet Nathan!

Word Veri: whedseup. I'm considering writing a book made entirely out of Blogger word verifications.

Bane of Anubis said...

Marilyn, Mira - the problem with time travel (not the sci-fi usage - which should relate more to parallel universe theory, but fantasy usage) is that it's a deus ex machina that raises the question: if you're using it now (to do something as trivial as taking extra classes), why not use it later or earlier, etc? It's a giant loophole that has no satisfactory answer (and saying they all got destroyed at the Ministry is a cop-out - why weren't they used in book 4 to prevent V's return, why weren't they used in Book 2 to prevent children's deaths, etc)... I agree with Laura - it's sloppy writing (or editing) and lazy, too... though obviously I'm in the minority.

Mira, you do know that King doesn't extol the virtuosity of adverbs, right? But if you're intent on adverbiage, why not just call it the pickly ostrich conspiracy or the ostrichly pickle conspiracy...

Victoria said...

Band Of A, I'm with you that good fantasy still needs to follow logic. I don't think readers of fantasy should just suspend belief because they're reading fantasy. I enjoy fantasy better if it is plausible,realistic, and maybe even a little bit gritty.

Re Epic fantasy and the number of POV characters. My thoughts on this are that I would keep them limited. But I think of it as stage time - so long as your MC has the stage most of the time - and they are clearly the MC - then it's perfectly okay for another character to have some stage time now and then.

By the way, there's a great competition called 'War of the Words', on at SciFiNow News which offers the winner's sci-fi/fantasy novel publication with Tor. The one issue is the competition is currently only open to UK residents, but hopefully enough people will lobby to change that and it will get opened up to a wider field.

nancorbett said...

no, No NO NO NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! You were here at the Western Washington SCBWI conference and I MISSED IT???? I knew I should have gone to that conference. Damn, grrrr, DRAT!!!

holly cupala said...

Nathan, it was great to have you! You have lots of fans here.

Lucinda said...

Must. Get. Sleep.

Thank you Nathan for the open thread. "No place like home" after venturing around the Land of Oz.


abc said: "Has anyone ever come up with a book idea from a dream?"

Lots of them. Much of my writing consists of not only the original dream inspiration, but much of the plot, characters, and strange happenings are based on dreams.

Writing the dreams down became a mess, so I organize them according to what book the "dreams" will work in. Some of the books are writing themselves, it seems.

Neil asked: "...what's the hardest scene you've ever had to write?"

Truth.

By that, I don't mean that it is difficult to tell the truth, but it is difficult to write certain scenes which reveal truth. I have decided to create fiction characters and let them bear the weight of it.

All the comments here have been interesting and delightful as always.

Lucinda

Marilyn Peake said...

Neil,

Thanks for letting me know about panaramio.com. I'll have to check it out.

Jarucia said...

Jen C.

I like the term geeking out. I'm often prone to doing such a thing.

It's a hangover from my childhood.

I have to say, Nathan was right about the community of commentators on his blog...lots of interaction here.

I have to thank you all, this is the first day EVER where the number one 'referrer' to my blog was NOT 'origins of bird poop good luck'.

Thanks :)

(Word: Mulan...it's already been done by Disney)

Marilyn Peake said...

Bane of Anubis,

I can see your point about the time travel episodes in HARRY POTTER. I loved the HARRY POTTER world so much, I was able to buy into the time travel ideas. On the other hand, I disliked TWILIGHT so much (reminded me of a bad soap opera), I found myself feeling that certain scenes were deus ex machina, while TWILIGHT fans felt those scenes fit well with the story.

I wonder if we expect literature to be more tightly written today than readers used to expect, especially with children's books. I first read A WRINKLE IN TIME as an adult; and, as much as I liked that book, I felt it had huge gaps in scientific explanation to the point of using deus ex machina to move the story forward.

I love the parallel universe theory of time travel - really fascinating!

Mira said...

Bane, not only is it fantasy, but it's metaphor. The story works on a different level - to my mind, it's not, by any stretch of the imagination - lazy writing. The theme of that particular book is finding your strength within. It's significant character development and growth for Harry. Time travel is a vital plot device to make the metaphor work. J.K. Rowling may be alot of things, but a lazy writer, she isn't.

In terms of Stephen King, yes, I know that he spends 5 million pages talking about how much he hates adverbs, but I assumed that was the usual Stephen King trickery. He's not going to fool me! If he spends that much time on something, he must love it.

I'm thinking maybe not just one adverb, but two should be there.

What about vociferously and voraciously? Virtuosity? Vicariously? Ooo I like that. Vociferously and vicariously santified....

I love it.

Thanks, Bane.

Bane of Anubis said...

Marilyn - excellent point - it's always easy to poke holes in the things we don't like and skip them in those we do (although I did really enjoy Harry Potter - I just have to poke holes in things that receive fairly unadulterated adulation - the devil's advocate in me, I guess).

Yeah, time travel/parallel universe theory is absolutely mind-boggling/scary.

Mira said...

Marilyn,

Don't be so nice to Bane okay?

He's wrong, wrong, wrong.

.....I get alittle protective of my HERO, J.K. Rowling.

If it makes you feel better, though, Bane, I thought the last book was weaker than the rest.

Mira said...

What do you mean, Marilyn, excellent point?

What am I, chopped liver?

Bane of Anubis said...

Mira, I will always say that it's a lazy plot device - I'm not saying she's a lazy writer, but that gimmick is a lazy one... People can find strength within in other ways.

And, to really get the fire going, I think she did become a lazier writer in her later books. She caught some of Robert Jordan's serialitis and forgot that oh so important phrase that Stephen King harps on in that book you adore: omit needless words...

Mira said...

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's it!!!!!

That's it!!!!!

I have the first sentence. I have it.

Here it is. The first sentence that will start my book that Nathan will adore. And he'll sign me to be his client FOREVER.

MY SENTENCE (with alittle help from Jill Lynn, and of course Stephen King, and now Bane of Anubis)

"The ostrich-pickle conspiracy vociferously sanctified chopped liver."

WOW.

The rest of the book will practically write itself.

Oh, who knew writing was so easy?

Happy, happy, happy.

Mira said...

Bane of Anubis, please don't take this the wrong way, because I like you and we're friends.

However, you just used Stephen King to critique the Goddess J.K. Rowling, so I'm afraid we have to be mortal enemies now.

That's okay, though. I've always wanted a mortal enemy, and I think you'll make a fine one.

Robert said...

My robot ninja pirate is disgusted by your need for coffee and I have compiled a few reason that will hi-light the said entities reasons:

1. "He's" a freaking robot. Why the hell would he have a need to consume coffee? It is a crutch that only those of the "meat-bag" variety of entities would require. When the robots finally take over, I am sure that the first thing they will see to, aside from the total subjugation of the human race, is to make sure that coffee is removed from the face of the planet, thereby denying the slave-race of humans from ever gathering the will to resist their iron fisted rule.

2. A ninja would kill anyone who offered them coffee because ninja kill everything and they are awesome. In fact, it is a little known bit of news that seems to have escaped this travesty of a blog, but the greatest loss of life on this planet has never been due to war, pestilence, or hunger. That honor belongs to a single ninja upon the opening of the franchise store Starbucks! That ninja has been slaying non-fat soy mocha latte prigs since 1971 and has been able to spread his cycle of death to over 16,120 stores in 49 countries, including around 11,000 in the United States. And the thing is that he will kill you for free and not by charging you seven dollars for a sixteen ounce coffee that is more than a third of your recommended daily intake of calories.

3. Pirates do not drink coffee. Period! If they want something to drink, it would be rum served to the by a busty serving wench when said pirate had returned from plundering those nations devastated by the wave of deaths that have been sweeping their nations (see #2 above for more information). But since I am talking about a robot ninja pirate, you should be made aware that it does not need to consume rum (for the reason why, please see #1) nor does he require the tension relieving services of a busty serving wench (again, see #1 if you are still confused as to why this is).

Of course, when all three of these archetypes have been combined into a single form, you have the most awesome, non-meat-bag killer that has ever plundered...ever.

So you can have your coffee! I will stick with the robot ninja pirate.

Angelina C. Hansen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bane of Anubis said...

Mira, excellent.

Warning: be wary of my goblins. FYI - they're winning the war against the vampires - they fear nothing, not angels, initialed authors, or hearts of ice :)

So, since you hate King, you must therefore like Meyer? (the whole enemy's enemy is my friend thing)

Angelina C. Hansen said...

Nathan,
What a weekend! Sounds like you had as much as fun as I did. Thanks for coming up north and sharing your thoughts (and answering my numerous questions).

Mira said...

Okay.

Although haven't we played this game before? Um, be wary of my goblin-eaters?

Oh. Are you writing a book including goblins?

I do feel sympathy for Stephen King around the whole Stephanie Meyers thing. I'm sure it's hard on him that she's such a better writer.

PurpleClover said...

Nathan -

Just saw a pic of you on Suzanne Young's blog. What a suave guy!

I think blogging is your therapy...

Scott - Wow. Doesn't sound like a dream...more like a nightmare. Yikes.


My son got bit at day care today. Feeling a bit blah. I wish you would do open thread when it works for me. :D But in my defense I managed two or three posts while still blah. I guess it is my therapy?

Harbinger of Truth said...

Get some rest Nathan...while you're at it, you need to look at the manuscript for my novel. I would hate to give it to an agent OTHER than your good self.

KayKayBe said...

Is anyone else concerned by the negative influence that the rash of pirate movies has had on world culture? As the "Pirates of the Carribean" is finally getting translated into Sudanese, the problem is growing so obvious that the world community can no longer ignore this. Let's start scratching up our DVD's in protest.
Thanks for the podium, Nathan. This came to mind with the post above referring to pirates and their preferrance for rum. Please, don't glorify this lifestyle. You're hurting us all:)

Bane of Anubis said...

Mira, yes - I'm trying to get the word out. Goblins are en vogue - like the ugly ducklings of the vampire world :)...

Though not a huge fan of King's work, I'll take him any day over SM.

Laurel said...

PC:

I'll tell you the same thing I told that boy I married the first time our son was bitten at day care.

It could be worse.

Dear Hubby was ready to call police, Army rangers, ninja robots, whatever into a meeting with that other kid's parents while I talked him out of the belltower. With these words.

"Let's just be glad he's the bit-EE instead of the bit-ER."

It took another four bites before our little angel starting dishing it back out but that was much worse since then it was the other parents calling for our munchkin to get kicked out.

Litgirl01 said...

I love the idea of querying in imabic pentameter, or perhaps a sonnet? :-D

Marilyn Peake said...

Mira said:
"The ostrich-pickle conspiracy vociferously sanctified chopped liver."

I think it might be time to follow the writing rule: edit, edit, edit. I know. You reached that stage in your new work so quickly, it's really quite astounding, Mira. Chuckle. :)

PurpleClover said...

Laurel -

Thanks. I'm thankful he is not a biter (yet). He has gone through a biting phase and was quickly curbed of it. But there is a whole lot of vent-worthy stuff to go along with him being bitten by THIS child. ;)

If I start, I won't stop. So I am better to leave it at that. :)

Jen C said...

PurpleClover said...
Nathan -

Just saw a pic of you on Suzanne Young's blog. What a suave guy!



Oh my, you do look very tall there, Nathan!

Word Veri: brato. As in "Jen stop being such a brat...o" *childhood flashback*. (For the record I maintain I wasn't really a brat, I was just misunderstood.)

Jen C said...

Jarucia said...
Jen C.

I like the term geeking out. I'm often prone to doing such a thing.


Barely a day goes by in which I don't geek out over something! You're in good company, all the cool people are geeks, anyway...

Mira said...

Marilyn,

Thank you.

But honestly, how can you improve upon perfection?

Besides, I really couldn't change a word of that sentence.

Really.

I have no idea what it means.

In fact, to be completely honest, I'm alittle scared of that sentence. I think I'll leave it alone for now. I'm worried that if I mess with it too much, it will suddenly achieve consciousness and become a sentinent life form.

Sharon Martin said...

I once wrote a short story based on a dream and entered the story in one of those dark-and-stormy-night-bad-story contests. It didn't win, and I didn't know if it was because it was too good or too bad.

Patrick Rodgers said...

Oh dear god in heaven did someone just really say Meyer was a better writer than King. Stephanie Meyer is probably one of the single worst writers in the history of literature.

The only thing Meyer does and does very well is she knows how to speak to her audience, particularly females and even more specifically female teenagers.

Her books lacked any pacing and made for one of the most arduous readings I have ever gone through.

She honestly spent more time with her female lead looking across the lunchroom at the Cullen table (I believe this consisted of %25 of the entire book) then she did with her climax or any type of resolution to her story.

She crammed what would have been half a book of action into like two chapters at the end just to say hey I had to end it somehow now I can wash my hands of this vile thing.

And that was just Twilight, the other three books might actually be worse including Breaking Dawn which simply put is one of the most horrendous pieces of garbage ever written.

I am tired of the love for this hack of a writer, god I have a wife and a good friend who do nothing but dot on these horrible books. I tried to give them a chance, I read all four books but I would rather have my eyes eaten out by vultures than ever read anything she puts to paper again.

Matera the Mad said...

Hnnn...I'll wait until after the coffee and a bit of sleep to query ;-)

Laura Martone said...

I'm with Bane and Patrick - King might not be my absolute favorite writer (Lord knows he needs an editor sometimes), but I'd take THE SHINING, THE DEAD ZONE, and many others ANY DAY over Meyer's series. Due to the hype (and because I try to read as much as possible), I read all four of her books in a week's time - and I'm still not sure why I kept going. Probably because I believe you should read something in its entirety before ripping it to pieces!

Patrick Rodgers said...

I think I will also enter the fray of the time travel discussion. Time travel is almost always done horribly in novel and movies because the writer always forgets one fundamental truth.

That truth is that the events have to occur in the first place before they can be changed. That means if your character dies the first time around then that character will not be able to travel back in time to fix that problem.

JK Rowling dropped the ball on that completely. If the first time around the Dementors performed the kiss on Harry then there is no possible way he can return and produce a patronous to save himself, he's dead. The event occurred the first time around meaning since he is dead he can not adjust the future accordingly.

If Reese was John Connors father and he was sent back by Connor from the future then Connor could not exist because the first time around Reese wouldn't have been around to father John Connor.

It's such a simple thing that almost every writer forgets that the future has to unravel at least once before you can change it.

The film that I think did it the best was the Butterfly Effect where every time he goes back in time the changes he makes causes unexpected ripples that he could never predict. The best part though is everything occurred at least once before he tried to change it as they held to the one fundamental truth.

Ok can you tell my second novel has to do with a worm hole and time travel and that I have given this a lot of thought. It's my dream novel, a novel I dreamed up just two months ago.

Yamile said...

I love coming to your blog not only for your posts, but also for the comments!
On another note, since you mentioned coffee, have you ever tried yerba mate? I'm addicted to it (in a good way, of course), and I don't remember a moment in my life I haven't drank mate. I am from the nostalgic, melancholy country in the most austral point of our continent, and that may be the reason I got hooked in the first place. You should try it--with a lot of sugar.

Laurel said...

Yamile,

Chau!

I drank lots of mate during the year and a half I lived in Argentina! I still have a mate cup and straw somewhere but alas, no mate.

I lived in Mendoza. Where are you from?

Marilyn Peake said...

Jen C and Jarucia,

I'm with you. I swear there are more and more great things to geek out over every day. :)

Marilyn Peake said...

Mira,

You are very wise. I failed to recognize the perfection. I thought I might recognize perfection if I ever saw it, but clearly I’ve had very little exposure to it.

Like you, I’m also a bit frightened of that sentence. You better wipe it off your computer, or it might come alive and eat all your other work. It seems a real possibility. That sentence is hungry.

Mira said...

Marilyn, hungry. Yes. That describes it perfectly.

Do I hear a stomach growling?

Time to go hide under the covers.

But not before mentioning two things:

a. Prior to reading fantasy that is written for children, people are now required to get a permission slip. Sadly, several of you do not currently qualify. On the other hand, good luck with your novel, Patrick!

b. Stephen King isn't even in the same class as Stephanie Meyer.

I'll tell you why.

Sure Stephen King's books have disturbing and profound themes. You can't put them down. They deal with deep unconscious motivations and conflicts.

But Stephanie Meyer has a hot vampire.

I rest my case.

Other Lisa said...

Well, I actually watched the season premiere of the Bachelorette. Wow.

SPOILER!!!!!!

She didn't eliminate the foot fetish guy!

Megan Lee said...

Nathan, I just saw you at the SCBWI conference and I wanted to thank you for your talk, even if it was lacking in clever power point. Yours was actually the most helpful: it had never occured to me that the road to publication could start before I put this octopus of a manuscript to bed and tied it up with a pretty red bow. So thank you, and you may consider yourself the inspiration for a new little ship in the endless sea of the blogosphere.

Gosh, that's a terrible word, don't you think?

Marilyn Peake said...

Patrick Rodgers,

I love talking about time travel, after reading scientific theories about it as background for my latest novel. It’s fascinating, isn’t it?

I like the many-worlds theory of time travel, which says that any change made to a time sequence when a person goes back in time simply opens up another world in which that event is real. Using your example, "If Reese was John Connors father and he was sent back by Connor from the future then Connor could not exist because the first time around Reese wouldn't have been around to father John Connor." ... a different universe of possibilities opens up when Reese goes back in time. He remains father to John in one universe, but is part of a different time sequence in the other world in which he travels through time. Theoretically, all the different universes exist at once, but right now humans can’t see them because we don’t do that naturally and we don’t yet have the technology to allow us to see it.

I thought WATCHMEN – both the graphic novel and movie – demonstrated this idea extremely well. After Jon figures out how to reconstruct his body after it’s destroyed by the "intrinsic field subtractor", he suddenly has the ability to see time in all its dimensions. He sees everything happening all at once – past, present and future. He can move from one dimension to another, and multiples of him sometimes appear in the same dimension. One theoretical device for traveling through time would be a machine that could move along the places where the different worlds intersect.

So far, scientists have been able to maniplulate time to a very limited degree in experiments on light. Reading about that really fascinated me! Weird things happen at the quantum level that suggest time travel is possible, but whether or not they can actually happen at a higher level is driving some fascinating research ... and makes great background for science fiction writing!

In TIME TRAVELER: A SCIENTIST’S PERSONAL MISSION TO MAKE TIME TRAVEL A REALITY, Dr. Ronald L. Mallett suggests that quite possibly no one will ever be able to travel back to any point in time before the first time machine is switched on. I found that interesting.

Theophagous Monkey said...

As long as it's open season...here's (http://weo-cuttime.blogspot.com/) an interesting blog piece on the Kindle reader, with a link to a Wired article on the same topic. Both discuss the blandness, the visual vacuity, of the Kindle as-is, the Cut Time blog from a business-person's point of view. I know Nathan's a Kindle fan, and I too have found the Kindle to be pretty good for some purposes. But there are limitations, and these two pieces helped me to see those limitations in a broader, more contextual way. They also help articulate the ways in which cover art and other design decisions enhance and help brand a book, and by extension, the author.

Cheers,

Theo

Lee Ann said...

I written two books based on things from dreams. ONe was an entrie dream - the other a prophecy that came in a dream.

Jen P said...

Here's some news for literary blogs and/or Kindle readers:

Literary blogs on Kindle

Anonymous said...

Nathan,

I'm sorry I no longer read your blog for your comments alone. I am now searching for MIRA's, B of A's, and MP. You have moved down to number 4. You have lost complete control.

Jo

Mira said...

Jo,

Thanks for the compliment, but don't be silly. Really.

Nathan is the paper, and we are just the little wiggles running across it.

The fact that he gives us so much license is because he supports us as writers. He's giving us freedom to express ourselves. He's also allowing us to build a community here.

A community of which Nathan is the leader. And he will always be the leader, and I'll tell you why.

As amusing and interesting as some of the commenters are, none of us can give you that signing contract.

That gives Nathan a charisma far beyond his wit, charm, intelligence, kindness and dashing good looks.

He's an agent. A very kind one.

Court said...

@ abc, 9:58am: All of my stories start out as dreams. I keep a dream journal as well, and have recorded over 150 dreams.

@ Nathan: The Coffee is our friend.

Word ver: "unserker"
Makes me think of "berserker," so maybe an unserker is a berserker who's unwinding after a hard day of...berserking?

Mira said...

Oh. Jo, also, you don't this, but I've privately let Nathan know that I'll stop immediately if that's ever his preference.

He's tacitly given his permission, and if he ever revokes that, I'll respect his decision.

This is his blog.

Yamile said...

Laurel,
I'm from Rosario. How long ago were you there in Argentina?

Patrick Rodgers said...

Marilyn I always saw a loophole to the John Connor conundrum of time travel and that was the fact that the first time around Sarah could have simply birthed John with a different father. I mean he would still be her son just a different father and then when John sent Reese back he could have changed John just for the better by being his father.

Terminator isn't the worst of the time travel films or books that forget the first fundamental truth to time travel but dear god does it push the limits of it. I mean if John is such a warrior because his mother knew what was coming and training him to be so what happened the first time around. Maybe he didn't need that training and all it did was cause him endless years of sorrow that he didn't need to go through. It's all about the ripple effect that messing with time causes.


And Mira I seriously hope your kidding

"Sure Stephen King's books have disturbing and profound themes. You can't put them down. They deal with deep unconscious motivations and conflicts.

But Stephanie Meyer has a hot vampire."

Because Edward Cullen is one of the worst written characters EVER. He is such a cliched stereotype and has zero depth at all. He would have been better suited in a harlequin novel as the hero that you just have to blindly accept is perfect because its a freaking harlequin novel.

Meyer's characters are so shallow and lack any type of development as the story progresses that it angers me to ever hear anyone praise her characters.

All the character of Edward is is the female teenager equivalent of a wet dream and by your statement that makes her books better than King's.

So I hope A either you are kidding or B you are snorting crack right now and our willing to share.

Mira said...

Patrick,

Why can't it be both? Kidding and crack? Let's not limit our options.

Although to be honest, I'm torn here. I suppose I could admit that Stephanie Meyer has a few flaws as a writer.

But it's so much fun to keep this going......

Being me, I've decided to keep this going.

Stephanie Meyer is the author's author. She is the epitome of what we should all strive for. The 21st Century will become forever known as the Stephanie Meyer epoch.

Stephen King is just jealous of her awesomeness. Besides, he's secretly in love with her. It's so obvious.

Mira said...

I can't do it.

Patrick.

Yes. I'm kidding. I was kidding from the start.

Of course.

Stephen King is a highly gifted writer, despite his book On Writing. (Which was not. On writing.)

Stephanie Meyer writes enjoyable romance thrillers. For the genre, she's not half-bad. She tells a good story.

Anonymous said...

We need to all step back and admit SM and SK have something whether we like it or not. They have fans. I want fans. I guess poor writing is only poor to some of us.So stop arguing.

Mira, like it or not you have replaced Nathan in my heart or maybe that's my head. Your like a little worm that has infested my brain, and tickles the nerves that control my mouth; resulting in the uncontrollable urge to lift one or sometimes two corners of my mouth. On occasion it causes a strange noise to come out of me.

Jo

Reesha said...

Your title made me want to drink coffee instantly.

Too bad I'm allergic to caffeine. :(
I'll have to live vicariously through you.

Anonymous said...

Do-over

Mira, like it or not you have replaced Nathan in my heart or maybe that's my head. Your like a little worm that has infested my brain, and tickles the nerves that control my mouth; resulting in the uncontrollable urge to lift one or sometimes two corners. On occasion it causes a strange noise to come out of me.

Jo

(Simply put-You make me smile and sometimes lol:)

Board and Officers said...

Nathan, it was wonderful to meet you at the SCBWI conference. It's always much nicer to meet someone in person. I know how you feel-I crashed for 10 hours after I got home.

Mira said...

Jo,

Stop. I'm sure there's room enough in your heart for more than one. I'll just squish in next to Nathan.

I've been known to make strange sounds, too. Unfortunately, it's usually at the dinner table.

The last time it happened, they said I have to eat in the laundry room until they changed their minds.

Um.....that was three months ago. I wonder when they'll let me out?

Mira said...

Actually, Jo, I know you don't mean to, and your compliments mean alot, but your comments....I'm actually feeling alittle upset right now.

I really don't want to take away from Nathan's blog. I don't want to be too strong a presence here.

Nathan, once again, please let me know if I ever over-step, or if you ever want me to dial it back.

I will. You're in charge.

Nona said...

Jillian gets to pick from thirty men. Woohoo! All of whom look pretty damn good without their shirts, judging from next week's previews.

Scott said...

Nate Dog's got a bit of the Modine about him. Nice jacket, btw.

abc said...

I'm envious of all the dreams turned stories. My dreams are either much too nonsensical or much too boring (oh, here I am again unable to remember the combination to my high school locker for the 157th time).

Mira and Marilyn crack me up too.

Anonymous said...

Mira,

Stop being so paranoid. I was just doing a little stalking to remind you how poor Nathan must feel.

Nathan, all is well, I still read your post first.

Mira, you have officially been moved to second, and if you want me to, I will move you to last. Of course that means what you write will stand out in my mind more, because it will be the last thing placed in there. Let me know your desires. PS Mira you can never be as cute IMO as Nathan is. Please no crying, Mira, I know you are crushed.

Jo

PS Does anyone realize how hard it is to go from texting to typing the real way?

Anonymous said...

I have a question for anyone who can help me. Is the last Twilight book when she has the baby still considered YA. At what point does it cross the line? My MC just about gets married but doesn't. I think it should be YA, but it really almost crosses over IMO because of the near marriage, but if Breaking Dawn doesn't then mine definitely does not. I am having a rough time deciding the genre.

Thanks

Bane of Anubis said...

Anon 11:22 - as long as it appeals to the YA audience, it's YA - marriage and having children don't discount it (b/c, as I remember learning when I taught a Princeton Review SAT class, many high school girls are quite excited about marriage and families).

Frequently, a category isn't defined by the subject matter, but by how the subject matter is written/addressed.

Anonymous said...

Thank-you, B of A.

JS said...

Anonymous @ 11:22 AM
Have you ever watched a Disney movie? The MC always gets married at the end. While age of the MC maybe a factor, I would say that the YA genera had more to do w/ style, voice and content.

That being said, never base anything on Twilight. Ever. It had very few things going for it IMO. And this is a girl just barely out of her teens telling you this. :P

I like the discussion though. I loved HP, but always wondered how Harry managed to save himself through time travel in the third book. Aw, well, can't have him dying quite so early, right? He has 4 more books to go. ;)

Mira said...

Jo,

Okay. I feel better. And I do appreciate the positive feedback - it means alot to me.

But I've learned my lesson. I'll never stalk again.

I did take exception to one thing that you said, though. What do you mean I'll never be as cute as Nathan? Um, excuse me? Hello? Not as cute as Nathan? I think not.

I mean, I don't want to first on the blog, but I don't mind being cuter than Nathan.

Let me just go look at that picture again.....

Oh. No. I'm not cuter than Nathan.

Never mind.

Nathan. Are you doing anything tonight? I could pop over, say after 9, I'm free then. Hope you don't mind if I drop by without calling. I'll just let myself in by the window, okay?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nathan Bransford said...

Annnnnnnnd, that's where I draw the line.

Jill Lynn said...

Mira, I appreciate that you credited me with writing part of your sentence. It wasn't necessary. Really.was.not.

:-)

Anonymous said...

Sorry Nathan,

That was not what I meant by that. It was a joke about her stalking. I didn't think about how that would feel to you.

Anonymous said...

Been watching too much Two and a Half Men, and was comparing Rose and Mira. Although Mira you are much sweeter, and if I was going to have a stalke it would be you not Rose, although I can think of a few other people that would be better yet.

Scott said...

Here's what I've been wondering.

Given the way things work these days, how is the percentage of clients an agent will never meet in person?

Flemmily said...

I actually have no cause to comment, excep that the word verification is so amusing.

Blythy. Isn't that terrific? Now, Blythly would have been better, but blythy is good too. It brings back mental pictures of Gilbert Blythe.

Sigh.

Hmm...maybe I need some coffee too.

PurpleClover said...

Happy power cord day everyone! What did I miss? Wow. Nathan had to put the smack down huh? Interesting.

So Nathan - any new topics - hallucinatory or not?

Let's talk about Brangelina then. WOW.

Mira said...

Hi Anon,

Yes, I had been trying to avoid the 'cute' topic because I know Nathan is happily married.

Sigh. Off limits.

But then I went there, and naturally it went further.

My bad.

So, I want to be clear. I am stalking Nathan because I want him to be my agent.

A cute agent. But an agent nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone direct me to blogs for published writers looking to discuss how to STAY in the biz, as opposed to newbs looking to break into the biz (as the agents blogs are)?

Thanks in advance.

PurpleClover said...

Mira -

Newsflash! You have to have more than a sentence to have an agent. Like...a lot of them. Maybe ten thousand or something.

But maybe Nathan will decide to be the first Twitter Agent...publishing Twitter-stories! :D

Mira said...

P.C.

Really? I'm new to this whole writing thing.

Well, that sentence wasn't too hard to write. Although I did have Jill Lynn's help, of course. Lots of help. I really should credit Jill Lynn with the whole thing, actually.

Anyway, how hard can another 10,000 words be?

Should be a breeze.

PurpleClover said...

ooh. I was talking sentences...not words. :)

However, if you write for a younger audience 10k words would work. I would probably use simpler words though. :)

Mira said...

P.C.

No way. I'm not spoon-feeding my writing to 5 year olds.

If they can't understand the sentence 'The ostrich-pickle conspiracy vociferously sanctified chopped liver,' they can just go look it up.

So, where's Nathan? Are you taking another day off?

Did you get some rest?

allegory19 said...

I can't wait for a new blog post - Even if it's another open thread!!! I guess I'm just not feeling the comments from yesterday/today. *sigh*

Patrick Rodgers said...

So Mira you do have crack to snort, how about I meet you at 9 at Nathan's house and we can all snort it together***


*** Disclaimer the above post was meant in a humorous way. At not time does the author condone snorting crack nor smoking it either. Crack is whack per say. If you do not have a sense of humor please have someone smash your face in with a shovel. Thank you.


Ok I am feeling frisky today lets continue on with the Stephanie Meyer discussion.

I have always granted her one true talent and that's her ability to speak to her target audience hence the insane amount of love she has garnered from that crowd.

She does emotions very well, she can write the emotion of a scene or a character with utmost skill. This is why her target audience that of females and teenage females adore her because she captures those emotions so well.

But outside of that everything about her writing is horrendously bad. She couldn't write an action scene to save her life. She doesn't develop her characters beyond the stereotype cliche she begins them with and her conflict resolution is the single worst thing ever put to paper.

Oh well nice to meet you guess we won't fight even though the last like 4 chapters have been building up for a fight. Lets hug and go out separate ways so we can end this book already. God read the end of Breaking Dawn the single worst ending to any book ever and you will know what I mean.

Yes I have wanted to vent about Stephanie Meyer for sometime now. and while I would love her popularity I would have to sell my soul as writer to get it and find a target audience I can manipulate.

What do young men read now days hmmm I wonder if I can write a book about Pirate Ninja Warlock Warriors.

The Pirate Ninja Warlock Warrior entered the dusty and decrepit bar. He slowly looked around as he flexed his muscles and fingered his lucky shuriken hoping for a bloody fight to end the day of raping and pillaging the town's women.

Spells ran through his mind as he looked for the first person to glare at him cross eyed. His blood pumped through him as he itched for that fight so that he could release all his rage and put his Ninja Pirate Warlock Warrior skills to the test.


Hey Nathan is their a niche market for Ninja Pirate Warlock Warrior stories. Are you looking for any Ninja Pirate Warlock Warrior stories because I think we could make bank on them.

Laurel said...

Hey, Patrick!

I have to agree with you on Breaking Dawn. I liked the Twilight books a lot but then, I'm a chick. On the other hand, the ending where the "good" guys have the "bad" guys on the ropes and then just let them go with the "Don't bug us and we won't bug you" truce left me vaguely dissatisfied. I speculated that although the books seemed finished...no more angst for Edward and Bella, after all, she needed a window in case she wanted to come back for more? I'm sure you're hoping and praying that I'm right ;)

I'm impressed that you disliked them so much and made it all the way through. You're a better man than I... I have a hard time finsishing just one book I don't like.

Anonymous said...

"*** Disclaimer the above post was meant in a humorous way. At not time does the author condone snorting crack nor smoking it either. Crack is whack per say. If you do not have a sense of humor please have someone smash your face in with a shovel. Thank you."

Disclaimers are a good idea, Marilyn. I've discovered it is seriously hard to project sarcastic humor while blogging.

Jo

Jill Lynn said...

Mira,

You are too, too...um...generous. Yeah, that's it. Your generosity touches me in ways...*cough*...I can't find words to express.

Patrick Rodgers said...

I am committed and completely OCD what can I say. I have never met a movie or a book I couldn't finish no matter the pain they have caused me. I read all four Twilight books to try and understand the craze and as they got worse with each book a little of me died.

And yes Breaking Dawn caused me a lot of pain, I strangled 10 puppies while reading that book just to vent some of my anger at the fact that somehow the book managed to stay on the NY Times best seller list for so long (its still #1 as of today) despite how bad it is.

The Writing gods must be avenged.

Anonymous said...

A lot of you guys are just artistic expression writers who wouldn't WANT to write the kind of stuff that makes real $$$$ if it means deviating from the stuff you naturally gravitate toward writing.

Churning out money-making products such as the TWIGHLIGHT series is not the same thing as writing for fun. That's the main thing all the wannabe's don't comprehend. S. Meyers creates products--she's an assembler of products more than she is a "writer."

How many of you still want to be "writers"?

Jen C said...

Nathan laid the smack down? I miss everything... stupid time difference. I think everyone should have to blog and comment on Aussie time from now on.

Also, RE: Twilight, I didn't think the first book was all that bad. I remember the first hundred or so pages being much more polished than the rest, as though she got bored with editing it after that and just sent it as is. Her writing is nothing to write home about (!) and some of the things still make me cringe, like how Bella faints when Edward kisses her. That part reminds me of the novel I wrote when I was 14!

But it was a fun book to read, in the same way that 90210 is a fun show to watch (the original, natch, not the remake. All those years later and Kelly is still being a self-righteous bitch to Brenda? I can't even go there!) - I love books/film/tv about high school, especially American high school, because the experience is so utterly different to what I went through.

I never read past the first book though, I just went to the bookstore and flicked through the ends of each book to see what happened. Much more time and cost effective...

Robert said...

Hey there Laurel.

This may be a glaring insight into the obvious, but of course Patrick is a better man than you are...he is a dude and you on the other hand suffer from a disturbingly over abundance of what we like to call the "X Chromosome"...

...well, if nothing else I think it is funny :)

Peace out!

Christa said...

I'm sorry, but as a hetero female, I have to jump in on this whole Meyers topic.

Bottom line: I completely agree with everything Patrick said.

Longer version:
OMG..to quote the target audience. I do, however, take issue with lumping adult females into that same target audience.

I read the entire series.

Why?

Because I have a teenage daughter who wanted to read them as a recommendation from a friend. I had read an interview with Stephanie in which she commented that the fourth book may contain content not appropriate for younger readers.

Given that I disagree with most of what's considered appropriate for younger kids, I did the only good parent thing. I read before them letting her read them. She's 16, but didn't start reading the series until last year.

I basically read straight through the series.

My eyes were bleeding half way through.

I found her writing absolutely horrid. Half the time I was laughing at the text. It was SO ridiculous!

And Mira, are you serious about "a cute guy" in the story? Edward? What woman wants to attempt to cuddle with "marble," to quote SM's repeated description of him. His body is cold to the touch and hard as a rock. How could anyone find that attractive? Yet she uses it throughout when describing contact with him.

I found nothing remotely attractive about him at all. Every line I read I kept thinking to myself "even teens like this stuff?!" I found the plot and characters...childish. Or maybe immature is a better word. I want to say "high school-ish" but I honestly think the tone of it if is even more superficial than that.

My daughter ended up not liking it either. She read the whole series just so she could make fun of it at school.

Turns out she only had one friend who liked it. Everyone else constantly bashed the books.

As a joke, we did go see the movie. We sat in the theatre laughing most of the way through. They used most of her book for the script. My only thoughts were no talented script writer wanted anything to do with it.

Yes, I realize she's made a lot of money from it, but making a lot of money or being popular doesn't equate to quality.

And to answer one of the posts above, regarding churning out product, I think there are several 'big name' authors who do that. They publish multiple books per year.

Personally, I would much rather publish one book every one or two years and be able to hold my head high with the product versus cranking out words on paper just to cash a check.

I will always pick quality over quantity -- but that's just me.

Anonymous said...

"Personally, I would much rather publish one book every one or two years and be able to hold my head high with the product versus cranking out words on paper just to cash a check."

Um, newsflash: publishing a book every 1-2 years would be considered "cranking them out"--no one will let you put out a 2nd if the first doesn't sell..OK, maybe a 2nd, but not a 3rd, and certainly not a fourth.

And that just proves my point. Most aspirants in here don't want to be professional writers, because you HAVE to sacrifice quality in the name of production of consistent, salable product. it's not about art, it's about commodities and franchises.

If you're not comfortable with that, why are you here? Why not unclog the sluch pile and just write for fun during some retreat?

Patrick Rodgers said...

I love your post Christa. I hate to lump an entire demographic into a single category but it's immensely harder to find a guy who loves Twilight. I tried to scale it down a little by saying specifically female teenagers but still the majority of the fans of the Twilight series our female (probably at least %80).

You see that category a lot like chick flicks or chick lit and I think one of the main reasons is that for a long time no one was producing material manufactured for the fairer sex.

I have liked a few chick flicks in my day and even some chick lit. The problem with Meyer like you said is she is a horrible writer or just plain bad like Stephen King said.

Mira said...

I'm sorry Patrick. Go to it, and I'm glad you're enjoying getting it out, but honestly, I can take or leave Stephanie Meyer.

Actually, I think critiquing her is sort of like kicking kittens.

Good for her, she wrote something at the right time and alot of people enjoyed it.

Do people enjoy things that aren't very good? Sure. Have you checked T.V. lately? Fast food?

Now Stephen King - that's worth a rant or two.

But Meyer? She's harmless. At least from my perspective.

Patrick Rodgers said...

So what's with your hate of On Writing Mira. I am about 120 pages in and I have found it very enjoyable.

Then again I was really looking for hints on writing from Stephen King there is a lot better sources out there for it. But what I was looking for was a memoir of King himself and I love that it is focused around his writing.

Reading tidbits like the fact that he barely remembers writing Cujo is fun for me and I am enjoying the book.

For some reason King has fascinated me while I have been writing my first novel. The fact that he threw out a first draft of Carrie (albeit just the first few pages) and had it rescued by his wife. Or the fact that he hated the character of Carrie White.

Can you imagine writing a novel where you hate the main character, I don't know if I could do it.

I think it started when I was watching a game show and that was one of the questions which author threw out his first draft and had it rescued by his wife. Ever since then I have been fascinated with him and his rise to fame.

I am not writing horror, my first book that I just finished is a crime thriller. My second book was also going to be a crime thriller. But of late I have been thinking of writing the sci-fi novel I dreamt up two months ago.

Mira said...

Wow, Patrick, congratulations on finishing your book! That's wonderful!

Bane of Anubis said...

Anon - writing a more commercial plot does not equate to sacrificing quality - it may mean sacrificing what you want to write about (to a certain extent), but that's not the same thing.

Personally, I find artistic expression overrated - I like good, well-written stories. SM is not a good writer, but she is successful and will be able to henceforth write whatever she wants - did she beat the system? -- yes. Why? Not b/c she's smarter, more business-oriented, etc - it's b/c she (for the most part) got lucky.

That being said, her stories (not her words) resonate with a certain audience - though some of us (me included) may consider most of said audience a bit too vapid, that's something we should all strive for (a large audience - not vapidity :).

WV: panties - seriously? - that's a word I've always had a certain discomfort with....

Jen C said...

Panties? Lol! Mine is forpe. How come I don't get the suggestive ones?

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