Friday, February 18, 2011


Twitter was made to fill a corporate need: a device that required short, hourly  updates from every member of a production team. If the brochure designer tweeted that he was waiting on something, the rest of the group could switch tasks or redirect energy efficiently. Brilliant time saver. Everyone on the same page, all the time.

Some people use it in almost the same way now.  They can tweet once and have it reach 20 (or 200 or ?) family or group members at once. It has massive potential as a disaster rescue tool, an aggregator of information from the ground up--and citizen communication.

There are journalists on twitter who retweet (gather and send out to their followers) a constant stream of  mobile and other tweets by citizens in the streets of the world, dealing with local crises. This week there is much news from Bahrain and Yemen and Egypt and elsewhere.

the # hashtag mark denotes topics and allows you to occupy a space filled with people who are addressing that topic, 140 characters at a time. They argue, they convince, they share solutions, they support each other, they make joyous human noise.  Free.

# Oscars
# knitting
# Egypt
# the band/actor/celebrity of your choice
Or, this morning,  # Wisconsin

Image taken in Rabat, Morocco

Friday, February 11, 2011


art by the amazing Sandara Tang

CLICK art to enlarge image...

This series is based on dreams I had--night after night--in third/fourth grade. Lord Dunraven's lands were as real to me as my own life.There is a second series now, set in the same place: The Faeries Promise. 

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Scene openings

Scene openings

I am writing the third book of this trilogy now. There are two protagonists and two timelines. In one story, about 8 years will pass. In the other, about 200 years go by. So it gets complicated at times. The chapters tend to be short overall, but I use chapter length as a way to brighten or dim the spotlight a little, guiding the reader back and forth when emphasis is needed on one thread or the other.

One of the constant concerns is pacing. Because the short chapters range from 5-9 pages the events have to be compressed to fit, and sometimes I realize I have made two--or even three--chapters out of something that really only needed one.

So I spent this morning turning twenty chapters in one of the storylines into fifteen chapters, by combining chapter content and changing the emphasis points--and re-polishing the little cliff-hangers at the end of each chapter. But more than anything, I eliminated re-descriptions of things the reader already knows I had used as set-ups to more compelling stuff.
The story rolls so much better now.

It can be useful for any writer to reread each chapter and see what it really brings to the story. If the event you are excited to write occurs in the middle of the night, after the protagonist comes home from spending time with someone that you know they are slowly going to come to love, it might be worth painting a full scene with that person, then letting the protagonist get ready for bed thinking about the evening...and then be awakened by whatever the midnight surprise scene is.

But if the protagonist spends the evening with people less important in her/his life, and the reader already  knows what their roles are in the protagonist's world and is equally familiar with the physical layout of the apartment or house or campground (or whatever) consider a chapter opening that has almost no set up:

 quick example: ** (this is not from the book in progress, just examples I am making up now...)
       For a moment, Jenny thought the pounding was imagined, part of a dream. Then she thought it was coming from the street. She sat up in bed, confused and scared, tangled in the sheets, finally awake enough to understand that the banging was close, meant for her, and not muted by skin or flesh. Someone was pounding her door with something metal, someone was trying to break it down.

As opposed to:
    Jenny got home late and took a shower to relax after another long day at work. Gregory had been tedious as always and sometimes she wondered how she could stand to work there, but she knew she had to. Nothing had changed. She had to support herself now. It look a long time for her to go to sleep, then, in the middle of the night, someone pounded on the door.   For a moment....etc.