January 3, 2017

Stories come together. This is something I believe.  I believe it, not because I have faith in myself as some kind of innate-novel-crafting master, and not because of any fairy-fiction magic (the book isn’t alive; it doesn’t craft itself). Stories come together, for me, because I have a process that works. And knowing this gives…

April 28, 2016

I’ve written about how wonderful travel is for writers before (here), but I’ve been wanting to address more specifically how I try to inform my fictional settings with the texture and wonder of real places I’ve been. A big part of the reason I began teaching in Asia is because it enables me to travel….

January 6, 2016

I’ve always been fascinated by marital arts (a fact surprising to none of my readers, I’m betting). Growing up, I watched my dad moving through his Kung Fu forms in our living room, and I developed a great appreciation not just for the physical elements of martial arts, but their poetry—I love the sense of ritual, of…

August 23, 2014

Good Dialogue–it’s the difference between:    “Look, Your Worshipfulness, let’s get one thing straight. I take orders from just one person: me” And:    “I wish that I could just wish away my feelings.” (Ugh. I wish that I could wish away that whole movie.) Great dialogue can do so many things: characterize the speaker,…

May 31, 2014

In my experience, there are three kinds of writers: there are those who believe they are the reincarnated talent of whichever all-time-great they admire, whose first drafts are beyond reproach, the writers who, when presented with criticism, insist that you just ‘didn’t get it’; then there is the writer who is so crippled with a…

November 15, 2013

Strong, well-developed characters are the key to great fiction. But how does one create them? If you google character building you’ll find a lot of great tips—questionnaires to fill out, interviews, etc. Prompts to help you determine a character’s background, disposition, and goals. All of this is good—you should do it. But usually this is…

October 24, 2013

One of my favorite literary figures has, for many years, been Gerard Manly Hopkins. In my book, the man is a genius and a massive inspiration. I’ve never encountered use of sound and imagery to rival his poetry. He invented two terms, which he wrote about extensively in his journals and letters: inscape and instress….

October 1, 2013

I’ve been frustrated with myself these past few weeks. You see, my dream is to write full time, and, temporarily, I have the opportunity to live that dream. I’m currently back in the states while my husband is finishing up his teaching certification. Unless things get really tight, we’ve agreed that I’ll use these few…


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