All posts tagged: Jenn Lyons

Make Believe

The above link goes to a Ted talk a friend sent to me earlier. I had a very strong, visceral response to it, as did several other women who saw it. Let’s just say it’s a high-emotional impact piece, particularly if you’ve ever been powerless, introverted, or felt like you were a fraud. Go and watch it by all means, but one of the things that Amy Cuddy brings up is the idea that if you pretend at a thing, you can inadvertently believe your own lies — and that’s not a bad thing. Force yourself to smile, even if you’re feeling melancholy, and (lab studies indicate) your mood will improve. Pretend to be angry and become angry. The physical body and how we chose to use it can directly affect brain chemistry, which means the little choices we make in how we stand, sit, and present ourselves to others can directly affect how we actually feel about ourselves. Is that not the scariest and most wonderful idea ever? I’m not quite buying into the …

A toast for 2013

This was the year everything changed. It started with a Cracked article. Yes, Cracked. Now, Cracked sometimes sneaks in life lessons with their weird history and nerd comedy, and at the beginning of 2013, David Wong of Cracked issued a challenge to his readers: make 2013 the year that you close (warning: Alec Baldwin says mean things in that clip.) No excuses, no bullshit, no tired old lines about how you couldn’t because (insert whatever excuse is your preferred reason for not getting it done here.) No trite promises quickly abandoned, no self-defeating battles with the mirror. 2013 wouldn’t be about what we are, but what we do. He left what up to the reader. Learn a language, a martial art, make a painting, write a book. Learn a tangible skill, create a tangible result, do something. CLOSE. Kick some items off the bucket list, figure out what makes life worth living and DO THAT THING. Not too hard to guess that my vow for 2013 was to finish one of the three books that had floundered …

Book Covers: Project Example

Okay, so in part 3 of this series, we’re now going to take what we’ve learned and apply it a real life example. Okay, a fictional example. A fictional example of fiction I totally made up. Even though I do in fact have a book cover on my to-do list right now (for The Culling Fields, the book I finished as part of NaNoWriMo 2013) I’m going to do evil, naughty things to the first example of such, and I don’t like the idea of doing it for a book that will actually see publication. Potentially awkward. Thus, let’s go with something invented for that purpose. “A Litany of Ashes” is a post-apocalyptic YA about a teenage girl in a small community that survives by its religious rituals, designed to keep at bay the demons of radiation and nuclear fallout. But when she begins to think the demons are literal, is she going insane or has a terrifying new threat arisen in the post-nuclear landscape? So it’s a bit A Canticle for Leibowitz meets Handmaid’s …

Book Covers: Backgrounds

In part 1 of this series, I talked about typography. Let’s talk about backgrounds. Now I don’t know about you, but it’s not type that trips me up on book covers; it’s the backgrounds. There’s so much advice out here on this, and it’s often really contradictory. For example: genre-fiction often shows the hero and love interest on the front cover while this is apparently a huge faux pas in literary fiction. Some books barely have any background art at all, while on others, the artwork is the entire focus. If it makes you scream, you’re not alone. So let’s address the elephant in the room first thing. Money. You remember that old saying about ‘you can get it good, fast, or cheap: pick two?’ Never has that saying been more true than right now for book covers. Most self-published authors aren’t really looking to pay a lot of money for this stuff. Many of us just can’t. I don’t know about you, but I just don’t have the bucks to spend. And doing this …

Book Covers: Typography

Okay, so let’s talk a little bit more about book covers. Specifically, let’s talk about typography (we’ll cover background art on a different post.) Now, if you’re not a graphic designer, you may think that you don’t need to know anything about typography. Even if you’re an writer, you may not think you need to know it, either because you’re hiring another person to do the work for you or because a publisher has someone in their employ who will design the book cover for you. Please allow me to reassure you: you do need to know this stuff. Why? Because there’s some awful work being done out there, and some of it is being presented to authors who don’t know any better as ‘professional’ when it looks anything but. Some of this work is being done by publishers, so its a trap someone can fall into even if they don’t consider themselves to be an independent or hybrid author. Make no mistake: this is your brand, your marketing identity, your logo. It’s in your …

Dracula, or When Villains are Dumb

So I don’t normally post reviews here, but I’ve been watching the show Dracula recently, and I’ve got some comments I just have to get off my chest. It’s about villains, and I’ll use Dracula as an opportunity to discuss them. (There will be spoilers below.) So if I had to give the elevator pitch for the TV series, it would be: It’s the Count of Monte Cristo, but the Count is Dracula, not Edmund Dantes. Also: steampunk. It’s not a perfect show, but it’s entertaining and Johnathan Rhys Myers sure is pretty, isn’t he? Like the Count of Monte Cristo, the main story revolves around a mysterious stranger who arrives in town with a lot of money, some exotic servants, and a plan to get his revenge on the people who wronged him and his. The people who wronged him are in this case a big illuminati-like organization called the Order of Dracul (which if you’re paying attention to actual history, is the real-life ‘let’s kill all the Turks’ group to which Vlad Tepes’ …

How I learned to stop worrying and love Nanowrimo

Two years ago, I watched my husband do Nanowrimo. I mostly lounged around, chatted with other people, drank red wine, and was probably, in hindsight, entirely obnoxious and distracting. I certainly didn’t track any progress. Mike didn’t seem to enjoy doing the write-ins and didn’t think they were helpful. We stopped. This year I’m trying out Nanowrimo myself, although I admit I’m kind of cheating. I would have been writing anyway — I have two novels whose first drafts I was planning to finish this month, so I thought ‘why not combine these goals?’ This probably not quite playing by kosher rules, I’m sure, even if I’m not ‘counting’ any words that I didn’t write during this month (my total on Nanowrimo’s site, for example, is far lower than the count that I’m listing here on my blog.)  But now that I’ve actually been to a write-in with the intent to write — now I understand why my husband didn’t really like them as other than social circles. Not much writing seems to get done there, …

Tall Poppies

I hate Mary Sues. It’s not, however, for the reason that you might think. We’ve all encountered Mary Sue characters — a product of fan fiction (typically an author insert) who can do everything, fix all problems, knows everything and knows exactly how to solve any given mystery. In my experience, Mary Sues are often not perfect, but charmingly flawed (so clumsy!) and very often that flaw ensures she is always the center of attention. Everyone loves her because the author wants it that way rather than because she is, in fact, lovable. But at some point (I’m honestly not sure when) the Mary Sue shifted away from wish-fulfilling author insert to a woman who was good at too much. Quelle horreur! I had a sneaking suspicion when I wrote Marduk’s Rebellion that I was going to hear that accusation leveled against the main character, Mallory MacLain. She is, by her nature, a highly skilled, badass kind of character: a super agent who neither wants nor arguably needs much support. She’s a loner, and she …

Why You Shouldn’t Listen to Me

(Or anyone) Okay, so like many writers out there, I have a lot of opinions about how the process of writing should go, what constitutes poor writing, and what works. I also see a lot of advice handed out by writers to other writers. Should you have an agent? Should you self-publish? Should you write in the morning before work or should you quit your job and devote yourself totally to writing, make or break. Should you write seat of your pants (a pantser) or use an intricate outline (a plotter)? Write anything just to get it down on the page or try to make sure your first draft is a jewel? Should you focus on characters, plot, what’s new, what’s original? Blah, blah, blah… Okay, so let’s lay a few things out there… First, when you read about a writer’s methods, you’re only reading about what works for them, in their situation, for the kind of books they write. Nobody has a lock on a mythical right answer or process that will transform you …

Annie and the Wolves

Introduction: Another short story inspired by the universe of Blood Chimera, this one focused solely on my favorite bad girl, Lucy Belogh. Obviously I’ve taken huge, sweeping liberties with historical figures, but not nearly as much as I would have liked to have taken: I wish how Phoebe Ann Mosey was mistreated was fiction. I only tinkered with how she survived the experience. She never identified the family who abused her when she was a child, only referring to them by her nickname: the wolves. Rating warning: this story is the most violent I’ve published on a blog so far, and not for kids. *** The little girl’s blood stained the snow pink when she fell. She didn’t cry out. She was long past the point of feeling pain, reduced to numbness by the cold and her wounds. She had felt cold originally, but that was before the sun set and night shrouded the forest. She pushed her hands against the snow, brushing sap and ice and bits of broken twigs from her bloody fingers …