Monday, May 25, 2009


I ruptured a disk in my lower back a few days ago, Yes, OUCH!

Since I won’t be able to sit at the computer for more than a few minutes at a time, this blog is going silent until I get better.

If you’re not a member of my yahoogroups version of this blog, please join so you won’t have to check the blog for my return.

To join, send a blank email to or use the Yahoogroups widget to your left on the blog home page.

While I’m gone, be sure to check out the archived contents of this blog by using the label listings below as well as my articles on my website,

All good thoughts sent my way will be deeply appreciated.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Links of Interest

PUBLISHING NEWS: Amazon has announced it will reprint books that deserve a second chance. First up is a self-published novel by a teenager.

CRAFT: Writing the scene so it does more than one thing.

CRAFT: Writing the Bad Girl Heroine.

CRAFT: How to write a great first draft.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: How Bookscan numbers can make or break your career.’t-know-about-bookscan-can-hurt-you/

PUBLISHING NEWS: For the first time, print-on-demand and short run published books were printed than traditional big runs. POD has recently doubled the number of books published while traditional runs dropped by over three percent.

MARKETS: Jessica Faust of Bookends defines women’s fiction.

MARKETS: Agent Kristin Nelson is in NY talking to fiction editors, and she’s asking them what they are buying. First up, St. Martin’s.

Monday, May 18, 2009

No One to Talk To, CRAFT

In my novel, STAR-CROSSED, my hero had no one but the heroine to talk to in the first part of the novel. To cover topics he wouldn’t discuss with her, I didn't want lots of internal monologue which tends to be boring.

What I ended up doing was letting him have imaginary conversations with his best friend.  Since he was also stuck in one place, I put these conversations at interesting locations from their shared past that showed more about the hero and his past.

The first conversation, for example, was in a bar on a Wild West style planet where the two friends have rescued a sweet young thing during a bar fight.  The two characters shared a beer, talked a bit about the good ol' days, and the hero spilled his guts about what was bothering him.

At other times, the best friend was the devil's advocate for one side of a choice that the hero was trying to make.

If you do something like this, it needn't be as elaborate as an entire scene.  It could just be the mental presence of someone whose opinion the character either values or can't escape.  Most of us, for example, can hear our mom or dad in our head reminding us to do or not do something.

If you want the hero himself as the other character, you should choose some aspect of him you want to emphasize.  Say Dr. Indiana Jones--the scholar versus Indiana Jones--the adventurer.

Set up the use of the mental dialogue/scene fairly early in the novel or story so that the important scene when the character finally must make the big decision won't make the reader go "huh?" when the other side of his personality or an imaginary character shows up to discuss the matter.

In other words, have the mental character show up a few times so the hero can tell his other side to shut up or whatever.


I'm teaching two writing workshops in July.

“Keeping the Reader Reading the First Chapter”

Drawing a reader into the first chapter of your novel is more than an exciting beginning, more than a “cute meet,” more than a sexy hero and a feisty heroine. Step by step, I'll show you the craft needed to draw the reader into your novel and make her eager to keep reading.

To learn more and register, go here:

“Magic, Monsters and Amour: Creating a Believable Paranormal World”

Are vampires, fairies, and space aliens real? If you create the right background for your novel, they will be to your reader.

Marilynn Byerly, lauded by reviewers for "building a world that combines both integrity and depth in an entertaining way," shows you how to develop a fantasy, science fiction, or paranormal world from to invent creatures to populate it...and how to make your novel utterly believable. She'll teach you the ins and outs of research, fresh ways to use creatures like vampires, and the means to avoid various traps many authors have fallen into.

To learn more and register, go here:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Links of Interest

CRAFT: Mistaking Action for Plot. Excellent article on the subject by Carrie Vaughn.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: How much of your work is it safe to post online?

EDITOR INTERVIEW: Faith Black, an editor for Avalon Books, is interviewed about what she’s looking for.

AGENT INTERVIEW: Agent Elaine Spencer of The Knight Agency is interviewed.

CRAFT: Carrie Vaughn discusses plot and character and how they are the same thing.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Time Travel, CRAFT

"I hate temporal mechanics!" --Chief Engineer Miles O'Brien, STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE

Lately, it seems every time I start flipping through TV channels, I come across some old TV episode that involves time travel. STAR TREK, in all its permutations, travels through time, the CHARMED witches travel through time, some poor fool on THE TWILIGHT ZONE travels through time, etc., etc.

Time travel also seems to be one of the new spices added to different paranormal book series to spice them up a bit.

The biggest problem with time travel, beyond the mind-numbing paradoxes, is the “never mind” factor when the author uses time travel to fix things.

Something really horrible happens to the main characters, more than a few die, evil starts taking over the world, and life as we know it is about over, then one of the good guys uses time travel to go back before it starts and stops whatever the original cause of the whole mess was. Everything returns to exactly the way it was before the story started.

In other words, nothing really happened because nothing changes. I always say “never mind” then something rude about the writing, and decide to find another TV show to watch the next time the writers pull out the time travel plot.

That “never mind” moment means you are cheating the reader of genuine experience. If unhappiness, danger, and death no longer can be trusted to have meaning, the reader may stop caring when permanent changing moments happen.

The reader can also feel cheated to the point she no longer trusts anything you write, and may very well say “never mind” when your next book is out.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Links of Interest

CRAFT: An article on the difference between showing and telling.

FLASH FICTION CONTEST: TRI Studio LLC, owner of the free ezine for writers, The Fiction Flyer, announces a contest for writers of fiction, judged by youth book illustrator and author Kevin Collier, author Kristen Collier, and author and promotional guru, Carolyn Howard-Johnson. Contest details may be viewed here:
PROMOTION: Lucienne Diver, agent and author, talks about using others to help with promotion.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Agent Kristin Nelson talks about a nasty little secret involving electronic rights hidden in the new Penguin contract.

CRAFT: A nice article by Jesaka Long on developing your writer’s voice.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Harlequin Books is having a very successful year when many publishing companies are struggling.

AMAZON KINDLE NEWS: Amazon has just announced a much larger Kindle which is aimed at the textbook and newspaper markets.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Talking Among Myselves, CRAFT

QUESTION: I am trying to write a dialogue scene in which a character is arguing with himself yet it seems that there are two distinct persons talking, almost as if the good side of him is arguing with the bad side. What is a good way to show this?

You could do it like regular dialogue between two people.  The "real" character could give his better self some kind of snarky nickname which you could use as a dialogue tag.

Jon sneered as his other self.  "Why don't you shut up, Angel Fart. I stopped believing in virtue and nobility years ago."

"If you stopped believing, why am I here?"

Or you could do it like normal internal monologue but with the good Jon’s comments underlined/italics.

Jon fought to ignore his inner voice.  He knew what he had to do, and he'd do it.  He'd stopped believing in doing the right thing years ago.

If you stopped believing, why can you hear me?


Do you have a writing or professional question for me? Please ask via this blog or email to marilynnbyerly at