HOLY MOVING BATMAN!!!!!!!!!

Sorry, just had to flail a bit.

We are finally moved into an apartment, with heat and all our stuff and everything. It took a ridiculously long time and I think my brain shut down from all the stress at one point because there's a stretch of about ten days that I really don't remember. (Perhaps I shall tell you the saga sometime. It's very saga-ish.)

Nevertheless! We did it. And now I can start getting my life--especially my Internet life--back.

Some updates.

1.
I'm going to try and catch up with interviews this next week, but if you have an interview with me that you are waiting on, feel free to poke me.

2. Blog posting will still be sporadic, as there's no Internet at the house and I still have the Sword of Editing hanging over my head. But I promised contests and contests there will be!

3. Said contests might involve swag. And said swag might be kinda awesome.

*looks mysterious*

4. City of a Thousand Dolls releases in about five weeks. So that's terrifying.



5. You guys are amazing. I may not have been posting a lot, but I've been lurking tons. Some days, I swear, this little corner of the Internet was all that kept me sane. (Especially Tumblr. Thank you Tumblr.)

*hugs ALL THE PEOPLE*


Four ways to win City of a Thousand Dolls.

Hi all!

Still apartment hunting and walking around in the Portland rain and getting used to the idea of myself as  a city-dwelling writer person. Also working on the next Bhinian Empire book, which is a companion to City of a Thousand Dolls.

So while I'm doing that... there are a bunch of contests going on where you can win my book!

YA Highway has an ARC of City as part of their winter giveaway. There are also LOTS of other cool books and swag as well, so you should definitely enter that one. (Contest ends Friday, December 21st.)

Harper is giving away ten ARCs on Goodreads. (Contest ends Jan 15th.)

The EpicReads crew is giving away ten ARCs too! (ends Jan. 22nd)

And finally, my second post for the 2013 Debutante Event went up last week and you can win a signed hardcover of City of a Thousand Dolls and see some of the influences that went into the book. Plus this giveaway's international, which makes me super happy.  (ends Jan 15th)

So go forth and enter if you can. And keep watching the blog because at some point when I actually have a house and all my stuff is out of storage, there will be contests here too.

Also here is a gif of Grumpy Cat.


I hope everyone is having a great winter!

City of a Thousand Dolls gets a starred review!!!!!!

Remember that secret I had last week? This is it.

Publisher's Weekly gave my book a starred review!!!!

I'm completely fuddled. A starred review is one of those things that you imagine in daydreams, the kind that sneak up on you and whisper in your ear. What if...  And then you shake yourself and remind yourself to be realistic and get back to work. And then it happens and it totally doesn't feel real.

I think my favorite part is that they summarized my book so nicely, something I still struggle with. "It's about...um... murders...and cats....and there's stuff...." *flail*

This is my favorite line.

Set in a magically isolated Empire with a strict caste system, a two-child limit, and telepathic cats....  

I think that says it all, really.

 And now I must dance the Dance of Glee!


Interviews, obsessions and favorite things.

Hello all!

Still couch-surfing and apartment hunting here in Portland. It's a fun town. (I got to go to Powell's this weekend and HOLY CRAP BOOKS EVERYWHERE.)

I miss you guys and blogging though. It's hard when there are so many things going on. AND I have news that I can't share yet! *eep*

But I will be able to tell you stuff next week. And until then, there's this...



I'm part of the 2013 Debut Event over at Badass Bookie, and my first post just went up today. So if you want to see my dream dress and hear me gush about dinosaurs, antropology and the Avengers, come on down!

(And while you're there, check out the other debuts. There are some great contests and posts up.)

*darts off to do more THINGS*

Overdue updates and a chance to win CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS.

Hi guys!

So we made it to Portland and we're staying with friends while we look for an apartment and Dan settles into his new job and I try to make a tight editing deadline. I really want to keep blogging, but things will probably be a bit sporadic for a while.

On the plus side, I have a ton of books to give away, and as soon as we get settled and I can pull them out of storage there will be SO MANY CONTESTS.

(So many. Seriously.)

And speaking of contests, I found out today that Harper is giving away ten ARCs of City of a Thousand Dolls on Goodreads! It's only US and Canada, but still pretty awesome.

http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/39101-city-of-a-thousand-dolls

Now I have to go completely redo a character's backstory and motivations. And their death scene.

*sigh*






New interview link!

I'm over at Pam Witte's Ink and Angst blog today for an interview. Find out how old I am, the best writing advice I ever got, and what kind of advice my villains give.

Ink and Angst Interview

(Also, I'm closing comments on this post in a shameless attempt to get you to comment on the interview. Because Pam is awesome and should have ALL THE COMMENTS.)

Thank you, have some cute.

As I continue the countdown to moving (SIX DAYS LEFT, OMG), and try to get all the repacking, mailing, emails done, etc, I would like to take a minute to say thank you.

Thank you for sticking with me and reading my crazy blog and cheering me on this whole way. You guys are amazing and you make me happy.


So whatever you're doing and wherever you are today, just know that I think you're awesome and I would give you a hug if I could.

But since I can't, have some cute kittens.




And a boxing Siamese cat.



And this:


Happy Sunday!

Do not forget.

Warning: This is not going to be my usual cute-animals-Thanksgiving post. Sorry about that.


I'm sitting here this morning looking at pictures of some of the casualties in Gaza, while my mother-in-law and brother-in-law discuss which Black Friday sales are worth going to, and my father-in-law asks me how many mashed potatoes I want for dinner.

On my Facebook wall, people are posting food photos and cheerfully listing all of the things they are thankful for. Meanwhile, in so many places, like Gaza, there are people who live in fear and grief, on a level I have never known and cannot begin to comprehend.

Me, sitting here in my soft sweatshirt, typing on my laptop and drinking coffee. Outside the window, the only sounds are leaves drifting across the pavement and the occasional sounds of cars. No missiles, no screaming. Nothing like the pictures I see on my computer screen.

The disconnect is mind-numbing.

On my Twitter feed, someone has created a hashtag for people who are alone during the holiday, so they can hang out and have someone to talk to. You don't have to look halfway around the world to find sadness and pain. You may not have to look outside your own neighborhood.

I'm not trying to ruin anyone's holiday/eating/shopping fun. Lord knows the world needs all the joy and laughter it can get. But thankfulness is often such a shallow concept, a word we toss out once a year, listing our blessings like a fill-in-the-blank project.

Thankfulness should be something that drives us to our knees, and something that drives us to action. We should be humbled and grateful, we who were fortunate enough to be born in a world that made it possible for us to be safe and warm when so many others are not. And we should look for opportunities to be generous with the lives we've been given.

So please, remember. Remember the other people in the world.

Hold your family tight, but do not forget the people who've lost their loved ones.

Eat and enjoy your dinner, but do not forget the people who go hungry.

Play computer games, clip coupons, go about your day. But do not forget that you are fortunate beyond measure, that for every person who has more than you, there are hundreds, thousands, millions who have far less.

Be kind, be gracious, be humble.

And do not forget.

The post previously known as "Untitled." (Or Miriam writes about fantasy and forgets the title because her brain is toast.)

I was going to post this yesterday, but fell asleep. :)

Las week, I had the honor of visiting with one of the local junior high's Nanowrimo group. It was a blast. The kids loved to talk about what they were working on, and we talked about how to get out of stuck places and solve different story problems. I had so much fun.

I also was asked to give a small talk as well, and since a lot of the kids were writing fantasy, I thought some fantasy tips were in order. And because I'm SUPER adult these days, (ha) I made a handout, which I thought you guys might like. 

So here it is! 


Miriam’s Five Tips for Writing Fantasy
(Or Science Fiction.)
(Or Pretty Much Anything, Really,)


1. Read a lot of fantasy.

     a. Reading helps you learn the genre.
     b. Reading gives you a respect for what you’re writing.


2. Learn from other genres.

     a. From historical novels—worldbuilding
     b. From literature—voice and language
     c. From romantic movies/books—character building
     d. From mysteries/Thrillers—plotting and suspense


3. Characters need love too. (and I’m not talking about romance.)

     a. Your characters should be as well-developed as your world.
     b. Action should never take the place of growth.
     c. The more fantastic your world is, the more authentic and grounded your characters need to be.
     d. Characters still have to solve their own problems.
         i. Magic can’t fix everything.
         ii. Not all problems are external.


4. You can make your own rules, as long as you keep them.

     a. Fantasy is not a license to do whatever you want.
     b. Unlimited power is boring.
     c. No deus ex macina.


5. Do something cool and HAVE FUN.


So that's the outline. What do you think? Anything you'd like me to elaborate on in my next post?

Moving, moving, omg moving.

I've been putting this blog post off, partly because I'm so overwhelmed and partly I think because if I put it in the blog it will be real and then maybe the universe will explode or something.

Okay, maybe it's not that much of a big thing.

We are moving to Portland.

We didn't intend to move to Portland. After Dan graduated, we moved back to Boise, Idaho, the place where we had started our married life. We wanted to live here and work here and build our lives in this place where we had so many memories and so many friends.

But it didn't work. Dan couldn't find a job, I couldn't seem to find my footing and neither one of us really felt like we fit. We were living with my in-laws, who are gracious people, but it wasn't home.

Then it happened. A chance conversation with a friend, an opening in another town and a job offer we couldn't--and didn't really want to--refuse. And now we're off to Portland at the end of the month.



Perhaps I am afraid to say "I'm moving to Portland" too loudly or too excitedly. Because I am a storyteller and I know that while defeat is never permanent, neither is victory. Because I am a pessimist and an anxious person, and because this is such a big thing, a thing I was not expecting and have no plans for.

And I'm going to miss Boise. I'll miss my bookstore job and my friends here and the comfort of always knowing how to get where I want to go.

But part of me is SO excited. I've wanted to live on the West Coast for a long time, and when you add in the wonderful proliferation of local bookstores, the proximity of one of my best friends and the fact that I might actually be able to become a full time writer...

It's a bit like a dream come true.

Which is kind of scary.

Am I alone in this? Does anyone else get scared when unexpected good things happen?


How I came to write a South-Asian inspired fantasy....

... is the topic of this guest post I did on Soumi Roy's book blog today!

Why South Asia?

Go forth and read! (And comment.) (If such things interest you.)

found at animals.nationalgeographic.com

Happy "The Election's Almost Over" Day!!

I've been pretty obvious about my dislike of politics and the political climate. I've been online less, and less interactive, and all the political posts and stuff I've had to wade through in my news feeds has been a big part of that.

HOWEVER.

At eight o'clock tomorrow morning, I'm planning to be at the polls when they open. I'm going to vote before work to make sure that I have time to participate.

I may not like politics.

I may be grumpy and cynical about the system.

But I'm going to vote anyway.

Because a long time ago a lot of people worked very hard to make sure I could.



Because I believe my voice is important, even if others are louder.

And because Hank Green said to.

So go vote if you can. It's important.


For everyone not in the U.S. today, Happy Tuesday! Have a baby otter.

found at cuteoverload.com

The Why of Writing: Kit Grindstaff

So I put out some feelers to some of my fellow debut authors, wondering why we write what we write. and in response, I got this wonderful post from Kit Grindstaff, author of a creepy-awesome middle grade called The Flame in the Mist.  Enjoy!

From the Dark Depths of Childhood Tales.


Hi, Dancing with Dragons readers! I’m Kit, guest posting for Miriam today. When Miriam put word to The Lucky 13s for authors to talk about why they wrote the books they wrote, I leapt at the chance—expecially for Halloween, since my upcoming book The Flame in the Mist is full of scare. What drew me, she asked, “to spooky, to spiders, rats and creepy atmospheres”? Well, for a start, the book is set in Anglavia, a fantasy version of England (where I’m from), in medieval-ish times. And who can think “medieval England” without thinking of castles and dungeons, or “dungeons” without rats, bats and arachnids? Not me.

So, perfect to ponder the week when ghosts wander freely from the Otherworld to their earthly haunts…

For as long as I can remember, ghosts and ghouls have fascinated me. Growing up in England, where castles and cobbles, thatched rooves and half-timbered houses are commonplace, it’s hard to avoid an eerie sense of the generations who have lived—and died—there. Spooky is everywhere. Quaint old villages breathe it, with their ancient little churches (usually freezing inside) complete with creepy graveyards (also somehow colder than anywhere else around) with worn, lichen-covered gravestones hundreds of years old, under which real, once-living people lie. Brrr. And look…so many of them were infants! As a child, when you read epitaphs to children as young as or younger than you, you can’t help wondering, How did they die? What was it like to live then? Do their ghosts still roam the churchyard…?

Ghosts your own age, when you’re five, six, seven…? Imagine that! You develop a sympathy for them, identify with them just as surely as for any character in a book. Their possible stories run rampant in your mind. And as you stand there shivering (from cold, or…what?), some of the damp, shadowy chill that goes along with those poor children’s imagined fates begins to creep under your skin and live inside you. So did any of that also creep into The Flame in the Mist? Oh, for sure!


But as well as everyday spookiness, there’s also England’s history, full of blood and guts. We’re talking the land where King Arthur supposedly roamed, and where other less mythic but equally legendary Kings certainly did. The most famously gory is probably Henry VIII, with his penchant for having people’s heads lopped off—after he’d had them thrown into the Tower of London to await their fate behind bleak stone walls and portcullisses, watched by the beady eyes of black ravens hunched everywhere like sinister guardians of doom.

British literature is also full of it. For centuries, Shakespeare, Dickens, the Brontes, Wilkie
Collins, et al, have fed us stories of ghosts and gloom whose chilly, misty settings literally get into your bones. (And yes, capital-M Mist features in my book, too.) And from an early age, any story-loving English child gets its daily dose of darkness from the brothers Grimm, with their folk yarns full of wicked witches and poison apples. (H.C. Anderson was a lot nicer.) There’s also Strewwelpeter, a Victorian-era book of cautionary tales (like Grimms’, from nearby Germany) in which Little Suck-a-thumb has his thumbs cut off and left as bleeding stumps, and little Harriet, who will play with matches, sets herself on fire and ends up as a sorry pile of ash next to her shoes (which mysteriously survive). Oh, and so many more that are probably foisted on Brit kids to this day. Scary? You bet. And I lapped them up, ready to regurgitate in some other form years later.

Perhaps at some level these gruesome tales spark the question, where is the edge between safety and danger? As a child, I generally played it safe (though I did once set my hair on fire, plus I was an avid thumb-sucker, so I guess I was quietly testing the limits), but maybe that’s why danger, and creepy, and terrifying—with a spattering of humor—come out full force in my writing.

But for all that explanation, quite simply, scary stories are immense fun to write! I loved dreaming up the vile menus in The Flame in the Mist (entrail stew with spleen and pancreas? bees-in-syrpuwater? Yum!), and throwing monsters, ghosts and ghouls at my heroine, Jemma—none of which I’d like to eat or encounter, thank you very much. But on the page, they’re harmless, and I can explore in safety while making Jemma be brave for me—and hopefully, for the reader too.

Beware what you write, though. One detail in the book had an unexpected outcome: the choice of two rats as Jemma’s companions. I wanted them to have an initial “ew” factor for kids—they certainly did for me. But since writing them…I now love rats. (The fact that hers are golden, and more palatable, was a happy afterthought. They were originally ratty brown.) So maybe I can learn to love ghosts too. Or maybe I’ll just leave them to whisper in the British wind, chilling and thrilling as they’ve done for eons. Wooooo….

Happy Halloween, everyone! And thanks so much, Miriam, for having me here as a guest, and singlehandedly getting me over one of my biggest fears: Fear of Blogging!

Want to know more about The Flame in the Mist? Check out the Goodreads page and Kit's shiny new website! Her book is also available for preorder at IndieBound,  Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


My Review Policy

This is going to be one of those "post so I can link to it later" sort of things. Not very relevant right now. But Harper is starting to send out ARCs of City of a Thousand Dolls to bloggers, and I thought I should say something about reviews.

So here it is, my current official review policy.

1. Say whatever you want. 

Seriously. I love the passionate discussion of books. I have books I love and books I hate with the fire of a thousand suns. And the whole idea of only saying good things in reviews feels... squicky to me.

(I mean that in a general way. Personally I try not to speak online about books I don't like because I have enough awkwardness in my life and the idea of sitting on a panel with someone whose book I've eviscerated makes me anxious. But that's me.  I think it should be an individual decision, and I would much rather see conversations that contain vivid discussion and a wide range of opinions rather than an endless stream of bland praise.)

So say whatever you like in whatever form you like to review in. HOWEVER...

2. I will not respond to negative reviews. 

Not even if you tag me on Twitter or send it to me in an email. And if you deliberately send me a negative review--especially if you do it more than once--I reserve the right to block you. But I will not respond. I will also do my best to make sure that the people close to me know about my no response policy and follow it.

3. I reserve the right to respond privately to serious accusations. 

People say all kinds of crap on the Internet. I know that and I'll do my best to ignore personal attacks. But if you accuse me of bigotry or robbing banks or throwing puppies out of airplanes, I might--if I feel the situation is serious enough--send you a polite email asking if we can discuss the subject.

If the issue is a serious one that involves my book--such as discussions of racism or misrepresentation--I may do a general blog post in response.

4. I will try to respond to good/fair reviews if someone sends them to me. Otherwise, I won't.

This one is the trickest one for me. There's a line between being an accessible author and invading into the reader's space that I don't really have figured out yet. So I've settled on this one. If you tag me on Twitter or otherwise alert me to your fair review, I will try to respond, even if it's only with a thank you. But any reviews I stumble across by accident are out of bounds.  Basically, I'll only come into the conversation if I've been invited.

So that's it! Go forth! Read my book! (or don't) Review it! (or don't)

And know that I will do my best to be respectful of my readers. I'm not perfect, and I'll probably make mistakes, but I do want to be as professional as someone who likes to post gifs and cute animal pictures can be.



Because the book isn't mine anymore. It belongs to you. Have fun.


More thoughts of mine on reviews and reviewers:

No, just no (a post on the Stop the GR Bullies awfulness)
Why I am a reader and why it matters


Note: Any and all feedback and suggestions on this policy is appreciated. Thank you! 


Here's a question...

So I've been sitting on a post about my review policy for most of this week. I'd really like to have something I can point to to say, "This is how I handle reviews of books I've read, and this is how I plan to handle reviews of my work when I see them, response policy, general feels about reviews, etc."

Is that a dumb thing? I really want people to feel secure in reading and talking about my books online and I thought having an official policy would help.

What do you think?


(Also, this is me when I see people getting excited and passionate about books.)


I have returned!

I'm back from my trip to the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association trade show! It was FANTASTIC. I wandered around a glass-art themed hotel and stayed with friends who fed me pasta and brought home so many good books and heard Lani Taylor speak and signed City of a Thousand Doll ARCs until they ran out and then I read for almost the entire ten-hour car ride home.

Now it's time for slee....

*falls over*

*snores lightly*

On story autopsies and watching Revenge.

So I recently started watching Revenge. I'd heard about it all last season and it sounded interesting, but no really my cup of tea. But I was bored a couple nights ago, and so I went to Netflix and watched the first episode.

And then the second.

And then the third.

Now I'm hooked. That show is SO MUCH FUN. But it's also really annoying because I can't figure out why it's so much fun.

See, I like to analyze stories. I've actually stopped in the middle of books and flipped backwards, just to see how the author pulled that reveal off.  I like to pick apart stories and television and find out how they work, how the writers and actors made me think exactly what they wanted me to think. 

It's like an autopsy, not only of the story but of the story experience. Why am I rooting for that character? Why don't I trust this guy over here? When did I stop shipping those two and start shipping these two? And why? 

And I haven't been able to figure Revenge out yet. I want to know what makes it so addicting and I don't. But I will. I WILL.



Has anyone else seen the show? Do YOU know why it's so addicting? 

Updates!

This week is going to be total crazysauce. Seriously.

First, this went live late yesterday:


Goodreads Book Giveaway


City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster

City of a Thousand Dolls

by Miriam Forster


Giveaway ends November 16, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win



It's running for about five weeks, and it's completely international and everything! Go enter!

Second, City of a Thousand Dolls is out in FOUR MONTHS.  I think my feelings about that can best be expressed thusly.



Third, I have all kinds of writerly things this week that are super scary. Like I'm going to a Jr. High book fair tomorrow as a bookseller, but they asked for a bio and then I asked if they wanted the whole writing thing in there and they got really excited and said put it in the bio, so I'll be there as a bookseller and kind of as a writer and I don't know how to do that.

*deep breath*

Also, I'm going to the Pacific Northwest Bookseller's Association Fall Trade Show this weekend, partly as a bookseller, but also definitely as a writer AND I'll be signing ARCs on Sunday, which makes me really nervous because it's my first signing and my handwriting's kind of crap and what if no one wants to talk to me?


*flail*

So that's me. What are you up to?





Contest winners!

Hi all! Sorry about the lack of updates. Real life is eating my brain in a quite spectacular manner. But I do have winners for you!

Since most of the entries for my latest contest were emailed in, I sadly won't be doing another list. But to make up for it, I have a picture of adorable evil for you.


Evil cat stalks you from above!


Now for the winners!

The winner of the ARC of City of a Thousand Dolls is...



And the winner of the Nobody But Us ARC....




Congratulations guys! Send me your addresses and I'll pack those up for you!


October's contest will be announced in a few days, so keep your eyes open. (Especially if there's an evil cat stalking you. I'm not saying there is, but you never know...)

News and updates

1.  I've officially been scheduled for my first author signing! I'll be signing ARCs at the Pacific Northwest Bookseller's Association fall trade show in October. I'm on the schedule and everything!

*runs around in circles*  *flails*

2.  I'm almost caught up on mailings. Sorry to those of you who are still waiting, I had to spread out my mailings more than I had planned. But the last of them should go out this week. Hooray! 

3.  Speaking of mailings and contests, there's only two days left in my latest flash fiction contest! And the odds are super good right now since only one person has entered and I'm giving away two books. So enter! Win cool things! 

*grin*

4.  Some of you might have noticed that I've been online less, and kind of sporadically. This will probably continue until after November. As much as I respect the democratic process, I'm tired of the constant barrage and negativity. (I live with my very politically minded in-laws right now, so when I get online it's mostly to escape.) But I still check my blog comments, Twitter and Facebook, so if you need to get ahold of me, I'm here. 

5. I got the Avengers last night! 



And then I had to watch it. And eat chocolate and soup and stay up waaaaay too late. I was drinking coffee like crazy this morning and the only thing I want to do right now is take a nap. 

It was totally worth it. 

How have you guys been? 

Finishing what I start.

Like a lot of you, I have a huge To-Be-Read pile. A HUGE one.
Okay, maybe not that huge. Still, it's a little overwhelming. And it's given rise to something I've dubbed Shiny New Book syndrom. 

The Shiny New Book works a lot like the Shiny New Idea. It comes in the middle of the book you're reading and goes "Hey! I'm shiny! Read me instead!" But as soon as you hit your stride in that book, ANOTHER book comes along and the cycle starts all over again. 

Now this has nothing to do with the quality of the book. I leave books all the time because they don't pull me in or I'm not invested enough. This is a different thing. It has to do with me getting into bad habits and not being able to focus on one thing at a time.  I swear to you I haven't actually finished a book in over a month. And that's no good. 

So this weekend I'm going to start catching up on my reading. Here are just some of the great books I started that I need to finish. 







SO MUCH GOODNESS, RIGHT? So now I just have to figure out where to start.

Have you ever had Shiny New Book Syndrome? What do you do?


On being in limbo

I have a confession. I hate limbo.

The time between moving out of one house and moving into another.
The time between quitting one job and finding another.
The time between leaving old friends and making new ones.
The time between finishing one project and starting the next one.
The time between turning in a draft and getting feedback.

All those times when there's nothing you can do but wait and regroup. I hate those times.

Limbo makes me cranky. I feel like there's no solid ground under my feet, that there's no way to get momentum. I eat too much suger and spend too much time on the Internet and basically flail like a cat on a slippery kitchen floor.

It's not pretty.



I wish this was a post telling you how to get through limbo with grace and dignity. Sadly I've never been known for my dignity.  (Seriously. Have you seen this yet? Case closed.)

So I don't do dignity. But I'm trying to get better at the grace part. I feel like I fail at a lot of things when I'm in limbo, and sometimes it's discouraging.

But I can give myself grace. I can take pride in the things I do right, the times I am productive. And when I'm not, when I have a bad day and stay up too late and cut myself off from the world, I can forgive myself and start again the next day. It's a little like swimming out of the deep end of a pool. Sometimes you swim and sometimes you float, but if you just keep moving in the right direction, at some point you'll feel the tile under your feet again.

So I just have to keep swimming. And maybe sneaking some treats as well.

Just because.




What do you do when you're in limbo?




Win CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS or NOBODY BUT US!

And back by popular demand...

A staring contest!



No, wait. Sorry. A WRITING contest.

Here's how it goes.

1. Go to this link. That's the pinterest board I made for City of a Thousand Dolls. Everything on that board relates to the book or the world building in some way. 
2. Pick a picture. 
3. Write a story of 1000 words or less. 
4. Leave the link in the comments section or email it to me at miriamforsterauthor (at) gmail (dot) com.  
5. WIN!!

I will pick two random entries. One will win an ARC of City of a Thousand Dolls.



And one will win an ARC of Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook. (Seriously. You want this one.)



Contest closes on September 27th, at midnight, MST. International entries are welcome as always.

Go forth and write!

In which I become an obsessed fangirl

So a weird thing happens when you finish a book, especially one you have to drag, kicking and screaming, out of your head. You run on stress and coffee and creative angst for SO LONG and then, after it's over, you just.... collapse.



And sometimes you get sick.

So I've been collapsed and ill and very, very fuzzy in the brain. And all I want to do--actually pretty much all I have done for the last week--is look up Avengers fanart and pine for the movie.



I'm obsessed, you guys.

Some of you know this is not the first time. I have a special obsessive gene that runs in my family. But since I can't watch the movie over and over, I've been obsessing over the fandom. And I love it. I love the art and the humor and the ships and I've even started reading some fanfiction, which is a thing I've never really done, but is SO COOL when it's done right and it made me laugh out loud which is really hard to do and it just makes me happy.



So come! Discuss the Avengers with me! Do you like it? Hate it? Who's your favorite? Anyone want to join me on the good ship Clint-and-Natasha-Should-Totally-Have-Their-Own-Movie-And-Also-Kiss?



Discuss!

What kind of contest should I do?

Guys, City of a Thousand Dolls is out in FIVE MONTHS.




Which means it's time for another contest!

Except I've been in the writer cave, and so I haven't planned one.  So I need your help and ideas.

 What kind of contest do YOU want to see?


P.S. If you're thinking about pre-ordering, City of a Thousand Dolls is still ten dollars at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  Or thirteen dollars with free shipping at The Book Depository


OMG I FINISHED!!!

I finished the first draft of my second book!!!




And it's off to my editor!!!




ALL THE WRITER FEELS!!!!




So...uh...what did I miss while I was in the writer cave?


(gifs found at title2come.tumblr.com)

People ask me if I've ever lost work...

...and what I do.


Well, first I make this face:



And then I make this face:



And then this happens.




And this...


And then I go offline for the next week at try to meet my deadline. And since I realized today that I've misplaced a couple of important chapters that I SWEAR I wrote, that's what's going to have to happen.

See you next week!

*dashes off*


Flash Fiction links and contest winners!

Wow, you guys are AWESOME. I loved all your stories and I'm definitely going to do this again. And I loved seeing which pictures you picked too.

For those of you who haven't read the entries yet, here's a list in no particular order.

A Drowning by TinCanGoat

Miss Matilda's Stair to Paradise by Jenni Noordhoek

Untitled by Becky Stewart

The Girl From the Sky by Katie Daniels

Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again by Soumi Roy

The Wild Wood Tree by Maureen E.

A Tiny Tale by Irene

Untitled by Rachel

Untitled by Carina

Elegy by Joy Putney  (Some people may not have permission to view this entry)



And the winner of the City of a Thousand Dolls ARC is...

Irene! 


The winner of the Mind Games ARC is....

Becky Stewart! 


And finally the winner of an ARC of The Cloak Society is...

Soumi Roy! 


Congratulations all!  I'm going to have some kind of contest every month until the book releases, so if you didn't win this time, there will be more chances.


Thank you everyone for playing!

Holy crap, I cannot stop procrastinating!

I've been trying to work on my book all day, you guys. ALL DAY.  (Except when I was at work.) And I keep getting distracted and putting it off and I have a whole new scene to write and it's HARD and I just want to eat Ramen and read about stupid people on the Internet and hide from the world.



It's not going well.

What should I do?


PS. Almost forgot! I'm up on the Friday the Thirteeners blog doing a dare today! So if you want to see me do an interpretive dance to a passage from City of a Thousand Dolls, (yeah, I totally just typed that) then click here. 


Worldbuilding redux: Don't forget the details!

One of the best things about being in a debut group like the Lucky 13s, is that I get to read some really cool books in advance. I'm in the middle of Kit Grindstaff's awesome-creepy middle grade The Flame in the Mist, and I just finished Elsie Chapman's book Dualed

Whoa.


This book kicks all kinds of a$$. Short plot synopsis: In order to become a recognized adult, able to marry, get a job, etc, every person in the city of Kersh has to track down and kill their genetic alternate. Once you've been "activated" you have thirty days to do this or both of you die.

Again, I say. Whoa.

At this point you're probably thinking "Book reviews are cool but isn't this a worldbuilding post?"

Yes, yes it is. And you have Dualed to thank for it. See, reading this book reminded me of one of my favorite things about good worldbuilding.

The principle of Logical Outgrowth.

Logical Outgrowth means that you take the defining characteristics of your world and play them out in the details. It means that every small part of your world fits together, makes perfect sense

For example: What kind of culture grows around a system that means at any given moment, two teens may have a shootout in the street? How do the businesses and government systems adapt? How do those adaptations feed into the cat-and-mouse tactics these kids have to use?

If I were to pick something that Dualed does very well, it would be this attention to detail. Everything about the society and the everyday operations makes perfect sense.  But since most of you haven't read it yet, let me use another example:

In Holly Black's Curse Workers trilogy, there are certain people who have dangerous powers or curses. They can wipe your memory or make you feel things you don't really feel or change you into something else. But they have to touch your skin to do it. This leads to a world where everyone wears gloves and where a bare hand is considered as agressive as a knife.

Logical outgrowth. Natural consequences.

If you can take your story idea and follow it into the logical result, if you can take that logical result and weave it into your story, you can build a world that feels completely authentic.  

And you do that primarily with details. It's hard to get people to read pages of backstory and world explanation. But if you can use your details well, you won't have to. And the details can be anything, from traditions to architecture to language.

In Frank Herbert's book Dune, there is a phrase that perfectly captures the kind of detail I'm talking about.  Dune is a desert planet, home to group of people known as Freman. They live in the deep desert, with no natural sources of water and thier culture reflects that. Water is precious and should be conserved even when it comes to tears. To cry at someone's death is to give a great gift.  When one of the main characters cries at the death of another, the desert people are impressed and say "He gives water to the dead."

What a perfect way to demonstrate the priorities of this group of people.

I've had conversations with people who tried to make their books as generic as possible so no one could say they got anything wrong or so they could "appeal" to everyone.  Don't do this. That leads you and the reader down the road to Blandtown. And no one wants to live in Blandtown.

Have faith in your vision. Find what makes your world special, what makes it different, and then go as far as you can with it.  Give us the details. We, the readers, will thank you for it.

Can you think of any other books or stories that do this well?



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Fabric art in the header by Carol Riggs.