Drollerie Blog Tour: JA Howe

Writer Tamago is pleased to host JA Howe on the Drollerie Blog Tour. While Jessica is here, I’ll be over at Imogen Howson’s. And after you’re done at this stop on the tour, please be sure to continue on over to Fraser Sherman’s place.



Greetings to all readers of Catherine’s blog; it’s a neat place to be!

I thought of a few sweet ideas for this entry, but I kept coming back to the land of Perriwinkle, my newest place to play — well, new-old. And so I think I will give you folk a tour of the land where fairy-tale and Candyland meet.

I collect ideas, I really do; I’ve idea books dating back into the late 1990’s that I keep around in a little box just in case — somehow — there comes a day when I have no idea what to write. One of these ideas went screwy a few years back, when I tried to write about a wizard who adopted two baby dragons. It was a terrible story, I finally realized, and so I scrapped it; just another of my melodramatic over-the-top writings. Seriously, it was bad. But, the idea wouldn’t leave my mind. And well, a couple years ago I put it down as an outline in my computer… but I STILL couldn’t figure what to do with it. At some point last year I was watching TV, and there was something on that gave me the concept for “twisted Candyland.” I swear, that’s what I got. And it grew and grew, like the little green man in “The King of Ireland’s Son,” one of my favorite Irish tales, till I had Perriwinkle.

Map and all.

I wrote of Perriwinkle with the help of many fairy-tale books and nursery rhymes, which is why I’m happy to be at Catherine’s site this month, since I know she shares my love of tales from around the world! Seriously, I don’t know how often I went through my extensive collection while writing it, from Japan to Germany to Ireland… And then I stuck in my own versions: For instance, there’s a veterinarian in Perriwinkle who is really a vampire in therapy, there are Candy-Flour-Fighting-Fairies which every baker has nightmares about, the gingerbread men of the land work construction or are specially baked to be part of His Majesty’s guard, and there’s a few districts in the capital at Cookie Cutter which are devoted to Asian-esque culture. There are also some seriously nasty clans of families of Cinderella and Snow White, which are the cutthroat upper crust of the land….

…and there’s my dragons. I’ve only just begun to play in Perriwinkle, though hearing about Halloween everywhere has started me thinking about it again (of course right when I’m working on something else!) I’m hoping that sometime soon I get to share it with the rest of the world — it’s already seeped into my wedding for next week, because my fiance and I wanted to have a theme of music and writing, our two respective fortes. Trouble is, well, while he has some lovely lines such as “through all the dischordant times…” I had nothing in my head till I started thinking well “I want to share with you my knights and goblins, protect you from the Candy-Flour-Fighting-Fairies…”

Durned things won’t leave me be!

Viable Paradise Glossary

Here are some useful writerly terms that we picked up from Viable Paradise. You may recognize some of them.

Waxing the cat: A phrase describing the writer proclivity to procrastinate, as in “After I’ve waxed the cat, I’ll start this story.” Usually waxing the cat is followed by cleaning the toilet with a toothbrush, organizing your spoon collection, and a variety of household chores in a cyclical procession until it is once again time to wax the cat. Note the low word count that results.

As you know, Bob…: Expository prose inserted in a particularly obvious fashion, derived from the old 50s SF rhetorical device of explaining your theory to another scientist named Bob. My favorite variation on this theme was two supernatural beings expositing to one another, or “As you know, Zeus…”

Adverb Killing: Hunting down and ruthlessly destroying adverbs in your fiction.

Shiny Soup: Also known as a beautiful mess. A story which has gemlike nuggets, but is a bit muddled in its intent.

Whorelord: A particularly strong writer at Viable Paradise XIII wrote a great story with too many characters. One was a prostitute who had risen to warlord status, or, as Laura Mixon coined the term, the whorelord. It turned out that this character was the author’s favorite, and this became the nickname for the rewrite (which will be beautiful, and nothing like this makes it sound.) That said, Scalzi said that Whorelord would be published by Baen, and the author herself adopted a pseudonym for it: Curry McCarnage.

I hope others remember snappy conversation and add to the list. Well, gotta go wax the cat.


These Two Frost Elves Go Into a Bar…

In spite of certain…internet temptations, that’s around 5 pages of rough frost elf background. They both seem so young and nice. Quartz is tragically flawed, and it will be her downfall.

Anyway, did some writing. Tuesday we won’t get in the usual afternoon’s worth because of the English department retreat followed by night class. And so it goes. Mebbe while they’re watching the last half of Grapes of Wrath.


Claritin Clear

Profound. I’ve linked to nine VP XIII’ers posts on the experience, and read a few more, and all the authors who’ve written about it have come out changed. There’s a lot of faith in ourselves that didn’t seem to be there before. It’s my hope that I can link as many of these experiences as possible. I hope that one of these posters speak to you in a way that would encourage you to apply. VP XIII’ers, please consider letting me link to you. I’m also working on a VP of the past collection, although I’m not sure how successful that call will be.


I had a little time in the afternoon yesterday, and I wrote a bit about Sigfried and Quartz, who are two of the three frost elves who have story arcs. Quartz in particular I had envisioned as an antagonist, but it turns out she’s really a protagonist, just not a sympathetic one. She will really change in the course of the book.

I started on two climaxes that involve Quartz yesterday. I found I really needed to know more about Sigfried and Quartz’s history together. They’ve been making allusions to each other about their relationship, but they owe it to me to tell me what happened.

Last night as I drifted into and out of sleep, scenes of it came to me. In this case, it isn’t listening to the characters so much as it’s watching them out the window. I’ll write this background up as a short story, and send it out. When I know their secrets, I’ll be able to write Quartz and Nick’s climax, and Quartz and Siegfried’s climax. I’ll also learn a whole heck of a lot more about Sigurda as well.

I luv this awesome feeling of writer empowerment. It’s so much fun to give yourself permission to play, and turn off that editor until later, when she’s needed.


Taking Names

Today’s super rough writing:

Grant and David fight Old Nick in a triumphant conclusion
Manuel takes the Widow out in a particularly faerie tale way.

Next session:
Quartz and the princess
Quartz and Sigfried

This means I get to write personal improvement for one scene, and tragic romance for another.


You Carry the Cure in Your Own Heart

Courtesy of Tiffany Trent, who linked to this courtesy of Stacia Kane. Six degrees of separation a la Internet.

You Carry the Cure in Your Own Heart.

I’ve talked a lot about growing up abused, and making the choice to stay there or move on. This is a great article that addresses exactly that issue. I hope it’s useful to you.


Looking Through the Small End

Interesting times.

I thought I was almost recovered from the Viable Paradise cold (the gift that keeps on giving), but today seems kind of relapsy. I’m not kidding anyone as I putter at work with little to no enthusiasm. I may even show my literature students a film as a stop gap.

But I am almost caught up at work. Killed two major projects brutally like baby seals this week, which means after I’ve finished some odds and ends, I’ll be able to norm tests, call references, and start observations. Ohh, baybee!


You are, however, here for my writing life, so let me tell you what will happen next week when the writing life kicks back in.

Uncle Jim MacDonald, of the incredible Doyle and MacDonald duo, gave me a piece of advice about writing at Viable Paradise that will help me get out of the troll meeting conundrum. Some of you may have used this trick yourselves.

Uncle Jim said that he writes his story’s climax, see who’s left standing, and work his way back from there.

I have that material from the draft I wrote earlier this year. I know who’s left standing in almost every story arc in the troll story. If I brainstorm backwards and see what I need to build to get to that climax, write it, and pay attention to any more interesting wrinkles that come up, well, I think I can do this better than before.

Right now, there’s a lot of boredom coming out if I do this linearly, and with Uncle Jim’s method, I will see what things I must include to make sure the climax happens.

I’m a little nervous about writing out of order, but I will invoke the patron saint of writing out of order, Julia Rios, and hope she does not abandon her petitioner.

By the way, Uncle Jim has other valuable tips on Absolute Write, at Learn Writing with Uncle Jim.

Class is in session.


Icon Promo

Next week is Icon. Bryon and I will be playing guest liaison to one of Bryon’s favorite artists Heather Bruton, and one of the most personable writers I know, Jim Hines.

Your chance to see these wonderful folks is at Icon, which is held at the Cedar Rapids Marriot. I have many fond memories of AnimeIowas past at this place. It’s a very luxurious hotel.

I’ll also be there. Jim and I are doing a couple of panels together:

Promotion and Online Networking (are you watching me live the panel RIGHT NOW??)

Survival Tips for Beginning Writers

Friday, there’ll be a book group discussion of Jim’s Goblin series that I’ll be leading.


I read shorts Saturday, at 10:30. Come and hear The Love Song of Oliver Toddle and I’ll see if I can avoid tearing up when I read it. There will also be two comedic and one horror piece.

In sum, then. Icon. Be there or be a rectangular thing.


Drollerie Blog Tour: JA Howe

Just so you don’t think it’s all Viable Paradise, all the time (and if you’re not a 13’er, you might…), it’s time for me to talk up my guest for this month’s Drollerie Blog Tour.

This month, our theme is Sweetest Day, and JA Howe will be stopping by. JA has written “Flame in the Night Regions” in the Drollerie StereoOpticon anthology.

JA is a self-professed high fantasy writer. She also enjoys baseball, genealogy, watching birds, linguistics, and historical re-enactment.

We look forward to hosting JA on the 21st.

And while JA’s here, I’ll be out at Imogen Howson’s site.