Mary Robinette Kowal

RIP Buster

In 2006, we were staying with my parents in Chattanooga for a couple of months. My husband went for a walk to the library and when he came back, Buster had followed him home. We tried to find his owners. He had a collar, but the d-ring was open and no tags. He hadn’t been …

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I am 49 today! Have a story and my process as a party favor.

Hurrah! I became a Level 49 Human today and I’m in Chattanooga to celebrate my birthday with my parents. Mom is leveling up to 80 this weekend so we have a shindig planned. Meanwhile! I have a party favor for you. There’s a short story, “The Worshipful Society of Glovers” that came out last year …

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Ursula K. Le Guin

I’m sitting in an airport. Ursula Le Guin is dead. Several years ago, I recorded some memories to be banked by NPR in case they needed an obituary. This is apparently standard and the way such things are done with Notable Figures. I was assured that she was in good health. That it was just …

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Writing Excuses Retreat 2018

2018 will be our sixth Writing Excuses Retreat: Join us for a cruise in the Caribbean, September 22-30th 2018! Registration is now open! The full details are available on the registration page, but here’s a quick overview: We will board in Galveston, TX, and spend a week at sea, stopping for excursions in Honduras, Belize, and Mexico. …

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CHARACTER & SELF-DEFINITON: We self-define in multiple ways. A flat character exists on only one axis. Role — Career. (puppeteer, a voice actor, an author.) Relationship — Duty (wife, daughter, mentor.) Status —Class/hierarchy (Middle class, poverty, rockstar) Competence — Abilities. (intelligence, skill, prowess) The places where the disparate aspects of self-identity come into conflict are natural stress points. For character-based conflict, pry on those cracks.

Character and Self-Definition

Character driven stories are a journey of self-discovery. They begin when a character is dissatisfied with an aspect of self and end when the character solidifies their self-definition. This can end in a positive or negative state. Either the character achieves the self-definition they were going for, or they recognize that they never will. Basically, …

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Raise the stakes. You don't have to make it flashier, you have to give people a reason to care. Specific and personal - Their house being robbed sounds big. Their grandfather’s pocket watch being stolen is worse, Reaction - What are the character's physical reactions to this emotion? What thoughts do they have?

Raising the Stakes

When people ask you to “raise the stakes” for a character, they aren’t asking for more explosions. They are asking for a reason to care.

THE DRAGON QUESTION and my annual call for NaNoWriMo beta readers

It’s that time of year, when I once again participate in NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don’t know this, I’ve written all of my novels either during NaNo or using the NaNoWriMo model in another month. This year, I’m writing a project for fun. It’s called The Dragon Question, and I’ve been describing it as “Alfred Hitchcock presents the Dragonriders of Pern.” …

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Paired covers for The Calculating Stars, showing a group of women on a blue field, and The Fated Sky, which has a lone astronaut against a red sky.

Why I’m so excited by the covers for my new SF novels

  My new novels have covers! Look! Look at the link and then come back and I’ll explain why I’m so excited by these. Have you looked? Okay. Amazing, right? Irene Gallo, art director at Tor, has knocked this out of the park. Those cover designs by Jamie Stafford-Hill, with silhouettes by Greg Manchess is so …

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Short Story: Some Other Day

I wrote this way back in 2005 and it was published in 2007 in All Possible Worlds. It was science-fiction. But today… NPR just published a story about scientists doing pretty much this exact thing.   Some Other Day by Mary Robinette Kowal Josie Langdon leaned back from her microscope and rolled her neck to ease …

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My Favorite Bit: Michael F. Haspil talks about GRAVEYARD SHIFT

Michael F. Haspil is joining us today with his novel Graveyard Shift. Here’s the publisher’s description: Alex Menkaure, former pharaoh and mummy, and his vampire partner, Marcus, born in ancient Rome, are vice cops in a special Miami police unit. They fight to keep the streets safe from criminal vampires, shape-shifters, bootleg blood-dealers, and anti-vampire vigilantes. …

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