The Magic City

The Magic City

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

World Building Wednesday

One of the first computer games I bought (showing my age) was SimCity. I loved building the city from the ground up.  I branched out into the other simulations games, becoming more and more engrossed in creating new worlds. 

When I started writing fiction (I say with a sage voice implying that this was long, long ago at a desk far, far away - in reality, it was in the last few years), I enjoyed the world building component the most (almost too much).  I spent months researching details to include in my world, creating the mythology, and developing my setting.  Some might call it procrastination, but I prefer to call it “work.”

So I found myself with this really cool world in which to set my story.  Now, transporting the reader to that world was a horse of a different color.  Building the world was fun. Having my characters live in that world wasn’t a problem. Educating the reader on the world without an info dump? Brutal.

Hence, World Building Wednesdays where I document my world building efforts.  Each week I will try to blog about world building issues and questions.  Please comment below if there is a topic you want me to cover.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I had depositions out of town yesterday. I used to hate traveling for work, but now I love it.  I load up my iPod with my favorite writing podcasts, and actually find a productive way to use the driving time.  The two podcasts I never miss are I Should Be Writing and Writing Excuses.  I depleted my reserves yesterday, and now I am looking for more!

I am going to try to blog once a week about a featured podcast.  If you guys have any suggestions, let me know.  Next week will be Writing Excuses.  There likely won't be a new I Should Be Writing up until June, so I want to wait to blog about it until the newest podcast goes up.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Less is More

(This interview was done for the Romance Magicians'  blog for the Southern Magic Chapter of the Romance Writers of America. Southern Magic has graciously allowed it to be posted contemporaneously here.  Please leave any comments for this post at theRomance Magician's  blog)  
Speechless. That is the best word to describe how I felt when New York Times bestselling author, archaeologist, and tea expert, Gail Carriger, agreed to an interview. After reading her debut novel, Soulless, she quickly joined the list of my  favorite authors. Her website best describes her novels. The “Parasol Protectorate Series books are comedies of manners set in Victorian London: full of vampires, dirigibles, and tea.” Whether you like romances, urban fantasies, comedies, mysteries, or alternative histories, you are sure to find yourself swept away in a delightful time once you open her books.

Ms. Carriger's obligatory biography reads: Ms. Carriger began writing in order to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life and inadvertently acquired several degrees in Higher Learning. Ms. Carriger then traveled the historic cities of Europe, subsisting entirely on biscuits secreted in her handbag. She now resides in the Colonies, surrounded by fantastic shoes, where she insists on tea imported directly from London. She is fond of teeny tiny hats and tropical fruit. The Parasol Protectorate books are: Soulless (Oct. 2009), Changeless (March 2010), and Blameless (September 2010). Soulless won the ALA's Alex Award.

I cannot express my gratitude to Ms. Carriger for agreeing to this interview. Please be sure to leave a comment at for a chance to win a copy of Soulless or Changeless along with some Twinings Tea!

 1.    Who is your heroine, Alexia Tarabotti?
Alexia is a soulless parasol-wielding spinster with a head for trouble, a gay vampire best friend, and a werewolf problem.

2.    Who is Lord Conall Maccon, Earl of Woolsey?
Alexia's werewolf problem. The head of BUR (Queen Victoria's Bureau of Unnatural Registry), alpha of the London werewolf pack, and big fuzzy tempest in the teapot of Alexia's quiet well-ordered life (so to speak).

3.    What problems does Alexia face in Soulless, the first book in the Parasol Protectorate Series?
Alexia accidentally kills an unexpected vampire and gets embroiled in London politics, local scientific societies, and some very suspicious octopuses .

4.    Changeless, the second book in the series, was just recently released and takes Alexia to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats. What sort of creatures and challenges does she find there?
Aside from the waistcoats? Well there is a good deal of ghostly interaction, some very bad weather, more octopuses, and an unanticipated love of haggis.

5.    When is Blameless going to come out, and can you give us a hint at where Alexia's adventures may take her?
Blameless is out September 1 and Alexia is off in pursuit of Important Stuff traveling through Europe and into the company of a Frenchman with a very large beard, a German with a very small dog, and Italians wearing embroidered nightgowns.

6.    What is steampunk, and what attracted you to writing in this genre?
Steampunk is the love child of a BBC costume drama and Hot Topic. What attracted me? Isn't that self explanatory? (Seriously though, if you're super interested visit the steampunk page on my website ~ it's far more exciting and in-depth. )

7.    What is your writing process?
Generally speaking it involves sitting down in a chair, raising my hands to a keyboard, and pressing down on one key after another in succession. There is also usually a large quantity of tea involved, a few notebooks, and some general attempts at procrastination involving podcasts, blogging, and (erm) interviews.

8.    What is your favorite part of the writing process?
Editing! Especially the first "red pen" pass when I really get to eviscerate everything I've just written. It's immensely satisfying much in the same way as weeding.

9.    Would you share any writing advice you received that you found to be completely worthless or just flat-out wrong?
"Write what you know." Pah. Seriously, for fiction? If you don't know it, just make it up, it's probably more exciting that way. Still not happy? There's always actual non-fiction books or, horror of horrors, wikipedia.

10.    What advice do you have for pre-published authors?
Sit down, write the book, the whole book. Send it out. Forget about it. Then sit your arse back down and write something completely different.

11.    What is your favorite tea?
 Twinings English Breakfast gold label from England (not the red box found in the US)

You can friend or follow Gail on Twitter, Facebook, Livejournal, or Blogspot. Or join The Parasol Protectorate Facebook Group and take over the world one sip of tea at a time. You can also play the Alexia paper-doll dress up game.

Thank you, again, to the ever gracious Gail Carriger - I've already pre-ordered Blameless.  Until September, I will have to be content re-reading my copies of Soulless and Changeless

 All comments through Friday, May 14 at 7:00 PM (it's my birthday - I have to have cake and ice cream sometime!) will be entered to win a copy of Soulless an or Changeless accompanied with Twinings English Breakfast tea (unfortunately, it will be the red box found in the U.S.).

Monday, May 10, 2010

When Justice is Due

I'm a trial lawyer. Yep, the maligned evil being from political ads. It's okay. You can shudder and hide your children. I own my profession. I know what I am. I help people. If television ads want to vilify what I do, I'm happy to spend a little time examining the truth that can be summed up in a ten word tagline or ten second soundbite, if you are happy to oblige me the time.

That being said, the law is a bitch. That's right, I said that as well. You can never do enough. One of my professors advised that you have to accept varying levels of incompleteness. I have problems doing that, though. Maybe it is because I am an only child. Maybe it is because I am a spotlight junkie. Maybe it is because I am a little nutty. Who knows, but I am a slave to perfectionism.

Other than the obvious problem associated with this personality quirk, never being satisfied, I have found a new, and wonderful stresser. I can feel unsatisfied and frantic on two fronts!  The joy!

I'm starting to worry my first book is becoming the Winchester Mystery house, always under constant renovation and revision. Add to that my shredding trial schedule, and I really don't know how I can get anything done. Oh, and did I mention I need to get the house painted, new carpets installed, and septic tank fixed?

I'm out of town for depositions right now, and likely won't be able to look at writing until this weekend. I'll also need to do laundry, and check emails. Oh, and then there is the brief I need to write. I almost forgot the 3,000 documents produced by a defendant in a case that I need to review. I also imagine some people will want me to return their calls.

I've got all of the balls in the air right now. Let's hope none bonk me in the head.