writing advice

Leaning Into Horror

Over the fall, I had a chance to go talk to some author friends when I was at FanX. Among other topics, I asked what suggestions they had for ways I could improve my writing from a career standpoint. My fourth book is coming out in August. Is there anything I could do that would help me build on successes and start getting more books published? The biggest takeaway I got came from (surprise surprise) Brandon, who basically said I’ve been hopping around too much from a genre perspective. I’ve written contemporary fantasy, steampunk, historical thriller, dystopian science fiction, and

A Few College Essay Tips

Tomas is in the middle of writing his college application essays, and as I’ve been going over them, it reminded me of a number of basics I think would help most people in the same boat. And since I assume many of my friends might be in the same boat, I thought I’d jot some of the ideas down here. As with any writing tips, take them or leave them. It’s up to you. Writing’s different for everyone, and some things work for some people and don’t work for others. That said, I’ve done a fair bit of writing and

Coming Up with a Character: Behind the Scenes on The Perfect Place to Die

We’re coming up on a month to go until THE PERFECT PLACE TO DIE comes out. Yesterday I got my author copies, and the book looks fantastic. The cover really pops, and the illustrations I commissioned turned out really nicely, as well. (They’re floor plans of the infamous Murder Castle.) Seeing the starred review from Booklist on there definitely gives me warm fuzzies. It’s in paperback, not hardcover, so it’ll be gentle on your wallet, as well. Now I need to figure out what to do with 25 copies of the book. I imagine I’ll hold onto them to give

My Current Take on Plotting a Novel

I’ve had a pretty wide range of approaches to plotting over the years. Back when I was first starting out, I avoided plots almost completely. I’d start off a new book with a general idea of what I wanted it to be about, almost no concept of the main characters at all, and I’d just discovery write my way through the entire novel. I felt like this kept the feeling of spontaneity for me. One of the main motivators I still have while writing is to find out what happens next. You’d think, as the author, I would already know,

An Overview of My Current Editing Process

Over the holiday, I took some vacation days (the first vacation days I’d taken since January, believe it or not. It’s been a crazy year). But one thing I couldn’t take a vacation from was the PERFECT PLACE TO DIE copy edits. For those of you who don’t know what copy edits are, allow me to explain. The editing process for a book goes through many, many stages. There’s the first draft, when it’s just me and my computer, bravely hammering out something that hopefully mostly resembles the story I’d like to tell. These days, I typically start with an