Lessons Learned: Imagining Science Fiction / Fantasy Settings

By Cara Wood

Six years ago, I was finishing a first draft of my still-in-progress novel and got stuck at the final scene. My heroine needed to thwart an elaborate ATM scam run by her charismatic captors. How exactly had they pulled off such a heist? And how exactly would she stop it? Everyone in the scene needed a few snazzy, made-up gadgets. But alas, Q is not in my speed dial and I was on my own to develop some innovative weapons.

As I put a bit more thought into the technology, I came to the sobering realization the whole novel would be better off set in a speculative future. My heroine made a lot more sense if she was born in 2053, and the story itself was better set in a 2080 world, after some global floods and cyber security attacks, rife with robots and alternative transportation methods that were never part of the initial vision. Read More →

Friday Feast: #MSWL, Queries, Rejection, Publishing, and Reviews

popcorn having a march
We’re coming ’round the snow mountain and the February of Doom. I love March and its hope for renewal and warmth. Some of my favorite people on the planet were born in March. It’s the only month that works as an action verb.

March forth with plans to research agents, submit queries, publish books, and endure rejections and reviews.

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Finding that Perfect Comp

By Sharissa Jones

I don’t have nightmares about showing up for a college exam having not studied. My palms don’t sweat at the idea of getting onto an airplane. Spiders don’t send me into a conniption fit. But ask me what books would be on the shelf next to mine should my novel ever see the light of day? My heart palpitates. My breath shortens. I HAVE NO IDEA. And it’s not for lack of trying. Read More →

Leitmotifs For My Characters

Vas.Surikov. Bronze Horseman on the Senate Square. Rusian Museum
By Pat Sollner

Feeling a bit of cabin fever? Try coming up with a theme song for each major character in your novel. Fellow incubee Anjali Mathur gave me this idea last spring when she said she put on certain songs when she was writing about her character, and I was glad to remember it when the snow started piling up.

Right away though I had trouble with finding a theme for Sonia, the protagonist. She goes to Russia to translate a Russian poet but also to find an aunt who didn’t leave with the rest of the family after the revolution. I’d think her theme song should show her independence and energy, but her father dies shortly before she leaves for Russia, so I had to choose music that included mourning. I thought of the Beatles’ Black Bird Singing In The Dead of Night, but it didn’t take account her desire and her drive to go to Russia. I found the answer by listening to more Beatles and their song, Once There Was A Way To Get Back Homeward. Read More →

Friday Feast: Write, Revise, Repeat

We Bostonians are known for our strong feelings. After last week’s snowmageddon grump fest, it is now time to hunker down and focus.

This week, we bring you links focused on writing and revision.



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I Am Not a Success Story


Source: Flikr user Todd Ehlers 

By Kelly Ford

There’s not a lot of advice I can give to other writers about how to be successful. The problem is that there are too many individual interpretations of “success.”

To me, success looks like this: I can pay my electric and mortgage bills, eat sausage gravy and biscuits at Tupelo every Sunday, and find at least one hour a day to devote to writing or editing. If those bills (including the ones from the restaurant) could be paid courtesy of my writing, that’d be grand. Given these parameters, I am not successful. Nor am I successful according to your average American writer expectations. I only have a handful of stories published. I have not found an agent.

But one thing I am successful at: Not quitting.
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Using Your Killer Head Cold For Character Insight

coldBy Amber Elias

Last weekend, I was moping around my kitchen. The whole house seemed dreary and disorganized, with unopened mail on the table and dishes in the sink. But even though I knew they were things that needed to be done, my arms felt heavy. My head felt full. A fog descended and it was all I could do not to curl up under a blanket and go to sleep. And that’s when I had a major epiphany: hey, it’s kinda hard to get things done when you physically aren’t feeling good. Read More →

Friday Feast: #%@& Snow Edition

Manny Modern Family coffee
Y’all know we’re in Boston, right? As my fellow site editor, Emily Ross, said: SNOWMYGOD. Apologies, almost every single link this @#$^& week is going to include some cussing and grumbling and is NSFW. We gotta get it out of our system. I’m sure you understand.

If that’s not your thing, feel free to download this handy WebCensor app for Google Chrome and Firefox browsers.

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Stuck: How to Deal with Writer’s Block


By Kelly Robertson

I hated to even utter the word. I would not say it aloud. I couldn’t even write it down. I thought it, briefly, but in my one successful meditation moment, I let the word go. It would not overtake me. If I didn’t acknowledge it, it would leave me alone.

I don’t even want to write it now for fear that it will come grab me back into its tight grip. But here we go: STUCK. I was stuck. It’s something every writer goes through, and I had in the past but not to this paralyzing, I-want-to-quit magnitude. Read More →

The Book That Was My Doorstop Has Become A Sacred Text


Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  TheeErin 

By Gerald B. Whelan

It’s true. For years I used it to keep the wind from slamming shut a particularly annoying door. Why this book? Because it was there: the first in a use-every-last-inch row of dusty volumes precariously atilt atop a chock-full bookcase, like tipsy sailors in a grog line. Without a friendly bookend to lean on, pushed by its unruly mates from behind, it would regularly fall flat on its face, proving Tolstoy’s theory of leadership and attracting my attention — for all the wrong reasons. Read More →

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