Apr 25, 2016

Creating a Map of Your World: Part Four

We're at the end of this series, I hope you enjoyed it so far... but let's get to the end, because its about time, am I right?

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

When you're playing with a world that is just HUGE, you may need to embiggen bits and pieces of it to give a zoomed in map of a specific area.

If you can scan the full map in, awesome. If you can't, you can do it the way I did and use a picture of the big map. Then it's just a matter of cropping and resizing. et Voila!

Repeat one of the first steps
If you recall from part two, the easiest way (imo) to transfer your coast lines, etc to a fresh piece of paper is by making those lines prominent with a dark marker and then busting out your light table/pad.

Add in the Particulars
This is a step that is going to depend entirely on you. I myself have one map that requires the embiggenment because of the need for itty bitty details. So here, you use the rough outline from your big map to place the features of your country/kingdom/city... etc.

Have fun with it. You can look at other maps and see what they did, or just make up whatever you want.

Clean up the evidence
Again, this depends on you. Cleaning up could be erasing all evidence of your land features from the big map, it could mean setting the features there, or on the zoom-ins, in ink, it could be that final coloring process. Finishing steps are pretty unique to you after this point.

Hope you've enjoyed this series! Happy writing, and even happier map making!!!

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Apr 22, 2016

7 Careers You Should Consider Instead of Writing

Experimental Drug Test Subject – You like the stories that play out in your head? You are going to LOVE the side-effects of our newest acne treatment! Early tests show that our side effects include in-depth hallucinations. Want to talk to the most conscientious wall you’ve ever encountered? How about learning what it’s like to have the floor really be lava! Best part! It’s legal drug use! (Other side effects include: Explosive diarrhea, suicidal behavior, pica, an intense urge to insert non-metallic objects into… well, unfortunate places.)

This is obviously preferable to writing because you’ll get to explore the minds inside your head and have your memories altered!

IRS Auditor – No one likes the IRS (I mean, at best, we’re apathetic to them). Make your mark on the world by starting a career in a profession that is understaffed, over stressed and spends most of the year in a mad dash to keep up with the ever changing laws in their own workplace.

Chances are, you’re going to write a book someone hates (especially if those someones are fanboys). Why not make that possibility a 100% sure thing?


Monkey Poop Flinging Target – Wake up every morning, put on your best zoo frock, head down to the cages and wait until the shit flies. Monkey feces aren’t all that bad, right? I mean this way you get all the humiliation and annoyance without having to do any of the thinking! Am I right?

One of the strangest things about success in the writing world is that once you hit a certain point (earnings wise) people start to come out of the woodwork to let you know you don’t deserve that success, why bother waiting around to hit that mark?


Troll Troller – You were going to be sitting at a desk anyway. Put your ideas to work in a cathartic way of becoming worse than rest of the comment section in the best possible way. Be the Deadpool of the online forums. The bad guy who fights the badder guys and more or less helps out the good guys. Let’s face it, someone needs to put them in their place. Why not you?

If you’re going to take a stand on anything in your social media dealings, you’re going to find yourself on the business end of a troll’s bad spelling. Why bother doing the work when you can skip that step and hop on someone else’s trolls to fight back?


Professional Line-up Guy – How hard is this? You stand in a row of five other people every once in a while, chat up the police sergeant while he’s trying to do his filing and get to complain about the sad excuse for coffee the precinct has to suffer through. I mean the fact that you’ll be picked out as the perpetrator of a triple homicide on your first casual Friday kinda sucks.

Prison life wouldn’t be so bad, right? I mean, you’ll make new friends, you’ll get to use your Netflix knowledge to your advantage… it’ll be great!


Used Mattress Salesman – You’ll spend your days convincing people to ignore the lumps and stains, trying to assure them that your prices are very reasonable. Don’t worry about the spring poking through that, we can sell you a foam pad to go on top for another $20.

Selling something no one seems to want is always easier when you understand why they don’t want it. Don’t bang your head against the wall looking at novel sales numbers. Learn to wheel and deal the old fashioned way. In-your-face pressure is a GREAT motivator. So is Fear. When you casually mention that most people buy your wares as a method of disposing bodies….


Jelly Fish Cuddler – Who doesn’t want a hundred stinging tentacles wrapped around them? I mean, the health care is better than self-employment and the recovery periods are like having 200+ days of vacation a year. So what if you have to spend them in the hospital. And haven’t you noticed how illustrations of jelly fish are always so cute? They just want some lovin’ the least you can do is give them a hug.

The fact that you’re working for a corporate-owned aquarium that is basically sucking the life out of you shouldn’t be a concern. After all, you could have the life sucked out of you in so many other ways. And, no one’s going to give you a bad review that has nothing at all to do with your work.


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Apr 18, 2016

Creating A Map Of Your World: Part 3

This is a four part series, so hop back and check last week’s if you haven’t already and come back for parts three and four!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Create Borders
If you’re working on a large scale (creating a continent or a whole planet) you’ll want to create borders for your different countries, kingdoms, realms etc.

If you’re working with something with a historical vibe, your borders will usually follow some sort of geological formation, and they usually won’t be straight. Maps for “newer” civilizations will very likely have straight lines based on things like longitude and latitude, or walls/fences.

Ink Outline
At this point, since you’ve got everything figured out place wise. It’s a good thing to set the lines with ink. I’ve used sharpies or G2 pens to do this most often. Fine-point felt pens are also a good option.

Rough Draft Geographical features
This is a step you can skip. Sometimes, you just aren’t going to have any. Or they’re not important enough to the story to go into any detail with.

In this instance, I needed to get a rough idea about a few specific forests, and some specific mountains. I still need to add a table rock, a coral reef, and several rivers, but this is the start.


Add Color
This is a fun part. You can add color in lots of ways. For this map, I chose to use watercolor. For another, I’ll be using colored pencil (that’s largely a decision made based on the weight of my paper).

Color it how you want to. As for me, I’ve made the forest mainland green the water blue (who’d have thought) and the sand bars brown, while settling on gray for the crowded island city.

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Apr 11, 2016

Guest Post: Christine Rains - Top 5 Favorite Urban Fantasy Worlds

Today I'm over at Christine's blog talking about my Top 5 Fairytale Retellings. Stop by and check it out after you read about her favorites.

Take it away, Christine!


By Christine Rains

Thanks so much to Amy for having me on her blog today. I'm excited to talk about the worlds in one of my favorite genres: urban fantasy.

There are so many awesome worlds in this genre. Ones that lay secret beneath the mundane world we know, and others that are alternate modern worlds in which our planet had taken a turn for the better... or worse.

1. The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. Kate kicks butt in a world which has suffered a magical apocalypse. Technology pushed too fast and too far, and magic fought back without mercy. Magic is wild here and it feeds upon technology. It comes and goes with no reason. When the magic leaves, spells fail and tech works again. There are magical hotspots like a whole neighborhood made out of glass which could fall apart at any second. The descriptions of the unusual places in this world are beautiful. This world is unlike any other I've read.

2. The Chess Putman series (a.k.a. the Downside books) by Stacia Kane. This is one of the darkest urban fantasies I've ever read, and no wonder, the world has been taken over by ghosts. The dead attack the living, and only those with certain powers can protect people. Chess is one of those brave souls, but the toll it's taking on her is heavy. She works for the Church of Real Truth, and the real truth is, of course, up to debate! How the ghost apocalypse happened is unknown, but it has turned Earth into a haunted planet.

3. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. This is probably one of the most popular urban fantasies in the world. And it's no mystery as to why. The secret magical world Butcher has created is enchanting and frightening. Harry Dresden's home of Chicago is the one we know today, but underneath the layer of the normal everyday stuff lies a massive supernatural world. Vampires, werewolves, fairies, and, of course, wizards. If the rest of our world knew about the horrifying supernatural wars and politics going on, they'd be glad to only have to deal with our human politicians!

4. The Greywalker series by Kat Richardson. Much like the Dresden Files, our modern world hides the supernatural. Harper Blaine is a private investigator, and after a near fatal accident, she can see spirits. Not only that, she can enter the Grey – a realm between ours and the afterlife where all sorts of creepy things reside. There are many other paranormal beings besides ghosts in the series, but it is the mystery of the Grey that fascinates me.

5. The Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. I don't feel like I'm giving away any spoilers because it does say what happens in the books' blurbs, but the change in this everyday world comes during the series. MacKayla “Mac” Lane is a sidhe-seer which allows her to see beyond the realm of Man. Of course, Mac is new to this, and as she battles various forces that want her dead, the barrier between the realms of Man and the Fae come down. There is an epic battle between humans and Fae happening all over the planet. I love seeing the world as we know it change and how people deal with it.

What are your favorite urban fantasy worlds?


About the author: Christine Rains is a writer, blogger, and geek mom. She has four degrees which help not at all with motherhood but make her a great Jeopardy player. She's a proud member of Untethered Realms and S.C.I.F.I. She has several short stories and novellas published, and one urban fantasy novel which puts a twist on supernatural creatures. Monsters live amongst us, and they pay their taxes on time.
Find Christine at:

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Apr 6, 2016

IWSG: Am I Writing In The Wrong Genre?

I’ve been self-publishing since July of 2013 and though I’ve always called myself a speculative fiction author, up until this year, I’ve only published Science Fiction novels and short stories.

In February, that changed.

I put out the first in a series of Clockwork Fairytale novellas. Something interesting happened.

They began to sell with a level of success that I hadn’t seen in my SF titles. Which led me to an interesting question: Am I writing in the wrong genre?

The question arose because of the large sales numbers (comparative to my SF titles) and the fact that I had done nothing differently for these books. It is entirely possible that there is some other factor that I’m completely overlooking, but I don’t know what it is. What I do now is that I’ve moved more books in the first 3 months of this year than all of 2015 and the split is 86%/14% Clockwork Fairytales/Everything else.

But that leads to the question: What genre am I writing in anymore. These fairytale retellings are fantasy, which falls within the realm of speculative fiction, but it’s possible it’s more than that. These retellings are heavy on the romance element (and as we know, romance readers are some of the most voracious out there) and are possibly bringing in another segment of readership.*

I already have this year’s publication schedule done, so I’m not going to make any public changes yet. But I’m going to sit back here and consider what these numbers mean… and if I want or need to change how and what I publish in the future.

Have you ever published something that made you think you were heading in the wrong direction genre-wise?
* My SFR title is another of my bestselling titles. Yay Romance!
This post has been a part of the monthly IWSG blog-hop. Bounce over there, check it out and sign up if you’re ready to share you neuroses with the world.
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Apr 4, 2016

Creating A Map Of Your World: Part 2

This is a four part series, so hop back and check last week’s if you haven’t already and come back for parts three and four!
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Prep your proportions
If your map is crazy big (like mine was) you may need to deal with that. In my case, I took a picture of the whole map and then I popped it on my computer, dropped it into a word document (because I needed to be sure it worked on a 11x17 sheet of paper) added a few minor details, and then printed the think out!

You may be able to skip this step if your original version fits on a normal sheet of paper.

Break our your black marker
Step two is necessary in my opinion, just for ease of later use. Grab yourself a sharp black marker and trace out everything from your map that you want to use, coast lines, lakes, possibly rivers. Whatever you want in your end product,  you’ll want to put it in here now

Do the Line Work
You can do this on a window if you’ve got a sunny day, but I use my nifty light pad (grab your own here).

Put down your Franken map and line up your clean piece of paper.  I generally use a stiffer paper, watercolor or drawing paper. From here, you want to tape them or otherwise secure them together. This will make it so much easier to keep your lines together if you need to turn the map around to get a better position for tracing out your line work.

Always use a pencil for this step. You don’t want to accidentally follow a part of a coast line you meant to ignore and have to start over again (especially if you’re using some high quality paper).

I generally put in place names at this point as well as a map mark (name your world!) and an image for a compass…  but that’s only if I have all of that figured out already.

At this point, you have a pretty clean-slate version of your world!
Come back next Monday for part 3!

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Apr 1, 2016

March Numbers & April Goals

~March Numbers~

In Real Life:
March is always a strange month. My birthday was at the beginning (Yay, achievement unlocked: 29), my anniversary was at the end (2 years of awesome!), and I had a trio of medical fun in between. Also, taxes.
Other than those four things, life was mostly normal. I drank tea, I wrote and edited like it was going out of style, and I feel like an unproductive slouch because I didn’t get everything on my to-do list done (even though I know my monthly to-do lists are a little ridiculous – 3 pages long).


3 books
(Avg GR rating 2.5)


Cinder | Hazel & Gretel | Lace & Bullets

I don’t know what’s up with this month, but reading was a wash. Of the three books in that list, one is mine, one I didn’t finish because it was awful, and the other, while delightful, still left me apathetic to picking up the next book. I just don’t know what’s up with the reading blues last month.

57,909-wds in 21 days
(Avg 2,757.5 w/day)


No complaints here (okay some, but they’re not really worth voicing and are based on what I worked on, not how much work I got done). These are my highest numbers this year and I’m still kicking 2014 and 2015’s number’s butts. I revised 2 books, and threw numbers at 6 other projects (not the most focused month I’ve ever had.

1 Book


Hazel and Gretel came out this week. It’s the second in my Clockwork Fairytales series and was a joy to write. I hope you like it as much as I did. It’s a little different in tone from Beauty & The Clockwork Beast—if you remember, there’s a witch who wants to eat them in the original tale, that didn’t get left out.

The first book in that series is doing really well. I’m super excited about it, and the fact that it managed to hit 2,859 in Amazon's paid sales rankings last month. All I have to say is “Go, little book, go!”
24 Posts

Another month were a lack of pre-planning on my part led to seven missed days (oops!). I’ve got April sorted, so hopefully that won’t happen again.

~April Goals~

Reading: 8 books (there are some releases coming out this month I’m really excited about, so maybe that will push me out of the slump I’ve been in.

Writing: 65k. I’ve got it planned out to finish 2 books, get a good chunk out of another, and then deal with a small requirement for a fourth project. Fingers crossed my daily goals are achievable.

Publishing: I’ve got the 3rd Clockwork Fairytale slated for the end of the month it’s a retelling of my favorite version of The Frog Prince.

Blogging: 1 post a day. That’s always my goal, so we’ll see if I can make that happen this month.

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