Tami Parker Fantasy Author & Other Duties as Assigned

Categorywriting

Finish the Story – Fate or a Stupid Decision

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Join in for a lighthearted, no-pressure writing prompt. Leave your perfectionist at the door and follow a dangling story thread to see where it leads you.

I always post my story doodle in the comments, and I’d absolutely love to see yours as well if you feel comfortable sharing it!

Looking back, it could have gone either way. It didn’t work out, which makes it look like fate, or a stupid decision, or both. But at the time, I did have a few things in my favor. I had …

Finish the Story – Running Away

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As always, beware the comments section if you plan on writing something, so as to avoid being influenced.

I look forward to seeing your responses!

 

The yellow lines on the highway sped by in a blur, and we flew through the night, and we felt free. But we weren’t, and we knew it. We were running away from something, and running away was never the path to freedom. I thought about asking John to turn back. I thought about suggesting …

April’s Book – The Starlit Wood

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I’m cheating a little and posting a book AFTER I’ve read it … but I wanted to make sure it was a good one.

The fun thing about this one is that it’s a book of short stories! So even if you don’t like all of them (which I did not) you are almost certain to love some of them (which I most definitely did!).

Many many thanks to Faith Williams for rising to the challenge of suggesting it for me.

The Starlit Wood

Packed with award-winning authors, this anthology explores an array of fairy tales in startling and innovative ways, in genres and settings both traditional and unusual, including science fiction, western, and post-apocalyptic as well as traditional fantasy and contemporary horror.

The first and last stories were predictably my favorites, but it was super fascinating to read through all of the different genres, styles, and interpretations. Even if a particular story wasn’t to my liking, I still learned a lot from reading them.

My favorites included (in the order they appear in the book):

  • In the Desert Like a Bone by Seanan McGuire
  • Seasons of Glass and Iron by Amal El-Mohtar
  • Penny For a Match, Mister by Garth Nix
  • The Briar and the Rose by Marjorie Liu
  • Pearl by Aliette de Bodard
  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik (which was worth the cost of the entire anthology, in my opinion)

Those weren’t the only ones I enjoyed, just a sampling of my favorites.

If you read the book, I’d love to discuss!

Finish the Story – Reporters

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As always, beware the comments section if you plan on writing something, so as to avoid being influenced.

I look forward to seeing your responses!

 

Reporters are trained to develop a sixth sense, a nose for when a story smells fishy. And something about this one wasn’t right. First of all, …

Surround Yourself With Writing

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Writing Alone

So you want to be a writer.

But it’s difficult.

I get it. I’m not making fun, because I 150% get it.

Finding the time to do it is difficult enough even before adding in feelings of self-doubt and loneliness.

Maybe you don’t have any writing friends. Maybe you DO, but they all live far away or have their own super busy lives that don’t mesh with yours.

If you’ve ever done NaNoWriMo, you understand the true value of a strong writing community. The camaraderie, the readership, the companionship — it’s heady. It’s like going from a world of black-and-white to technicolor … and when it’s gone it’s like watching the last leaf fall from a tree and fly off in a chilly breeze.

Even those who are very self-motivated can find it difficult to maintain writing when it seems like you’re spilling words out into the darkness.

I get it.

But there are solutions. And they don’t involve moving to Canada or Florida to live closer to your writing friends. And they don’t include waiting for VR technology to catch up to your imagination so that you can hang out digitally.

Writing Excuses

My favorite solution is a podcast called Writing Excuses. A friend recommended it a while back (Faith? It may have been you?), though at the time I wasn’t in the right mindset to appreciate it.

Prepping for a recent road trip, I downloaded a dozen or so episodes and listened to them to pass the time.

It was technicolor, friends.

Here were people — authors I know and love! — talking about writing. They were passionate and courteous and skilled and blissfully concise.

Each episode was 15 minutes jam-packed with excellent advice, examples, and anecdotes and even though I wasn’t actively participating, I felt less alone by the time it was done.

If you’re feeling alone or tired or even just a smidgeon bummed out by the feeling that your writing doesn’t matter … maybe give the podcast a try. See if you feel a little brighter at the end of an episode or two.

You

What about you? Do you have any tips or tricks you use to keep the fire stoked when the monochrome tendrils of winter doubt creep in?

Finish the Story – Winter

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As always, beware the comments section if you plan on writing something, so as to avoid being influenced.

I look forward to seeing your responses!

 

The wind whispered through the dark, empty trees like a warning in a foreign language. Winter was coming, and with winter …

On Concepts and Plots

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This post was inspired by February’s reading — Ready Player One.

This post is spoiler-free, but the comments may not be. You have been warned.

I recommend it. I did feel the first half was a little slow, but the second half made up for it and the concept was brilliant.

Concept

As it happens, the “concept” is what I want to talk to you about.

As writers, we often find a great “what if” and want to roll with it.

What if Vampires took over after World War 1 and now people are raised as cattle in “pleasant” camps?

What if there is a magic key that turns any locked doorway into a portal to a magical land?

What if a teenager discovers that she is actually half-unicorn on her 16th birthday?

In the case of Ready Player One, you could say, “What if the real world was horrible so most people escaped into a virtual reality realm for their everyday lives?”

That’s a great idea, and the author does a fantastic job with it. The book explores all sorts of things, from currency to health to chat rooms and even tech support.

It can be tempting to grab that concept and run with it.

Plot

Unfortunately, it also needs a PLOT.

It needs a story that only this character can tell that can only take place in that world — within the realm of that concept.

It needs … a rebellious vampire to befriend a human and buck the system. It needs a villain seeking the magic key in order to subjugate the magical land. It needs a vision quest all young unicorns must complete before their 17th birthday or they die.

It needs a PLOT.

And Ready Player One not only had a fantastic concept, it also had a great plot.

A quest to discover three keys hidden within the virtual world and a race against the heartless corporation bent on monetizing the currently-free system enjoyed by millions.

Writing

I am super prone to latching onto an idea while having a difficult time developing a plot.

Once I start trying to nail down an antagonist and a twist, I get all kerfluffled and feel like everything I come up with is pathetically formulaic.

Which is true. But also silly. You don’t need a genre-changing plot in order to have an entertaining story. That’s what the CONCEPT is for. To decorate the plot and describe it in new terms.

Challenge

Daydream up a simple concept.

“What if … ”

You can roll with “What if cats had wings” if you want the pressure-free version.

Now, come up with a PLOT for it. Antagonist. Goal. Character.

What story can only be told in a world with winged cats? (or whatever it is you chose).

Was it difficult? If so, what about it felt awkward or forced or uncomfortable?

If you can spot your own personal hangups with plot-building on simple challenges like this, you will be able to apply that knowledge to the stories that really matter.

Happy writing!

Finish the Story – Careful

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New week? New prompt!

As always, beware the comments section if you plan on writing something, so as to avoid being influenced.

I look forward to seeing your responses!

“How did you know?” I asked, not sure I wanted the answer. I thought I had been careful. I thought she ….”

Finish the Story – Homesick

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New week? New prompt!

As always, beware the comments section if you plan on writing something, so as to avoid being influenced.

I look forward to seeing your responses!

I’ve lived in this town my whole life, and most of the time that’s fine by me. But in the late fall when the sky fills with birds migrating south for the winter, traveling thousands of miles, I get homesick for places I’ve never been. Places like ….

Finish the Story – Perhaps a Dream

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New week? New prompt!

As always, beware the comments section if you plan on writing something, so as to avoid being influenced.

I look forward to seeing your responses!

Perhaps it was a dream, she thought. Perhaps if she pinched herself, she would wake up. But she didn’t want to wake up. She wanted to stay in this dream world where …

Tami Parker Fantasy Author & Other Duties as Assigned

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