Monthly Archives: October 2012
Tonight, millions of kids all over the world will be dressing up in bizarre costumes and knocking on door after door to fill their pillow cases with candy. Many children on the eastern coast of the US will be staying in due to hurricane Sandy, whose winds have brought days of rain as far north as Toronto. Many adults will be dressing up and going to Halloween dinner parties.
I’m sure some of you will be taking the kids out or going to a dinner party. I, on the other hand, with probably a few thousand other writers, will be staying in frantically trying to finish the six pages of editing I have left in MG so I can start Nanowrimo at midnight without too many worries. Of course, I planned to finish this edit during the summer, but due to tendonitis and more recently getting a tooth pulled AND a bad cold in the same weekend, that didn’t happen.
The important thing is that I don’t beat myself up about it. Instead, I must forge ahead, finish that edit and dive right into Nanowrimo. Of course, I’m much less prepared for Nanowrimo than I usually am by now due to the aforementioned edits and health problems, but that’s all in the spirit of Nano anyway–besides, who’s ever really prepared for something this epic?
For those of you who will be staying up with me, counting down the hours, I have a couple things to say. The first is that staying up all night writing is probably a bad idea. You don’t want to compromise your school or your job, so do yourself a favor and limit yourself to an hour of writing.
My second note is that the few hours you have left are a good time to spend with your family or on other menial tasks which have nothing to do with Nano. Part of being prepared for Nanowrimo is to have eliminated as many other tasks from your to-do list as possible, so you’ll have more time to write during November. Spend your last few hours doing this, and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to find writing time.
Finally, if you’re stuck, try one of these first sentences on for size:
I often wished I’d been born someplace else, with parents who didn’t hate each other.
The weather was wet and gloomy, and had been for days.
She truly loved books: poetry, history, biography, even trashy fiction from time to time.
He had always wanted a pony.
Take any one of these first sentences and make it your own. Note that most of these sentences are longer than necessary–that’s all part of buffing your word count to ensure that you hit 50, 000 words. So don’t be ashamed of your run on sentences, and don’t try to fix your mistakes. Just plow forward and before you know it you’ll have your first 1, 667 words.
Now go out into the world, finish your pre-Nano tasks and ready yourself for the crazy novel writing month ahead!
The best way to win Nanowrimo is by maximizing inspiration and minimalizing distractions. A Nanowrimo survival kit helps you do just that. It ensures that you have everything you need nearby and keeps you from running off on lengthy store trips. The ideal Nanowrimo survival kit contains something to meet all your needs, preferably things that can easily be kept in a box beside your desk.
Some of the things you’ll need to survive this novel writing madness are better off in places like the fridge, but try to keep as many of the essentials by your desk as necessary so you don’t have to get up as often. Butt in chair is the most important part of any writing challenge, and by keeping all the essentials within arm’s reach, you eliminate excuses to remove your butt from its chair.
So what should you put in your Nanowrimo survival kit? Here’s what I try to keep in mine:
1. Snacks/Refreshments. Nanowrimo’s extraordinarily well timed for snacks. Halloween candy is on sale and there’s pumpkin flavored stuff everywhere. If you’re like me, that means you’re in snacker’s heaven. Buy a big box of Halloween chocolates, get some pumpkin spice tea and fill your fridge with pies. It’s also a good idea to get a case of your favourite pop so you don’t have to go thirsty. These things will help you stay happy and inspired–or at least will keep you from being miserable and dehydrated.
2. Paper/pens. It’s always good to have a variety of notebooks, pens and sticky notes in easy reach during November. This way you can take note of turns of phrase you’re especially proud of, jot down new facts about your world and characters, and write down important tasks that you can’t do now but must do later. It also helps to have these things on hand in case you get stuck, so you can brainstorm or free write until the words flow again.
3. Stickers! Stickers are great. They should be kept on hand any time you’re working on a big writing project, and they make a perfect reward during Nanowrimo. Buy yourself some stars, skulls or whatever your favorite kind of sticker is. You might even want to buy different stickers for different goals, say stars for every thousand words and kitten stickers for every ten thousand words, and something completely different for when you finish. Put them on your calendar or somewhere where you’ll see them every day to keep you inspired. Last year, I put a kitten sticker on my laptop for every 5, 000 words. Every time I see my laptop, I’m flooded with happy memories, and that’s just how it should be.
While there are dozens of other things you might include in your Nanowrimo survival kit–effigies of your characters, sculptures representing your personal writing demons, mindless distractions to keep your brain working–the three things I’ve listed here are the essentials. Without these things, you’re likely to spend much of your time uninspired and on unnecessary trips to the store. So get out there today and stock up.
Since you’re planning to write a 50, 000 word novel next month–dividing into 1,667 words per day–it’s a good idea to get warmed up by doing some writing exercises over the next few days. A good goal would be to write at least 400-500 words every day until Nanowrimo starts, so you’re already in the writing groove on November first. This warms up your writing muscles without leading to burn out before Nanowrimo begins.
Today I’d like to share three exercises designed to help you do just that. These exercises can be done with your Nanowrimo characters or completely different characters. I usually use them to flesh out the characters and world I’ve already started creating for my novel, because I find that you discover many things while writing that you never will in a thousand brainstorms. Often these are crucial details, such as character names and important moments in their history.
While these exercises are aimed at both warming up the writing muscles and fleshing out your characters and your world, you can find dozens of more basic prompts both here and on many sites across the web. There are even entire books filled with prompts to help you get going, ranging from picture prompts to detailed scenarios for you to throw your character into. These exercises are my attempt at finding a proper middle ground.
Without further ado:
1. Write about a large social gathering in the place where your story is set. This can be from the main character of your novel’s point of view, in third or first person, in the point of view of your villain or whoever you want it to be. The important thing is that you focus on what the occasion is, what people are wearing, how people act and mention any unusual customs. I can’t begin to explain how many times I’ve discovered really important things by writing scenes like this, especially about cultural expectations and traditions. Often the details you need come more easily when you’re just writing, not trying to rip them out of a blank page.
2. Write a scene in which someone dies. You can learn a lot from someone’s death, both in real life and in fiction. In fiction, it can teach you how your characters react to death, what common dangers are in that world and how death is treated in your world. Death scenes can be incredibly powerful, and you can make them as long or as short as you want. For this exercise I’d suggest writing first person in the PoV of one of your Nano characters and making the dying person someone close to them. Of course, you don’t have to do that–the important thing is just to get yourself writing, not what you write.
3. Write something about pets. Everyone loves pets. Nowadays we have micro pigs, cats, all manners of dogs, birds and lizards. In ancient times, pets weren’t usually kept unless they served a purpose, and often weren’t even called pets: dogs for hunting, horses for riding, goats for milk. Where does your world stand on the issue? Are live animals rare and most pets robotic, as in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Or are your people so poor they can’t keep useless mouths, restricting them to dogs and horses? Or do they sit somewhere in the middle, where anything can be a pet and everyone has one? You can learn a lot about your world by considering what pets they keep–and more about your characters by how they treat their pets.
Of course, when doing these exercises you don’t have to use your characters and setting for your Nanovel, but if you’re still trying to flesh out your world and your characters, these exercises will add an extra level of depth to your novel. And for those of you who are just chomping at the bit to get started, writing these back story scenes is a great way to get some writing done and give your characters some loving without cheating and starting your novel early.
What is your favourite kind of writing exercise?
Today’s author is Allison Cosgrove, several time Nanowrimo winner, former word war captain, mother of three, hard worker and recently published author. I’ve already interviewed her here and am currently reading her mystery novel, Sacrifice of Innocence, which I’ll be reviewing sometime in the upcoming months. Today she’s decided to do us all the honour of sharing her realization that none of us are ever truly ready for Nanowrimo.
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One thing I have come to realize, as a long standing WriMo Veteran, is that in preparing for the wonderful thing that is NaNoWriMo is that we are never truly ready for it. I mean there are things we can prepare. We can plot and outline and make notes for just about everything, pre-cook and freeze meals, but in the end we can not be completely ready for everything.
The one and only year I have ever tried to plot out everything it turned out to be all for naught. I honestly had everything set out. I knew EXACTLY where I was going. I was so proud of myself. And then two days before NaNo I was hit by a monster of plot bunny and away I went on a completely different direction and everything I did was pushed to the side until later in the month.
That, to me, is the most amazing part about NaNoWriMo. We plan everything out. We get all of our emergency junk food kits ready. We set our coffee pots to constant brew. We make sure our loved ones know that if they don’t hear from us for a month that everything is alright and that we are just knee deep in a whole other world. Then we set out and put pen to paper, fingers to keypads and the world around us disappears.
We don’t always end up where we expected to and that’s alright. We may eat more junk food, drink gallons more coffee, sleep less and we may even end up smelling like yesterdays socks. We may not finish at the amount we would like and we may not cross the 50,000 word finish line but that too is alright.
Because it is not where we end up that matters most. It is the journey that we take to get there that counts. We will learn and grow so much in 30 days. We will learn to stretch our wings and not worry about where the winds take us. We will take chances and risks we may never have taken with our creativity. We will forge long lasting friendships and find a new place to call our own.
Just remember that as you finish off your plot notes, your character sketches and pack your pre-made food for next month. You may not end up exactly where you think you will when you set out in a few days but enjoy the ride none the less.
It will be all worth it and besides you can always edit later.
As we hurtle towards the first week of November, you should have your main characters figured out, the foundations of your world built, and a basic plot line figured out. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll have already done all this stuff and be able to spend this week relaxing. If you’re scrambling to get ready still, never fear; thousands of Nanowrimo participants don’t find their plots until November’s already begun.
That said, there are some things you should try to do this week. With just a few days left before November 1st, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared–and not just on a story level either.
So what should you do this week? Check out my handy to-do list:
1. Name all important characters. Even if this means just picking placeholder names for now, it’s important to name your characters so they’re easier to keep track of when you’re writing. This is especially important if you have a large cast.
2. Map your main character’s town. Try to map any other important places you can think of, too. This will help you when characters are traveling and you need to keep track of their direction. Knowing your towns pretty well also adds a layer of realism to your novel.
3. Finish any outstanding projects. Whether these be projects for school or intensive novel edits, try to finish all your big projects before November first. It’s best to start November on a fresh slate, so that while you’re writing your Nano you don’t have to worry about so many projects.
4. Stretch your writing muscles. It’s a good idea to do some writing exercises over the next few days to ease into the crazy writing routine you’ll have to keep up in November. Try answering prompts online and setting yourself a daily goal of something like 500 words. This is enough to be a challenge without being totally insane, and you can use these exercises to develop your characters and learn more about your world.
This week we’ll go over several other things which you should do while getting ready to write your Nanovel. In the meantime, make sure you’ve got the basics of your story worked out as we begin the final countdown to November 1st.
With only twelve days before Nanowrimo start, there isn’t much time to finish building your world and planning your novel, so you have to focus on the important details. Creating a map for your world–anywhere from a basic map establishing cities and borders to a complete road map–and a fact sheet to bring together all your knowledge of the world you’ll be writing your novel in is a great way to figure out what you need to know to begin your novel without hours of hard labour. The fact sheet also provides you with a place to put notes when you discover new things about your world. Today I’m going to walk you through the process of creating a bare-bones world with these tools.
Mapping is incredibly easy, though you can make it as complex as you like. I always do a simple map on graph paper. Trace out odd shapes–too round or square is odd for land–and turn them into continents and islands. Start by drawing out the physical features of the lands where your story takes place. Use upside down Vs for mountains and draw blue lines and circles for lakes and rivers. For forests, draw small triangles or other simple tree shapes. This is a rough map, so don’t worry about how it looks.
Now, create borders for your kingdoms and label each one. Mark your towns with dots and your cities with stars or other symbols. Castles, bays and docks should be given special markings as well. Drawing in a few roads to give yourself a guideline for how people travel between cities is a good idea, but don’t worry about a complex map with every trail named at this point–unless, of course, you’d prefer to do that.
You might also want to create more local maps, or if you’re working in a real life setting find maps on the internet. Local maps are easy to create as long as you establish symbols for special buildings such as libraries or schools. Of course, real artists can always draw the buildings in more detail so each one stands out, but that’s a lot of time you probably don’t have before November first, so don’t worry about it. You can make pretty maps later; right now what you need is functional.
Creating a Factsheet
For every world I create–and depending on the world, sometimes every culture and even every character–I create a factsheet. This compiles everything I know about the world through writing exercises and brainstorming in one convenient place that I can easily refer to while working on my novel.
Expect that your factsheet will likely be more than one sheet. Odds are as you write down every fact you can think of, you’ll discover more and realize you need to answer more questions. Writing down everything you know about the world makes your notes more accessible and gives you an idea of what you still need to figure out. Armed with that knowledge, you can spend your last few days of preparation filling the holes in your knowledge.
Write down everything you can think of, even if it doesn’t seem right. You can always cross it out later. It’s also a good idea to leave a few blank sheets at the end of your list. This way, you won’t have to squish your notes together or go hunting for paper when you discover something new about your world.
This is also a good time to go back and create factsheets for each of the characters you’ve established and to create a similar sheet with a point form outline of your plot. None of these sheets need to be detailed. Spontaneity in writing is often a good thing, at least in the first draft. Don’t get too attached to these facts either; keep a red pen ready in case you find out some of them aren’t true.
While these simple exercises won’t build a detailed world all on their own, they’ll give you a basic framework from which to build your novel. By the end you should know who lives where and have a good idea of what life is like on your world. That’s the most important thing–after all, half the fun of writing your first draft is the things you discover along the way. And half the fun of Nano is flailing around in a world you don’t yet understand, along with all the other participants.
Today’s author is a Nanowrimo veteran who saw my call for guest posts and answered almost immediately. I’m very proud to present her post, Building Your World as part of my Nanowrimo Blogaganza. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!
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So you’ve decided (or are thinking about) National Novel Writing Month this year?
But what will you write about? More important, where will your story take place? Will you sail the Spanish Main? Will you inhabit the foggy gaslit streets of Victorian London? What about a spaceship, talking to aliens from another planet? Wanna write about werewolves and cavemen? Or will you write about something happening in today’s world? There are a ton of ideas, and only you can decide where you want to start.
Setting isn’t the only question of worldbuilding; it’s the beginning. While a writer might start with setting, the writer has to get more specific…creating the characters and streets and neighborhoods and cultural issues that their protagonist will interact with. For example, Harry Potter might be set in a British suburbia and boarding school, but the characters and magic and owls and spells and shopping and all of the rest make up the world itself. Without that setting, the wizarding world would have been an entirely different milieu.
The first question to consider is what kind of books you gravitate toward as a reader. If you like steampunk, and love the Victorian era, then do you want to set your story in a world you are familiar with as a reader? Same goes for modern day stories, historical novels, science fiction stories, or epic fantasy. If you want to create your own world, then what do you like/dislike about the worlds in your preferred genre?
Starting a list of what you like or don’t like in the books you enjoy is a great starting place. Why don’t you like them? Why do you like them? What would make them better? What makes them yours?
The second question is about that story. Sometimes the story you’re trying to tell demands that it be told in a certain world. It’s hard to imagine a legal thriller taking place in a speakeasy or a topless bar; it rather demands a courtroom setting, unless your story harkens back to an Old West kind of trial (which might actually have happened in a saloon). Likewise a story about a kid getting bullied in school; the world itself is probably the school that you’ll be setting your story in. The worldbuilding comes in when you start to determine what kinds of things are most important to the characters based on that setting (a good example here is the cootie-like transfer of the Cheese Touch from DIARY OF A WIMPY KID).
Unless your story specifically requires a certain world, like those two examples, you’ve got a lot of room. It’s okay to have some basics of the world. It’s okay to go ahead and plan out all the details of your world, from the flora and the fauna to the landscape and the rules of magic in the days leading up to NaNoWriMo, but remember that new ideas may come to you as your tell your story in the highly creative world of furious novel scribbling that happens in Nov ember. Plan your world, but be flexible enough to go in a new direction if the story demands it.
It’s worth noting as well, that some people do become bogged down in planning the details of their world so much that they never actually get the novel written, especially in science fiction and fantasy. It’s also more than okay to wait until you get further into the story, after NaNo starts, to flesh things out…just don’t stop writing to get it done! It’s okay to move your story from a fishing village in northern Alaska to a surf shop in Hawaii…just keep writing because you can go back and fix it later if it’s working better to keep your story moving forward!
Another tip to keep yourself from getting too bogged down in details when writing is to leave yourself a quick note as to what you need to research later, and keep moving with the plot of the story. For example;
“Natasha slipped on her (LOOK UP PERIOD SPECIFIC SHOES) before she ran down the hallway in the Winter Palace, hoping to find someone, anyone, who could tell her where her best friend, Anastasia, had gone. The guards, in their drab (LOOK UP APPROPRIATE UNIFORM COLOR FOR REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS) shirts, took one look at her fine clothes and placed her under arrest.”
This example could be a story in a Russian Revolution melodrama; it could be a prologue in a historical thriller. It could even become a historical fantasy. Either way, there’s enough hints in there to keep the author grounded in the writing of the story, and still provide notes that jump out (as well as add to word count) to remind the writer what needs specific research down the road.
There’s no way to predict what small detail you might need before you start writing the story…so just write. Figure out what you need to have happen, and don’t be afraid to make notes about what details your world needs to be fully fleshed out before you’re done.
In short, if you first figure out a general idea of the setting you’re after, and what kind of story you wish to tell, you’re well on your way to building the world you need to tell it in. You can then use the time leading up to November to do any preliminary research or brainstorming that you might need to get started…just don’t lose yourself in the black hole of constant research in place of actually writing the story.
Addie J. King is an attorney by day and author by nights, evenings, weekends, and whenever else she can find a spare moment. She is a five time NaNoWriMo participant, and a third year Municipal Liaison in Ohio. Her short story “Poltergeist on Aisle Fourteen” was published in MYSTERY TIMES TEN 2011 by Buddhapuss Ink, and an essay entitled, “Building Believable Legal Systems in Science Fiction and Fantasy” was published in EIGHTH DAY GENESIS; A WORLDBUILDING CODEX FOR WRITERS AND CREATIVES by Alliteration Ink. Her novel, THE GRIMM LEGACY, is available now from Musa Publishing.
Worldbuilding means different things for different authors. For traditional fantasy authors, it involves creating a whole new world and figuring out as much as possible about the people who live there and the world itself. For urban fantasy authors, it means figuring out how this version of Earth is different from our own. For mystery and contemporary romance authors, it means researching or developing the town where a story takes place. For science fiction authors, it often means creating not just new worlds but the technologies to get a species from one world to the next.
The meaning of worldbuilding also varies from author to author. Some authors develop only the parts of their world that their characters will at some point be in. Others like to develop every corner of their world. Some only figure out the history of the last few generations; others build back story going back for thousands of years.
Whatever your wordlbuilding looks like, there are some questions you should answer as a bare minimum. These questions will help you figure out your world and your society, laying a basic framework which will help you write your novel.
1. What are the similarities between your story’s world/society and your own? These things will help ground both you and your readers. Figuring out these similarities also gives you an idea of what your world looks like.
2. What cultures are interacting in your story’s world/society? Knowing the names of the most important cultures in your story and how they get along will help you figure out subplots and add a layer of realism to your work, no matter your genre.
3. How religious are people in your world/society? If most people in your world/society are extremely religious, this will have a huge effect on the laws. Knowing how important religion is to the people in your story also helps you figure out how much you develop your world/society’s religion. The effect of religion on laws and society is massive both in our world and in any other, and is important to consider.
4. How do people in this world/society treat marriage and procreation? Knowing whether or not marriage is important–or even exists–in a given place will tell you a lot about the society. Figuring out how your society feels about children both in and out of the family unit will give you fodder for subplots and a deeper understanding of the world/people you’ll be working with this November.
These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself when building your world/society. There are dozens of other resources on the web to help you build your world such as the 30 Days of Worldbuilding website, and over the next week you can expect to hear a bit more on the topic here–and on Friday, I’ll be walking you through creating a map and a fact cheat sheet for your world. In the meantime, get to work answering these questions–and as many others as you can think of–about the world and society in which your novel takes place.
If you’re like me, your characters go one of two ways: they either come with a name, or you spend hours or sometimes days trying to find them names. A name is–usually–only one or two words, but sometimes it can be the hardest one or two words you’ll ever right. Names come with enormous pressure: you have to pick something pronounceable, something that’s culturally appropriate, and something that suits your character. Since I’ve struggled with this many times myself–and am currently trying to select a name for the main male character in my Nano 2012–today I decided to share some methods for finding names.
The first thing you should try is a basic mindmap. Put “names” in the center and brainstorm as many names that are phonetically similar to the name of your character’s locale/society as you can. For example, my Nanovel this year is centered around a secret society named the Valshaari who live within the Volthraki tribe. My main female character’s name is Valtessa, and some names I’ve considered for her male counterpart include Morthal, Korvak and Kaltek. These names all use harsh consonants. I did a similar brainstorm for Valtessa, and considered names like Malthi, Kaima and Torcha. These names are a little softer than the boy names, but still fit within the culture. I decided from these options that Valtessa best suited my character.
If you aren’t satisfied with any of the names you thought up during your brainstorm, there are plenty of other ways to find names. You could consult a baby name book or a website like behindthename.com, or try combining already familiar words together in ways that sound cool. I’ve known several writers who used either or both of these methods with great success, and I myself have grabbed many names from Behind the Name. The latter option allows for more creativity, but using a naming website or book gives you a name that already has connotations which you can use to help readers familiarize themselves with your characters.
What if you try all these methods and a random name generator besides and nothing works? Don’t be afraid to use a placeholder name until you can find out the proper name for your character. Sometimes it’s easier to build the character first through exercises and the story itself and to worry about names later–especially when you don’t have a lot of time, like this Nanowrimo season. Try writing a couple scenes from their PoV and see what happens. You might even want to have another character describe them. Eventually you should stumble upon a name you like.
This weekend, try to find proper names for as many of your characters as possible. Whether or not you do, stop by Monday and we’ll talk a bit about worldbuilding.
How do you create character names?
Today’s author is debut novelist Robin Burks, whose novel, Zeus, Inc. began as a Nanovel. I hope you’ll give her a warm welcome and enjoy her thoughts on character development.
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What makes a good character in a story?
Character development is something every writer has to think about. A good character is key in readers enjoying your work and a good character will keep readers coming back for more of what you write. But where to begin when creating a character?
I tend to look at my own personal characters from an actor’s perspective because of my background in theatre. I ask myself about their motivations and I put myself in their shoes and try to react to situations in a way that I would if I were them.
But there’s so much more to character development than just that. As an actor, the character is already formed by the writer. In writing, you have to create that character from scratch and then continue painting on its various personality quirks, moods and physical traits.
So where does that come from?
When I sat down to write Zeus, Inc., I had to ask myself that very question. Initially, my protagonist, Alex Grosjean, was a young woman, fresh out of high school. I wrote three chapters before I realized that I could not relate to her.
After several more attempts, I made Alex older, closer to my own age, and I started adding personality traits that were similar to my own. Perhaps this was cheating, in a way, but I made her an idealized version of myself. And once I started, I found the character easily enough. As I wrote, I put myself in her position and asked myself “What would I do if I were a private detective being hired by my best friend to find her dad?”
And from there, Zeus, Inc., was born.
But I also had to make Alex flawed because in real life, we are all flawed. And reading about someone who is perfect is also rather boring, right? So I had to come up with something in her background that made it difficult for her to take her friend’s case. Alex needed something personal that she had to overcome. I do not entirely remember where the missing girl case in Alex’s history as a police officer came from, but it gave her that much needed thing to overcome.
As an actor, motivation is key, but so also is conflict. And Alex was written with both in mind.
But Alex wasn’t the only character in Zeus, Inc. There were also a host of other characters. Again, I cheated by writing everything from Alex’ perspective (first person), so I wrote those characters as Alex (or myself) saw them. I ended up basing many of them on people I knew or television characters that I had come across. For example, Aleisha Brentwood is based on a relative of mine, someone that I hold very dear to my heart, as Alex did Aleisha.
But I will admit that the handsome and mysterious Pip was an idealized version of a television character I tend to have a major crush on.
The best thing that worked for me with Zeus, Inc., was to write what I know, and that’s exactly what I did. And it’s probably the best advice I could give to other writers. Take things from your own life, people you know or other characters you’ve seen and use that to create your own characters. Picasso famously said that great artists steal, and I believe that’s exactly what he meant. Let the things around you inspire your characters.
Robin Burks is not only a novelist, but also writes for RantGaming.com, Syfy Network’s DVICE.com and as well as her own blogs – FanGirlConfessions.com and Robin-Burks.com. Robin’s first novel, Zeus, Inc., is now available on Smashwords, BN.com, Amazon.com and in the iBookstore. She also occasionally speaks French and loves Doctor Who.