Monthly Archives: May 2012

Writing Romance with Mette Harrison

Here’s our second interview with Mette Harrison, YA fantasy author of Mira Mirror, The Princess and the Hound, Tris and Izzie, and more. Listen to learn how she met and left a lasting impression on Orson Scott Card, who later became one of her mentors. She talks about some of her favorite romance books such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Emma; and Shards of Honor, by Lois Bujold. We also discuss “annoying romance tropes” and “destructive love myths.” And don’t forget to comment on one of her interview for a chance to win her book Tris and Izzie!

Download here (right click and select “save link as”)

The Machine that Destroyed the World…Maybe

Once upon a time, there was an argument about a machine.  It was a very complex machine, and one that not many people understood.  The amazing part about this machine was that it was able to do in a period of days or weeks what had taken years to do previously—make a book.

At that time books were precious things, written by hand, ornamented and treasured, works of art that few people had the money to own, or the education to appreciate.  Many people said that the machine was blasphemous and would destroy the world.  Others said it would never catch on—why print so many books, when no one could read them?

No one wanted to read, the nay-sayers insisted, therefore the machine’s efforts would be wasted. 

But once the books began rolling off the press, something happened.  Knowing that books were available at a price that made them available to more than the priesthood and the aristocracy (think of a book sold for the equivalent of a trained professional’s annual salary) suddenly there was a market.

Many say that electronic publishing is flash in the pan, that it’s the hard copy books that hold the attention and the love of millions.  Others push back as hard as they can and try to make sure that the machine of former years reigns supreme.  They fall just short of using the word “blasphemy.”

But the electronic age is here to stay, and just like the printing press if writers don’t adapt we’ll vanish into the pages of history.

People will continue to tell stories, and I’m sure that in future generations other things will take over and once again people will be screaming about the changes.

Change is inevitable.  Change is what writing is about.

Once upon a time, someone had something to say.  It’s that simple.

Podcast: Introducing Author Mette Harrison

In this, our first in a series of interviews with YA fantasy author Mette Harrison, she discusses how she became an author and some of the books she’s written, including her very first story ever in kindergarten about a rainbow colored dragon. Comment on any of Mette’s interviews for the chance to win her newest book, Tris and Izzie.

author mette harrison
(Our own Alice Beesley with Mette Harrison)

Download here (right click and select “save link as”)

Editing Basics

I recently ran into myself at an online critique site. A weird experience, yes, but informative. A friend asked me for a critique of her writing. I hope she wasn’t emotionally shattered after what I gave her, but it showed me in stark detail how much I have learned in two short years with the Snippeters.

It also put me in mind of an article I recently read on LDSPublisher, written by author and editor (and home-schooling Mommy and headless chicken) Tristi Pinkston. The article, “Before You Send Your Manuscript Out to Readers (or Publishers)” goes through four steps that will make your manuscript more readable from the beginning. I wish I’d read this article two years ago. Or ten. Or Twenty. It would have saved me a lot of time and headache.

I had finished two novels and started three more before my first writing group made me aware of a little something called “passive voice”. Tristi’s rule #1: Do a search for the word “was”. Not only does this little word add unnecessary verbiage, it also puts distance between the subject of the sentence, and the action: “Herbert was running from the knife-wielding madman” vs. “Herbert ran from the knife-wielding madman”. Or, kicking it up a notch, “Herbert fled through the darkness, the panting of his breath echoing the steps of the madman at his back…” But I digress. Just having fun with excess verbiage. A tell-tale sign of passive construction: “was ____-ing”. Was saying=said. Was running=ran.

Tristi’s second rule: Search for the word “that”: Until I read the article, I didn’t know that I could overuse the word:

“He remembered little but her eyes, golden and cat-like, thinking that she had somehow looked on his soul and found it pleasing.”

Rule three: Check your punctuation. Sometimes when you remove a word or a phrase, the punctuation gets deleted with it.

And fourth: “Take out fully ¾ of your adverbs.” Seriously, do a search for “ly”. You’ll be surprised how polka-dotted your manuscript appears. Find other words or other ways to say what you want to say. Beware of “He/She said ____-ly”. “He said shyly” could become “…He said, scuffing his toe in the dust like an embarrassed boy…” Or, “She said angrily” becomes, “…She shrieked, white with fury…”

And finally, a rule of my own: Don’t feel that you must follow any rule 100%. Adverbs can be a savory dash of salt to your writing, and you can’t write without using “that” and “was”, but use them in moderation. Learn to refrain and rephrase.

Oh, and my personal favorite: “Never think you know it all.” There is always more to learn.

You can find Tristi Pinkston’s article at

By Ava Mylne