Current Reading, Part II – Olive

Previously, I blogged about what I’m reading that fit in certain categories, inspired by this post by Jodi Meadows. Jodi offers four categories: Popular, Award Winning, Out-of-Comfort Zone, and Books you love. Coincidentally, I’ve currently got one in each of these categories between my nightstand and kindle. But I’d also add one more category to her four: non-fiction.

I mentioned the books I’m reading in the Popular, or Pop Lit, category and the Award-Winning category my last post. I’ll continue with Out-of-Comfort Zone in this entry. Continue reading “Current Reading, Part II – Olive”


Current Reading, Part I – Olive

I recently read a post by Jodi Meadows on the blog “Pub Crawl” (what a great name, right?!) about a common question authors are asked: what are you reading? Figured I’d jump in as I’m reading some unique stuff that’s been unexpectedly inspiring…

I generally, as Jodi recommends, read books in a few different genres at the same time. Jodi offers four categories on her blog: Popular, Award Winning, Out-of-Comfort Zone, and Books you love. Coincidentally, I’ve currently got one book in each of these categories between my nightstand and kindle. But I’d also add one more category to her four: non-fiction.

Continue reading “Current Reading, Part I – Olive”

Attending DFWcon in Dallas, Texas – Olive


DFWCon, AKA DFW Writers Conference, is a program created by the DFW Writer’s Workshop, an organization founded in 1977 to help writers produce and promote professionally published work. Not only are their classes and events worthwhile, but they’re awesome people too.

It’s been a week since I attended my first writer’s conference—an intense two days full of classes, agents, editors, and a few new friends. It was also the first time I pitched our story, THE CITY OF GOLD AND FIRE, to a real live agent.

And that was kind of awful.

Continue reading “Attending DFWcon in Dallas, Texas – Olive”


Practice for Pitching – Olive

Picture your next job interview. It’s for that job you always wanted—the one that will change your life.

You sit down in front of a stranger who asks you the very awkward first question: “so, tell me about yourself.”

If you’ve felt the bile rise up your delicate little throat right at that very moment—fear not, there is hope. Continue reading “Practice for Pitching – Olive”


Comps: “What book is your book like?” – Olive


We recently started the querying process and have come across a minor dilemma: some agents ask point blank for comparable titles, aka “comps.” We’re still not really sure how to figure out what our comps are, but here’s what we’ve come up with…

Now, we weren’t completely unprepared for this question—we’d thought about it. After our beta readers had finished reading our story, we’d asked them what books they’d read that reminded them of ours. Continue reading “Comps: “What book is your book like?” – Olive”


On [ Fantasy ] Titles – Olive

Of all the things we have to do as writers to become authors, there are few things that are as dreaded as coming up with the proper title. As if pitching, querying and writing synopses wasn’t bad enough, how you do you boil down  127,000 words to less than a sentence? One word? Three words? Six?


(In my book club, The Nerdery Book Club, We Need to Talk About Kevin was mentioned, and that’s the longest title I’ve seen in a while, but here’s a list of some other long ones.) (Also, we’re talking about fiction, so don’t jump on me about self-help books and the like; I know they have long titles.) (Sorry, I’m an attorney—I love caveats!)

It’s not hard to understand why a great title is important—we’re superficial creatures and judge things by appearance and quick glances. And when it comes to examples of good titles, I keep seeing the same ones over and over again: The Witness, Gone With the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird, Jane Eyre, Brave New World, Pride and Prejudice, Daughter of Smoke and Bone,  Game of Thrones, Feast for Crows, etc.

Poking around on the Internet will get you very similar results on how to chose a title for your book that I won’t rehash. As the internet does, it often comes up with lists like:

And there’s even this rather vague list on She’s Novel. I’m so glad they told me I might find inspiration in the shower—clearly, these people don’t know me. I find constant inspiration in my shower thoughts. Doesn’t everybody?

Continue reading “On [ Fantasy ] Titles – Olive”


More Inspiration: The DiRel – Olive

(Photo cred.:

This is one of a series of posts about inspiration for the novel we’ve written, OF GOLD AND FIRE.

The DiRel people – A people ruled by Women

Some of the inspiration for the DiRel society, the group that one of our main characters belongs to, comes from the Mosuo (or “Na”) people, a small ethnic minority in China.

One of the last matrilineal societies in the world, the Mosuo (also spelled Moso) live near a Lugu Lake in Yannan, China. Years ago, I read a book about them called Leaving Mother Lake: A Girlhood at the Edge of the World, by Yang Erche Namu and Christine Mathieu. I highly recommend it. (Amazon says that I purchased this book in 2007, so I’ve been thinking about it for quite a while.)

The Mosuo have a tradition that is often called “walking marriages.” In fact, they don’t really marry at all, at least in the sense that we do in the West. Also, family structure is very different from the way we organize ourselves. For example, children belong to the family of the mother, and men sometimes have very little involvement in the raising of the children. Women are also the heads of the household, the matriarch being the end all be all in Mosuo families.

One of the things the book mentioned was that you never have any question whether a child is of that mother; there can be no mistake as to maternity…I mean, it kind of makes sense that a society would do that, especially before DNA and so on.

Like the Mosuo and other Chinese, the local people in our story think that the DiRel are promiscuous, which isn’t the case. The Mosuo [DiRel] generally take only one partner at a time, but lack the usual reservations that Western society (or the “local” society in CHAINED) places on women, or men for that matter.

But the DiRel are also markedly different from the Mosuo in many ways. For one, the DiRel are a much more primitive people, wearing skins and hunting for their food. They keep chickens, but no other livestock. The setting for the DiRel Mountain, as mentioned in our blog post, Inspiration for CHAINED: Setting and Slavery, is the Kuwaiti desert and craggy Hindu Kush, specifically in Afghanistan.

To read about the Mosuo, please pick up Leaving Mother Lake, or check out the Mosuo project online.