Author: Elle McKay

Surviving the Season of Guilt: NaNoWriMo

Nanowrimo Guilt

It’s that time of year again. If you’re a novelist you know what I mean. November: Season of Guilt.  And I don’t mean from too much turkey and pumpkin pie. We are now in the midst of National Novel Writing Month.  For weeks prior, writers have been blogging about it, forming NaNoWriMo email coaching groups, developing complex battle plans, and generally stressing out about reaching those 50,000 words by November 30th.

Then there’s the rest of us. The slackers who don’t do NaNo. The infidels who refuse to convert our writing routine in order to win. (more…)

Creature Feature: The Alder King

Erlking Fresco by Carl Gottlieb Peschel

Who rides there so late through the night dark and drear?
The father it is, with his infant so dear;
He holdeth the boy tightly clasp’d in his arm,
He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.

“My son, wherefore seek’st thou thy face thus to hide?”
“Look, father, the Erl-King is close by our side!

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s poem,  Der Erlkönig (as translated by Edgar Alfred Bowring) depicts an elven king that would leave most little kids sleeping with the lights on for weeks, and their parents checking on them every hour. But Goethe’s vision of an Erlking,or Alder King, who entices little children away from their disbelieving parents in order to murder them, isn’t really in keeping with the original Scandinavian mythology. (more…)

Predicting Tomorrow: Futuristic Worldbuilding


Whether the setting is next year, next century or next millennia like mine, depicting the future is never easy. If you stick too close to current trends, the future might catch up with you before the book is published.  If you predict flying cars and undersea cities in twenty years, you run the risk of asking readers to suspend too much disbelief.  And the comfortable middle ground is…well comfortable, which is one baby step away from being tired. (more…)

Creating Hell on Earth: Dystopian Worldbuilding


Have you ever wanted to play God, build a world only to see it crash and burn? If you’ve ever watched a toddler build a block tower only to kick it down and start over, you know creation and destruction are both intrinsic to our human nature. Maybe that explains the reoccurring floods of dystopians hitting book stores and spilling over into theaters with increasing regularity.

So what does it take to build a dystopian society?  (more…)

Utopia or Bust


In a perfect world, there would be no war, no hunger, no hate, and I would have eight hours a day to write without losing my house and becoming a regular at the local soup kitchen. While dystopias are all the rage right now on e-readers and the big screen alike, the flip side is far from forgotten.

The concept of a utopian society has been around for millennia, long before Sir Thomas More coined the term in his book Utopia back in 1516. (more…)

Reality Check

R or M

School is now in full swing for most kids in the U.S. and mine are no different.  My youngest is now in first grade, a “Big Kid,” which got me reminiscing about his kindergarten days.  One of the first lessons his patience-of-a-saint teacher taught him involved telling the difference between fantasy and reality.

He now proudly knows dinosaurs are real, while dragons aren’t.  He may make up a story about driving down the highway on his very own motorcycle, but he knows he’s stuck with the kid-powered version for the next decade or two.  More importantly, he can read an age-appropriate book and tell when the author is playing fast and loose with reality.  Silly author, kids can’t have a T-Rex for a best friend.  So why is it that people continue to think grown women are not capable of understanding this lesson? (more…)