world building

Do Your Dragons Migrate?: Seasonality in Paranormal and Fantasy Fiction

dragons in flight2

I hate winter, especially since I moved to northern Virginia where freezing temps and precipitation rarely meet. While the rest of the northeast is getting blanketed with the fluffy white stuff, we’ve had nothing but a few flakes, plenty of sleet, and incessant rain. The kind that freezes not just the roads but the microscopic crevices in your bones and the cracks in your soul until you feel like you may never get warm again.  While impatiently waiting for spring, I retreat inside to write, catch up on my favorite TV series, bicker with my family, and even do a little house cleaning. Which leaves my mind to wander into this article: how do the seasons effect my beasties and their more human neighboring characters? (more…)

Creating Believers Can Lead to Bestsellers in Any Season

With another Christmas over, I sit staring up at the tree, dreading taking it down in a few days. Especially since it will likely be the last year my oldest believes in Santa. And once one falls off the Polar Express, the other will be sure to follow. But there is one glimmer of hope standing between my family and years of jaded, predictable, cheerless yules.

Elf on the ShelfWhen my daughter was three, we introduced a new family tradition and welcomed our very own Elf, which we named Jingle Frosty-bottom. Morning after morning through Christmas eve, she would race to find where the mischievous elf was hiding—in the branches of the Christmas tree, at the end of a long trail of candy wrappers, or on the proverbial shelf watching out for naughty behavior. She still jumped out of bed to look for Jingle this year at nine-years-old, despite the fact that our Elf on the Shelf is more kitschy that realistic.

So what would make a kid raised with 3D computer animation think this stuffed bit of felt and plastic that can’t even sit up on its own is real? Hint: it’s the same reason kids and adults alike waited in bookstores until midnight for each new Harry Potter release. (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…)