Tag Archive: Harry Potter


As I said in my review of Shanna Swendson’s Enchanted series, I wound up with a lot more to say that was really appropriate for a review. Like many of my posts, it’s a long one, clocking in at over three thousand words, but it’s aimed more at writers than all readers. And, I promise: spoiler free! (Well, except for the romance angle.)

So, without further ado, here’s my analysis of this new favorite series.  Continue reading

Fooling the Audience

Normally I ignore April Fools’ Day, but it occurred to me that it would be thematically appropriate to talk about a valuable writing skill: hiding things from your audience.

“Wait, what? Hiding things? That doesn’t sound like a good idea! The whole point of writing is to tell them things!”

Exactly! But you don’t just tell them the end first, do you? You build up to it, with clues that set up the twists, but then hide those clues so that it’s still a surprise to all but the most eagle-eyed.

I feel I should issue a warning, though. Learning these concepts can lead some people to feel that all stories are ruined forever. If you’re just here for the reviews, don’t read any further. Personally, I find it enjoyable to spot the tricks, especially with a skilled author; it doesn’t ruin it any more than knowing how to spot individual brush strokes will ruin a masterful painting. Still, I’ve seen people become disappointed, and so I give you fair notice.  Continue reading

Don’t Dump

One of the most common mistakes, even with professional storytellers, is to deliver a lot of exposition in a small space, or otherwise give “idiot lectures” where you have one character being a bit more dumb than usual simply so that a second character will have to explain something to him (and therefore to the audience). This is often called infodumping, and it’s often hard to avoid — but the best authors watch out for it and work around it.

Continue reading

You may or may not have heard the latest faux controversy about J. K. Rowling. No, it has nothing to do with her characters. Instead, it’s a Huffington Post writer named Lynn Shepherd complaining that Rowling is such a good author that she’s crowding out everyone else. She tells Rowling that she should just stop writing and give other people a chance. If you don’t want to click on her article, here’s the summary: Rowling has too much of a market share, which means every book she publishes is a book overlooked from another author who hasn’t become famous yet.

There has been a lot of pushback so far. I won’t post more than one link, mainly because the BBC’s article has more than enough links from successful authors who say this is ridiculous. I wasn’t even going to do more than link to that article, because every single point has been refuted multiple times by the authors linked there, and that’s just a small sample so far. What could I add? Continue reading

The “Harmione” Controversy

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you know what happened last week. I was asked what my opinion was. Well, I didn’t wind up feeling like it was worth a blog post because while I jumped into the discussion early (on my personal Facebook, though), others were quicker with the articles and went into more depth than I would have. Continue reading

What I’ve Been Doing Lately

So I’ve had another period where I haven’t been posting anything, and I haven’t even been updating on the Facebook page (which you should totally like). Well, this is a major part of what’s been occupying my attention:

Hang on, I got some dust in my eye or something . . .

Hang on, I got some dust in my eye or something . . .

Now, just to be clear, that is not me in that photo. I’m the one taking it. And the radiant beauty in white is my dear friend, mutually-adopted sister, and future co-author Elizabeth Amy Hausladen.

Er, wait. Elizabeth Amy Hajek. Yeah. Got to remember that. Fortunately, she likes hearing people repeat themselves on this subject.  Continue reading

ACDClogoOver the past weekend, I attended AwesomeConDC, the first genre/comic convention in the Nation’s Capitol. It was an interesting mix of both small and large; it’s the first year for this particular location, but it’s part of a regional franchise . . . which meant that while it was small, it still thought big. This one’s definitely going to grow.

I got involved in the con because the organizer, Ben Penrod, was looking for someone to do a panel on Harry Potter. I’m a (casual and kind of infrequently-attending) member of a local Harry Potter fan club, the DADA (or “Defense Against Dumb A’s”), and when he posted on our message board I mentioned I had experience with public speaking, speaking at cons, and moderating panels to boot. I also have a passing familiarity with the given topic. (Read: I did my thesis on Harry Potter.) 

Ben invited me to give a presentation on writing, and was originally going to have me moderate a novelists’ panel. The wound up getting cancelled, and the second was given to someone else; and when I showed up to moderate the panel on Harry Potter, no one actually showed up for the other seats.

A bit of a mess, yeah. Not really the con’s fault, though; in addition to the craziness that happens with organizing any convention, they wound up with more programing than expected and had to cut something; and the other panel actually already had a moderator, but Ben just didn’t know at the time. And even though a panel on Harry Potter turned into just me babbling on the subject and taking audience questions for fifty minutes, the audience was very kind and didn’t throw a single tomato. And it was a much larger crowd than I’d expected, considering I was competing with Futurama actors next door.

The original topic was going to be (quoting from the program): “Why is the world of Harry Potter so engaging? Is it just the story we read, or is there something more to it, something more enduring that sparks the imagination?” We discussed the purpose of fantasy in the larger culture, what benefit we get from it, why some stories are so engaging, why reboots are common right now, and so on. I got questions on Harry Potter, fantasy languages, Percy Jackson, dropping clues for attentive readers, and a bunch more on writing and editing in general. And for the first time in my public speaking experience, I was unable to get off the stage before people were already asking post-event questions.

Oh, and one young lady wanted to be certain of the exact spelling of G. K. Chesterton’s name. I’d call that one a win.

Ben sent me an email during the talk: “You are awesome. I am so sorry this didn’t go as planned. We will do something great next year. Anything you want, and we will plan WAYYY ahead.” I must say, I’ve never been booked a year in advance, and I’ve never been given carte blanche. I’m all giddy. 😉

So in other words, while I was stressing about not having enough people for a full panel and then discovered that no one else showed up, it turned out pretty well. I had fun, and I’m very glad that AwesomeCon wants me back.

The convention itself is very much centered around comics, and the only reason it didn’t have an Artists’ Alley was because it was kind of hard to tell where to stash it — about a third of the dealers’ room was comprised of artists of various kinds, and they were doing a pretty brisk business. This seems to be an excellent low-overhead con for small-name artists who are dipping their toes in the convention scene. As I said, this convention is definitely going to grow; the space they had was full to bursting, and I suspect they’ll double that next year.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures this year; actually, I didn’t expect to see so many good costumes around at a first-time convention. I did take two, though — my favorites not because they were so “authentic,” but rather because I’ve never seen either a Static nor an X-Men: Evolution cosplay before. In fact, the young lady cosplaying as Evo Rogue was delighted that I even recognized the source material. Static unfortunately turned out blurry, but that was probably his electricity powers interfering with my camera.

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Note: the Wolverine and Emma Frost pictured here are from Wolverine and the X-Men; Storm and Rogue are from X-Men: Evolution.

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