Guest blog: Paperback Dolls – Passport China

The Paperback Dolls blog asked me to do a guest post for their Passport China feature. I love the look of their blog, especially the manga-esque avatars they have for each of their members.

Click on over to hear more the special version of Old China where my stories take place: Once Upon a Time in China

Also giving away a copy of BUTTERFLY SWORDS and talking a little bit about the sequel, THE DRAGON AND THE PEARL, which is out September 20, 2011.


I'm researching, honest!

I just had a breakthrough. I realized why I’m stuck in my current WIP. I had all this research about the Tang capital of Changan, but once I left the city, the geography becomes vague. As a result, two of my books became plagued with what I’ll call “stuck in the forest” syndrome.  The characters travel through nebulous trees and mountains and rivers until they emerge in the inhabited world.

I’ll blame the wuxia trope for part of it. A huge component of those stories were travel. Technically, the fictional world where all those stories take place is Jianghu which simply means “rivers and lakes”. If you think of Tolkien’s Middle Earth as the characters traipse through Hobbiton and all the surrounding lands on their way to Mordor, that’s sort of what Jianghu is. And, with all due respect, Tolkien had a bit of “stuck in the forest” syndrome too. 🙂

So early on as a writer, I was criticized for becoming bogged down in description. As a result, I started glossing over details to skip to external action. But then, I was always given a lot of positive feedback for description.  I think I learned something in the course of writing the subsequent books. I learned how to move my characters through Jianghu, through places and settings that were important.  But now I’m back here, back at Book #1 and I realize I’ve got to get these characters out of the forest because Jianghu has more interesting adventures to offer them.

So I’m researching, honest! And not ummm…wasting time on the Internet when I should be writing.

Here’s a quick tour through some ancient sites. It’s amazing what they do with digital animation. *sigh*