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Review: Moon Called

So I dug into the Ginny Box (which is officially its own tag now) and pulled this beauty out. And actually, it’s pretty decent, which I know is a welcome change of pace around here.

Moon Called follows Mercedes “Mercy” Thompson, who despite growing up with werewolves and having one for a neighbor, is in fact not a werewolf. She’s something a little bit different (spoiler: she’s a play on the Native American walker myths, more on this later). But that doesn’t stop her from getting snout-deep in werewolf politics. When a runaway new wolf shows up on her shop’s doorstep, it drags her back to a world she thought she left behind and into a future where werewolves are no longer a secret…like a lot of fairy kind.

I’ll start with the elephant in the room. What the heck is a walker? Well, in Native American myth, it’s someone who has the ability to walk in another skin (usually a coyote or mountain lion). Now, this is the first real issue I have with the book. I don’t think that Natives have first dibs on their own stories, to a certain extent. There are some universal concepts that I think all writers should be allowed to play with. The walkers, for example, are similar enough to werewolves that I honestly feel like that as long as they are treated the same and don’t have ethnic ties, we’re cool. So instead of being “walkers,” with the Native ties, they are all shapeshifters, just some are wolves and some are coyotes and others mountain lions. The other alternative is if the writer his/herself is Native, in which case I back off, since I’m obviously not in a place to argue about Native culture and it’s all on them at that point if they link it to their culture or not.

Not the case here. Not only is Brigg’s a non-Native as far as I can tell (feel free to correct me, folks), but her character is supposedly half Native but ignored by her father’s family and people. That irks me. That beyond irks me. Maybe it’s because I’ve taken enough Native American studies/literature courses to know the boundaries, maybe it’s because I’ve grown up more culturally aware because of where I’m from. I don’t know. I just know that the Native aspects of this story really weren’t given the respect they deserved. If you are GOING to go there, you need to be respectful of the culture and at least attempt to give them some sugar with the bitter…instead of just bitter. At least with the first book. Maybe the rest of the series gets better?

Okay, enough with the pessimism. The good news is that Mercy is awesome. We have several powerful male characters in this book, and not only does Mercy stand up to them, she thumbs her nose at them a couple of times, which I always appreciate seeing. She’s also in an unconventional career, and even before her degree change to history, she was in engineering, which is another (sadly) unconventional choice. In the process, she never lost her femininity or her own integrity as a character, which I value. The only thing that I wish was that there were more like her. Like, we sort of get hints about the vampire lady and one or two of the females being on the same level of Mercy. But most of the attention that isn’t on Mercy is on the boys, so we don’t get to see it.

As far as the plot is concerned, it gets a little tangled up in the middle, which is normally for the first book in a series where the writer is trying to blind side you. There were just too many false trails being placed to figure out what was going on with Mac, made further complicated by the attack on Adam and Mercy going back to the pack that raised her. Add the vampires and it became an absolute monster to keep track of, especially since most of the names are on the forgetful side. Don’t get me wrong, this is much preferable to Lucas making syllables up. But it did make keeping everyone straight in their allegiances…entertaining, to put it mildly. It was full of action, though, and the main character is constantly sticking her nose into things, so you aren’t being told what happened. You’re seeing Mercy figure it out herself or being an active part of it.

This is not the first world where the fae/vampires/werewolves/whathaveyou have come out of the supernatural closet, even for someone like me who doesn’t read much urban fantasy. I do think the approach was interesting, with the set up of fae reservations and the way some fae were forced out while others made the decision for themselves. Again, I feel like this could have been awesome to relate back to Mercy being half-Native and could have been a really cool tie in, but…nothing was done with it. I’m not even sure of its place in this world, other than Briggs thinking it was a logical/cool idea. But the dynamics of the werewolf pack (as misogynistic as it is) were well-thought out, I thought, though obviously females being set as submissive annoyed me.

Overall… Eh. It didn’t completely blow my mind, but I didn’t want to throw it against the wall. It was fairly well written, if a bit troubled in places because of plot, with more zigs and zags than it needed but plenty of action. I liked the main characters fairly well, I just wish we had another strong female on Mercy’s side, rather than lurking in the shadows as existing, just not relevant. And the concept had good legs, it just…wasn’t strong enough to stand on its own. Maybe the second book will be better? We’ll see if it’s in the Ginny Box!


Tabletop RP: Gender and DnD

So. I play DnD. With a bunch of guys. No other girls in the group, and all attempts to add girls to the group have not been met well (one for other reasons, but yeah, hasn’t worked out). Now, I know other girls who play, and have groups that are much more mixed gendered. I just didn’t fall into those groups, and my schedule doesn’t mesh with them. Leaving me stuck with the guys.

And let me tell you, this gets uncomfortable for very quickly.

Now, it doesn’t get uncomfortable for these guys. Because I don’t talk about girly things with them and I work very hard to keep topics away from subjects that while I might enjoy them, I know will bore or make them uncomfortable. Because that’s what our society encourages in female behavior.

Now, if only I could get the same respect.

Frequently, things take a turn for the disgusting, the over-sexed, or sometimes a weird mix of both that really makes me uncomfortable. Especially when they start making references to certain animes and video games, which are notorious for being for the male gaze. And speaking up doesn’t get me any favors, not really, since nothing will actually change. Now, I could be overly sensitive, but I think my experiences and the conversations I have with other female players reveal some serious differences in how the genders play DnD.

For one thing, I’ve noticed that guys tend to go out of their way to make crazy characters. And by crazy, I mean mixing, matching, and combining races, classes, and feats in order to get the most over-powered character possible. Now, if I make something overpowered, it’s by pure accident (the wu jinja gestalt class comes to mind, though I haven’t had enough chances to play it to be sure). I tend to pick a class that fits with the kind of character I’m playing, sticking to classes I know I’ll enjoy playing rather than ones I know will irk me (…like the wu jin, not a good pick in hindsight). The more complicated it is, the more I have to keep up with which distracts me from the game.

So with these crazy characters, you would think the guys were just as invested in the games we play as I am, right? Well, sorta. Some of the group is just wanting to push to see how much they can get away with by terms of the rules. They don’t really do back stories or character investments, and are pretty blase about their characters dying. Even the others who do care about story are always ready to move on to the next thing. Which is pretty contra to Ginny’s understanding of other groups, which treat the characters as investments (which is how i would prefer to play). I create complex back stories for my characters for a reason, and to see it go to waste just frustrates me, so one DM has even lost the privilage for me to do that anymore.

More than anything, I’m noticing, at least in my group, that it comes down to differences in what they play for. Now, these are huge generalizations, but it seems to me that boys play for the laughs and the oh my gods. They want to see how outrageous they can get and the more crazy, the better. But for us girls, it’s about the story, it’s about the characters and the actual RPing.

I’m not saying that boys don’t enjoy the characters and story. They can, and do. But get a group of them together, and they are going to be forgotten in favor of seeing how much damage a fireball spell can do. I’m not saying girls don’t enjoy battles. I love blowing things up and getting critical hits too, but if you put me with a group of other girls, we’re probably going to focus almost entirely on the story and the rest of the system will be an afterthought. Groups need either balance or focus, depending on the set up. So in my case, I have one DM who understands my need for story, the others needs to blow things up. The other…can’t seem to figure this out.

And as a DM myself, I need to learn to read what a group needs. Obviously, I’m going to want to lean towards the story angle myself, but that isn’t going to work with this group of guys. I need to figure out how to feed their need for chaos and my own for story at the same time.


Writing: Fanfiction is Awesome! (But I can’t read fics for my own stuff)

So, as a writer, I actually love fanfiction. For those ignorant about what that is, it’s when you write a story about another’s work, basically playing with their toys, sometimes with your own thrown in for funsies. And there is a rule about it. Eighty percent of it, if not more…is crap. Pure and simple. But the other ten percent is usually just as rewarding as the original medium, if not more so (spoken as someone who used to stroll through the Twilight fanfiction sites until the fourth book came out and ruined any tolerance I had for the series). Fanfic can be written about almost anything, from books to tv shows to movies to plays. The sky is the limit.

What is it about fanfiction I like so much? Well, some of it is a personal thing. I like cute fluff, and most writers don’t indulge me with enough of this. For completely understandable reasons, of course. You have to keep the plot moving, even in romances (which is usually sex, but that’s another need entirely), and in other books your romance is very much a subplot. Sometimes, writers frustrate the tar out of me and I want to read more about the characters and the world without their personal quirks or writing style frustrating me (Hello, Butcher…). In some cases, the series ends and I need more for resolution (Hello, Blood +).

But the biggest reason is because of what it does for aspiring writers or even people who just write for a hobby. I was almost completely self-taught until my junior/senior year of college, and fanfiction writing was really the best practice I could have ever asked for. I didn’t have to try and world-build, which is something that really takes practice and time that when I was first starting, I didn’t have the patience for. Learning how to write a character (even if they weren’t mine) and keep them consistent with their already determined personality, how to plot a story from beginning to end (admittedly not the best of plots at times), and even how to write believable dialogue, were all skills I developed when writing fanfiction. I also learned more about fleshing out original characters to match the ones in the fanfic (and developed my hatred of the term “Mary Sue,” but see this post for that.)

I honestly think there are some real gems out there, even for series that I might hate for some reason. For example, Naruto about drives me nuts in the series (and I hate the couples revealed at the end, or at least some of them). But House Calls is amazing and full of fluff and squee. I write fanfiction myself, at the moment mostly whenever something in the original series starts frustrating me (Dresden and Sly Cooper) rather than out of practice. I always encourage beginning writers to start with fanfiction before tackling their own stuff. It helps them get some basic tools before they tackle the huge amount of work an original novel, or even an original short story, can be.

The strangest part of the fanfiction world, at least in my opinion, is writers who take extreme steps to make sure that no one writes fanfic for their work. it blows my mind, if only because… Well, first off, it’s going to be written regardless. It’s a pointless fight to pick. And for another, it’s really a compliment, if you think about it. Someone loves your characters or world enough to write stuff about them. Take the compliment and enjoy it, really. But I can respect some writers feeling like it’s a back-handed compliment (remember why I’m writing it right now?).

That all being said, I have policies about writers and fanfiction. It’s actually one of my Cardinal Rules. (I have three of them.) It’s a big one. It’s simple really. Writers can’t read fanfic for their own stuff. Seriously. No. I have a couple of reasons behind this. For one thing, while there is no such thing as a completely original idea (and there isn’t), reading fanfic could give you ideas you wouldn’t normally have. Or even if you don’t have the same idea, just reading any fanfic gives someone who does have same idea as you the grounds to claim you read their work and stole it. It’s a giant legal nightmare. On the other side of it…remember that first paragraph? Eighty percent. It’s almost impossible not to cringe when it’s characters you love. If it’s characters you make? Oh lord, that just makes me shudder.

So I gave one of my favorite fics a shout out. Anyone have their own to call out?

As a bit of news, I will be changing my posts to Sunday, and maybe a random one in the week. I’m just stupid busy the rest of the time in the week right now with fair coming up.


Review: Dresden Files 15–Skin Game

Sorry this is a day late. I had a bit too much good news yesterday, and the excitement wore me out. So. The final Dresden File book! At least until Peace Talks comes out. 😛 BTW, a friend and I have official reached the level of, “Okay, we’re going to make this crack fanfic verse out of FRUSTRATION!” And because I’m a King Arthur story nut. Anyway.

Skin Game starts off with Harry running around the prison doing…Parkour. Yeah, you read that right. But it doesn’t last long. Mab needs him to step up as Winter Knight to work with Nicodemus. And to insure it, she has leverage over Harry. If he doesn’t, he will die from the parasite living in his head that helped save his life during his attempted suicide. So he has to struggle to keep his white hat on straight. In the meantime, he worries over the effect the mantle is taking on him and how it is going to change him. Will he become a monster, or is he just too much in his head? (Though he’s obviously not that either!)

So, to begin. Butcher gets huge props for this book. Seriously. Okay, the tone starts off a little weird and disjointed from the rest. But it gets better, and I mean lots. It was exciting, constant surprises and conflict. And the ending was perfect. I knew something was going on, this time, but Harry was suitably quiet about it. Did it sometimes irk the tar out of me that Butcher used the same turn of phrase the entire book? Yes. I wanted to whack him if he mentioned keeping something close to the chest one more time. But I didn’t suspect what the twist was, and yet it didn’t feel out of left field. He finally found a balance to the suspense and mystery aspect.

Character wise, the little girls stole the show. Maggie, obviously, and the parasite. (Yeah, I’ll spoil you on that one.) Maggie seemed a little too young at times (she’s supposed to be ten, Butcher, not seven), but her personality was great. She was very much her own character, and I worried she’d be too much like Ivy. A concern I no longer need to have. I like how she was this source of conflict for Harry and the worries he now has as a father. Though speaking of being a father.. The parasite, we didn’t get to see much of her, but the entire concept of it was hysterical. I just hope Butcher gives her an actual name in the next book. (I’ve been calling her Suli, an epithet for Minerva. It seems appropriate.) I have to wonder where he’s going with this creation. Was she just a loose end? Is she a part of something much bigger? I don’t know.

Shout out, because I am also a Greek myth nerd. I loved Hades. Absolutely loved. And this makes how many of us now who subscribe to the theory that Persephone willingly married Hades…?

World building wise, I thought that this actually did some good things. Once again, he brought in one new element, worked on some others, and that works well for him. It seems like as long as he doesn’t devote the whole book to a new aspect, he does better about keeping the information from being completely overwhelming. However, as much as I love Hades… I don’t know how I feel about the Greek myths being brought into the Dresden verse. It was already horribly complicated, and now adding yet another layer to the Nevernever and the power of belief just… It just might be more than even a series this long can handle. We’ll see.

I didn’t have as much bad to say about this book, but now I’m going to talk about the series as a whole. Maybe it’s because I never really got into huge series outside of the Saddle Club, The Babysitters Club, and Nancy Drew, but it seems to me that this is all a really big project that honestly, without a devoted fanbase, would have fallen apart books ago. It’s very hit or miss as far as whether the plot is going to work or the world building elements will be overwhelming or not. I think Butcher is doing the same thing I’m currently doing, where I throw things at the wall and see what sticks. And I think kind of learned what not to do from him, as far as how much new stuff can be handled, how many times can you really almost end the world in three days… I think Butcher really needs a reader who reads a book and knows what they are doing so they can tell him honestly what they think about it. Not an agent or his publisher, but a beta reader. I know without mine, I’d be lost.

Alright, next week I’ll be back with some sort of RPG or writing thing, and then I have a new YA book to read and review. I’ll review Peace Talks as soon as it comes out though, and keep making it a regular occurrence when it happens. See you Thursday!


Review: Dresden Files 14–Cold Days

At last! Family is out of my house, and I’ve had a chance to read Cold Days. Hope everyone enjoyed their holidays, I got a cold, so this post might be short. Now let’s see what trouble Harry has gotten himself into now…

Physical therapy has never been exciting until you’ve had the fae version, or so we start out with. Harry has to recover from his brush with death, which is not easy to do when you are also in training as the new Winter Knight. Mab has no mercy…and for good reason. Her first task for Harry borders on the impossible. To make matters worse, he has to try and find balance with finding his place in the normal world again, despite no longer clearly being on the good side. And what on earth is going on with Demonreach? Oh, only the potential end of the world. And a lot of trouble for Harry even if he does manage to save things again. Nothing major.

A lot of this book was me sitting here, on my couch. Swearing. Loudly. My friend (who has read all of these) laughing at me. Yeah. But…there were a few hiccups, like what I’m coming to realize is always going to be the case with this series. Usually where there was the bad, there was some good though, so it was managed to balance out better than it usually did.

To begin with, there was some issues balancing out the world building. On one hand, we were dealing a lot more in depth with the fae than we ever have before. (And I might regret saying that, but from where I’m sitting… yes, more than ever before.) So that’s a lot of information. But we’ve got Demonreach’s secret going on, we’ve got more information about what happened when Harry “died,” we’ve got Outsiders and Gatekeeper and just… Too much going on, man. And to make it worse, the first fourth or so of the book sets up for basically fae adventures only…and then we’re back in Chicago and it’s total whiplash. And it’s a weird pace compared to the rest of the book. Overall, kind of a clunky transition. I get why he did it, and I like the details it gives us. But it just creates a clear dividing line in the book between sections.

Plot wise, it takes a bit for him to get going. I blame the last book being such a plot-spinner book. It didn’t give him quite as neat of a jumping off point as he normally has. So he had to actually deal with some mess he left behind, and that just takes time. But then once he gets going… the plot is more than a little amusing. I repeat, I was swearing. Not the, “Oh lord, I want to throw this book at the WALL,” swearing, but the, “This is too cool for proper words!” kind. It starts to get clunky at the end, but I’ve about decided that Butcher just doesn’t know how to handle loose ends. He wants to throw all these things together, but he struggles with weaving everything together until he starts knocking out parts so he can focus on two or three.

Character wise… I have mixed feelings. Some of my favorites get little to no screen time in these recent books. I mean, Thomas at least has his moments, but… I miss Ramirez. I miss Michael. I miss all these characters that helped us remember Harry’s humanity. I think we really need to see more of them, or all that nerfing we just did of Harry’s character is going to be lost. I’m also REALLY getting annoyed over how many female characters keep dying. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I have issues with character death period. It’s usually done for shock value rather than anything else. But the proportions of main character deaths between the girls and the boys is feeling off to me.

Overall, Cold Days was a fun read. I enjoyed the excitement of it once it got going, and there were some character moments that shone through. But I think it is possibly the worst book for a first time reader to pick up, making it incapable of existing outside of the series, which I think is a problem. And then on top of that, even for a long time reader, there was some serious clunkiness and issues with the world building.

I would say more, but… Cold. Headache. I have work in the morning. I’m interesting in hearing other opinions though. Any highlights (or lowlights) from this one catch your eye? Comment and let me know!


Writing: Updates and Arc Writing

So, here’s a new sort of thing… I’m talking my personal writing here, for those who care. It’s been a crazy time, with the move and changing from being a student to a full-time (if temp) job. I had a hard time finding the energy to write.

But then Thanksgiving break happened. I don’t know why my brain suddenly went, “Dude, dude, we should WRITE!” but it did. I pushed through the entire first act/arc at last. And then this last weekend, I’ve not only gotten all of the second act plotted, but I’ve got bits and pieces of the rest now figured in my head. Not to mention all the stuff that has to happen in later books because of time reasons that I’ve come up with. I think Caley’s series is working out to be a fun project. If I can’t get it to sell, I might publish them on Kindle.

Part of what I think is making this so much fun to write is every time I come up with an idea, I figure out a place where it can go. Everything is sticking to the walls, and I have enough story that it isn’t going to be rushed by doing it this way. I’m not even limited by age demographic as much as I normally am. Mind, there is a very clear dividing line where I go, “Okay, twelve through fourteen is now iffy for appropriateness,” and I’m keeping all the adult ideas on a list to do if this series works out well. It’s just…what I can come up with and making it all work. It’s exciting instead of editing myself, going, “Nooo, that’s silly, or inappropriate or just WEIRD.”

The big thing I’m doing different is how I’m doing my plotting. For the future books, I have…one paragraph. Maybe two, if I’ve just been exploding with ideas (which I have for the second and third). It’s really just the very basics: what’s my A plot, what’s my B plot, who are my villains, little ideas that I need to get written down SOMEWHERE so I don’t forget them… That’s it. For the book I’m currently on, besides my paragraph, I’m also plotting by arcs within acts, which is so different from what I normally do, but I’m liking it.

Explanation on what that last bit means: rather than plotting the WHOLE book out, chapter by chapter, I instead break the book into three acts: first, second, and third. First act is all set up for the novel, what the situation is before God (a.k.a. you the writer) throws a monkey wrench into everything. Third is the ending, the climax of the novel and the wrap up, which you want the wrap up to be as short as possible. The second is, put simply, everything in between. But an act is not the same thing as an arc. Why? Because of that silly second act. It actually has a mid-point, a turning point in the plot where things go weird, which divides it in half. So when I plot by acts, I have three…but by arc, I have four.

It forces me to stay with Caley and what her immediate goals are. It’s weird, because I only sort of know what’s going on in the third arc. (I used to not know what was going on in the ending either, but idea explosion and yeah.) Normally, I know down to the detail what happens in the book. But that’s the problem. I’m either so obsessed with my details or the overall picture, I don’t stay with the main protagonist and the scenes become…muddled. It’s easier this time, I think, even with a character like Caley.

Oh lord, Caley. I had to completely scrap one start to this book because she rubbed my proofreader the wrong way. It wasn’t necessarily her personality, but the way I was writing her. I wasn’t letting the reader get to know her under the bad attitude before I threw her worst behavior at them. So making sure I don’t throw my proofreader off again is going to be a continuing challenge, I think. Caley is very much her own person, so I have to handle her in situations the right way or she might go complete antagonist on me and that is not the plan. But she is well balanced by the unicorns… (Yes, there are unicorns. It is amazing.)

So there is where I’m at with my book! Hopefully the writing continues to flow so I can get it out there for you all to enjoy.


Sweating the Details

Note to self: Never try to blog when your weekend is literally accounted for except for maybe three hours…

Anyway. For those who don’t know, I’m about 40% read/write in the way I process information and think. The rest breaks down to 18 kinsthetic, 2 audio (yeah, telling me things is ALWAYS worse than giving me text), and then 30 visual. Now what all that means is while most of the time my brain things in words, sometimes it thinks in pictures, usually still shots. When writing action, this is a bonus. It means I can visualize a fight and choreograph it like you would a dance, with the ability to see where each limb of the fighters is at any one time and where they’re weapons can logically move.

There are two places where this is actually more of a problem. One is world-building, shockingly. Despite all the effort and time I put into figuring out how different cultures, governments, and religions work, getting the actual details of what the cities and surrounding areas look like into words is where I fumble. I see the towns so clearly in my head, I have issues getting enough detail out early on in the story for the reader to see what they look like. At least in the first draft. Usually by the second, I’ll have better luck, but then… That’s the case for a lot of things with writing. I know novice writers think it’s a myth, but it’s true. You have to do more than one draft just for problems like this. In my case it isn’t that there is a lack of vision, it’s just sometimes it’s a picture, not words, so I struggle to get it into the story.

The second place? That would be character creation. Only there, it’s the opposite problem. I get too wordy. Yes, there is such a thing. I cringe whenever I read old fanfics of mine, for example. I get overly descriptive, and not just by using “flowery” words. (I’m still annoyed that this is considered a “mary sue indicator” on litmus tests, since…every writer in the world who writes “genre fiction” uses them. And don’t get me STARTED on this stupid “genre fiction” snobbery.) I was detailed, trying way too hard to get the same picture out of my head into the reader’s. I later realized that it was impossible to do that. I can do art, and it can be “official art” in the sense of I drew it or another artist managed to hit the nail on the head when I commissioned them, but that’s the best I could do.

Some of this comes back to me being detail obsessed. And I do mean obsessed. I know my character’s height, weight, build, hair color, eye color, histories… Hell, I sometimes know their recessive traits so I know if two dark haired characters can have a blonde kid. Even with my latest fanfic, since it’s in a world where time travel is involved, I’m paying attention to what colors are there, what personality traits are there, what ranks the ancestors have in their time periods that will affect my characters over seven hundred years later. Some of this can lead to amazing plot points, such as this one poor character who meets the mother of an ancestor he’s already met once…and then turns around and meets that same ancestor’s daughter. It can get me out of jams, where I’m wondering what the conflict between my antagonists and protagonists is.

Mostly, it’s so I don’t contradict myself. That has always been my biggest problem with books, TV series, or movies. I crave consistency. Sometimes, I can excuse it away with things about different characters, such as one being a notorious liar or lying to get out of a situation or being uneducated. But usually there is no reason for it, so I’m immediately thrown out of the suspension of disbelief because logic fail. If you hate it as a reader/watcher, it’s probably not a good idea to do it yourself. So I play Spreadsheets the Video Game, keeping all my character information, plot lines, location information, and anything else even relatively important organized.

The last little thing that contributes to it is a little bit of ego. God bless Lauren Faust, but not all of us can pull a semi-logical answer out of our butts that works. (See her comment to a question about Princess Luna’s design change.) If someone asks me a question, I want to be able to answer it. Nay, even be happy to answer it. I do so much research for anything I write, be it fanfiction or original work, especially when it comes to historical events, geography, and even culture of places or times. I don’t want to feed bad tropes and stereotypes or present information that is largely incorrect. Doing that causes nothing but the continuation of ignorance and in some cases hurtful feelings from people I don’t want to offend just because of my personality.

This isn’t to say I don’t make mistakes. Nobody can know everything. My big blind spot is Africa, for an example. I’ve got at least rough, general ideas for everywhere else, excluding South America where I have a few specific places I can do things, and a fancy piece of paper that says I’ve got a well-rounded education where I refused to specialize so I got a decent smattering of real knowledge and books about those places. But I don’t write Africa. Even a new character who is from a Francophone African country didn’t stay in the country long enough for me to do more than make a few notes about how she should act from what I’ve found about the culture. I know my boundaries, at least for now.

I guess what the point of this whole mess of a post is… Know your details. That’s great, and amazing, and totally what you should be doing. But I’ve learned that in some areas I need to work on conveying those details, and in others I just need to hold back and let the reader fill in the rest.