December 12, 2014

Go Teen Writers Interview

I got to be on a wonderful panel with Jill Williamson at SLC ComicCon. Later, she interviewed me -- it's up on Go Teen Writers, where I talk about being a teen writer, advice for teens, and, of course turtles. They're hosting a giveaway of DRIFT, too! Hurry over -- as of this writing, there are 35 hours left to enter.

November 25, 2014

A Dragon's Doula

My short story, "A Dragon's Doula," is up at IGMS! There's a great illustration by Nick Greenwood with it. Some stories seem to come as a whole thing; this one slowly gelled from a lot of different ideas over time -- there's explosions, lots of dragons, the titular doula, and Idaho forests.

October 28, 2014

Interview + Review

The nice folks at LitPick, a site dedicated to YA books and YA readers, interviewed me.

I can't remember if I posted this before, but their website also has an amazing review of Drift up. It's extra-humbling-awesome to me that this review was written by a teen.

October 22, 2014

Hidden Paths

To my surprise and delight, more than once I've had someone e-mail me and ask why on earth my short fiction wasn't available to buy as an e-book. I've been writing short fiction long enough now that I had a nice collection of stories whose rights had reverted back to me. Today, it's available on Amazon (more formats forthcoming).

Book Description: Nine fantastical tales of fantasy and science fiction from M.K. Hutchins. Delve in forbidden jungles, travel across flesh-eating oceans, and chow down on some cryonic sushi. Originally appearing in Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show, Daily Science fiction, and elsewhere, these stories are collected here for the first time.

Included is this collection is the novelette "The Temple's Posthole", which won an IGMS Reader's Choice award and was placed on the Tangent Online Recommended Reading List.

Here's the TOC:

"The Temple's Posthole" (originally published in IGMS #32)
"Water Lilies"  (originally published in Daily Science Fiction)
"Blank Faces" (originally published in IGMS #28)
"Raspberry Pudding" (originally published in Abyss & Apex #46)
"Wishing Hard Enough" (originally published in Leading Edge #65)
"Under Warranty" (originally published in Cucurbital 3)
"Canvas" (originally published in Daily Science Fiction)
"Cryonic Sushi" (originally published in Leading Edge #60)
"Bricks and Sunlight" (originally published in Suddenly Lost in Words #3)

Much thanks to those who wrote me and nudging me toward putting this together!

September 16, 2014

Worldbuilding Quickly

After a panel at Comic Con, I had a question about worldbuilding in short fiction. There both wasn't much time to answer, and I was fairly beat after the end of a long (and awesome) con. Here's a much better answer.

There are four techniques that jump to mind for effective, succinct worldbuilding: interweaving and multi-tasking.

Interweaving: This is the opposite of the dreaded info-dump. Instead of cramming all the information the reader needs into one paragraph, it's parsed out bit by bit in the text. Information feels less "info-dumpy" when it's only a sentence long, especially if it's in the characters POV.

Multi-tasking: This applies to novels as well, but especially in short fiction, a sentence or a paragraph can't do just one thing. It can't just be for setting, or worldbuilding, or character, or to advance the plot. If it's not doing at least two things, it probably needs to get cut or get revised. Three things would be even better.

Point of View (POV): This goes hand-in-hand with interweaving and multi-tasking. Those snipits of info should still sound like they're coming from your viewpoint character. And if your worldbuilding info is in its proper POV, it's also multitasking to show you character.

Concrete Details: Of course you don't want to toss clunky descriptive paragraph at the reader, but the right, specific noun can suggest a truckload of information. The restaurant serving fillet mingon over a bed of organic microgreens is not the same one dishing out Kentucky hot browns. Detail after carefully selected detail can imply a world richer and fuller than the one your character has time to explore.

On to examples! Here's the first scene in my novelette, "The Temple's Posthole". I'll dissect it below. This scene is exactly four hundred words long:

September 8, 2014

Salt Lake Comic Con 2014

Salt Lake Comic Con was awesome, and exhausting. The convention center was packed -- it was difficult to get from one end to the other in less than twenty minutes. They stopped selling tickets Saturday afternoon, fire marshals locked down the building...just packed. It was a great con. Highlights (sorry I didn't take more pictures):

Favorite Costume: Dad in a Luke-Skywalker-from-the-swamp carrying a baby with a knit Yoda hat on his back. So. Stinking. Cute.

Awesome Games. The gaming room had free minis for everyone to paint -- something I'd never done before. I completely missed lunch and nearly missed my own panel. There were also giant board games! Here's the Settlers of Catan board. We played giant-sized Tsuro more than once. Thanks, awesome volunteers, for running the games!

Favorite Presentation: We watched the droid show twice. Full-scale droids racing obstacles courses against each other. It was pretty stinking awesome, not just because, y'know, droids, but thinking about all the hours of learning, work, creativity, and robotic expertise their owners had put into their droids for the sheer enjoyment of it. My kids were mesmerized, too.

Panels. It was great to be on panels -- especially fun to talk to teenagers. During the last panel (on worldbuilding), someone asked about cultural appropriation with about thirty seconds left until our time in the room ran out. That could be a panel, or a conference, all on its own. Here's a post from Lee & Low with a collection of different articles and viewpoints on the subject.

I also had someone ask me at the end of that panel about worldbuilding in short fiction. I don't think I answered very coherently (it was the very end of a long, exciting con, where, again, I kept forgetting to do thing like, y'know, eat...). So I'm working on a blogpost, with examples, which I'll post soon.

Comic Con was great! I'm already looking forward to the next one. :)

August 21, 2014

Salt Lake City Comic Con!

Barring any changes to the schedule, I will be at:

Thursday September 4, 5:00 pm: Go Teen Writers!

Friday September 5, 2:00 pm: Is Epic Fantasy Still Relevant to the Genre?

Friday September 5, 4:00 pm: Dealing With Rejection: An Artist and Creator Survival Guide

Saturday September 6, 5:00 pm: Building a Move-In Ready World

I'm really excited about this schedule! It's a nice variety of topics, and I'm especially thrilled that I get to be on the Go Teen Writer! panel. I was a teen writer. I actually started Drift while I was technically still a teen (and then spent a long time writing other stuff, improving my craft, and figuring out how to revise the book so it worked). I'm excited to, hopefully, get a chance to tell other teens that they can do it! And end all my sentences in exclamation points!

I think the whole con is going to be a blast. I hope to see some of you there!

August 7, 2014

Review: Catan Junior

I know I usually do comparisons or make lists, but Catan Junior deserves an entire post to itself.

How well does this compare to Catan? The Catan we know and love? The Catan that can be recreated entirely out of cookies, cupcakes, or what-have-you?

It feels like Catan, not a random game with the name slapped on. It plays a lot like Catan. And I think the way it's scaled-down and simplified for kids is brilliant. Let's start at the top:

Components: Catan Junior has the quality and feel of a great Euro-style game. The colors are kid-friendly and bright, but also beautiful.

Unlike Catan, there aren't resource cards, but hefty, well-constructed resource tokens (which you can kinda see in the top of this picture). They're easy to handle. They feel nice. I like boardgames with fiddle-worthy pieces, and these live up. In a game where secrecy isn't paramount, I think this was a smart switch. We can work on holding cards and not flashing them to other players in a game with less going on (like Go Fish).

July 30, 2014

"Golden Chaos" out at IGMS

My novelette, "Golden Chaos", is out at IGMS! And there's some great artwork to go with it. Really excited about this.

IGMS also ran an excerpt from Drift -- I'm grateful for their support with my debut novel. If you haven't read Drift, this will give you a good idea of what the story's about.

More good reviews have been coming in for Drift. RT Book Review gave it four stars (their highest rating) and a lovely write-up. Geek Mom also wrote up a great, detailed review.

July 11, 2014

Drift Sketches

My very cool publishers commissioned these sketches for Drift. The artist is Amanda Sartor. I think the naga look especially amazing! I love the roots of the Tree going down, too, and all the motion with the light.

And divided:

July 5, 2014

Reading YA Without the Y + Cynsation Interview

I have a gab bag post over on Bookshop Talk entitled "Reading YA Without the Y", talking about being an adult reader of YA and things I love about the genre.

Cynsations also interviewed me about revision and worldbuilding -- two of my favorite topics!

June 29, 2014

Giveaway! Guest Posts!

Read Now, Sleep Later is doing a giveaway of Drift!

I also have a post up at The Brain Lair, talking about my fascination with obsidian, and a post at It's All About Books talking about my five most influential/important books.

June 20, 2014

The Big Idea and Supernatural Snark

Over at John Scalzi's blog, I have a The Big Idea post up for Drift, talking about cultural ecology and the way we worldbuild fantasy cultures.

And I'm also at Supernatural Snark, talking about the Maya mythology inspirations for Drift.

I'll have more guest posts around the web for the next while to celebrate Drift's release! I'll continue to link to them here. I also haven't forgotten about that print-and-play game I mentioned from inside the world of Drift. Everything's just about ready for that, so it's coming soon!

June 12, 2014

Guest Post + Forbidden Dessert

I'm over at J. Kathleen Cheney's blog today, talking about strange things that happen in publishing. She has a whole series of authors talking on this topic, which fascinates me. Everyone has such different stories. Check it out!

Also, I haven't spent enough time in board games shops lately. I'm still going to blame my move to a new state. In any case, I just learned yesterday that the game Forbidden Desert exists. It's a sequel-game to Forbidden Island, a great co-op game that plays like a quick version of Pandemic (all three games were designed by the same guy -- Matt Leacock).

Hopefully soon I'll get my hands on a copy and have a review up, but given my track record with Matt Leacock games, I'm pretty sure it will be amazing. Also, I love the cover artwork. Gorgeous.

June 7, 2014

Reviews for Drift

The Kindle version of Drift is out! Also. I haven't linked to the Kirkus review, but they had some nice things to say:

Readers will find watching Hutchins’ unusual magical rules bring about startling consequences for family and political structure utterly fascinating. Totally fresh.

I also haven't mention Sarah Beth Durst's review here, which gets quoted on the cover. I had no idea my published had sent the book to her. Vessel is amazing. It's still surreal that she read my book, let alone said nice things about it.
A fantastic adventure set in a stunning, original world, Drift is the kind of book that draws you in so completely that you'll believe you are living on an island on the back of a turtle, fighting off water spirits, and claiming your own magical treasures. Some of the best worldbuilding I've ever read.

May 29, 2014

Author Copies + Award

First off, my author copies of Drift have arrived! This was a very fun package to open. From the cover to the layout and design, this is one beautifully-made book. I'm grateful that such talented people have put so much care and effort into making this book.

Also, my novelette, "The Temple's Posthole" tied for third place in the annual IGMS Reader's Choice Award. I'm very fond of this story -- it also draws a lot of inspiration from Maya archaeology. I'm thrilled that other people like it, too.

May 6, 2014

Bittersweet Endings

I'm over at Fiction University today, talking about Writing the Bittersweet Ending.

If you've never been over to the site, I can't recommend it highly enough. Janice Hardy is a master at writing about craft, and gives amazing, illustrative examples of what she's talking about. I learned so much about POV there, and I'm very happy that I got to contribute as a guest to this site.

May 1, 2014

Water Lilies

Last Monday, my short story "Water Lilies" ran on the Daily Science Fiction e-mail list. It's now available to read, for free, on their website. This is the most solidly YA short fiction I've had published to date, and I'm happy it's here.

April 22, 2014

Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience: KidCon 2014

Thanks to an excellent friend of mine, I ended up with a pair of tickets to SLC Comic Con. And kids under ten get in free -- hurrah! We decided all to go and just have fun.

I think this was the first conference/convention I've gone to with no aspirations of professional development. We walked the dealer's floor. We hung out at the KidCon area.

And KidCon was awesome.

There was a giant LEGO display from the Utah LEGO Users Group, including a spectacular Helm's Deep, the Orthnac, trains, the Avengers hovercraft, was fantastic. Someone else had a giant balloon sculpture. Disney princesses hosted tea parties. The Children's Museum had a booth where kids could transform painted toilet paper rolls into superhero bracers.

LEGO Orthnac
And there was great programing. The Leonardo did some science experients and explained how science was like super powers! The Hoogle zoo brought out some cool animals (owl, kestrel, snake, armadillo) and explained how animal adaptations were like super powers! There was something going on at one of the two stages about every half hour, it seemed.

The costumes were amazing, too. My kids adored all the Star Wars stuff, especially the guy with a real-sized, remote-controlled R2D2. I've never had the kids ask me to take their picture before.

I was told that this is the first time there's been kid programming at SLC Comic Con...which isn't a long wait, because this Comic Con debuted last year. Spectacularly. This year, there were more than 100,000 in attendance, making it the 3rd largest Comic Con in the nation, and the largest convention to be held in the state of Utah.

I'm glad we got to go and be a part of it. The kids are already designing costumes for next time.

April 16, 2014

Ricochet Robot Turtles

Time for a board game comparison. These two games are similar in many ways, one aimed at kiddos, one at adults.

Robot Turtles: This game is designed to sneakily teach programming skills to tots. Okay -- I was actually skeptical about the game when I first learned about it. I've seen some "educational" games that try to teach letters and numbers at the utter expense of game play. I hope my kids have fun and learn critical thinking skills with board games, so I'm aiming for a different kind of "educational".

But this game hits "fun" and "critical thinking" on the nose. The game is actually a maze  that the kids work their turtles through -- a maze that the adult (or senior child) designs every time you pull out the game. The players use their cards to "program" their turtle's movements. The Turtle Mover then follows those exact instructions, regardless of intent. Don't worry; mistakes can be rectified with use of the bug card. It was fun and refreshing to play a game where the whole point is to let them figure out how it works, instead of spending the first few games teaching rules. The game also nicely adds complexity as you get better at it. This is still a big hit at our house -- many, many programs later.

Ricochet Robot: In this game, you try to find the shortest path for the robots -- who can only move in straight lines -- to reach their targets. It's very spacial, almost maze-like, trying to use the various walls and/or other robots on the board to bounce off of just right.

There is no turn-taking. Everyone tries to solve it at the same time,  so the game plays as many people as you can fit around the board, which is nice. There's also a great catch-up mechanism. If you've solved more puzzles than anyone else, you have to focus hard to stay ahead. If you're behind, you've got a very good chance to catch up in the scoring.

Neither of these games is particularly cut-throat and they're low on player interactions. They're more like puzzles that you solve independently (Turtles) or a puzzle that you're trying to solve faster and more efficiently than the rest of the players (Robots).

But I love both of these. I love the logical planning efforts in Robot Turtles, and I love how after a few rounds of Ricochet Robots, my head either hurts or I start to get really good at it (or both). They're mind-stretching and full of spacial reasoning. Both come highly recommended.

April 14, 2014

April 12, 2014

Updates, Again

Stuff for DRIFT:

Final copyedits are in! The book's gone to the printers!

The release date has also been moved back to mid-June to give reviewers with ARCs ample time to read them. I think, overall, this will be a good thing. :)

Other Stuff:

I sold a novelette! I'll have more details later, after everything's all signed and super-official. This means that I now have three pieces of new short fiction accepted at three different magazine. They should all be out this year, I think.

I finished a novel draft! My first drafts are always horribly messy, but I'm really happy those initial thoughts are down. Editing is always fun for me. This makes for the twelfth book I've written. DRIFT was #4. I'm currently looking for a new agent, but I'm hopeful that I'll have more news on the novel-front to share sometime.

March 17, 2014


It's hard to believe it's been a month since LTUE. Kinda late for a conference report, but I had a great time and am very grateful for the many people who helped me juggle the non-writing parts of my life so I could attend. I got to meet new people, catch up with old friends, and lead some crazy-awesome brainstorming in my class on Narrative Drive.

In other news -- I got my ARC (advanced reader copy) of Drift! I'd take a picture to share, but my neighbor has already run off with it. The book's release is just around the corner.

Time seems to be going by very, very quickly right now.

February 13, 2014

Cover Reveal!

Hi! I'm at LTUE, so this will be short, but Tu Books revealed the cover for Drift today! You can read all about the cover creation process at the Lee & Low blog, then click on one of the blogs at the bottom of the post to see the cover. It looks amazing!

February 10, 2014

Short Stories in a Nutshell

On Friday at LTUE, I'm giving a presentation on writing short fiction. I'm not going to have a computer at LTUE (well, probably not), so I thought I'd put this up in advance. 


NOVEL-LIKE (traditionally plotted, common POV): 
Nanny’s Day” by Leah Cypess
The Judge’s Right Hand” by J.S. Bangs
Rejiggering the Thingamajig” by Eric James Stone
X Marks the Spot” by Kat Otis

Movement” by Nancy Fulda
“Un Opera Nello Spazio: A Space Opera” by Oliver Buckram (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction Sept/Oct 2013)
The Wanderers” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
They’re Made Out of Meat” by Terry Bisson
How to Love a Necromancer” by Jess Hyslop

Buy You a Mocking Bird” by Eric James Stone
Neighbours” by Rob Butler
Dark Swans” by Terra LeMay
The Last Seed” by Ken Liu
“What We Ourselves Are Not” by Leah Cypess (Asimov's September 2013)

RESOURCES: an online critiquing workshop
The Leading Edge: local SF/F magazine where you can volunteer to read slush and learn more about how magazines operate -- invaluable opportunity if you live in Provo
The Submission Grinder: a searching tool to find short story markets
SFWA Markets: a list of markets that count towards SFWA membership

*Lamely, Blogger explodes when I try to add the authors' names as labels, due to the length. Sigh. I apologize that there aren't author tags on this post.

February 4, 2014

Novelocity Round-Up and Campbell Anthology

My short story, "Blank Faces", has been reprinted in the 2014 Campbell Anthology. The anthology collects over 860,000 words of fiction from writers eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. It won't be available after nominations, so if you'd like a copy, sooner is better than latter.

Also, here's a round-up of posts from Novelocity this January:

Favorite Fantasy Worlds
Favorite Reads in Your Late Teens and Twenties
Left Wanting More
January News

January 24, 2014

LTUE 2014 Schedule

I'm very happy to be able to attend LTUE again this year. This is the first writing conference I ever attended, and it still feels like going home. I'm looking forward to seeing some of you there!

Here's my classes and panels for this year:

Thursday, February 13th

2:00pm -- Narrative Drive: Techniques for building momentum in your story that will never fizzle out.

5:00pm -- Writing, Literacy, and Culture: A panel with Orson Scott Card, Laryssa Waldron, Johnny Worthen, Ami Chopine, and Clint Johnson.

Friday, February 14th

11:00am -- Short Stories in a Nutshell: how short stories are different than novels, how to write them, and where to sell them.

1:00 pm --  Selling Your Short Story: How to find a publisher (or agent) for your short story and how to sell them your masterpiece. A panel with Brad R. Torgersen, Emily Martha Sorensen, Eric James Stone, Suzanne Vincent, and Jaclyn M. Hawkes.

Saturday, February 15th

3:00 -- Wrapping Things Up: The hero is victorious and the villain's evil plan lies in what? A panel with Bree Despain, Janci Patterson, Michael Young, Chad Morris, and Brandon Sanderson.

6:00 -- Creating Subplots: How to keep readers engaged with subplot while you keep your overall story flowing perfectly. A panel with David Farland, Jaclyn M. Hawkes, and Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury. 


January 17, 2014

The Writer's Bill of Rights

This is brilliant. There's a printable version here, and it can be freely distributed with attribution. So go and share!

* * *
You are allowed not to be the greatest writer in the world.
You are allowed not to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Pulitzer, or even that flash contest in your local newspaper
You are allowed to have a day job at which you spend more time than at writing, and that you may be unwilling or unable to give up.
You are allowed to have a family who need and deserve large quantities of your time.
You are allowed to write stories that are not as good as the best thing you ever wrote.
You are allowed to have dry spells. For as long as it takes.
You are allowed to sell stories to $10 markets. As Leonard Cohen puts it:
“I took my diamond to a pawnshop / But that don’t make it junk.”
You are allowed to have a lifestyle that won’t let you get to national workshops, or even your two-bit local convention.
You are allowed to have stories that haven’t sold at all yet—and may never sell.
You are allowed to not be [insert name here].
And you will still be a writer.
And that’s good.
Because otherwise there would be damned few of us left.

January 2, 2014

Looking Back and Looking Forward

January tends to make me contemplative.

In the past year, a lot of good things have happened. Drift was officially announced in Publisher's Weekly. I qualified to join SFWA, I had two short stories and a novelette published, and three more stories accepted. I was able to go to LTUE, perhaps my favorite conference, and meet with much of my writing group in person. I wrote the first draft of a Middle Grade SF novel, which was an adventure. I'd never written Middle Grade or novel-length SF before. Oh. And I moved to a new state and had a baby.

It's been a really busy year -- in a good way.

And as for 2014? Drift will be released. I'll have at least three short stories coming out, and I'm planning on making it to LTUE again. I've got more novels I want to draft, and some that I should revise (like that SF novel). I'm also going to be part of Novelocity, a blog where authors with novels coming out in 2014 talk about some of their favorite books. The first post -- our introductions -- is up!