First, the serious: Jim C. Hines on reporting sexual harassment in the SFF community. The comments also mention Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear, which I also can’t recommend enough.

Then, the fun! Would you like to win a signed (in the US) or free (outside the US) copy of my just-released Angel Town? Or a copy of fellow Dame Keri Arthur’s Darkness Rising? Or would you, perchance, like a $15 Amazon gift certificate? Would you?

Well, you’re in luck! Just head over to the Deadline Dames’ latest Release Day Giveaway. All you have to do to get a chance to win is comment there. The Dames, we believe in making it easy to win.

We’re cool like that.

While you’re there, you can also find tons of other cool things, like the Readers on Deadline contests and helpful writing/publishing advice. And as soon as we figure out how to give out pie over the Internet, we’ll probably do that too.

Because we’re Dames. And Dames rock.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Oct. 25th, 2011 08:42 am)

*clears throat*

Angel Town, the last of the Jill Kismet series (for now) is now shipping from Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, and Amazon.

She wakes up in her own grave. She doesn’t know who put her there, she doesn’t know where she is, and she has no friends or family.

She only knows two things: She has a job to do: cleansing the night of evil. And she knows her name.

Jill Kismet.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be hunched in a corner shaking, as is my usual wont on release days. You’d think they would get easier to handle, but no–I feel the same fierce anxiety each time.

Over and out!

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Attention Selene and Nikolai fans! The story of Selene’s return to Saint City, Just Ask, is now available in the Mammoth Book of Hot Romance! I hope you like it.

Also, I’ve updated the FAQ, the Strange Angels page, and the Jill Kismet page. Preorder information for Reckoning and Angel Town is now live on those pages.

A lot of you are asking me about audiobooks, especially for the Kismet series. I do not know when or if specific books will be released on audio. I’m sorry, I just don’t know.

I’m still sore and hobbling from the fall I took earlier this week, so that’s about all she wrote. (Literally. Ha ha. I kill me.) I’m gonna go take some ibuprofen and brace myself for climbing.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jul. 22nd, 2011 10:39 am)

It is just way too bright and sunny today. And it’s a good thing I’m damn stubborn, or I would have quit after three miles today and not had that awesome endorphin-kick runner’s high. Not to mention the drift of honeysuckle, the cheerful “good morning”s from other runners–I content myself with a “Morning!” in return, because I can’t be cheerful while struggling to stay upright and moving. I would have also missed having the shaded park all to myself for a few glorious circuits. That was nice.

So, announcements!

* If you’ve ever wondered how Selene returned to Saint City, you can read the brand-new Selene and Nikolai story, Just Ask in the upcoming Mammoth Book of Hot Romance.

* Also upcoming is Reckoning, the final book in the Strange Angels series. The end of August will see a bindup of bboks one and two, Strange Angels and Betrayals with an all-new, lovely cover.

* November will also see the final Jill Kismet book, Angel Town.

* You can now buy all five of the Dante Valentine novels in one smoking-hot omnibus. (Personal demon not included, sorry.) Also, Graphic Audio has released parts one and two of Working For The Devil, I believe part 1 of Dead Man Rising is also available.

* I will be attending SpoCon in August. Not quite sure what my schedule will look like, but I’ll be there on panels etc. I will also be at the Cedar Hills Crossing Powells annual SF/F Authorfest in ?November?, more details on that as it gets closer.

* There’s an interview with me up over at the Gatekeeper’s Post.

* I can’t really talk about this yet, but it’s up on Amazon. Tempty tempty.

* A big “welcome home” shout-out to TP, back from the wilds of Europe. *evil wink*

…I’m sure there’s something I’ve forgotten, but I haven’t even finished my coffee yet, so forgive me. Off I go to find a name that means “a hunter” for a wooden garden-boy. He wants Calhoun, but I’m not sure he should have it. He’s not the protagonist, so he doesn’t really get what he wants as far as names.

Damn characters. Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

The good news is, I’m up to the lower limit of my pre-injury speed during my morning runs. The bad news is, I’m only allowed to run three miles. Two steps forward, one step back. At least I’m running again, and the endorphins are smoothing out jagged edges. Thank God.

I am slowly chipping away at reading Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy. The first book (Titus Groan) I only made my way through by the skin of my teeth. The second, Gormenghast, is already much more palatable. I suspect this was where the story wanted to start anyway. I am completely in shameful love with Steerpike; he is such a marvelous Machiavellian with perfectly-nuanced motivations. And Peake’s naming of his characters! By far this is the aspect I enjoy most. Prunesquallor the doctor (who I suspect very much is Peake’s unconscious authorial insertion, even though Titus seems like a more-conscious one), Deadyawn the Headmaster, Flay and Swelter, Sepulchrave the Earl of Groan–the names, they do EVERYTHING.

Also, I tremble to report I’ve finished the second round of revisions on Angel Town. I feel…ambivalent about this. The process of saying goodbye to Jill as a character is a pretty damp one. The snapback of finishing a book is compounded by the snapback of finishing a whole series. I’ll send the revisions off later this afternoon. I am giving myself that long to bid farewell.

Anyway, the spring rains are moving in, there are errands to be done, and I really should do something about the hoovering and the laundry that piled up while I was working in sprints this weekend to get the revisions done. That might help the spinning engine in my head wind down a bit.

See you around, dear Readers.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames, where there’s advice, giveaways, or cool things every day.

It’s time for another Friday writing post! I promised I’d talk about fight scenes, didn’t I. Well…it turns out I have more to say about action scenes than I thought, so I’m going to break it up over a couple Fridays. Today I’ll be talking about why you would possibly want to beat the shit out of your characters.

*pause, evil smile*

It’s not just because it’s fun. Or because one is sadistic. (Although those are considerations.) There are several reasons why you might possibly have to write a fight scene.

* Raising the stakes. There’s nothing quite like fisticuffs or a blaster battle to tell the reader that things are Getting Real, or Getting Desperate. There’s nothing like a surprise attack for making two characters who might loathe each other realize they have common cause. Pacing and tension pull a reader through a story, and several little crises along the arc of tension keep a reader interested. If you are not raising the stakes throughout your story, how are you planning on holding the reader’s interest? Sure, raising the stakes can be done in other ways…but a good fight is sometimes the best way.

* Breaking a character. When I set out to write a Jill Kismet book, part of the process is figuring out just how to break her. How physically tired and miserable I can make her, how far I can push her, and what a person’s mind and body does under that sort of strain. I’ve written before about how fascinated I am with the mechanisms of the human mind and body and how they react to extraordinary situations, how the mind breaks down or is reinforced by training. (If you’re interested, a good place to start researching might be Grossman’s On Combat.) I don’t think you really know a character until you break them, and I am perennially fascinated by the question of endurance and why and how some people endure.

Without risk, no reward, for the character or the reader. Pushing a character toward (or over) the edge, especially when that character is the reader’s point of entry into the story, makes the risk higher and the reward, when it comes, that much sweeter.

* Because life isn’t fair. Life is not all rainbows and ponies and butterflies. Bad things happen. Every human being knows that sometimes, shit just happens. It’s not fair, it’s not right, but it’s the way it is. Art is a way of transforming the world, and a lot of the impetus for art, for that transformation, is the fact that the world is messed-up and sometimes shit happens. Being relatively honest about this fact will give your story depths it might not otherwise possess. If there is no real risk, if you create a world on the page where everything is fair and there are no real consequences…well, you can write that story, you have a perfect right to, but I prefer not to. Writing that sort of story doesn’t feel real to me, and reading that sort of story doesn’t generally set me on fire.

* Unresolved issues. This is a tricky subject to talk about gracefully. Sometimes, writing a combat scene can help a writer process a trauma. For example, a few Decembers ago I was in a car accident (twisty road, dark and rainy, a deer with a death wish, voila) and it gave me fuel for nightmares (never a huge trick) until I wrote a car-crash scene or two. Something about writing that helped my brain and heart say, okay, that was awful, but it’s over and we can put it on this shelf now.

I’ve had some dreadful experiences, and writing has been a chain to pull me through the soup of nasty lingering trauma plenty of times. Exorcising my demons on the page hasn’t always been fun, but it works. And afterward, those experiences became much less scary for me to think about, because (this is my personal theory, YMMV) I had exercised control over them through transmuting them into words, and I had found a meaning in them. (Thank you, Viktor Frankl.)

* Pacing and practice. You may need to speed a story up, get its heartrate revving and build momentum for the big finish. Alternatively, you may want to trip your character and send them sprawling so you can get a word in edgewise and slow things down. Both are things a fight scene can do. Fiddling with a book’s pacing is largely a matter of practice, and combat scenes are great practice for both for intra- and interscene pacing, as well as overall.

There are other reasons you might want to kick the everloving hell out of your characters. But only one more bears mentioning, and it is the single most compelling reason. All the other reasons are in addition to this precondition, without which there is no combat scene:

* The story requires it. It’s nice to have combat scenes and they’re fun to write. But, just like sex scenes (which, I suppose, a lot of the same skill set for writing combat could be used for), they must be germane to the plot.

Here is an Ideal Law of Writing Well: every piece of dialogue/sentence/paragraph/chapter/section/book must ideally do three things: build character, give the reader a sensory cue, and move the plot along. I call this an “ideal” law because it’s something to aim for even though we live in an imperfect world and are working with imperfect tools. (If you can manage to do at least two of the three necessary things consistently at the sentence level and above, you’re a frickin’ genius and you don’t need any bloody advice from me. I’ll probably read your books and weep with grinding envy.) It will not always be possible to do this, but (especially when you are revising) this is a wonderful clarifying concept to keep in mind.

A combat scene is no different. It must give the reader sensory cues, it must show us something about the characters, and it must also move the plot along. If it’s just thrown in for the hell of it, or thrown in the wrong place, or shoehorned in because “all these types of books have to have a combat scene”, the scene (no matter how beautifully written) has a virtual certainty of failing for the reader. We don’t want that. We want to maximize the reader’s chances at every turn. So first, critically and crucially, before you write that combat scene, take a second to think about if it’s necessary and what kind of pacing you’re trying to accomplish.

You are the best judge of this while you’re writing. If you’re going hot and heavy and a fight scene falls out of your head, don’t sweat it. Take it as a gift and move along. If you decide you need a combat scene but haven’t the faintest idea of where to begin, don’t lose hope. Next week we’re going to talk a little bit about what a good combat scene consists of.

Can’t wait. Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Dec. 27th, 2010 03:05 pm)

I am not my characters, and I am under no illusion that they are objectively real, but while I’m creating, they are real to me. And when we are done with each other, it’s like a good friend is moving to another planet–someplace where the communication isn’t frequent or even feasible.

Last night I sent off the first draft of the final Jill Kismet book, Angel Town, to agent, beta reader, and editor. I cried when I finished the zero draft, I cried when I finished first-revision, and I cried right after I hit the “send” button and the first draft took its first few toddling steps into the world.

I’ll see it again, of course–there’s edits, then copyedits, then proofs to get through–but in a very real way, Jill is gone. Her story is done. I had more to say, certainly, but six books is enough. I can say what remains in other ways. Or, if I can’t, maybe it should remain unsaid.

Jill’s been a difficult character. Not as difficult as Dante, certainly, but aching in her own way. It was hard to say goodbye to Danny and Japh, too. I suspect a lot of it is just that when one spends a long, long time inside characters’ heads, sharing their triumphs and failures, one is bound to feel a certain amount of grieving afterward. I grieve for Jill and Saul, for Galina and Theron, for Anya Devi and even, a very little bit, for Perry.

So today I’m a little raw and tender. It’s a day for listening to the rain on the roof and watching Romeo!Jay and Juliet!Jay at the birdfeeder. Maybe some easy cookie-making with the kids later on in the afternoon. That sounds good.

Vaya con Dios, Kismet. And thank you. You got me through some rough spots, and it’s been a Hell of a ride. (Get it? Arf arf…)

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Dec. 21st, 2010 02:05 pm)

I literally have not stopped running since I climbed out of bed this morning. I even braved the post office, picking up a package–now there was an inspiring moment. Everyone was quiet, calm, smiling, and well-behaved. Considering that most trips to the post office during the holiday season are brutal survival-of-the-fittest scrums, I felt lucky to witness a half hour of strangers standing in line and making small talk, grinning at the antics of a small child, and actively helping other people out.

Today is for beating on a zero draft to finish getting it in respectable shape. I already know two major changes I have to make, but they were things I suspected would end up changing when I wrote them, so I’m not stressed. The most difficult part of this is saying goodbye to characters that have occupied my headspace for multiple years now. That part is never easy, especially when one suspects one could have told their story better, if one had just known.

Anyway, I finally managed to eat something and get some more coffee down, and now I have a whole afternoon to spend in the laborious process of revising and bidding farewell. I probably won’t cry until I get closer to the end.

Oh, who am I kidding? I’m going to be a leaky spigot. Fetch me the Kleenex and pay no attention to the sobbing. This is still the greatest job in the world.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Dec. 10th, 2010 09:57 am)

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames. Check us out!

Here’s one thing about the life of a working writer: there is nothing quite like rereading five books in one of your series so you can make the sixth and final a reasonable first draft, tucking in all loose ends and making sure all things you want to resolve are nice and square, and the things you don’t want to resolve are done well.

For me, it’s kind of a Purgatory. It’s not quite hell, but it’s not comfy either.

I am not generally fond of rereading my own stuff. For one thing, after revisions, copyedits, proof pages, and reviews, sometimes I just get exhausted with a book. For another, writers are inveterate fiddlers. If not for deadlines we would continue polishing things forever. (Or maybe that’s just me.) I’m always seeing things that could be better, or catching little things I want to fix but can’t. It upsets me.

There’s the fact that while reading the book, I re-experience the emotional cost of writing it. I remember where I was when I wrote certain passages, what I was thinking about, what was happening around me. This particular series holds books that I wrote under acid-test conditions (to put it kindly) and remembering how I crawled into the story as a sharp-edged refuge is…well, a little difficult. Not only that, but I re-experience the characters’ emotional cost. Yes, I’m terrifically hard on my characters (no risk, no reward, remember,) but I suffer right along with them. Their hard-won victories make me feel good, the prices they pay for those victories are to some extent paid by me. (Though I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, my characters, thanks.)

Add to that the fact that I’m saying goodbye to a character I’ve literally bled with, and no wonder I’m wanting to take this easy. I make notes on my trusty legal pad, I fold down pages in my working copies (I keep one copy of every book to write notes in or check when I need to) I do my best to read critically, even though I’m still too close to the work to see everything. And I think about what the series has meant to me, if I pulled off what I meant to, if I didn’t punk out.

There are good things, too. I sometimes (not frequently enough, alas) run across passages I like. I usually don’t remember writing them, there are occasionally chunks where I hit the sweet spot and the words came through me without any interference. And every once in a while I am surprised into a laugh when a character makes a comment. (If one can’t find one’s own books occasionally funny, well…)

So I’m in a very reflective mood this Friday. I am bracing myself for the plunge through the fifth book this weekend; in many respects, the next-to-last book is the hardest to write, and this was no exception. Plus, I was incredibly stressed while I wrote it, and I don’t want to revisit that time. It’s still too raw. Too bad. Got a deadline. Gotta make it.

If you’re contemplating life as a working writer, just be prepared for the fact that the books don’t go away even after they’re published. They hang on your shell like barnacles, and sometimes you do have to scrape or feed them, or arrange them in different patterns, or just get them out and look at them. Wince at their imperfections, but try to be gentle with them and with yourself. Each book that makes it to the finish line is a victory; each book that makes it through the publication process is a double victory. To look back and say I could have done that better, yeah shows a certain amount of growth. That growth is a good thing, even if uncomfortable. Try to be gentle with yourself, and give yourself some credit for enduring, if nothing else.

I’m going to try to take my own advice on this. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

That’s right, it’s the release week for the fifth Jill Kismet book, Heaven’s Spite.

To celebrate, I’ll be giving away three signed copies, over at the Deadline Dames. I regret that I can only ship inside the US, but that’s the way things are. To make it even, I’ll also be giving away a $20 Amazon gift certificate. And what must you do to win these wonderful prizes?

Simple! Just comment on this Deadline Dames post by midnight on Sunday, October 31 (the witching hour on Samhain, even). But not just any old comment, please. You can give your favorite quote, give a Dame a compliment, tell us your favorite Halloween candy or spooky story. The winners will be picked with the help of, and I may pick a special prize for originality. You never can tell.

I’ll announce the winners next Friday, and (I promise! I promise!) will have the long-awaited next Process Post then.

Thank you for reading! I’m very excited that Jill’s next adventures are out in the world.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Thanks for all the great congratulations and well-wishes during this release week! It’s been a wait, I know, but I am pleased and proud to say that Heaven’s Spite, the fifth Jill Kismet book, is now out in the wild.

When a new hellbreed comes calling, playing nice isn’t an option. Jill Kismet has no choice but to seek treacherous allies – Perry, the devil she knows, and Melisande Belisa, the cunning Sorrows temptress whose true loyalties are unknown.

Kismet knows Perry and Belisa are likely playing for the same thing–her soul. It’s just too bad, because she expects to beat them at their own game. Except their game is vengeance.

Nobody plays vengeance like Kismet. But if the revenge she seeks damns her, her enemies might get her soul after all…

Now available at Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Powell’s, Book Depository, and Amazon!

This was one of the most difficult Kismet books to write. I was coping with immense changes in my personal life, and the book itself is…difficult, in terms of what I had to put Jill through. I mean, I always knew this was coming, it’s the arc beginning in Night Shift and reaching through the final book, Angel Town, which I just finished the zero draft of recently. (It’s resting before revisions.) It’s also extraordinarily difficult to bring Jill’s story that much closer to closing. There is much more I would want to say through her, but it’s time to let her go.

But not for one more book. *grin*

Anyway, I hope you enjoy Heaven’s Spite. I’ll be doing a contest later in the week, so stay tuned!

ETA: I almost forgot! Yes, you can still buy signed and personalized copies through my local indie bookstore, even though they had a fire recently. Drop them an email–they even ship overseas!

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames. Check us out!

You can see the pictures from last night’s Educator Appreciation shindig here; many thanks to Jason of Bluewater Comics for manning the camera! He makes a great paparazzo. I got a chance to hang out with Darren Davis of Bluewater as well, who is just the most darling and scorchingly funny man since Mark Henry. (Which is high praise, believe me.)

In other news, the building that houses our very own favorite indie bookshop, Cover to Cover, caught fire yesterday. Smedley the cat is fine and currently lounging at his summer home well away from the hustle and bustle, none of our employees were hurt, and we’ll be working on getting things squared away over the next few months. It’s a hell of a thing, and if there’s a call for help from C2C I’ll pass it along here.

Last but not least, I am pleased and proud to announce that today I horked up a big 6K chunk of wordage…and finished the zero draft of Angel Town, the final Jill Kismet book. It needs work before I can turn it in as a reasonable first draft, but I have time to do that now before deadline. Which is a huge relief to me.

That’s a part of process I’m going to talk about today, but very briefly because my brain is dry and squoozled. My deadline for this book is two and a half months away, but I need that time for revision and was stressing over getting a zero draft out in time. Part of process is learning what you need in order to turn in publish-quality work, which is not just the first draft that claws its way out of your cerebellum and lands squalling and bloody on your laptop. It pains me to ask for the month of padding I generally need to let a work rest before I can go back and hammer it into first-draft form. There’s always the temptation to bow to the pressure of getting it in sooner, which naturally editors like. Compounding this difficulty is the natural aversion I have to saying “no”.

I’ve learned that a little discomfort when one is negotiating deadline dates is well worth the feeling of having enough time.

I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to get this book finished, ever. That’s also a part of my process–that long trudge three-quarters of the way through the book, when it seems like the damn thing will not die no matter how much you stab it, that you’ll be writing this forever, that every ounce of your brain is squeezed dry and it’s an unfinishable monster, you’ll miss your deadline, it’s all crap, GOD THE WORLD WILL END AUGH!

The only cure I have found for this is putting my head down and bitching and moaning while I plow straight through. Discipline is essential.

At some point, I will hit a dry spot where I can only produce a couple hundred words a day, but I’ll go back and tighten what’s happened before. This phase frustrated me to no end before I realized it was my engines winding up for the big push. Because sooner or later, after a couple weeks of frustration, suddenly I’m catapulted forward and I’ll have a string of 6-10K days. This won’t stop until I hit the end of the book, at which point I sit there, blinking, and have to shake my head and stare some more to verify that I have, indeed, finished the zero draft.

The first few times, the dead spot in the middle and the frustration phase literally reduced me to tears. I thought I was Doing It Wrong. It wasn’t until it dawned on me that this had happened with every book I’d finished that I started to treat it as just a normal part of the process, for me.

This does not ameliorate the pure frustration or the tooth grinding. It just makes me less likely to give up.

I keep promising you guys process posts, and this one is rather short, but I suspect lots of other writers (or creators) have the same frustration, perhaps at different points in the arc. It might help the tender new writers–or even the slightly more grizzled–to know someone else suffers it too. So, my dears, do you have a similar frustration point, and if you do, where does it occur?

And now I need to go soak my poor head in a bucket. Tune in next week for more SquirrelTerror, and another Process Post!

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

I know I promised another in the ongoing series about my writing process, but the Deadline Dames are running a snippet extravaganza this week! So, I’ll be writing more about process next Friday.

Today, you’re going to get a peek at an upcoming book. I went back and forth for a long time wondering which book I should excerpt here. Generally I don’t give excerpts, because I don’t like spoiling books. I prefer to have the story whole, laid out in front of the reader in its complete form as much as possible. Plus, I feel very strongly that each event in a novel, each scene, each piece of dialogue, is integral to every other piece. Taking one out is akin to playing a very dangerous game of Jenga and risking a collapse of the work as a whole.

I take these things too seriously. But then, that’s my job. Anyway.

Read the rest of this entry » )

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Sep. 24th, 2010 01:21 pm)

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames. Check us out!

I’ve finished somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty books. A good proportion of those are on the shelves. Yet, every time I sit down to write, it’s still a struggle. I still have the long shoal of “nobody will like this, it’s going to be shit, everyone will hate me” and the “Oh GOD why won’t this BOOK just DIE stabstabstab” and the terrible nerves before every release and the same jolt of pain when I read an awful review. I keep thinking time will mute the sting or that I’ll figure out how to do this whole thing without the emotional cost, but so far, I haven’t.

I wonder if any writer ever does. Certainly none of the ones I’ve spoken to have ever admitted it to me.

The last Kismet book has been a slog so far. It broke free this week, and I have the sense of accumulating momentum which means I am going to finish, which I’d spent some terrible hours laying in bed in the dead of night doubting. During the day I’m much too busy to doubt, but sometimes at night…well, the night always has teeth. Every single book I’ve finished, published or not, I have doubted it. I doubted when I started, I doubted after the first flush of enthusiasm wore off and the slog set in, I doubted when I finished, I doubted while my agent read it, I doubted while the editors read it, I doubted through every fucking revision and I doubt now.

This is a huge part of the reason why, when I am asked to give advice, I begin and end with write every day.

I point out things like John Scalzi’s excellent Writing: Find The Time, Or Don’t of Suzanne Johnson’s Excuses, Excuses: Writer’s Block because I think they are good advice. Often, I am depressingly unsurprised at the number of comments such essays receive along the lines of, “But what about XYZ, which means some people don’t have TIME? You’re being unfaaaaair!” Or the ever-popular comment where someone takes what could be a good respectable daily wordcount and wastes it whining about how they don’t have time to write, but they have time to show the author of an essay the Error Of Their Ways. Or the “of course YOU have time to write, it’s your JOB!” I wish someone would have told me that when I was desperately working my ass off and going to school, writing in minute chunks filched from job, study, and sleep. It would have been nice to know that was optional instead of the struggle for survival I mistook it for.

I write every day because I must. (And partly because I’m afraid of what would happen to my brain if I didn’t.) The everyday habit gave me the stamina to get through my first finished book, and my second, and every other of the thirty-odd and counting. But it also did something incredibly important: it taught me about my process.

My process shares some commonalities with other writers’ processes, while being unique as every writer’s is. But at least I know what it is, now. It was a damn sight harder to finish a book when I couldn’t look at the other ones I’d finished and say, oh yeah, I remember this part where I think it fucking sucks and nobody will ever want it and I feel like crying. Yeah. I remember–this isn’t the end of the world–it’s a stage in the process. I’ll get over it. Those first few books were literally murder. The first time I finished a book and had a week of emotional wind-down I thought I was going insane. The second, I’d forgotten all about the first–but by the third, I was starting to grasp the fact that there was an emotional cost to what I was doing, and I needed time to deal with the snapback. Which means today, I can schedule in time for the snapback to occur, and let it happen.

Just like I can tell myself, of course you feel like you want to quit. You always do at this part of the process. Keep going.

I am a firm believer in the truism that one doesn’t know how to write a novel, one can only guess how to get through the novel one’s writing now. Each one’s different. But thankfully, the process will begin to be clear to you, and that process tends to change much more slowly than the novels do. Your own general process for successfully finishing a novel (or a short story, an essay, a poem, what have you) is something you can plan for, anticipate, fine-tune, and generally learn how to work your way around.

But you can’t do that anticipating if you don’t know your process, you cannot know your process if you don’t finish anything, and you stand a much better chance of finishing something if you write every day. I say every day, knowing full well that for experienced writers there may be days off, when the mental work of building the story is happening but not much occurs with the fingers on the keyboard. I say every day, knowing full well that I could be wishy-washy and say “regularly” and hopefully avoid some of the “but I CAN’T!” that seems to pop up in the comments of posts like this. I say “every day” even though I know as soon as I say it, someone will pipe up with “but my process is different and I’m published!” and that’s OK. I say “every day” even though I know, my God do I know, Life Happens, things happen, and you may be called away from writing by an emergency.

I say this because if one says, “Write regularly” you can write once every six months and consider that “regularly” and you might die of old age before you get close to producing publishable work. I say it because I consider it to be the reason why my career is as (moderately) successful as it is. I say it because I consider that discipline crucial if you want to write for a living. I say it because I can have the rule of “write every day” and have occasional Emergencies that I am flexible enough to accommodate, but the needle of habit, discipline, and need gets me back up on the horse as soon as possible after the dust has cleared. Telling myself “write every day” is a foundation that makes it possible for me to even recognize I have a process.

Next week I’m going to talk a little more nuts and bolts about my particular process. But I want it to be absolutely clear that I consider the commitment to everyday writing as a precondition to recognizing one has a process early enough for it to do any bloody good. I firmly and fervently believe that writing every day gives you the chance to find your process before you get frustrated and decide you’d rather do something else with your time. Which is fine and well and good if that’s what you choose, but if I can point out a stumbling block and what I think is the best way around it, well, I will.

So. That’s out of the way. Next week, we’ll get nitty-gritty about just what my process entails.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Sep. 20th, 2010 10:38 am)

Cranky, cold, and nauseated. Yep, it must be Monday.

The only update I have to offer on the ongoing SquirrelTerror is that Squirrel!Neo appears to have won whatever struggle for dominance there was. The backyard is now his territory. Even Tuxedo Kitty and the Siamese from down the street (they observe a studied ignorance of each other that reminds me of some married couples) will not venture into the yard while Neo is hopping about. He came right up to the sunroom door while I was running this morning, put his little paws on the glass, and turned his head sideways, fixing me with one beady little eye.

I’m really hoping he’s not going to hack into the house thinking it’s the mainframe.

And really, I don’t blame the cats. He’s a squirrel with kung fu, for Chrissake.

Anyway, links!

* A hilarious little piece on dating writers. My favorite is #6. Why? Oh, no reason…

* Mental Floss with 10 ways to learn stuff while procrastinating online. Don’t look at me like that. We know who we are.

* John Scalzi. Writing: Find The Time Or Don’t. I could go off on a rant but instead I’ll just point and say: there. What he said. WHAT HE SAID. Writers write. It’s that bloody simple.

I’ve been reading a lot of le Carre lately, and I have to say, I’m pretty much in love with George Smiley. Round, retiring, expensively but badly dressed, academic, bumbling, and very moist, still, Smiley is my type of guy. Plus, every le Carre novel rips your heart out in one way or another, and I’ve finally got to the place where I can enjoy that in fiction again. Thank goodness.

Well, off I go to nurse what I suspect will turn out to be a cold. Plus, the next scene is burning up inside my head and I have to get it out or I’ll start shuffling around, mumbling, and occasionally laughing at nothing…

…oh, damn. Too late.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Sep. 9th, 2010 10:54 am)

I have very little to say for myself, being occupied in sorting out the tangle that Angel Town wants to turn into. So, three random things on a Thursday:

* Note to self: don’t ever buy cheap Q-tips again. You will regret it for MONTHS. It’s worth a couple extra cents to get the cottony goodness. Apparently Q-tips will be joining the short list of Things I Try Not To Skimp On, which also includes toilet tissue, coffee, and enrichment materials for the kids.

* I am at the stage where I just have to keep repeating, “You always feel the book is total crap at this point. Work through it. Put your head down and go through. You can’t fix what you don’t write.” Of course, the signs that I’m at this stage include staring blankly at the monitor, a sudden overwhelming urge to do housework, frequent rounds of whispered cursing, the urge to listen to the book’s soundtrack over and over while I’m running, and the frequent despairing thought that perhaps I should change careers. Go back to school and be a plumber or a paralegal or something. That thunking sound you hear is me hitting the desk with my head. Repeatedly.

* Our cats have gone insane. It’s like they’ve never seen rain or squirrels before, though this is impossible because they’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest all their lives. I can only surmise that they are two-marble beasts–they can only hold two marbles in their head at once. For example, the locations of the food bowl and litterboxes. If you try to shove something else in–like the idea that there is, yes, a screen that is ALWAYS pulled to at the sunroom door, or that windows are solid–one other marble, say the location of the food dish, will fall out, and crazed leaping and OMGWTFBBQLLAMA will occur. Therefore, the only marbles EVER in their furry little heads heads are the food bowl and the litterboxes, and anything else is a perpetual surprise.

I consider this an exciting, if terribly nervous, way to live. And I know I shouldn’t laugh at them, but I can’t help it.

Anyway. I’m going back to slugging away at Angel Town. One of the cats is perched in the window right now, staring at a squirrel in the front yard and making that throaty little oh please oh please sound in the back of his throat. He’s going to leap in a few minutes, hit the glass, slide down, then give me a filthy look as if I’m to blame.

Of course, I will be laughing too hard to care.

Peace out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames, where there is oodles more writing advice, neat giveaways, and just generally a Party All The Time. Check us out!

First the news: Escape Between The Pages has the cover art for the next Jill Kismet book, Heaven’s Spite, which is due out in November. It’s shiny and pretty, and honestly I can’t wait for this book to come out, because it’s going to just kick everything we know about Jill right in the pants. I can barely contain myself, the glee is so awesome.

Moving on to our Friday writing post…

Pride, like laudanum and other poisonous medicines, is beneficial in small, though injurious in large, quantities. No man who is not pleased with himself, even in a personal sense, can please others. -Frederick Saunders, librarian and essayist (1807-1902). Ganked with thanks from AWAD

I have a confession to make, dear Readers. It’s not pretty.

I am pretty savage, in my own little way, when it comes to Speshul Snowflake writers. The thing is, there’s a continuum of Speshul Snowflakery. It goes from the all-Speshul, all the time, to the occasional burst of Speshulness from even the most polite and well-adjusted person.

Nobody’s perfect.

Not even your humble Narrator.

A couple days ago I was bitching and moaning to my writing partner. (Hey, Nina!) I waxed pretty indignant, and cranky to boot. And Nina, bless her cotton-picking little heart, was very kind to me. She finally said, “Look, treat it like spec work. You can do that, you’re good at it, it pays the bills. Come on.”

Which brought me up short. I realized, in one horrifying moment, that I had been indulging in venomous Speshul Snowflakery.

Yes, I do mock the Snowflakes among us. But here’s the thing: everyone will have at least one Snowflake moment in their lives. This is a conservative estimate. If you have one a year, you’re damn near a saint. I suspect most reasonable, well-adjusted writers have one Snowflake moment a month, or even a week.

And that’s OK. No, really. It is. I’ll just wait a second here, so the surprise of hearing me say that can pass. *makes face*

All right. It’s OK. I swear. Because it’s not about having the Snowflake moment, it’s about knowing how to handle it.

This falls under the heading of “professional behavior”, and if you expect to make a living as a writer you need to start from the very beginning with a professional attitude. At one point or another, you’ll shoot yourself in the foot and make a withdrawal against that bank of goodwill. Everyone does. But it doesn’t have to be fatal.

First, accept that nobody is perfect, and you will have a Snowflake moment or two. Get used to the idea. Writing is an incredibly personal art, and writers are judged six ways from Sunday by every single person who claps eyes on their work. But if you know that sooner or later you are going to lose your temper, you are going to have a Snowflake moment, you ARE going to have that response, you are already three-quarters of the way to solving it.

Once you realize the possibility exists, you can try to pause when you’re angry (a hard but eminently learnable skill) and take a deep breath. Soaking one’s head in a bucket of cool water may also be necessary, or a good stiff drink. Whatever gets you there. It is hard, but it is possible to short-circuit the Snowflake moment so that hopefully, nobody but you or your best friend knows you’ve had one.

Here are a few rules I’ve made for myself to avoid the temptation to Snowflake out. You can, of course, leave your own strategies in the comments, where I (and others) will no doubt steal them shamelessly.

* Do not respond to reviews. Ever. Even the positive ones. I’ve covered this in detail, but I think it bears repeating. Responding to even positive reviews ups the chances that you’ll get all het up over a negative one and think it’s a good idea to explain/justify/attack the reviewer/whatever. This leads straight to an Internet Boondoggle and makes you look like an asshat, even if you’re right/justified/whatever. Just don’t do it.

* Don’t respond to emails that piss you off for at least 12 (ideally, 24-36) hours. It’s publishing, not triage. Nobody’s going to die if you take a few hours to make sure that rage pounding behind your eyeballs and cranking your blood pressure doesn’t come out in whatever response you choose to make. This will save you from many, many Snowflake moments that have the potential to shoot you in the career foot and bleed you dry.

* If you must blog about it, lock the post for at least two days. Sometimes you just HAVE to write it out. I’ve done it. And then, two days later, sanity has reasserted itself and I’ve deleted the damn thing no matter how funny and righteous it is. The risk in putting this sort of shit on your blog, even private-locked, is that now it is out of your control, on servers you have no control over, and you will be tempted to unlock it before you’ve cooled down. So if you have just GOT to blog about this huge injustice or whatever is pissing you off bigtime, lock the post up hard and go have a drink. Let your agent/writing partner/best friend know you’re considering putting up a post about X, and see what they say. (See next item.)

* If you are lucky enough to have at least one friend who will gently tell you to STFU and quit being precious, LISTEN TO THEM. This friend may be your agent–occasionally an agent will help you not shoot yourself in the foot. (Beware of expecting your agent to read yoru every diatribe, though. That can sour a relationship right quick.) More often this is going to be a writing partner or friend whose calm and judgment you trust. I’m lucky to have dear Nina, who is collected in the extreme, as well as practical and capable of unhesitatingly telling me when I’m getting my panties in an unnecessary wad. My job in those situations is to listen, and to at least agree to a moratorium on saying anything publicly until I’ve calmed down.

* Get away. Take a walk. Use Freedom to cut off that tempting Internet capability for a while. Push yourself away from the computer and go clean the kitchen or something. Just get away from that thing that’s bugging you. Hopefully, distracting yourself will give you enough breathing space for perspective to creep in…and it will save you from having a public Snowflake moment.

* Decide take the high road EARLY, and stick to it. This is useful at conventions–everyone is tired/stressed/excited/onstage, and behavioral brakes are weakened. Make the decision to treat the convention like it’s not going to make or break you–because it won’t. Remember that the hard sell doesn’t work, your time will come, and you’re there to ideally have fun and NOT make an ass of yourself. Also, staying classy on the Internet makes you the exception rather than the rule. You will never be ashamed of being polite and taking the high road. Getting into the habit of reminding yourself to be polite will help you when crunch-time comes, you’re tired and stressed, and that bitch on the panel has just interrupted you, or that jerkwad commenter/reviewer has called you a hack, or that editor has messed with your Precious Verbage for the last fucking time. You have a chance to not do something you’ll regret. That chance, that possibility is all we get. It’s got to be enough.

* Learn to let it go. One book doesn’t set the world on fire? Let it go and write another one. One reviewer goes on and on about how s/he hates your genre/your books/you because it’s all trash? Let it go, because if you respond it’s wrestling a pig in mud. An editor asks you to completely excise X, then in the next revision pass tells you to put X back in and they don’t know why you took it out? Realize they’re human too, scream into your pillow, and let it go. It’s not that these things don’t matter. It’s that you have to deny them the power to dictate your behavior.

This is an imperfect science for an imperfect world. Human beings are messy, they make mistakes, and they get angry and have bad judgment. However, the Snowflake moments we’re all prone to don’t have to be fatal, and you can make plans to minimize their impact. This isn’t to say that you won’t sometime, somewhere, have completely justifiable rage and you will let it loose in public in a way that will make the world a better place. Those rages and moments, however, are the exception, not the rule, and it’s silly not to plan for the other 99% of the time, when you’re just going to be falling prey to being human and excitable.

I was saved a rather embarrassing Snowflake moment (because I had vaporous dreams of a blog post that would be funny and explosive and would SHOW THEM ALL, DAMMIT) by dear Nina. I’m unendingly grateful, and I know how lucky I am to have her. Which means that next time we get together to dish about writing and the industry, I’m buying drinks. All things considered, that’s the cheaper alternative.

So remember: everyone has Snowflake moments. The professionals just know how to gain that critical few minutes of perspective that stops them from indulging them in public and turning their career into a mudpit.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jan. 27th, 2010 09:09 am)

Wednesday. Which means link salad. Especially since I’m sunk in the book, and resenting anything that pulls me away from it.

* This song was in my head this morning. It’s uncannily apposite. (White Nights is one of my favorite movies. Baryshnikov’s ballon is just so…and he’s just so…whew. And Gregory Hines! *fans self*)

* Philip Palmer’s SF Song of the Week!

* Author Solutions wants to be seen as a Real Publisher instead of a scam. I am skeptical, to say the least.

* Jim Hines on Remedial Publishing Math.

* The Damiversary is still going on, with tons more prizes and giveaways!

* And a kind Reader linked me to the first Jill Kismet book in German. Isn’t that cover gorgeous?

I have some good news and some more covers, but I have to wait before I can share. In the meantime, enjoy the link salad. Off I go to hit the treadmill and plan out the next few critical scenes…

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Today, ladies and gents, I am pleased and proud to announce the official release of the fourth Jill Kismet book, Flesh Circus.

flesh circus coverThe Cirque de Charnu has come.

They will clean out the demons and the suicides, and move on. As long as they stay within the rules, Jill Kismet can’t deny them entry. But she can watch–and if they step out of line, she’ll send them packing.

When Cirque performers start dying grotesquely, Kismet has to find out why, or the fragile truce won’t hold and her entire city will become a carnival of horror. She also has to play the resident hellbreed power against the Cirque to keep them in line, and find out why ordinary people are needing exorcisms. And then there’s the murdered voodoo practitioners, and the zombies.

An ancient vengeance is about to be enacted. The Cirque is about to explode. And Jill Kismet is about to find out some games are played for keeps…

Available now at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Borders, and Indiebound

I listened to a lot of circus calliope while writing this, and it shows. I am actually terrified of clowns, and slightly amazed that Jill hasn’t run across a psychotic clown in this book. Of course, what with voodoo and vengeance, not to mention Perry and trouble with Saul, her dance card is kind of full.

To celebrate a brand-spanking-new Kismet book, I’ll be giving away two signed copies here on my website and a couple more signed copies through my newsletter. Today I’ll be giving away a signed copy to a random commenter. All you have to do is go here and leave a comment about circuses (before midnight today)–do you find them creepy? Cool? Do clowns make you shiver? Tell me all about it, and I’ll pick a comment with the help of!

Wow. It’s been a busy, busy month. Thanks for reading, dear Readers. If not for you, well, this whole thing would sink. Thank you all.

  • Share/Bookmark

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

You can win a copy of Strange Angels over at the Library Lounge Lizard. (Just one of those sentences I never thought I’d type. Wow.)

Really I am very boring today. There is not much to report. So here, have a few links:

* The Symphony of Science, or Carl Sagan rocks the Universe. The videos made me cry. We do indeed live on a wondrous planet in the middle of a wondrous universe. Anyone who is bored has only to look at their own hand, or barring that, out their window. There is stuff to be interested in all over.

* Maria Geraci on “why read things that offend you?” Here’s the germ of it:

I guess what I’m trying to say is that stories are about real people. And real people (especially single men and women in their 20’s and 30’s and beyond) have sex, occasionally cuss and do other assorted things/behaviors that you’d find in any movie/TV series out there. Here’s another big shocker: Teenagers also have sex and use profanity! Maria Geraci

* Hivelogic’s Podcast Equipment Guide. I keep thinking I’ll do some podcasting one of these days, maybe when the kids are in school and I have some time and quiet.

Yeah, time and quiet. Why are you laughing? It could happen.

* Kit Whitfield, on how submissions are like dating. Hilarious, and full of no-nonsense advice and information.

You say: ‘I know you don’t usually accept unsolicited manuscripts, but please, just have a look at this.’
Dating equivalent: ‘I know you’re married, but please, just go out with me once.’ Kit Whitfield

*snort* *giggle* *choke* *guffaw*

In other news, I’m thinking of putting together a new section for the website, where I’ll list the “soundtracks” to all the books. It will be a Project, and an enjoyable one. Once I finish the current Jill book (hit 50K last night, huzzah!) I’ll look into that. If, of course, there’s interest. Would anyone care to hear about the songs I put together for, say, the Valentine series? The Watcher books didn’t get a soundtrack, but pretty much everything else has. Drop me a line in the comments if you’d be interested in that section on the site, mmmkay?

Last but not least: Tzia, thanks for pointing out I’d forgotten to link to Borders. I’ve fixed that. And to Maria from Russia, thank you for your kind letter. It is very good to know one’s work has made someone else happy. I don’t mind your questions, even though I can’t answer a lot of them–I am just thrilled that you’ve read the books so deeply as to have those questions. Thank you very much.

And now I bid you a civil adieu. I’ve got Perry strapped into an iron frame and Jill standing there with a flechette. Methinks this is about to get interesting.

  • Share/Bookmark

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.



lilithsaintcrow: (Default)


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags