It’s Friday! And Ilona Andrews has pictures up from our recent Powells Pwnage. You can see me looking slightly-less-terrified, and Devon is always beautiful. Also, I promised to announce the winner of the RECKONING contest. The winner is…

Reader Heidi F. from Eichenau, Bavaria, in Germany! Heidi, I will get your prize to you as soon as possible. (She gets to read a chapter of RECKONING before anyone else in the world, aside from my agent and editor. Lucky lady!)

Thank you to everyone who entered by pre-ordering signed books from Powell’s. And thanks to all the wonderful Readers who came to the event! We had a great time.

Today is nice and sunny, and I’m due out at the track for a couple miles before long. I even got a watch that’s supposed to help me track my times, but in order for it to do so I must:

1. Remember to wear said watch
2. Hope that the battery in it doesn’t give out within the week, like every other watch I’ve tried to wear
3. Remember to check the watch while running
4. Decode what the watch says while running
5. Do basic math to figure out my speed…while running

Needless to say, I am not sanguine about this. Normally, while hauling my silly ass along at anything faster than an amble, my higher-brain functions pretty much shut down in protest. So, there it is. I’ll report back next week. If I don’t trip over my feet and hurt myself trying to check the watch. Which would be embarrassing, but not exactly surprising.

Catch you later…

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( May. 5th, 2011 08:55 am)

I’m getting an avalanche of mail about Reckoning, the fifth and final of the Strange Angels series. Yes, it is the last book, and it will be out in November 2011. I am glad you guys don’t want to see the last of Dru, but her story will be finished then. I am hard at work on other books now, other characters are getting their chance to have their stories told. I may conceivably, at some point, return to Dru’s world–there’s a Maharaj girl who very much wants her story told–but that depends on so many factors right now, it’s just pie-in-the-sky and may never happen.

I’m also getting an avalanche of mail with “PLEASE REPLY” and various permutations thereof sprinkled liberally in caps throughout. Guys, I wish I could reply to each and every one of you. It pains me that I can’t. It’s just not physically possible. I do read everything you send me, though. Every single word, praise or hatred, does pass under my gaze. If many of you have the same question, I answer it here.

One of the questions I get a lot is whether I “like” Graves or Christophe “better for Dru.” I like some things about Graves–his loyalty, his ironic sense of humor, how he rolls with the punches of finding out about the Real World–and I dislike some things, like his inability to tell Dru how he feels and his maddening habit of making assumptions. I like some things about Christophe, like his brains and his determination to protect Dru; I dislike some things, like his creepy factor and his unwillingness to tell Dru things he feels are unnecessary. Neither of them are great boyfriend material, though I can see why Dru likes them both. In her position, at her age, I would like both of them too. But if Dru was my daughter, I’d encourage her to realize she doesn’t need either of them to be a complete human being. She’s already complete just within herself.

Another giant group of questions I’m getting ask in one way or another if I will post excerpts from Reckoning. I do not want to, and I probably will not. I don’t want to tease. If my editor thinks it truly necessary or even just a very good idea, I’ll consider it.

Last but not least, I’ve been getting a swamp-full of questions involving possible movies etc. Guys, I can’t make a movie out of any of my books. I do not have the deep pockets of a production company. We haven’t had an offer for any of the film rights for any of my books. There’s been interest, sure, but in this type of affair, it’s not definite until the check has cleared. (When dealing with Hollywood, this is always the safest bet.) I have very little control over whether or not there is a movie. If that ever changes, it will be posted here on the FAQ.

There are other questions I’ve been getting, but none I can answer here. I do read them all, even the hate mail. Thank you for writing; I wish I could answer more.

Over and out.

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

I’ve been receiving a deluge of questions lately, some of which I can answer in the upcoming podcast (still hard at work on that, in between Other Stuff) and some I can just answer here.

* Are you going to be at X convention? Or, when will you visit my town? Unfortunately, I don’t travel much. This is not solely because I do not wish to be pawed by a stranger, though that is a consideration. A more compelling consideration is that my kids are not at an age where I can leave them for overnight trips, childcare is expensive, and I can’t afford multiple trips for all of us either. So, for the time being, I am extraordinarily limited in the conventions or signings I can attend. This may change in the future–I wish I could travel and see you, dear Reader–and when it does, I’ll let you know.

If you would like to get a book signed by me, there is a way to do it! Just contact Cover to Cover Books. They can ship signed copies of anything out on the shelves; their shipping is quite reasonable. C2C has sent signed copies of books to the Philippines, Australia, Britain, and numerous other places. Plus, they’re indie.

* Is there an excerpt from Defiance yet? You bet. It’s right here, courtesy of the fine folks at Penguin AU.

* Who is the model on the cover of the Strange Angels books? I don’t know. Authors generally have very little (read: no) control over their covers. I don’t know the model’s name, who she works for, or what kind of sandwiches she likes. All I know is that she was a professional model we picked out of a laydown–there were three choices, and I think the other two were blonde, so they weren’t Dru, and that was it. If you like the covers, tell the good folks at Razorbill. They’ll be happy to hear your feedback.

* Can you send me an ARC for review? I hate to break it to you, but I only get ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) for the first book in any series, and even then I generally only get one or two for my reference shelf. If you want to get on a publisher’s review list, go to the publisher’s website and find a link for their marketing/press department, and make your case to them. I can’t get free books sent to you.

* Can I interview you? I try to respond to all interview requests. Sometimes they fall through the cracks–if you don’t hear from me within a week, ping me again! I get 50-100 emails a day just through my website alone; unfortunately I can’t answer all of them and sometimes an interview request will get buried under the landslide.

There are more, but I think that’s about it for today. I am itching to get back to the gryphon stables and get my characters in some more trouble. Plus, the next scene involves capacitors. BIG FUN. I am actually wriggling with delight while writing this book, it’s amazing.

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When Monday morning is a relief, you know your weekend was borked.

It wasn’t all bad. I did, for example, get three bookcases put together. Now I have a whole reference bookcase, instead of my reference books scattered all over the house in uneven lumps. A book collection is like oatmeal–you want some clumps, but easy ones. Anyway, my Tanith Lee collection is sharing a much bigger case with my Latin books now, and my working metaphysical library has been taken from my altar and placed in my bedroom. Now I have to organize it instead of finding the book I want by a type of intuitive leap. *snort* Ah, maybe I should leave the metaphysical ones jumbled to keep my intuition sharp.

I was amazed to find out just how much poetry I have, too. I should set aside a shelf for that. It’s odd, because there aren’t many poets I truly like. Blake, Shelley, Keats, all right, some Byron when I can forget what he was like in real life. Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Dowson–of course, and I shelve them together because I’m That Way. Sexton, Plath, Auden, most e.e. cummings, Marge Piercy, some (not all) Kerouac; then there’s the shelf with Yehuda Amichai, Neruda, Yeats, and Dylan Thomas. The Beat Reader, for some reason, goes there instead of with Kerouac. Plus, Mira and Rumi go together, but with a reasonable, respectful distance between their physical selves. Some other poets–Sappho, Propertius, Ovid–go with Greek and Latin books instead of in poetry per se. Just like I shelve Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther books with the WWII history books. Still, there is one Ovid and one Sappho that go with the poetry just because the translations are so beautiful.

My bookshelves are organized, it just might not look that way to the innocent bystander. I can generally find any book I own in seconds, unless (this is a big thing) someone else who lives here has moved it. I HATE that, because I can’t rest until I find a particular book, if I’m wanting to loan it to someone or just cross-check something in it. I don’t mind people reading the damn books, that’s what they’re for, but I DO like them being put back where you found them. Otherwise I get all messed up. Some people who have lived with me have even hid books from me just to make me crazy.

I always hated that.

Anyway. My weekend was long, complex, draining, but also productive. I put all my Nabokov in my bedroom (a dangerous place, I know) and it’s sharing a small bookshelf with my French and (very small) Russian Revolution collections. This amuses me every time I pass it, though it probably would not amuse him.

Of course, the dust is still settling and small leftover bits are still being sorted into their proper places. But the bulk of the work is done, all that needs to happen now is tiny little shifts in adjustment. A book collection (I hesitate to use the word library in connection with my crowd of well-loved, dusty, ill-behaved and eclectic books, both “working” and leisurely) is like a creative brain. There’s enough order to make things reasonable, and a little disorder to open the door to magic.

So now that I’ve completely bored you talking about my bookshelves, off I go to the rest of my day. I have a little slice of time where I can work only on writing the things I want to write, and there’s a certain self-hating, murderous fae who would like some of my attention.

See you in a bit, dear Reader…

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Apr. 20th, 2010 10:17 am)

I’ve received a lot of very good advice in the last six months. Some of it I can’t keep in my head because too much has been swirling around. The remainder I repeat to myself daily. Like this:

If you must worry, don’t worry in quantity. Worry in quality. Worry well.

I am a champion worrier. Apparently a key component of my makeup is the phrase, “why be happy when you can brood?” I wouldn’t even hesitate to call my propensity for worry downright Olympian. Or even pathological.

Part of the problem is that I was trained as a child to anticipate and care for the needs of everyone around me before even thinking about my own. Part of it, I suspect, is inborn. Another part is my habitual insomnia. Sleeplessness breeds worry like food and oxygen breed Tribbles.

There’s been a lot of changes lately, not the least of which occurred yesterday and involved a metric ton of paperwork as well as some serious cash. I collapsed at home afterward and thought, my God, what have I done? My writing partner saved the day: “It’s called buyer’s remorse, and you should ignore it. This will make you and your kids safer. The way things were before wasn’t sustainable.”

She was right. This is just another instance where I have to worry well.

I often worry that my career will evaporate and I’ll be left with two little ‘uns to support and no means of doing so. It takes a physical effort, sometimes, to remind myself that pessimistic thinking has never really gotten me anywhere and can be downright unhealthy. I have to tell myself, sometimes out loud: If you think about that, Lili, you also need to think about what you’ll do if it doesn’t tank. What if you have a long, successful career? Focus on that, and what you need to do for that. This is healthier and strengthens your odds.

It’s that last part that really convinces even my muscular, overworked Inner Sceptic. I strongly believe that I got published because I work damn hard and I’m willing to learn. Discipline and teachability (in other words, the ability to admit I’d made a mistake and do better next time, which is critical if you’re thinking of getting published) are things I have some control over, and they’re incidentally things that up my chances.

I can’t control what happens tomorrow. I really can’t. But I can control how hard I work today, what priorities I set, and I can definitely control whether or not I admit I’m wrong. Those things happen to maximize my chances of having a good career–or, if the writing tanks, they prepare me to do other things.

I don’t honestly expect my writing career to tank. Sure, tomorrow the publishers could decide I’m not a good risk or readers could decide en masse I’m a hack who isn’t worth the cash spent on a paperback. It could happen. But it’s far more likely that if I keep my head about me I will eke out a living by the written word, seeing as how I’ve come this far. And there is a great deal of this that is up to me.

You see, worry is only very rarely about what you’re actually worrying about. Just like anger is most often about perceived or real helplessness, a lot of worry revolves around control. (Which is, I guess, another response to perceived or actual helplessness.) Realizing that is a huge component of worrying well and effectively instead of flailing around at three in the morning, exhausting yourself and just generally being an idiot.

So now I have to go worry well over these revisions. The book doesn’t suck as much as I thought it might. Then again, I’m only halfway through and there’s plenty of time for things to go wrong…

…or really, really right.

See what I mean?

Over and out.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Apr. 8th, 2010 10:22 am)

Tired today. Not sure if the coffee will help. I know I’ll sleep well tonight, but that doesn’t really help when I’m longing so hard for just a little more sleep. Maybe the treadmill will shake the cobwebs out of my head.

*time passes*

Yeah, I just started a blog post and wandered away. I’m not firing on all cylinders this morning. Or more precisely, I am, but the story living in my head is taking up about half of the cylinders. I’m in that weird in-between space where a story is germinating. It looks like it’s just laying there, but it’s actually really busy under the surface putting itself together. I can even hear it, like Morlock machinery in the dark.

Selene has changed. I guess a century or so of living on your own and working as a mercenary will do that. It’s nice to see–I could have just about strangled her, before. Poor character, wanting to control her own destiny. Doesn’t she know that’s MY job? *maniacal laugh*

It’s a sunny morning, and I’m a little tired. So I’m just going to take it really easy today and let the story bloom. Some things you just can’t rush. If there’s one useful thing I’ve learned in the past (however many) years of doing this for a living, it’s that feeling or weird breathless rumbling while the subconscious engine puts together the rest of a story, right before the rumble breaks up out of the earth’s crust and downloads itself through your fingers.

Catch you later.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jan. 4th, 2010 08:30 am)

The first day back from a vacation and already I’m looking at the pile of work in front of me and feeling like…oh, weeping would be an alternative, wouldn’t it? No, of course not. And besides, I worked all the way through vacation, so it’s not so bad. True, I did put some things on the docket for the first week back because, well, it was supposed to be the holidays. So, today and tomorrow are for short stories and wordcount.

Since it is the first day back, I should take this opportunity to answer a few questions. Yes, I do read all the mail my Readers send me. I can only respond via email rarely. If enough people ask a question, I answer it here or put it on the FAQ.

Let’s see:

* A few of you asked when the next Jill Kismet is out. I don’t know precisely yet. I do know that it’s in the revision process, and as soon as I have more concrete information I’ll update the site and announce it. Fear not, there are two more Jill books forthcoming.

* Many of you are intrigued by the words “Latin self-study”. It’s like juggling more chainsaws; I’ve had some luck with it but not much. More than finding a Latin class in my area that doesn’t require an hour of driving either way, that’s for sure. For those of you interested, I recommend Wheelock’s, and also Artes Latinae. Rosetta Stone also has a good program, if a bit spendy.

* Loyal reader TP recently asked this very interesting question:

Why read at readings? Yes, the name of the event answers the question but really, why is it that you, or any other author, must read passages from the book (doesn’t it get boring?)? I have always thought that reading a book is immersing oneself into a new universe but seen and heard through the filter of one’s own mind. Hearing the author reading does neither good nor ill to that universe, I just haven’t found that it adds much to it (then again, I have gone to perhaps only 4 in my life, one in which the author didn’t read but just talked to and with us). From your end, as the author, does reading passages do something for both you and your interaction with the audience that I’m missing?

The short answer: I don’t know, I do what the bookstores (who are kind enough to invite me) ask me to do.

The longer answer: I think it does add something, and I’ve been asked by fans to read a certain chapter and do a podcast. (When I get a microphone, editing software, and some time, yeah. I love you guys, but the actual writing comes first.) Yes, reading the book invites you into the universe the writer has created, you can experience it through the filter of your own mind. On the other hand, your experience of that universe can be deepened and enriched by hearing where the author places emphasis. I’ve had people tell me they came away with a new understanding after listening to me read, especially from the Valentine books. (Hearing me “channel” Japh’s sardonic, flat tone is apparently hilarious.)

Then again, I enjoy reading aloud. I’ve done it a lot and sometimes I’ll read a sentence aloud a few times to get a handle on emphasis and pace. Being taught to stop at punctuation marks and to look for the natural “breathing points” in poetry or lines delivered onstage is far from the worst experience one can have when looking for hitches in the smooth reel of the written word.

Oddly enough, the things I’m most asked at events are either spoileriffic, or about aspects of the world I’ve thought about but couldn’t cram in the books because of space considerations, or about the act of writing itself. I think a lot of people view writing as a sort of Black Arte and are looking for the turn. The actual process is fascinating. It just becomes normal when one does it every day.

Hm. Long answer is long. But I found it a very, very interesting question. I’ve fallen into doing readings because bookstores ask me to, and I’ve found I enjoy them a bit. Except for the parts where I want to pause and correct/revise something on the page. ARGH.

And that’s all that I’m fit to blog today. I have a hot date with breakfast and some coffee, since I’m up anyway. Good luck out there.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Dec. 10th, 2009 01:12 pm)

YAReads has an interview with me up! I’m pleased and proud to report they’ve chosen Betrayals as their Book of the Month for December, so I encourage you to go on over there and take a look. I’ll also be posting a guest review there in the near future, so stay tuned.

Yesterday, someone brought up a good point: when you’ve got a school full of teenage half-vampire and werwulf boys, and one half-vampire girl, it’s not just the choice of tampons or pads you have to deal with, but also the question of disposal. A steel lockbox is a good idea, but I decided to take the FM approach and just teach Dru a method of burning the stuff with sorcerous fire as a disposal mechanism.

I do spend a lot of time on worldbuilding, and some of it is just FM. What’s FM, you ask? Well, I was married to a mechanical engineer for a while, and that’s a highly-technical term I picked up from him. Basically, it’s F!cking Magic.

Sometimes you can make the decision to just have things a certain way for the sake of the story. You have to make sure they’re consistent, and use the FM wand with a great deal of caution. I’ve read a lot of manuscripts and books where FM is the plot device of choice, because it’s easy and fun and playing God in your own little created world is much less difficult than actually doing research, thinking things through, and aiming for complete internal consistency. (I don’t think any book achieves complete internal consistency–we live in an imperfect world. But at least we can aim, right?)

Sometimes, especially if you’re getting bogged down in details, it’s nice to just make the conscious choice to have something be F!cking Magic. It helps you actually finish the book, and a good editor will call you on it and make sure it’s conscious choice instead of laziness. You may even get to the point where you can call yourself on it, and that’s a rare and wonderful thing.

Anyway, I’ve got school supplies to buy today and wordcount to achieve. I’ve got this heroine about to take refuge in the subways while being chased by vampires. It seems like a good idea at the time, we’ll see how it works out.

Over and out.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Oct. 14th, 2009 10:25 am)

A few more things, since I’m still tender today.

* Luck is a skill. This makes sense–the luckier I feel, the luckier I am. Maybe I should grab Wiseman’s book and give it a go. It’d be better than sitting around feeling unloved, unwanted, and waaaaaaaah. (Much better.)

* Martha Beck on who to trust. This article made SO MUCH SENSE to me. In a “why didn’t I think of it this way before?” way.

* How the books we save for posterity get selected.

So, today, an experiment. I’m going to focus on being lucky. I’ll tell you how it works out tomorrow.

ETA: I did get the best pictures up from the shooting expedition the other night. Here they are.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Oct. 9th, 2009 10:13 am)

I am teaching my son to read, from the same book I taught my daughter to read from. It’s amazing to watch the decoding skills strengthen, to see him making the connections.

I forget, because I’ve been doing it so long, that reading is not necessarily a “natural” skill, and neither is writing. It takes hard work and rewiring the brain a little to learn, and then lots of practice. Certainly it feels natural at this point, but so does riding a bicycle or driving a car.

I’m kind of wondering what will feel natural in another ten years.

For me, the act of writing is a magical one. It is transmuting the world, making sense of things. So much of the world seems senseless and inimical some days; putting a screen over it that makes things make sense is one of the great strengths of the human brain. I have always said the act of creation is transforming the world in some way, and that it’s crucial.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about how language is a virus, how the naming of the thing isn’t the thing itself, and how the abstract of reading/language shuts out direct experience. I am not sure I entirely agree–the act of reading is, for me, a very direct experience. There is a balance between that and the experience Out Here In Meatspace, if you’ll pardon the term. Both are wheels to balance on.

So, in lieu of an actual writing post, I’m actually just a little philosophical this morning. I’m thinking about how I derive so much genuine pleasure and comfort from this abstract thing that is, according to so many people, utterly divorced from “real” experience. I’m depending on writing to help me through a lot these days, from a broken heart to the mechanics of living day to day. It’s never let me down. Still, I examine the underpinnings and the mechanics, because I can’t help myself. I need to know it’s always going to be there.

The answer is always the same: as long as my commitment is there, so are the words. I am the necessary component.

It’s nice to feel necessary.

So, dear fellow wordsmiths: what is writing to you? Do you think it detracts from “experience of the real”? Weigh in, give me your .02. I’m listening.

And that’s another skill, too. *makes funny face*

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Aug. 17th, 2009 12:07 pm)

* I’m cutting way back on my Internet usage. Way, way back–to the tune of putting parental controls on my laptop. The timer is working, but not enough. Wireless is just too easy. And with all the upheaval in my personal life lately, the feeling of being “connected” is acquiring a lot of importance–but how “connected” am I if I’m just aimlessly surfing? Work’s got to get done, and if it takes this to do it, well, then, this is what it takes.

I feel like an idiot weakling for reducing myself to parental controls, but if it works I suppose my ego can handle the blow. The words, like the spice, must flow.

* My friend Wolfinthewood commented yesterday that my linking to her posts on the Google Book Settlement brought back the search rankings for them. I’m still watching her LJ for updates. I’m wondering if anyone else writing about the settlement has seen their rankings/search results disappear?

* Slacktivist linked to an op-ed titled, “In America, Crazy Is A Pre-Existing Condition.” Both pieces are well worth reading. Speshul Snowflakery and Pathological Entitlement do not just happen in publishing. Oh, no, precious, they do not. And the best way of dealing with them? Slacktivist does a three-pointer from downtown:

Throughout Wise’s account, Stevenson comes across as unflappable. I picture David Niven playing the part. When a member of the IndigNation — Frank McGehee himself, actually — heckled and tried to shout down his speech in Dallas, Stevenson paused and said, “Surely, my dear friend, I don’t have to come here from Illinois to teach Texas manners, do I?” The crowd cheered.

Stevenson may often have been, as Perlstein writes, “earnestly confused” by the irrational claims and behavior of his opponents, but his response to McGehee and to the crazy woman with the sign don’t convey such confusion. He knew exactly what to make of those people: They were rude and irrational. The politeness of his rational response in both cases doesn’t blunt the implication of those responses — that these people ought to be ashamed of themselves.

That’s an example of what’s often missing today in dealing with the IndigNation. These people are offended and outraged and so politicians and journalists respond by trying not to further offend or enrage them. As though that were possible. Indignation is their raison d’etre. They will take offense whether or not it is given. There is no point trying not to offend them. There is no point in trying not to make them angry.

An appropriate response isn’t to be more offended or more offensive, but it should involve going on the offense. The IndigNationalists are behaving shamefully and it is appropriate and necessary to point that out to them. It’s our duty to point that out to them.

The appropriate and necessary phrase when confronted by members of the IndigNation — by the birthers, the deathers, the baggers, the immigrant-blamers and homophobes and cryptoracists and misogynists — is simply to tell them the primary thing they need to hear: “You ought to be ashamed of yourself.” (Slacktivist)

I’m going to remember that.

* I went to Ikea this past weekend and got my very own potato ricer, magnetic knife-strips that I put up myself, and a skimmer. Plus, I saw more crazy than usual. I had to check to make sure the moon wasn’t full because, wow. Even the Little Prince stared at a few of the people. Of course, Coyote Boy (the UnSullen, for those of you who missed his “I am no longer a teen” moment) knows to take the kids and get some drinks as soon as we hit the kitchen section, so I have about ten-fifteen minutes to commune with cookware in peace. So I guess “crazy” is a relative term in this-hyere blog post.

Over and out.

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And I’m breaking my afternoon silence to note two things: there’s an interview with me over at Drops of Crimson, where I answer the Dean question and the Lipton questions, and there is a new Secret Life of Dolls. If you don’t read SLOD, you are so missing out. I got to “tiny Fay Wray” and totally, completely lost my sh!t laughing.

That is all.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Mar. 4th, 2009 12:32 pm)

Three things:

* OMG! OMG! Volume 1 of Tanith Lee’s short stories is out! It’s called Tempting The Gods and I’ve been waiting for it for, I dunno, SIX MONTHS or something. I am so stinking happy right now. Must hold off reading it until I get the revisions done, though…

…who am I kidding? I’m already wanting another run through Tiger I and Anna Medea, both of which are in this collection. ZOMG.

* The morning started out problematically–you know, when the sales department starts overruling the editorial staff, you know there’s not so fun times ahead. Fortunately I thought before I hit the reply button, and I had another version of the work in question on tap. Thank God.

A few years ago this would have bugged me. Now I just muttered to myself on the treadmill and waited to see how everything would shake out.

* Three birthdays in the first half of this month, revisions to turn in, cakes to bake, and a mixer to attend and answer questions at. The gods are laughing at me. I know they are. I can’t afford to get sick–massive doses of fluids and Vitamin C seem to be working. Back, foul demons of the common cold! I will have no truck with thee!

And that, dear Readers, is that. I’ve got grocery shopping and more revisions to handle. Ugh. See you around…

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I have always liked the heel slices of loaves. They are sturdier, and when you toast them, they hold more cream cheese, peanut butter, or butter and strawberry jam, and are much more satisfying.

But enough of that. Smart Bitches’ Sarah is guest blogging at Deadline Dames today. What can I say? We Dames rock. Sarah and Candy’s Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches Guide To Romance Novels is coming out in April, and I want a copy like whoa. I will probably even whine until Candy consents to sign it, and whine some more until Sarah signs it just to shut me up.

Hey, you have to use strategies that work.

I have discovered that going back to sleep in the morning while someone else is awake in the house is not a good idea. Because they will invariably Need Me For Something, and I will be insensate, deep in a dream about cyborgs and shamans, while they need me. And then I will be shaken out of the dream and stand blinking in the cold light of this world, discombobulated.

How awesome is it that “discombobulated” is an ACTUAL WORD? Pretty damn awesome, according to me.

Anyway. I have also discovered that I should not do tech stuff or wrestle with a new FTP platform before breakfast and coffee. It just does not end well. So I’m going to drink some coffee, finish my toast, and then…it’s on.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. Please comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Feb. 17th, 2009 01:07 pm)

I am staring blankly at the walls this morning, so we have a Post Made Of Random. Five things about this morning, etc. You get the picture. I have a Big Music Post and a Big Post About EPublishing simmering in my head. But not today.

* I love Archie McPhee. I used to work in Ballard near the store, and ZOMG it was fun to go down there and play. If I could, I would furnish my whole house with Ikea for the big stuff and Archie McPhee for everything else. I mean, they even have squirrel underpants. Inflatable fruitcake! EMERGENCY YODEL BUTTON!!1! HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THIS?

* The UnSullen One is now the One On The Nicotine Patch. I have been quietly supportive of this endeavor. I’ll be very happy if this strategy works for him. So far he hasn’t been Mr. Crankypants. I am cautiously hopeful.

* Slight WoW moment. The other day someone was trying to tell me how to auction my blue drops. I was actually affronted and typed the words, “What, you think I’m a noob? Go sell your own drops.” Then I took a deep breath and backed away from my keyboard. I swear, trade chat brings out the worst in EVERYONE.

* I absolutely, positively cannot read books about the Leningrad siege right before bed. It’s just a bad idea. I’ll stick to my Norton Critical Editions. I just finished the footnoted Dracula and am about to read the supplementary material–looking forward to Bram Dijkstra’s essay, in particular.

* This morning our back yard was full of crows. I went out and scattered more bread for them after I finished my workout. One in particular, in the neighbor’s tree, eyed me with what I can only describe was a mischievous expression. This usually means Something Is About To Happen for me on a personal level. It’s nice to have the warning, especially when one can admire the blue sheen on crow feathers and listen to them racket back and forth. If I were forced to pick a favorite genus, Corvidae would be it.

Bonus odd fact about today: the wind has slackened and I’m missing the sound of windchimes. But there are spatters of rain, which is almost as good.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. Please comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Feb. 12th, 2009 01:08 pm)

So the very minute I start worrying about getting close (like, six to eight months away from) to finishing contracted work, the sky opens up and bombards me with new opportunities. Chance favors the prepared, of course, but I can’t help but feel gratified. That’s a few new short stories and more, longer stuff coming down the pike. Nice to keep my hand in with shorts.


Actually, short stories are far more difficult for me than novels. Novel-length stuff takes longer concentration and daily slogging, but the shorts have to leave so much out. Every word tells in a short story, and for someone who likes to take their time setting up a situation before poking the first domino to make it fall…there’s not a lot of time for long-term gratification in short stories. They’re tiny and intricate and I always have to fight the urge to make them longer.

It’s good practice, though. And every time I get new work I feel relieved. There’s a bunch of truth to the Sally Field reaction when it comes to creatives, or at least to me. I am constantly trying to hit my mark and make it so I’ll be invited back to play by editors and publishers–not to mention the most important part of the equation, the Readers.

So, we have stories in revision:

* Say Yes, which I also have an alternate version of that is actually a nice tight little story in its own right, subtitled Ambition.
* The Heart Is Always Right, the gargoyle story that is resting with the editors now.

And we have stuff to do:

* There’s the Dark And Stormy Knight story, which begins with the phrase It was the barmaid’s fault. Really, with an opening like that, who could resist?
* A yet-unsold[1]-but-close-to-finalised story for an anthology with the theme The Girl’s Guide To Guns And Monsters, which will start out with something like They were dead when I came home at dawn. (Yes, I often get the first hook of a story before I get anything else. My Muse is weird like that.)
* Another yet-unsold-but-even-if-it-doesn’t-fly-I’m-going-to-write-it-anyway story, tentatively about chicks kicking ass. This one I have a fuzzy idea of rival werewolf cheerleaders for, or another trip down noir lane with a very old story I still love called The Last Job, but I’m sure it will end up being totally different than anything I say now.

Added to that there’s other stuff shaking with the longer works that I can’t talk about yet. But very exciting. Right at the moment I’m feeling really awesomely lucky. And very, very relieved that I have a chance of getting more work. I mean, my kids gotta eat.

I realize a lot of writers don’t look at it that way, and I realize that my view of writing as the thing I was meant and made to do AND the thing that’s got to feed and clothe my kids might be an outlier in “the writing world”. I’ve caught a lot of flak for my focus being on the things you have to do to be a professional making a living, not a hobbyist or a “spare time” writer. It doesn’t precisely bother me–opinions, including my own, are a dime a dozen, and if people don’t like mine they’re free to find a million others in the wide world they might like more. Still, it’s amazing.

I’m thinking about this issue a lot because of my March event at Cover to Cover–it’s going to be “Stump the Working Writer”, where I field questions from the audience about how to make/how I make a living at this sort of thing. On the one hand, I consider that I’ve been very lucky in my professional path. On the other hand, that luck was and is underpinned by a lot of consistent hard work, 8-10 hours a day six to seven days a week in most cases. I do take time off, but even when I’m “on vacay” the brain is constantly noodling at the works in progress and new things. Any vacation I take is a working vacation. Because, you know, I think I’m wired for this thing. It’s a reflex, I can’t help it.

I’m also thinking of my Friday writing post tomorrow, which I think is going to be about wordcount. Big fun and joy fo everyone.

ANYWAY. I’m happy and relieved to get some new work in. I was getting nervous, looking at finishing up my contracted work in the next six to eight months and having no more coming down the lane. Yes, I realize that’s six months in the future, but given the pace at which publishing moves, you have to start planning now for stuff to happen two or three years from now. And with the economy the way it is, I won’t deny feeling a little apprehension.

But it’s better now. *tongue in cheek* I’ll have to find something else to worry about. Heaven knows I always do.

So off I go to beat some short stories into submission. (Ha ha. Pun. See what I did there? Oh, God, I’m a dork.) It’s the best work in the world, for me.

Here’s to hoping I can go on a little longer doing it.

[1] Which means no details, don’t count chickens until they’re hatched, subject to change, and a lot of other disclaimers. You get the idea.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. Please comment there.

Cross-posted from Deadline Dames. Go on over there and show some love–it’s chock-full of more writing advice.

Well, it’s Friday again. I don’t have a lot of time today–a short story came back with revisions I’ve got to eyeball and the new Watcher novel is heating up. So, I’m going to give you three things I wish new writers knew.

When I say “new writer” I don’t necessarily mean teenager/young person. I mean someone new to writing every day, someone just starting out. John Scalzi did his 10 Things Teenage Writers Should Know, which I by and large agree with. (And I won’t lie, I always get a slight sense of gratification reading where he says one should write every day.) But the “new” writer is not necessarily, well, young.

I am not sure whether it’s better to come to writing while you’re young and you think you know everything, or when you’re older and you’ve had the sh!t kicked out of you a few times and you think you know How Life Works, which is just about the same mental reflex. (Though vastly more useful.) There’s something to be said for pure exuberant youth, and there’s something to be said for the calluses of experience on the bum of maturity. (Or something.) But whether you’re young or old, there’s things I think every new writer could benefit from.

* Accept that your stuff is going to suck. Everyone’s stuff sucks when they first start out no matter how old they are. Just because you’re verbally fast or fluent doesn’t mean you’ll be fast and fluent on the page; you will not be automatically fresh and iconoclastic when you’re young any more than you will be automatically experienced as an old hack when you’re older. Every writer starts out sucking. It’s our gods-given gift.

With young folk starting out writing, I see a lot of, “I’m new and SPECIAL and you just don’t understand!” With older writers, I see a lot of “How hard can this be? I’ve been a success at other things!” Both are…well, not true. New does not equal better, I understand because I was new and speshul once too. And there is a special circle of professional hell reserved for people who think this job is so easy you can just sit down and squeeze out a novel like squeezing a pimple. It is not simple. This is a complex task, and like any complex task, IT TAKES TIME TO MASTER.

When you’re just starting out learning any complex skill set, you’re going to suck. Relax and take the suck for what it is–a gift. That’s right, it’s a bloody gift. Once you accept that your work will suck at first, you have automatically created the necessary precondition for it getting better. If you refuse to accept that new writing, zero drafts, etc., are going to be an unholy mess, there is no reason for you to think about ways to make anything better and the work will remain in stasis…as an unholy mess. That’s not good if you want to make a living at writing, or even if you want to get published consistently.

* Common sense and business sense are your best friends. They are also surprisingly similar. Yog’s Law and basic common and business sense will help you have a career instead of a boondoggle. With a plethora of author’s weblogs, publisher’s weblogs, and several other sites available to the public online, as well as the Writer’s Market and places like Preditors & Editors, basic business/common sense about writing has never been so accessible. You can learn from other people’s mistakes all over the Internet–and not just about writing either. I can tell you several fandom and internet wanks have made me very wary, providing amusement as well as the lesson of “Jesus Christ, I don’t ever want to be in that position…”

Treat writing like a job with professional consequences and perks, and you will be in demand among editors. Given a choice between a prima donna with incandescent prose and an easy-to-work-with professional with a solid product that is not so incandescent, editors will largely choose the professional even if the story is less of a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. Editors are people too, and they like dealing with reasonable people instead of flakes and fruits. Be reasonable, professional, and consistent, and thou shalt reap the rewards tenfold.

I have to note here that the proportion of new writers on the young and old sides of the spectrum who violate this rule is roughly the same. X amount of new young writers implode/never get published because it’s not about the writing, for them–it’s about some kind of weird, twisted emotional jolt or need in another area of their life. X amount of new old writers do the same thing. You learn to spot them a mile away at conventions or critique group meetings.

Don’t be them.

* Read, read, read. I am amazed by new writers who confide in me that they “don’t read” but they expect to produce a readable work. Omnivorous reading provides grist for your artistic mill and a thousand little tiny lessons you just can’t get any other way. Lessons about pacing, voice, word choice, structure, what works and what doesn’t on the page. Reading gives you a range of fine gradations to your basic tools of grammar and structure.

Reading a lot will initially set you on fire with trying to write in someone else’s voice. Books that affect you strongly will have an effect on your own writing. This is a phase every new writer goes through, and there is only one cure: writing and reading more. Get it out of your system before you start submitting. Your editors will thank you, and when they do, that is a good sign.

Don’t worry about your work always sounding like someone else’s. Sooner (if you keep writing on a consistent schedule) or later (if you lay about and don’t write as much) you will discover your own voice naturally, and things you read will no longer affect it as much. The period of imitation is necessary and natural for developing your own creative style. Don’t try to avoid it, and don’t get stuck in it. Just recognize it as a normal phase and enjoy it while it lasts. And when it goes, enjoy finding your own voice.

I could go on and on, but I’ve got actual work to do today. No rest for the weary and wicked, eh? Still, I love this job. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.

Peace out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. Please comment there.

First of all, Deadline Dame Rinda has a hilarious post up about the Waiting Writer In Her Natural Habitat. You can also win a coffee mug and coaster, so pop over and share some commenting love. Also, if you’ve contacted me through Myspace or through my website for an ARC of Strange Angels, rest assured that I’ve passed your contact info on to Razorbill.

As for me, well, this morning I feel like an idiot.

This is a common occurrence. I feel like a dolt almost every day of my life. The instant I start feeling smart, the Universe whaps me upside the head with something I never even dreamed of. So I spend most of my time pretty happily considering myself an idiot.

For example, take the kitchen timers. I have timers scattered all over the house. They’re used for the kids’ schoolwork, for mouthwash (don’t ask), for writing, for cooking, for shovelgloving, and just recently (like today) for telling myself to get up every twenty minutes and stretch so that stiffness in my lower back doesn’t turn into full-blown-walking-like-Quasimodo. Left to my own devices I would probably write pretty much all day, only stopping when the need to visit the loo was intense or when I am almost faint and have a headache from hunger.

This is not good for me. Hence, the timers.

No, I am not obsessive-compulsive. I just use times so much that having one or two in every room except the bedrooms is…

Oh, God. Maybe I AM a little obsessive. (At least I am not a goat held on suspicion of armed robbery, though. It’s the little things that should make one grateful.)

I’m just a little forgetful, that’s all. The timers help to hold me to a particular task for a period of time, or remind me, like I said, to get up and stretch. I’ve reached the point in working out and getting fit where I NEED to stretch. The muscles are unhappy; my posture and the way I hold myself are both changing. The shoulder-hunching and slouching has GOT to go. So, getting up and stretching every twenty minutes is necessary.

I just feel like a moron because I can’t remember to get up every twenty minutes without the timer. I can’t keep track of time on a clock–I get INTO what I’m doing, no matter what it is, and the clock begins to fade in importance with each passing moment. I consider it a miracle that I am ready for dinner each day (but this only happens because I start fretting about it around noon). I also feel faintly ashamed of admitting my firm belief that a kitchen timer is one of God’s gifts to writers, for reasons I’ve already stated.

I’m also feeling like a dip today because I’ve gotten two very nice responses–one from short story editors on an anthology, and one from my editor at Razorbill. But I worry and obsess so much over every piece of work–will the editor like it? Oh God. They won’t like it and they’ll take the advance back and then we’ll starrrrrve and the sun will go out and everyone will hate me because it’s all my FAULT…

When I hear people are considering writing for a living my first instinct is to laugh nervously. Because the rejection and the worry are both soul-wracking. The early rejections make a writer almost pathetically grateful for any sign of approval, and most of us don’t need any help when it comes to the seeking-approval thing. (It is only natural and human to want approval, after all. It seems like one of humanity’s biggest needs.) Then fierce performance anxiety kicks in, at least for me.

So both nice responses were a huge relief, and I’m sure both sets of editors think I’m an idiot for worrying so damn much. My emails are full of caveats and “you might not like“s and “tell me where this is broken but tell me one good thing about it first, please God“s.

See? I am a total spaz today, and probably not doing much better in this blog post. I’m going to blame the lingering soreness and mucus from the flu (and THAT was a doozy, I don’t think I’ve ever had so many dehydration headaches in a 72-hour period) and give myself a day off.

The way I’m feeling, it can’t hurt.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. Please comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (heaven and hell)
( Jan. 12th, 2009 11:34 am)
Today I've got the page proofs for Redemption Alley to go through--gods but that book is getting close to having its cotillion. (Or being presented at Court, or whatever way you want to view it.)

It probably says something for my mood that I'm comparing a book to a debutante. *snerk* RA was exceedingly hard to write, but I've written so much else in the interim I've kind of forgotten the bloody chunks of the book I had to pry out of my cerebellum. (I am unsure if this is where the books actually come from. My vote goes for the lizard-brain, actually, but cerebellum sounds so much nicer.)

You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club
--Jack London

That was the Quote of the Day. I laughed until I was sick because it's so TRUE. You can't sit around waiting, you have to do.

Finishing the last YA book (still pretty much untitled, that's why I keep calling it "that second YA book") was hard on me. The hardest thing was that it seemed to vanish without even a splash in the murky sea of my life. I wanted pats on the head from the people at home around me, and nothing...happened. Because I didn't open my mouth and say something. So you see, it was my own damn fault--but I'm still feeling a little snivelly over it. I saw the Selkie afterward and she patted me on the head--which I needed--but the feeling's grown into a "waaaaah nobody loves me I'm not special waaaah..."

Sometimes I don't want petses after a book; sometimes I do. The trouble is, if I don't open up my mouth and demand them, I don't get them. It would be nice if people could read my mind and serve up the peeled grapes and fanning (not to mention bonbons and the waiting hand and foot) when I wanted it. But in a house full of oblivious children, that's not gonna happen. And I should set a good example by asking for what I want openly.

You'd think I'd learn that this type of reaction ("waaah, pet me!") is normal after the huge emotional investment in a book. There's a lot of delayed (or, let's face it, never-arriving-at-all) gratification in this field. You wait to get read, you wait to get accepted, you wait to see it in print, you wait to get paid, you wait to see reviews...and some reviews aren't the kind of gratification you're waiting for AT ALL. On the one hand, it's good training for life.

On the other hand, it's bloody annoying.

Also, today I'm getting my hair dyed in preparation for the train wreck that is going to be my new author photo. I hate getting my picture taken; it's a flaming passionate hatred I reserve for few things. But, my friend Make Me is going to dye me up, and Alluring Images promises to make me look, if not pretty, then at least less of a total blot upon the face of humanity. I don't think it's doable, but they assure me it is, so I am supposed to trust them. Make Me in particular is twisting my arm like it's going out of style, and I'm glad and grateful she is.

I think I'm better off with proof pages, but people have been asking for an updated author photo for months now. Eh. I might as well.

In short, I am a big heaving ball of neurotic today. Even the workout didn't help, though I should feel good about achieving a state where I can steadily and consistent run for more than a half an hour. If the infrastructure goes down and the zombies start chewing on people, man, I'm ready.

Over and out.


lilithsaintcrow: (Default)


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