Crossposted to the Deadline Dames. Check us out!

The Dames have been answering a lot of questions lately, and I’m going to join the fun. I often get emailed the same questions by a number of different people at once; they seem to come in waves. Here are the three questions about writing I’ve been asked by more than five people in the last two weeks, and my answers. Enjoy!

* How do you get your ideas/How do you know if an idea is good enough for a book/What do you do when you don’t have an idea of what to write? (And various permutations thereof.)

I get asked this in spates, usually about every three months. It kind of puzzles me.

Ideas are not the problem. The discipline to sit down and finish something is the problem. Being worried about “not having ideas” is kind of like living in the Pacific Northwest and being worried there isn’t enough mold. If there’s one thing I’ve never had to worry about, it’s a paucity of shiny things to mentally play with. If you’re reading this, you’re a thinking monkey with an actively-producing-ideas few pounds of meat inside your skull; if you want to be a writer, you always have ideas swarming around inside said skull screaming to get out. There are ideas lurking in your kitchen junk drawer, in the face of every passerby, in every daydream or what-if question. Believe me, the there are enough ideas around to keep everyone busy until the sun explodes, and we won’t even have scratched the surface.

How do you know if an idea is “good enough”? Short answer: You don’t. Longer answer: You don’t until you attempt it. After a few years of constantly attempting stories, you can develop a feel for those ideas that have some meat and legs to them, weight and heft and complexity enough for a short story or a novella, or a novel entire, or a series. You also learn, in the course of those attempts, how to scratch below the surface of a story and discover the complexity in even the simplest of ideas. This can only be learned by doing, like so much else in this line of work.

As for “not having an idea of what to write”…I have never understood that. Is that an attempt to resuscitate the old canard of writer’s block? (There’s a cure for that.) Is it saying “I have so many ideas I can’t pick one?” That’s time-wasting, and a way for your Inner Censor to keep you chasing your own tail. Pick one and go. Is it saying “I don’t want to sit down day after day and do the boring typing?” Well, okay, but that defeats the purpose of being a writer, doesn’t it? Writers write. It doesn’t matter what you write, it matters THAT you write, and if you “can’t find” an idea, the problem isn’t with writing or the ideas. The problem is not opening your eyes and seeing the crowd of ideas that’s screaming “PICK ME! OOOH, PICK ME!” You can go to a mall or a casino and people-watch, you can open up your kitchen drawers, you can watch a few random scenes from a movie or listen to some random songs on shuffle. The genesis of story idea is usually a “What if/Why…” question, and getting into the habit of asking yourself “what if” and “why” about things is sort of the magic set of goggles that will allow you to see that invisible crowd.

* I am a new/young writer, do you have any advice?

This is an every-six-months sort of question. I’ll get twenty of them in a row every half-year, usually for summer and winter breaks. I kind of want to do a form letter to send back saying “Yes. And yes. And yes. I can only add: pay attention, and do the work.”

* “How much research do you do?”

Every month I get one of these. Short answer: a LOT. Longer answer: well, everything I read is research, every movie I watch is research, every new song I find is research, every time I cook it’s research. All things feed the work. If you’re asking me how many or how few hours of research go into each book, I can’t tell you.

For example, some of the things I researched for the Valentine series included: leaf springs (for hovers), ballistics, brushing up on human and canine anatomy and physiology, the geography of Prague, the battle of Blackbird Fields, legends of the Nephilim, the Goetia, demonology, friction, strata, relative weight of a dotanuki, ethical systems–and other things, too varied to count. The research ranged from simple questions that were answered in a few minutes by looking something up to month-long binges of reading in a particular subject, strip-mining everything I could lay my hands on. I probably research less than most authors of historical fiction, who go deeply into their chosen era, but I range pretty widely. I’m more a magpie researcher; everything I pick up goes into the storeroom and moulders into a fertile sludge there. Your mileage may vary, but I am (as is pretty evident here) a big believer in creative ferment, and in everything that goes into my head serving some sort of purpose, even if only as ballast.

So there you have it, three questions I’ve received numerous times over the last few weeks. I expect a new crop by the turn of the year…

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

Oh, Friday, I’m not in love. But I will consider letting you buy me dinner.

* Want to chat me up and maybe get some books signed? Come to the First Annual Author Faire at Cover to Cover Books! I’ll be there Saturday, December 10, from 11AM to 3PM, along with other great authors like Bill Cameron and Lisa Nowak. I plan on drinking tons of coffee so I’m bright-eyed and manic. Should be lots of fun.

* Today I’m over at the Orbit Books blog, talking about the Hedgewitch Experiment. Any day I can use the phrase “suppository supposition” is a good day.

* Oooh, they dug up a Pendle witch house!

* Big happy doings on the YA front. I can’t say much yet, but it involves a new series. I hate sitting on secrets like this, so rest assured, as soon as I can give more details, I will.

* A certain Squirrel Wonder scared the bejesus out of some guys in my front yard the other day. Which reminds me, I really have to tell you guys how that convalescence of Neo’s turned out. It involves me barefoot and screaming in the backyard again. It’s nice to know I’m consistent…but I’m amazed you guys aren’t bored yet.

* I am starting a project. It involves wine and livetweeting my reading of Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour. I did the first 25 pages the other night and had a blast. My favourite? “Hi, I’m Aaron Lightner/Rod Serling. For the next 965 pages, I’ll be showing you through Anne Rice’s id.” I kill me sometimes, I really do.

* To the skeezy guy trying to chat up the young girl with her dog near the middle-school’s soccer field this morning: my earphones weren’t playing music. I just don’t want to talk to people while I’m running. Consequently, I heard every word you said. And yes, I was looking at you. Because YOU ARE CREEPY. I’m glad the girl fled, and I took that extra lap around the track just to make sure you didn’t follow her. I’m surprised my gaze didn’t burn a hole in you. NEXT TIME IT WILL.

Yeah, Friday. It’s turning out to be a doozy. Let’s skip dinner and go straight to the drinks…

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Dec. 7th, 2011 04:13 pm)

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames, where there are contests, prizes, Readers on Deadline, and demons. But don’t worry. We have the demons under control. Mostly…

“Do you ever take a day off?” a health professional asked me today. “Do you ever take a vacation?”

“Not often,” I replied. “I can’t go for very long without writing. It itches under my skin, the words have to get out. It’s physically uncomfortable.”

“But everyone needs some time off.”

“I guess. Sometimes I just look through and tighten what I did the day before. That means I only write about 200 fresh words, sometimes, but it’s tweaking and tightening everything else that scratches the itch.”

“Weekends too?”

“Weekends too. Except then I get up and wander away to spend time with the kids, then come back when they’re done.” I paused. She was looking at me in a most peculiar manner. “I’m not crazy, I just like my job.”

I’m the picture of health, actually, other than some anemia. My pulse is a nice even 60 per minute, my blood pressure is extraordinarily low because of the running, and I’m reasonably fit. The bloodwork says my liver is healthy, for which I give a great deal of credit to that glass of red wine with dinner. (You’ve got to stretch those cells out, keep ‘em flexible.) But all of a sudden she’s looking narrowly at me.

I’m not crazy. I just don’t take a lot of time off. My job is a vacation, for heaven’s sake. Each day I get to do the thing I was designed and built for. It lowers my stress to sit down and write.

I’m between books right now. Kind of. I have some revisions staring at me, but I am coyly refusing to return their gaze. (We’re in the let-the-edit-letter-rest section of revisions.) After the crunch of three books at once earlier in the year (who else was seriously questioning my sanity? OTHER than my writing partner, editor, and agent? Why, that would be ME. Anyway.) I deliberately built a little bit of time into my schedule to decompress. But am I lying about on some tropical beach? Hell no. Sand would get into my laptop.

I’m writing. A trunk novel about zombies, a cowboy, a schoolmarm, and a gold claim. Not to mention vampires and a pawnshop and chartermages. I am having a ball with it. Nobody will ever read it, of course, I don’t think it would ever sell…but I like it. I giggle with glee every time I open the document. I wriggle with joy at a neat turn of phrase. I outright chortle every time I throw another obstacle in the sheriff’s way.

This is a vacation, dammit. And the little dopamine glows I get from, say, a well-turned phrase or the wordcount reached for the day just reinforce it. I get a reward each time I sit down to write. Yeah, some times it’s like chipping hardened cheese out of wooden scrollwork, but there’s even some joy in that. In a job well done and polished at the end of the day.

Slight digression: I advocate daily writing because it builds discipline, not because I happen to get a glow from it. Some professionals can take a few weeks between books, or need to refill the well with time spent away, or days when they’re not dragging the words out into the ring and making them dance. (Isn’t that a lovely mental image.) That’s perfectly okay–one size does not fit all. And yet I advocate daily writing, and will continue to do so, because it’s very easy to mistake laziness or fear for the much more pleasant-sounding “needing some time off” or “vacation.” The professionals who take time off know that it’s hard to get back up onto the horse, and they have their own tips and tricks for doing so. YMMV.

“I hated writing in school,” she said, finally, taping the cotton ball over the bright tear of blood on my inner arm. “Your job sounds like my idea of torture.”

“Likewise.” I grinned. You’re sticking needles in me. I would be unhappy if I had to do that all day. “If I had to do what you do I’d go mad. Well, madder than I already am…”

“I don’t think they’ll commit you just yet,” she laughed.

But I got out of there quickly anyway. You never can tell.

And now, back to scratching the itch…

This Saturday I’m at the Author Faire at C2C books in Battle Ground! Also, check out the Hedgewitch Queen–my first e-only release, and $2.99 in the US for the entire month of December.

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

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames. Go check us out!

I promised an Authorfest post! And lo, here I am. I took tons of pictures, but unfortunately, most of them were blurry to the point of being unsuable. The fever-shakes had me pretty bad–I hope I was not contagious, since my recovery since Sunday has been pretty steep. (Still can’t breathe near the top of some climbs, though.) Anyway. The majority of un-blurry photos I did manage to take were part of a shoot involving Devon Monk and a fan dressed as her character Shame.

Well, you know, if anyone had showed up dressed like Japh, I probably would have bolted for the exit. He’s not an encouraging sight.

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I may have kicked the flu virus in the nads hard enough to flee its clutches and live to fight another day. Still, I’m sucking down hot water infused with lemon and shredded ginger like there’s no tomorrow. One can’t ever be too sure.

I have Authorfest photos that I should put up, but that’s going to have to wait.

* A lot of you write to me asking about the cover models for the Strange Angels series. Guys, I do not know. You would do better asking the publisher, Razorbill. As an aside concerning Dru and the gang, I am now getting a bumper crop of mail from teachers, librarians, and youth counselors. Dear Readers…thank you. Thank you very much. I am glad to hear what you have to say. Bless you.

* Here, have Bruce Wayne’s medical report. I haven’t laughed like this since Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex.

* Jane Austen might have died of arsenic poisoning. Note that the poisoning was most likely accidental, say, a medicine to help her rheumatism. Nevertheless, I have a mad idea of a lady novelist dead of arsenic, resurrected by a form of clockwork science, and shambling toward those who pique her with the jawbone of a literary critic clutched in one rotting speckled hand…

* Oh yes, and you get a twofer: two short stories by me, released through Orbit Short Fiction. Unfallen, the prime story, was inspired to a great degree by Slacktivist’s (ongoing) reading of the Left Behind series so we don’t have to. (Incidentally, Mr. Clark, if you would like a gratis copy, please do email me.) Also included, I believe, is The Last Job, an Izzie Borden super-short that pleases me quite a bit, and is a sort of homage to Hammett, Chandler, and Woolrich. I rather like Izzie and would love to write more shorts featuring her.

I do realize I need to post pics from the Authorfest and write the second half of the Battle of Pelennor Sunroom. I’m getting there, I promise. IN the meantime, I am fueling my recovery with pita chips and ginger water (this is the first time I’ve felt actually hungry in days) and sheer stubbornness.

Over and out.

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

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Nov. 10th, 2011 11:27 am)

Let’s talk, dear Readers. Let’s talk about endings. (If you haven’t read Reckoning yet, I’ll do my best not to spoil you.)

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Oct. 5th, 2011 02:48 pm)

Have a question you’ve been dying to ask me?

Well, head over to the Deadline Dames today and let loose. While you’re there, look at the giveaways, prizes, and writing advice we’ve got up.

Because Dames rule.

See you there!

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

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Sep. 28th, 2011 08:29 am)

This morning’s run was wonderful. I felt like I had little wings on my feet. Every once in a while, everything clicks and a good run comes along. It’s like a perfect day of writing. It keeps you coming back for more and enduring the days when it feels like peeling one’s own skin off in strips.

I am full of pleasant thoughts today. You’ve been warned.

However, the predawn was incredibly foggy, which made me think of Stephen King’s Strawberry Spring. Which led me to thinking about Springheel Jack. Along with plague pits, you can tell I’m working on the next Bannon & Clare. (Their first adventure, The Iron Wyrm Affair, is in revision now.)

I was planning what I’d do if Springheel Jack suddenly appeared in the fog, and perhaps that gave me some extra speed. “Be prepared” is not just a Boy Scout motto.

Let’s see, what else? I’m glad you guys are enjoying the Squirrel!Terror serial. When Neo recovered, things got incredibly interesting, but I am not going to write that for a little while. Here, instead you can have a peek at the first chapter of Reckoning, which is due out soon. I am excited and sad all at once–excited to share the culmination of Dru’s story, and sad to say goodbye to her.

I’m incredibly interested in and excited about Glitch right now. It’s sort of like Animal Crossing for grownups. (Although Animal Crossing is nice too.) It’s like WoW without killing, which can be a relief. (Sometimes, though, I just want to get a glass of wine and murder some pixels.) I like the idea of a game where you water plants, pet animals, build and cook things, and basically learn to be cooperative. It balances out my antisocial tendencies. *snort*

I’m very boring right now. I had some unpleasant news that knocked the wind out of me not too long ago; my writing partner, who is always full of good advice, has been reminding me to plan for what I’m frightened of instead of just thrashing about in fear. The planning certainly seems a more productive use of one’s time, plus it provides an feeling of control. That feeling may be illusory, but it certainly helps. So I’m retreating into my shell for a wee bit, a process that is probably helped by the fact that a nice cool autumn is setting in and spending time curled up in the house is not only soothing but pleasant. I tend to be a winter writer, anyway–my most productive seasons are the ones with filthy weather.

Ach, I’m nattering on. It’s Wednesday. I seem to have lost the knack of Wednesdays.

Over and out.

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Good morning, dear Readers. No, I haven’t forgotten about you–it’s just that the kids are going back to school, and last weekend I finished a brand-new YA book. (At least, the zero draft.) I can’t say anything about it yet, which just kills me, but just know that I’m hard at work on the next New Thing now that I’ve said a fond farewell to Dru.

For those of you asking about the Defiance audiobook, I did a Google search and turned up this. Really, when it comes to audio editions, I do not know when they will come out or anything. About all I can do is hit up our overlords at Google, just like you. Sorry about that.

I’m happy to announce that Orbit short fiction will be bringing out my “teenage Antichrist” short story, Unfallen, this fall. I must admit a great deal of the genesis of that story was reading Slacktivist’s awesome blow-by-blows of the Left Behind series. (He reads so we don’t have to! And really, we’re grateful for that.) Slacktivist articulates a number of things that have always made me incredibly uncomfortable about evangelism and Dominionism, and especially the current craziness swallowing evangelical Christianity in America as a whole. All that aside, however, the short story came from a very simple question: what if the Antichrist was just a teenager who wanted to be liked?

Also included will be a bonus story–The Last Job, featuring a character I love, the private detective Izzie Borden. She’s very unlikeable, and her stories are very short–I think I give myself 5-6K max for her, mostly because I use her as an exercise in building shorts. Anyway, The Last Job is the first Izzie story I ever wrote, and I’m happy to have it see daylight.

But wait, that’s not all! Also included in the bundle is a teaser for The Hedgewitch Queen. Which, again, I can’t say very much about until my editor gives me the okay, the announcement, and the cover art. But just know that I’m excited, and I can’t wait to finally share these things with you.

All that aside, there’s not much to report, since I’m in the zombie stage that follows finishing three zero drafts in short order. I didn’t realize how hard I’d been working until I finished the YA zero draft (working title: WHITE) and opened up my calendar to search for the next fire that needed to be put out…and found out it was revisions instead of all-new drafts. Which is sort of a relief. As soon as my brain gets back to where it’s crunchy enough to start working on new wordcount, I have a project or two I’d like to smack around a bit…

…but I hesitate to promise anything. So, there it is, the full report from chowder to cashews. I’ll be interesting again very soon–I have to pen the tale of Neo and Steerpike, and Steerpike’s Fall From Grace, and the story of Loretta the Crazy Hawk.

Just as soon as I can string words together again in a reasonable fashion.

Over and out.

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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.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jul. 4th, 2011 11:27 am)

Today’s post comes to you courtesy of Reader Kassandra A., who asked me:

Long shot here to get a response from you but still worth it for me to try. ;) I am going to attempt to start running. I am a 34 year old mother of two who tends to delve into my enormous TBR pile of books to escape the reality of life more times than is most likely healthy. *shrug* The way you have talked about your running routine has brought an already (although very dormant) existing interest in doing the same for myself to light. If you have insight into how I can get started (and keep going) I would love to hear your thoughts. (from email)

I got this email and thought, but why would you ask me? I’m not a professional or anything. Then I sat down and looked at my running journals. They’re year-long sort-of-diaries (I like this kind) where I can note mileage, my route, speed (if applicable) and notes about how a particular run felt. I’ve been running for almost three years now, keeping a log for about a year and a half. So, maybe I do have something to say, even though I’m not a professional.

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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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You know, dry pants do help to civilize one.

This morning I ran several errands with Miss B. along. She still isn’t too sure about car rides, but one of the errands was a 2+ mile walk in the rain, and she was glad to get back into the car after that and spent the rest of the errands snoozing.I did not think of myself as the type of high-energy person who could wear out an Australian shepherd, but apparently, I am. My vision of myself as a sedentary, ambitionless lump is taking rather a hard knock or two.

However, breaking up the errands with that walk meant that for about an hour and a half I was wandering around soaked from mid-thigh down. My feet were okay–wool socks and combat boots, so my toesies were damp but not cold–but my jeans were absolutely dripping. I’m sure I left a trail of moss behind. I have to say, peeling out of wet clothes and into dry is one of the most sensual, civilizing experiences I’ve had the pleasure of encountering. It’s right up there with hot tea, good Thai food, a glass of Sangiovese, and the ability to press a button and hear Beethoven.


Anyway, it’s Friday. I’ve grown away from doing Friday writing posts. It’s not that I ran out of things to say. Far, far from. There just hasn’t been a lot of bandwidth available, what with three books due this year, another few books in revision and proofs and copyedits, gah, plus the constant chaos of two kids, now with extra dog.

*time passes*

I wrote all that this morning, then left for afternoon errands. Now I’m here trying to pick up the train of thought that derailed when I looked at the clock and thought oh, dammit, almost late! It was very White Rabbit of me. In any case, I have limited time now before the set of evening tasks rises up to gnaw at my ankles and demand my attention, so let’s get on with it.

To quote Stephen King: Let’s talk, you and I. Let’s talk about fear.

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Okay, so not really from the mailbag, more like from the last Dames Question Day post. No matter. We shall forge onward. There were a couple of specific queries, and then I’ll talk a little bit about worldbuilding.

Dame Lili- There’s one more book in the Strange Angels series after Defiance, right? –Amanda W.

Yes, the book after Defiance is Reckoning, which is the final installment of Dru’s adventures.

This is for Lilith Saintcrow. In Dante Valentine Series, Where is Saint City supposed to be located? –Jessica R.

In my mind, Saint City is a strange melange of Seattle and Portland, 600 years in the future. Some bits are from the Seattle of my youth, others are from the Portland of my adult years. There are a couple other Pacific Northwest locations that worked themselves in, but really, Santiago City is a sort of in-between place.

Now, let’s talk about worldbuilding! Sometimes (never as much as you want to) you can just use the FM wand. But if you want to build a world, well…I’ll give you all the advice I can.

* Figure out your personal sensory hooks. I’m very visual, and a lot of the way I work centers on that. Mostly everyone has one sense they tend to focus on. You cannot just write that one sense without boring your reader to tears–but you can use that sense to build the world very vividly for yourself.

People often ask me, “How can you keep your stories separate?” They usually look a bit puzzled when I tell them the lighting is so different for each story, I have very little trouble. For example, Jill Kismet’s world is very blue-toned, like the color palette of the first Underworld movie. Dante Valentine’s look was very Blade Runner, and very red with orange undertones. Dru Anderson’s world is lit very crisply, like sunlight bouncing off fine granular snow on a very, very cold day. See? I can shut my eyes and build (on the underside of my eyelids, thank you Nabokov) a complete rendering of a scene. I use a lot of film metaphors because I do stop the “action,” pan around, and take different angles. From there it’s just a short hop to step into the scene, and let the characters tell me just where they’re aching and how the sweat is stinging their eyes, what it smells like, what they hear.

If you’ve got a sense you like, spend a twenty-minute session (kitchen timer, remember? Writer’s best friend.) with your eyes closed, think about how your character looks/smells/sounds/you get the idea. You can also think about the feel of a particular place in your story, etc. A slight warning, though: this can turn into a form of work avoidance. Use sparingly.

* It’s an iceberg. You cannot cram everything you love about your world into a book. It’s not possible. A Reader only needs and wants the tip of the iceberg, the cream of the crop. You will be aware of the massive bulk under the water. This is your private playground, the foundation that holds up the rest of your world up in the light. Spend some timed sessions playing around there–think about the history of your world, your characters, why they do the things they do, invent their life stories and play them inside your head. Again, can turn into a form of work avoidance, which is why I recommend the timer.

* Just pick the best. A lot of worldbuilding is putting in sensory hooks, hoping to find one that will tickle the Reader just the right way. Sometimes I’ll put in three or four sensory hooks, then edit out everything but the best one later. Keep the snippets in a killfile, though.You never know when they might come in handy later.

* Sink or swim. I tend to throw a Reader in and let them build the world through inference. This works very well sometimes, but it’s not everyone’s cuppa. Some Readers want things spelled out more, others are furious if they sense you’re holding their hand.Try to strike a balance, and understand you’re not going to hit it just right for every reader. Your editor, however, is trained in the art of helping you reach as many Readers as possible. Which is just another reason to listen to him or her.

* Practice evocative restraint. This is just a fancy way of saying “you can let the Reader scare/seduce herself.” You don’t have to describe every baroque curlicue of Cthulu’s tentacles. You can let the reader hear them rubbing against each other with a sound like tearing wet gristle, while the misshapen bulk looms threateningly above them. Plenty of Readers will take it from there, and remember your monster vividly because they filled in the scariest bits–unique to each person–themselves. One good sensory hook and an invitation for the Reader to scare himself works wonders.

As usual, your mileage may vary, all applicable disclaimers, yadda yadda. I’ll be checking in at random intervals today over at the Deadline Dames; if you have other questions on worldbuilding I’ll see if I can answer a few there.

Now I’ve got a tired dog to pet and a sorceress to get into some dire, most unladylike trouble. See you around.

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

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.

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

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames, where there is even more advice, and giveaways too!

It’s Friday again. How on earth did that happen? Before we get started, here’s Philip Pullman: “Leave the libraries alone. You don’t understand their value.

There are a couple new-this-week interviews with me, one at Reading Awesome Books, and another over at CJ Redwine’s place, where I am interviewed by Captain Jack Sparrow. You can also enter to win a signed set of the first three Strange Angels books at CJ’s until Sunday.

It’s time for another in my ongoing series about writing combat scenes. So you’ve figured out why you want to beat the snot out of your characters, and you’ve got a grasp on the reason, stakes, and cost. Now it’s time to write the damn scene.

The bad news is, writing a combat scene is just like writing any other damn scene. It requires your ass in the chair and your hands on the keyboard. The not-so-bad news is that the key to combat scenes is revising; but in order to revise you must have a chunk of original text to tweak. The good news is that there are ways to make it easier, and if you’re reading this, chances are you’ve watched enough action movies to have some idea of how to visualize a good combat scene.

The usual disclaimers (every writer’s process is unique, some of this advice may not work for you, your mileage may vary, beverage you are about to enjoy is extremely hot) apply. Given that, here’s a few things that may help while you’re writing a combat scene.

* Research, research, research. I like research. Plus, it can save one from making embarrassing mistakes. Research can be: reading a forensic pathology study guide, or a guide on combat psychology and physiology; going to the range and taking some handgun classes to understand just what it feels and sounds like to fire a gun; swinging a dress-metal katana in your backyard as you work out a fight in your head; asking a hobbyist about their passion for stamps/kung fu/military history; interviewing a cop/firefighter/martial artist. Most people love to talk about themselves and their passions or their jobs. A writer can learn a lot by listening, and buying a few drinks. There’s also the Internet, which one can use as a research tool only if one applies a strenuous bullshit test to every piece of information found on it. You get the idea.

The danger with research is that you can mistake it for the actual work of writing. I’m a magpie for knowledge–my TBR stack is actually an overflowing bookcase, and I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting little facts and connections. I’ve fallen into the trap of getting so interested in a small research question for a book that I’ve lost a day or two to chasing down more and more about a subject, finally blinking and looking up and giving myself a good headsmack. Be open to serendipity, but give your research boundaries. And always, always, go about it safely. I do NOT recommend going out and getting into fights just to see if it’s true that they hurt. That’s stupid and dangerous. Please just take my word for it.

* Blocking. I found out about scene blocking in high school. I wasn’t in drama–I wasn’t pretty enough for the drama teacher to have as a protege–but I was an extra in a play or two, and the concept of blocking out a scene felt very natural to apply to combat scenes. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been out in the backyard (or in the field that used to be behind my house) swinging around a dress-metal katana or cracking a bullwhip at a pile of something, blocking out a fight in my head. Something about the physical movement gives the visual inside my skull pegs to hang on, and informs them with a great deal of immediacy for me.

If you are concerned about looking like an idiot while doing that, you’re just going to have to let go of that. I love ballet, but I had terrible anxiety in class until my teacher said, “Nobody is looking at you funny. Everyone else in here is worrying about their movements. I am watching, but even I can’t watch you all the time, and I’m watching you in order to teach you. So relax. Everyone else here is worrying about the size of their legs too.” By and large, nobody’s watching. If they are, well, you can just tell them you’re a writer.[1]

* Music. Music is a very integral part of my creative process. To get myself in the mood for a Kismet fight scene, for example, I would often listen to the Cure’s Wrong Number with my eyes closed, watching Jill clear a hellbreed hole. I play certain songs for certain scenes, and I spend a lot of my morning runs in what seems to be a trancelike state, the music accompanying scenes inside my head while my body’s occupied with running one mile after another.

* Sensory cues. Most fights are chaos. Tunnel vision happens when an average person gets adrenaline really going. These two things can make it difficult for a writer to tease out how to describe a combat scene. Blocking the scene out will help immeasurably, but once you have, get some detail on the page. Tell me how the blood tastes, that the punch to the gut huffed all your air out and brought your dinner up in an acid rush, that the sound of the damned screaming as bullets plowed through their unholy flesh was a chorus of glassine despair. Don’t worry that you’re giving too much–that’s what revision is for. Get as much sensory detail as you can into the fight scene so you can pick the best of it later. Here is where the ability to visualize is worth all the practice you can give it–and if you have trouble visualizing, find the sense you have the least trouble using. Some people are auditory writers, some are tactile; I’m very visual and olfactory. (Writing about death and decay sometimes makes me physically ill, since I smell what my characters do.)

Training yourself to go into a story like this strikes directly at the heart of what most of us are told when we’re kids–to stop daydreaming, to pay attention, to not space out. It’s a balance, like so much about this writing gig. Keen observation and paying attention are necessary (and they can’t hurt when you’re trying to cross a street or walking in a bad part of town); finding that little “click” and stepping into the hallucinatory space of daydreaming a story, that focused creative state, is necessary as well. You need both in order to do this well, so practice both; they will feed and inform each other in startling ways.

* Get in and get it done. I don’t leave the keyboard in the middle of a combat scene unless there’s an immediate physical emergency. Sex scenes, dramatic scenes, bridging scenes I can all walk away from, and sometimes I even let sex scenes marinate a couple days. (Again, YMMV.) But a combat scene depends on me sitting down, having it clear in my head, and getting out a chunk of text. Knowing the reason, stakes, and cost before I go into it helps.

These sessions are usually the ones that leave me soaked in sweat or shivering, adrenaline copper on my tongue and my body aching in sympathy for my hero/ine. These are also the scenes where the house could quite probably burn down around me and I might not notice unless I had to rescue children or cats. I am not quite deaf to the world during them, but it’s close. I like this, it’s one of the perks of writing as a career. But if I get up in the middle of it and go away, I lose steam and sometimes it’s hard to find the hook to get back into the fight. I get exhausted if I stop or slow down. (Or, God forbid, use the loo. Forget Kegels, writing combat scenes straight through is great practice for one’s perineum. Ah, the glamour of this career!) As an aside, this is related to my practice of not leaving the keyboard at the end of a scene or chapter. For some reason, I find it easier to regain momentum if I have even just a couple throwaway lines to begin the next chapter/scene before I walk away from the writing.

* Have fun. Fighting in real life is deadly serious. It is a last resort, not to be engaged in unless one or one’s loved one is in direct dire physical danger. But fighting in fiction is fun. Action movies are fun to watch. Writing a combat scene, especially one in which you can bend the laws of physics a little, is a blast. Yeah, there’s cost and stakes for your character, but you should be having a ball. Don’t forget Steven Brust‘s invaluable little sentence to tack up in your writing space: And now, I’m going to tell you something REALLY cool. You’re telling someone something really goddamn cool. Get into it. Have a ball, have a blast, have some fun. If you aren’t, it’ll be even more difficult for your reader to. You don’t ever want that.

Okay. So, those are things that help you squeeze out the zero draft of a combat scene. But your work isn’t finished yet. Not by a long shot. To really make a combat scene pop, there are specific ways to revise that lovely zero draft of that scene that made you go “ooooh!” We’ll go over those ways next week.

Class dismissed.

[1] I really think this saved me from getting arrested once. (Suffice to say I was blocking out a fight with a dress-metal katana and a cop noticed and bounced his car up into the field. Once I told him I wrote romance, he just laughed and told me to be careful.)

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

I have a croak like a raven and a slight fever, so the Tale of the Squirrel Surfer will be put off until tomorrow. I just don’t think I can do it justice in my present condition. I keep wandering away from the computer to go lie down for a little bit and put together scenes of an alternate almost-Dickensian London inside my aching, stuffed-up head.

It’s weird being me.

Anyway, in lieu of the Tale, I shall instead present you with this: what happens when you put me and Captain Jack Sparrow in a room together. Hilarity abounds. (I had so much fun with this.) Also, there is a zombie cupcake. And there’s a three-book giveaway involved–I’ll be giving away a signed set of the first three Strange Angels books to a lucky US commenter. Go, read, hopefully be entertained, and possibly win some stuff.

Other than that, let’s see…oh yeah, the Selene & Nikolai reunion story will be in the upcoming Mammoth Book of Hot Romance, which I don’t have a link for yet. You guys seem to like that Nichtvren couple and are inundating me with email! Heavens. I had no idea Selene was so likable–I found her a bit difficult, albeit for some really good reasons. And Nikolai, well, I never liked him. But we all knew that.

Anyway, I’m going to go nurse this cold and see if I can’t get the next few scenes of the sorceress and the logic machine out of my head and onto the laptop. Peace out.

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

Good morning! It’s still crazy crazy release week for Taken, the Harlequin Nocturne I had so much fun writing. (The link to Barnes & Noble seems to be working now, thank heavens. For a while yesterday it was buggy.) If you want a signed copy, Cover to Cover Books is more than willing to oblige, and their shipping rates are quite reasonable. Just drop them an email through their website.

There’s a Q & A with me up over at the Barnes & Noble Spotlight, where I talk about Perry and which of my characters I’d most like to have a drink with.

I have a couple more general announcements/answers, then it’s time for me to get cracking on another short story.

To the people who sent money through PayPal after last week’s post about stolen ebooks: thank you. I appreciate the people who apologized for pirating my work and tried to make things right. It takes cojones to admit you were wrong, to step up and try to make reparations.

Unfortunately, my conscience isn’t easy with taking the money in this manner, for a variety of reasons. So…I’ve accepted the donations, and turned them straight over to my favorite nonprofit, I believe in microfinance helping women out of poverty, and Kiva is a grand, grand organization. So, to those who sent me money: Thank you very much, both on my behalf and on behalf of those who are benefiting from your stepping up and acting responsibly.

To the fan who wrote asking “where is the library for ebooks?”: look, several libraries have ebook-loaning capability. If yours does not, this is not an excuse for pirating them. Talk to your librarian and see what’s available. Thank you for your letter.

To SM: Finish writing your book first. Then, after you’ve polished it and started another one, start looking around the Internet for advice on how to write a query letter, what to look for in an agent, etc. (Shameless plug: The Deadline Dames have a lot of good advice about this.) But finish, first.

Last but not least, to S: authors have little to no control over their covers. Sometimes I think it’s a bane, other times, a blessing. I appreciate your input, but there’s nothing I can do about covers at all. If a cover doesn’t work, the best person to tell is the publisher, because they can actually do something about it. They also love to get that kind of feedback because it helps them make better covers in the future.

There, I think that’s it. Tomorrow we have another post about combat scenes. But for now, that short story calls me.

Over and out.

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

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jan. 7th, 2011 10:08 am)

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames! There are giveaways and tons of other cool stuff. Check us out!

First, the news! The Jill Kismet series is spotlighted during January over at Barnes & Noble. And I am considering–only considering, mind you–how to turn the Squirrel!Terror chronicles into a paper book. (I have to look at what editing, formatting, and a cover would cost and decide if it’s worth the time investment.) I’ve also spent the last couple weeks talking with Audiobook People about pronunciations for the Valentine series. Tres exciting!

So this morning, I had no idea what I would do for a Friday post. I made the mistake oferm, had the bright thought of asking for questions on Twitter and Facebook. I only have time for two or three answers, so here goes:

* Steelflower and Cover Models. Many of you asked about Steelflower. I appreciate the interest, and there are two more Kaia books in my head. (One deals with Redfist’s homeland; the other deals with G’maihallan under siege.) The problem is, I am contracted pretty tightly for other things. Kaia is on the back burner for the time being.

Many of you also ask me about cover models, for example, the lovely lady featured on the Strange Angels covers. I am not the right person to ask, because I have about as much control over the covers as I do over the weather in Russia. The best way to get that question answered is to ask the publisher, they’ll be more than happy to help you out.

* ARCs. I get tons of requests for Advance Reader Copies. I hate to break it to you, but I don’t generally get ARCs of anything other than the very first in a series, and I normally only get two or three of those. When I do get copies of my books, it’s usually slightly after bookstores get them, or, more often, when bookstores put them on the shelf. I also, as a matter of policy, do not send out e-versions for review. (Blame the e-pirates for this. Seriously.) If you have a review blog, if you want a review copy, please contact the publisher of the series in question. Ask for their marketing department, explain that you’d like to get on the list for review copies, and see what happens.

* Broken stories. The most interesting question was from friend and Reader Monica V:

Might be neat to hear your take on whether or not a story can be “fixed.” I say sometimes? No.

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It depends on where it’s broken. If it’s a question of the story being too thin to hold up the amount of wordcount you’re expecting, the fix can be turning it into a short, a novella, or a vignette rather than a novel. It can also be a signal that you need more conflict, or you need to discover the deeper conflicts and motivations that are already there.

If it’s a question of one writing oneself into a corner, then the fix is a little harder. If I hit one of these (and believe me, I have) I usually set the story aside, work on something else, and sleep on the problem. Usually, upon waking the next morning, I find my unconscious has been busily chewing over the whole thing and will either present me with a relatively elegant solution that takes into account little details I didn’t remember writing before (always fun) or a less-elegant solution that involves me getting rid of a chunk of text.

If the latter is called for (which is infrequent, thank goodness), here’s a tip: save the chunk you’ve lopped out in a separate file. I title mine “title of work BITS”, and stick it in the same folder with the master draft I’m working on. Sometimes that chunk is just in the wrong place because I got excited; sometimes, with a little alteration, it can be pressed into service elsewhere. Stick it in the graveyard and let it ferment, don’t totally erase it. (And don’t ask me how I learned that unless you’re prepared for a bitter, bitter rant. Heh.)

Of course, this presupposes that a story is truly “broken” instead of laziness or fear being the problem. How can you tell if a story is broken?

This is incredibly difficult, because you are too close to it to see it clearly. The only way to figure out when a story is broken is to have practice in finishing stories, so you can understand your process a little better. Practice will help you distinguish between a truly-broken story (one you cannot write because there is no fixing it) and a story you need to work around (characters without motivations, motivations that don’t make sense, plot holes, plot painted into a corner, characters behaving without rhyme or reason, the list is endless) to find the proper way of telling. Each story is unique, your process is unique, so you are going to have to practice to learn the art of distinguishing “broken”.

Generally, I try to rule out everything else before I decide a story is irretrievably gone. I tend to view a roadblock in a story as a case of user error instead of bad programming, so to speak. To use another analogy, I treat it as if the story is being broadcast, but my decoding of the transmission is off in some way that causes error or, more frustratingly, creep. Once I’ve ruled all that out, and once I’ve banged my head against the wall of the story enough, I’ll either ask for help from my trusty beta, or I’ll move on. There are stories I thought were broken, but when I come back to them on my periodic runs through the graveyard I’ll find out they were actually pretty okay, I just needed time/distance/a little more maturity to successfully deal with them.

Whew. That was a long, circuitous answer. It’s an interesting and difficult question, with many layers. (Like ogres. Or pie.) I’ll probably come back to it later and chew it over some more, but I’ve got to jet.

Tune in next week for talking about fight scenes! That was another question this morning, and one that deserves a whole post to itself…

Over and out.

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

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Sep. 10th, 2010 11:25 am)

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames. There are giveaways and contests this week–check us out!

Today’s cool links:

* Denise Little on sell-throughs, in which she explains some of the Byzantine math publishers and writers have to deal with.
* Dame Jenna on countering the counter drive, the contradictory urge not to write.
* Dame Rinda’s path to publication.
* Dame Toni on dating for novelists. I should add that Toni is braver than I’ll ever be–I’ve permanently given up on dating.
* Victoria Strauss, on why getting published is not a crapshoot. (I have such a girl crush on this lady right now. It’s embarrassing.)

Last Friday I wrote about the cost of writing, and Reader Jessa S. had a great question:

Usually I lurk, but I had to respond. I’m writing my latest story on the tightest deadline I’ve ever had. The energy is coming (8 lb bucket o’ cookie dough instead of choco espresso beans) but I’m nervously watching the gauge, wondering how much of that energy is left (a mere 7 1/4 lbs, I’m guessing).

Maybe you could write another of your infinitely practical posts about where/how to siphon fresh energy? I’m down to the bone here (other than that 7 1/4 lbs) and it feels like there’s no place else to draw from. What do you do you’re trapped in a closed system of you and the story and the deadline?

This is a great question, not only because the questioner has realized that energy isn’t free. It’s got to come from somewhere, and when a deadline is putting you in thumbscrews, you have got to find a way to get it done. Preferably without totally burning yourself out, because you will lose a lot of time recovering from burnout afterward–time that could be better spent working on a new story.

Unfortunately, I have very little to say about siphoning fresh energy, mostly because I am a single mother and fresh energy ain’t happenin’, sugar. Instead, I focus on budgeting the energy I have pretty tightly, and that’s what I’m going to write about today. The good news is that the system isn’t quite as closed as you think. It’s not just you, the story and the deadline; it’s you, the story, the deadline, the minutiae of daily life, the timesuck, and the priorities.

Methods for dealing with this deadline situation are extraordinarily individual (just like writers) and I’m going to warn you: the advice I am about to give may not work for you. As usual, take it with a grain of salt and keep firmly in mind that you may need something different.

That being said, I’m going to go ahead and give you the five things that help me when I’m under deadline and I suspect I may not have the energy to reach the finish line. (Yes, this happens. It happens a lot.)

1. Pad your timeframes. The preparation for a deadline starts before the actual contract is signed. Don’t agree to turning a book in in under nine months if you know it usually takes you 11-14 to write it. I like to recommend at least a month’s worth of wiggle room when telling your agent/editor when you can reasonably turn the book in. Use this padding with care and caution. You do not have to go overboard and ask for five years to turn in your next novel/story/whatever; but that extra month can give the work time to lie fallow and get an extra polish before you send it in–or it can save your ass when Life Happens and you’re scrambling to get done in time.

2. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. Okay, so you’re in a crunch. Your month-or-so of padding is rapidly disappearing. This is when it’s time to get ruthless. Do what you have to do to cut timesinks out of your life. Turn off your router if you’re an aimless Internet surfer when under pressure. (I’m a big fan of Freedom, actually.) Tell your social engagements “No, I can’t,” and stick to it. Be honest with yourself about where your timesucks are and nip them in the bud. Get out your trusty kitchen timer and work in 15-minute increments all day. Let the laundry take care of itself for a couple days, if possible–and that goes for other kinds of housework, too. You don’t have to live in a sty, but you also don’t have to use the housework as avoidance. (GUILTY. I will just say right now, I’m guilty as hell of this one.) Write down a list of your timesucks and cut them temporarily out of your life. If writing is not a priority, the chances of your deadline (whether self-imposed or not) go down exponentially.

Plus, if you cut out the timesucks, that leaves the energy you would be spending on them–ta-da!–for writing.

3. Practice self-care. If I cut out exercise while I’m under deadline, I get cranky and even less inclined to work. Also, if I don’t plan my days pretty carefully, I can end up with anxiety-based insomnia, which just adds to the pressure. Part of prioritizing is knowing what you have to do to keep your body and mind in fighting–AKA, writing–shape. I am so not a health nut, but I’ve found out that if I don’t sleep, exercise, or pay attention to what I’m eating while under deadline, the results can be catastrophic. Which just stresses me out more and makes for an even more miserable time trying to meet the deadline.

4. Stop and dream. Okay, this is going to sound counter-intuitive, especially with #2 above. Bear with me.

Part of prioritizing is understanding that writing takes emotional and creative energy, and that well of energy needs to be refilled, or more accurately, dredged. One of the ways I do that is by setting a timer and laying down on the couch or the floor, and engaging in ten-fifteen blessed minutes of high idle. I either let the book play out inside my head like a movie, sinking into it as if I’m watching it, or I don’t think about the blasted book at all and engage in high-octane daydreaming, sometimes fueled by music. This not only relieves a great deal of mental and emotional pressure, but it clears out my pipes, so to speak. When the timer rings, I’m ready for Round Two with the book, and usually a knotty plot problem or two has been resolved. I’ll realize the resolution as soon as I sit down and put my hands to the keyboard. I don’t know why this works (I have a couple guesses, but nothing concrete) but it seems to be an integral part of my process, and it makes everything move much more quickly. The drawback is the seduction to just dream and not write–hence the kitchen timer, and my iron-clad limit of two of these sessions per day, maximum.

If you have a comparable strategy, good. Do what you gotta. For me, those ten-fifteen minutes where I don’t have to do anything but daydream are a crucial steam-valve, and they let me work much more efficiently. And those sessions are far better for me than comparable time wasted surfing the internet or doing avoidance housework. Sometimes a writer is working hardest when they’re laying on the floor and staring.

But only sometimes. Heh.

5. Keep your agent and editor in the loop. If you’re having trouble or Life Trauma, tell them as soon as possible. Do not withdraw into a hole because you’re embarrassed. Being upfront about difficulty is professional. Retreating into the hole is being a prima donna, just like overplaying whatever difficulty you’re having. This is a delicate balance to strike, but if it was easy it wouldn’t be called professionalism, now would it?

Most editors are fine with things not quite turning out as planned. They’re human beings. They understand. You make their job easier by letting them know what to expect from you and how things are going. You also make their job easier by padding your timeframes up front and taking care of yourself so you’re not a hysterical mess when you turn the damn book in. You also make your own job easier when you’ve talked to the editor and s/he reassures you that the world will not end and you’ve got a little more time.

I realize a lot of this falls under preventative care rather than finding fresh energy, but as I’ve said before, fresh energy just doesn’t happen for me. I set out each day with a limited amount of hours, and I can’t cram any more in. Do I fall from grace and spend time surfing when I should be working? Yes. I’m human too. Discipline doesn’t rest in performing perfectly or being a machine. It rests in the continuous effort to get back up on the horse when you fall off. The more you practice self-care and timesuck avoidance as a matter of course, the more it will become a habit when you get down to the crunch, and the easier it will be to actually turn the damn internet connection off (or the television, or *insert your favorite timesuck here*) and get that work done.

Of course, a little cookie dough now and again never hurt anyone, either.

Thanks for the question, Jessa–and good luck!

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



lilithsaintcrow: (Default)


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