Archive for October, 2009

Thursday, October 29th, 2009
Steering the Craft

I think I first saw a mention of Steering the Craft on PBW’s site. I looked it up, read the reviews and thought they sounded interesting enough to pick the book up.

The book has exercises geared for improving your writing craft. I started working through it yesterday. I plan to do a chapter a day until I’ve finished the book. So far it’s interesting. Definitely not like any craft book I’ve read before. The first exercise was based on the ‘sound’ of your writing. It gives several examples of ways authors have played with the sound of words, then asks you to come up with something of your own. I have to admit I was intimidated by this exercise because although I understood what the author was asking for, I didn’t quite get what I needed to do. (I’m a very literal learner. It takes me a while to understand most questions.)

Anyway, this is what I finally ended up with:

Jack on his back. Lazy child. Lazy child. Wandering down the path to nowhere. Jumping bean. Jumping bean. The magic is somehow lost. Whispers in silence. Cutting dreams. Slashing ideas. So we cound clouds instead. Fluffy white. Fluffy white. Drifting paintings in the sky. Ever changing with the wind.

Grass tickling our backs. Pushing us off to prepare for autumn. Soon leaves will fall. Orange and yellow. Orange and yellow. Red tears lie dormant on the ground. Cycles never end. School days. School days. Bells ring, sending everyone scampering to the bricks. Recess is over.

The whole point of the exercise is to create sounds in your writing. I could’ve gone the easy route with words like buzz, hiss, plop, etc. , but I wanted to do something different. Besides, ‘Jack on his back. Lazy child. Lazy child.’ jumped into my mind immediately.

I like the idea of working on craft through ‘structured’ exercises. It helps me understand what the instructor is trying to teach. Are any of the writers out there working on their craft? If so, how?

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009
Back To the Grind

The folks are on a jet plane making their way toward Scotland. And once again we are painfully reminded how very far away from family we live. I didn’t go down to the airport to see them off because I was already sniffling before they left. Didn’t think me boo-hooing at the airport would help when it came time to say goodbye. 🙁

Our schedules have been wonky since before the trip to Maui so the next few weeks are going to be spent getting them back in order, along with moving forward on current projects. We plan to make a big push before the holidays hit, which will be any day now as fast as the year is going by. Vroom…

Want to go see the Vampire’s Assistant this week. Has anyone caught it? I still prefer the title Cirque du Freak, but whatever.

Charlaine Harris’ latest Grave book is finally out. Will be ordering it on Friday. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Yep, in exactly one week it’s CRIMSON’S offical release date. I’m nervous, but not too bad since I’ve done all I can do on my end. I’ll be keeping my eye open for it. Let me know if you spot it early. 🙂

Monday, October 26th, 2009
Chinks in the Armour

Have you ever been asked to pick out your weaknesses or strengths? Have you ever asked yourself what your weaknesses/strengths are? I don’t know about you all, but I find that question hard as hell to answer realistically. It sends my inner critic into over-drive and by the time it’s done picking there is nothing left. No strengths, no weaknesses, I mean NOTHING.

As writers we’re constantly told to work on our weaknesses, but there is a school of thought that exists that believes it’s actually better to work on your strengths instead. The theory being if you make your strengths even stronger no one will notice your weaknesses. The latter makes sense if you think about it, but it’s hard to ‘unlearn’ all those years of hearing the opposite advice.

It makes it even more difficult if you can’t pick out what your strengths are. I mean when pushed I can say that one of my writing strengths is my ability to pace a story. It’s something that comes naturally to me. After that, you’d hear a lot of groaning and grunting as I try to come up with another answer. Do I really believe that my only writing strength is pacing? Hell no, but that doesn’t mean I have an answer for the question.

As for weaknesses, my inner critic chomps at the bit, waiting for an opportunity to pounce (and sometimes does before I have a chance to rein it in). It can pick out weaknesses I didn’t even know existed. *g* Funny, how that works.

The last time I asked myself the above questions I ended up cheating to find the answers. Not my proudest moment, but I was desperate. I contacted a couple of my critique partners and asked their opinions. I was honestly surprised by their answers because what they picked out as strengths I didn’t think were anything special.

So if you had to pick out one strength and one weakness, what would they be?

Saturday, October 24th, 2009
The Ups and Downs of Reinvention

There are two approaches to reinventing yourself as a writer. There are those that refuse to see the writing on the wall and try to hang on to what little recognition they’ve received. And there are those that cut their losses and get excited by the new possibilities change can bring. I admit I’m not particularly good at making changes in my personal life. (ie It took me years to cut my hair to shoulder length. *g*) Once I do, I tend to be much happier. For some reason, my reticence when it comes to major changes doesn’t really apply to my writing life. I don’t have a problem shaking things up. Maybe it’s the seven years I’ve spent in this business (relatively short compared to a lot of writers), but I have gotten to the point where if something isn’t working I walk away and start over.

My site and my work doesn’t exactly fall into the damaged goods category, but I also haven’t been able to break out…yet. Now I realize I’ve only had three single titles release widely. Most writers have a lot more than 15 books under their belt before they retire a name. With the changes in the industry, I don’t have that luxury. Everyone is looking for the next ‘BIG’ thing. They’re not concerned with steady sellers. This is especially true with booksellers and it’s influencing how publishers buy. It’s a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless.

Which brings me back to what authors can do. If you find yourself in this situation, you have three choices: Continue as you’ve been going and hope things get better, quit the business, or reinvent. I’m actually getting excited about the idea of reinventing myself as a writer. There’s always a chance that it won’t pay off, but I think the odds are better if I try. I’m well aware that the changes will take a lot of work (ie new genres, new website, studying craft, etc.), but the payoff could be big in the long run.

I won’t be getting rid of this site. I still plan to write Blazes under Jordan and probably any Mammoth anthologies I end up doing. Everything else will go under my new name/s. And no, I still haven’t made any final decisions on the name front. Still giving it some thought. I’ll let you all know what I decide.

Until then, I’m enjoying the idea of becoming someone new. 😉

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009
Back From Maui

Got back from the islands this morning. Fortunately the weather wasn’t too much of a shock, since we’re also comfortably warm. (Maui was quite humid and in the mid to upper eighties.) It was great spending time with the folks. Definitely caught quite a bit of sun (ie I was sunburned for several days before it calmed down.). Had many cocktails with little umbrellas and a lot of good food. Dh and I have decided our next adventure will have to be more exotic…like Egypt or Thailand. We’re weird in that we relax when we experience culture shock.

Picked up a CD by Iz Kamakawiwo’ole. He passed away around twelve years ago, but his music is still quite haunting. The songs keep running through our heads.

We braved the road to Hana (a small town on the rainy side of the island). For those of you unfamiliar with this road, it has over 600 bends/curves. After driving half-way, we decided to rename the road. It should be called the road to Ha-Ha because the joke was definitely on us. Waterfalls around every bend my arse. *g*

Had intended to do a lot of thinking and planning while we were there, but that didn’t quite pan out. Spent most mornings rising early and walking the beach with dh before the masses flooded down. It was nice. Found a lot of cool shells and bits of coral. The mornings were quiet. Perfect for contemplation. Was too busy enjoying the sand in my toes and the warm water rushing over my ankles to care.

But now it’s time to get back to work. Which for me means coming up with a new pen name and finishing my YA. What’s everyone been up to while I’ve been away? I saw that PBW hit number 17 on the NYT’s list. (Told you so.;) Big Congrats, my friend.

Friday, October 16th, 2009

As you’re reading this, I’m sitting on a beach in Maui. 🙂 It’s a rough job, but someone has to do it. 😛