Author Archives: Andi Marquette
So, I’m Andi and I’m a setting whore.
That is, I love me some setting. I love a setting that an author threads into a story in ways that make me feel the local flavor and color, see myself walking down a particular street, and enjoy a view the main character does. I love a story in which setting comes alive, as in Alexandra Fuller‘s astonishing works about Africa and Wyoming. I also love a story in which setting is a strong secondary character — a vehicle for the other characters, like Carl Hiaasen‘s Florida or Tony Hillerman‘s Southwest.
It’s also hard to write setting well. You don’t want it to weigh down your narrative, but you want it to stand out when it needs to. Maybe you want it to confine your characters, like in a dungeon. Or a cave in a blizzard. Or a snobby cocktail party. Maybe you want it to liberate them, like a distant river that marks the boundary to the kingdom of Rin, where your characters will find sanctuary from the evil queen of Tandix. Or the sight of an island after a long voyage at sea. Or a view of home from a mountaintop.
Could be you want it to instill fear in your characters, like the Grexen Swamps within which dwell the legendary Faljin trolls. Or that really dark, creepy subway tunnel from which just emanated a scream. Or the gleaming white of the official’s hall, where judgment will be meted out.
Or you want it to make your characters feel safe and loved. Like in grandma’s kitchen, which always smells like enchiladas or maybe fried chicken and okra. Or your pickup truck, which you’ve had for years and that has gotten you out of lots of tight spots. It still looks good, even after all these years.
You see why setting is important? It influences what your characters are and, in some cases, who they are. It can change your characters — make them rise to an occasion or fail. It can create adversity (think about the recent Robert Redford movie All Is Lost) or offer succor. Think about the rich settings of The Lord of the Rings movies, or of the Star Wars movies. Setting isn’t just landscape. Think about the movie Misery in which the character is held prisoner in a house.
Setting isn’t just a backdrop. It’s a vehicle for characterization and narrative. And it’s also an intrinsic part of a character. And it’s not just something you see. Setting has sounds, smells, tastes. It evokes feelings. So when you’re writing setting, think about that, too. So let’s go chat a bit more about this, shall we?
Hi, peeps –
WHEW. So I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire right now, and things are crazy in some respects. Had a chat with the designer for the cover of the follow-up to From the Boots Up, and we’re both kind of stoked about a particular image and we think it’s going to be awesome-sauce. Here’s hoping.
Just finished up a short story that I’m going to submit somewhere. We’ll see how that goes. I’m also working on another romance and the fourth in the Far Seek Chronicles. So I’m keeping busy. Heh.
Oh, for you lesfickers, would you like some hot n’ steamy intrigue-filled F/F reading? Then maybe check out the series Mariel Cove. You can find out all about that over at Women and Words today. One of the writers, Noel Meredith, stopped by to chat about the development of the series and how it works. Hit that link to get more info.
Also, if you’re a new or relatively new writer, heads up. The Golden Crown Literary Society (lesfic galore) conference is coming up, slated for July 2014 (here are the deets).
But what I’d like to note about the GCLS is that the organization has launched a WRITING ACADEMY. That is, a year-long intensive writing program that addresses the basic mechanics of grammar and writing structure as well as elements of writing fiction (e.g. dialogue, setting, characterization…you get the gist), what a writing life is like, and publishing. The program includes a mentoring element. Here’s some scoop from the GCLS website:
The GCLS Writing Academy is a year long program for new or relatively new writers who have at least half of a novel written and who want to learn the critical components of quality writing, plus various related topics such as researching your novel, the writer’s life, and the path to getting published.
Over the course of the year, the students ‘begin at the beginning’, covering the basics of grammar and writing, and then move on to the foundations of quality writing, research methods and sources, genre specific skills, the life of a writer, preparing to be published, and ends with a three month mentoring experience.
Sound like something that’s right up your alley? Well, hit the link and apply. Deadline is fast approaching. March 1, 2014.
If you’re accepted, you need to schedule your flight to the GCLS conference to arrive a day early for Writing Academy orientation/workshop on July 9. Read the info at the link.
Something to ponder, yes? Happy writing, happy reading, happy Friday!
Hope everybody’s super-groovy.
As a little reminder, in case you haven’t read it, here’s my freebie Valentine’s Day story Floral Designs.
Author Jove Belle and I are doing a 2-hour gabfest at the Virtual Livingroom this Saturday the 15th 1 PM-3 PM EST (US time). We’ll be chatting to each other and taking questions from anyone who wants to chime in. We do have a topic we’ll be discussing (JUICY, people! JUICY!) but we’re not going to tell you what it is. We’ll spring it on yuh Saturday. Here’s the rundown of what’s up at the VLR this weekend:
AT THE VIRTUAL LIVING ROOM
Coming this weekend Saturday 15th February and Sunday 16th February from 11:00 to 21:00 EST
The following authors will be discussing ROMANCE
D. JACKSON LEIGH AND LARKIN ROSE
ANDI MARQUETTE AND JOVE BELLE
CHRIS PAYNTER AND CP ROWLANDS
KATE CHRISTIE AND AMY DAWSON ROBERTSON
DK HAWK AND RRROSE
JAE AND LOIS CLOAREC HART
ANGELA PEACH AND JADE WINTERS
AJ ADAIR AND BARBARA WINKES
MJ WILLIAMZ AND PJ TREBELHORN
DIANA SIMMONDS AND J-L HEYLEN
WALKING DEAD resumes Sunday February 9th. Check your local listings so you, too, can get swept up in the madness.
As many of you know, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the ZA (Zombie Apocalypse, for those of you not briefed). You can see that here. And here. And here, here, and here. Oh, geez. Here, here, and here, too. Oh, and this one is about SEX.
Damn. I’ve blogged a lot about the ZA. That’s not even all the blogs. Maybe I should get out more.
Anyway. Here’s a sneak peek from the upcoming f*ck-up-ed-ness that is sure to be the second half of season 4.
All right, peeps. PREPARE!
Hiya, peeps –
Some of you know that in addition to the writing stuff, I’m also an assistant editor over at Luna Station Quarterly, an ezine that publishes spec fic (short stories) by women. They’re always interested in finding new writers as well as established, so if you write spec fic (and that encompasses sci fi, fantasy, paranormal, fairy-tale-ish), consider them as a venue for your work. If you read spec fic or you’re interested in some fine short fiction in the genre, maybe add LSQ to your go-to sites for that. You can read an interview I did with LSQ’s founder and editor, Jennifer Parsons, here.
Now, what have I been up to? Well, I’m preparing the follow-up to my novella From the Boots Up for publication in late spring. It’s a novel-length, and it’s gone through a lot of re-writing. OMG. I had a draft manuscript of it written about 4 years ago. I gutted it, re-shaped it, and sent it to my primary beta/editor who sent it back for more gutting and tweaking. I finished that and now I’m getting it formatted and pretty-fied. Or something. There’s a designer working on the cover and it’ll be going into editing and proofreading soon. Whew. So stay tuned…
I’ve also got another romance novel I’m trying to finish up so I can send it to a couple of betas. That one I’m hoping to have out in the fall. I’m also working on book 4 in my sci fi series (The Far Seek Chronicles, for those not in the know) and I’ll be starting some research for the fifth New Mexico book.
That doesn’t count the conferences I’ll be attending and events I’m helping plan. So basically, I have my work cut out for me this year. Heh.
I’ve also been interviewed in a couple of different venues recently. Ylva Publishing posted this one with me, and thriller/mystery writer Jon Michaelsen had me aboard at his blog. If you missed it, here.
And as always, you can find me at the Women and Words blogsite, where I’m a co-admin and blogger.
So hope everybody has a great rest of the week and if you’re caught in any of the terrible weather out there, stay safe.
Happy reading, happy writing!
OMG how deep did that even sound? Yeah, we’re all navel-gazing up in here. Heh.
Actually, there seems to be something in the writing water, because a few of us have been waxing philosophical (wax on, wax off) on our blogs for a couple of days, now. I must’ve had some of that writing water, because I’ve been navel-gazing after all.
We all make choices. I get that. One of mine was to work a day job so I would have health insurance and other benefits that I just can’t afford otherwise. At least not at the moment. As a result, I don’t write 8 hours a day. I would LOVE to do that, but I made a choice. So writing is a part-time job (though it takes up many more hours than that), and I view it as such. I don’t view it as a hobby. It’s a job, and one that brings me a lot of satisfaction and happiness in many ways.
But it also brings me a shit-ton of frustration, angst, and exhaustion. There are days I’m despondent, that I have no desire to write anything, and I wonder why the hell I do this and what the point of it all is. Rejection emails. Skimpy royalties. Bad or weird reviews. Plots that suck. Characters that piss me off. Ineffective writing. Word salad with no flavor.
I have those days.
I’ve written thousands of words over the decades. As individual words, they don’t suck. They’re just words, part of a language that indicates something. Without context, they just float around in thought bubbles, neutral entities without baggage. As combinations of words that I put together, some of them do suck. Others don’t. They’re slung together, thousands of them, in patterns and styles that track this long slog I’m on. Some are epically bad. Others aren’t too bad. And sometimes there’s a gem in there.
I have the evolution of my writing life in boxes, on discs, on my hard drive, my flash drives, and the Cloud, signalling the shifts in technology over the years as well as various points on this path, when the combos of words started to suck a little less. And out of all of the thousands of words that I have written, very few of them have made it to the big stage. I’ll write thousands more. A small percentage of those will make it off my hard drive and out into the world. The rest will serve as pavers on the road that is my personal writing journey.
That’s okay, fellow inkslingers. As author/writer/ninja wordsmith Chuck Wendig says,
Your writing career will be long. Lots of peaks and valleys. Lots of digging in dirt, lots of learning “wax-on, wax-off,” not sure how waxing a fucking car will teach you goddamn karate. Lots of living to do, lots of reading to do. A world of of thinking, what feels like literal tons of doubt pushing down on your neck and shoulders. And, obvious to some but not obvious to all:
It’ll take a lot of writing.
See Chuck’s blog, “It Takes the Time that It Takes,” HERE
And then I read Kameron Hurley’s blog over at Chuck’s virtual house HERE.
THAT is the essence of a writing life. And this, from that blog, is key:
I think I’ve been on the long tail a long time, but the more I talk to other writers the more I realize that that whole slog – the shitty apartment with the shitty boyfriend, the frigid outhouses in Alaska, the cockroach wrangling in South Africa – weren’t actually the start of it. That wasn’t the part where things got really interesting.
It was getting the first book. It was after the first book. It was being confronted with the fact that writing is a business, and expectations are very often crushed, and your chances for breaking out are pretty grim.
It’s persisting in the game after you know what it’s really all about. After the shine wears off. It’s persisting after all your hopes and aspirations bang head first into reality.
That’s when it starts. The rest of your life was just a warm-up.
Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.
Kameron Hurley, “On Persistence and the Long Con of Being a Writer“
Once you have that first book or story out, THAT’S when things do get interesting. Writing IS a business. And now you have to find the balance between your creative lovefest and the crapshow that the business can be. Wax on. Wax off. Repeat.
Because Hurley’s right. Persistence is what it takes to be a successful writer. Think of that, as she says, as a way of life and not just a word. That is the essence of a writing life.
Back to it, Grasshopper.
Been a few days. I’ve been battling a winter-time nasty cootie attack that involved feeling like crap for over a week. Some monsters aren’t visible to the naked eye, but they can lay you out just as easily as a zombie or werewolf or pissed-off MMA fighter.
And when I physically feel crappy, I don’t have the creative energy to work on my fiction writing. So I spent a lot of time watching movies and paranormal shows on Netflix and basically sleeping. In other words, spending a lot of time alone without being able to write or go outside and feeling generally icky.
For me, that’s a recipe for monsters.
Not the ones in the shows I was watching or the microscopic cooties that went to war with my immune system. And not these friendly, fuzzy ones:
Rather, the ones in my head. And those, my friends, can be worse than any external monsters we might have to face.
I see there is a scary POLAR VORTEX that has descended upon parts of the country. This sounds like some sort of freaky space/time conundrum that involves cold. Regardless, it’s butt-ass cold out there for a lot of you, so take precautionary measures.
I will now provide authors with some
hot air advice to warm you up regarding marketing and promo. This list is by no means exhaustive (nor is it meant to be), and I’ve mentioned a few of these points at varying times on my varied blogs. Just a few quickie tips that hopefully will keep you from being branded Sir Royal Asswipe of the Douchecanoe in readers’ and writers’ circles.
Continue onward for tips to ward off douchecanoeing.
Hope 2014 came in a-okay for all y’all. Hope you’re safe and well and ready to start a whole new year.
I finished up a longish short story that I’m offering as a .pdf download (FREE, people) right here on my site. It’s a little romance to get you jumpstarted (one hopes) for the new year and to show my appreciation to all the readers and publishers who made last year pretty awesome in a lot of ways. Let’s keep that energy rollin’, yeah?
Anyway, if you’re interested in the story “Gamble,” here’s the link for more info. Depending on the browser you’re using, you may need to download it to read it. That’s fine. Throw it on your devices and share the luv.
Happy New Year, everybody, and may creative energies push you to new and exciting things.
Hi, all –
Hope everybody had a good Xmas (if you celebrate that) and hope everyone who does the Kwanzaa thing is having a joyous season. We’ve got a whole new year coming up (WOO!), and I hope everyone has a great one.
Just a quick note to update you all on stuff going on.
We finished the crazy mass outta-control book giveaway called the Hootenanny over at Women and Words and we have a few people who won and who we’ve contacted but who have not responded. Please check the winners (they’re posted next to each book offered on each day) and if you see your name there, check your spam filters.
Author Jon Michaelsen had me over at his blog for a Q&A. Here’s the link. And while you’re there, make sure you cruise around to see what Jon’s up to and to check out the other awesome LGBT authors he’s featured over there. You’re sure to find some stuff you’d like to read.
Also, there’s a cool gathering coming up at the Virtual Livingroom this weekend! CANADIAN lesfic authors! Sounds pretty groovy, right? Here’s the scoop:
Spot-On: “O Canada”, Jan 3-5, 2014
Lesbian Fiction by Canadian authors
Many authors of fine lesbian fiction are actually Canadians and two Canadians, author Rebecca Swartz and Kathy Brodland, will co-host with the bookgeek a weekend where we celebrate those authors. And the authors graciously offered ebooks for a give-away!
Authors participating will be:
Anne Azel (Tides, for one)
Lizz Bugg (Calli Barnow mysteries)
Sarah Ettritch (Threaded Through Time)
Joan B. Flood (New Girl)
Lois Cloarec Hart (e.g. Broken Faith)
Benny Lawrence (Shell Game)
AJ Quinn (Hostage Moon, Show of Force)
Tracey Richardson (Last Salute, among others)
Rebecca Swartz (Everything Pales in Comparison)
You can access the VLR for this fun shindig HERE.
That’s what I’ve got at the moment. In the meantime, hope your new year (if you celebrate January 1), is oh, so groovy.