My gracious, peeps. I’m sort of out of hand up in here. I went on down to the Cocktail Hour for a Bar Conversation with Andy. We talked about books, writing, writing process, the upcoming GCLS conference, and a whole slew of other stuff. Hope you go and check it out. We had a hell of a good time. But then, I ALWAYS have a good time at Cocktail Hour!
I believe I’m slated to do a readings thingie on the Liz McMullen show in the next week or so. Not sure yet what I’ll be reading of mine, but it’ll probably include some unknown and unseen works-in-progress. I’ll let you know when that’s ready for your listening pleasure.
So now I’m a little lost without Walking Dead to get therapy over. Thank god(dess) Lemony Snicket took over Twitter for a bit to help us deal with our fears. Check it out. It’s darkly funny, as you would expect.
And here’s a cool post at Writer Unboxed by author Erika Robuck on how words can nourish in various ways.
And one of my fave writers/bloggers, Chuck Wendig, points out again that self-publishing versus traditional publishing isn’t some kind of epic war between Orcs and Hobbits. One might not work for you, or the other might not. Who cares? Do what works for you. I’m a hybrid between the two, and I generally tinker and explore all kinds of options and platforms. Oh, and check out his review/experience with Bioshock Infinite.
Oh, and cuz I kind of collect a few comics, here are some cool comics blogs to check out:
Comics Worth Reading (lots of great, meaty discussions here)
Comics Alliance (good info about stuff that’s out there, events, and stuff that’s on the way)
Bleeding Cool (comics news and other groovy stuff like that)
When I find interesting-ness on the intertubes, I like to pass it along to you, to do with as you please.
First, author and awesome savant Chuck Wendig often re-posts things from his blog “Terrible Minds.” This one is one of my faves, “Ode to the Editor.” Read it HERE.
Remember the other day I blogged on the importance of editors and those urban fantasy books I was reading? And how I said I would definitely not read further in one series, but would in the other? Well, I’m reading the second in the series I enjoyed, but once again, the editor made a boo-boo. In the first of that series, the word “allusion” rather than “illusion” appeared. In this one, the word “allude” rather than “elude” appeared. Grammar monster will explain the difference here. Even though I’m 200 pages past it, it still bugs me. And sadly, I know what page it’s on. Sigh. The editor-ness in me sometimes is SUCH a burden.
Anyway. Here’s another cool thing I found today. Jennifer Niven writes on women spies at HuffPo in the 20th century. Super-cool, and if you’re looking for some inspiration or ideas for an espionage novel/thriller, this piece might offer you some.
Oh, and James Blaylock, one of the dudes integral in the establishment of steampunk as a genre, tells us how that came about in his piece at HuffPo, “On Steampunk.”
I’m currently reading Phoenix Rising (by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris), the first in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series. Fun stuff, great characters. If you haven’t read much steampunk, I also recommend Cherie Priest‘s work.
Heh. And the January 15 Bloggess entry, about the Eye of Sauron. [NOTE: if you have issues with ladyparts words, don't click that link.]
And finally, this cool song, “All of Me,” by the Brooklyn duo Tanlines. They remind me of my Erasure days in the 80s, when I wore pegged jeans, Docs, and retro bowling shirts. Oh, wait…
Anyway, this vid has an 80s cold war feel to it, too. Love the juxtaposition of the bippy tune and the grim interior of that bar/club.
All rightie! Happy reading, happy writing, and put your music on and DANCE!
I’ll be on the road in the next few days, so I won’t be able to check in as often as I’d like. But DON’T WORRY! I’ll be back, and probably with some tales to tell.
Anyway, I follow Broadside (because it’s an awesome blog. Hello.) and today, Caitlin Kelly (the woman who does Broadside) had a super good post about what it takes to be a writer. READ IT. Not that I’m pushing you or anything.
She didn’t use the term “stubborn,” but I sure will (Caitlin used “persistence”). Because that’s important. You must be stubborn and stick to it, if it’s what you want to do. And you must continue to do it, in the face of what some days feels like you’re wearing a pair of concrete cowboy boots in a shit tornado. In spite of these things, you must persevere, if this is what you want to do.
You will be rejected (and some of those will hurt). You will be dissed on the interwebs (and you must not respond). You will submit your work a gajillion times and only one of those times may garner you a notice. But it may not land you a contract. You must, as Caitlin points out, have a hide the thickness of a fossilized dinosaur’s (okay, she’s more eloquent) but the sensitive heart of a Bambi-eyed puppy. You must suck it up and smile, even when you’re in the middle of that poo typhoon, and exhibit graciousness and humility because people remember what you say and do. Readers like to know that you’re not some cranky-ass sodden heap of negativity spewing thunderbolts of judgment at everybody who wanders across your time/space continuum. And if you are, readers remember. Hell, everybody remembers. Why bring that on yourself?
And, a couple of my favorites from Caitlin: be curious, and be generous. I’m intensely curious about everything and everyone. How could you not be? The world is an endlessly fascinating place and we are a totally mondo-bizarro species doing all kinds of wild stuff. I also like giving of my time and energy to others, because you never know who you’ll meet. Plus, it’s just good ju-ju to share the love.
Caitlin also supplies some links to other blogs about what it takes to be a writer. Check those out. And here are a couple I liked.
(the always irreverent and happy sailor-mouthed) Chuck Wendig’s 25 things he wants to say to aspiring writers
And another Chuck post about things writers lie about to themselves
And here’s Chuck’s secret to writing:
source (re-sized here, and he did register it with a Creative Commons license, so share away!)
Happy Friday, peeps!
I’ve provided links to author Chuck Wendig’s writing tips in the past, because I love his irreverent, often profane take on this nutty writing life.
Here’s what it’s about, from Angry Robot:
Miriam Black knows when you will die. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.
But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.
No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.
Here’s part of the buzz, all from Angry Robot:
“Trailer-park tension, horrified hilarity, and sheer terror mixed with deft characterization and razor plotting. I literally could not put it down.”
- Lilith Saintcrow, author of Night Shift and Working for the Devil
“A gleefully dark, twisted road trip for everyone who thought Fight Club was too warm and fuzzy. If you enjoy this book, you’re probably deeply wrong in the head. I loved it, and will be seeking professional help as soon as Chuck lets me out of his basement.”
- James Moran, Severance, Doctor Who and Torchwood screenwriter
“Gritty and raw, Blackbirds sports a unique heroine in the form of Miriam. Both sympathetic and pitiable, she dances through Chuck’s brilliant turns of phrase and crisp writing to an illuminating ending which begs the question: Are we truly masters of our own fate?”
- Allison Pang, author of A Brush of Darkness
That might not be the kind of book up your alley, but what I also dig about Chuck is how open he is with and about his process. Here’s part of the story BEHIND Blackbirds, done in his “25 Things…” format. It’s worth the trip over. CLICK THIS LINK HERE OR BE FOREVER DOOMED TO THE WALK-IN FREEZER OF MORDOR!
Happy Friday, y’all, and may we all find that “god I love this novel this is the one that will take me to the fire goddess Pelé and buy our way out of her wrath with a cocky grin and a song and make sure I have plenty of party favors” novel within us.
Here are a few groovy links for you to check out and expand yer brain. Or something.
1. Doctor Seuss’ 108th birthday! I grew up with Seuss books. My parents read them to me until I could read myself, and then I just read ‘em all the time. Love ‘em. My fave Seuss characters are the Zax (Zaxes? Zaxi? Zaxices?), Bartholomew Cubbins, and Horton. Although the Sneetches were pretty cool, too. 7 things you didn’t know about Seuss.
2. OMG you have GOT to check out this free app for mobile devices. Great time-killing zombie game, called “Stupid Zombies.” I give you info at Women and Words.
3. Are you a writer? Need a prompt? Chuck Wendig has a cool song shuffle prompt for flash fiction. Check it out.
4. Whoa. 12 post-apocalyptic house designs. Some crazy, some not-so-much. Clickie.
5. Imogen Heap’s vid for her “First Train Home,” which is one of my earworm songs at the moment. Everybody needs music, whether you believe that about yourself or not. Let this one be your rush-hour drive song.
Oh, and here. The Sneetches.
There. Everybody have a happy and safe Friday, and I hope that extends through the weekend. Happy writing, happy reading, happy living.
My particular fave point:
5. Quiet Loners
Whenever they find some whackaloon with a collection of severed heads in his freezer, they always trot out the neighbors and you get that classic line: “He was always so quiet.” And the assumption becomes, oh, that seemingly nice-and-quiet chap next door needed his quiet time because he was too busy with his hobby of decapitating dudes. On the other hand: hey, maybe him being quiet and alone all the time made him crazy. Maybe you spend too long cooped up with yourself the carpet starts moving and the wallpaper shifts and the room starts to whisper, You know what would be awesome? A sweet-ass collection of severed heads. Get on that. This is probably a good time to remind you that writers happen to spend a lot of time alone and cooped up with themselves. Just, uhh, putting that out there. What, this old thing? Just a hacksaw.
I’d add another:
What? Doesn’t everyone ask people at cocktail parties what it would take to get them to drive a car off a suspension bridge or break into someone’s house for the sole purpose of raiding their refrigerator and eating meat naked in the kitchen sink? (true story–that actually happened, but I’m sure a writer somewhere had already put it to paper before that) Writers should go out in public at least three times a week to interact with people who are not writers. Not only does that teach us how to behave like normal people for a few minutes (one hopes), but it can give you lots of good ideas for secondary characters.
Happy reading, happy writing. And put that hacksaw away, where nobody can see it.
Hi, kids. Just letting you know that Chuck Wendig posted a great blog over at “Terrible Minds” about this issue. Catch that HERE.
And catch my take on it over at Women and Words HERE.
The upshot? There is no battle between the types of publishing. As writers, we should be helping each other tell great stories, and quit ragging about the vehicles that bring them to market.
Just some food for thought. Happy Thursday.
Hey, kids. I’m a huge fan of author Chuck Wendig for his spot-on blogs about writing and the life of a writer.
His latest is no exception: “What It’s Like Being a Writer“
It’s true. Every last bit of it. That’s what it’s like.
I get a lot of questions about “work.” That is, what writers “do” when they “work.”
There’s no real mystery to it. I sit down (or stand — I alternate, because the bane of backs everywhere is sitting for long stretches), I open a file onscreen, I go through a couple of chapters to pick up the mood and flavor, and start writing where I left off. I also go back and tweak, edit, obsess, re-do, tighten, and check. I have the interwebs open so I can fact-check (when I’m working on a mystery), and sometimes I stop everything and contact an expert to make sure that I have details right. For me, thus, writing is like putting together a research paper. There’s an internal organization and structure, a way that things unfold, and I have to do some research for a lot of my work.
Having said that, I don’t ever really know how my stories or novels are going to play out or end until I’m practically there. I’m one of those “organic” kinds of writers. I’ll have an idea and I’ll mull it for a while and then sit down and just start writing. I don’t do outlines (unless I’m working on a nonfiction piece), though I do keep notes.
Most writers will tell you that to keep fresh as a writer, you need to do at least a thousand a words a day. And not Tweeting or interwebbing or Facebooking. A thousand words on your project(s) each and every day. Every writer has a different approach to doing those thousand words. I tend to hammer out 2,000-3,000 in a session, which can be an hour or two. On weekends, I might get in 5,000-7,000 words, if I don’t have anything else going on. And yes, I have a day job. I treat my writing like a workout. I do it almost every day. And when I’m not doing that, I’m dealing with publishers, cover designers, and marketing/promotion. Writing is not just about the act of writing. It’s about the entire business that surrounds it. And when I’m not doing that, I’m trying to figure out how to make my writing better, which involves workshops, reading other writers, and engaging in discussions about craft.
But I also have a day here and there where I don’t write. That’s fine. It works for me, because I’ve found that for me, if I force myself to write too much all the time, I stop liking the story, and that’s when I know I have to take a break. But I don’t ever stop thinking about stories. And everything I do during a day has the potential to turn into a story or to be part of a story.
So yes, writing is work. Is it brutally physical labor? Hell, no and I would never presume to compare it to things like, say, firefighting or law enforcement. But it requires a level of engagement with a subject sustained over long periods of time. It can be a lonely, frustrating pursuit with little monetary reward. And no, I don’t know why writers write. Everybody’s got their own reasons. I do it because I love it and it provides an outlet for me that I think (for unknown reasons), keeps me grounded and sane, in a weird way, though I know that lots of writers are rumored to be other than that.
Oh, and writers constantly tell wannabe writers things like this. Because it’s a crazy freakin’ life, and honestly, not everyone should be a writer, just as not everybody should be a firefighter or a police officer. For those of us who are writers, it’s obviously because some strange alien creature invaded our brain fogs like the Borg and now we’re doomed.
So there you go.
Happy reading, happy writing!
This comes from one of my fave bloggers and writer-guys, Chuck Wendig. He can be a little raunchy with the tips, but he’s always right on.
What I really like about Chuck’s tips here is that he nails the importance of good dialogue and its role in plot. Here’s a taste:
3. Sweet Minimalism
Let’s get this out of the way: don’t hang a bunch of gaudy ornaments upon your dialogue. In fiction, use the dialogue tags “said” and “asked” 90% of the time. Edge cases you might use “hissed,” “called,” “stammered,” etc. These are strong spices; use minimally. Also, adverbs nuzzled up against dialogue tags are an affront to all things and make Baby Jesus pee out the side of his diaper, and when he does that, people die. In scripts, you don’t have this problem but you can still clog the pipes with crap if you overuse stage directions. Oh, heavy dialect and sland? Just more ornamentation that’ll break the back of your dialogue.
6. Shape Determines Speed
Short, sharp dialogue is a prison shiv: moves fast ’cause it’s gotta, because T-Bone only has three seconds in the lunch line with Johnny the Fish to stitch a shank all up in Johnny’s kidneys. Longer dialogue moves more slowly. Wanting to create tension? Fast, short dialogue. Want to create mystery? Longer, slightly more ponderous dialogue. Want to bog your audience in word treacle? Let one character take a lecturing info-dump all over their heads.
And there are 23 more, just waiting for you to peruse
Happy writing, happy reading!