Upcoming Events – Highlands Festival

VHF-2014ThemeI've been experiencing a minor swarm of deadlines since we got back from Lisbon (oh, what a gorgeous city–it was fabulous), and so scarce around these parts. But I did want to drop a post to say if you're in or around the Abingdon, Virginia, area, well, I will be too Sunday through Tuesday, Aug. 3-5, for the Virginia Highlands Festival's Creative Writing Days. You should come out to some events and say hi.

I've never been to the festival before, and I can't wait. Whee!

Here's where you can catch me there:

  • Sunday, 3-4:30 p.m. – "Words and Music: Classical Music Sunday": Readings by three of the Writers’ Day participants: poet Rita Quillen and fantasy writers Charles Vess and Gwenda Bond will alternate with classical music performed by Keith Hungate, violinist, and James Spraker, pianist. (Books will be available and so will we to sign afterward.)
  • Monday, 8 a.m.-5 pm. – Writers' Day (follow the link to see the full schedule of fab stuff, get locale info, and register):

    – 1:15-2:45 p.m. workshop with me, "How Do We Change the World?" Capturing reality can seem challenging enough, so let’s discuss some ways to approach work that departs from it. Whether you’re a beginning writer or just looking to try out something new, we’ll talk about how to get started writing fiction and fantasy stories. (This will be fun: promise.)

    – 3 p.m. Gwenda Bond and Charles Vess, combined workshop: Our combined workshop will be a continuation of what Charles is exploring in his previous session, “What Does That Word Look Like Anyway?” Only this time, the audience will experience Gwenda reading from one of her stories as Charles draws what he sees there.  Before and after we can discuss the effect that a vivid descriptive passage can have on the reader, and how just a few well-chosen words can pull the reader into a writer’s world and keep them wanting more. (Ed. note: How excited am I about this particular session? Charles is basically my hero, and so that's how excited.)

  • Tuesday, 11 a.m.-noon – Creative Writing Youth/Teen Workshop with me, at the Washington County, Va., public library: As always, the public library wants to get readers excited about books and provide an opportunity to encourage young writers. This program is for middle and high school students, but all ages are welcome. Refreshments will be provided. (Refreshments, y'all. Just saying.)

And, yes, I'll definitely be giving a preview of Girl on a Wire (aka the circus book) in my readings. So…y'all come! If not for me, then for Charles Vess. Because HE IS AMAZING, as we all know.

More soon — including, oh *whistles innocently* about Secret Project. SOON.

Hello From Here

My workspace here

So far all I’ve managed is to edit down a prologue (openings are delicate and tricksy!) — but having a great time in Lisbon. And loving my little workspace.

More photos of this glorious city and our adventures here can be found in this flickr album I'm updating daily. Far too many, admittedly. Shoot now, curate later, I say.

Thanks, everyone, for the generous reaction and comments here and there on the last post. Happy it resonated. Now time for one of those decadent vacation lunches, with a little copo of wine.

Ten Reasons To Keep Your Eyes On Your Own Paper (or, Go Team Writers)

This post wasn't brought on by anything in particular, but I'm about to leave on vacation (Portugal!) and it's something that's been rattling around in my head for a while and also I didn't want to leave the heat death of an imprint post* at the top of the blog in the event I don't post anything from the road.

1. It's hard, I know it's hard, no matter what stage of the writing game you're at, not to feel like everyone is getting more money or attention or acclaim or invites to fancy events than you are. To not feel that you're stuck in neutral or first or something like that (I can't drive a stick). Writers three books in side-eye announcements about projects that sold for a bazillion dollars and sound terrible to them or maybe writers who haven't sold yet feel a sting of ire when someone further along tweets about how hard they're finding it to write that day or maybe a bestselling author longs for the ability to write something just because they want to, with no outside pressure again. Here's the key thing to remember. The main questions worrying most writers, by career stage:

  • Beginning writer, not yet agented/sold/published: Is this any good? Will anyone buy this? Am I terrible hack with no future?
  • Most published writers: Is this any good? Will anyone buy this? Am I terrible hack with no future?
  • Writer who has a legion of fans and great success: Is this any good? Will anyone buy this? Am I terrible hack with no future?

The who is at the end of 'will anyone buy this?' might change depending — a publisher or readers, or both, ultimately it's always about the readers — upon certain variables and some (lucky) people may have a touch less imposter syndrome, but the core concerns are more or less the same. No one ever really feels comfortable or assured of their place and always always confident in their work and whether it will succeed in the market. The more failure, the more pressure. The more success, the more pressure.

2. The only answer to all these questions is to keep writing and see. Keep trying to get better. Keep your eyes on your own paper. All writing careers are icebergs–there's more happening than what you see above the surface–but I can guarantee you that any news that would make you envious or sad or disappointed is probably the result of the person doing one key thing: Writing. It's much easier to focus on what you're putting on the page when you're not letting yourself be distracted by things that do not matter to your career and have no direct relation to it. And you will also have to learn to focus when you're being distracted by things that do matter to your career and directly relate to it. Learning to focus and work no matter what our circumstances (unless you're trapped in a cage with a tiger or similar, obvs) stands us all well.

3. All of this is also why it's important to remember that writers are not competing against each other in some sort of book sales Hunger Games, especially not in districts of self-published/indie authors vs. traditionally published authors, with hybrids as jabberjays or something. We're just not. If there are sides, writers are on the same one. But I don't think that there are sides. Last I checked, we aren't in a war (in my opinion, though some heated rhetoric wants it that way). I think there are just a whole lot of people trying to tell the stories they have to tell and find an audience, and as a backdrop to that you have a business that is in flux. I was at a festival several months ago, and a reader stopped by to chat and buy a book — she held up her tote bag and told me and my neighbor author that she was an author too, but "not really, just self-pubbed." She then went on to tell us that she was feeling very low because one of her all-time heroes who was at the festival and who she'd come to see had said really negative things about self-publishers during a panel, and how no one who was serious would ever do it. And, friends, that is just wrong. I make to you a solemn vow — the same I made to this author after telling her that her idol came up during different times in the business and that she should never give anyone the power to make her feel like less than an author — and that is that I will never disparage another writer because of how they are publishing. I know this sometimes goes the other way too, and that's also wrong. There are plenty of reasons to trad pub, plenty of reasons to go indie and plenty of reasons to do both. Telling people they made bad career choices because you firmly believe you made the right ones is not the way to go about things because…

4. Your experience is your experience. Generalizing from it is dangerous, and so is not understanding what it is that makes you and your work and the place where you stand on the road — beginning, midlist, bestseller list, or end and how you got there — uniquely yours. All advice, all decisions, should take this into account. This is why there is no blanket "this way is better" or "that way is better"; it's going to vary based on the writer, based on the project, based on all sorts of other things. Every writing career is a fingerprint, the author's mark on the world. And they are all, by necessity, different.

5. None of this is meant to advocate not being part of the community or conversation or being inspired by other people. I suppose if I had to boil it down, what I'm saying is: Boost each other, celebrate each other's successes because this is a tough business and we need that. Celebrate. Cheer people on. Mean it, instead of being mean. It makes for a lot more fun than being Merriam-Webster's definition 3 of petty: "marked by or reflective of narrow interests and sympathies." Be broad and enthusiastic. Be a supporter, not a detractor. For things you believe in supporting. Don't be afraid to speak up with things you disagree with, but it still may wear you down. I know it sometimes does me. But giving a boost to someone else always raises my spirits. Seeing good things happen to other people is, well, a good thing in and of itself. A reminder that yes, this is hard, but there are good things about it too. Really good ones.

6. You're a writer, not anyone's battle troop or talking point or shrub to groom. The only person you're in a business relationship with who is always and forever looking out for you is your agent. (Assuming you have one. And, if so, I sure hope they are.) Don't jump to conclusions, positive or negative, without all the facts. Beware experts or, worse, visionaries and gurus. Put what they say in a heap and mix it together and what's left in the middle is probably closer to the truth of any given situation you find yourself in, or article about The Industry or trends, or startling developments, et cetera, than the outliers would like you to believe. Never forget the first rule of the internet: Drama means clicks. Well, the second rule. The first rule is: Cute animals will one day rule us and we will not care because OMG SO CUTE. (Also, publishing people tend to be slightly panicked and doomsaying. It's just our way. And it has to be adjusted for. I call it the standard "the sky is not actually falling" adjustment. YMMV.)

SealbabyKNEEL BEFORE SEAL PUP (from zooborns)

7. Again, to be clear, this does not mean to tune out all industry news or not learn from your peers and observe and discuss their experiences and careers. This is how we stay sane. It just means, put it in a context that isn't comparative. That isn't diminishing. That doesn't require obsessing over. Knowing about the business is good, as long as it helps you see more clearly. Or understand the bigger picture (please explain it to the rest of us, if you do). If you can't follow it without obsessing about how X doesn't deserve Y, or thinking there's some angle you should be working and then everything would be perfect, then you'll always be better off keeping your eyes on your own paper instead and writing the next thing in oblivious bliss.

8. If there is something you really want to happen for your career, and you feel like it just isn't, and you're having a why-oh-why case of the green envies, well, I would suggest stopping for a second and asking if you actually have been working toward that thing. An example: it doesn't make sense to obsess about not ever winning or almost winning a certain award, if the books you write are not the kind of books that ever do. (Also: never do anything just to win an award. Or hit a list or etc. It will almost always be a waste of your time. Writing books is too hard.) But if you find what you want to do is write that kind of book, the kind of book that would get you that dream, then you can adjust what you're doing. Always ask: Is what I think I want what I really want? Is it something in the realm of possibility? Then what can I do to get closer to that? This is hard, because I think most of us writers are very organized about writing and willing to have any conversation and make any decision about the story we're telling, but often find it harder to buckle down and do it where the career path is concerned. At least, it is for me. And being busy and in the middle of other things makes it even harder. But our careers are stories too, and we should give them the same attention.

9. Sometimes terrible things will happen. Or it will feel like they might happen. Medium-terrible things will happen (not involving an Arquette). Or you may just be in a period of uncertainty. This can happen at any stage of anyone's career or seemingly every Wednesday, and it may manifest in different ways. So be kind to other writers. Be kind to yourself. Remember that all this started with you sitting in front of a blank page and filling it up, and if the worst happens, that's all you need since…

10. If something good happens, you write your way through it. If something bad happens, you write your way out of it. Rules to writer's life by.

Just as you celebrate other people's achievements, celebrate your own. The ones you can control are no less meaningful than the ones you don't. Maybe they're more.

The TL/DR:

Keep your eyes on your own paper and tell your story, don't judge other people's career choices but do cheer them on when you can, rinse, repeat. Go Team Writers.

And now I am going to look at this beautiful view (well, I arrive Friday and tomorrow is all travel and I still have to put out the stuff for the house and Hem sitter, but):

View

*Thanks again to everyone for all the supportive messages and emails about Strange Chemistry. I'll share any additional news when I have it.

This Crazy Biz We Call Pub

So, the news broke this morning that Angry Robot is shuttering the Strange Chemistry and Exhibit A imprints, effective immediately.

Questions I'm getting:

What does this mean for Blackwood and The Woken Gods?

I suspect little in the short term, although if you've been procrastinating on buying them, now would be a good time. It also means I can finally answer all the people who ask if there will be a sequel to The Woken Gods. In some ways, this might make it more likely at some distant point down the road (Angry Robot/SC had an option). But I hope it will make plain why I didn't rush to try and do that project just now. Not that I knew this was coming, but I have been around the business a long time and I can’t say it came as a surprise either (the abruptness, yes). Ultimately, what I want is to write many, many books for you guys, and so I make career decisions based on that. Which brings me to the other question…

Are you okay?

GoaWI really and truly am. I hope that Blackwood and The Woken Gods either stay in print and easily available, whether from Angry Robot or some eventual buyer of their list or parent company, or that the rights revert to me so that I can make sure they are.

But the book I'm most proud of that I've written to date is Girl on a Wire, and it'll be out this October. If you want to show me your support, put it on your radar, talk about it if you like it, preorder. And I have another project (Secret Project) that is close to being announced, I think. And there are several other things in the works I'm very excited about.

I will be fine. I'm among the least screwed in this situation.

Bottomline:

I will be forever grateful to Strange Chemistry and Angry Robot for giving my career its start, and for the wonderful friends I met because I published there. I hope everyone lands on their feet — staff at the publisher, but most especially the amazing writers who were notified yesterday that their books are canceled, debut authors and people writing sequels or who had already written them, and those who were mid-series. Please support them, now and in the future. We can't afford to lose their voices.

 

Slide_outnow_nov2013

Thanks to everyone for your good thoughts and concern today. All the love for that.

Edited to add: As expected, The Woken Gods and Blackwood will continue to be available for now from Angry Robot–there are apparently some potential buyers of the list in the mix, so we'll see how it all plays out and this is also when we read reversion clauses just in case. Thanks again for all the kind words and well wishes. Sign up for my quarterly or irregular for *big* newsletter, and you won't miss anything. <3

Mini-Update + Reviewed

This week is a little on the crazy side, because C is at Syc Hill and my mom is recovering from surgery in town and I am on deadline. There isn't even any time for Secret Shames (that post has some fun comments if you need ideas for truly guilty pleasure-esque things to do when the significant other is away). But the good news is this deadline means (probably) the last of revisions on Secret Project, and I'm also filling out the author questionaire for it, which all means it is closer to being revealed to you and a secret no longer. 

Yesterday was a lonnng day spent editing at the hospital while waiting to move my mom over to the rehab hospital, and then being entertained by her roommate at the new place, a woman in her eighties who reminds me of a little of Gray Gardens and a little of Maurice Sendak in prime lovable grouch mode and answers all unwanted questions with "Damned if I know" and so is clearly a genius.

Then I came home to a good surprise, in the form of a very nice first review for Girl on a Wire from the July issue of School Library Journal. Here's a little snippet:

“With a thrilling mystery, a hint of magic, and a touch of romance, Girl on a Wire takes readers into the fascinating world of circus performers. It is clear that Bond has done her research, especially with Jules’s idol, Jennadean Engleman, aka Bird Millman, a famous vaudeville tightrope and city walker.”

*beams* I just updated the buy links on its page, should you want to pre-order.

And while I'm talking reviews, a new one for Blackwood popped up on a blog maintained by UNC-Chapel Hill libraries, featuring books set in North Carolina: "Bond infuses the original legend of the Lost Colony with quite a bit of imagination. Blackwood is perfect for readers on the look-out for an intelligent young adult novel." It makes me happy to see people still discovering that book, and I'm always especially pleased when North Carolinians (and librarians!) like it.

 And I will leave you with this oldish but new to me video of the Chinese State Circus doing an incredible acrobatic version of Swan Lake (also, not really related, but I am so happy that So You Think You Can Dance is back):

 

 

(Seriously, if you haven't seen that video watch it. She goes en pointe on his shoulder!)

Now back to work.

Ten Things I Want From The Future (But Haven’t Gotten Yet)

1. I always wanted a building that was a living dictionary. Something like a less infinite version of Borges' Library of Babel. It would be like the Oxford English Dictionary, but for any language you wanted, and you could stroll through it surrounded by words with strange, delicious definitions, or ask it to direct you through its transculent labyrinthine corridors if you had a destination in mind.


(Maybe it would be something like Jose Vasconcelos Library in Mexico City, except, of course, different because living dictionary — click through to see more photos of that gorgeous space.)

2. I always wanted an Extra-Time Machine. Take that, H.G. Wells. Okay, so not really, because this is the kind of thing only an adult would crave. When you're a kid, maybe you want a few extra hours of TV instead of homework or reading instead of sleeping, but when you're an adult, you need extra time. Some of my extra time, I would put to a devotedly good use. Even just an hour a day, or thirty minutes. I would work more. Or do yoga. But some of it I would devote to lazing. Just think: an Extra-Time Machine that gave you lazing time. Get on this, Imaginary Science. (Update: At twitter, Tim Pratt points out that Wells did invent "the elixir in The New Accelerator that speeds you up and makes the world go slower!" But I want discrete pouches of extra time instead.)

 3. Virtual daemons/pets like baby pygmy hippos, sloths, goats, or Dik-Diks. It's like visiting zooborns every day, but customizable, and the dogs and cat would eventually get used to that day's hologram teensy deer lounging on the desk or sloths swinging from bookshelf to bookshelf and not bark and swat at them. It would be like the apocalyptic prophecy from Ghostbusters (dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!), but dogs and cats and virtual pygmy hippos living together with no hysteria in an obviously utopian dream! 

Deskdeer(Photo from zooborns; some days this would make writing go much more smoothly, I know it!)

 4. While we're dreaming big, new episodes of any show I want to watch, exactly when I want to watch it. That's right–in addition to the Extra-Time Machine, we'd have a Media Time Machine, allowing us to employ our lazing hours with an efficiency that would be truly ironic. Oh, oh! And also any books I want to read, even if they haven't been written yet. (Dear Amazon: Get on the Kindle!Future Book Time Machine thing. Thx.) (Also, I'll be content with the news of a third season of Miss Fisher's!)

5. It's not all about new inventions. I'd also like a sudden decision by every movie theater in the world to add regular showtimes for one classic film every week…so that I could see all my favorite movies on the big screen instead of just TCM.

Midnight_1939_poster(Have you seen this one? If not, get on that, one of my favorite takes on Cinderella. It's also one of the movies that gets a nod in the circus book!)

 6. Teleportation devices, or failing that I'll settle for noiseless, clean, fast transportation linking up the entire world or at least the entire country. Or, failing even that, just Amtrak trains to suddenly be like the image we all have in our minds of the kinds of luxury cars where Hitchcock protagonists meet and discuss trysts and murder and other Noir Things. And also fast. And cheap. (And non-rights-grabby.)

7. Poetry to be more a part of daily life. Why do we all love and read and write poetry as teens and then so many of us stop? Not that I'm going to start writing it, because no one wants that, but I should read it more. This one's on me. This one I can do. (Hopefully, Imaginary Science starts feeling competitive right about now, and gets on these other things.)

8. All right, let's slip in another lit-related thing: more gender balance on the NYT YA list. And way more diversity. And on other, non-bestseller types of lists too. This one we can also do (and we've got a good start, thanks to lots of folks' hard work).

9. Music shows that start at 7 p.m. I know, this is the wish of an old. But 10 is just too late, my darlings. I want the music to start earlier.

10. Dragons.

Mario_the_Magnificent(Mario the Magnificent, mascot of Drexel–ideally he'd be real and flying around and stuff, but I could work with robot dragons too.)

 *waves goodbye for now*

I'm thinking I'm going to try to make a ten things post every Friday about something. That way guaranteed posts at least once a week, even during busy time. This week I decided for a little less ranty topic, in honor of Friday the 13th. Now back to deadline-crunchville.

Ten Reasons To Read YA (No Matter What Age You Are)

1. You like good books more than you care what section of a bookstore they're found in or maintaining some ill-defined sort of lit cred (spoiler alert: it does not really exist).

2. You're interested in developing your own informed opinions about various genres and varieties of fiction. The lit cred of being actually well and widely read does exist.

3. Because YA is so powerful that it's built an enthusiastic reading culture all its own that includes both teens and adults, now in this our age of greatest distraction.

4. You've ever experienced something, anything for the first time, but especially one of those great big moments that help define or redefine who we are, that shape what we think and feel about love and death and life, those great big moments that change us or make us dig in deeper to who we already are. You want to feel that again. Or you want to understand it better. You want to understand what it's like for someone else. And guess what? These moments keep happening, your whole life.

5. You like stories that aren't afraid to put the experience of girls front and center, all different kinds of girls, and treat them as importantly as they deserve to be. (There are plenty of fine YA books starring boys and taking them seriously too, but I think we all know that finding those stories has never been a real problem, just a fake one.)

6. You like story. The pure, focused, raw stuff. It may be simple or it may be deceptively simple or it may be–oh yes it may be–complex, it may take place on a spaceship or in a mansion that houses a dark early American science experiment or in a high school, or in the future or in the past or right now. But you will have no trouble finding books that prize story, and there's no mistaking that. And story is one the most powerful substances in the world.

7. You're intrigued by the fact that while outsiders, aka those not well-read in YA, may try to pit fantasy and science fiction against realistic contemporary, humor against horror or girl books against boy books, most of the people in the YA community will tell you that's nonsense and that one of the best things YA brings to the reading experience is its ability to have all those things exist side by side, often within the same book, and to mix and match them with the freedom that comes from being a category more than a genre. A category that contains most genres and isn't afraid to push at the boundaries of them and of the category itself.

8. You crave an emotional journey and whether it's dark or swoony or light you can find an excellent example in YA.

9. You don't dismiss reader pleasure–not your own, not other people's. Whether it comes from delicious prose, unforgettable characters, strong voice or perfectly-executed twists, so many YA authors are masters at creating reader pleasure, while still telling whatever kind of story it is they mean to tell.

10. I could have really ended this list with number one, couldn't I? So the TL/DR is:

You like good books.

Writing Process Tag

I'm doing something I hardly ever do here, a blog tour post–but it's an interesting twist on the concept. It's not a blog tour, per se, it's a tour of the same questions to the blogs of various writers.

So, when my former VCFA classmate Anindita Basu Sempere ("We Survived Tim Wynne-Jones"–our T-shirts would read, since we shared him as an advisor the same semester; Tim is an amazing teacher and mentor, and a tough one!) asked if I was game to be tagged, I said yes. Anindita is a wonderful writer–I think back to her graduate reading and have chills. I can't wait until we can all read her books. You can read her process post and see what delicious things she's working on here.

And now I will answer the questions, with apologies for caginess, because I can't say toooo much about the projects I'm actively working on at the moment (I don't want to spook them). But I do so love process talk, so here goes.

1.     What am I working on?

Usually I'm only working on one thing actively, with some other things either in stages that are further along and which I might be waiting to get edits or copyedits or notes on, because I've always found it difficult to shift focus from one book to another on a daily basis. When I'm working on a book, I tend to be working on it pretty much whenever my brain has downtime, even if I'm not sitting at my keyboard. I try as best I can to hold the entire book in my mind, turning it this way and that, until new things come into view–usually for the next scene(s) or chapters, but sometimes further ahead. The ability to be IN whatever project I need to be in has always been relatively easy for me, but it has also tended to be one at a time.

But at the moment I'm attempting to work on two things at once, which is going okay so far, probably because they're at different stages. One is a collaborative middle grade fantasy novel I'm writing with my husband, which features all sorts of intricate setting details and unique characters and a chef's kid with a secret even he doesn't know. We wrote the first draft last year and are now revising and rethinking and generally embiggening and embettering it, and so that's taking the most time and attention. It's also different because this is our first collaboration, and learning how to revise together is the same kind of new endeavor that learning to write together was. But we're figuring it out and it's fun even when it's hard and we're stuck on something. We surprise each other, live the "two heads are better than one" principle for thorny plot or character or worldbuilding issues, and are constantly brainstorming and talking things out. We change our larger outline as we go, shifting as it needs to be, and discuss in depth each coming chapter, then alternate who writes, with both of us adding to the revision each day. (For the real nerds: while we wrote the first draft in Google Drive, now we're using Scrivener, with Dropbox syncing–the only hassle is just one of us can have the file open at a time; my kingdom for the functionality of Scrivener with the collab-syncing capacity of Drive).

The other project I'm working on is a YA twisted take on a fairy tale (of sorts), about which I can't say much, because it's just being born and I haven't even told my agent anything much except that yet (*waves to agent*), but also because it's a big twisty dark mystery too. I'm waiting until I have enough pages to show her. Of things I can say about it–hmm, there will be a strange city, and teens who live beneath it, rumors of magic, a glimpse of the contemporary art scene, and some thievery. Best to keep its secrets for now. Process-wise, I'm refining my outline and adding words to first few chapters when I have time. Drafting is always the hardest stage for me. I much prefer revising. But you can't do one without the other.

(I am so sorry that is SO long with so little description of the what. Annoying fact of writing life is that sometimes you can't say much.)

2.     How does my work differ from others of its genre?

 This one's even tougher to answer, I think. But, if pressed, I'd say the revision of the middle grade is pushing it even more into our own personal tandem weird zone, while also trying to keep it inviting. And likewise for the new solo book of mine; it's maybe a little different because while I love *some* fairy tale retellings, I'm super-picky about them. And this one is as much an inversion or subversion as a retelling. So. And it's as much realistic as fantasy. Like my book that comes out this fall, I find myself more inclined lately to treat magic in my YA stuff in a slightly less traditional fantasy way, more as a question that may or may not exist until the characters know if it does or not.

I hope it doesn't sound like I know what I'm doing. 😉 I just try to follow what feels right for the story. And then revise, rinse, repeat.

3.     Why do I write what I do?

 I hope because these are stories that only I can tell, that come from the idiosyncratic nature of everything I  live and read and watch and listen to and am interested in and am. But also that other people can step into them too. (And for the collab, the same, but for both of us. Part of the fun of that project is trying to delight each other; the revision is mostly about doing the best we can to make sure it delights others too.) (Okay, so that probably applies to my solo stuff as well.)

4.     How does your writing process work?

Routine! If I'm not getting enough done, I fall right back on my routine. Which, for me, most days, means my best hours are right after I get up. The absolute best is if I can forgo looking at the Internet–no email, no twitter–until after I have done a couple of hours of morning writing or revising. Walks during the day are spent trying to solve story in my brain, and then dog walks at night are for talking out problems with Christopher (whether it's on our collaboration or our solo stuff). I also try to write at lunch, and more in the evening if necessary. I could revise round the clock, if it wasn't a) not workable at the moment with my schedule and b) probably unhealthy. I always try to take evenings off, but when it's my writing time, I'm writing, nothing else. So long as I'm meeting my daily goals, whatever they happen to be, I cut myself some slack.

This is probably the most important thing I've learned as a writer, and I know that endless or deadline crunch round-the-clock style works for some people (just not me). But I used to spend way too much time thinking I could and should be working even more, that there was always something else I could be doing to further a project, every second. Now, I do what I intend for that day, and then I feel no guilt for anything else. If I'm getting behind on email, I don't feel guilty, so long as I'm answering urgent things and getting my writing done. Etc. I have to have hours off to watch TV or read or just be lazy or I am not going to do good work or have a life that works. I need the time away, the outside stimulus–and I have a lot of other work I have to do too. So, I try to catch up on the other stuff in between projects, or once a week (or two) for email. But my operative philosophy is: following routine = check, then guilt = no. It's made all the difference.

I could talk about outlining and things, but I've already written, ahem, a book here, so I will instead tag the next victims! Who will post next Monday on their own sites. These just happen to be two authors I think you should be paying attention to. (Theirs are the only two books I've blurbed so far, actually. I did not do blurbs while I was still reviewing for Locus–it just didn't feel right.)

Jackie Dolamore (well, Jaclyn, to be precise and fancy). Jackie's next book is Dark Metropolis, which I thought was a wonderfully executed dark fantasy where society itself is hiding a terrible secret. Months later, I still think about the characters and the world.

Whitney Miller. Whitney's first novel The Violet Hour is a gripping supernatural thriller with some of my favorite things: a cult, a global conspiracy, creepiness galore, and a smart heroine. I am very much looking forward to the sequel.

I can't wait to see their answers.

Newlettered

The site had a little downtime yesterday, so just posting here that, yes, I did finally do a newsletter. They'll be quarterly from here on out, or when I have news to share that can't wait (aka that I can't wait to share!). You can read it here and sign up to get future installments. And if you have requests for future installments, just let me know.

Bonus content in this one includes a sneak peek at the full hardcover jacket and paperback cover for Girl on a Wire. Both are gorgeous, and I feel so, so lucky.

Back!

Okay, big deadlines vanquished, I'm back–no, really, to more regular posting here, I swear. Hopefully, a couple of times a week. So, if there's something you'd like me to post about, then feel free to say so and I will do my best.

And even though it's old news now, just wanted to say what a fabulous time the Southern Kentucky Book Fest in Bowling Green was. I will definitely go again.  Sarah Combs and I had a sleepover at the cute conference hotel, then breakfast with Alma Katsu, who it's always a pleasure to see. And it was a delight meeting and gabbing with my signing-table neighbors, Julie Kagawa and Elizabeth Fama (see inept selfie evidence below), as well as to meet Courtney Stevens, M.G. Buehrlen (fellow SC author!), C.J. Redwine, and as always to see the friendly faces of Kristin Tubb, Kelly Creagh, Bethany Griffin, and Katie McGarry. I'm sure that I'm forgetting someone, so mea culpa; I plead a fuzzy memory.

Festivals like this are a blast to do, but also exhausting–due to hours upon lovely hours of sitting and chatting with people and generally being on. So, of course, it was a great idea to drive six hours from Bowling Green to the Bat Cave in N.C. for the annual retreat. But it was okay, because Courtney and I could caravan at least (she's the best, by the way), and giggle like maniacs when we stopped for car-window convos about how we were lost, even if we were about to take a turn down Murder Lane. Obviously we avoided Murder Lane, by looking for landmarks besides mirrors in the dark, and were eventually greeted by our wonderful fellow retreaters with wine and lasagna.

This is the third year of Bat Cave retreating, and it's really one of the best weeks of the year. So productive, so fun, so great. This year hugs and shout-outs: Alan Gratz, Alexandra Duncan, Megan Miranda, Rebecca Petruck, Carrie Ryan, Megan Shepherd, Courtney Stevens, and Cate Tiernan. I list these names so that I can tell you: If you haven't already done so, check out their work, stat.

And there's the food, made by Wendi Gratz:

And the terrifying sights in the Mardi Gras room that greeted Carrie and I each morning:

And lots of silly games:

(artist credit: Megan Miranda)

Anyway! Then it was home to a week of deadline fu; revision of Secret Project got turned in Sunday, along with a feature piece. Now thinking happy thoughts about working on a new YA I have barely even talked to anyone about (*secrets*precious*) and revising the middle grade (yay). And posting more here.

And I got many packs of the vintage circus stamps in prep for any necessary mailing for the GIRL ON A WIRE release, about which I'd better start planning soonish, I suppose. Other news? Hmmm… Oh, updated events page, because I'll be going to DragonCon over Labor Day weekend. And I'll be at Wiscon next weekend over Memorial Day, actually, and will post my schedule there soon. There will definitely be a little reading from the circus book. This Saturday, I'll be doing not one but two local storytimes for Indies First day–at Morris Book Shop earlier and at Joseph-Beth Booksellers later on (with Sarah Combs). 

I also PROMISE SWEAR I'm going to do an inaugural newsletter this weekend, so if you haven't signed up for it and want it: do. Probably happen quarterly, unless there's Big News.

That's all the catch up I have to catch up for now.

ETA: Due to needing to stick close to home and help out with family things, we will not be at Wiscon this year. Next year for sure.