Friday Hangovers

  • Yeah, yeah, I know! I disappeared again. But Christopher and I are finishing the first draft of our (sorta secret, except if you follow either of us on twitter or are facebook friends you know we're doing one) collaborative middle grade book today. Yep, we wrote a book together. In a month. And it was fun. Now we do some fixing, and show it to people, and I will definitely do a post about what I've learned from this process. Useful stuff I hope to take back to my solo work…especially since I'll be starting something new SOON.
  • Other excitment in the works: I do believe you will get to see The Woken Gods cover (eek!!!) next week. Again: !!! And I imagine ARCs will be floating around soon as well, and of course, the book itself will be out in September. I'll just be over here breathing into a paper bag. Anyway, hope you like it–cover, book, the whole shebang. And now some links!
  • Let's start with the ancient tales of a shapeshifting Jesus. Dan Brown, start your engines. (Via the estimable Colleen Lindsay.)
  • "Ancient Egyptian relics were made of iron from space."
  • And one more ancient things link–"Lost Egyptian City Revealed After 1200 Years Under the Sea."
  • Author Jennifer Lynne Barnes has written two amazingly smart, incredibly fascinating posts following up on the "what makes a big book?" discussion that John Green touched off with his post about TFiOS' success and what he believes factored into it. These are MUST READS if you're an author or in publishing or just talk about books in real life or online (especially the second one). Post the first and post the second.
  • A crazy crazy vendetta story at Salon involving Ringling Bros./Barnum & Bailey. As I've already said elsewhere, some of the things mentioned in here are why I created my own circus for Girl on a Wire…so I could have the kind of circus I wanted to write about. Because after all the reading I've done, I do find the revelations in that piece shocking, but not surprising (if that makes any sense). But hey, we've got AGES before you get to read that book, so I'll say no more.
  • A lovely profile of the wonderful Karen Berger in the NYT. She will be missed in the comics world; that's for sure.
  • Veronica Roth's BEA speech is well worth your time. Snippet: "People say that writing is an isolated activity, but good writing requires company. Company that you ultimately love and cherish and value, and this perspective towards criticism, ultimate improvement requires humility."
  • Baked Avocado Bacon and Eggs. This little piece of heaven came from the fab Beth Revis and I will be making it this weekend. YUM.
  • The long-lost (and apparently terrible) ET game for Atari might be unearthed from a landfill? Snippet: "A Canadian studio has confirmed to the BBC it will search a former landfill site in New Mexico where Atari's much-criticised ET game may be buried."
  • Best news: Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is this weekend's COVER REVIEW (by Barbara Kingsolver, who raves!) of the NYTBR. Read it! Yay! Great things happening to a great book by a great person. My favorite.

Wednesday Hangovers

Pack(ag)ing It Up

Let me first start this post by saying I know a little about book packaging, but purely from the outside in–through knowing authors who've done it as work-for-hire and people who worked at packaging houses and as a general "watcher of the industry" and articles that get written about it. None of that makes me an expert.

But.

The most interesting thing about watching heads explode this morning on twitter over the new announcement that Amazon has reached licensing agreements with Alloy/WBs (with more in the works) to allow writers to sell fanfic set in the Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars worlds through its new Kindle Worlds program was how few people immediately recognized these are all packaged properties. I have seen a lot of worry about the authors who created these characters getting money, and how the rights worked, and etc. etc. and I am reminded once again that lots of people–even savvy industry types–don't realize how prevalent packaging is in YA (and probably elsewhere too–I am most familiar with YA and so that's what I'm talking about here). People on twitter thought a post on the subject was a good idea, and so here one is. (Experts feel free to jump in the comments or send me an email if I've gotten something wrong or you feel there's something I missed that's important.)

(more…)

Let’s Get Mythical

I'm over at the SF Signal Mind Meld today talking about the appeal of mythology, gods, and goddesses in fiction, along with fancy types like Tessa Gratton and Jennifer Estep, and my Angry Robot compatriots Chuck Wendig, Adam Christopher, and Mike Underwood, to name a few. Go check it out. Thrilled to be included, as always.

*Also, please to excuse my typo. That "definitely literally" was supposed to be "definitely literarily." I was fresh off an edit pass, and thus experiencing deadline brain fritz.

Tuesday Hangovers

Thursday Hangovers

Talking It Out

So, yesterday morning, I asked for twitter's help deciding what to blog about, because that's turned out well in the past, and Libba pitched in:

Well, why not?

I learned many things about uvulas yesterday (fun word to say, and it sounds a little…dirty, doesn't it?)–that some people pierce them, that it's possible to get a bee sting there, that a friend knew someone when she was a kid who had two and could make them dance, that someone had a college instructor who mixed up uvula with an entirely different word to unfortunate results. WHO KNEW that the uvula's power to fuel anecdotes was so mighty? Not me. In fact, if Straight Dope is right, we don't even know what uvulas are for. But we do know they help us make some sounds and so that's awfully close to talking and talking is a suitable blog post topic.

All writers get stuck. There are the little stucks, the flummoxed by a scene for a day, or an hour, or a week. There are the bigger stucks, where nothing feels right, and we stall out or stutter-step forward, only to end up deleting a few steps back. Everyone. Gets. Stuck. And so everyone has to get unstuck.

There are various methods to this, as with all things. Some people walk away. Some clean the house. Some bang their head against their desk repeatedly. Some despair. Some move to a new city and assume a different identity. I have done all of these things myself at one time or another. Well, except the last one. That one I've just fantasized about when truly stuck.

But my most usual method for getting unstuck–and even, at times, just for moving forward, pushing ahead, figuring out a story–is talking it through.

Now, I'm lucky in this regard, because I'm married to another writer. He may not always be a captivated audience for these burblings, but he is a captive one. (Mwahaha.) I'm also lucky to have a number of writer friends who are happy to indulge in long talks to clear the fog or overgrowth that's hiding the path forward. Call on your writer friends, if you don't have a captive loved one, or call upon any friend or loved one to indulge your talking it out.

Often, it's just the very act of articulating the problem out loud that provides the solution. I think this is for a couple of different reasons:

1) Forcing yourself to explain a story knot or roadblock to someone else makes you have to explain it to someone else. And often that entails stepping back just enough to be able to see it more clearly. It also engages a different part of the brain, a different kind of thinking. Talking through possible solutions, your reaction to them will often reveal what's important to you about the story, and that is always a good thing to know.

2) You have to set your ego aside. Look, everyone gets stuck. But admitting you're stuck, not caring who knows, not letting that make you feel like a failure (see this fabulous post by Marie Lu on imposter syndrome), and asking for help, even if it's just an ear–that's a useful thing. It reminds you that this is about the story, about making it work, and not about you. It's hard to move forward with the full weight of the ego pressing down on your shoulders.

Another bonus: It's often fun, which being stuck isn't. Kicking around various solutions, talking over story issues, you can sometimes cover a lot more ground than you could cover in six weeks or six months at the desk making words and deleting them. The act of admitting you're stuck can also lead to commisseration, which in turns leads to less misery and feeling of awful aloneness. Ultimately, the solution comes from your fingertips, and yours alone, but there's no reason you have to suffer everything by your lonesome. Make others suffer with you. And suffer with them. This is the beautiful symbiosis of writer friendships.

The uvula wants you to talk it out. And remember:

As you were.

Wednesday Hangovers Of The Coins, Sloth, Etc. Variety

Frenetic Typing

Also known as that thing that happens around a deadline, and so I probably will be MIA this week. We had zippo wireless coverage for a chunk of Bat Cave, and were busy much of the time anyway. I'll try to catch up soon, and if you need something important or more timely, then you should feel free to ping me about it. Still, I'm behind on many things and unlikely to dig out fully before next week.

 

Iconpickford

Serious Work Underway

But lots of work (and play) accomplished at the retreat (revision vanquishment nigh!), and thinking about projects to come, and just generally yay. I miss everyone, but it's also nice to be home with C and dogs et cat in the beautiful bluegrass springtime with the backbrain throwing off story sparks. Hope it's nice where y'all are too.

Five Things Make A Friday Post

1. Heading out this weekend for this year's Bat Cave retreat. It's set up exactly like this:

Batcave-1968
(Image from here.)

Except replace the underground stream with a hot tub. There's really nothing more energizing, wonderful, and magical than spending a chunk of time holed up in a scenic locale with a gaggle of writers talking fiction and being silly and sharing war stories and in-jokes and, yeah, I can't wait. Especially because I am still being attacked by rogue deadline and have to rewrite some more words to escape its clutches. But! Nearly finished.

2. A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to teach a day-long workshop to this year's class of the Young Women Writers Project at the Carnegie Center. I can tell you that these are some amazing writers, who you'll be hearing lots from in the future. And I'm so sad to miss their big reading. If you're in the Lexington area, however, you should go: it's next Friday, April 19, at 5:30 p.m. (during Gallery Hop) at the Carnegie Center. Go support them.

3. I can't remember where I saw this regional dialect map first, but it is fascinating.

4. A typically wise post from the fabulous Robin LaFevers on the ups and downs of life in publishing. The creative life is definitely not for those who are afraid of heights or lows.

5. Speaking of which, this week has obviously been a high point for me. When you sell your first book(s), it's impossible to know if you'll publish more of them after that. It feels, often, that this must be an accident or a mistake, and to expect it to happen again, well, that's some nerve. That's tempting fate. But you keep writing anyway, of course, because you can't stop and there are stories to tell and what's fate for, but to tempt? (See also: Chuck Wendig's post on imposter syndrome.) Girl on a Wire was a book I started not thinking at all of the market, before I sold Blackwood, just because I wanted to tell this story, and it would be worth it even if it never saw the light of day. And then I finished it and revised it because I still felt that way, despite the shadow voice whispering that my first sale was a fluke. To have that book find such a great home is just as surreal and marvelous as selling Blackwood and The Woken Gods (eep! hope you like it too) was. In some ways more, because of all of the above. I can't wait to get back to work on it. But I just wanted to say again THANK YOU, sincerely, for the overwhelming flood of congratulations on twitter, tumblr, facebook, email–wherever congratulations are possible–this week. It means more than you can know.

So, love to y'all, and happy weekend.