Category Archives: writing

Co-Writing at Turtleduck Press

I’m over at Turtleduck Press again this week, talking about the novel that I’ve spent the past eight or nine months working on with fellow Turtleduck Press author Kit Campbell.

Here’s a sneak peek:

It’s not Kit’s first time co-writing a novel; I’ve done it before too, but not for many many years. And I’ve blogged before about having a major crisis of faith as a writer last year. So I was a little apprehensive about how it would go.

In fact, it’s been quite a smooth process — at least as smooth as novel writing ever is! It’s helped immensely to have somebody to bounce ideas off, to trade chapters with (we each wrote one point of view, in alternating chapters), to keep each other motivated. Having two minds to work on the worldbuilding and plotting has not meant that we’ve each done half as much work as on a solo novel, but it’s certainly helped — I think we’ve done a better job on this story than either of us could have on our own.

Read the rest.

 

And, most importantly…it’s gotten me to start, finish, and edit* a novel for the first time in way too long! I’m very grateful to Kit and to the rest of TDP. This process has been a true gift.

* Okay, still working on that part…

Stay tuned for more news about this novel in the coming months!

 

Turtleduck Press News for February

Hi guys!

Sorry I missed posting last week. My wrist problems have been flaring up again, so I’ve been extra cautious. This week’s post will be a short one for the same reason, but I did want to share some news…

On Tuesday I’ll be blogging over at Turtleduck Press. ETA: here — “Imposter Syndrome and the Tales It Tells”

On Wednesday the four of us authors at Turtleduck Press are going to be guests on a live Google+ videochat called Word Ninjas Live, run by Full Coverage Writers (FCW). It’s the first time for three of us, so we’re excited. The chat will run live at 7:00 PM EST and will then be archived on YouTube (ETA: Here!) and at the FCW website. Bonus — we figured that with four of us plus FCW’s interviewers, we couldn’t squeeze everything we had to talk about into one episode, so we’re doing it again next week!

And next month my short story “The Haunting of Heatherbrae Station” will be going up at Turtleduck Press as our featured freebie. Don’t worry, I’ll remind you again once it’s up.

In case you’re wondering, I wrote that story before my crisis of (writing) faith. No big news to report there, alas, but maybe some small and tentative glimmers of hope. (Shhh! Don’t scare them away…)

 

Your turn! How has 2015 been treating you so far? What’s in the works for February? Any news to share?

 

NaNoWriMo Approacheth

It’s the end of October, and that means…

Halloween?

Actually, for a lot of people, it means the imminent arrival of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

If you’re debating about whether to participate, read this: Should You Do NaNoWriMo?

If you already know that writing 50,000 words in November is not going to work for you, consider piggybacking on all that enthusiasm and think about 5 Ways to Make NaNoWriMo Work for You.

And really, here’s what NaNo is all about (for me at least, your mileage may vary, etc., etc.): NaNoWriMo Manifesto.

As for me, I’ve done NaNo multiple times, then took a break, and will be doing it again this year — with a YA novel set in space — for the first time since 2011. (I’m wonderer over there.) Due to my recent wrist scare, I’m not going to push too hard for 50,000 words. My initial goal is 30K, and that will be revised as necessary. If I can knock out 1000 words a day, I’ll be thrilled!

In other news: happy book launch week to Megan Crewe! Megan is launching a YA science fiction trilogy called Earth and Sky. It’s about a girl who uncovers a conspiracy of time-travelling aliens who are messing with our world…what’s not to like? Here’s the cover of the first book — isn’t it pretty?

Earth and Sky by Megan Crewe

Your turn! Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Do tell!

Lucky Seven — A Writing Snippet

I promised yesterday that I would start blogging about things other than ROW80 updates. Here, to kick things off, is a blog hop.

I’ve been tagged by the Aussie writer Ellen Gregory to post a short snippet from my work in progress — 7 lines from page 7.

My current work in progress is the short story I’ve mentioned. It’s for the upcoming Turtleduck Press anthology — a quartet of fantasy stories with romance, all variations on the theme of women rescuing men. (And I do mean rescuing. Some of the women even have swords. But of course there are many ways to be strong and these stories explore several of them.)

I’m still editing my contribution, but here are 7 sentences from page 7 of the present draft…

(A little context: the main character is a maidservant in a raja’s palace, and has volunteered to go and work for an insane inventor who lives in a mountaintop fort.)

I woke the next morning, in the little room I had chosen behind the kitchen, to the smell of cooking vegetable curry. At first I thought I was back in the palace. Then I remembered, and sat up with a start. Was there another servant here?

When I walked into the kitchen, the madman was cooking flatbread over the fire, just as though he were a servant himself, and not a…a palace exile or whatever he was. Except that he wore a pair of thick leather gloves. His hands must be too sensitive for such work.

If that piqued your interest, stay tuned for more about the anthology and where you can buy it in just over a month from now…

And now, back to the blog hop. The rules of the Lucky Seven game are:

  • Go to page 7 or 77 in your current WIP… Go to line 7
  • Post on your blog the next 7 sentence or 7 lines—as they are!
  • Tag 7 people to do the same

I’m not going to tag people, because I’m lazy some writers don’t like sharing works in progress (WIPs). If you’d like to play, consider yourself tagged, and please leave a comment so I know to visit your blog and read your snippet!

 

Tapped Out and Outta Here

Updates from last week, ROW80 and otherwise…

In good news, my loved one who was in hospital is fine now. Huge relief.

In other good news, I’ve sort of fallen into co-creating a book club on Twitter. This month we’re doing Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones. It’s a Tam Lin retelling. Sound like your kind of thing? Use the hashtag #20reads to join in! (And by the way, I’m @Siri_Paulson over there.)

In bad news, I’ve blown an anthology deadline. Not just any anthology, either — I’m the chief editor as well as one of the submitters — and my story was due 12 days ago. I started the story in good time, but to say it’s not cooperating is an understatement. In retrospect, I should have listened to Ripley. You know,

Nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

Yeah. I’ve tried every possible angle. There might still be a good story in there, but if there is, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t fit the anthology theme, and I can’t shoehorn it in no matter what I try. I think I’m gonna have to write something entirely different…and fast. (And yes, I should have made that decision weeks ago.)

That’s bad. But the worse part?

This is the second short story this year that I’ve run into the ground. I can’t remember the last time that’s happened. And my novel edit-in-progress has just…stalled.

Maybe I’m too busy. I know I have trouble when there are too many projects on the go, and this year has been full of non-writing projects (notwithstanding my declaring it the Year of Making Space…) that have taken up a lot of extra brain cells and a certain amount of creativity.

On the bright side: my house now has some awesome upgrades and will shortly have an awesome backyard. It’s kinda nice to pay attention to the place I’m living in for a change. Reminds me that I own it, you know? (Well, the bank does, but I hold the deed, so there.)

On the not-so-bright side: I never meant my house to become awesome at the expense of my writing.

I badly need to make space for real.

But that will have to wait until I’m back from my hiatus. When June hits, watch out….

ROW80

Quick updates:

Writing: I spent 4.5 hours last week trying to make that damn story work. It’s not stalled for lack of time.

Exercise: Started walking again now that the weather is finally nice, went folk dancing on Saturday night, and celebrated the season’s first weeding session on Sunday. Yay?

Renovations: The deck is proceeding apace. It’s going to have two small sheds with a roofed-over space in between. Currently trying to figure out the best way to add shade to the rest of the deck — I like deep shade, don’t like extendable awnings, want something that will sort of tie in with the roofed section, am not sure if I want lattice with climbing plants (because hey, we’ve never done this before)…yeah, problems. Oh, and the backyard will shortly have sod instead of weeds!

 

Two-week blog hiatus commences as of now. In the meantime, tell me…

Your turn! What do you do when the writing is just not coming?

 

Blog Hop: My Writing Process

It’s blog hop time! I’ve been tagged by the lovely Aussie writer Ellen Gregory, who adores both fantasy and travel (sound familiar?). The idea with this one is to answer four questions, then tag three other awesome writers to answer the same questions on their own blogs in a week or so. If you’re the sort who loves to read about the writing process, then do be careful or you could be lost down the rabbit hole forever….

Please enjoy a picture of one of my notebooks, with bonus hand-knit socks.

Please enjoy a picture of one of my notebooks, with bonus hand-knit socks.

1. What am I working on?

I’m currently editing a YA historical fantasy novel, with plans to query agents once it’s done. I’ve also just finished a serial story set in a fantasy version of Thailand (the fifth and final part of the serial will be posted next month). My next project will be to revamp the serial into a single (longish) short story.

What I’ve mentioned so far happens to be fantasy, but I also write other types of speculative fiction — steampunk, science fiction, Gothic — and sometimes even non-genre fiction.

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

One answer is that I often write at the border between YA and adult. (New Adult, I guess you’d say, except that NA is usually contemporary and mine usually isn’t.) Another is that I think my writing has an essential optimism that shines through…the sense that yes, your place in the world is out there and you will find it, even if you have to cross the world or fight your way through larger events or live through years of your adult life to get there.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Because speculative fiction makes my heart sing.

Because when I say “I wish I could write like that” or “As a reader, I loved that book to pieces”, it’s usually speculative fiction I’m talking about.

Because it makes my inner 12-year-old happy, and she’s important to me.

Because making up worlds, genre-bending, and mashing elements together to see what sticks…is fun.

Because I want to see more like what I write. Much as I love medieval Europe, there are whole other civilizations out there, and I want to see them in fantasy too.

Because I love the moment when I stumble on a genre mash-up, or a crazy worldbuilding thing, and think, “You can DO that?!” (Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere blew my mind back in high school. So did discovering steampunk, sometime later. So do most of my favourite writers, even now.)

Because I love the tropes of the genre.

Because the sky’s the limit.

4. How does my writing process work?

I like to say I’m a reformed pantser (seat-of-the-pants writer) or headlight writer (you can only see as far as your headlights). My short stories are often still written that way. And I’m gradually moving from longhand to typing, even in the brainstorming and outlining stages…which were the last to go.

For longer works, I usually start with a lot of brainstorming, research, backstory, and character development — not via questionnaires or “outtake” scenes or dialogues, just jotting down lots of notes. Then I develop a very broad outline with the opening/setup and major turning points (act breaks). There’ll be some one-liner descriptions for scenes in there too, mostly in the first quarter of the story, getting nebulous very quickly. Or, in other words, more or less what Ellen said.

When it comes time to start writing, I prefer to draft quickly so I don’t lose the feel of the story or the overarching plot. NaNo works great for this, even if it means that what I end up with is rough.

And what happens after that? I do have some trusted critiquers, but I’m still working on finding a process for editing that works for me. If you have any advice, please share!

Tagged

And the tagged writers are…

  • Erin Zarro — writer of science fantasy, and of poetry
  • KD Sarge — writer of science fiction romance, with shenanigans
  • Kit Campbell — writer of paranormal romance, with banter

Reframing Goals and ROW80 Week 3 Check-In

During last week’s check-in, I talked about how Real Life, in the form of house renovations, was derailing my attempts at ROW80. I had been missing my initial goal of 5 hours a week of writing or editing, and was trying to figure out how to reframe my goals.

Writing Updates

This week was about the same on the writing front. I hit 2.75 hours, up slightly from Week 2 and on par with Week 1.

I’m happy with the writing I’m doing, though. This week I finished the last installment of a 5-part serial story (just shy of 10K words) and was quite happy with how it turned out. I edited each installment as I went, but I need to go over the last installment again to see if anything needs to be tweaked. My next plan for this story is to put it all together and see if, with revisions, it can work as a single novelette (the term for a story of this length).

I’ve also started a new short story. This time I’m aiming for flash fiction length (which the market I’m targeting defines as under 1500 words). I suspect the first draft will be longer and then I’ll edit it down. Bonus: part of the story was written at a coffee shop, which I enjoy doing and haven’t done in a while.

More to the point, I’m feeling good about what I’m producing. One of my main goals this year is to work on deepening my writing, to focus harder and dig deeper rather than writing at the surface level, and I think it’s working.

So while my time spent is lower than I’d like it to be, it’s quality time and that’s the point. I’m going to continue to aim for 3 hours.

Renovation Updates

Another part of Project: Making Space (my name for this year’s package of goals) is making my house into a place that nurtures my spirit. So while the focus this week has been on renovations rather than revisions, I’m still moving towards my goals, just in a different way

This week my accomplishments include:

  • choosing flooring (a huge thing for a chronic waffler like me)
  • just on the cusp of choosing paint (rather less huge, but still requiring a lot of thought)
  • buying some small pieces of furniture that are going to help with organization
  • identifying and gathering a lot of junk to get rid of (a project for this week) — so the front areas of the house are looking a lot better
  • researching window coverings (had no idea there were so many options…like I said, decorating doesn’t come naturally to me!)

It’s a lot of work now, but it’s finite (er, sort of) and it will pay off in the end, I hope.

Your turn! How are your resolutions and/or ROW80 going?