Monthly Archives: February 2012

WIP Wednesday – In Which February Utterly Escapes Me

I sat down this morning, had a browse around the intern, and was walloped upside the head with the realization that next week, I will have a paperback on shelves.  (Well, we, but for the purposes of this post, I’m being self-centered.)

I’ve been in anthologies that went to print.  In fact, every anthology I’ve been in went to print, and I have a lovely little stack of books that don’t have my name on them, tucked into the Magical Mystery Desk.  But this is the first time I’ve been able to look up at that stack of books and see my own name on some of the spines.

The paperback release of The Slipstream Con has been overshadowed by the frantic, breakneck pace and inevitable post-project come-down of finishing the next Ylendrian book, Peripheral People.  Both books are dear to me, for very different reasons, but let’s be honest: There’s no use pretending I’m not a Kellen Frey fangirl.  Or I would be, if I didn’t have the joy of writing the little bastard.

After taking the night off on Monday (horrors!) and spending most of last night fiddling with promotional things (augh!), tonight it’s back to business.  I haven’t decided what I’m going to work on, but there’s this lovely little post-Slipstream short story we’ve got in the queue, and I’m thinking it might be time to visit with Kellen again.  Just to make sure he’s staying out of trouble, mind you.  (Spoiler: He’s not.)

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about that promotional stuff.  It involves cupcakes and coffee, which I’m sure will garner me a few points, right?

What We’re Working On Wednesday – 2/22/12

Right now?  We’re working on edits for Peripheral People.  As we’ve never really written a mystery/thriller/paranormal before, we’re finding that the edits are a more layered process than ever.  Each layer adds more detail, and removes another layer of confusion.  Wheat from the chaff, murder from the larceny, what have you.  Beyond the new genres we’ve blended together for the book, we’ve expanded the Ylendrian Empire a bit more, added textures and underbelly, as well as a view of how things happen on the right side of the law.

We’ve had a steep learning curve on this book, chopping out two POV characters almost 70,000 words into the manuscript, and discovering about the same time that our killer was every bit as adept at fooling us as they were at fooling our investigators.  What I can tell you, after all the work, is that it’s a book I’m proud of, and a story we wouldn’t have had the skill to tell a few years ago, at least not as well as we have.

I can also tell you that if I procrastinate on my part of the edits any longer, Michelle may very well duct tape me to my chair.  In the interest of my continued freedom, I’ll get back to that now.

Tell Me Tuesday – 02/21/12

neon sign reading "psychic reader"

Tell me about this picture. What it makes you think of, who took it, what you see that someone else doesn’t. Write a story, a poem, a comment, an essay. Leave a picture of your own.

Tell me something.

(If you write something on your own blog, leave a link here so we can all enjoy it.  Or, if you prefer, go crazy in the comments.)

Five Strange Things About Reesa

Today my to-do list is a million miles long, and after the writing binge last weekend, I’m still a little burned out.  So I thought I’d cheat, and tell you some weird things about myself.  Trust me, it’s far better than me trying to come up with something pithy to tell you about the writing craft.

        1. The only plain potato chips I like are Utz brand Kettle Classic Dark Russets.  Yeah, that’s right, the burned ones.  YUM.  The sugars in the potato have caramelized, and the salt is a perfect counterpoint to them.  (I also order my fries well done.)
        2. While many seem to prefer the whole “will they/won’t they” struggle, I’m a huge fan of the “why ARE they?” relationship.  What can I say?  I like antagonistic romance.
        3. I work best with little or no supervision.  If you hand me a stack of things to do and leave me alone, I’ll get it done in half the time it would take me if you check up on me or hover.  I am insulted by micro-management, and think it’s displays an appalling lack of faith in someone’s skills.
        4. I keep an hourglass on my desk (and use it), but I don’t like watches or clocks because I feel like I’m watching my day slide away.
        5. I have considered becoming a professional home organizer.  The idea of making everything neat and tidy and not being around for the eventual breakdown of the system (because putting things back in the right spot is hard, apparently) appeals to me.  It’s satisfying.

Someone doesn’t like your story.

Someone doesn’t like your story.

Lots of people do, I’m sure.  But there’s someone out there, someone who falls firmly into your target demographic, even, who doesn’t.  And they just posted about it on the internet, where it will never go away.  Where carefully trained Googlebots have already found it, and without regard for your feelings, delivered news of this great misunderstanding right to your Inbox.  The sad thing about Google tracking is that unless you’re willing to miss something, you’re going to get everything.  Googlebots have no automated “will this make the author cry?” opt-out.

They probably didn’t like it for a stupid reason, too.  They didn’t like your character’s name, because they were bullied by a girl named Sam in high school.  They don’t like science fiction without an Earth-based society.  Or worse- they have a point, a real flaw in your writing, and now that you’ve seen it pointed out you just can’t let it go.  You really do use italics too much.  Your plot tie-up was too simple, and robbed your characters of meaningful growth.  It’s right there, this huge, disgusting smear of wrong, and you can’t stop looking at it.  People tell you to let it go.  People tell you not to engage.  People tell you all kinds of well-meaning things, and maybe you smile and agree.  You know they’re right.  You can’t go knocking on some reviewer’s door with a copy of your book and say, “Um, excuse me.  I just wanted to share some brief, highlighted passages with you.  I think it’ll really change your mind about that review you posted that I absolutely didn’t cry over.  No, those aren’t tear stains on the page.”

You’ve got yourself together.  You know better.  But that voice isn’t really theirs anyway, and it’s not going away.

When I hear that voice, I listen to it.  I listen too hard, sometimes, and I become still inside, and the doubt eats at me.  Do I need to rewrite my work in progress?  (Probably. But we call it editing, so it seems okay.)  Do I need to issue a public apology because I didn’t deliver on the emotional promises made in chapter five? (No. Hearts lie, and people read what they want to into any given situation.)

Do I need to write a tighter plot?  Do I need to improve my vocabulary?  Do I need to be a better writer?

Yes.  Every writer needs to be a better writer.  Not every new author.  Not every small press author.  Every author needs to improve themselves somehow.  My goal, with every story I tell, is to be just a little bit better than I was before.  It’s an ideal, a goal I may or may not reach, but that’s what I tell that voice, when it eats me up.  That I can take that nugget of wisdom, buried in something that I might find hurtful, and keep striving to be better.  Better is all I hope to be, with every word I write.  Because better is a journey, not a destination, and there is no such thing as the perfect book.

If you can’t stop circling the reviews that hurt you, then consider not reading any of them.  Make better a personal goal, and silence that voice with it.  If you think what you wrote wasn’t good, edit it.  If you think you’ve done well, but the voice doesn’t, maybe the voice isn’t worth listening to right then.  Focus, instead, on better.

As a writer, I want every story I tell to be the best I’m capable of writing.  That’s my promise to a reader.  That’s my antidote to the voice.  There’s always another story to tell, and I will always, always do my best to make it better.  Someone isn’t going to like it, but that’s just the way things go.  If I send it out into the world as the best thing it could be when I created it, I’ve fulfilled my promise.

Someone doesn’t like your story.  That’s okay, though, because you and I know that the next one will be better.