Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz April 20-26, 2014

TipsdayLinking has won the day, if not the poll.

Got yourself a Franken-draft? There may be hope. Dianne K. Salerni on Writer Unboxed.

K.M. Weiland’s Creating Stunning Character Arcs series, part 10: The Midpoint.

9 tips to entice readers to your author blog from Anne R. Allen.

Everybody Arcs! How it all comes down to character. Kristen Lamb.

Carly Watters with 6 reasons you need an agent now more than ever.

12 realizations every writer must come to from 12 Most.

The Atlantic. The appeal of science fiction. A.K.A. why do people look down at the genre of Orwell and Atwood?

Is literary fiction just good marketing? The Guardian. More on the literary/genre debate.

Time. 21 women authors you should be reading.

And that’s it this week. Linking certainly makes for a shorter post!

Ad Astra Day 2: When an editor is not an editor

Panel: Anne Groell; Max Turner; Michael Matheson; Karen Dales

AG: I’m executive editor at Penguin Random House (A.K.A. Random Penguin) working with high profile clients such as George R.R. Martin and Connie Willis.

MT: Author and freelance editor.

MM: I’m editor for ChiZine’s book imprint and I do some freelance work on the side.

KD: I’m an author, creative writing teacher, and more recently, a freelance editor. What’s the biggest misconception writers have about editors?

AG: People don’t think editors edit anymore. I have to love a book if I take it on. I may read it as many as fifteen times in the editing process. I really have to love it.

MT: Stephen King says in his On Writing that he edits once, and the book is ready. This is not what usually happens for most writers. When I submitted my manuscript, I assumed it would come back heavily marked up with specific direction. This did not happen either. I had submitted a 160k word draft and was told there was an 80k word story hidden in it. I was asked to cut 60k words. The book is the intellectual property of the author. Editors won’t muck around in it. Their aim is to help the author turn the novel into the best book it can be. It’s a very hands off process.

MM: Good editing is completely invisible. There are different types of editing: the substantive, which is global and concerned with structural issues. Does the book work? Then, there’s line editing. This is a closer look at consistencies and story logic. Finally, there is copyediting. At this stage, when large chunks of the text will not be disappearing, errors are covered, line by line.

KD: You have to be careful with self-publishing. With ebooks, unqualified editors make for a poor product. A good freelance editor will ask for a sample of your writing first. They have to like it. You have to be able to trust them with your work.

AG: I’ve sent out 20-35 page editing letters in the past. That’s love.

MT: Are established authors edited as thoroughly as newer authors?

AG: They are if their editor is good.

KD: I know of a New York Times Best Selling Author who’s next book in a series was not picked up by the publisher. She decided to self-publish and did not opt for a qualified editor. The book she self-published was not comparable to the others in the series. (Mel’s note: I think the word actually used was crap.)

AG: If you’re my client, you may not like my solutions, but you have to concede that this particular aspect of your novel isn’t working. We can talk about other solutions, but what isn’t working has to change. Bottom line.

KD: Fact-checking is critical. I edited a SF time-travel novel set in renaissance London. One of the main settings used was the Tower of London. Not all of the building existed at the time. I asked the author to do more thorough research. Then the manuscript was submitted indicating that there were balconies on the White Tower. This was again, not the case. I sent it back a second time. This may be an extreme example, but even he improved and now he’s one of my favourite people to work with.

MM: Do not depend on Wikipedia for your research.

MT: You have to be willing to do as much work on the research as you are willing to work on revisions and rewrites.

MM: Editors are not inviolable. Stick to the heart of your story. Defend it if you need to.

KD: With another book I was working on, the author wanted to send the manuscript to her uncle, who turned out to be Jack Whyte. Jack edited extensively, but he edited to the way he wrote. He threatened the author’s voice. I had to step in and defend her work.

AG: We are champions for our authors.

Q: What is the value of beta readers?

AG: It can be helpful. You have to trust them, though. They have to be objective and they should have some expertise in what you’re writing.

KD: “I like that” is not constructive. The best beta readers are not going to be your family or friends.

MT: Asking your friend to beta-read for you isn’t fair. They feel obliged to like your work.

(Mel’s note: Margaret and Kim, sorry if you feel this way. I do not expect you to feed my vanity. I do trust you and will take direction.)

MM: If you hire an independent editor, never ask them to edit multiple versions of you manuscript. You’ll never earn back what you pay them.

Q: What should an author look for when hiring and independent editor and how much should you expect to pay?

KD: Look for education, a degree in a related field, experience, and ask for references. Most editors will ask for $1.50 to $2 per word or a maximum number of pages.

MM: Some also charge a flat rate.

MT: Get the recommendation of a writer you trust. Every writer has a shelf of “learning novels.” If you read early Bradbury, you can see the difference between that work and his more mature novels.

KD: Trunk novels can be rewritten, though.

Q: As an editor, how do you improve?

AG: Learn to cut. The two Connie Willis novels Black Out and All Clear originally came to my desk as a 300k word draft.

MM: Work as a slush reader or apprentice at a publisher.

KD: Work as an assistant editor.

MM: You learn to establish a collaborative relationship with your authors.

MT: What happens when you establish that relationship and they then hand in crap?

AG: It’s horrible.

And that’s it for the session.

There are only three more sessions for me to transcribe and then I’ll write a wee wrap up piece.

Overall, Ad Astra was well worth the trip. It will probably be one of my staple conventions from here on out.

Book review of Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris

Once again, this is a bit overdue. I finished reading the first of Roz’s NYN series last month, but my crazy life has run away with me again. I’ve had to pick and choose what I’m posting about.

First, a word about what’s coming up next weekend and how you can take part

Next weekend, on May 3, 2014, the Google Plus community @M2the5th will be holding its second online writing workshop with Roz. We’ll be starting out on Twitter with a Tweet chat and then moving to a Google Plus video call.

I posted previously on starting out with Tweet chats, for those who need a primer.

I’m not an expert with Google Plus video calls yet, but if you have a laptop with a camera and mic built in, or a desktop with an inexpensive camera and mic (I have a combo unit from Microsoft that works wonderfully) and a GooglePlus account, you can join in the fun.

All you have to do in Google Plus to prepare is download the hangout application, which doesn’t take long (depending on your connection speed). I like Google Plus for this kind of thing, because it’s user friendly and fairly intuitive. You don’t have to jump through a bunch of technical hoops to get started.

So if you want to take part, forward your name to either Lori Sailiata, or Amy Pabalan in the Twitter chat. One of them will be wrangling the hangout crowd and sending out invitations to join. Once you’ve received your invitation, simply accept, and your video feed should show up in the filmstrip section at the bottom of the hangout window.

Roz reports that she’s had to use Chrome as her browser for the best result, but I’m using Firefox and I haven’t had any difficulties yet. *seeks wood upon which to knock*

The review

What Amazon says:

Nail Your NovelNail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence

‘This book should be used as a text in writing courses’

‘There are shedloads of books on how to write novels, and a lot of them are longer and considerably less useful’

‘I wish I’d had this book a long time ago’

‘The author has a proven track record as a writer of fiction, as opposed to writers of “how to write” books’

Are you writing a novel? Do you want to make sure you finish? Will you get lost and fizzle out? Will you spend more time reading about how to write than actually getting the words down?

Most books on novel-writing will make you read hundreds of pages about character arcs, inciting incidents, heroes’ journeys. It’s great to know that – but while you’re reading about it you’re not writing your book.

And what these books don’t tell you is how to use this learning and get the job done.

Nail Your Novel is a writing buddy – and mentor – in a book.

In 10 easy steps it will tell you:
*how to shape your big idea and make a novel out of it
*how to do your research and how to use it
*how to organise your time.
*how to plot and build characters
*when you’re going to hit problems and what to do about them
*how to write on the days you don’t feel inspired
*how to reread what you’ve written and polish it.

Along the way, Thumbnail Notes give tutorials about storytelling and storycraft – strictly when you need them. The author has written nearly a dozen novels that have made it into print – and this is how she did it.

You don’t even need to read the whole book before you get started. You read a section, then do as it says. And, once you’re finally satisfied, Nail Your Novel will tell you how to sell it to publishers and agents.

You’ve dreamed of writing a novel. Don’t procrastinate with another theory book. Don’t launch in, get stuck and throw your hard work in a drawer. Nail your novel.

My thoughts:

I’ve been reading writing craft books for years. In fact, one could say that I’m a writing craft book junkie. Yes, the support group will be starting shortly.

My approach in reading these books is to adopt those parts of the writer’s process that make sense to me and my ever-evolving process. I cherry pick, experiment, and incorporate as appropriate.

I would characterize Roz’s approach as organic, that is, her plotting activities arise naturally from the journaling, research, and gestation that most writers will normally engage in as a preparation to actual writing.

Her version of plotting will appeal to the avid pantser and her “gamification,” albeit non-technological, of structuring and plot-fixing activities will motivate even the most spreadsheet-phobic of writers. Having said that, plotting-oriented, or technophile writers will also find lots of tips and tricks to adapt for their use.

The techniques in Nail Your Novel can be used not only from the inception of your novel, but the writer can also engage in the process at later stages of novel writing. Having entered into Roz’s methodology with already drafted novels, I’m working through her beat sheet activity, adapting it to my own use as I prepare for future revision.

Roz even has activities to prepare the writer for querying or self-publication, whichever path the author chooses to pursue.

I’ve also felt validated in several instances as bits and pieces of my existing process appear in slightly different forms throughout Nail Your Novel.

For all the excellent content, Nail Your Novel is also a relatively quick read, well-organized, and easy to understand. Roz gets right to the heart of the matter and encourages reading writers to get their hands dirty, metaphorically speaking.

Her writing style embodies what she asks writers to strive for: clear, informative, and entertaining. Roz doesn’t waste a word.

Roz’s book receives my highest recommendation. It’s on my virtual writer’s shelf beside Ursula K. LeGuin’s, Jane Yolen’s, Donald Maass’s, and K.M. Weiland’s craft writing books and I’m sure I’ll be referring to it often.

My rating:

5 out of 5 stars.

About the author:Roz Morris

Roz Morris has nearly two decades of experience writing novels and helping floundering authors find their way. She is a senior book doctor for a major literary consultancy in London, writes fiction under her own name and has ghostwritten bestselling fiction for high-profile writers with major publishers, including Random House, Puffin, and Mammoth.

Ad Astra day 2: Unleashing your creativity

Panel: Karina Sumner-Smith; Alyx Harvey; Judith Hayman; Leslie Hudson; Sally Headford

SH: If you walk into a grade one class and ask, “who can sing?” everybody raises their hands. Ask, “who can dance?” and the same thing happens. By the time they get to grade six, children have learned the standards and expectations. Only a few of them raise their hands then.

JH: Take risks. Make mistakes. No one will know the difference.

SH: How do the writers on the panel deal with those standards and expectations?

KSS: I have groups of people who read my work at various stages. There are readers for the roughdrafts, then later, beta readers. You have to have a terrifying level of trust in your readers. Seek out your “perfect” reader.

LH: If someone says, “you suck,” it can shut you down. How do you deal with that?

KSS: Chocolate and wine.

LH: We are our own worst critics. The worst are the notes I leave for myself.

Q: As a visual artist, I have to be able to evaluate a piece on its own terms. I benefit most from honest, constructive, criticism. What do you prefer?

KSS: Sometimes I need people to be honest. When I’m feeling vulnerable, I need comfort and tea.

SH: When you get to a low point, what do you do?

LH: Walk the dogs.

KSS: Five-minute dance party.

SH: I need oxygen.

JH: I need repetitive tasks. I’m on the autistic spectrum.

LH: Napping is awesome. You fall asleep and an idea comes to you in your dreams.

KSS: I find creativity breeds creativity.

LH: I’ve gotten into mandalas in a big way. I like needlepoint. Or reasearch.

JH: We’re all a little bit insane. When we enter flow, it’s a sacred space.

SH: I think of it as an alternate reality where creativity exists.

JH: I enter into my creative space with visualization.

LH: You have to protect your creative time.

JH: My day job is easier. It’s structured. At home, it’s different, more challenging.

AH: A day job takes a big chunk out of your day.

Q: Do any of you find you have to make yourself create?

LH: Absolutely. Sometimes you have to tell yourself to sit down and write, honey.

AH: Yes. Do the work.

LH: Sometimes pressure is good. Deadlines motivate.

Q: Do you find having a creative community or space helps?

JH: February Album Writing Month. FAWM. I participate every year.

KSS: NaNoWriMo.

Q: When do you sleep?

SH: It’s incredibly important.

KSS: In your day job, deadlines dictate what you do. I’ve read a health study in which people who get one hour less sleep per night over a seven day period were found to perform worse than people who were drunk. Health studies are fun.

SH: The current work environment is terrible. Multitasking is a myth.

KSS: One in one hundred people can actually multitask. Odd are, it’s not you.

AH: Where do you get your inspiration from?

JH: Everywhere.

KSS: Compost. One day my blender broke and I thought, what if society was built around items that worked on magic instead of electricity, and they all started breaking?

AH: I love my I-pad. If I see something, I snap it.

SH: Too many things can get in the way. If you don’t have a way to capture your ideas, you’ll lose them.

KSS: You can use prompts, or themes.

LH: You train yourself to notice things.

JH: Folklore is the basis for my current song-a-week project.

Q: Is creativity about finding ways to work around our disabilities?

SH: Creativity is part of human culture. It’s part of our history.

JH: Creativity is a process, not a product.

AH: Enjoy the process!

LH: People think that if you’re an artist you have to be miserable. Or that there’s a link between creativity and mental illness. Schizophrenia. Bi-polar.

JH: When I’m feeling manic, creativity is a saving grace.

Q: How do you deal with falling short of your vision?

AH: Let it come out the way it wants. If you force it, your won’t be a s successful.

KSS: If you don’t like it, you can always do it over. Accept it if it’s part of your process.

And that was it.

I have to note, in case you find some of these sessions ending abruptly, that many of them ran to the last second and only broke up when the next group entered the room. Thank you’s and closing remarks were often lost in the shuffle.

More coming tomorrow.

Off to watch Orphan Black now. Clone club!

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz April 13-19, 2014

Thoughty ThursdayI’m going to try something just a touch different this week. I’m not just dropping links, but hyperlinking text. Experts say readers prefer it.

Let me know what you think, will you?

What students really need to hear from Chase Mielke. Affective Living.

How social media has affected our reading habits. From the Washington Post.

Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty posted this fascinating article on the language of the minions. My interest in languages drew me in right away. LOVE.

Mindy Kaling featured on Upworthy. Backhanded compliments are so not.

Communication presented this bit of reverse psychology: 15 things highly confident people don’t do.

This post by Brenda Knowles on her introvert blog Space2Live was surprisingly controversial. At its core, it’s about the difference between being lonely, and being alone, but it sparked a small flurry of responses. Some people took exception to her association of decision-making with her masculine side and shopping with her feminine side. What do you think?

Upworthy presented Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s thoughts on marginalization in the sciences.

An amazing time-lapse video: the mountain. share what a reporter discovered while filming beavers close to his house.

ViralNova’s 28 happy-making pictures.

Trending Monkey. Puppies cuddling stuffies. And get your mind out of the gutter! This is CUTE.

And that’s it for this week.

Off to watch Vikings—Rawr!

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the Interwebz April 13-19, 2014

TipsdayLet’s see what we gots here …

Part 9 of K.M. Weiland’s Creating Stunning Character Arcs series:

the 10 Commandments of Social Media Etiquette for Writers. Anne R. Allen’s blog.

Agent Carly Watters on why you want an agent who reads:

Eight steps to an agent, a publisher, and a two-book deal by Becca Puglisi.

Brevity in Science Fiction – Veronica Sicoe. She was my new discovery this week, thanks to MJ Bush 🙂

Jami Gold wonders whether genre fiction can be art:

Justine Musk on Beauty in the broken places.

(Mel’s note: I write an SF story called The Broken Places. Not sure if it’s beautiful, but I’m biased.)

Patty Jansen on how she writes:

And Roz Morris on hers. Follow the strange. LOVE!

6 things you should know about your story.

The WoMentoring Project. Just check it.

Rochelle Sharpe: Be relentless.

Muses rejoice!

Ad Astra Day 2: It builds character

Panellists: Karen Dales; Patricia Briggs

Note: Steven Erikson was not able to attend this panel.

Humourous note: It builds the character or it gets the hose.

KD: Characters are the heart of your story.

PB: It’s all subjective, though. Everyone sees something different. The most important thing is that your characters be internally consistent.

KD: Who plays RPGs here? (Pause for show of hands) What the first thing you do in any game? (Create your character!) We have character sheets, even if they’re only in our heads. We have to become method actors for our characters.

PB: We have to step into their shoes. You have to look at the character’s purpose in the novel. If two characters serve the same purpose, one of them has to go. In Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, for example, the title characters serve the same purpose in Shakespeare’s play. They are expendable. Every character has to have a problem to solve. In a series, when one problem is resolved, another has to crop up to take its place. My Mercy, she’s a coyote shape shifter and therefore Native. Her job had to fit. She has her own business. She’s a mechanic for Volkswagons. She likes to fix things.

KD: For my series, I actually used a character I’d built for an RPG in the past. A to Z. What gets them there? Characters have to be complex. Origins need to be pre-defined so we know how they will react to the situations they’re put in.

PB: Characters have to make decisions. With actors, every action has a purpose. What does this gesture mean? What does their body language convey? C.J. Cherryh says every scene must accomplish three things. Mercy was abandoned and taken in by a werewolf pack. She has issues with women and abandonment. She needs to make broken things work. Ben is an obnoxious, misogynist jerk, but once Mercy, and readers, learned why, he became sympathetic. What is the secret the character would kill for or die to protect?

Q: How to you reflect growth in your characters?

KD: Body language changes given circumstances. Everyone has a mask for different occasions. Underlying that is the same core character, though.

PB: You’re limited by word count, though. To fully develop one character takes a hundred pages. Give yourself time.

Q: How do you balance complexity and consistency?

PB: Mercy surprises me all the time, but that’s part of her nature as a shifter. Experienced writers can predict what will happen and how a character will react. Think about your friends and family. How well do you know them? Can you predict what they’ll do? Think about TV shows and the characters you see there.

KD: Circumstances dictate character behaviour, but consistency is where everything originates.

Q: What is your advice regarding negative endings and death?

PB: The reader feels betrayed. Lois McMaster Bujold does this extremely well, though. You have to set up your ending. It must feel like it’s the right thing, the only thing that can happen. The ending must fulfill the character in some way.

KD: I hate Disney’s happy endings. I love tragedy, but it has to have a purpose.

PB: George R.R. Martin does this well, too. It’s what the story demands. Barbara Hambly did it, though, and ended up losing audience as a result.

Q: What do you do about info-dump?

PB: Write it down as part of the character sketch and bring it out as the story demands.

Q: Do some characters deserve to die?

PB: I’ve killed characters who didn’t deserve it and I’ve let some characters who deserved death, live.

KD: Ask yourself what the story needs? One bad guy might need killing, another might not.

PB: Justice must be served. In Pitch Black, for example, the pilot would have sacrificed everyone else for her own survival. When she later dies to save everyone, there’s a sense of justice being served.

Q: My stories are plot driven. The advice I’ve been given so far hasn’t been helpful. For example, I was told that all characters have to have limitations and they have to suffer as a result.

PB: You have to avoid the “super” character.

KD: One must suffer to learn. It’s a common experience, but not necessarily universal. Characters can learn by overcoming adversity.

Sundog snippet: Pupdate

I promised a pupdate and here it is:

The bad news

When we went to see the vet last week on Tuesday, it was supposed to be for an ear flush.

This did not happen.

It turns out that Nuala’s ears are too far gone. Due to her allergies, the tissue in her ear has developed inflammatory polyps. This is not restricted to the external ear tissue, but extends right down the ear canal. What’s worse, her polyps were calcifying.

As a result, the vet could not flush her ears and when we saw him in the evening, he indicated that we should stop the topical antibiotic. The ear was so closed, there was no point. None of the medication could get to the source of the infection.

Though Nuala received her annual vaccinations, there really wasn’t much they could do that day.

The blood work we’d had done from our last visit was returned and showed that Nuala’s kidney and liver enzymes were still within normal ranges. Her liver enzymes had actually improved.

The recommended treatment, as the article linked above indicates, is ablation. This is a surgical procedure in which all the polyps are resected, and, because of the number of growths in the ear canal, removal of the canal altogether.

Unfortunately, there is no one in town that does these procedures on a regular basis. Once again, we’d have to travel a minimum of four hours away to get the surgery.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, this is not an option for Phil and me. We can’t just take vacation when we want and taking unpaid leave would be a hardship. Nu does not travel well, and would have to be sedated there and back. Plus, she’s officially a senior now, and the complications of surgery are increased.

Two other options were presented, cyclosporine and prednisone. The first was shown to be effective in a very small sample of canine patients. The second is effective, but would have an effect on her liver and kidneys. It would also cause an increase in her appetite and thirst, but Phil and I figured we’d be okay with this since Nu had lost so much weight recently.

Fortunately, prednisone would likely be a short term, or at worst, periodic treatment. That’s what we opted for and went home with a new, more powerful, oral antibiotic and enough prednisone for two weeks, at which time we have another follow up booked.

Oh, the vet said on the way out, you know she’s deaf now, right?

The good news

By the time we were on the second day of treatment, we noticed a marked improvement in Nuala. She was once again, behaving like her normal, healthy self and eating again.

Even my mom noticed a night and day difference in her behaviour.

Pus started running out of her right ear again, the one that was, by far, the worst. We’re just using the EDTA ear wash to keep her ears clean. We also noticed that she was not deaf, or at least not completely.

We reported this to the vet and he is sceptical, but when a sleeping dog in another room is summoned by the sound of the opened fridge door, she can hear.

Since then, her ears have continued to improve. The pus has stopped running, but we now figure that it’s the new antibiotic that’s provided relief. She’s no longer shaking her head or losing her balance. Her ears are perky again, with only the tips of them, where her aural haematomas are, folded over and malformed.

We have hope that by the time the two-week check up is due, her situation will improve enough for a flush (if that’s still indicated).

So, we’re happy with our decision and hopeful for the future health of our furbaby.

Nuala is notoriously camera-shy. When she sees me coming with the phone or camera, she turns in the other direction, which is why I generally only get pictures of her when she’s sleeping or has her back turned. I was able to manage this picture with the help of a biscuit.


What’s that you got there, Mom?

Happy Nuala

Good biscuit! Can I have another?

Sundog snippet


Ad Astra Day 2: The writing life

Panel: Julie Czerneda; Suzanne Church; Stephanie Bedwell Grimes; Karina Sumner-Smith; Ada Hoffman

JC: We’re starting out with our typical days. For me, that’s get up, exercise, write until breakfast, eat, write until lunch, eat, write until supper, take the evening off, sleep, repeat.

SC: Because of where I am in the publishing process, it’s social media and promotion until after dinner.

SBG: Things change depending on where you are in the process. I used to write in the evening. Now, I write in the mornings.

KSS: I had a day job. Then, we moved into a cottage. Now, I have a lot of time. I can work around other tasks. I’m trying different things to see what works. I write at least one hour per day. I’m a night person, but writing in the mornings works. My internal editor hasn’t woken up yet.

AH: I’m in grad school and I live alone. For 8 hours, I’m at my ‘day job’ and then I go home and write. I’m trying different things, too.

JC: Eventually, we all find that ‘sweet spot.’ I have a friend who is a New York Times Bestselling Author (NYTBSA) who used to have a day job. She didn’t adjuster her schedule when she stopped working, she just filled up the hours of her former day job with writing and burned out. I once wrote for 16 hours straight and I ended up in the hospital. Lesson learned. You have to take care of yourself.

SC: I’m a little obsessive-compulsive (OCD). I need a schedule to start my day. The only exception is Hockey. Everything stops for hockey.

SBG: I had a day job. Actually two at one point. You have to keep the well full.

JC: We renovate.

SC: I make time for cultural stuff. Galleries, theatre.

SBG: I’m guilt-driven.

AH: I like reading books by other authors, listening to music. I find poetry begets poetry.

JC: Even 15 minutes of something else is enough of a break: dishes, plants, whatever.

KSS: I like to put on some loud and stupid song and have a five minute dance break. (Mel’s note: Grey’s Anatomy!)

JC: I have dancing songs built into my play list.

SC: I have several play lists: one for NaNoWriMo, one for editing, one for those ‘dark and stormy’ days.

Q: Several of you are working on multiple projects. How do you stay organized?

AH: I work on one thing at a time. I’ll focus on short stories and novels for a while, and then take a poetry break.

KSS: I’m working on a sequel, so a lot of the world building and character development are done. If I work on a stand-alone, it requires that I keep my current project in my head all the time. It takes me a week to pull myself out of one project and get into another. If I have to work on multiple projects at once, I find setting up separate writing times works.

SBG: I tried working in the mornings on one project and in the evenings on another. Sometimes when I’m working on one book, another sells and I have to stop working on the first to address the editing. I usually stop everything else to work on an emergent issue, like edit notes.

SC: Once again, the OCD rears its head. I use spreadsheets. I have one for chapters, another for characters, a third for settings, and so forth.

KSS: No offence, but you’re crazy.

SC: I have a degree in mathematics. Analysis appeals to me.

JC: For the first ten years, I wrote while I was the editor of a science magazine. Currently, I might have as many as seven novels in various stages at once. An outline is indispensable. Your editor will wait as long as you’re up front with your delays. My first book took 17 years to get from inception to publication. My second took nine months.

Q: Where do you get your ideas?

SC: Smart phones. Take a picture, or write a note on the go.

JC: Take a nap.

Q: How do you prioritize your work?

JC: Length. A longer project takes more time and so might have to take priority.

SC: I work by deadline. I write one page every morning. I call it my 100 words.

JC: Neil Gaiman wrote Coraline that way.

Q: How much writing stops when you get a deal? How much time do you have to devote to promotion?

JC: It’s a myth that you have to promote your book, unless you self-publish. The way I look at it, if I don’t write, I don’t eat. I spend one morning on promotion per week.

SC: The first time out, it’s a learning curve. You have to learn what you can do and what you can’t.

KSS: Some people are not suited to promotion. Promotion can take over your life. Do the research. The number one thing is that you have a good book.

JC: Talk to your readers. That’s the most important thing, but it can be consuming. I don’t blog because it takes too much away from my writing.

Q: How do you balance relationships and writing?

JC: Writing isn’t selfish, but it’s hard for others to relate to. Communicate what you’re doing to your partner.

SC: My second spouse relates, but my first didn’t get it. I’d have to leave the house and go to Starbucks to write. My current spouse is very supportive. I travel with him on his commute into the city. While he works, I go to Starbucks to write. On the way home every day, I read to him what I’ve written. When I was working on a horrific SF book, I warned him that it would be dark. After the read, he turned to me and asked, “What the hell is wrong with you?”

JC: Before I was a professional writer, my writing was secret. My husband found my stories and read them. He bought me a typewriter, then a desk. If I was happy, then he was happy.

KSS: Share the joy. Let them know how a good writing day makes you feel, what the payoff is.

JC: And if they don’t get it, don’t make them feel guilty. They can also feel like you’re putting your writing first. You have to if you’re serious, but a solution could be to put them first. Go on a date, ask about their day, be present. Then, go write.

Q: How do you write when you’re exhausted?

SBG: Just do it. Give yourself permission to suck.

AH: I find writing gives me energy.

KSS: There are two kinds of tired: resistance and true exhaustion. Resistance is what most people call writer’s block. In that case just give yourself space, but stay on task. The words will come. If you’re truly exhausted, the only solution is sleep.

JC: Set up something fun to work on for the next day, a fight scene, or a sex scene. Write hot. Have a good breakfast and get to it.

Q: How do you stay motivated?

SC: Read. Aversion therapy. Set yourself a really nasty task as an alternative.

JC: Then you end up doing everything else.

AH: Treats. I’m not above bribery.

SBG: Will write for cookies.

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz April 6-12, 2014

Thoughty ThursdayShort weeks are often difficult. You seem to have to do your full week’s work in only four days. Hence the lateness of this post.

The 12 most pervasive lies about creativity.

Sleep your way to success (get your mind out of the gutter).

20 magical tree tunnels.

Northumberland’s cup and ring rock art.

Rachel Sussman on the world’s oldest living things TED talk.

This professor says he’s photographed fairies. Do you believe?

Smart ways to beat social media burnout.

Yes, this is a commercial, but it’s still a good message. Just ignore the last few seconds.

If social networks were the Game of Thrones houses.

A doggy reunion. Just for the feels.

I may have shared this before, but it’s just so cute, I couldn’t resist. Puppy cover of Pharrell’s Happy.

And that’s a wrap, folks.

Have a happy Easter, everyone!