Birthday girl

My little toddler turns 3 today. It’s incredible how much she’s changed. I know it’s a cliche, but it really does seem like just yesterday she was a baby. Just learning to walk.  She turned from baby to toddler and in the last few months she’s shifted from toddler to preschooler.

She understands so much more, she’s capable of so much more. She recognizes more words and shapes on paper. She’s starting to write. A few days ago she asked for a book to write in, so we bought her a blank notebook. She sits and writes in it with her crayons.

My funny, smart little girl is growing up. 3. I can’t believe it’s here already.

Annnndddd…Lucky 13!

My proposal for a novella in the Ellora’s Cave 2007 Tarot series has been accepted! The title hasn’t been confirmed and is subject to change. It may be too similar to another title or they may want it to reference the card, etc. BUT it’s in! And this is officially lucky 13, my baker’s dozen of sales to date. And I’m seven months ahead of schedule with a couple of other things still out there.

I’m very excited about being part of the Tarot series. The art department is making a card deck which I know will be gorgeous.

Here’s the blurb for my Tarot novella:

Workaholic Elaine Llewellyn’s enforced vacation leaves her at far too loose an end for her peace of mind. With all that time on her hands, memories and longings she’s been repressing threaten to break free. Her solution? Distract herself by playing tourist on a just-busy-enough road trip through Maine.

A storm and a blocked road send her to an unscheduled stop at Damon Thorne’s private retreat. Instead of the B&B she’s expecting, the man who’s world famous for his surreal paintings of psychic visions has been expecting her and all of her careful plans are washed away with the rain.

Trapped in the house while the storm rages outside, Damon sets out to break through Elaine’s barriers, physical, mental and emotional. When the storm ends, she’ll have to make a choice: go back to the life of denial she’s been living, or come to terms with her own psychic gifts, her passionate nature, and the second chance at love she’s been offered.


Overachieving and elastic art

I just realized that the 3-book sale to St. Martin’s puts me at 12 total sales, and it’s still May. My goal by the end of 2006 was a baker’s dozen, lucky 13. I have a few things in the works that will probably put me over that by a bit. Something I seem to consistently do when I set a goal is surpass it. This is a good trend. I’m a huge believer in setting concrete goals because it does make a difference.

Another trend I like is that since Nov. of 05 I’ve been working exclusively on proposal. I wasn’t sure how that would work for me since my stories are sort of organic and the very beginning tends to be messy, but I’ve also gotten much better at synopsis and blurb writing and I think that’s helped. I wasn’t sure how a pile of contracts would make me feel. It’s not what I expected. I’m experienced and confident enough in my writing now that I know what I can deliver so instead of stress what I feel is secure. I’m employed! I like that.

I’ve enjoyed knowing that a book is already sold when I’m putting in the time on it and it has helped me gear the story to fit the publisher’s requirements ahead of time, so there’s a lot of benefit to doing business by this method. For instance, in the upcoming Night Music, an email exchange with ED clarified a couple of things that will save me what could have been a hair-ripping revision because we planned ahead together on it. Likewise, discussions with my new editor at SMP helped me plan and shape WWW to fit from the synopsis stage, before I began writing.

Which leads me to elastic art. A story has a core you can’t violate, I believe that. But outside of that, there’s an awful lot of bend and stretch. A story can be lengthened or shortened, this or that element emphasized or toned down, and it’s easiest to do this kind of shaping in the planning stage. Much harder to do after it’s finished and you have to go back and painstakingly restructure, revise, rip apart and reassemble.

This is where the middle way of writing comes into play, I think. There’s one extreme that’s all about being an Artiste and another extreme that is all about chasing the Allmighty Dollar, writing what’s perceived as “what the market wants” when the writer believes it’s worthless trash.

Ray Bradbury describes this very bluntly as dishonesty. It’s dishonest to have literary pretensions (although if you’re truly literary, that’s different) or to write what you loathe because your agent or editor or critique partner says it’ll sell. Honesty is in the middle. Telling your story as well and as truthfully as you can.

Honest fiction has guts and legs and stamina, and a lot of flexibility. When I work with a story to shape it to fit certain criteria, that doesn’t make me less creative. I think it takes lot of creativity to shape the elements and structure of a story so that it is a coherent whole, a pleasing work of art, and also fits with a publisher’s needs.

Yes, I do think of my stories as works of art. I’ve never believed that “commercial” “genre” and “art” are mutually exclusive terms. A book is a magical thing. I never sit down to work without feeling a sense of awe about what I do. I’m not serving french fries, although there’s probably some zen way to turn even that into an art form. I’m writing fiction. Books. Stories. I sit down and go to work and I probably resemble a gardener clearing weeds and hoeing and staking and hauling a wheelbarrow around more than I do an ivory tower sort of artist, but the sweat doesn’t make it any less creative.

Just like shaping the structure of a story while remaining true to it’s core doesn’t make it hack work. Art is elastic. It’s not so fragile that it will break and shatter if it isn’t handled with kid gloves.

Holy domain change, Batman!

If you’ve left a comment and it vanished, or tried to send me an email and it bounced, it’s because has moved. My original webhost was too unreliable, lots of downtime and service interruptions, poor technical support, etc. The change had to be made, and hopefully doing it over a holiday weekend means a minimum of confusion and inconvenience.

The transition went quickly and it was up and running on the new host in minutes, but the change will have to replicate across the internet and that takes about a day. So bear with me, please! If you sent me an email and I haven’t replied, please resend. And I hope everybody’s having a great holiday weekend.

Jordan’s writing meme

I needed a blog topic, so I’m lifting Jordan’s writing meme! Things I’ve learned about my process:

1. I also need to write every day. If I’m “down” between projects, I still write in my journal, blog, write emails. Writing is daily practise.

2. I lose momentum if I take days off in the middle of a project. Better to schedule things between projects whenever possible.

3. The outlining from inside and set piece approach to plotting works really well for me. So does the three-act structure.

4. I’ve learned that I like to write complex stories with multiple storylines weaving together. Or maybe it’s better to call them layers.

5. I’ve learned that I write in two fairly distinct styles and for marketing purposes I intend to seperate them.

6. I’ve learned that reading is essential mental recreation and I try to squeeze in as much of it as I can, in every genre under the sun.

7. I’ve learned that I “slump” between projects. The bigger the project, the bigger the slump at the end. This is a period when I’m feeling the creative drain and need to be nice to myself. Stock up on good books to read, watch movies, play. It doesn’t last long, but there is always a post-project stage that seems to be part of the essential letting-go process for me, so that I can disengage myself from the story and treat it like a team project and something separate from me from that point on.