The no-longer-a-baby is going through a growth spurt. She’s fussy and awkward, has regressed in her abilities, clumsy, voraciously hungry, and when she walks, the formerly sure-footed girl trips over her own feet repeatedly.
I can relate. I’m going through the same thing with writing. Voraciously hungry to read, awkward when I write, regressed in my abilities, tripping over my own words. I’ve been through this before and I know what it means. I’m growing. The timing sucks, but you don’t really get to pick when this kind of thing happens. It’s kind of like having your voice change right before the big solo, only when you’re a writer, there’s no understudy to deliver the performance (or in this case, the book) for you.
Growing as a writer means that things are shifting. My process. My voice. My abilities. Having been through this before, I know I’ll get through this and things will come together on the other side, stronger than they were before. Awkwardness will give way to new grace. The words and the stories will sort themselves out and be suddenly stronger than I could have made them before. I’m looking forward to that, but in the meantime, here I am, tripping over my words and trying to do what was so easy not so long ago before everything started to shift and change.
The day I’ve been waiting for is here! Her Ladyship’s Curse downloaded in the night (yay pre-order, yay internet book delivery miracle) and I’m ripping myself away from it to help celebrate the release of Lynn Viehl’s 50th book with 10 reasons you should go buy it right now.
1. She maintains a terrific blog full of useful information for writers and creative people who need to keep the well refilled in order to keep working.
2. In addition to all that free nonfiction, she regularly gives away free stories to thank her readers. Here’s one to accompany Her Ladyship’s Curse.
3. She’s the sort of generous author who is always helping others and wouldn’t you like to keep her generosity funded by buying her newest book?
4. She’s one of those authors you can always rely on for a well-structured, well-written, fully-realized story that will entertain from the first word to the last, whether she’s writing inspirational fiction, science fiction, romance or YA under her many pen names.
5. She’s funny.
7. In addition to the clockworks, magic and mystery are afoot.
8. Alternate history where the US is still ruled by England.
9. The hardbitten private investigator drinks tea.
10. There’s a mad genius in the basement.
Really, do you need more reasons? Go forth and read!
While flailing about in an effort to fix a story recently, I found myself bewailing its virtues.
“The story is a cupcake!” I cried, while trying to add more spinach and wondering why the result was revolting. And as I sat there covered in non-functional story batter, I had an epiphany.
My story was a cupcake. My story. Was. A cupcake.
And instead of reveling in the cupcakery and plotting frosting and sprinkles and cackling to myself about how this was going to be the most sugar-fat-caloric-dense-ZOMG-amazeballs cupcake in the history of cupcakery, I was killing it with spinach.
Look, sometimes you put in all the right ingredients and the batter doesn’t rise or the center is too gooey or the edges are burned, but still, what you have is recognizably a cupcake. And if you keep coming back to the recipe and trying again with subtle differences, it is possible to end up with a very good final product as long as you commit to the essential nature of the cupcake and what makes a cupcake experience fabulous. And you do not have to be a master chef or even a connoisseur of pastry to know that what makes a cupcake fabulous is rarely the quantity and quality of spinach. Adding spinach doesn’t turn the cupcake into a salad or a souffle. It just turns it into a mediocre, if not disastrous, cupcake.
So I came back to my story and judged it by its virtues. And I committed to them. I committed to telling the story fully and completely with a willingness to go right over the top on a regular basis in my dedication to making my cupcake a cupcake worthy of the name. Because when you want a cupcake, you want a cupcake that doesn’t make any apologies or hold back or sit there saying, “Sugar is bad for you, really, and also you don’t know what’s good for you, so I’m going to lure you in with cupcake bait and then SURPRISE you’re eating your vegetables as I switch, ahahahaha!”
And that is the Cupcake Theory of Writing. If you find yourself writing a cupcake, write that cupcake with no apologies, no holding back, no trying to win the approval of spinach lovers who wouldn’t want your cupcake no matter what you did while ruining it for those who love cupcakes and want one already. Whatever the essential nature of the story is, go with what it IS and forget about what it isn’t.
Writing a mystery? Focus on whodunnit and red herrings and plot twists and gumshoe it up but good. Writing SF? Bring on the strange new worlds and civilizations and boldly go. Writing fantasy? Fantasize! Whatever you are writing, focus on that, the core of it, the experience of it, and think about what you love and what you hate in that type of story and OWN yours.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go own my story’s need for chocolate frosting and sprinkles and add more butter.
The spring print anthology has a title! Something Wild will consist of 3 never-in-print titles from me, Dangerous Games, Earth Girls Aren’t Easy and Two Knights in Camelot. Fingers crossed the cover gods grant me a fun, hot cover to go with the title.
And now, what is up with other works? Like where did Mad Stone go? Sasha and I pulled our duology feeling it had run its course and Mad Stone has a new cover. It is getting formatted and uploaded and will be for sale again as a stand-alone novelette in the Neuri universe shortly. I have three other shorts published in print anthologies but not available as ebook singles; Wolf at the Door, Nuns and Huns, Roped, all getting covers/formatting/uploading and those will also be available soon.
Yes, but what about new work? Red Queen and Kiss of the Demon need finishing and editing and then there will be release dates.
Aside from that? Black Magic (which needs a new title but that’s the working title) and my special ops hero/Indiana Jones heroine books need finishing and homes. I keep getting requests for final and spinoff titles in the Sirens series, but every time I try to tackle that I get a mess. The only characters who even try to cooperate are the wily bunch from Miss Lonely Hearts, which leaves Dane and Harold hanging. And I likewise do not know what to do with the Djinn novella trilogy. So basically it’s get the decks cleared first and then see what pops next.
We took an unplugged weekend to hike trails from the Hoh to Kalaloch and my brain is still wallowing. It struck me around Sunday that I was simply not fighting a trickle of negatives. No bad news. Nothing that triggered writing or publishing angst (which can come from good or bad news). Between that and my lungs taking in the clean coastal and rain forest air to wash away the lingering bronchitis I was recovering from, I feel like a new person. Or reacquainted with my old self. Unplugging is good for the soul and the creative psyche.
And on returning home I discovered an email waiting for me saying that a new print collection of never-before-in-print titles from me is in the works for this spring and would I please send some title suggestions. So huzzah. I did send a bunch of suggestions and will announce more when I have a firm title and date. The collection will include a short novel, a novella and a novelette which makes it about the length of two Harlequin Presents or one single title in length.
This is still not the new novel I know people are waiting for, but I have high hopes that I can get stuff out the door soon. And meanwhile, having 3 print releases in the span of 9 months is not bad. I also have multiple ebook shorts to get on sale for Kindle, Nook and other ebook readers. Cover art and formatting is underway. But really, I’m looking forward to finishing the novels in progress that it is time and past to be DONE with.
I missed posting this earlier on the blog because New Year’s and Genreality wrap-up interfered, but I did tweet the news. The Mammoth Book of Futuristic Romance is out, and I can’t think of a better way to start my new year off right than with a title in book stores and ready for e-readers that I love so much I cackled while I wrote it. Ever wonder why the Huns came out of nowhere? What if they were alien supersoliders exiled to earth? Nuns and Huns made me laugh and it can be yours now with a click of a “buy now” button or a trip to your favorite local bookstore.
Hello blog! I’m over at Genreality saying goodbye. In my appropriately titled “You can’t have everything” farewell, I talk about the sad fact that our time and energy is limited. And not spending time and energy there means I have more to invest here. Genreality will stay up with all the content archived and accessible, but this is our final week and when we’re done, we’re rolling up the rug and going back to our own blogs. And Twitter. And Facebook or Google Plus, or Tumblr. Well. You get the idea.
I’ve enjoyed participating in the group blogs I’ve been part of, but I’m also happy to come back to roost here.
So goodbye, hello, and Happy New Year.
“This is a bad idea,” David said, his tone as flat as the gunmetal grey his eyes had gone. We were both in the back seat of Zach’s car, now parked at our destination. A limo would’ve been too out of place at biker bar.
“I don’t like it much myself, but we’re short on time and options,” I pointed out. I adjusted the zipper on my black leather jacket and flexed my feet in the steel-toed boots I wore. I’d already tested the give in my jeans by doing a couple of high kicks before getting in the car; pants that were too restrictive to fight in no longer belonged in my wardrobe.
“She said she’d talk to Chandra if she came in alone,” Zach said from the driver’s seat. “If one of us goes with her, we might not only lose a shot at the stone, we could find ourselves with a new set of enemies. We don’t want to provoke them by seeming aggressive on their home turf.”
“What you said,” I nodded at Zach, and tried to project confidence at David. “Besides, compared to psychotic rogue shapeshifters, how bad can a few hairy guys with leather fetishes be?”
“Bad,” David stated.
“I have a black belt in Kenpo,” I said, as much to make myself feel better as to reassure David. I sent a silent thanks to my adoptive father for enrolling me in martial arts at age five.
“Which will not help you against bullets.”
“No, but unless they’re packing silver, I’ll live.” I twisted to peer at Zach. “Do you think they’re packing silver?”
Zach was silent for a beat longer than I expected. “Probably not.”
I ran my fingers through my hair and bit back curses. “How does a biker gang know about us, anyway?” Angelica had known exactly who I was when she returned my call, and our first conversation hadn’t led me to expect the beginning of a beautiful friendship when I showed up to meet her at the bar.
“She is a witch,” Zach reminded me.
“I thought she was probably a fake.”
“Look on the bright side. Since she’s the real thing, she’s much more likely to have a powerful stone.”
“Yes, but will she give it to us?” That was the big question, and we weren’t going to get an answer until I got out of the car and went inside.
“I guess that depends on you.” Zach’s eyes met mine, and I knew he hated that every bit as much as David did. Maybe more, since it went against his alpha nature to sit and wait while his mate went into danger. When this was all over, I was going to have some major beast-soothing to do.