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Archive for September, 2009

Sunday, September 27th, 2009
ARC Contest Redux–and cover flats

Okay, so since the original winners didn’t respond, here are the new winners of the ARC contest:

nonnycat and Ruth

And for the coverflat winners:


So here’s what I need. Send me an email with your snail mail address to dpf AT dianapfrancis DOT com


Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009
Back in the Saddle Again

Finally finished my grading. Turned in my final grades from last block and am three days into this block. And I’m exhausted. Hopefully I’ll catch up on sleep soon.

In the meantime, last call: Rosie and mallie_kite you won ARCs of Bitter Night. I need to hear from you by Friday noon or I’ll have to draw new names. At that time I’ll also draw for winners of the cover flats.

Starting tomorrow, at about 2:00 Mountain time, I’m going to start inhabiting the War Room again. Do you remember what this is? that’s where we go into the chat room, talk a few minutes, then write fast for 1/2 hour or so, then report back on progress, then chat, then do it again. I’ll be in there for a few hours each day, unless I have a meeting. Hopefully more on weekends. I hope to get some good work done, and I hope some of you will join me.

Jim Hines as an incredibly funny slush poem, Seussian style. A quote:

Would you like a hot sex scene?
I wrote it for my online ‘zine!

I do not like your pervy tale.
Your metaphors make readers pale.
Your paragraphs are pages long.
Your bad sex scene is oh so wrong!
Can people do that with their lips???
I do not like your manuscripts.

Go read it. Beverage warning. I bet you did know loo and poo rhyme, didn’t you?

I’ll hopefully see some of you tomorrow in the war room.

Friday, September 18th, 2009
an Interview With Me

On Saturday the 19th, Book Love Affair will have an interview with me posted. I will be erudite and entertaining and brilliant and . . . well, anyhow, I’ll be me. So do come have a gander.

Friday, September 18th, 2009
ARC winners

So there were 38 entries on the ARC contest (entries on my main site here and on my livejournal blog), plus one emailed because she couldn’t get access for some reason–sorry about that Patty! I used Random.org to generate the numbers, and so without further ado, the winnders are:

Rosie and mallie_kite

Please send me your snail mail addresses to dpf @ dianapfrancis DOT com If I don’t hear from you by Monday midnight, I’ll draw again.

Thanks eveyrone for playing! Oh, and yes, later today after I finish grading (could be tomorrow) I will randomly generate winners for cover flats. So keep your eyes peeled for that because I’ll need more winners’ addresses)

Thursday, September 17th, 2009
contest reminder and updatery

So I’ve been working on grading and wrapping the block and prepping the next block. I also have an idea for a new book that I can’t write and am trying to get everything down because it will. be. awesome. Seriously. Dark and gritty and epic. And the magic is cooooooooool. Now to propose it and sell it and of course find time to write it. I told my agent about it a little and she said it gave her goose pimples.

This is your reminder about the contest. Your titles have made me giggle on a few occasions. You people amuse me. Thank you. So anyhow, go to the post and propose a title and you’ll be entered. You have til 9 a.m. Friday Mountain Time. And for you anonymous folks, do include some sort of name for me, would you?

I also have post up on sfnovelists about where novelists get our ideas.

Monday, September 14th, 2009
ARC contest

I have two bright shiny Advanced Reader Copies of Bitter Night. That’s right–they are early copies–you get to see them long before anyone else does. They are up for grabs. Here’s all you have to do to be in the running . . . .

In the comments of this post, offer at least one possible title for the sequel to Bitter Night. Heh. Without knowing what it’s about.

Here’s what I’m looking for. A two word title, with an edgey quality. Think darkness, apocalypse, grittiness. Think about invasion and war and the people who stand up and do what needs to be done because they’re the ones who can.

The contest will go until Friday morning at 9 a.m. Mountain time. I will send these anywhere, so anyone can enter. On friday, I’ll do a random drawing and announce the winners. You’ll have a few days to respond with proper addresses.

So . . . ready? Bring it on!

Sunday, September 13th, 2009
will I read your manuscript?

It’s possible you haven’t seen the dustup in the past few days about reading other people’s manuscripts. If you haven’t, start here with screenwriter Josh Olson’s blog “I will not read your fucking manuscript.” Yeah, the tone is a bit more obnoxious and angry than not, but I think the point is well worth making. Writers–including me–don’t have the time to read other people’s manuscript’s unless we have a really good reason to. (for me my beta readers have an automatic yes and a few others, too).

There are a plethora of reasons for this, but for me, it comes down to two–one, I don’t have time. Seriously. I have a day job, I’ve got my writing, I’ve got a family, and I barely have time to breathe. Those who are on my yes list, still have to wait for me to get caught up on my paying gigs before I can work them in. Reading a manuscript might only take a few hours ( only–I’ve got a use for every second, much less an entire hour!). But then you add in critiquing–and some people don’t want a real critique. One reason my beta readers are on my yes list is because I know they understand what they are getting in a critique–I’m going to tell them what’s wrong with the novel more than what’s right. Why? Because they don’t have to fix what’s right. Yes, I make sure I tell them, but then I have to talk in detail about the wrong so that they can understand my concerns. They may disagree and certainly are entitled to–I’m only one voice after all. But I want to feel that my advice is not falling on deaf ears. That they at least consider what I say and they are not going to get angry and start calling me the sorts of names that you see in the comments of Olson’s post. Otherwise, what’s the point?

The second reason is that I don’t want to be accused of stealing ideas, or characters, or plots or whatever. I just don’t. And that happens.

In the post above by Josh Olson, if you look at the comments, the vitriol is amazing. Astonishing. Partly people are no doubt feeling free to respond to the language and tone of the piece, but they also say that Olson got lucky. That’s the only reason he’s in the position he is. Do we say that of Michael Jordan? Of Bill Gates? Steve Jobs? Bruce Springsteen? Did they get lucky? Or did they have talent, work hard, persevere, develop their craft and dedicate themselves to their jobs? Why is it writers just “get lucky?” Maybe it’s our fault. I do consider myself very lucky to be able to do this job and to have people read my books and I’ve been known to say so. At the same time, I put a LOT of work into every book. I spend hours and hours and hours. I don’t remember the last time I had a vacation. I did it before I sold Path of Fate and I do it now. I know many of you know exactly what I’m talking about, no matter what your job.

A point frequently made is this: would an ordinary person walk up to a plumber or a lawyer or a doctor or dentist or an accountant or a machinist and ask them to do an hours and hours long job for free? Because those people got lucky? Not really. But people will do that with writers, and be tremendously offended when writers refuse. It’s astonishing to me and would no doubt be equally astonishing to anybody in any other profession.

Here is Laura Resnick’s words on the subject, as well as a collection of others from other writers. I suggest you read David Gerrold’s (writer of The Trouble With Tribbles). In Hollywood, just getting the request to read a manuscript can get your fired.

One of my problems is that I’m a teacher and I like to give back. I’m very willing to put myself out there for people, but generally I expect that we’ve had a connection of some kind before and I also expect that if I say no, it will be taken well. I simply CANNOT do all that I’m asked, much as I’d like to. If the workload didn’t kill me, my husband would. And he’s very patient with my schedule. I also by far prefer that people who ask are ready to ask. That they’ve studied, that they have some understanding of the business, that this is not the first draft or even the second. I don’t want to have to talk about the sort of things that they could learn from basic writing texts, workshops, and so forth. I want there to be a reason to be talking to me–that I will have something to contribute beyond the basics.

That’s why I like to run a question and answer time periodically on the blog. I’ll have one soon. That way all of you who have questions you have no place to ask can get an answer, and you’ll know that indeed I have time and am not only willing, but eager, to give you the benefit of what I’ve learned over the years.

Friday, September 11th, 2009
writing craft

I’ve published six novels, with the seventh on its way in October and the 8th with my editor. You’d think I’d felt like I had some mastery of the craft, but in all honesty, i feel like a newbie every time I set out. Now I realize I’m not because I teach creative writing and each time I do, I remember what newbie-ness truly is, and that’s someone who’s just learning about plot and character and pacing and so on. these are people who’ve never practiced the craft whatsoever. How scary and exciting that must be to start out fresh! I can’t even remember that.

But I do feel panicked and nervous every time I start a new work, every time I return to write on it, every time I take up revisions . . . . In short, I never feel like I know what I’m doing. Part of that is because I hope I’m stretching myself, pushing at the stories to make them deeper, more compelling, more entertaining, and generally better written. Of late, I’ve felt like instead of getting better, that I’m slowly dwindling in my abilities. I wonder if that’s true, or if it’s a case of the more you know, the more you know how much you don’t know. Hmmm.

I’m always on the lookout for books and blogs and articles and so forth that teach me more about writing. I don’t like all of them. Some I look at for commiseration–that I’m not an anomaly. Some I look at for real ideas on improvement of craft. I know there are a lot of writers who don’t read books on writing at all. They think they are mostly useless. I tend to read them and frequently find something useful, though many are more basic than helpful now. But some will still have gems that let me see writing in a new, different way.

I just got Don Maass’s The Fire in Fiction. Haven’t read much of it–like 10 pages, but it definitely sparked some thoughts for me on what I’m currently writing. It wasn’t anything new or unusual, but it was just said in such a way that made a key snick in a lock and suddenly I had ideas. This is why I continue to read those craft books, and why I go to panels at cons on the craft of writing, why I read a lot of writing and industry blogs, and why I talk writing frequently. Something will light a match for me and I’ve got to chase it down.

For me (and every writer is very different) I need to read about craft every so often. Sometimes I sink into the writing and I get running down paths that I’m comfortable with–and not necessarily bad paths–but I know I need to think about the craft and push the boundaries. I need to try new ways of doing things and stretch myself. It’s the only way to improve. To quote Robert Browning, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for?” You should always reach for more than you can achieve to grow your craft. Never let yourself be comfortable in the old grooves, the good enoughs.

How about you? what do you do to improve? Whether it’s the craft of writing or something else?

Thursday, September 10th, 2009
Newsletter reminder

I periodically (actually highly infrequently, but I’m trying to remedy that a little) send out a newsletter of info, reminders, bits and stuff, and some of you may be on the list, and you may not. Do feel free to go the website and on the contact form send me an email to add you to the list.

Remember, contest on Monday. And I also have cover flats, so two arcs and coverflats to give away.

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
Stewing in My Own Juices

I’m running a fever. Have been for a couple of days. Makes me cranky, makes me unable to sleep well, and makes working hard. Don’t. Need. This.

I also find myself with little to blog about because of it. Mostly I’m dazing and feel like him stewing in my own juices, except the fever makes feel frozen. Frozen stew juice.

I wasn’t able to watch the Obama speech tonight, but I read it, and frankly I found it reassuring, and I found it to be rational and balanced. I hope that there’s health reform. Goodness knows we need it. Goodness knows I do. I still have major concerns about what the final product will look like–I am very much hoping the rational, public service side wins out. I just wish the Congress Critters had to have ordinary insurance and deal with all the hassles. They’d certainly move more quickly and sensibly. One thing the speech said that I agree with totally as that the last few months have made me despise our congressmen and women more than usual. They have acted badly and I hope they straighten up and fly right. Joe Wilson would be my top example of poor behavior. Simple civility is the least of what he and everyone else in this debate should offer. I wonder when we started electing children and spoiled brats to lead us.

Here is also where I start calling attention to the fact that Bitter Night will release in just over a month and I’m asking you to preorder and tell your friends. Get the word out for me if you would. I’ll be posting chapters soon. Look for an ARC giveaway next week. I figured out what the contest will be. Start thinking about it. I am going to need a title for the next book. No, you don’t get to know anything about it. But it should be something of the same flavor of Bitter Night–dark and gritty, possibly heroic and powerful. I want a two word name. So be thinking about that. I’ll be opening up the contest very soon. Soooooo . . . . think.

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