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Archive for the 'Writing Process' Category

Sunday, June 28th, 2009
Next question

Keep asking questions and I’ll keep answering. Anything you want to know about me, the writing, the books, and so forth. So here’s the next one, from newguydave: what do you most love to write about that you haven’t had the chance to yet?

I’d really like the chance to pursue my ugly vampire story. (if you go to the tab on my main website under stories, it’s the one called All Things Being Not Quite Equal). And I’d like to write Soka’s story–what became of him after the end of Path of Blood. Same with Juhrnus. I’ve got some ideas that are starting to poke at me a whole lot that I haven’t had time to write yet and I hope I get to write them at some point.

More answers to questions coming later . . .

Sunday, June 28th, 2009
next question

So [info]cathschaffstump asks: Do you identify with any of your characters? In what ways? Has that changed as you’ve continued on your writing journey?

I suppose I identify in some ways with them. For instance, with Reisil I made her dreadfully afraid of heights (which I am). Course she gets over it and that’s just wishful thinking for me. I’ve also used some of my experiences to give flavor to the characters. For instance knowledge about horseback riding or what it feels like to get saddle sores (which I did when I spent time riding bareback in a saddle one time). I know what it’s like to be in dreadful pain and that goes into the stories. But as far as idenitifying with them in terms of being close to them and feeling what they feel and really being attached . . . not so much. I’m always aware I may have to kill them. Or torture them. Plus I worry about the whole Mary Sue problem. So I try to make them different from me and people that I don’t too closely idenitfy with.

[info]mtlawson asks: What’s your most memorable college experience? And for something writing related…. What sort of novel do you not like?

Most memorable college experience. Well. It was about my third day into college my freshman year. I broke my contact that morning and so was wearing my glasses. I was riding my bike to class. Now you have to understand, first, I was going to my calculus class (engineering calculus and it was both hard and terrifiying). Second, at any given time at Davis there was about 17,000 bikes on campus. The had traffic circles. Well, I got into the traffic circle and couldn’t get out. These people ride FAST. So finally I was coming out of the circled and Moe Howared clipped my back tire (okay, he had Moe’s haircut.) My bike flipped and I landed on my face. I had a swelling the size of a golf ball on my chin and it looked like a cougar had scratched my glasses. My bike was fracked. So I got up, walked it down to the class (a good 1/4 of a mile) and turned my homework in. My instructor looked at me and told me to go to the med center and don’t pass go.

As for novel’s I don’t like: I don’t like novels that don’t have compelling characters, that don’t have a plot, and that don’t have a satisfying resolution. I hate boring novels (and I like Dickens and Victorian novels so boring simply means that if you are going to go slow and meander, that you’d better make the trip interesting). I hate books that are too cliche. Again, I can take a good cliche if you can find a way to make it different or entertaining. Good dialog, good characters–something. I don’t much care for Hemingway or Steinbeck. The first is too minimalist and the second too heavy-handed. They just bore me. And neither seems to come to any real point.

Sunday, June 28th, 2009
question time again

This question by Chris:

It’s fascinating to read about the twists and turns. So after you had written the novel, after the approx 7 month period, how long until you managed to get it published?

So I finished PoF sometime in the spring of 2002. Early in spring, like around January or February. I sent it out to a couple of published friends and asked for feedback. Armed with that feedback, I spent months revising and polishing. Then I started working on the plot sysnopsis and cover letter for the proposal pakage. I spent a couple of months on those. I wanted to get them right and I got feedback from several people to get there. So around August I started sending out queries to editors and to agents. Roc asked for a full. A friend had recommended that I go to World Fantasy Con–a lot of editors, agents and other pros attend. So I decided to go and I contacted the Roc editor and asked if she’d be free to meet with me at some point in the con. She said yes. So at WFC we met for about 1/2 an hour in the bar and talked about the book and my idea for a seriesis and all that sort of thing. About three weeks later she made an offer. i then contacted my top agent choice and she read the mansuscript and agreed ot take me on. And that is the story.

Sunday, June 28th, 2009
question time again

This one comes from Tyler:

And here’s a question–if it has been asked before, I’m sorry; I missed it—–
When and how did you get the idea for PATH OF FATE, and after getting the idea and after beginning to write it, how long did it take you complete the first draft of the book?

So the answer to that one requires me to take a step back a little to what was happening before writing Path of Fate.

Way back when when I was working on my dissertation, I was also working on a novel. A long, sprawling novel that I still have a fondness for, but which will likely never be pulled out of the trunk for various reasons. Whenever I got stuck on my diss, I’d switch to writing my novle and vice versa. I was around 185K when I stopped working on it and it wasn’t quite done yet.

So I get my PhD and I get a job and I moved to Montana. I jumped into working and didn’t have a lot of time to write at that point. But what I did do was get pregnant. And then on top of that, i had one of my short stories “All Things Being Not Quite Equal” picked up for The Best of Dreams of Decadence antho (this is my ugly vampire story and anybody who wants to read it can go to my website and have gander). So it was 2001 and my son wasn’t a year old yet and I decided to head off to Wiscon to participate in the writers workshop there with the first chapters of the novel I’d been workinig on during my dissertation years–short title Errand.

Now first you have to know that I’d had a major editor tell me at an academic conference that now that I was having a baby, I wouldn’t be writing anything for years and years. That pissed me off. The other thing to know was that I got to be in Nancy Kress’ group at the Wiscon writers workshop. Dream come true. So she had nice things to say about my writing and offered some suggestions. When I was done, I was all pumped to go home and finish and revise Errand and get it submitted out.

So I’d been home less than a month when a friend called me up and asked, How’d you like to do a book in a week? Um, huh what?

Basically a book in a week is this idea that you try to write as much of a book as you possibly can in a week. The idea is that most people can carve out a week of their lives when they can get rid of work, housecleaning, and whatever obligations, and just write. Will you finish a book in a week? Probably not. But in that time you’ll have a substantial draft and you’ll know whether it’s worth pursuing or not.

So I’d been kicking around the idea for Path of Fate for a litle while, and thought, sure! I’ll do it. And at the end of the week I was about 30K into the book and knew I wanted to keep going.After that, It took me about 7 months to write the novel. Then I wanted to send it out and instead managed to control myself and send it out to a coupl of beta readers who gave me excellent advice and I revised and revised. Then I spent time working on the synopsis and cover letter and figuring out who to submit to. About the same time I finished the book, Rock published the antho The Best of Dreams of Decadence, which gave me a slight ‘in’ when submitting to them.

The idea for Path of Fate is hard to pin down. I had this idea of the goshawk connected to Reisil and that Reisil would be afraid of heights. I also am fascinated by people who sacrifice themselves for others–who will give up everything for strangers. I also like the idea of someone who is “chosen” and doesn’t care to be. The rest of it sort of gelled up around those ideas. They’d been rummaging around loose in my head for awhile–a lot of my ideas do that. They are looking for other ideas to glom on to and create a story. I ended up using a goshawk for Saljane because a friend of mine does research on goshawks and I could ask a lot of questions and go out into the field and observe.
Any more that you want to know about that? Or other questions? Keep ’em coming!

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
Bitter Night Revisions . . . are done

I. Am. Tired. But the revisions for Bitter Night are done and winging their way through cyperspace to my editor. I hope she likes. And remarkably, they are on time. Due today, turned in today. Okay, not be 5:00 NY time, but nothing said they had to be, and as long as it’s before business open tomorrow, it counts. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Just at the moment I’m about cross-eyed with exhaustion. I need sleep. And I need to get back to work on The Traitor King. And there are one or two other things to get done too. No rest for the wicked. Or even for me.

And the remarkable Ilona Andrews has been doing awesome things with my website. Go look. It’s got some issues, especially in IE, but I don’t care. It’s lovely. And I need to add content, I know.

I’ll post the first chapters of The Turning Tide soon–how’s that?

And now, collapsing in a heap. And trying to figure out how to cook dinner while in said heap.

Saturday, April 11th, 2009
Bitter Night Revision Update

So far I’m not nearly as far along on the revisions for Bitter Night as I should be, but I am making progress. What’s interesting is that I’ve cut at least 6K words out (and I’m not quite a third through the revisions–I did say they were going slow). I say at least because though I keep a snippet file of bigger chunks I’ve cut, I don’t include single sentences or phrases or words in there and there’s been a lot of those and trust me, they add up. Anyhow, I’ve got a file of around 6K, and the novel is about 2K longer than it started out.

So that means I’ve probably cut closer to 8K and put 2 K back in. But really, I’ve probably cut more like 12K and added back in about 4K. I’m still chopping–trying to make it lean and not saggy–and also I know of at least two scenes I need to add, and maybe a third, depending. I also have a scene I plan to cut. I’ve added one large scene already.

My goal is to make this novel about the same length as I first submitted it. That’s not arbitrary. Well, yeah, to an extent it is. But I do believe I’ve been a bit wordy and in making those cuts, I’m trying to force myself to really pay attention and streamline the prose so it’s a really good, sharp read.

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009
And now . . . The Cover of Bitter Night

I just got the cover for Bitter Night. Here it is. Isn’t it awesome?

bitternightfroncover13

Friday, March 13th, 2009
And so it begins–The Traitor King

So I have a first chapter of The Traitor King. I have no idea if it will still be part of the book later, because I am pantsing this book so much more than I like to. If I were to draw a plot line, it would essentially start with a list of characters who will be important: Keros, Margaret, Nicholas, Gimlet, Amberdel, Vaughn, the lord chancellor and his wife. Then there would be this line leading from Margaret and Gimlet, since they are where this chapter started, and then there would be this large, lovely, black scribble ball in the middle, taking up most of the page. Beneath it would be a caption saying “many bad things (and some good) happen.” Then there would be a teeny-tiny little line, maybe a quarter of a centimeter long, and it would lead to the word: END.

YOu’ll note that what I know about this story is the character names. You’ll note I don’t know much else. Which isn’t true, really. I know a lot. I just don’t really know what will happen, nor the order it will happen in. I’m terrified.

But here is a snippet for those of you who want to know how this begins . . .

Read the rest of this entry »

Thursday, March 5th, 2009
more about beginnings

So on my sfnovelists post, someone asked the following in the comments. It’s such a great question, but I don’t know that I have a great answer. I am, however, going to take a stab at it. I would like for all of you to jump in, though.

The question:

Diana I find I start writing but on the first edit after I’ve finished the first draft I will eliminate up to 7 chapters at the beginning because I’ve mainly written backstory. I don’t know why I do this, but it happens every time even if I plot the story out in its entirety. The first couple of chapters lets me get into my characters heads and then the story takes off from there. Don’t know how to break this habit. Do you have any suggestions?

Read the rest of this entry »

Monday, March 2nd, 2009
On beginning a novel

I have a post up on starting a novel at Sfnovelists if you want to have a look.