Thursday, July 31, 2008

WorldCon 2008

The pocket program for WorldCon is on line, and now that I've stopped hyperventilating, I thought I'd post a link to the website.

Thursday at 5:30 has both Connie Willis and Lois McMaster Bujold signed up for Kaffeeklatches. I am prepared to elbow my way to the front of the line for that! Minnesota nice? Bah!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized.  Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistence."

- Daniel Hudson Burnham

Mr. Burnham was an architect and, perhaps more importantly, one of the first city planners.  I figure he knows a thing or two about plans big and small. . . 

So how big are your plans?  Are they big enough for your dreams?  

Friday, July 25, 2008

Publisher's Weekly Sneak Peek

You should treat yourself t0 Publisher's Weekly's sneak peek of children's and YA books coming out in Spring 2009. Since it's arranged by publisher, it's a nice chance to get a feel for what each house is publishing, what their individual tastes are. Also, it's a great way to build your reading list in advance. (I didn't know Cynthia Leitich Smith was coming out with a sequel to "Tantalize"! I'm sure you'll find something to look forward to, too :)

The link is

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Quote of the Day

(On being condescended to as a YA writer) "I recall a number of people looking down their noses at me when I explained what I do for a living, as if I painted watercolors of cats or performed as a clown at parties."

--Mark Haddon
author of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time"

"A lot of people have no idea that right now YA is the Garden of Eden of literature... I thought I had been condescended to as an Indian. That was nothing compared to the condescension for writing YA."

--Sherman Alexie
National Book Award winner for "The Absolutely True Diary
of a Part-Time Indian"

Both these quotes come from a recent New York Times article about the changing definitions of YA and the enduring stigma against YA writers. To read the article in full, go to

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Writing more art less wrench

The most difficult thing about writing for me and my current and foreseeable lifestyle is that it's a slow burn. You just keep plugging away at it day after day. With the limited amount of time that I spend on it, I don't get very far, very fast. My current goal is to write five hours a week. I'm really a "get in, get it done, get out" kind of guy at least when it comes to projects around the house. Writing isn't like that. It's a long grind.

Of course, I don't like household projects. I don't know what I'm doing when I start. I try to study up ahead of time, but there are often surprises along the way, usually unpleasant. This parallels my writing experience, too. I don't know what I'm doing. It seems like hard work, and I don't enjoy it. Conversely, in domestic projects, I usually learn a lot, and I hope to do the same with writing. However, house projects are a lot more about hard knocks, and that kind of learning isn't subtle, and so it cannot be missed. It's hard to ignore how you should have shut the water off before disconnecting the pipe when it's spurting across the floor. With writing, it's harder to pinpoint why the story didn't work.

I hope that writing for me becomes more like practicing music. I'm reasonably knowledgeable about music, and I like practicing. I can do that for half an hour a day or more without complaint. There is more immediate feedback with music, and it also seems to come together in a reasonable time frame. I'd like my writing to be more like practicing a piano piece than fixing a leaky toilet.


Monday, July 21, 2008

And now for something a little different

This isn't so much about writing as storytelling. You have to watch this totally amazing video acting out/retelling all three of the original Star Wars movies. The three members of the George Lucas Appreciation Society are amazing.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Good Advice

Never stop writing.

When you are done with one project move on to the next.

Have a separate time set aside to research, send out manuscripts and network.

Quote of the Day

"The legend that characters run away from their authors-- taking up drugs, having sex operations and running for president-- implies that the writer is a fool with no knowledge or mastery of his craft. The idea of authors running around helplessly behind their cretinous inventions is contemptible."
--John Cheever

(Say what?? "Cretinous inventions"?? If my characters weren't so busy running for president, they might take offense at that...)

"Many of my characters are fools and they are always playing tricks on me and treating me badly."
--Jorge Luis Borges

"In a sense, you build a corral for your characters to run around in. The fence keeps them confined to the limitations of the plot. But where they run inside the corral is a function of each character's freedom to be what he/she wants within the confines of the plot."

--Ronald B. Tobias
"No surpise for the writer, no surprise for the reader."

--Robert Frost

Tell the truth: do your characters run the show? Do you like it that way or do you want to call the character version of "Nanny 911"? When was the last time a character really shocked you? Did you keep it in the story, or did it wind up on the cutting-room floor?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Perfect Time?

Never feel guilty about taking time out of your hectic schedule to write! I know there are household chores to do, children to attend to, spouses/partners/friendships to nurture. Each day that passes that you do not write, is a day without writing.
Understand that there will never be a perfect time to write. There will always be something to do. If you find yourself overbooked give yourself permission to:

1) Be selective about how you spend your time.
2) Find an hour, once a week to feed your inner writer and write.

Remember no one else can pen your stories!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What's in your wallet?

Wallet, toolbox, laptop bag - whatever you call it, the items therein are invaluble to you as a writer.  They're the paraphernalia you can't live without, the tool/technique/talisman that saved a story.  The thing that keeps you writing, no matter what.  

Every toolkit is a little different, just like every writer is a little, well, different (I know what you're thinking.  Yes, we're that kind of "different," too.).  So what's in your toolkit?

I've got quite a few things in mine, and several new ones have made an entrance lately.  There is, of course, the trusty laptop.  The Moleskine notebook (they really are the best) and the Pilot G-2 gel pens.  The Edgar Allen Poe action figure who got me through NaNoWriMo and oversees all creative activity.  These are my old standbys.

The new ones?  Index cards and sharpies to help my scattered brain outline (in hopes that this will make for more tension and general freakiness).  Coffee shops, in all shapes and sizes.  Isaac the cat (who sits next to me and purrs & tells me I'm wonderful).  

It all matters.  It's all important, at least for a time.  And all only good while you apply the fundamental Rule #1 of writing: Apply butt to chair.  Write some stuff.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.  

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Question of Character

Hey, Death Pixies and accomplices of the Death Pixies, does anyone have a favorite "character questionnaire" that you use to create character profiles or to get to know your characters better? Would you be so kind as to post a link or give us some key questions? I don't usually use them, but I'm feeling the urge. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in."

--Leonard Cohen

"Water which is too pure has no fish."

--Ts'ai Ken T'an

Repeat after me: Just for today I will set aside any perfectionism that inhibits me from sharing my writing with others. I will let the "good enough" word (or phrase or story or novel) be good enough.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

slash and burn

Hello rainbow and glitter people--let me ask you a question: is your second draft the same story as your first draft but told differently, or a different story with more or less the same plot and characters, or your just your first draft improved?

I am involved in some serious slash and burn here and it's freaking me out. In the meantime my son is playing with his Indiana Jones action figure, which for some reason involves singing Waltzing Matilda at the top of his lungs in falsetto. I feel like this is making me indecisive, but probably I could be indecisive even without help.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Quote of the Day

"The saving of our world from pending doom will come not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a non-conforming minority"

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

Okay, this quote doesn't have to do with writing, but I wanted to give you an American hero in honor of Fourth of July :) And of course it has everything to do with writing if writing is your creative way of staying maladjusted...
Have a very independent Independence Day!