Wednesday, September 30, 2009

BLOGFEST 2009: Day 10

Is it harder to write the first book as opposed to the second (or third, or fourth) or does it depend on the content of what you are writing?
It depends on the content, without a doubt. Each book you write has its own challenges, breezes and surprises; it's all these factors combined that really makes writing fun! If writing a novel got easier, what would be a writer's impetus to keep going? If writing a novel ever became so easy it was boring, I would stop writing.

My third novel, a WIP called 'GLOW,' is harder to write based on the content -- it's paranormal chick lit/love story. But the challenge it presents is what keeps me interested in the story, engaged in the relationship!

My first book, 'Manas,' was fun to write if only because of the sheer effort of writing and new found joy of the project. The second book, 'Arcane,' was brilliant in that I had so much more fun really knowing what I was doing and looking for in a particular scene. The third is great because my characters are so vivid -- they're like a big bunch of girlfriends! My novella rocks my world and is totally scary ...

So, I'm going to stick with content for this answer. The meat of the story is where the challenge and enjoyment of writing live for me, and every single story has a new set of barriers to overcome and treasures to unearth.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

BLOGFEST 2009: Day 9

When you're writing a book and making up characters, do you feel like you become that character, as well as that character becomes a part of you?
In a sense, sure. Every story comes from me, but it's not like I get to choose what the characters say. They just say it. It's hard to explain, but there have been times when I didn't know that a particular scene was going to end a certain way, or a character make a cameo so late in the book, until my fingers type it out. And, that's the best moment -- when the story takes on a mind of its own.

I guess the best answer to this question is that I love my characters. They each mean something different to me, and all of my heroines have a bit of myself braided into their personality. That doesn't mean I become the character in my mind and answer to her name -- because that's crossing a weird line. It's more of an RPG experience: For a few hours every day, I can put on this hat, then when I'm done, I take the hat off and put it away. Wearing the hat is fun, but it's always nice to get back to me :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

BLOGFEST 2009: Day 5,6,7,8

Took a much-needed weekend break :) Here are the questions and my answers!

Have you ever just wanted to give up?
I am the queen of starting projects and not finishing them. I have a closet full of partially knit scarves and baby blankets, and a fair-isle sweater, minus the fair-isle part, dating back to 2003 that I refuse to pick up because it's just too hard.

However, with writing, I don't leave things unfinished. I might not write in chronological order, and I have turfed my third novel, 'GLOW,' into a nice little carafe in my brain where it's still percolating in favor of the horror novella 'Unearthed.' It's too easy to just give up, and I don't feel like I could take the easy road out of a problem and be happy with myself. I've had to, as a dear friend of mine described, 'recharge my creative batteries' with a week or two off, but when I'm back and the ideas are flowing, I'm on top of the world.

So, no, I've never just wanted to give up on writing ... even if that fair-isle sweater is a lost cause. Grr ... stupid beautiful design ... too hard! :)

What hobbies do you have?
I love to knit and attend a bi-weekly knitting group at my favorite yarn store. It's so much cooler than it sounds, and those woman put me to shame with their intricate scarves and sweaters and dresses ... my little slippers and scarves tend to look feeble in comparison, but I still like it.

Another geeky admission: I play DnD. I'm a level 7 Drow Rogue named Gyndra -- a weapon of stealth who can see in the dark and slash through monsters before they can even react. My level 8 Half-Orc Rogue Grainne is a femme-fatale pirate with the strength of 3 men and the smile of a supermodel. DnD is such a wonderful release -- you can pretend you're someone else entirely for a few hours once a week!

I also read more than I probably should, love watching movies on XBox HD and enjoy hosting TV premiere parties and football Sundays.

More so than everything else, though, I love my family time. I've got two very young kids, and I play with them, crash on the couch with my husband and relax as a family as often as possible.

How often do you have to edit and rewrite while working on a piece?
If you asked my husband and main critic, the answer would be, 'Until it is perfect.' And, he has a point.

I am an editor by trade, so I go over my own work so many times that I can't count. This is the process:

I write out a chapter, usually in one long session when my mind is thrumming with ideas. Then, I set it down for the day and go to sleep. The next day, I open it up, love some of it, hate some of it, and rewrite whole passages to fit better. I add in dialogue and most of the meat I left out in my mad dash to transcribe the muse. Then, I set it aside and go to sleep. Third day, I pick it up again, re-read it for what feels like to 10th time, add in more details, change the sequence of events, change them back, then write forward into the next chapter, thus starting the whole process over.

The point is that I edit nonstop while I'm writing. I am a reader, and when I enjoy reading something, I feel happy. So, I edit until I feel happy. Sometimes, it's just a feeling that a scene doesn't work, or it's an idea of what could work better. Once, I switched an entire novel to third-person on a whim because I thought it might work better that way. It did.

Rewriting never makes things worse. Some of the best chapters I've ever written were done after my computer erased the entire original file and I had to start from scratch, or, came right after a 'recharge' where I couldn't move past a problem. I like my work to be perfect, and I've already completed so many versions and edits by the time my husband reads things. Doesn't mean I don't enjoy the criticism. :)

Do you feel that you stick to a certain theme (if you have written more than one book?)
Quick side note: Simon & Schuster didn't punctuate the above question correctly. I left it as-is, but it still irked me ... Didn't want you all to think it was my error.

I love fantasy: taking a normal person and throwing them into an abnormal environment or circumstances. Family within the abnormal circumstances is a big theme in my books -- how the dynamic changes, what the meaning of true family is, etc. I also touch on my own personal beliefs as an environmentalist, especially in 'Arcane,' where that is one of the main themes. Another quirk: There is an instance of knitting in each of my stories. Just a touch, nothing heavy handed.

Be sure to check in tomorrow for another installment!

Friday, September 25, 2009

BLOGFEST 2009: Day 4

How has writing affected your daily life?

Other than a slight drawback of making me a little more busy, writing has made me a happier person: I'm more creative, I listen more intently, I have thicker skin and I always carry a notebook with me. Now, I have something to talk about at parties -- writing is definitely a conversation-starter. I feel oddly satisfied and anxious at once, and my mind is set to a constant whir with ideas, dialogue and whichever scene I'm currently writing. It's a lot of fun -- and I'm even considering getting a tattoo on my right hand (writing hand) to signify the importance of the craft in my life. I've joined an amazing writer's group, which has broadened my horizons both creatively and professionally, and the additional happiness has solidified my desire to get healthier, too. I loved my life before I started writing, and this new facet has really sent me into orbit with no plans for re-entry. I owe my cosmic muses a big thank you.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

BLOGFEST 2009: Day 3

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

I have this recurring theme in my dreams that I can fly, only it's not so much bending my legs and taking off as catching a good column of air and swimming through the breeze. There are autumn days here in New England when I feel the drafts and think that I really can do it ...

What would your super power be?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Own BLOGFEST 2009!

Simon & Schuster is running BLOGFEST 2009 -- a promotional blog where 40 well-known authors answer 14 questions over two weeks. And, never one to be left out, I decided that, as an author, I should totally answer these questions, too!

So, starting today with the first two questions, I'll answer one per day in tune with BLOGFEST 2009. Read along, leave your comments and email me ( if you'd like to know more!

PS -- After the two weeks, I'm going to update you all on my current progress! A teaser: My new archaeological horror short had four published authors and a real publisher on the edge of their seats at a reading this past weekend! Yay!

What made you start writing?
There wasn't a concious decision to 'start writing' -- I've kind of always had the knack. My dad writes these fantastically creative Christmas letters every year, and when I got married, I wanted to continue the tradition.
There is nothing like a fabulous book, and I've read too many to count. My impetus for writing novels came after reading a wildly popular series and thinking to myself, 'You could have written that -- and you could have written it better.' As an editor, I'm constantly working with authors and words, and this was the first opportunity where I could create something of my own.
My dreams are these incredible stories that have plots, subplots and fully formed characters. All I get when I'm asleep are short passages, scenes and moments; and, after I translate them from my midnight scratches, they explode in my conscious.
I never thought while writing those first Christmas letters that I would love writing this much. It's completely addicting.

What was the first thing you wrote?
All sorts of stuff while I was in school ... papers and creative projects; I even tried to keep a diary multiple different times.
My very first writing that I shared with more than just a teacher were my Christmas letters. Full of deliciously purple prose and gorgeous verbosity, these letters boosted my confidence and were the lighter fluid of my future writing endeavours.
The match came in the form of my own desire to prove I really could write a better novel. I'd read so many in the recent past that I just didn't like, and 'Manas' was my answer -- full of mystery, adventure, romance, technology, danger ... all of my favorite things, and everything that makes a great read.
With the drive to prove to myself that I really could do it, I started writing 'Manas' in Aug. 2008 and finished in Feb. 2009 -- 80,000 words and a lot of humble learning later.

... Check back here once a day for the next few weeks while I answer another question in BLOGFEST 2009!