Thursday, May 31, 2012

New Release: Devlin's Team, File 1: Dancer

A low tech world, a simple assignment -- what can go wrong?

Devlin is a top agent for the Inner Worlds Council Security force -- a spy in common terms -- and she's not very happy with an assignment to the backwater world of Forest. Settled by the Work for Man fanatics, the government has restricted not only the use of tech equipment but also regulate nearly every aspect of life for the small population. The settlement is boring and the people don't like outsiders.

There is one anomaly, though: The brutal show known as bear dancing pits a human against a native life form. Devlin's work is to learn about the show and report what she can about the bears themselves because there is suddenly outside interest.

The people involved in the bear dance are secretive. She's gathered all the information she thinks she can, and she's ready to move on. However, when a top-ranking scientist arrives on world, Devlin thinks she might be able to pick up a little bit more information.

And that's something the locals fear.





This is my 17th novel release in my 50 years of writing project.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Long View Project

A moment of revelation in chat the other day has created a wonderful, long term (the next five years) project for me.

I started my first original science fiction trilogy (Sooma), when I was 13. I had been writing other original material with my friend, Linda, but this was the first set of stories totally my own and not fanfiction. No, you will never see the books. But oh, how I remember the giddy feeling of creating everything out of my head. I haven't stopped writing since.

That was 45 years ago.

Yes, you can do the math. Shocks me, too. But we are really the age in our heads, not our bodies, you know. I'm still in my 20's or 30's. I haven't lost that 'oh this is fun!' feeling. I don't intend to, or the feeling that things will get better.

But that's not the point.

I have been writing for 45 years. In five years I'll have been writing for 50 years. For about 30 of those years I still believed the teacher who told me I would never publish unless I had a college education, so I wrote for myself and my friends. Things changed finally with the help of my husband and Holly Lisle, and I began selling quite well for awhile, at least to small press and electronic markets.

Then I spent time concentrating on going 'big' only to finally realize I was not writing for the big market. I wasn't interested in most of the books on the shelves so how was I going to fit into there? I kept getting 'well-written, interesting story, not what we're publishing now' rejections.

Time to go Indie. And for the last two years, I've been having a great time. Right now I have 16 novels published -- 7 through ACOA (Indie), 8 through Double Dragon and 1 through Writer's Exchange. If I add in the nonfiction there are at least two more, but for the moment I'm going to concentrate on fiction. That's 16 novels.

Okay, so here we are. 45 years. 16 novels published (actually a couple more, but they're either no longer available or going to be republished soon). I have written somewhere around 100 novels in at least first draft form and many of them well past that but not in the final, ready-to-publish draft. I've had a problem there, it seems. It's not the 'oh shiny!' and leap to a new project problem. It's pretty much the opposite 'I'm not ready to let it go' problem.

Time to push myself a bit harder. Time to focus on final edits and publishing.

I plan to have 50 novels in print by the end of 2018, which will mark my 50th year of writing.

Yes, that's going to be a lot of work. This means finishing the editing on about 8 books a year.

I have a preliminary list of 29 books (bringing the total up to 45) of possibles:

A Plague of Rats (Fantasy)

Badlands (Science Fiction)

Circe's Gifts (Fantasy)

Devlin 1 (Science Fiction)

Devlin 2 (Science Fiction)

Devlin 3 (Science Fiction)

Devlin 4 (Science Fiction)

Glory (Urban Fantasy)

In the Service of the Queen (Fantasy)

Journey to Winter (Fantasy)

Living in Caine's Hold (Science Fiction)

Mirrors (Urban Fantasy)

Mirrors 2 (Urban Fantasy)

Muse (Mystery)

News from the Front (Science Fiction)

Paid in Gold and Blood (Fantasy)

Rat Pirates (Science Fiction)

Resurrection 1: Chance and Change (Science Fiction)*

Ruins (Mystery)

Serendipity Blues (Mystery)

Singer & St. Jude: Lost Cause (Science Fiction)

Summerfield: Autumn Winds (Urban Fantasy)

Summerfield: Winter Warning (Urban Fantasy)*

Vita's Vengeance (Science Fiction)

Waiting for the Last Dance (YA Mystery)

Water/Stone/Light 1 (Fantasy)

Water/Stone/Light 2 (Fantasy)*

Written in the Sand (Fantasy)

Xenation: Draw the Line (Science Fiction)

This is not a set-in-stone list. For instance, the three marked with asterisks have not been written yet, though I plan to have them done this year. (Camp NaNo and November NaNo!) Of all the rest, only two of them (Serendipity Blues, Water/Stone/Light 1) are in first draft format. The rest have all gone through at least one, and sometimes several, rewrites. Yes, really -- I have that 'letting go' problem.

Can I do this? I don't know. I'm not going to rush anything out and edits take more time than writing the original work for me. Devlin 1 is almost ready to go, though. I just got some final information I've been looking for to complete the edits on Waiting for the Last Dance as well. Muse and Ruins were both previously published at Holly's store and I just want to clean them up. The Singer & St. Jude novel is still available from Double Dragon, but we agreed I would take that one back and I plan to do a rewrite and fit it into the IWC (my science fiction universe) time line a bit better. As you can tell from the number, there are other books in this series, but I am not sure I'll get to any of them in the next five years. We'll see.

Yes, this is a crazy project. But I've done well with crazy projects in the past. I'm the person who finishes every story and does so within a year. I write over a million words a year and have for a decade now I think. Time to turn that attention from new to final edits, though.

Time to get serious about publishing the way I am serious about writing. This is the nudge -- okay, shove -- that I think I need.

Will I make it? We have until December 31, 2018 to find out!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Neil Gaiman speaks to (and for) us

On the off chance any writer out there has missed this wonderful speech by Neil Gaiman, here is is:

The speech is about 20 minutes long. It's worth listening to the end. This is a reminder of what writing is about and the joy of what we're doing.

This is also the kind of wonderful speech that should make you feel good about being a writer. Gaiman is fun and uplifting and his words are both for the class he addresses and for the authors like me who are still out there feeling our way around and testing the ground.

And making mistakes. I have often said I've learned more from the stories that gave me problems than I have from the easy stories. I learn from my mistakes by finding out what went wrong and changing the story to something I want to tell. The changes don't always work. Of course there are stories that will never leave my house, too. However, I don't give up at the first chance and leap to something else without ever trying to fix the mistakes and learn what when wrong so I don't do it again in the next story.

There is a lot to consider in this speech. I've listened to it twice and intend to go back and listen again soon. I keep thinking about all the writers I've met who insist on making every bit of their work as difficult and painful as they can, and by doing so, rarely finish anything and never really make much progress. They aren't happy in their work, even when they are creating truly moving, gorgeous passages and sometimes moving and powerful stories. At best, many of them are relieved to be done with the work.

I will not make writing work. That doesn't mean I shun away from the difficult parts or don't pound my head against the wall when a scene doesn't fall into place properly. I rewrite, edit, sometimes strip stories back to outlines and start over -- and rewrite and edit again. I keep working until I get something I am proud to show to others. I would love to say the stories are perfect, but I know better. I hope future stories will bet closer to perfection. All writers do and keep writing reaching for the story they can connect with in ways that will make it easier for the reader to connect as well.

My writing has certainly changed for the better because I am willing to experiment and make mistakes and learn.

Another aspect of this speech is the reminder that writing is art. Writers face a problem with acceptance because so many people assume that because writing is just words any of them could write novels, too, if they just wanted to. We all use words. It's not like learning how to paint, right?

But it is. Far more difficult to get that visual of the scene into words than it would be to paint it, if you had that skill. And worse, you are not doing a still life portrait. Your scenes and people will move and change and you have to rewrite everything every paragraph and keep the reader moving as well.

It is not just words.

So go out there and get enthusiastic about your work. Have fun. Be yourself.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The In Between Times

There is a sort of dangerous time for me as a writer. It's when I've finished one project and haven't quite connected with another. Why would that be dangerous? This is the time I'm most likely to leap into a new story without a lot of thought. Since I have rules about finishing what I start, not taking the time to think a story through can be very, very difficult for me.

I finished the outline to Prince of Paupers, now titled Keshi. It's going to be a novella, I think. The original story was very long, bloated and bounced all over the place with more than a few contradictions. Ah, the good old days without outlines and worrying about if anything made sense! I cut the storyline far down, reworked the logic, added a few more pieces and I'm almost ready to write it. This is the first in a set of stories in the TFAP story universe. Tales from Another Place (TFAP) is my unified fantasy world. I have many things going on there with a whole huge world to play in. Some of the problems are related to one another, though the people involved don't realize it. Not yet, anyway.

I'm not sure when I will write the story, though. I had planned on it for Camp NaNo until I realized it wasn't going to be novel length. It doesn't hurt to have the outline sitting there for when I need it, though.

But what to do now? It doesn't help that we have barely two weeks to Camp NaNo. I wasn't going to join this year, but I'm glad I decided to leap in after all. I do have a story and it's still in the 'taking over my brain' level of development. I have four characters, a situation or two, and a couple extra-intelligent marmosets or tamarins -- not certain which yet. I know a bit about both and I have lots of pictures of some species because of my fascination with the zoo.

No, they are not more interesting than the humans. However, they are a piece I still need to work out. That and four names for the main characters.

And more of the plot.

I have a Scrivener file set up for the outline already. I just need to start writing it. I am not clear on the POVs, though. I know one of them for sure, but I'm not certain if any of the others will have a voice as well. I think I need at least one more in order to have an insider and an outsider.

And there, just thinking in those terms finally pointed me in the proper direction of what I need for a second POV. I know who it will be now, so that just opened up a huge section of the story for me.

I think I'm about ready to start the outline now.

This is a science fiction novel, in case I haven't made that clear. I've been writing far more fantasy than science fiction the last few years, so it's good to have this one draw my attention.

And what makes this a little less dangerous than any thing else right now is that this will be my June NaNo novel, so I if I stay focused on it for the next few days, I can have a good amount of the story worked out before June 1. I will have the full outline, but it may be weak in some spots. That's okay; it's fun to . I will take the time to work up the characters, outline the story and get ready to write. Two weeks may not sound like much, but since I already know this story is going to take place in my IWC (Inner Worlds Council) universe, I have a good amount of the world building background in place. I will need to place them properly on the time line is all.

Over the next couple weeks I'll be outlining Resurrection: First Flight and editing Devlin 1. Maybe I'll do a couple more short stories for the Story a Day challenge on FM, too. I was doing well there until I had to drop it for other work.

This is what I love to do, and I'm having fun. However, it's important to track what's going on and not get lost in the wilds as the new book starts to take form and take my attention away from the real world.

Or maybe that's just what I need!

So, leaping into a different reality now. . . .

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Deadlines: Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour #11

When I first started associating with published authors back in the 1990's, I quickly recognized one problem which seemed to pop up very often in the crowd: Deadlines. At any convention, someone would be spending all their free time in their room trying to get their work done on time for the publisher. People with projects due were under the kind of stress that seemed to me to make it more difficult to write.
Newly signed authors had it the worst. They'd often spent years working on the first book that sold, but now the publisher wanted another one in a year or so. The publishers had a good reason for this: Once book 1 went on the shelves, they would want book 2 to get there as soon as possible to keep the name in front of the public.

I decided I was not going to put myself through that kind of stress, so I began working on my plan. Coming up with a good 'deadline' for me took a bit of tweaking. I finally found something I could work with, though. I would finish the material (whatever draft that happened to be) within the year I started it.

I also added that I would finish everything I started.

The first was to keep me working to a reasonable deadline for me. I start novels on specific days: Jan 1, March 8 (birthday) and for NaNo, though the last came later. I will often write other novels, but only when I get those early ones finished. Generally all my novel starts are off the the first few months of the year, though. This gives me plenty of time to finish the first drafts. Later in the year I might have a first draft, but most of my focus is on rewrites, outlines and edits. I don't write many shorter pieces these days.

Finishing everything I start is a way to keep me from wasting time. It's the other problem I saw so often with authors. They'd start something, throw it aside for something else, put that aside until 'later' for yet another thing. . . .

I have stories I want to tell, not just write a neat scene and never know what else happens. Because of the rule to finish everything, I am very careful about what I start. I rarely make a mistake, but when I do, I find out why the story no longer appeals to me and I fix it and finish it. No excuses. The story may not live up to the original potential, but I learn why. I don't just toss it aside and never figure out why I lost interest.

There is a final part to all of this. I write every day. This is the part I expect people not to do, to be honest. But writing is my carrot for getting other things done, and it's what I love to do the most. I expect others to be more reasonable, but even so, an author should want to write.

So there, really are the three reasons I never worried about deadlines, even when I was still selling to small press publishers. Now that I've gone to Indie Publishing, well. . . .

Now it's even more important. Now there is no one else but me saying I need to get this done. There is no one else out there saying 'Oh, you need to get your name on the 'shelf' more often.' The stress is less in many ways, but it's still there, lingering every time I look at a calendar and wonder when the next of the Two Year Novel Course books should go out, or if I have time to finish an edit this month, get it checked and up, or if I should be looking at a short story release to fill the space.

The only person depending on me making it is me. I won't disappoint anyone but myself if I don't come through with something on time. But I hate not making goals. I'm far harder on me than a publisher would be. No extensions! Get it done!

You have to love writing and you have to have so many stories growing in your head that you know you'll never get to all of them. That's what pushes me on. If I don't tell these stories, no one else will.

I'm not going to waste the time.

If you want to get to read about nearly twenty other writers, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Be sure to read tomorrow's post by Sharon Kemmerer