Author Life Post #24

What is consuming my life these days?

NaNoWriMo, that’s what.

And the Book Launch–there’s that, too.

tipperary janus two faced

My mind is split in half, you see.

In one half, my brain is busy subconsciously solving plot problems and digging into characters’ souls and backgrounds, desperately spinning forth a story for the MacLeans in 1835.

That’s for NaNo.

In the other half, I’m organizing what I can to let people know that I’m coming out with a new book Dec. 3rd, called The Keening. (Check out the Works Page)

This includes getting the preorder process perfected, scheduling the Goodreads Giveaway, writing and placing guest posts on other respected writers’ blogs, writing the newsletter with all this info (just sent out! missed it? sign up!), bugging book bloggers–as well as their aunts, great-aunts, and dogs–for reviews, getting timing down for final print version and shipping, promoting all these efforts over social media…

So. These two minds. I’m hoping they’ll fit back together, come Christmas.

Make The Waiting Game Work For You

Do you enjoy the sensation of waiting?

waiting art

I wouldn’t think so. It can involve stress, anxiety, and boredom–things we already have enough of in the modern world.

Sometimes when I’m feeling at loose ends, I’ll write up a to-do list. This helps wrangle all the strands of ideas floating around in my head, in my planner, on my phone, on Post-It notes on my desk…well, you get the idea.

But lately I’ve noticed that the feeling of something weighing on me isn’t necessarily lightened after I’ve written out all my tasks. Lately I’ve started writing out a parallel ‘Waiting On…‘ List.

This is a list of things that I’ve worked on and pushed out, but that I am waiting on a response on, or waiting for the effort to bear fruit.

to do list pretty

For example, a fellowship application. I knew that I would hear back about whether I’d gotten a certain fellowship “in October.” Well, the days were ticking by, and I could feel the the pressure of the unknown pushing around other thoughts in my brain. Every time it came up, I would push it away. I alternated between feeling like I had a good chance and feeling like I was wasting my time worrying. At any rate, there wasn’t anything I could do to make the reply come faster.

Ah, I thought. So that’s what this is about. Feeling powerless.

Writing out the things I’m ‘Waiting On…”(submissions to literary journals, book review requests, fellowship applications, reply texts from someone *ahem*) helps me recognize and appreciate the effort I’ve already put in, and ratchets down the feeling of “I want to know this thing but I have no way to discover it and so I can’t plan around that part of my life yet.”

You ever get that feeling?

What’s on your Waiting On… list this month?


Image via Wikimedia Commons and Printable Decor

Pre-Order The Keening; Be the First on Your Block!

After much nail-biting and anxious screen-peering, The Keening is now available for pre-order at Amazon! In Paperback and Kindle flavors…

cover The Keening

Pre-order is very exciting because it gives the author the opportunity to focus all sales within a given time frame, and that is what the number-crunchers look at when considering sales rank and bestseller status. *ahem*

So if you’ve got any inkling to read The Keening, you can pre-order now, and be the first in your neighborhood to have it in your hot little hands, come Dec. 3rd!

OR… if you live near enough to consider Portland a fun road trip destination, come on down for the Launch Party, which will be at Another Read Through Bookstore:

3932 N. Mississippi Ave. Portland, OR 97227

Thursday, Dec. 10th, 7-8 PM

Champagne & Books–What could be better?


***I will also be at Another Read Through for Indies First on Small Business Saturday (2 days after Thanksgiving). I’ll be sitting, standing, laughing, carousing, from 11AM to 1PM, serving up book recommendations. Looking forward to connecting with lovely, local readers supporting independent bookshops!



Not Exactly This, Not Exactly That, or On Dichotomies

One of my favorite things to learn about writers is what their desk looks like.

writer desk in smoke

What kind of person are they? How does their writing match their environment, or does it?

I also love posts about writers’ routines. These don’t usually bear much relation to the work, but it is fun to see how crazy-obsessive some famous writers were. It’s also nice to hear other writers today who have to do exactly the same daily grind that you do (i.e. it’s not all staring out a window waiting for inspiration).

Maria Popova’s Brainpickings article about Zadie Smith’s lecture on the craft of writing is an illuminating one. She redefines the usual classification of planner and pantser (or percolator, in this case) as Macro Planner vs. Micro Manager.

Her chief distinction is where the bulk of work goes on, and when the writer is truly finished, which follows on from that choice. In the case of the Macro Planner, all the work goes into the outline, where the writer decides what will happen, when, where, and how, to whom.

For a Micro Manager, Smith says it happens in the first twenty pages of writing, because the writer is making those decisions about story by feel: through word choice and what the characters seem to spontaneously choose themselves. Consequently, those twenty pages are wrought with tense decision-making, all the oodles of permutations playing themselves out in the writer’s brain before each choice nails down one path and discards others.

For Smith, that means editing as she goes. For me, if I stopped to tinker once I get the idea forming, I’m lost in a morass of decision-making, overwhelmed. So I start with my loose outline, my character and place, as K.M.Weiland says, and feel out a story.

And I don’t look back until I get to some sort of ending.

woman running to rainbow

So when I ‘finish,’ I’m not in the same place Smith is, as a Micro Manager. I’ve simply let out all the characters playing in my head onto the page, and now there is a jungle of detail and action to sort through. My editing process entails pruning weeds, untangling vines, and seeing a pattern emerge from the subconsciously-driven plot. It may be a jungle at first, but after a few rounds of self-editing, it’s at least on its way to becoming Rousham House.

I thought I was more of a Pantser before reading that article, but now I believe I’m in between, closer to the Pure Pantser or Micro Managers, but not all the way there.

What about you? Where are you on the continuum?


Images via Kristibel Camino and Deviant Art