First Cup of Coffee – February 23, 2024

Some big news on the official title of the book that was Oneira and a release date! Also, a thing I bought because of Taylor Swift that has Changed My Life, and more on coping as a creative when people hate you/your work.



First Cup of Coffee – February 9, 2024

More foreign rights news, this time Russian! Also a fun panel on Romantasy tomorrow at Beastly Books and Instagram Live. And thoughts on influencing social media algorithms being the new superstition.



Leveling Up – Whether We Want To or Not

This week at the SFF Seven we’re asking each other: do you look for new skills to try each year? Or with each book?

My first reaction is that this isn’t an annual process for me, but an ongoing one. Because it’s absolutely something that happens with every book. And not because I plan it that way! Quite the reverse. With 65 published titles, I often go into new books thinking something along the lines of “This one will be a fast and easy write because x, y, z.”

I am, inevitably, always always wrong.

That’s not to say that some books don’t write easier than others, but they all pose unique problems. It seems to be the nature of the beast, that the creative process goes to a new and more challenging place every time.

I have two caveats to this:

  1. I do kind of look at this on a yearly basis because of my agent, Sarah Younger at Nancy Yost Literary Agency, who sets up annual chats with all of her clients at the beginning of each year. (She jokes that she has to dig some clients out of their caves once a year for this. You know who you are.) I really love this about Sarah because it’s part of what she brings to the table: long-term career strategy. She says she keeps a goal book for each of her clients and we revisit those goals and set new ones each year. For me, a big part of this conversation is always how can I grow and expand? What do I need to do to level up?
  2. The second caveat is that I save some ideas for when I have the chops to execute them. Writers often talk about (and are asked) where they get their ideas and how we choose what to write next. (See above for that.) For many of us, ideas arrive all the time, but that doesn’t mean we’re ready to write them. The second novel I ever wrote was like that – only I didn’t know that I didn’t have the chops to execute the concept. So, over the years, I’ve gradually been adding skills as the stories demand them. In Shadow Wizard, book one of the Renegades of Magic trilogy, I added extra points-of-view (POVs). That was the first time I wrote in more than two POVs. In book three of that trilogy, Twisted Magic, I had five POVs. Who knows where it will end??

 

Except that someday (maybe?), I’d like to go back and rewrite that second novel. I bet I could pull it off this time.

 

First Cup of Coffee – January 5, 2024

Some advice today for newbie writers on writing your first book, including the importance of finishing and keeping it simple. Also, different muscles we use for writing and how approaching a work with various strategies exercises them.



First Cup of Coffee – December 4, 2023

Some pitfalls to watch for in contracts with traditional publishing and literary agencies. Also author finances and taxes, why owning your process doesn’t mean loving it, and why experienced authors find it hard to teach.



First Cup of Coffee – October 27, 2023

Battling the proliferation of secondary characters, and why that’s key to shorter works. Shipping Alex and Paul on The Morning Show and ruminations on love and unconditional support.



First Cup of Coffee – October 20, 2023

The wrong way to ask for blurbs, choosing POV for a given scene and how experienced authors should give ourselves credit for more complex approaches, and a bit on animal behavior and whether cats can tell time.



First Cup of Coffee – September 29, 2023

Thoughts today on focus, how to rebuild concentration, and the alarming truth that every interruption costs us 23 minutes of time to regain previous focus. Also more data on trad publishers buying mostly full manuscripts.



First Cup of Coffee – September 15, 2023

Great week for me! Talking about being up front with my new editor on how I *can’t* write an outline, a bit about knife-throwing and learning to relish failure as much as success, and the monsoon rains of autumn.