First Cup of Coffee – May 6, 2024

Thanks to you all for the support and kind words on my cat, who is even now having his toxic masculinity excised. Also, why it’s important for writers to share a common language and the role of privilege in creativity.



First Cup of Coffee – February 19, 2024

My Friday Freakout and how even experienced authors have emotional crises about their books, along with insight on shaken baby syndrome in books, how interruptions cause issues, and Longshot: an underrated movie.



First Cup of Coffee – October 6, 2023

My strong – possibly unpopular – opinions on people out there selling classes, advice, and coaching to authors. How writing isn’t always fun when it’s your actual job. And happy news on the flip side of piracy.



First Cup of Coffee – September 18, 2023

I’m talking about author finances today and the challenge of a variable income – particularly if you don’t have a salaried spouse – and how that works out for predicting taxes. Also why I don’t think advertising is the be all and end all for Indies.



First Cup of Coffee – August 25, 2023

Burnout: how to recognize it, how to define what stage you’re at, and what to do about it. I recommend aggressive refilling of the well for all. Also, vacation, Hurricane Hilary, and doing Beach.



First Cup of Coffee – June 30, 2023

Tough love talk on how our families and the people who love us most can be the biggest obstacles to getting that writing time. Related: wants and needs, the difference between them and how other people try to tell what ours are.



Trusting the Creative Process

Happy Summer Solstice, all!

This week at the SFF Seven, we’re talking about our greatest writing challenge and how we manage it.

In some ways, this is a moving target for me, because it seems that – like clockwork – each book presents its own challenge. With 64 published titles under my belt, I feel like I should have this process down and there shouldn’t be surprises.

No such luck.

What I have to constantly remind myself is that the creative process is its own creature. It’s this connection to something beyond ourselves and thus is not within our control. Particularly for a writer like myself – I am incapable of pre-plotting and write for discovery, relying entirely on intuition – letting go of that desire to control is critical. It can also be difficult, especially when I’m trying to write to a particular idea or market.

For example, I recently wrote one-hundred pages of a book for my agent, according to a very particular comp. Let’s call it Ghost meets Out of Africa. (That is NOT it, but that’s one of my all-time favorite fictional comps. Points if you can name the movie it’s from.) In thinking about this project, I consulted my friend, Melinda Snodgrass, incredibly talented novelist and screenwriter who counts among her credits the Star Trek: Next Generation episode The Measure of a Man. I asked her how closely I should follow the beats of Ghost, if at all. She gave me an incredulous look and asked why, when I had a hugely successful story blueprint right there, I would do anything but follow those beats?

So, I tried.

Turns out that, not only am I incapable of pre-plotting, I also can’t follow an outline to save my life. I struggled to write that book. Having the story laid out in essence should have made it easier. Instead it made it 1,000x worse. For me. Because that’s not my process. Once I abandoned that outline (sorry, Melinda) and followed my intuition, the words began flowing.

That’s the major challenge for me: remembering to trust the process. Particulars change with every book. This principle endures.

First Cup of Coffee – June 16, 2023

Happy to report that my training program to increase creative flow and word count is working! Also, additional thoughts on the ethics of using AI-generated work and how money factors into that for some people.



First Cup of Coffee – May 22, 2023

Zencastr borked on me, so there’s an abrupt ending, but I’m talking about self-publishing careers vs. trad-pub ones, AI and creativity, and writing a book that is an artistic conversation with another book.



First Cup of Coffee – March 20, 2023

How you know when your creativity is flowing, which story ideas have enough juice to sustain a novel or series, and how to handle those New Shiny ideas when you have other works in progress to focus on.