How Emotions Are Held in Contempt

First things first: Love in Panels is sponsoring Romance for RAICES, a silent auction to raise money for the heroic lawyers helping people in the internment camps at the border. I’m a huge fan of their work, so I’m participating with a first chapter and synopsis critique, along with some author coaching on figuring out how to position the story genre-wise. This is really helpful for people writing cross-genre, like me, especially in SFF + romance. It’s a great cause and I promise to do my best for you. 🙂

Some updates for those who don’t listen to my podcast (I’m not saying you should, just that I tend to give a lot of the most immediate news on my writing life there):

  1. THE ORCHID THRONE, Book 1 in my new series, The Forgotten Empires, comes out in two weeks!! Can’t believe it’s almost here. Eek!
  2. The sequel, Book 2, THE FIERY CROWN, comes out May 26, 2020, which isn’t an *awful* wait time, right? I’m doing a final read-through/polish on the content edits right now, then back to Editor Jennie it goes.
  3. I have a New Shiny going out on submission, something I’m super excited about. Cross your fingers and stay tuned for news!
  4. Next I’m turning to THE FATE OF THE TALA, the climactic book in The Uncharted Realms. (And kind of for The Twelve Kingdoms, too.) It’s looking like I’ll have that out in early November. I’m also planning a spinoff trilogy that takes things up with the next generation – a certain pair of twins and their younger buddy, who will be born during FATE. 🙂
  5. If you like to read in French, LA GUERRE DE LONEN, the French translation of LONEN’S WAR, Book1 in my Sorcerous Moons series, will be out October 4.

All exciting stuff!

I’ve been reading (listening on audio to) Elizabeth Gilbert’s BIG MAGIC, which I’m enjoying. She has terrific insights into the way creativity and the universe work. However, she slides into dissing genre books. She mentions a story idea she had that Ann Patchett ended up writing (which became STATE OF WONDER), unbeknownst to each other and through a strange synchronicity. As evidence of the extreme coincidence, Gilbert clarified that this was a specific and unusual story idea, not a “vampire novel.” She, of course, doesn’t specify *which* vampire novel, but it doesn’t take a lot of cogitation to figure she means something like TWILIGHT and not INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE. Though could be she lumps all vampire novels together, including Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

I know she’s being flip, but see how absurd it is to act as if all vampire novels have the same plot?

Later she discusses Harper Lee and how she never wrote anything after TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Gilbert makes great points about competing with yourself creatively and being intimidated by previous success, but she follows up by saying she wished Lee had “churned” out some fast, cheap novels, including a “light romance.” She mentions other genre books in the same breath. All clearly NOT art. All easily written and just as easily discarded.

I find it ironic, because although I’m no luminary author like Patchett (one of my all-time favorites) and Gilbert, if she’d asked me I’d tell her that there’s big magic in fast writing. The flow comes fast and furious when I get it going.

Anyway, I know we’re all familiar with the Literary Writing vs. Genre Writing bias. It’s something that continues to bemuse me, how people decide what’s art and what isn’t. What’s valuable storywise and what’s “cheap.” I know I have a different perspective than many people because I became disenchanted with academia long ago, and I’ve never been much interested in the posturing over what we *should* be reading.

Still, one thing I’ve noticed is that some of this falls out along the lines of emotion vs. mind. Or even vs. spirit or body. Stories that have strong emotional content are considered female in general, and not particularly valid. The occasional article that disses romance in favor of things like thinking about how the Amazon jungle is burning, always carry the implication that intellectualism is more valid and valuable than emotion. Spiritualism is usually elevated even above that. Even the male writer navel-gazing on their sexuality is considered more important than emotional lives.

This goes hand in hand with the way women are often told they are too emotional, or unable to control their emotions. Of course, those are only certain kinds of emotions. The soft and suspect variety.

Anyway, this is what I’m mulling these days.

Signing THE ORCHID THRONE!

If you’re in the Albuquerque, NM region – or want to be! – I’m signing THE ORCHID THRONE (Forgotten Empires Book 1) at Page One Books, 4:00 pm Saturday, October 5, along with the wonderful Jane Lindskold, who will be signing WOLF’S SEARCH (Firekeeper Saga Book 7).

Revision: God’s Work, or the Devil’s?

We had a lovely warm day on Saturday, and I got out the lounge chair to do a bit of sunbathing. Jackson elected to go with the package deal: sunbathing AND affection. He leads a pretty good life. Good thing I’m not concerned about my tan lines!

Otherwise I’m deep into revising THE FIERY CITADEL, sequel to THE ORCHID THRONE, the first two books in my Forgotten Empires trilogy. This is the series – totally new world and characters! – that I’m doing with St. Martin’s Press. I turned in the draft of book 2 in April and my editor, Jennie Conway, sent developmental edits back to me while I was at Nebula Conference. She’s a terrifically insightful editor and gave me great feedback on tweaking the story. That’s a primary reason to go with traditional publishing, if all goes right (and some of this depends on having a good agent and serendipity), then you get to work with a fantastic editor who really brings out the best in your work and helps you to grow and move the story into the next level.

But… you know what they say: growth is painful.

I’m one of those writers who loves drafting. I used to say I hated revising – and I did – but now my feelings aren’t so strong. I don’t love it as much as the freefall rush of drafting, but it feels like good, necessary work now. Some of that is working with a good editor.

I used to have a critique partner who was the opposite of me: she *loved* revising. She called it “God’s work.” For me, revising always felt like fixing the mistakes I shouldn’t have made the first time. I’d tell her she had the wrong deity.

What’s funny is, now that I’m writing full-time – and theoretically have more bandwidth, hours, and concentration for my stories – I’ve become less demanding of myself that way. I no longer regard revising as “fixing mistakes,” but as part of the process. If we compare sculpting to writing, then my first drafts now are the rough of the figure with the surrounding marble chiseled away. The figure is recognizable, perhaps even showable, depending on your standards. In the revision stage, however, is when I bring out the shadows and highlights, when I polish the features so they have the perfect expression. I layer in the surrounding details, giving the figure context and deeper meaning.

Huh. Kind of does sound like God’s work.

A Report from the Book Brain

I received my box of galley proofs of THE ORCHID THRONE! They’re really just gorgeous. Even the paper has a wonderful texture. And these are just for Advance Reader Copies (ARCs)! I can’t wait to see the finished versions. The book releases in September, but I’m crossing fingers that I might have copies at RWA in NYC. For the moment, I only have ten ARCs, so we’ll be seeing who to send them out to. I included the lovely note Editor Jennie sent. Now you all can see why she’s so fab.

If you follow my podcast, First Cup of Coffee, then you know I’m hard at work on book two of the Forgotten Empires trilogy, THE FIERY CITADEL. This trilogy follows the same heroine and hero for all three books, so it’s been very fun to follow my pair as their relationship deepens, and as the overall threat escalates. As many of you know, I discover the story as I write it, so I’m finding out some amazing stuff. And the stakes are pretty intense. I’ve passed the midpoint of the story and am closing in on the end of Scene 5. The book has come to life in my head, which is something that happens at a certain point in drafting for me. It haunts my thoughts continuously. I think about it as I fall asleep and it’s on my mind when I wake up.

I really dream vividly at this stage, too, and talk in my sleep a great deal. David tells me that the other night I was having what sounded like a conversation in my sleep, but I was talking in two different voices. Kind of creepy, huh?

Good thing I have an outlet for this level of crazy…

Anyway, being at this intense level of creating gives me what I call Book Brain. I don’t have much room in my head for any thoughts that DON’T have to do with the story. I’m just sure I start sounding all vague on the podcast…

So, that’s where I’m at. A couple more weeks and book 2 will be done. Woo hoo!!

 

 

Jeffe’s Most Difficult Character – Not Who You Think?

So, if you missed it on Friday, we finally had the cover reveal for THE ORCHID THRONE

This is the first book in a new trilogy I’m doing with St. Martin’s Press. Totally new world, totally new series. My editor there, Jennie Conway, called it:

the magical feminist fantasy romance I’ve always wanted ?

Which is now my new favorite tag line ever. You can read more (and preorder!) here. It comes out September 24, 2019. 

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is: Your most difficult character to have written and why. Come on over for mine, which may surprise you!

Coming Up with Titles: the Pain and Glory

Spring has sprung here fully into summer and the flowers are so lovely! This is my pink anemone clematis that I’m training to climb up the grape vine in the arbor. Love how it’s coming along!

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is “How do you come up with your titles?” Come on over for a long and involved story of one of my titles!