A Better Answer to: Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

Last week I attended SFWA’s Nebula Conference and got to meet our 2018 Grandmaster, Peter S. Beagle. I legit teared up when we talked and he signed my battered old copy I received forever and a day ago. I felt like a teenager again and all those feelings that led into my early love of fantasy rose up and swamped me.

The conference in 2019 will be at the Marriott Warner Center in Los Angeles. I highly recommend it! It’s become my absolute favorite gathering of SFF writers and industry professionals.

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is “Where do you get your ideas – the least popular question ever.” Come on over for three avenues I rely on for ideas. 

 

No Thank-You

I’ve been thinking about our customs around saying “thank-you” to people. Since our topic at the SFF Seven this week is whatever is on our minds, I’m going for this!

Way back in January 2013 I did a post on why I hate thank-you notes, and I tell you – I *still* get people finding my blog by Googling that topic, and sending me messages. So, this is something I’ve been mulling for a long time. I’ve gotten a new perspective on the topic lately, so come on over to read more!

Patreon Treats Are Up!

Detente and CircumstancesBox of Rogue's Pawn print copiesI got a surprise box in the mail the other day of ROGUE’S PAWN in print! Harlequin decided to resurrect this, my first fantasy romance and my first novel, and send print copies via their Direct-to-Consumer subscription program. I don’t think it will be up for general sale in print (ebooks are available, though), but I do have all of these lovely copies! If you’d like one, just drop me a note with your physical mailing address. 

The Covenant of Thorns trilogy, not incidentally, is super fun because of the chapter titles, like the one above. They’re all some kind of joke, even if they amuse only myself. 

In other news, I put up my first Patreon posts! I’ve got a public post up on overtraining syndrome for writers on my Patreon for Writers. I also have a special treat only for patrons on my Patreon for Readers. It’s a from Rayfe’s point of view, where he first learns about the betrothal, years before the beginning of The Mark of the Tala. Aside from being read aloud at the Coastal Magic Convention, no one else has seen it. A little exclusive content for my wonderful patrons! A special exclusive Thing is coming up next week just for writers on their Patreon page. 

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Great News for ROGUE’S PAWN!

Rogus_Pawn_finalA lot of you have been with me for a long time. In fact, I happen to know that more than a few of you discovered me as an author via my first full-length novel, ROGUE’S PAWN, book one of my COVENANT OF THORNS trilogy. It was also my first fantasy romance, though I didn’t know what genre that was when I wrote it.

Well, I just received news that ROGUE’S PAWN will be seeing print! The book will be part of Harlequin’s Direct-to-Consumer shipment in February. For those who don’t know, this is a program where readers subscribe and received a shipment of romances each month. This means a LOT of new people will see this book! I really hope they love it.

This came as a total surprise, seeing as how this book has been out over three years now. But I’m also celebrating the serendipity here – this was a last-minute decision that came right after my move to go to writing full time. I’m calling this a yes vote from the universe.

Feeling pretty good over here!

Knowing When to Stop

Kindle ranking #2A little while back I mentioned that monsoon season was starting in New Mexico, bringing all that metaphorical and literal goodness to my life. Such a rain of blessings, indeed! Carina Press put Rogue’s Pawn on sale for 99 cents (through July 19, if you haven’t snapped up that deal yet) and it was featured on Book Bub. Amazing results in that it hit #2 in Fantasy Romance. Right behind Dean Koontz, which had us all scratching our heads. Turns out he’s doing more romance and less horror these days.

Still – me and ol’Dean, yanno? Such a major rush to see this book ranked so high.

Br765aqCEAAwF4XI saw this go by on Twitter this week – Henry Miller’s set of “commandments” for himself on getting his work done. I’d never seen it before and thought it’s so very smart.

One aspect I like best here is that he made this list for himself. Who knows, in today’s era he’d maybe have put it up on his blog. But then, he’s clearly addressing himself. I particularly love that he forbids himself from adding more material to “Black Spring.” There are a lot of great nuggets here – the acknowledgment that “creating” doesn’t always feel like it can happen every day, but work can. To work with pleasure and not make it into a chore. The one that really struck me, however – maybe because I’m not sure I’ve seen another writer encounter this – is #4: Stop at the appointed time.

I’ve discovered this is really key for me. We all have the bad days, the tooth-pulling ones. Where every word feels hard-fought. On the worst ones, I don’t get my wordcount and that bothers me. I’ve discovered, though, that sometimes that happens. Sometimes the story needs to cook or I just don’t have the mojo that day. If I’ve put in the diligent effort, I try to cut myself the slack and let it go. Usually the next day is much better. Sometimes I’ll have several days in a row like this and I just have to chip away at it.

The reverse is the true glory. The days that every writer lives for – when the words pour out in a rush, as if from another place, and I only have to type as fast as I can to get it all down. On those days, it can be VERY tempting to keep going. Especially since I usually have time, because I got the wordcount fast and easily. Often I go over on those days by 100 or 200 words.

And I find myself thinking, why not go for an extra 1K?

I used to do this, but I don’t let myself anymore. Which is why I’m fascinated that Henry Miller apparently set this rule for himself, also.

It’s important for a working writer to learn to write through mood. In essence, you can’t let the bad days get you down. I think it’s equally important not to let the good days carry you away. Inevitably, if I milk that flow and push for extra words, push past the appointed time, I incur some damage.

I’m not sure why this is, it just is.

(Okay – I suspect it has something to do with breaking an agreement with my subconscious self, but that gets into complicated territory fast.)

What kind of damage? Usually I’ll trigger a crash and then I’ll get a run of days of shortfall. So much so that, in the overall scheme, I’ll end up behind my timeline instead of ahead of it. Totally not worth it. It would be interesting to know if Henry encountered the same thing.

So this is my rule for myself now, too. I stop at the appointed time or at my wordcount goal and call it done. Has anyone else encountered this? Either in an artistic pursuit or some other arena?

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Closing the Circuit with Readers – Plus Voltage!

the dance 2 croppedLovely shot (IMO) of my stepson and his bride dancing at their New Year’s Eve wedding. There’s something so classic about this moment, the “first” dance. Two people full of hope and love.

We come together over these things, don’t we?

So, an unusual thing happened along those lines.

It started when my longtime friend and CP, Allison Pang, discovered the easter egg I hid for her in Rogue’s Possession, and wrote a blog post about it. I wondered if anyone would notice it, but Allison and I think it’s hysterically funny, which is always good enough for us. 

 Well, turned out one of Allison’s readers saw the blog post and went out and read Rogue’s Pawn and Rogue’s Possession. I know this because she emailed me to say so. Now, let me say right now that getting messages from readers is a kick that never loses its impact. It’s something not easy to explain – and maybe something that I would never have predicted would mean so much – but hearing from someone who just loved loved loved your story completes a kind of circuit. It’s like in physics, where the electrical current doesn’t flow until the circle is complete. When someone writes or talks to me about one of my books, it’s like they bring all that energy back around and it lights me up.

And this was even better.

The lovely and enthused Heather wrote this to me:

So I’m still basking in the afterglow of Rogue’s Possession. When stories affect me like this I usually create a music playlist for the book/series. I put my IPod on shuffle and see what comes up and fits the mood the book evokes in me and fits the story or characters. The first song that came up was one of my all time favorites from nineties industrial rock, Waking Up Beside You by Stabbing Westward. It was never released on the radio but it is my favorite on their album Darkest Days. I don’t know what your music tastes are but this song is so passionate about something so simple with an intense rock sound becoming so complex. It reminded me of Rogue and Gwynn immediately, a couple who is passionate, intense, and complex but crave simplicity in their lives. I see the song from both of their points of view. I hope you give it a listen, but if not no biggie. I just wanted to share it with you.

 Of course I listened to the song! I mean, right?? And I shelled out my 99cents and bought it. It moves me deeply, both how perfect the song is for Rogue & Gwynn, and that Heather shared it with me. This was like completing the circuit and amping the voltage. I love that I wrote about this feeling and she reflected it back. A shared moment.

I’m still high from it.

She’s right on, so I’m sharing it here.

Drawing the Line at Mining Other Cultural Myths

BUeDGlaCEAAQRk7Love this photo from Carien, Sullivan McPig and Voodoo Bride – all hugging on their copy of Rogue’s Pawn. I might not have visited The Netherlands, but my books have!

Many of you know I lived in Wyoming for a long time. I went there for graduate school, fell in love with David and ended up staying more than 20 years. Wyoming is an interesting place to live, landlocked in the middle of the country, with the smallest population of all the states. A lot of it is beautiful and a lot isn’t. But the people who live there have a fierce pride of place. There’s a certain mystique to being a resident, to combatting the ferocious winters and going without the luxuries other communities enjoy. It’s tied in with the Western Myth, the hero as a cowboy, the rugged loner and frontiersman.

When I met David – a Wyoming man, born and bred – he would sometimes comment contemptuously about the “Wyoming Wannabes,” the people who moved there wanting to be part of the mystique. There were people like this, who left the big cities and came to Wyoming thinking they’d become the Malboro Man. One writer friend pointed out that it was the only place she’d ever lived where people identified themselves by how long they’d lived there. She was right – everybody knew their length of residency and offered it up as their Wyoming cred, the longer, the better.

And,  if you hadn’t been born there, it didn’t matter how long you’d lived there – you were never a “real” resident.

I think of this when I hear someone complain about another “mining a cultural tradition.” It’s this idea that a culture – or a place or a myth or mystique – is somehow the exclusive property of one group of people. On a panel I moderated at World Fantasy Con in 2012, the Australian author Sean Williams spoke at some length of being very aware of not inadvertently mining the aboriginal culture for stories or mythology in any way. I read much of this same criticism (among heaps of others) about Miley Cyrus’ performance at the Grammys this year, and how she was appropriating black culture.

It seems to be this sense that a minority or oppressed group has something precious, that should not be stolen by an imperialist culture.

What bothers me is, who decides what’s part of human culture or a place that anyone can enjoy and what belongs to only one group?

When I was a teen, I once told some family friends that I didn’t feel much patriotism for the United States as a whole, but that if my hometown of Denver was attacked, I’d fight to defend it. They were very interested in that and said they wondered if it was because I hadn’t lived much of anywhere else or traveled much. In many ways, they were right – as I’ve grown older and lived more places, my sense of the world has grown much broader. Many places are special to me now. I think about this in science fiction stories sometimes, that a day will come when we’ll identify as being “from Earth,” not just one city, state, or country, but the whole planet.

From that perspective, isn’t human culture all one culture?

I confess that it bothers me that, as a storyteller, I’m to keep my thoughts out of some mythologies. That they somehow belong to someone else, as their exclusive property. I suppose I believe that shared racial memory means among all human beings, not just the Irish/Scot/French/Dutch melange I can genetically lay claim to.

So, I’m curious to know what you all think. Is there a line that shouldn’t be crossed? And, if there is, how and where should it be drawn?

Launching PEARL and Another Winner!

pearlFirst off, I have a short story out in the world! Pearl marked the beginning of my attempts at speculative fiction. It was published in Aeon magazine, back in Spring 2008. My editor at Aeon, Bridget McKenna, is starting her own business doing ebook covers, formatting and design. She contacted me and offered to produce Pearl, to build her portfolio. I think she did a great job! So here it is, one of my early efforts, for just 99 cents at Amazon and B&N. It’s a sci fi story, with a lot of sexual tension, but not really a romance. Fair warning!

A bit of an addendum, Bridget wrote up her side of the story, too, which is really interesting.

Then, since today is the second Monday in the Rogue’s Pawn giveaway

the winner is….

Amy Remus!

Yay Amy! I will sign and send a PAPER COPY of Rogue’s Pawn for you! If anyone else wants to try for one of the remaining three copies, the rules are here. Join in the fun and obtain a RARE hard copy of this book!

Cover Reveal and Winner Number One!

Rogues_Possession_finalAt last! The cover for Rogue’s Possession!

Release day is October 7, but you can preorder it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

And today is the first drawing for the entries for a print copy of Rogue’s Pawn! Two entries are here. And here are two more:

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and

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And the winner, via Random.org is…

Carien!

(Who totally stacked the deck with three entries.) Amy, yours moves on to the drawing next week! For anyone else who wants to play, there are four hard copies of Rogue’s Pawn left! Rules are here.

Vegas Baby!

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So far there are two entries in the Rogue’s Pawn Giveaway, and this is my favorite. Of course, the other is only slightly less brilliant:

BSs8eNjCUAA33cLYou’ll note that both of these are from Carien at Pearls Cast Before a McPig, so she stands to win Monday’s Cover Reveal drawing unless the rest of you plan to get busy this weekend! I know you all are thinking about it, cuz you’ve told me so. Make those fun ideas into reality! I totally want to see the Rogue Prawn interpretations.

Tomorrow I’ll be featured on the Dear Author blog for their August Extravaganza. Nice way to say goodbye to August. ~waves nostagically~ Stop by if you can!

Also, if you’re looking for a great local writers and readers conference this fall, check out Fiction Writing in the Digital Age, taking place in Las Vegas this October. Among others, my Kensington editor, Peter Senftleben, and my agent, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, will be there. I’ll be giving what should be a very fun cross-genre workshop:

More than Wham, Bam, Thank-You M’am – Wooing the Female Reader

Over and over, statistics show that more women are reading fiction than men, particularly on e-Readers. With the overwhelming success of works like Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight, it bears examining just what female readers are looking for – and what they’re buying. This workshop will examine how romance can be used to both attract readers and illuminate characterization. Sexual attraction can both entice and ratchet up the overall tension of any plot. Jeffe Kennedy, award-winning author of numerous series of erotic romance and fantasy, will walk participants through examples from literature and movies, to illustrate what women really want from a story.

Small conferences like this are great for meeting the industry folks in a more informal way. And besides, Vegas Baby! You’ll also see on the schedule that there are a couple of signings, so if you’re in the area, stop by and say hello!