Big News and Little

Hi!

I know I haven’t been blogging much. I haven’t been very active anywhere, and I’ve been basically in my hidey-hole all the time. I’m going to come out a little more often, I promise.

A few pieces of news for my readers:

  1. The Menyoral series is coming back, better than ever. I still don’t have release dates, but look forward to four (that’s right) full-length books in the future. All the past books will relaunch with new content: more of the things you came for in the first place. I’m going to see how I can get the new versions to readers who have downloaded already, too — I appreciate your patronage and don’t want to take advantage. All that, and the fourth book in the series too. I’m working on Hard Luck right now.
  2. Around the relaunch will come a few new stories and standalone novels, all set in Rothganar, all revolving around characters from Saga of Menyoral. There’s going to be a ton of stuff to read!
  3. Steel for the Prince will continue. The series will run to four books: The High King’s Will, which is already published; The Witch under Mountain, which has another round of revision and beta-readers to get through; The Heart of Stone, which I am drafting; and The Endless Night, which I am outlining.
  4. I’m working on a new freebie, a mailing list incentive, called Crossbow Wedding. It’s the story of Dingus’s parents, and I’m hoping people will sign up to a new mailing list to receive the novella. I’ll let you know more about that when it gets closer.

That was a lot of stuff, so I won’t exhaust your eyeballs. Thanks for reading my nonsense!

I had a lot of self-serving nonsense to spew and I wrote a post about it and deleted the post and now I’m sitting at my keyboard wondering what to say.

I mean, there’s no excuse for how long everything is taking me right now. I keep falling into this cycle of self-loathing and misery and ego, and every time I rotate back to the top, it’s like I’m starting everything over again.

I have to beat this.

I don’t know how, but I have to win, because it’s in my way. It’s interfering with my personal life, and it’s interfering with my life’s work, which is to tell stories. I want to tell stories, and I want to tell them well, and that’s basically it.

I have to win. Back to square one.

Snippet Sunday #19

I’m so close to finishing a beta draft of The Witch under Mountain. So close (if my own head would stop getting in the way). Here is a bit of it.

In a lot of ways this is Fox’s book. Hopefully, you’ll see why when you read it.

~*~

He turned his eyes across the cavern, where trolls stoked a great hearth-fire. One of them, clad in a burnt, greasy-looking apron, sharpened a series of wicked knives. Panic tightened its iron bands around Fox’s chest. He leapt to his feet and clutched at the side of the pen; he’d chosen the closest to Eagle last night, and had to listen to Eagle sob, but it was worth it. “Vo!” he called, clinging to the bars.

Eagle’s head went up, and he unfolded so quickly Fox had trouble tracking the motion. In half a blink he was at the bars too, with a couple of fairies trailing him; he didn’t say a word, only stood there looking at Fox as if from the bottom of the sea, faraway and longing.

Fox took him in. Lacy white sleeves spilled from an outsize velvet doublet. Silk stockings sagged into puddles around his ankles, above the tops of huge buckled shoes. His thighs were too slender for the pantaloons, and instead of puffing up as they ought to, they hung around his knees. The whole effect was dreadfully unbecoming—outright laughable, if it weren’t for the situation—as if the thinnest little chick were given clothes meant for a fat capon.

He ordinarily looked far different: unobtrusive, unassuming. His usual clothes were meant not to catch on anything, but not to foul his movements either, tough enough to hold up and fit well enough to accommodate intense activity. Under Fox’s regard he tried anxiously to smooth what he wore, but he couldn’t make it look well, or himself appear to advantage.

How little it mattered! Fox’s mouth curved in an involuntary smile. Most people wouldn’t have tried to apply an adjective like “sweet” to Eagle Eye, but with Fox he was sweet as the strawberry preserves on a breakfast buffet. He tried valiantly to smile back, but it didn’t quite come off.

What Not to Say When You’re a Writer (and What to Say Instead)

These are things I hear a lot in the sideways world of Internet writing. No matter how long you’ve been doing this dance: rookie mistakes. This is what I’ve learned about the attitude serious writers bring to their work.

Don’t say: “Can I do (X) in my manuscript?”

I don’t know. Can you? Of course you can—you can try whatever you want. The first draft is the playground draft. POV, setting, character, plot, everything. Just tell the story. If it doesn’t work, go back and fix it on the rewrite. Besides, who knows? Maybe you’ll come up with something genius. But if you don’t stretch your muscles and try new things, even if they’re just new to you, you’ll never grow as an artist. “Can I make my character a daywalking vampire who loves frosting?” Sure you can. I think what you’re really asking is, “Will people be interested in this? Because I don’t want to spend a year writing it if nobody’s going to buy it.” Nobody can tell what the market will do. Just write the thing, if it’s in your heart.

Say instead: “I have done this thing. Does it work?”

Do it, clean it up to the best of your abilities, and get yourself some beta-readers. Don’t show me an idea. Show me writing.

Don’t say: “Has it been done?”

Yes. But you’ve never done it. There’s so much out there. Of course it’s been done. Do it your way. Don’t apologize for retreading familiar ground; instead, tread it how only you can.

Say instead: “This is my project. There are many like it, but this one is mine.”

See above. Do it, clean it up, send it out to readers. Don’t show me an idea. Show me work.

Don’t say: “I suck.”

You’re right. You do. So do I. So did Flannery O’Connor. Every artist knows it. If you’re new to writing or creating, it hurts so hard to realize this, but if you let it stop you, you’re not going to get any better. Dwelling on your suck is not going to help you.

Say instead: “I’m learning.”

Practice is going to help you. Every time you put words down, you’re learning something, whether you realize it or not. That’s why it’s important to put words down regularly. If you’re serious about this, it’s only going to get better, every time.

Don’t say, never say, never ever: “I quit.”

I’ve got to try to be rational here, because when I hear this, I see hot red. If you want this, don’t ever say that. It’s garbage. You can’t quit. This is hard. And there will be days when you’ll wonder, and days when you’ll doubt yourself, and days when you’ll hate everything. Writers don’t quit. Real writers don’t quit. If you want to be a “real writer,” whatever that means to you, you’re not allowed.

Say instead: “I need a break.”

Sometimes, you just need a day. Or a week. Or a year. Or more. But come back to the words. They need you—you’re a writer. You need them for the same reason. The toughest, stupidest, most frustrating years of my life were the ones when I wasn’t writing fiction. I need this. Maybe you do, too. If this is what you’re meant for, what you love, what you really want out of life, you’ll come back. And you’ll be better than ever, because you’ll be ready to learn all over again.

What about it? Do you want to be that jackass at parties, saying languidly, “Oh…I’m writing a novel…“? Or do you want to stand up straight and say, “I’m writing my fourth novel”? If you want the second, you know what you have to do.