Once upon a time, I was the Lone Writer. I drafted my novels, chapter by chapter. Occasionally, I shared them with a single trusted confidant, chapter by chapter. When I did, I got feedback on what worked, chapter by chapter.
This system worked. I published twelve novels with two traditional publishers with this system. (Of course, I shared those novels with my agent, and he (very, very rarely) told me what he thought worked and didn’t work. And once the novels were sold, an editor had input about what worked, chapter by chapter, and overall. A copyeditor had input about continuity and consistency. Sometimes, editorial assistants conveyed their opinions as well. But in the writing stages of my work it was me, all me, with maybe one other person.)
As a side note: I was a member of an SF writing group for a couple of years. The group has [...]
Continue reading With a Little Help From My Friends
Okay. I started to write another Then and Now post. But it was boring. So I deleted it.
Instead, I thought we’d play a bit of a game.
‘Tis the season for feasting. I’m just back from a wonderful holiday trip to visit family on the other side of the country. My mother met me at the door with a half dozen types of cookies (including her can’t-be-matched sugar cookies — heaven!) During the course of one week, I indulged in Mom’s incredible teriyaki chicken wings, her brisket, and her mashed potatoes, along with Dad’s turkey (one of my favorite “big meal” stand-outs!). That doesn’t even count my new favorite pie — Mom’s key lime, with homemade cookie crust.
All of which leaves me thinking about the food and drink in the novels I write.
It’s no secret that food is important in my novels. Jane Madison has her [...]
Continue reading Bill of Fare
Today’s Then and Now grows out of a question from last week, where someone wanted to know how I write quickly. My current writing strategy grows out of my old writing habits, so it’s perfect for a Then and Now.
When I started writing for professional publication, I worked a full-time job that required a minimum of 60 hours a week in an office and often expected 80 hours a week or more. I usually worked through weekends, at least all of one day and half of another, and I often left the office for a class or cultural event, only to return at 10:00 at night, for another few hours of fun. In some months, I *billed* up to 3000 hours of time (and that time didn’t include things like meal breaks, mandatory non-client activities, etc.) So, yeah, I had a lot of demands on my time.
Continue reading Then and Now — Writing Fast
I’m baaaaach, with more then and now musing. I renamed this post a few times — “Quantity of Books” won out over “Productivity”, “Books in a Year” and other variations. You’ll see what I mean as I ramble on…
THEN: Fifteen years ago, I received The Call — my agent had sold my first novel to Roc. “They asked if you had a sequel,” he said. “I told them you had planned two.” (A lie — I’d written a stand-alone, and I hadn’t dared to think about more in the series.) “They want to know when you can turn in the first.”
I thought for a bit, and I said, “It took me three years to write The Glasswrights’ Apprentice, but I learned a lot doing it. I should be able to produce a sequel in about two years.”
My agent laughed, and he said, “The correct answer is one [...]
Continue reading Then and Now — Quantity of Books
Interesting… When I started this series last week, talking about how things have changed in “breaking in” for our field, more than half the comments went to how bookstores have changed. So, here I am, following the Great Big Clue about what this week’s topic should be… So, let’s look at how things differ from 1998, when I started circulating my novel manuscripts hoping for professional publication, and today.
THEN: There was numerous chains of bookstores, most of which had “regular store” size space in shopping malls (rather than superstores.) I had a B.Dalton in the mall across the street from my house; within 10 miles, I could find numerous other B. Dalton, Waldenbooks, Brentano’s, Barnes & Noble, and Borders stores. In addition, there were several dozen independent bookstores in a 10-mile radius. Some, like the 5-store local chain Olsson’s, focused on literature; others focused on special topics like politics [...]
Continue reading Then and Now — Bookstores
Okay, I have an idea. I’m going to write a series of posts here, focusing on “then and now” — how things were done *then*, back in 1998 when I sold my first novel and *now*, fifteen years later and seventeen-or-twenty-depending-on-how-you-count books later.
And the first topic I’m going to discuss is breaking in — launching a career in speculative fiction.
THEN: Conventional wisdom was in the process of changing, but the most common “how to get published” advice I received was: Write Short Fiction. “Professional” short fiction markets paid three to five cents a word (as they had since around 1950), and they published in print (as, ahem, they had since around 1950) in digest format (small “paperback book” type publications, with the footprint of Reader’s Digest) or in a traditional magazine format (larger publications, sometimes glossy, like Time or Newsweek.) Magazines were sent to subscribers, and they [...]
Continue reading Then and Now — Breaking In