A Halloween Post: What Scares This Writer


It’s Halloween week, and as this is the season for all things spooky, I thought it might be fun to look at things that scare me. I’m not talking about big hairy spiders (like the Huntsman Spider in Australia that was in the bathroom one night when I got up to pee — it was sitting on top of the door and when I shut the door, it fell off and landed on my hand. I jumped up and back — simultaneously — about six feet, screamed like a little girl, and never, ever used the toilet again) or axe murderers (I have no colorful stories about them, though I think that if one fell on my hand as I closed a bathroom door, I’d freak out a little) or Dick Cheney. No, I’m talking about writer stuff that scares me professionally. Maybe some of these fears will sound [...]

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On Writing: Solving Writing Problems with Point of View


I have written about point of view many times before. A couple of years ago I did a whole series of posts on it, and one of my “Creative Intersections” posts earlier this year dealt with POV as it related to worldbuilding.

But here I am again writing about POV, and there is a reason for this. During the course of the summer, I attended several conventions, and I also taught a writers’ workshop up in Calgary. And it seemed that at every turn I would bring one writing issue or another back to POV. It happened so often, that I began to rethink one of my own foundational beliefs about writing. I have said for years that I believe character to be the single most important element of successful storytelling. I realize now that this is not quite true. To my mind, the most important element of storytelling is [...]

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On Publishing and Publicity: Setting Up a Blog Tour


In response to Faith’s wonderful post from last week, and her promise of more PR posts to come, I thought I would put in my $.02 by outlining what I did in setting up the Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry Blog Tours during the summers of 2012 and 2013. This is one of those PR activities that I never even dreamed of doing when I first broke into the business, because there were no such things as blogs. Today I can say without exaggeration that my blog tours have been the single most important publicity tool I have had in gaining readership for the Thieftaker books. Whether you’re an aspiring writer trying to figure out how to pump up the volume for your very first release, or an established professional looking to kick off a new project, I cannot recommend this strategy enough.

Let’s start with the obvious question: What [...]

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On Writing: Outlining Vs. Pantsing Revisited


This week I will begin writing Dead Man’s Reach, the fourth book in the Thieftaker Chronicles. For those of you who are fans of the series, don’t panic. Book three, A Plunder of Souls, is not yet out and won’t be for close to a year. Authors are almost always at least a full book ahead of the publication schedule. On the other hand, if you haven’t yet read book two, Thieves’ Quarry, all I can say is what the hell are you waiting for…?

I spent part of last week outlining the book, and thought that I would return to the subject of outlines and pantsing, since it is something that still comes up quite a bit on this site and also in panels. I know that we talk about there being no single right way to do any of this, and I still believe that. But in this [...]

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Quoth the Book: “Reports of My Death Are Greatly Exaggerated”


James Surowiecki is the business writer for The New Yorker, and though I usually am not one to pour over the financial pages, I find his columns fascinating. None more so than the article he wrote for the July 29, 2013 issue of the magazine. The article is titled “E-Book Vs. P-Book,” although the online version of the article is actually identified more accurately as “It’s Not Over For Barnes & Noble.” The article, which I strongly suggest you read, basically argues that with Borders gone, Barnes & Noble is actually poised to do quite well, if it would only “focus on something truly radical: being a bookstore.”

As I say, the article is worth a read, but I would like to concentrate on a few data points that Surowiecki mentions in his piece that, I believe, point to larger trends in the writing market. In no particular order: While [...]

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Grist For the Mill: Emotion and Creativity


As you read this, I am driving home from New York City having just dropped off my daughter at NYU. She’s a freshman this year, so all of this is pretty new to me. The last-minute shopping, the packing, the move-in day and orientation and getting settled. The bills — oh my GOD the bills. And underlying all of it, the emotions that come with seeing my eldest child go off to college: excitement on her behalf, sadness at the thought of her leaving home, happiness at the thought of her leaving home (yeah, some of these are pretty mixed), trepidation at all that she has to face in the coming years — we’ve been taking care of her for so long, and while she is bright and mature and confident, is she ready? I am more aware than I have ever been of my age, of the swiftness with [...]

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Greetings from Calgary: Post-Con Report


Greetings from Calgary, Alberta! I am writing this Sunday afternoon, after a wonderful week of work at WhenWordsCollide and the pre-convention writer’s workshop.

Yes, that’s right: I said “work.” John’s post from the other day, on which I didn’t comment, but which I have read, is spot on. Conventions are work. They are super fun — I love meeting fans, working with other professionals, renewing old friendships and beginning new ones. And after 16 years as a published author I am nowhere close to being tired of having people ask if I’ll sign their copies of my books. To be honest, I’m always shocked when people apologize for approaching me, as if it’s an imposition.

But right now, after leading the workshop for two days and being one of the con’s guests of honor, I’m exhausted. It’s not that talking about writing or doing readings is that tiring. But I’ve [...]

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