Two years ago, I went to my first ConCarolinas and had the great good fortune to meet several of the MagicalWords.net authors, as well as several fans and MW participants. One group of us in particular really hit it off and agreed to meet up again the next year. At the end of *that* con, as Melanie described, our final gathering resulted in “let’s have a writers’ retreat next year”. Like you do.
Imagine my surprise – all of our surprise, I think – as we started trading emails and beginning to discuss plans, and everyone remained enthusiastic. Along the way, a couple of people had to withdraw from the retreat itself for different reasons, but they stayed active and encouraging in the discussions all the same.
And what a real thrill to learn that Faith would be able to join us, both for some much needed [...]
Continue reading Writer’s Retreats — Our Thoughts, Part Two
I call myself a full-time writer.
What would be more accurate (and it’s something I do sometimes say) is that I have a handful of interrelated part-time jobs.
For two to four hours a day, I write fiction. There’s another one to two hours I spend teaching writing, via the UCLA Writers Extension Program. I review books and write articles about pop culture within the SF/F field (my recent Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch on Tor.com, for example). I sometimes pick up one on one mentoring gigs, helping writers work on completed novel manuscripts.
Part of what makes it possible for me to have this lifestyle, which is rewarding but also a bit catch-as-catch-can where income is concerned, is that I am also the primary homemaker for my two-person family unit. This means cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping mostly falls to me. (As John Scalzi says, in his brilliant [...]
Continue reading Alyx Dellamonica: Slivers of a Writing Life
There were six of us… There are three posts today, and three more next Friday. And this is how it happened.
‘Till Birnam forest come to Dunsinane,’ or, How a Writers Retreat Took Root
Like so many other rooms hosting writer panels at 2013′s ConCarolinas, this particular one—”Burnham”— was overgrown with people. Overgrown, not overrun; we had planted ourselves there to hear published authors discuss a specific topic. Considering the quantity of us listeners squeezed in and barely keeping our feet, in the chaos it wouldn’t have been a stretch to be mistaken as trees. Maybe even a forest. Couldn’t tell ya since it was hard to see. But, as such things happen, especially when everyone is so squashed together, you becomes friendly with others around you. Doubly so when you later discover them also hanging out with authors from Magical Words. Bonus! And so, maybe unsurprisingly, a [...]
Continue reading Writer’s Retreats — Our Thoughts, Part One
So, as I head into my third year as a published author, I am still struggling to find a balance in how I write. And believe you me, I have tried it all.
For example, I’ve tried sleeping late, attending to business when I get up, then staying up all night to write.
ADVANTAGE: No distractions. (Bwahahaha, it’s called the Internet. Let’s change that to LESS distractions.
DISADVANTAGE: I’m on Mountain Time, so by the time I got up to start my day, NY was almost done with theirs, which meant my editor, agent, publicist, marketing team, audiobook producer, everyone was calling it a day. I felt like I was missing out and I would often get to emails late in the day that should have been answered sooner.
I have tried getting up early and writing BEFORE the world needs my attention.
ADVANTAGE: I got my [...]
Continue reading Darynda Jones — The Day-to-Days
Welcome to the first post here at Magical Words related to the upcoming anthology CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK vs ALIENS, the first release from the new small press I’ve founded called Zombies Need Brains. The intent behind this press is to produce quality SF&F-themed anthologies, hopefully a couple a year, with an escalating schedule after that. Since I’m writing these posts as the EDITOR of the first anthology, I figured I’d direct the topics more toward what the editor is looking for in terms of Character, Plot, etc. This first post is about Character, so let’s focus in on that.
What is the editor looking for when perusing submitted stories? Obviously, different editors look for different things, but I, personally, am mostly focused on character. If the story I’m reading doesn’t have an engaging character, then it’s extremely unlikely that I’m going to be interested in buying the story [...]
Continue reading Joshua Palmatier — Zombies Need Brains
Rogue Scholar. I like the image this phrase conjures: the highway white with moonlight, the carriage rattling and banging as the driver nods in his seat…and scholarly rogues riding from shadowed enclaves, brandishing the sharpened steel of academic rigor. It doesn’t quite work that way—but there’s a shade of truth here all the same. Academia can be both competition and battlefield. It requires enormous sacrifice of time and energy, and it steals away hours as deftly as any highwayman. In a dwindling job market, universities demand more and give less, and the PhD lucky enough to land a job finds herself frequently beleaguered. The tenure track leaves little enough time for research—and far less for creative endeavors. How is it possible to balance a writing life in the midst of these other obligations? It’s no wonder some turn to the rogue lifestyle, with more academics seeking “alt-ac” or alternative careers. [...]
Continue reading Brandy Schillace: Balancing Academic Work and Writing Life
So the prompt says “how you live and write and stay sane.” Hmm. I’m not sure that I do. (Stay sane, that is.)
This year, 2014, is turning out to be a happy and challenging year. Happy because I’m fortunate enough to have two new novels out—Reign of Ash from Orbit Books (April) in epic fantasy, and Deadly Curiosities from Solaris Books (June) in urban fantasy. A new steampunk novel is under contract with Solaris, due out in 2015. I’m in at least seven anthologies (!) and more seem to keep cropping up. I bring out a new short story on ebook each month and I’m working on a novella. These are all good challenges to have and I’m grateful for the opportunities, but you know what they say—be careful what you wish for!
If there is a secret to staying relatively sane, [...]
Continue reading Gail Z. Martin: My So-Called Writing Life