Writing Pro Since 1998
OMG! THEY'VE GOT PBW!!! Let her go you overly marinated, thick-thighed, petulant p***ies. I know who you are:The Gorgeous Gals Group!!! Out for revenge!We won't let you torture PBW this way, she's already written the book of her heart, you lowbrow, skanky, mudslingers!!!Oh. She has another one? Why, yes, I suppose every author has a few, it's the nature of a creative writer.Okay... What's next on the PBW writing schedule - that's not a write-for-hire?
Does that mean the book of her heart will have no cops?Or does it mean don't involve the cops?Does that count as a question?Does it count as two?Is that midnight E.S.T., Central, or Mountain?Oops--is that 3 or 4 questions?Can I write the screenplay when it's over?
Any exceptions for really cute cops?
How about bonded gun-toting security guards - in leather?
How do you know when to let a project "go?" (as in, die, bury it, etc, not just when it's done.) I'm rewriting my first novel's last 2/3, and it's fun, and I think I can really do something with it, but I'm wondering if perhaps I'm just dallying on starting a new novel? Hm. (Methinks it's perhaps both... I really think the first has the potential, given all the ideas I'm incorporating into the rewrite that I hadn't had the first time around.)Jess
What do you do to avoid burnout?
Don't we WANT PBW to write the book of her heart?
Didn't someone say - if you want to get rich writing, try ransome notes?PS. This is very cute.And sweet. ( don't gag)
20 questions? EACH ??? 2 down, 18 to go. Better get writing, PBW.
Um, aren't ransoms supposed to be for something that ISN'T wanted? How does threatening to make a writer write count as something unwanted?
No cops? What about ninjas? Or wizards? Ninja wizards! With catapults and pointy sticks! Yes, that's...[Hello, this is one of the voices in Jim's head. Jim's clearly forgotten his medication again. Please stand by as we get him home to pop some badly needed pills.)
Do you ever have spells where you just can't focus on anything? If so,how do you get through those?
Please, whoever you are, don't harm PBW!I second Shiloh's question. How do you avoid burnout?
Well, must do my part to free PBW!!!So, do you have any views/opinions/experience with book doctors? And how do you think they'd compare to the critique service that Odyssey is now offering ( http://www.sff.net/odyssey/crit.html for reference)
This is easy as I have a little game I play sometimes called "Interview with PBW"Can I put my questions and your answers on my blog?If I ask the questions, does that mean you'll answer them?How did you get your first ghostwriting gig?Will you secretly email me the names of the people you ghost for?Will you at least give me a hint about who you ghost for?Are you still ghostwriting?How many books are you contracted to write in 2006?2007? Why did you start writing inspirationals? (No offense, but you don't seem religious...)Did you/do you like writing the inspirationals?How did you meet Holly?Is your book about writing available in bookstores?Why did you title it Way of the Cheetah? How are your cats doing?How many genres are you published in again?What would be so bad about writing the book of your heart?Have you always been so delightfully curmudgeonly?Are your captors treating you well?Will this kidnapping put your daily word quota behind?Or have they provided you with a word processor? Pretty sure that's 20.
You guys are too funny. Jaye Patrick wrote:What's next on the PBW writing schedule - that's not a write-for-hire? Contracted work, Darkyn book #5, as yet untitled; a Darkyn novella that I'll give away free as a promotional e-book; and a SF standalone set in the StarDoc universe. Three other books are in the proposal stage. Everything else in the near future is either WFH, pending agent approval or contract negotiations.
Raine wrote: Can I write the screenplay when it's over?Only if my part is played by Julia Roberts. :)
Nalini wrote: Any exceptions for really cute cops?Only if they're played by George Clooney.
Paul wrote: How about bonded gun-toting security guards - in leather?I really like the way you think, Paul.
Jess wrote: How do you know when to let a project "go?" (as in, die, bury it, etc, not just when it's done.)Okay. Think of the most tedious writer you know. Besides me. Use that as a scale of comparison. As in, would you rather be: a) working on the WIP or b) reading Stuffy and Ridiculous's latest heartbreaking work of staggering genius? If your answer is b) it's time to trash the WIP or file it away.I'm rewriting my first novel's last 2/3, and it's fun, and I think I can really do something with it, but I'm wondering if perhaps I'm just dallying on starting a new novel? Hm. (Methinks it's perhaps both... I really think the first has the potential, given all the ideas I'm incorporating into the rewrite that I hadn't had the first time around.)It doesn't sound like you're caught in a rewrite loop, which can become a creative oubliette if you're not careful, but you might give yourself a firm deadline to finish the rewrite and start something new.
Shiloh wrote: What do you do to avoid burnout?A few weeks ago I saw a bumper stick that read: Your body is a temple, mine is an amusement park. The same philosophy can be applied to our attitudes toward writing. I'm in the amusement park camp. :)Seriously, whenever I've come close to feeling burned out, I take a step back, look at what I'm doing and see what's bugging me. Most of the time for me it's physical burnout because I'm not taking care of myself as I should; i.e. I'm eating wrong, not getting enough exercise or letting the insomnia win too often. Then depending on what I think it is, I go vegan for month, double my daily walks or take a couple of nights off to sit in a eucalyptus bath sipping Sleepytime, quilt to Pachabel or watch a good movie cuddled up with my guy. Or I just cuddle my guy; he's a great rejuvenator.If it's mental, I unplug from the internet, which is generally the culprit, and do some of my favorite things to recharge my batteries. I call my Mom, one of the funniest women on the planet, and chat. I spend an afternoon baking or painting with my kids. I write a letter or pack up a box of books for a friend. I take a walk down by the lake and feed the ducks. I grab everyone, throw them in the car and go to museums, concerts in the park, or old antique shops. I hold a family game night, make a big bowl of popcorn and challenge everyone to Cutthroat Monopoly, or Team Chess. Re-grounding yourself in the wonders of the real world makes it easier to face the countless challenges in creating a fictional one.The only other things I think can be burnout factors are the expectations, disillusionment and self-doubt that hits every writer at some time or another, if not constantly. Don't lug around a lot of professional baggage. Purge yourself of envy and keep your expectations realistic. Roll with the punches, and when you can, laugh at them. And when you sit down to write, only think about telling the story.
Though I don't normally negotiate with terrorists... ;)How do you know if what you are writing is ‘interesting’? I know sometimes it is hard to judge your own work.
Tam wrote: Don't we WANT PBW to write the book of her heart?The world is simply not prepared for that particular heartbreaking work of staggering genius. Lol.
Bernita wrote: Didn't someone say - if you want to get rich writing, try ransome notes?I think it's like that other old saying: If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.
Carter wrote: 20 questions? EACH ??? 2 down, 18 to go. Better get writing, PBW.Trust you guys to take my kidnappers literally.
Andi wrote: How does threatening to make a writer write count as something unwanted?Andi hasn't been reading my reviews on SF Weekly, obviously.
How do you find the work-for-hire? I guess the come to you now - but how did you find it at first. I apologize if this has already been answered - and is in an obvious place.~PJ~P.S. FYI to the kidnappers: Ransom notes look sooo much better in colors.
Jim wrote: No cops? What about ninjas? Or wizards? Ninja wizards! With catapults and pointy sticks! Yes, that's...Put down the keyboard. Back away from the machine. Keep your hands where we can see them.
uh... i'm in trouble... I rarely take care of myself physically.I don't think I'm hitting burn out... yet, please God, never ever... but I am tired. Mentally tired. I don't think I'm reading enough for enjoyment either. Trying to remedy that.Thanks for the answer~ have they let you out or are you pounding out this book of your heart?
Trace wrote: Do you ever have spells where you just can't focus on anything? If so,how do you get through those?I used to be as easy to distract as a three-year-old pumped full of red Kool-Aid and Double-stuff Oreos, but I learned to remove the obvious distractions from my environment: noise, clutter, and patterns were the worst offenders. Also, a friend taught me to do morning meditations, which I stick to religiously now. I know I've harped on this before, but that thirty minutes of peace and solitude in the morning really cleans out the cobwebs and disciplines my thoughts.If that doesn't work, I have a good cry (and I'm at that age now where the way cornflakes look as I pour them in a bowl make me tear up.) So I don't scare anyone, I go in the shower, turn the water on cool, and stand under it and let go. The cool water is relaxing, and helps keep the puffy eyes and red nose to a minimum.
Beth wrote: I second Shiloh's question. How do you avoid burnout?One thing that I didn't mention when I was answering Shiloh is that feelings of burnout are often ignored by writers as depression or some other nebulous and insignificant block. If you're feeling burned out, it's for a real reason. Whatever the source or cause, don't dismiss it or try to live with it. Address it.
Sandra wrote: So, do you have any views/opinions/experience with book doctors?Back in 1997, I was very nearly a victim of a book doctor scam run by Edit, Inc., but my common sense saved my ass and $1300.00 at the very last minute. As for the book they told me needed doctoring, I sold in as-is condition to a publisher six months later.Book doctors make a lot of money off unpublished writers and (in my opinion) offer nothing useful in return. You can learn as much for free by doing your own legwork and learning how to edit your own work more effectively. The internet is an endless library filled with instant access to thousands of useful articles, sites and communities -- again, all free -- that will help you. Plus you become a better writer in the process. And how do you think they'd compare to the critique service that Odyssey is now offering ( http://www.sff.net/odyssey/crit.html for reference)I don't advocate pay-for crit services like Odyssey, and that's as polite as I can be about Odyssey. If you want to shell out $275.00 for a partial crit from these three chicks, it's your money and your business. Me, I'd spend the $275 on paper ink and postage for submissions, better computer equipment, or research books.
how the HELL can I WORK WITH THESE KIDS ALL OVER THE PLACE?useless rant? real question? If it'll free PBW, consider it real. . .
Cindy wrote: Can I put my questions and your answers on my blog?Sure. It might bring in more ransom questions. :)If I ask the questions, does that mean you'll answer them?Only on Fridays. Saturdays I clean the bedrooms and give the dog a bath.How did you get your first ghostwriting gig?Perfect timing. I asked my agent to find some work for me at the exact same time an editor asked her if she had any writers interested in a WFH series gig. Will you secretly email me the names of the people you ghost for?Nope, that would violate the terms of my contracts. Sorry.Will you at least give me a hint about who you ghost for?I wish I could, but no, sorry.Are you still ghostwriting?Yep.How many books are you contracted to write in 2006?That I'm at liberty to talk about, two.2007?None sold. We're in the prelim phase of a couple of contracts, and I have more to pitch, but I haven't signed for anything yet.Why did you start writing inspirationals? (No offense, but you don't seem religious...)None taken. I am a person of faith, not religion. When the opportunity came to express my faith in writing, I jumped on it. For the record, I didn't think I could write them, either. I surprised myself a lot. Did you/do you like writing the inspirationals?I love it. It's a privilege and a huge challenge for me.How did you meet Holly?Pure serendipity. :)Is your book about writing available in bookstores?No, it's only availanble in ebook form.Why did you title it Way of the Cheetah?Way of the Killer Whale didn't sound as interesting. How are your cats doing?All three are fine.How many genres are you published in again?Five.What would be so bad about writing the book of your heart?I'd need a heart transplant first.Have you always been so delightfully curmudgeonly?No. I used to be sweet and innocent. Then Mom went into labor.Are your captors treating you well?They're withholding my M&Ms so that I write faster.Will this kidnapping put your daily word quota behind?Doubt it. Hurricanes don't put me behind on my quota.Or have they provided you with a word processor?They're making me use Margaret Atwood's Long Arm machine. Pretty sure that's 20.Good ones, too. Thanks, Cindy.
Pixel Faerie wrote: Though I don't normally negotiate with terrorists... ;)Lol.How do you know if what you are writing is ‘interesting’? I know sometimes it is hard to judge your own work.For me, skim factor and test subject reactions. If I find that I'm skimming anything I write while I'm reading it over for the daily edit, I know the reader will likely do the same thing. I have a couple of industry friends whom I trust implicitly, and to whom I run whenever I'm still not sure if I'm nailing something. They tell me the truth. It's not easy to find friends like that, but when you do, they can steer you through uncertain times.
PJ wrote: How do you find the work-for-hire?I guess the come to you now - but how did you find it at first.I got my first job through my agent, but there are some open submission writer for hire jobs out there, occasionally advertised in online classifieds for writers at sites like PoeWar.Com and FreelanceWriting.com.
Shiloh wrote: Thanks for the answer~ have they let you out or are you pounding out this book of your heart?You're welcome. Reading for pleasure is also a very good thing.As for my captors, they're making threatening noises about compelling me to pen a Cowboy and the Runaway Princess Bride book. I'm holding them off with counterthreats of writing a steampunk version.
Miss Kate wrote: how the HELL can I WORK WITH THESE KIDS ALL OVER THE PLACE?Tough one, Kate. If it's not chilly outside, set up a sprinkler in the yard, have them slip into their swimsuits and give them some beach balls and plastic buckets, and let them invent their own games. Also good for the grass. If weather or water restrictions do not permit sprinkler fun, a bowl of popcorn and their favorite funny movie (my kids love Ice Age) on DVD might be a reasonable substitute. If that doesn't work, put off work and have fun with them. Then do a little work after they've gone to bed tonight. :)
Thanks for the book doctor/paid crit advice. You bring up some great points, as always ;-)
Two more: How do you manage to post so many of your posts in EBlogger at exactly 12:00AM? Is this automated somehow (didn't think you could do that with EBlogger), or do you sit with your cesium watch and click "publish" at precisely midnight?And, do you want to know when I review one of your novels over on my website? (Stardoc review coming soon)
How do you manage to post (so many posts) at precisely 12:00 AM -cesium watch or auto-post program?And, do you want to know when I review one of your novels on my website?
Double Damn! First it said "SERVER ERROR (and I ordered the low-fat cheese and cracker dish)", then I refreshed - but no post.Then I posted again - now I'm seeing a double post!GRRRRRRR.Ooops - sorry, no question . . .
Don't tell Miss Snark about George Clooney. ;)I have a 'series' of three standalone books that are connected by the same world, the beginning collapse of the Roman Empire in Britain, Gaul and along the Rhine, and by the Visigoth invasion. All books have chapters taking place in Rome, and there are other connections via minor characters that appear in two or more books, family relations, and overlapping subplots. I also think about cameos of more important characters (fe. the MC of one book is in Rome during the first siege by the Visigoths, which plays an important role in another book).But I can see a few problems. For a reader who picks one book, all those characters are new, and a subplot that starts in Britain can move to Gaul and thus become less important in one book and more important in the second half of another. Are there any tricks how to make those books work as standalones that, read as three book series, just add some more fun and represent a broader view on history? And what are the special pitfalls of this sort of series?
Thanks, PBW. So, aside from the morning meditation, how do you stay focused? When I'm in school, I use the library computers (I have a laptop but it's old and the contrast is bad so writing on it hurts >.<), and it's obviously very hard to concentrate, even when I remember to log off AIM (keeping the browser closed is a lot harder.) Writing in the summer/at home is easier b/c we don't have the internet, but I'm wondering how you developed your Nerves of Steel (tm, to Holly) and if it's possible when you're twenty, married, and trying to graduate with honors? (tired just thinking about it) Cuz I need some discipline like right now. Thanks!Jess
I've written several novels that take place in the same universe (of my own creation). They could be akin to Stephen King's Castle Rock books or any of Tom Clancy's in that they contain references to people, places and events that are more fully 'explained' (and sometimes not) in another. The novels themselves take place hundreds of years apart in different Realms.I'm at present trying to sell the first one to smaller publishers that look at unsolicitated ms as well as luring literary agents with it.Should I continue to write in this world if the first one I've tossed to the world...or any of the others I try after...fail to sell?Or should I build a new sandbox and start scooping there?Also, would it be better to mention to agents and editors that while this is a stand alone, it has sibling books (of the same world)?Nice note. Reminds me of what I tried to send my mother to avoid giving her my report card.
Paul wrote: How do you manage to post so many of your posts in EBlogger at exactly 12:00AM?I write 99% of my posts ahead of time, and I predate the post for midnight before putting it up. Sometimes it doesn't go up until 1 or 2 am. And, do you want to know when I review one of your novels over on my website? (Stardoc review coming soon)No, thanks. I don't read, publicize or link to any reviews of mine or any other writer's books.
PBW said: No, thanks. I don't read, publicize or link to any reviews of mine or any other writer's books.I really, really, really hope that if ever I am published, I can resist reading reviews. I wouldn't want to. Too much pressure. ;) If I'm permitted a question, how do you avoid them and are you ever asked to read any?
Gabriele wrote: Are there any tricks how to make those books work as standalones that, read as three book series, just add some more fun and represent a broader view on history? And what are the special pitfalls of this sort of series?All books should be standalones; contain their own plots, story arcs and individual endings. The threads which connect series books can be characters, a series of events or timeline, and/or sometimes even setting, but they all should work on their own. The way to get this to happen is to competently handle and deliver backstory, the scourge of every series writer. There is the prologue approach, in which you briefly detail what happened in previous novels before you start telling the new story. This can be off-putting for some readers, but it doesn't bother me and, when done well, can eliminate a lot of backstory and as-you-know-Bob infodumps in the novel. Good example would be how Holly Lisle did it in her last two Secret Texts books, Vengeance of Dragons and Courage of Falcons.You can also use a secondary character from the previous book as the protagonist in the next. I've done this in my JH books and the last two SF standalones. Because the backstory is the protagonist's personal history, you can usually weave it into the story as you develop the character. You can also dump some of the backstory delivery responsibility on some of the crossover characters you also develop along with your protag.You can get creative with your backstory deliveries, too. Flashbacks, used sparingly, can work. Lisa Valdez used a letter to open her historical romance, Passion, which delivered an important chunk of backstory while providing a neat hook to get the reader to keep turning pages. I've delivered backstory in dialogue from a protagonist using backstory as justification that she can handle anything, as well as a secondary character bringing a new character up to speed on past events with verbal shorthand. I've also used memory implants, journal files, verbal storytelling within the story, and a grieving daughter talking to her dead mother's body. I'll use pretty much anything that gets the backstory in there without endless exposition. Exposition is not my friend.I guess the pitfalls are involved with the constant balancing act of the series author. You need backstory but you need new story, and if they don't work together the books read patchy and disjointed. Making backstory read as a natural part of the new story so that it doesn't jolt the reader out of the book is also a major pain: not everything works within your context. Would your character actually tell backstory to the body of her dead mother? In my book, it worked because the character was trying to secretly bury her mother, and working through her grief and anger, and facing the end of the only life she had known all at once. She also didn't get to say goodbye to her mother before she died, so talking to her dead body was logical compensation. So it's not just sticking your method in the story, it's also assuring that it fits.
Jess wrote: So, aside from the morning meditation, how do you stay focused?Couple of things I do that might help: 1. Time structuring: I have set hours when I write, when I don't write, and when I edit. Outside of emergencies and illness, I never change them. Selecting the right time is important, too. If you're most creative from 6:30 am to 9:30 am every day, and your life/job situation allows that time to be blocked off for writing, make it a permanent writing time, and write during that time every single day. 2. Making a rule of work first, play later. Work comes first, and I don't get to play until the set quota is finished. No exceptions. 3. Dangling the occasional carrot. When I don't feel like doing something that I know I have to (usually plowing through the week's receipts and updating/balancing the ledger, or penning polite refusals to unsolicited inquiries, manscripts, etc.) I offer myself a small reward, i.e. when I get the ledger done, I can have thirty minutes to play on the internet, or to listen to a CD, or read for pleasure.4. I promise myself a personal paycheck. Whenever I finish a project, I have a nice reward planned for myself that has nothing to do with D&A or advance payments. Some of my paychecks: an eight-foot-long quilt rack, a picnic/cookout at the beach, and a trip to the Salvadore Dali museum. Sometimes it can be a denial thing, too -- I held off watching the new Pride & Prejudice movie, which I was dying to see, until I finished one of my novel deadlines. I think focus is affected by the amount of committment you give to your writing. If you treat anything like a hobby, then you generally get hobby-quality results.
Alphabeter wrote: Should I continue to write in this world if the first one I've tossed to the world...or any of the others I try after...fail to sell?If it were my series, I'd set a limit of two. If I couldn't sell the first or second novel, I'd move on and write something new. You can always go back and pick up where you left off if you find a market for book one and two, but you won't invest so much of your writing time in the series until you sell.Or should I build a new sandbox and start scooping there?It's always nice to have some new sandboxes in the works, even if you're just thinking about them or sketching out ideas. I'd stay open to taking new directions with your work. Also, would it be better to mention to agents and editors that while this is a stand alone, it has sibling books (of the same world)?I recommend unpublished writers sell the first book of a series as a standalone. When you snag an interested editor, then mention you have ideas/outlines/finished manuscripts for more to follow.
Pixel Faerie wrote about reviews: how do you avoid them and are you ever asked to read any?I don't avoid them, I just don't read them. I've not been asked to read any, and I don't think anyone would, but you never know. I do have a very sweet editor who keeps sending me all the reviews PW writes on my books via e-mail. I don't read them, but I do print them out and use them to line the cats' litter boxes.
Your questions did the trick; I've been freed by my exhausted kidnappers. Thanks everyone -- and goodnight. :)
No questions here, but I loved reading the answers.Happy Weekend,Pencilone
His Lordship Possessed -- October '13
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