Friday, April 06, 2007

Winners & Friday 20

Getting a bit of a late start today -- first up, the winners of the For the Readers giveaway are:

Ann -- Into the Fire

Julie Doe -- Dark Need

Winners, please send your full name and ship-to address to LynnViehl@aol.com so I can get your winnings out to you. Thanks to everyone for the congrats on Plague of Memory, too.

For the benefit of new visitors and lurking media, every Friday (when I'm not having a domestic crisis, a tantrum, or a power outtage) I open up the blog for a Q&A session until midnight EST. You ask a writing- or publishing-related question, I try to answer or point you in the right direction. Originally I limited the number of questions to twenty, which over time we've pretty much ignored. If you don't have a question this week, feel free to post advice or answers for any of the other commenters.

I don't moderate or censor comments, and while we've had a few disagreements here and there, flame wars don't happen. Occasionally a disgruntled writer or reviewer shows up to shriek at me, but they usually slither off after venting, and I'm sure they feel better for it (can I claim that as a public service?) As always, I reserve the right to delete SPAM, and ignore the media and people who come here for any reason other than to hang out with my regular visitors and talk about books, writing and publishing.

That's it -- any questions out there?

20 comments:

  1. Lynn,

    A question related to writing in multiple genres. I've completed 3 novels to date--one epic fantasy, one scifi/thriller, one YA urban fantasy. I have several ideas for the next book, but am not sure what direction to go in. My YA novel is out with an agent who requested the full a few weeks ago.

    I feel like I'm close and an agent might have a say in what direction to focus my writing. Am I crazy to take a brief writing hiatus, waiting for feedback from this agent? Or do I forge ahead on a 4th novel 'on spec'?

    And how rare or common is it for a writer to be successful in multiple genres?

    Thank you.
    Lisa

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous11:21 AM

    This isn't about the publishing business, but it's something that's been bugging me throughout the StarDoc series. How do you pronounce Hskskt? (I say it "HISS-kit" - rhymes with biscuit - and I'm just curious if I'm mutilating it.)

    Thanks,
    Heather

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm still pretty new to the blog, so if this has been answered previously, I apologize. I'm just curious as to why you've chosen to write under different pseudonyms. Were there any other reasons for your decision other than the apparent genre-jumps?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous11:40 AM

    Hi PBW --

    Hope everything is continuing to improve with your dad...I keep thinking of your personal situation and I admire your ability to perservere.

    My question is this -- I am pregnant with my third child (the older two are preschoolers), and while I'm happy about it, I'm afraid for my writing. My career is humming along nicely and I would hate to lose my momentum now. Any advice for a pregnant cheetah? :)

    thanks
    -T

    ReplyDelete
  5. Lisa wrote: A question related to writing in multiple genres. I've completed 3 novels to date--one epic fantasy, one scifi/thriller, one YA urban fantasy. I have several ideas for the next book, but am not sure what direction to go in. My YA novel is out with an agent who requested the full a few weeks ago.

    Wow, that's wonderful. I'll keep my toes crossed for you.

    I feel like I'm close and an agent might have a say in what direction to focus my writing. Am I crazy to take a brief writing hiatus, waiting for feedback from this agent? Or do I forge ahead on a 4th novel 'on spec'?

    Agents often have wonderful advice, which I always think we should listen to. That said, I know too many writers whose output is tightly controlled by their agents. The best advice I can offer is to start off as you mean to go on -- if you want your agent to be your navigator, ask them for direction. If you want to run things yourself, do what you want to do (and politely make it clear to any agent who offers to represent you that you are the career navigator.)

    For those who think this might offend, my agent knew what she was getting into with me from day one. I told her all my plans, and got feedback from her, but I wanted to write all over the genre map, and that's what I've done. My agent has represented me in genres she had never dipped a toe in before, like SF. That's the best sort of agent, in my opinion -- a partner, not a boss.

    And how rare or common is it for a writer to be successful in multiple genres?

    Two-genre writers are pretty common these days (romance and SF writers seem to have the most success in juggling two.) It's when you get into more than two that things get sticky, because most writers can't produce more than two books a year, and I think once a year is the bare minimum you can write to stay alive in the minds of genre readers. I know a lot of people look at all the genres I juggle and think they can make the same thing work, but the real question is, can you write six to eight books a year consistently every year?

    Success in all of the above is also hard to nail down. I've had varying degrees of success in all the genres I write it. Some are more successful than others, and that's where I earn the most money, so that's where publishing wants me to write. Writing outside those successful ventures becomes harder the more established you become. For me, selling in a new genre always means taking on Yet Another Psuedonym, so it's something to think about.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Heather wrote: This isn't about the publishing business, but it's something that's been bugging me throughout the StarDoc series. How do you pronounce Hskskt? (I say it "HISS-kit" - rhymes with biscuit - and I'm just curious if I'm mutilating it.)

    You're pretty close. The exact pronounciation is indrawn breath (which is the "h"), exhale the compound sound "skt", another indrawn breath, exhale the "skt". It's a lot to ask readers to take two breaths while saying a word, so your version is fine. The word is based on a sound my former husband made when he was asleep and snoring; another reason I never do readings -- I'd have to imitate him. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. flyawaymoment, who has a very cool handle, wrote: I'm still pretty new to the blog, so if this has been answered previously, I apologize.

    Welcome, and don't worry -- I can't remember everything I've answered, so why should anyone else?

    I'm just curious as to why you've chosen to write under different pseudonyms. Were there any other reasons for your decision other than the apparent genre-jumps?

    I never chose to write under all these pseudonyms; I was told that I had to by my agent, who was told that by various publishers. Since I never use my real name, and I wanted to be published more than I wanted to cling to my original pseudonym, I went along with it. It's mostly worked in my favor, so I won't complain.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous12:48 PM

    At one point in time I remember you saying that you wrote StarDoc to the song "Love Is a Battlefeild" by Pat Benatar.

    My question then, since I'm of a curious breed, is do you write all of your novels to songs? If so, and if you don't have any qualms against sharing, what are some other songs that you've written novels to?

    Thanks!
    ~Briana N.

    ReplyDelete
  9. No question except to say I'm still very impatiently waiting on news about Stardoc.

    Wonder if your editor takes bribes. I need more Stardoc books. I'm going into withdrawal.

    ReplyDelete
  10. In your reply to Lisa, you wrote "my agent knew what she was getting into with me from day one."
    I'm wondering if you shared your opnions on self-promotion with her from the beginning or did that even matter to her?

    Yes, I'm mired in the black hole of "Should I be doing all that promotional stuff I don't want to do?" again.

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous2:27 PM

    I've never posted a question here before, but here goes.

    I'd be interested what you (and other writers who post here) do to deal with your inner critic/editor while you're cranking away on a first draft. Mine refuses to shut up, and has kept me away from the keyboard for too long now.

    Thanks,
    J.

    ReplyDelete
  12. T. wrote: Hope everything is continuing to improve with your dad...I keep thinking of your personal situation and I admire your ability to perservere.

    Thanks. Dad is home now, and is planning to make his first official outing to attend Easter service at church. He's inspired a lot of people, including me, with how determined he is to get back to living a normal life.

    My question is this -- I am pregnant with my third child (the older two are preschoolers), and while I'm happy about it, I'm afraid for my writing. My career is humming along nicely and I would hate to lose my momentum now. Any advice for a pregnant cheetah? :)

    I wrote my first five published novels while I was pregnant, nursing, potty training and home schooling, so I can definitely sympathize.

    Think about scheduling your writing time the way we do meals when we're pregnant: go for small and frequent. You probably can't manage a four to six hour straight writing session every day now, so break it up: wake up early and write for an hour before the kids get up, write during nap time, after they go to bed, or when a family member can take them off your hands. Some writers I know hire a babysitter/mother's helper to come in and care for the kids while they're writing, too.

    If you need to do some research reading, take books along with you to doctor's appts or read while the kids are playing in the yard (if this can be done safely.) Put research books, notebooks and pens in every room of the house; you would not believe how many synopses I've written mainly while I've been soaking in the bathtub or everyone else is watching a television program. I also kept a notebook in my purse and wrote up ideas while I was waiting in line at the grocery store, and a voice recorder in the car to dictate notes to myself.

    Set reasonable goals for yourself, and if they're not working out, reset them until you're producing at a consistent level every day. It's no use piling up a ton of writing work on yourself and then feeling frustrated because you can't make your goals; you'll end up blocked or writing crap. My kids really trained me to write faster because I had to write for shorter periods of time (usually when the kids were down for a nap.) I knew I didn't have all day to get something done, so when my kids were sleeping I used every second to write instead of backtracking and rewriting and fiddling with the WIP.

    Ask your spouse and family to help you create more writing time by taking over some of the housework or running errands. If you have friends in the neighborhood with children who are the same age, talk about swapping the kids for play days (this is when you take her kids for an afternoon, and then she takes yours on another day.) The kids and family should come first, but that doesn't mean you and your writing come in at #999. If someone questions it (and they always do), remind them that your income helps provide for your children as much as your caregiving, and putting away a little of that income may someday provide the means for your children to go to college, buy a house, start a business, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Briana wrote: At one point in time I remember you saying that you wrote StarDoc to the song "Love Is a Battlefeild" by Pat Benatar.

    Yep. I can still see every scene in StarDoc in my head when I hear the song, too. :)

    My question then, since I'm of a curious breed, is do you write all of your novels to songs?

    99.9% do have a theme song, and half of those have other, additional songs that I use to help me visualize a character or scene.

    If so, and if you don't have any qualms against sharing, what are some other songs that you've written novels to?

    God, you won't be able to shut me up now.

    Music helps me so much with visualizing a story. Probably the most visual was the song that inspired Blade Dancer: Reel Around the Sun, one of Bill Whelan's compositions for Riverdance (you have to imagine the sound of tapping heels as swords clashing, the way I did the first time I heard it.)

    Other recent imagination kickstarters:

    Evermore: Cold (But I'm Still Here) by Evans Blue -- this song just grabbed me by the throat and wouldn't let go. I found a bootleg copy of the album on the side of the road while I was out walking the pup.

    Dark Need: Where Do I Hide by Nickelback -- This Canadian band has inspired me to no end; I actually dedicated Night Lost to them after two more of their songs got me jumpstarted on that book. This one is really Lucan's character song, but also I saw a lot of scenes from the novel while listening to it.

    Rebel Ice: Desert Rose by Sting -- one of the most mysterious, lovely songs I've heard. I have another story waiting to be written, completely different from RI, that also came from hearing it.

    Swan Fire: Where Do I Stab Myself In The Ears by Hawthorne Heights -- a friend sent me the soundtrack for Underworld Revolution before I had the chance to see the movie, and this track inspired the central idea for the novel. Very raw and powerful stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Shiloh wrote: No question except to say I'm still very impatiently waiting on news about Stardoc.

    You and me both, lady.

    Wonder if your editor takes bribes. I need more Stardoc books. I'm going into withdrawal.

    She's not the bribe-taking type. :)I'm working on a StarDoc e-book novella as a freebie giveaway for this summer, so that may help.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Darlene wrote: In your reply to Lisa, you wrote "my agent knew what she was getting into with me from day one."
    I'm wondering if you shared your opnions on self-promotion with her from the beginning or did that even matter to her?


    In the first year I ran ideas by her, and she was supportive and encouraging, but I didn't do all that much self-promo. When I got into having Metro design the Darkyn web site, I asked her to look at some prelim workups and to tell me which one she liked best. It's mostly been me asking "This okay?" kind of stuff.

    Yes, I'm mired in the black hole of "Should I be doing all that promotional stuff I don't want to do?" again.

    I'm tired of self-promo, personally. It's exhausting trying to think of ways I can be perky about the work. I'm just not that freaking perky.

    I stick to giving away copies and what I do here. I'd like to develop reader Wednesday to be more of a reader resource, not only for news, self-promo and freebies involved with my books but with other authors', too. Then I don't feel so slimey.

    Self-promo should be fun, not a pain. Someday I'm going to figure out how to do that without using C-4.

    ReplyDelete
  16. J. wrote: I'd be interested what you (and other writers who post here) do to deal with your inner critic/editor while you're cranking away on a first draft.

    I kick that bitch out of my head when I'm writing and keep her locked out until I'm ready to do the daily edit. Then I put her on a short choke-chain and just let her handle the technical errors. She's only allowed off the leash when the manuscript is finished.

    Mine refuses to shut up, and has kept me away from the keyboard for too long now.

    I had the negative cheerleader internal editor once, too. She shook her black pom-poms every time I gave up trying to write and spent the rest of the day telling me what a loser I was. Finally I agreed with her -- yes, I was a loser, yes, I wrote nothing but crap, yes, I'd never get published but I was still sitting down and writing it anyway. Agreeing with her shut her up long enough for me to get a couple of books under my belt. Then she saw all those lovely stacks of paper and started whining about how she could make them better, and we worked things out from there.

    I can't stand my internal editor. If she were a real person and I met her, I'd deck her. I even imagine her to look like this one horrible woman I had to work with for years who drove me right up the wall. But IE has her uses, and knows she will get her chance to rip my head off when I'm done.

    If you can't have that sort of insane relationship with yourself, I'd suggest separating your writing and editing into two different times. When you're writing, just write. When you're done, take a break if you can. Then after the break, edit.



    Thanks,

    ReplyDelete
  17. Anonymous7:18 PM

    Hello again PBW --

    What amazing advice -- useful whether one is gestating or not!
    I printed it out and will tape it to my computer tonite :)

    Thanks so much
    -T (who is settling down to write now that the little monkeys are in bed...)

    ReplyDelete
  18. I just wanted to thank you for picking me for your book drawing. I've been bragging about it all evening long :o).
    Ann

    ReplyDelete
  19. Some writers I know hire a babysitter/mother's helper to come in and care for the kids while they're writing, too.

    My kids still go to a sitter, even though I write full time. It's a job, just like any other and considering I have an 8 year old, a five year year and a 10 month old, there's no way I could get as much done if I didn't send them their sitter. Besides, she's very attached. ;p I'd be lost without her.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Ann wrote: I just wanted to thank you for picking me for your book drawing.

    You're very welcome, although technically my daughter should get the thanks because she drew your name out of the magic giveaway hat. :)

    Shiloh wrote: My kids still go to a sitter, even though I write full time. It's a job, just like any other and considering I have an 8 year old, a five year year and a 10 month old, there's no way I could get as much done if I didn't send them their sitter.

    There you go. I wish we could change the general perception by most non-writers that writing isn't a real job. I hear that way too often.

    ReplyDelete