stay with it!

(I know I promised you posts on craft. Consider this a warm-up.)

I can’t remember who coined the phrase, me or one of my critique partners, but we complain about Project ADD. I have this problem where I get super enthusiastic about a new story and can write like a furious beast for two or three weeks—sometimes that’s enough time to churn out a workable first draft, usually it isn’t—and then my interest wanes and something new and shiny comes along. My hard drive is littered with the corpses of abandoned projects, stories that I probably thought had potential at the time but which I have no desire to finish now.

Enter NaNoWriMo. I considered not even participating this year because I’ve got so much else on my plate, but I worked out in October that I could take time out to start this new series I’ve been planning for a while and still meet my other deadlines.

I’ve been splitting November between finishing the as-yet untitled sequel to The Stars that Tremble and starting this new series. And there’s a third book calling to me.

In the sequel’s case, I’m just about done now; I only need to finish formatting the manuscript and come up with a title before I can fling it out of my inbox. It wasn’t a book that was hard to write, but it did take me a long time to work out the ending. That seems like a silly thing to say about a romance novel—they end up together, duh!—but tying up all the loose threads took some time. I’m happy with the results, though. And I’m actually sad to be leaving these characters, especially Sandy, behind, but it’s time.

In the series’s case, I had two weeks of gleeful typing, but now that I’m well into week 3, I kind of want to work on other projects. I’ve got a manuscript that I wrote over the summer but put aside to finish higher priority projects, and now it’s calling to me all, “fiiinish meeee.”

But, no, I want to at least get Book 1 of this series written. I like to let first drafts steep for a little while because the revision process goes better if I go back to them with fresh eyes. So the idea would be to finish this book, then go back to the other manuscript.

But, wow, this one has been hard. Tertiary characters from the series are talking to me. I’ve got the first three books in the series outlined, and the heroes of the other books are telling me stories. It’s been pretty hard to focus on this first book.

But a series is nothing without its first book, and the first book has to be a good one to hook the reader on the series, so I really need to stick with it and not let myself get distracted.

The thing about NaNoWriMo is that it sort of forces you to stick with it. Like, dude, I write year round, I know I can write 50,000 words in a month. That’s cake. (That’s probably actually only slightly more than my average monthly output.) What’s hard is forcing myself to stick with a story.

Like, last NaNo, I actually stopped in the middle of the month and put aside my project—a novel about a young guy who falls for his agoraphobic neighbor—to write Save the Date. I have no regrets, but that novel about the agoraphobic guy never got finished. Someday, right? It’s in the revision queue with, like, six other half-finished projects.

So I keep saying to myself that I have to write AT LEAST 50,000 words of book one of this series. It’s a contemporary series based around an LGBT amateur sports league. The guys in the first book—who have really complementary personalities, in that one is strong where the other is weak—meet when one of them joins a baseball team in this league. Me telling people I’m writing about a bunch of guys in a gay baseball league makes their faces light up, so clearly I’m on to something, even if I’m not totally confident in this first book. Yet. I will edit it later. But in order to get it done, I can’t let myself get distracted by other projects.

So that’s what I’m using NaNo for, to force myself into sticking with a project when I’m getting distracted by other projects. And hopefully, I will have a completely (very) rough draft by the end of the month, and you will see book one of the Rainbow League series on shelves some time in 2015.

coming up on the blog

I’ve been kind of a blog slacker.

When I first threw this website up, I wasn’t intending to have an official blog—this was more of a space for Kate-related news such as release dates and public appearances and the like—but I apparently cannot resist the siren call of a blinky cursor and I started blogging sort of regularly. Then I started picking Five Things to write about on Fridays as a way to get myself to actually update the blog on some kind of regular schedule. I’ve been bad about actually following up with that since the summer due to busyness—and, frankly, if I only have an hour to write some days, that hour is going to be spent on a novel and not a blog post—but I think a blog is a good outlet for some of what I want to say.

I have a lot of posts I’ve written but not posted, mostly on craft-related topics, because I keep thinking that How to Write blogs are kind of a dime a dozen, and there are plenty of blogs about craft written by smart articulate people that will teach you more than I ever could.

More to the point, a lot of writing advice is subjective. I almost said, “a lot of writing advice is bunk,” but that’s not really true. I have received and incorporated a lot of great advice over the years. I still buy and read books on craft, even. But not all writing advice is good for all writers. There are very few universals or absolute truths in creative professions. Things I like, processes that work for me, tips and tricks I employ regularly, those things might not work for you. Heck, it’s November; NaNoWriMo is one of those things that is like a godsend for some writers and completely anathema to others. So, basically, if I’m like, “Hey, you should do this thing!” you would be well within your rights to listen politely and then completely ignore everything and go do something else. That’s how it goes. We all forge our own way.

But I do try to improve and learn more all the time. My goal is for each book to be better than the last. I have some sense of my own weaknesses as a writer, so I’ve been focusing on getting better at those things. I’ve attended craft workshops and read books and I read critically all the time to try to discern why some things work but others don’t. What qualities do I consistently find in the books I truly love that are absent from my own work, and how do I fix that? That sort of thing.

But there are some things I have figured out. So I thought that, for the rest of November, I’d throw some stuff up on the blog to see if any of it sticks. You all can feel free to weigh in and discuss things. But, in the interest of sharing information and bettering ourselves as writers, I don’t want to hoard what I know, nor do I want to tell you what to do. Just… here are some things I’ve figured out about writing. Maybe you will find them helpful.

Also, it’s my blog. I’ll do what I want. 😛

So those will go up sporadically throughout the rest of the month. Stay tuned.

five things: moving right along

Another week over. Why are you speeding by so fast, 2013? Slow down!

Kate at LSFW1. I had a great time at the Liberty States Fiction Writers convention last weekend. (There’s a photo of me at the book fair.) The convention was fun and very well-organized, definitely worth the trip to New Jersey. Plus I got to hang out with some fabulous authors. (Because of the alphabet, I shared a little m/m corner of the book fair with Tere Michaels and K.A. Mitchell, who are both wonderful. And I’m definitely not just saying that!) I got to see and talk to and hang out with some old friends and I met some new people, and I’d list everyone but I’d probably space and forget someone, so suffice it to say it was good.

2. I attended a few really great workshops at LSFW. My favorite was one K.A. Mitchell did on writing characters that connect with your readers. This is something I already knew she did well, which is always a good thing in a workshop. She talked a lot about personality types and Enneagrams, which I didn’t have much familiarity with. (I bought a book on Enneagrams earlier this week to help me develop the characters in my current WIP, although it’s hard not to diagnose my friends. I’ve been following people around and being all like, “Well, clearly you’re an eight.” Um, sorry, friends.)

It’s inspiring to look at something in a different way. That’s an important takeaway from talking with other writers. A lot of people I’ve met in my travels have varied techniques for developing character, plot, and setting, and even though I don’t think all of them will work for me, I appreciate learning new ideas and techniques. The thing with writing, for me anyway, is that there’s always something new I can learn. Let’s hope I can apply some of this to the WIP.

3. So next up is RT. I’m pulling together everything for that now, including last-minute book and swag ordering. I’m a little intimidated by the size of this convention, but I’m excited, too. Although, actually, the Rainbow Book Fair in New York is the next thing on my public-appearance agenda, but that’s one day and doesn’t involve travel so it feels a little less overwhelming, I guess. That’s on April 13th.

4. In non-convention news, I’ve been busy with my day job and revising The Stars that Tremble. Both things are going well, but I’m having one of those weeks that has been so intense and busy that I am quite looking forward to being able to sleep in Saturday.

5. And it’s still winter. Boo. There were snow flurries in New Jersey on Saturday. It snowed here in Brooklyn earlier this week. There were snow flurries today. Um, hullo, universe? It’s spring now. Catch up.

creativity vs. commerce

I don’t tend to write a lot about craft because I’m fully aware that what works for me as a writer probably won’t work for you. (It very likely won’t, actually; my process is a little weird.) But in an effort to update the blog more than once a week, I wanted to share this revelation I had over the weekend.

I’ve been feeling a little stymied creatively lately. Several things keep happening. I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself to just get another book done already. (Now that I think about it, the last novel I finished a first draft of was Out in the Field, which was completed about a year ago. I actually wrote the first drafts of Four Corners and Show and Tell in 2011.) Anyway, I’ve been really struggling with where I should focus my energies, and that has resulted in a somewhat crippling lack of focus; I keep starting new projects without finishing them.

(Novel-length projects, I should clarify. I’ve written a handful of shorts and a novella in the last eight months.)

And then I hated everything I wrote for a while. My writing had lost some of its charm. I wrote a story last September that I liked for its plot, setting, and characters, but I thought the prose was too spare and the sentence structure too choppy. I even had one beta say of something I wrote that it didn’t sound like my voice.

What is happening?

I think a lot of it was the pressure I was putting on myself and the panic of seeing 2013 laid out before me with a whole lot of nothing on the pub schedule, and then I think the writing process became more about Getting It Done than anything else, which kind of took away my enjoyment, which in turn made the writing not so great, and so on.

I had a self-imposed deadline of mid-March, but last week, I made the decision to let that go. Getting It Done was much less important than Writing a Good Novel. So, if it takes me the next six months to finish a book and make it good, so be it. It seems arbitrary, but that decision was freeing in a lot of ways.

Look, I’m all for setting goals. Goals are good. Goals keep us on track, goals help us plan ahead. But I think the lesson here is that churning out a book just for the sake of churning it out is not a good strategy for me. I have to feel passionate about a project in order to write it well, and if I’m more preoccupied with the deadline than the story, well, you can guess how that goes. (And as someone who periodically suffers from pretty intense anxiety, I am always going to be preoccupied with deadlines if they exist. It’s why I don’t think I will be selling stories on spec much anymore.)

Which brings me to my current project. I’m getting back to basics and writing a m/m contemporary set in New York. (I just got tagged to do another Next Best Thing post, so I’ll talk about the story more next week, but the gist is that it’s an opposites-attract romance.) I wrote the first 30,000 words in late December/early January and then promptly got stuck. The key issue was that there just wasn’t enough conflict. The characters met, they had some romance and hot sex, and then any impediment I threw at them seemed stupid and easily resolved. So, I got my writers group involved and handed them the first four chapters. They had a number of really good suggestions, particularly for how to introduce more conflict.

I spent a good chunk of this past holiday weekend working on the story. And, honestly, for the first time in a while, working on it felt more like crafting a story and less like churning out words. One of the characters is an opera singer, so I made a playlist of my favorite arias. (Listening to a lot of opera will make everything seem more dramatic.) I introduced a new character and moved some scenes around. I did some research. I wrote about 6,000 new words. I am so in the heads of these characters that I know them well now. And it all felt really good in the way writing hasn’t in a while.

So here’s hoping I don’t get in my own way again.

I think it’s one of the problems of being a working writer. What we’re told—and what I’ve seen in my own royalty statements—is that putting out books at regular intervals keeps readers interested. But how quickly will my readers drop off if I start putting out crappy books?

Like, the other night, I was having a conversation with someone in which the question was posed: What if you had written 50 Shades? I joked that I could retire. But my friend pointed out that I wouldn’t be okay with having written a book that was so critically reviled (I’d never forgive myself for putting out a book I knew was sub-par) and, more to the point, if I made all that money, I could stop writing, but would I want to? No, absolutely not. Writing is super important to me, it’s how I stay sane sometimes, it’s a creative outlet, it’s the thing I’d like to be doing most days. I wake up thinking about my stories and go to bed thinking about them. I would be incomplete if I gave it up.

But then commerce gets involved. Writing is a creative outlet but it’s also a business. I want to write full time, and therefore I need to sell enough books to sustain that. Then again, I think there’s something to be said for making your next book as spectacular as it can be, and I certainly aim for that whenever I’m working on a new project. Out in the Field did pretty well, I think in large part because of word-of-mouth more than anything I did beyond writing the best book I could.

So it’s a fine line. But for the sake of this project, I’m going to concentrate on writing a good story for a while. I’ll worry about the rest later.

the promised discussion question: research!

I mentioned in my Five Things post that I had a discussion question this week.

Did I mention that I’ve decided to write a Regency? Just, like, to do it? I wrote the first 10,000 words without having done much research at all, so over the weekend I decided to rectify that. I’m the sort of obsessive nerd who will now hoard information on England and the Regency like I’m a squirrel hoarding acorns for the winter, and I’m taking this as my incentive to finally finish reading that book on homosexuality in 19th Century Europe.

Because I am extremely fortunate, I’ve been able to talk to a number of prominent historical romance authors about this, and when you ask the, “How much research do I need to do?” question, you get a pretty wide range of answers. One author told me she checks the origin of nearly every word she uses in the Oxford English Dictionary to make sure her language is correct for the time. A few authors I’ve talked to just like to research because it’s fun or have degrees in related fields. Other authors have said that modern readers mostly just want things that feel historical, so if you’ve read enough historical romances, you probably will get what you need.

That last thing may be true, but for my own writing, I disagree. For example, I recently read a Regency in which something happened or a character said something that I knew (because I’ve been researching) to be demonstrably false. I guess it’s easy enough to read a Regency as taking place in a sort of magical fantasy land, which was how I got through and ultimately enjoyed the book, but when the first stirrings of that plot arc got going, it pulled me right out of the story.

What I personally think is interesting about the Regency era is that this was one of those eras when glitz and glamor and the pomp of the upper classes were actually masking some serious societal problems—horrifying poverty in London, for example. It’s a lot like the Gilded Age or the Jazz Age in America. Or now, even; the peerage in a Regency novel is basically the 1%, right? The seedier elements of society are so often glossed over in traditional Regencies because readers want the fantasy of dancing with a duke at a ball.

I had a really interesting discussion at a reading I went to on Wednesday about why there aren’t more American historical romances given that the largest audience for these books is American. She said she was working on a book that took place in the antebellum American South, and the road block she kept running up against was how to deal with race.

I don’t know why, but this had never really occurred to me before. Probably because it would never occur to me to write a historical novel set in the American South. But this woman I talked to was absolutely right—you can’t ignore or directly address the issues of race in the 19th century without pissing off some contingent of readers.

This got me thinking about how, in some ways, gay romance writers can push the boundaries more. I’ve read gay historicals that explore prostitution and opium addiction and excessive drinking and other less glamorous parts of 19th century life in England. I’ve read at least one m/m romance in which a white man had a relationship with a slave. I’m guessing this is because gay romance is already pushing the boundaries, so why not just keep pushing?

Anyway, I’m just curious. I’m not asking if research is important, but more for y’all to discuss the tension between historical accuracy and the fantasy world of a romance novel. This could be anything from ignoring the economics of an era to having characters who bathe regularly. Discuss!

Miss Mary Sunshine

I’m generally an upbeat, positive person. Glass half-full and all that. I get angry and upset and have strong opinions about things, but at the end of the day, I try to see the bright side, the silver lining, try to end the day with a smile. So sometimes I think about commenting on whatever controversies are wending their ways through the Internet, but usually opt not to, both because I’d rather not wade into it and because I’d rather see the happier side of things.

I had the flu last week. I think I got hit with “con crud” from a weekend spent in close quarters with a lot of people plus my body sort of just shut down after a long period of stress and not enough sleep. I didn’t get out of bed for two days, for some taste of the severity of it. I consequently literally slept through all of last week’s Internet kerfuffles, and I think I’m probably better for it. Whenever some fight breaks out in the m/m community, I always feel disheartened and upset, mostly because the Mary Sunshine part of my personality asserts itself and says, “Stop fighting! We’re much better together!”

So, positive things! I got to meet Suzanne Brockmann this past weekend. I’ll just say it: she’s one of my idols. I love the Troubleshooters series; so much of it just works for me: her voice, the tightly-wove suspense, the complex plots, the interesting cast, the willingness to wade into political issues. (Also, my friends can tell you all about my fascination with sailors. Fleet Week is like Christmas for me. You put a hot guy in a crisp white uniform and… hello.) I think Brockmann is actually sort of inadvertently responsible for my getting into this biz at all; I read Hot Target shortly before I discovered m/m proper and was so excited to read about gay characters that I wanted more books with them and started writing my own.

At the time, I don’t think I really appreciated how revolutionary putting a gay pairing in a mainstream romance series was as an act. I was too busy enjoying the books on their own merits—the way that Jules and Robin’s arc is drawn out over several books is delicious, and when they finally get their HEA, you want to scream in triumph, it’s so good. (Not to gush, but…)

Anyway! Brockmann (or “Suz,” she told me I could call her Suz) was at a bookstore on Saturday, so I shored myself up with cold meds and went to see her. I was, needless to say, very excited. Happily, Suz is fun and friendly and enthusiastic in person. And we got to chat some about the Rainbow Romance Writers (of which we are both members) and gay romance and gay rights and so on.

We talked some about gay romance going mainstream. Suz is the author of a couple of m/m shorts that take place in the Troubleshooters universe, plus there’s the whole Robin/Jules arc in the books, and her new series, while primarily a het series, has a gay subplot. (I may have more to say to that later; I’m about 100 pages into Born to Darkness.) But that’s one of the things that Rainbow Romance Writers is doing—we want to take gay romance mainstream. We want it to be commercially available to everyone, we want to reach readers who don’t know m/m romance is a thing, we want to see our books in bookstores alongside all of the other romance on the shelves.

I think it’s an exciting time to be a writer in that way, because I feel like we’re really on the verge of something, of breaking through in a bigger way.

So it’s exciting to me that Suzanne Brockmann has a m/m ebook short coming out this summer. (I just read the story last night, actually, because I got a print copy on Saturday. It’s a Jules/Robin story that may or may not make sense without the context of the series, but it’s a really sweet addition to their story. And When Tony Met Adam came out a year ago, of course. That’s more of a standalone because Tony and Adam are relatively minor characters in the larger Troubleshooters universe.) She pointed out that the book will be published by Random House, which is kind of a Big Deal.

I believe this is important, not just from a sales POV, but because I’ve heard from readers who are excited to see gay lives portrayed positively and with happy endings in fiction, and, you know, love is love. It deserves a place in bookstores just as surely as het romances do.

I saw Suz again on Monday at Lady Jane’s Salon (that NYC’s romance reading series). There was a huge crowd, and, I would say, some enthusiasm for the m/m pairings in Suz’s books. So that’s a great thing to see. (The other readers on Monday were also so much fun that I bought their books as well. Everybody wins!)

So there’s your look-to-the-future, happy optimistic moment for the day!

Also! Be sure to check out this week’s Beat Your Winter Blues, in which I and some other authors talk about our favorite winter movies.

not the end of the world

A few things to report:

1. Dreamspinner has a Goodreads group, and they’re looking for people to join. Tell your friends!

2. Speaking of Dreamspinner, I signed a new contract with them yesterday for an m/m contemporary novel due out this summer. I’ve been working on this particular novel for three years and I’m PSYCHED it’s finally making its way into the world. More on that once the ball gets rolling.

3. The hard drive in my beloved MacBook met its fate this weekend. The guy at the Apple Store Genius Bar could not have been more awesome, but there was ultimately nothing we could do. I have a shiny new hard drive now. Luckily, I have a somewhat recent system backup, but I ultimately lost a few weeks of work. It was upsetting, but I spent a big chunk of yesterday piecing together what I had and messing around with the new version of Scrivener (which I hadn’t had much chance to do since I bought the upgrade). (Why yes I am kind of a Mac nerd. How could you tell?)

It’s funny; I think computer issues are up there with 21st century writer’s greatest anxieties, and I was really devastated to have lost some of the work I’ve done recently, but you know, in the grand scheme of things? It’s not that big of a deal. I mean, I can rebuild it. (We have the technology.)

4. Just a reminder, if you’re in the New York City area, come by the Rainbow Book Fair this Saturday. I’ll be there with a bunch of other Dreamspinner authors. Details on the events page.


I’m a creature of routine, but it’s fun to shuffle things up sometimes. I’m currently in the process of converting the spare room in my apartment into an office. The main goal is to have it be a room in which I want to write. I find that a writing space has to be Just Right for me to be able to do anything effectively.

Coincidentally, Victor J. Banis wrote a post at Jessewave earlier this week about shutting out the outside world to beat writers block. As I commented in the post, I actually do a fair amount of my writing in cafes. The reasons are two-fold: 1) I have a terrible time focusing on only one thing at a time and my mind is often all over the place, so I can concentrate on one task (writing, for example) if there is stuff going on around me that part of my brain can work to tune out; 2) I have found that my apartment is not that conducive to being productive. Until a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t have a designated writing space. I can write while lounging on my couch if I make myself, but I find my mind wanders. Generally, sitting at a desk (or a table in a cafe) in a real chair helps me concentrate on the task at hand. Also, cafes have coffee and pastries.

So, when I started thinking about how to make my “office” an effective space, I thought, well, I could try to re-create a cafe environment, only without all the people. So: coffee and pastries, check! I just bought a French press, and it serves this purpose pretty well. (I like my coffee strong enough to punch me in the face.) Moving the desk so that it faces the window gives me something to look at while I’m sitting at the desk, although, as you can see, I mostly only have a view of the big apartment building across the street.

I’m having a shut-in weekend. I have three days in which I don’t have plans and don’t have to go to the office, so I figured I’d have a few marathon writing sessions in my new office. It’s going pretty well so far. I mean, I’m still easily distracted—I took a break yesterday to read an entire novella; I keep finding music on my computer that I forgot I downloaded; oh, hey, is that Legally Blonde on TV?—but I’m getting a lot done. So it’s a good space.

if nothing else, I am a huge dork

Elisa posted an interview with Ryan Field that I thought was kind of interesting (and a good test of my Italian skills; that is one of my secret talents). Here, I will translate for you (this is the second question):

What kind of readers are you addressing? Those who believe that sex and love are inseparable. And I think that readers are always looking for this union. I also consider that readers are looking for novels with a happy ending that raises them from the stress of real life. Reading a novel, regardless of genre, must help them escape their problems. And from the letters I get, it seems to me that readers are eager to escape reality.

(Italian is not my first language, obviously, so apologies if I goofed anywhere.)

I’ve been thinking a lot the last few days about my own expectations as a reader and why I like romance novels and what I want out of them and so on. I do like realistic, slice-of-life sorts of novels. I like fantasy, too. For example, I just read Jungle Heat by Bonnie Dee. I had some niggles in terms of things I didn’t think were quite realistic, but I really enjoyed the book as a fantasy, insofar as my thinking was, “I’m not sure this could have happened, but wouldn’t it have been cool if it did?” That’s maybe the crux of historical or speculative fiction. I’ve been thinking about that a lot in the stuff I’ve been writing lately, which has definitely been more on the fantastical end of the spectrum. I don’t really know if ghosts exist, but what if they did? How cool would it be if someone had lived through hundreds of years of human history? If someone from 1850 were plunked into 2010, what would they think of all this? Pros, cons, bad, good, what would happen? These are things I think about when contemplating what worlds and ideas I could explore as a writer.

Romance is a different kind of fantasy, though, often “realistic” in that there are characters who live in our world, characters that make mistakes and have mundane jobs and are mostly like us. But romances also take us to world where everyone has a true love and lives happily ever after. Where we get into the heads of characters who lead different lives than we do, characters for whom good things happen. And maybe, as Ryan Field says in the article, part of the fantasy of erotic romance is that sex and love are the same, that one is borne of the other or is an expression of the other or both. Maybe part of the fantasy of romance is that we read these novels and think, “Life could be this way.”

I’ll tell you what my fantasy is: for the sun to break through the thunderstorm currently raging outside my window, and for a good night’s sleep after almost two weeks of travel (I spent the weekend traveling around New England with my family). Actually, if the orange glow on the buildings across the street from my living room window means anything, it’s that my first wish is coming true. Sleep next!

back from vacation; never say never

I came back from Florida with a burn/tan, and was feeling relaxed enough that it’s been tricky getting back into the groove of my life this week. It’s funny; in some ways, I just fall back into routine because it’s… routine. But it took some self-cajoling to get back to writing after basically taking a week off.

Although, I did some thinking about Noah. I set that novel in Tampa primarily because it was a city in Florida with which I was familiar. I have a friend who lives there, I’ve visited a few times, I knew there was a decent-sized gay community in St. Pete. Last week, I spent time in South Florida and the Keys in an honest-to-God resort just like the one Noah spent most of In Hot Pursuit in with friends (two other women and a gay man). It was sort of interesting to examine that experience in the wake of my recently-published novel, picking apart things I got right in my novel and things I might have done a little differently (mostly, if I had it to do over, I might have included more details about the setting). My vacation involved spending a lot of time on the beach (and getting roasted by the sun while I read romance novels, natch) with the occasional foray into various nearby cities. We even stopped in a gay bar in Key West that reminded me a little of Shanley’s from my novel.

One thing I really love to see in a novel I’m reading is a setting well rendered. I’m in awe of writers who make that setting another character, or who draw it so well that it feels like you’re there. That’s one thing I’m working on, to make my setting more fully realized.

I’m trying some new things now. I think I’m constantly developing as a writer, meaning both that I’m trying to become a better writer in terms of craft and also that I’m willing to take on different genres and topics as I go. When I first started writing seriously, I wrote a lot of thinly-veiled autobiographical stories, but I find that, as I develop as a writer, exploring completely different characters and experiences and worlds is increasingly appealing. I’ve gone from not having any particular desire to wade into the paranormal/fantasy arena to the last couple of months starting to write speculative fiction for the first time ever. And it’s a great amount of fun! Who knew?

I think the lesson is just to be open to everything. I have in the last year or so read and written things I don’t think I would have gotten anywhere near five years ago, but as I develop as a writer, I want to try new things, explore new worlds, do what I can to develop as a writer.

And I have all new respect for spec fic writers who do it well. I mean, on the one hand, you get to make shit up, but on the other hand, you have to make shit up! In some ways, it’s easier to set novels in the real world (especially if you, like me, set the majority of your stories in the city where you live) and you could make the argument that writing fantasy means you don’t have to research, but you DO have to build your world. And that’s a real stretch of one’s creative power.

Anyway, these are just some things I’ve been thinking about. I’m traveling a lot the rest of this month, so I’m a little nervous about squeezing in time to write, but I’m really enjoying the WIPs I have going right now, and that’s kind of half the battle right there.