Sign up here to get info on new releases and giveaways!

Archive for the ‘The Writing Life’ Category

In the BAG



FINISHED all line edits today. FINISHED. NO, REALLY.

I WILL NOT do any more edits on this book until or unless asked to do so by an editor or agent.


Now I’m going back to writing Black Desert full time. And outlining Big Genocidal Family Saga Epic (with female guerrilla fighters).


And So

If I declare myself and business and report my writing income ($4500), then I owe $1221.

If I don’t declare myself a busines and report my writing income ($4500), then I owe $421.

This probably wouldn’t have happened if I’d kept all of my con reciepts.

EDIT: Final Federal taxes owed: $553

Yeah, right!

I wonder if I have anything left on any of my credit cards?

What Keeps Me Up At Night

“God’s War is a 97,000 word fantasy novel of faith, blood, betrayal and submission played out in the contaminated deserts of Nasheen, a matriarchal state engaged in a centuries-old holy war with polygamous Chenja.”

Hm, no, that’s not right.

I typed: Polygamous.

No, that means multiple partners of either sex. What’s more than one wife?

Poly something. Poly… poly… poly…

::looks it up in actual paper dictionary next to desk:::

Yes, see, that’s multiple spouses, not multiple wives.

And… Polyandry. That’s more than one husband.


OK, can’t get distracted.

::looks through poly- words:::

Aha. Here it is.

OK, polygyny.


That’s more than one husband. Yes, says so right here. OK, so that would be:


:::types::: P-O-L-Y-G-Y-N-O-U-S




Word doesn’t recognize this word.

Is this the right word?

Spell it again.

:::types::: P-O-L-Y-G-Y-N-O-U-S

Yes, it says so right here.

Why does Word recognize POLYGAMOUS but not POLYGYNOUS?

Is my dictionary on crack? (possible)

Is Word broken? (probable)

This is the exciting writing life we all dream of.

Mmmmm Query Letters

The only thing I hate drafting more than query letters are synopses.

That’s going to be next.

And I just printed out GW AGAIN so I can go through ANOTHER round of line edits.

I hacked and combined several chapters during the last pass, and I need to make sure those run smoothly. I’ve also got pages and pages of detail notes that I’d like to go back and put into the narrative. They look like minor things: details about school, religion, the literal world building of Nyx’s planet from a rock into something more or less habitable, but they’re the sorts of details that make a so-so novel a memorable one.

Gee, it’s like writing is actual work or something.

I hate that.

Why Positive Feedback Matters

In general, I’m a fan of brutal critiques. I don’t need anybody pussy-footing around my ego. If I’ve written a shit story, I need to know it was a shit story.

The reverse of that, however, is that if I’ve written a good story, I need to know it was a good story.

This may come as a surprise. Afterall, if you write a brilliant story, you just know it, right? You realize your utter genius and thrust it into the mail and make tons of money and win shiny awards and sell the movie rights, right?

No, not really.

I rarely know if what I’m writing is any good. I secretly hope it is. But I rarely, if ever, know.

Sure, there have been some short stories I liked just as they were. I didn’t ask for feedback because I knew I could sell them as-is. And I’ve sold stories I got feedback on of the “you’ll never sell this as-is sort.” I’ve also not sold stories that me and my critiquers thought were great.

That’s how it goes.

But when I’m working on projects that take years, that I look at all the time, I have to have outside feedback. I need to have a handful of very different voices telling me how what I’m doing is coming across, because if I’m ridiculous, I need to know I’m ridiculous. If I’m spending years on something totally useless, I’d like somebody to tell me. I may end up disagreeing with them, but at least I’m prepared for that kind of feedback from the Big Bad World.

I like harsh, constructive, detailed critiques for the initial revision phase when I’m fixing everything that’s wrong, but once I’ve gotten 6 or 8 or 12 months into revisions, revisions that sometimes take years, some of the best feedback to have around is the glowing shit. The “this was brilliant!” shit.

For me, this was an email I got from my buddy Julian who read the first draft of GW. He absolutely loved book, and gushed about it, and every time I felt horrible and defeated tonight, I thought about that email, and I pushed through it. Because, believe me, sitting here in Dayton, OH at midnight working on this last round of line edits, it’s pretty much all I had. I’ve wanted to throw in the towel with this book at least half a dozen times tonight (not to mention how many times the last couple of months, particularly after some other critiques).

I keep thinking: “This book is shit! It’s the worst! It’s going to be horribly embarrassing! What if it IS published, and then people I know READ it, and they say, THIS IS THE WORST SHIT IN THE WORLD! And suddenly they avoid me at social functions and I have no friends and people are very polite in public but talking about my shitty book in private and OH DEAR GOD I’M GOING TO WRITE ANOTHER BOOK AND IT’S GOING TO SIT IN ANOTHER FUCKING DRAWER OH GAWD THAT’S EVEN WORSE.”

These are the things that pass through my mind at midnight in Dayton, OH.

The rest of the time, I secretly believe I’m brilliant.

But man, you know, for those Long Dark Teatimes of the Soul, like tonight, line edit pass number three on a book I technically finished in September and wanted to start marketing in February, first-draft-praise-letters are fucking priceless.

I have finished my stack of line edits. I’m going to bed, rereading the whole fucking thing tomorrow, and starting work on my synopsis and query letters.


Today’s Song, Stuck on Repeat

… while I finish the third round of GW line edits. Line edits are the worst part of the whole process for me. The big revision stuff, that’s fun. The actual writing, the revising while writing, the outlining, etc. Fine, fine.

The line edits? The round after round of line edits?

Pure torture.

A Perfect Circle – The Noose

So glad to see you well
Overcome and completely silent now
With heaven’s help
You cast your demons out
And not to pull your halo down
Around your neck and tug you off your cloud
But I’m more than just a little curious
How you’re planning to go about
Making your amends to the dead
To the dead

Recall the deeds as if
They’re all someone else’s
Atrocious stories
Now you stand reborn before us all
So glad to see you well

And not to pull your halo down
Around your neck and tug you to the ground
But I’m more than just a little curious
How you’re planning to go about
Making your amends to the dead
To the dead

With your halo slipping down
Your halo slipping
Your halo slipping down
Your halo slipping down

Your halo slipping down
I’m more than just a little curious
How you’re planning to go about
Making your amends [repeated]

Your halo slipping down
Your halo slipping down to choke you now


When I’m feeling really down about my work, I go to the bookstore downtown or down the street and I stand in front of the SF/F section. Then I open books at random and read the first few lines, the first paragraph.

98% of the time, it makes me feel a lot better.

The rest of the time, I buy the book.

Everybody wins.

Campbell Award Eligibility

Well, it looks like I’m still eligible for the Campbell award for Best New SF/F writer (2nd year of eligibility) because of the screwy rules regarding when Strange Horizons became a pro market.

For anyone interested in voting, here’s the list of eligible nominees.

SO VOTE! No pressure. 🙂

As usual, I’m a pretty small fish (I mean, Naomi Novik, Justine? Sarah Monette? And then there’s Meghan McCarron and Cherie Priest. Yea, right).

Tra la.