Advice for Beginners

With the immediate outcry for a physical version of Advice for Beginners, I’ve decided to go for it!  If you’d like to preorder a copy of Advice for Beginners, or just to support the campaign, head on over to Indiegogo to make your pledge!

Choose between just the book, just the swag, a bit of both, even original art from the book.  The final book will feature revamped art and a new cover.  And we have a lovely stretch goals chart.  With baby feet!

feetSo come visit the Advice for Beginners campaign page.  Let’s make this happen!

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Blogiversary Dos!

Tomorrow marks two years since I started up this blog!  Huzzah!

People seemed to enjoy the Choose Your Own Adventure story I posted last year, but I decided to try something a little different this time.  Now that this blog is a hale and hearty two years old, it feels like it’s got important things to say.  Much like every other sassy toddler does.  Made me wonder what other things sassy children might be saying to their less experienced counterparts.

And so to celebrate the wisdom of the young, and the upcoming arrival of my alpha reader M. Elizabeth Tait’s little bundle, I give you Advice for Beginners.  <– Click for full sagacity!

Advice for BeginnersHappy anniversary!  I hope to be around for many more years, offering you goofy, pompous, and bizarre advice!  Happy writing!

Doom

Guess what I just realized yesterday.

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That’s right!  I realized that life as I know it is about to end!  Coming back to blogging after a month and a half off with baby was going to be difficult.  As would be getting back into writing with NaNoWriMo.  I just failed to ever look at a calendar and realize they would be happening at the exact same time.  I am doomed. 😦

How to Sucker Punch Your Muse

Look at that lazy thing. Is she- is she eating an apple? Seriously, PICK UP THE LYRE AND INSPIRE ME.

Look at that lazy thing. Is she- is she eating an apple? Seriously, PICK UP THE LYRE AND INSPIRE ME.

Muses are fickle creatures. My own muse is a flighty, skittish night-owl with a proclivity toward anti-social behaviors who delights in flinging plot bunnies at me when I’m elbow deep in baby poop and haven’t eaten in fourteen hours. She’s awfully inconsiderate.

But then, that’s real life. Most writers aren’t dedicated novelists who get to work full time on their next best-seller. Most of us have other jobs and other responsibilities and a general collection of hindrances that suck away time and soul. (I love you, familyyyy!)  So what can we do to stoke the creative fire and coax the muse away from that America’s Next Top Model marathon she wants to watch?

Oh, gosh, I wish I knew.

I know I don’t have the corner market on being busy, but I have a newborn. Nothing sucker punches everything else quite like an infant. But it got me thinking. I may not be that great at summoning the muse right now, but I’m pretty sure I know some excellent techniques for shoving her in a garbage bag and into a river.

Don’t Eat Maybe you’re one of those people who can skip meals. Maybe you’re one of those people who just forgets to eat every now and then. Maybe you can go more than three hours without cramming seven hundred calories into your face. I am not one of those people. I get cranky and uncreative. I’m sure my conversations during those moments are sheer genius. I’m also pretty sure I’ve written my most horrible and violent pieces while hungry. They’re not good.

Don’t Sleep I’ve heard that new parents’ brains actually shrink from all the sleep starvation. I’ve also heard that severe prolonged sleep deprivation can cause dementia and eventual death. Not allowing prisoners to sleep is considered torture and is a war crime. So yeah. If you want to become a demented, stupid, possibly dead hunk of victim, don’t sleep. Then you’ll be so fogged over and zombified that you couldn’t hear your muse if she whacked you across the rump with a rubber chicken.  (Caffeine can get you through for a while, but seriously, get some real sleep every now and then.)

Foster Constant Distraction Honest-to-goodness, real-life inner monologue as I stared at my computer last week: ‘Man. I could use a bagel right now. Maybe I should make some. Hm. Do I have oranges? I could make orange bagels. With the little- aw, geez, Will, what is that? What is- Is that lunch? Did he spit out his lunch when I wasn’t looking? Where are the paper towels? Sigh.  Who keeps using all the- Oy. What happened in this bathroom? Bathroom. I should take a bath. When was the last time I showered? Yikes, is that smell me? Wait, where’s the baby?’ I have train-wrecks of thought like this all the time when I sit down to write. Embrace the squirrel-thought!  Don’t put in the effort to focus.  If you have the time to write, then indulge in meandering pointless wonderings instead.

Put Everything Else Ahead of Writing (Granted, some things should have higher priority than writing. I’m not going to sit down for a session of writing and leave my preschooler to play in traffic. Sure, it’d be quiet, but… yeah, no.) Most of us have some degree of flexibility in our schedules. So maybe instead of choosing to write something, I could watch several episodes of SciShow and pretend to myself that it’s research!  Elevate the nonurgent.  Wash those dirty dishes right now.  Organize the sock drawer and sift the mail.  Clean the house immediately.

Following this advice is a surefire way to keep that Grecian flake well away.  So maybe if I try doing NOT THOSE THINGS, I’ll be a little more creative. It’s worth a try. I’ll let you know how the experiment goes. In about six months.

An Inopportune Advent

So confession time: I haven’t really been solidly working on a single project since July. I’ve been piddling around with older projects, working up a buffer of blog posts (since I’ll be having a baby any ol’ time now), and… well, eating. There’s been a lot of eating. (Like, seriously, I have never felt so driving a compulsion to eat greens nonstop. Ever. I know greens are good for you, but this can’t be healthy.)

But the truth is that I’ve been actively avoiding getting enmeshed in any big new projects. Because, you know. Aforementioned baby. Starting a new manuscript two weeks before my due date didn’t seem like it would end well. (Plus I’ve been much more interested in scrubbing floors and folding laundry. Then unfolding and refolding laundry. Also can’t be healthy.) My much-adored alpha reader, however, simply cannot accept that I’m not really working on anything of note. And she’s a bully. The most perfect kind of bully.

So I dug up an old story and am now parading it around as a new one. This is a story I started working on when I was in high school, got about a quarter of the way through, and then got distracted away from by boys and movies. But I think it’s worth a revisit, now that I’m less distractible by a shiny new boy with movie tickets. (Or so my husband hopes- hi, honey!)

Without further ado, here is the (short!) prologue for Blood and Ebony in all its unedited glory. (I give you one minute to guess what fairy tale it’s based on. Extra points if you get it from the title alone, which you totally can.)

Prologue

Janithe hated winter. Bleak and cold and dark. It wouldn’t have been so bad outside, but she was trapped in her gilded tower just as surely as was any criminal in her husband’s dungeons. She hunched over her embroidery beside a fat taper candle and just knew she would be completely blind after another year or two more of this. If she didn’t die of stale air first. Her heart longed for her childhood home in the buttery warmth of southern Arinth.

She glanced back at the door. What were the odds that anyone would come to see her before supper? She may have been queen, but she was under no delusions of actual importance. Her only purpose in the royal household was to provide a royal heir, and she had failed to do so in more than five years of marriage. Her honored husband, away at war despite the brutality of the season, was the only one who placed any value on her, the only one who saw her as anything more than a failed gamble. As for the rest of them, they would be happier if she just disappeared.

Nobody was coming. So why bother with their conventions? She hugged her embroidery against her chest and dragged her chair over to the shuttered windows. They were tiny, the sort an assassin would have difficulty clambering through, but there were scores of them ranged across the outer wall of the room she shared with the king. She settled beside one and dragged back the bolt, grown stiff with disuse and ice. She allowed herself a small grin as it finally gave and then shoved the shutters out into the open sky. Cold fog billowed in, pooling around her ankles, and she settled back into the seat with a satisfied smile as pale sunshine lit the embroidery in her lap. Pale blue skies over ice-frosted forests, not a snow sprite in sight. It was beautiful. She didn’t even care that the doctors would never forgive her. Even when she obeyed them, they never fixed her anyway.

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