Balance, Bulk, and Visible

Nothing much to report. I’ve got a nobleman on the floor with an assassin and a knife, both of them outside a Queen’s door, and I’ve got to figure out what the assassin wants out of this. So that’s going to take some digging through my music library and finding his story. Of course the assassin’s got a story, and I’ve got to find it before I know what he really wants out of all this. Possibly it’s just expediency, but still, I need to know.

This is something I don’t talk about often. What a reader sees is only the tip of the iceberg. There is a massive bulk underneath that lifts it up into the visible. That bulk is what I know of the characters, their motivations, their world, their needs. The bulk is necessary, the labyrinth must be plumbed. It that huge mountain of ice and rock underneath that gives the visible its shape and depth, its internal consistency. Writing is often striking the balance between looking at that bulk and shaping the contours of the visible. Shaving little bits off here, tweaking what lies underneath so that the visible takes the shape one needs.

There’s so much more going into a book than what you see on the page. Sometimes I with the technology was available to invite the reader even further in, to give the full sensory experience I get, the sheer visceral pleasure of living in that alternate universe. Words carry the experience to you, but sometimes the limitations of the medium are so bloody frustrating. That’s why there’s a craft and an art to it, I guess.

Anyway, that’s where I am. Stuck in the heart of an iceberg, chipping away. Shivering and wiping my nose, numb fingers on the chisel…and a huge, stupid grin on my face.

See you in a bit.

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Critical Mass, The Growing Book

The current book has taken a screaming left turn into dark territory. This surprises me every time it happens. I will think I know a book, I will think I have it all planned out, either in my head or on paper (I have recently, under protest, started outlining. But that’s another blog post.) or what-have-you, and then all of a sudden…this.

The book starts behaving organically, like it is its own creature. The critical mass point is reached and as it coalesces, suddenly the book is a living thing and I am no longer solely creator but also midwife. It’s a funny thing, to have one’s brain taken over in such a manner. Even funnier to admit to it in public, despite the risk of the nice men with the white coats being called.

Anyway, the book just decided that the handwavey holes I had in the outline are of course places for thus-and-such to happen, even though I had no idea thus-and-such would fit neatly into the hole. Almost as if made for it. It’s faintly creepy, you know–my job is just to show up, and the Muse drops these custom-made pegs into these very specific holes. The fairy dust happens reliably when I do what I’m supposed to–sit down, shut up, and write.

Who’d’a’thunkit?

For extra fun and games today, here’s Chuck Wendig’s Six Signs It’s High Time To Give Up Writing.

Enjoy.

*dives back in*

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Were-Llama, WSJ’s Concern-Troll Fail, And See Me Climb

Too much to explain. Let me sum up.

* An interview with me, and a giveaway, over at CJ Redwine’s place. I am interviewed by a were-llama. Also, part 2 of the giveaway next week involves JEWELRY. Trust me, you want to be in on this.

* The Wall Street Journal went concern-trolling for pageviews again. Dame Jackie responds a lot more politely than I would have, Diane Duane hits it out of the park, the Guardian weighs in, and #YASaves hits trending. I thought of posting my own response to WSJ’s pearl-clutching idiocy, but in the end Jackie and Diane did it better than I ever could, and I don’t want to link and feed the troll more pageviews. So there it is.

* Kristen Lamb on training to be a career writer:

Athletes who compete in decathlons use a lot of different skills—speed, endurance, strength. They walk this fine balance of giving an event their all….without really giving it their all. They still must have energy left to effectively compete in the other events and outpace the competition.

We writers must learn to give it our all….without giving it our all. The better we get at balancing our duties, the more successful we will be in the long-run. Writers who fail to appreciate all this job entails won’t be around in a year or three. They are like a runner who sprints at the beginning of a marathon. They will fall by the side of the road, injured and broken.

So today when you have to squeeze in that 100 words on your break from work, think I’m training. When your kids hang off you as you write, picture that weighted sled. Play the soundtrack to Rocky if you must. (Kristen Lamb)

* Want to see me climb? We’re recording ourselves on routes so we can nitpick our performance. (By “we” I mean “me and ZenEllen, my bouldering partner.”) Here’s some from today: an inglorious failure at a bouldering route, then a second attempt where I stick the damn thing. I’ve been working this route for a few weeks now. You can also see some of my tats, and the Official Belt Of Urban Fantasy. (Long story. I had to buy one, after that.)

And now I’ve got to spend the first half of my writing day in alternate-Renaissance fantasy France, and the second half in contemporary paranormal YA. The braincramps are fun to watch–my face squinches up when I shift gears and go from one to the other. Good times, man. Good times.

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RECKONING Winner! And Other Stuff.

It’s Friday! And Ilona Andrews has pictures up from our recent Powells Pwnage. You can see me looking slightly-less-terrified, and Devon is always beautiful. Also, I promised to announce the winner of the RECKONING contest. The winner is…

Reader Heidi F. from Eichenau, Bavaria, in Germany! Heidi, I will get your prize to you as soon as possible. (She gets to read a chapter of RECKONING before anyone else in the world, aside from my agent and editor. Lucky lady!)

Thank you to everyone who entered by pre-ordering signed books from Powell’s. And thanks to all the wonderful Readers who came to the event! We had a great time.

Today is nice and sunny, and I’m due out at the track for a couple miles before long. I even got a watch that’s supposed to help me track my times, but in order for it to do so I must:

1. Remember to wear said watch
2. Hope that the battery in it doesn’t give out within the week, like every other watch I’ve tried to wear
3. Remember to check the watch while running
4. Decode what the watch says while running
5. Do basic math to figure out my speed…while running

Needless to say, I am not sanguine about this. Normally, while hauling my silly ass along at anything faster than an amble, my higher-brain functions pretty much shut down in protest. So, there it is. I’ll report back next week. If I don’t trip over my feet and hurt myself trying to check the watch. Which would be embarrassing, but not exactly surprising.

Catch you later…

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Powells Pwnage, May ’11 Edition

Holy moly, was last night intense. As usual, Peter H. and Milo and the rest of the crew at Cedar Hills Crossing Powell’s made everything run smoothly, and the crowd was amazing! (Special thanks to my inimitable writing partner, who did the driving for me.) Ilona and Gordon were Fabulous with a capital Fab, and Dame Devon was, as usual, gracious, prepared, supportive, and just all-around fantastic. I was not arrested or thrown out. Everyone wins!

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, Lili, shut up and get to the damn pictures. Okay.

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