Optimism Proceeds Apace

First, the links: there’s a giveaway of Flesh Circus over at NL Berger’s place. And here’s an opinion piece about how the Internet does not mean the death of publishing. Oh, and nuts in Texas might be affecting the textbooks your children will use. (This last one is why I’m so glad I have a great deal of information and supplementary reading for my kids just hanging around the house.)

It’s been a time of big changes here at Casa Saintcrow, and we’ve just accomplished one of the biggest. Which has required a wrenching in our personal habits–now we’re all getting up between 6 and 7 AM. This is not cool for my biorhythms, man.

I have always been a night owl. Always. Given my druthers, I’d be completely nocturnal. Unfortunately, life won’t allow that. So I’m stuck on a schedule that my entire body rebels against. It’s hell for the first half-hour or so of my day, until I can get enough coffee in to trick my flesh into believing that it should be vertical, not to mention ambulatory and thinking.

Fortunately, the Little Prince and Princess are both so excited, they adore the new schedule and are quickly falling into a routine. And getting up this early leaves me with a shoal of time in the early afternoon that’s turned quite productive. (My productivity has also been helped by a number of stressors Going Away.) So, it’s got its good things.

The “make 2010 MY year” Optimism Experiment is going full steam. I’m fitting into size 14 jeans. While this does not sound like a lot, if you’ve ever lost a significant amount of weight, you know what it feels like to hit a milestone. Which this size definitely is, for me. I have even more grounds for optimism, in that there’s been nothing so far in the past two months that I couldn’t handle. I am beginning to feel okay about things, another huge step up.

On the other hand…I think I have to ditch about 1K I wrote yesterday evening. It’s a great scene, but I think it belongs a touch later in the book. This is why having a slush file for each book is so important for me. Of all the slush piles, the one for To Hell And Back is most extensive, because I had two or three different fully-finished versions of the book. That was a lot of work. Damn.

In any case, it’s time for the treadmill now. I am feeling cautiously, faintly optimistic about this entire 2010 thing. Which is way, way better than the alternative.

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Answering Questions

The first day back from a vacation and already I’m looking at the pile of work in front of me and feeling like…oh, weeping would be an alternative, wouldn’t it? No, of course not. And besides, I worked all the way through vacation, so it’s not so bad. True, I did put some things on the docket for the first week back because, well, it was supposed to be the holidays. So, today and tomorrow are for short stories and wordcount.

Since it is the first day back, I should take this opportunity to answer a few questions. Yes, I do read all the mail my Readers send me. I can only respond via email rarely. If enough people ask a question, I answer it here or put it on the FAQ.

Let’s see:

* A few of you asked when the next Jill Kismet is out. I don’t know precisely yet. I do know that it’s in the revision process, and as soon as I have more concrete information I’ll update the site and announce it. Fear not, there are two more Jill books forthcoming.

* Many of you are intrigued by the words “Latin self-study”. It’s like juggling more chainsaws; I’ve had some luck with it but not much. More than finding a Latin class in my area that doesn’t require an hour of driving either way, that’s for sure. For those of you interested, I recommend Wheelock’s, and also Artes Latinae. Rosetta Stone also has a good program, if a bit spendy.

* Loyal reader TP recently asked this very interesting question:

Why read at readings? Yes, the name of the event answers the question but really, why is it that you, or any other author, must read passages from the book (doesn’t it get boring?)? I have always thought that reading a book is immersing oneself into a new universe but seen and heard through the filter of one’s own mind. Hearing the author reading does neither good nor ill to that universe, I just haven’t found that it adds much to it (then again, I have gone to perhaps only 4 in my life, one in which the author didn’t read but just talked to and with us). From your end, as the author, does reading passages do something for both you and your interaction with the audience that I’m missing?

The short answer: I don’t know, I do what the bookstores (who are kind enough to invite me) ask me to do.

The longer answer: I think it does add something, and I’ve been asked by fans to read a certain chapter and do a podcast. (When I get a microphone, editing software, and some time, yeah. I love you guys, but the actual writing comes first.) Yes, reading the book invites you into the universe the writer has created, you can experience it through the filter of your own mind. On the other hand, your experience of that universe can be deepened and enriched by hearing where the author places emphasis. I’ve had people tell me they came away with a new understanding after listening to me read, especially from the Valentine books. (Hearing me “channel” Japh’s sardonic, flat tone is apparently hilarious.)

Then again, I enjoy reading aloud. I’ve done it a lot and sometimes I’ll read a sentence aloud a few times to get a handle on emphasis and pace. Being taught to stop at punctuation marks and to look for the natural “breathing points” in poetry or lines delivered onstage is far from the worst experience one can have when looking for hitches in the smooth reel of the written word.

Oddly enough, the things I’m most asked at events are either spoileriffic, or about aspects of the world I’ve thought about but couldn’t cram in the books because of space considerations, or about the act of writing itself. I think a lot of people view writing as a sort of Black Arte and are looking for the turn. The actual process is fascinating. It just becomes normal when one does it every day.

Hm. Long answer is long. But I found it a very, very interesting question. I’ve fallen into doing readings because bookstores ask me to, and I’ve found I enjoy them a bit. Except for the parts where I want to pause and correct/revise something on the page. ARGH.

And that’s all that I’m fit to blog today. I have a hot date with breakfast and some coffee, since I’m up anyway. Good luck out there.

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