Last Day of 2012

This is my annual post where I sum up what happened in my professional life for the year and look ahead to what’s going to happen in 2013. I do this so I can have a handy record that I can get to in seconds. (Hence the “last day of the year” category.)

Last year was not a happy year for me so you’ll be pleased to hear that 2012 was lovely. There was some huge personal changes and they were all very very good indeed. What I’m really saying is this post contains no whingeing. Phew, eh?

Books Out This Year

This is the first since 2009 that I had a new novel out. Woot! Mine and Sarah Rees Brennan’s Team Human. The response has been truly wonderful. Starred reviews! Acclaim! Rose petals! Best of the year lists! My favourite review is this one by Thy because of the wonderful fanfic Twitter conversation between Team Human‘s main characters Mel, Cathy and Francis. It’s seriously funny.

Books Out in the Future (The Distant Future)

Note that I didn’t call this section Books out Next Year. That would be because I have nothing scheduled to be published in 2013. Sorry about that. I remember the days when I thought having only one book published a year was embarrassingly slow and was aiming to ramp it up to two a year. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

So, yeah, I only had one book out this year, and even though it was co-written, it still counts as the first novel by me since 2009. I know, I know, SO SLOW. It’s like I’ve turned into a writer of literary novels for adults. Those lazy, lazy types who think it’s fast to publish a novel every five years. My romance writer friends are deeply ashamed of me. I am deeply ashamed.

But I have been writing. This year I finished a complete draft of a new novel. It’s my first book set in Sydney since the Magic or Madness trilogy and involved oodles of research. Fun! And even though it’s at least two drafts away from being sent out to publishing houses I’m feeling good about it.

But I’m taking a break from it for the moment while I turn to another novel. The Sydney novel is intense and more complicated than I had intended. It takes place over one day. I figured that would be easy. I WAS WRONG. SO VERY WRONG.1 It was supposed to be a relaxing, easy break from the 1930s New York novel! Stupid tricksy books acting like they’re all easy and then being super insanely complicated! Grrr.

So now I need a break from the novel that was supposed to be a relaxing break from the overcomplicated and intense New York novel. If the novel I turn to winds up being more complicated than I thought and I have to start another novel to take a break from it and then that novel winds up being too tricky and I have to take a break and work on yet another novel . . . then, um, actually I have no idea what will happen. Either the world will blow up or I’ll never finish any novels ever again and starve.

Funnily enough the book I’m turning to now was also started while taking a break from the New York novel.2 It’s a middle grade I started in 2009, which involves a chaotically neutral fairy sort-of-but-not-really godmother and is set in Bologna and is wryly funny.3 (I hope.) I had a lot of fun writing it and only stopped because I had to work on Zombies versus Unicorns and then Team Human.

As for the 1930s New York novel I do keep working on it. On and off. In between all these break novels. It grows ever longer—I suspect it’s more than one novel—but it remains a long way from a finished draft, which is why I keep turning to other novels. Or something. What? Not all of us are super focussed types. And I’m not listening to your suggestion that maybe the NYC novel isn’t finished yet because I keep turning to other books. That’s just silly.

Since I started the NYC novel in 2007 I’ve begun work on five other novels, one of which is now published, Team Human, and another of which is close to finished, the Sydney novel. Not to mention writing the bulk of Liar and putting together Zombies versus Unicorns with Holly Black.

In conclusion: I am writing. A LOT! There will be new novels from me. In the future.

The RSI

I’m doing a lot better. Not only am I now a total pro at managing my pain but I found a therapy that seems to be making my arms better and not merely managing it: active release. (Here’s the wikipedia article, which points out that very few studies have been carried out. So it’s mostly anecdotal evidence thus far.) The therapy is only good for soft tissue damage. It’s early days so who knows if the improvements will keep happening but right now my arms are in the least pain they’ve been in for ages. But I’m not going to be stupid and push it. (Been there done that.)

The plan it to slowly push to writing five hours a day. So I may start blogging again more frequently. Yes, I have missed blogging. SO MUCH. Twitter is fun and easy. But it’s not the same.

The last paragraph was written more than two months ago since then I’ve been on the road for six weeks and home for two and have had the longest break from writing in a very very long time. And let me tell you: my arms feel great! So really the best things for them is for me not to write.

But that’s not going to happen.

In conclusion: I’m doing much better but I am not going to push things.

Garden Update!

The garden is still totally wonderful. The passionfruit are flowering but not fruiting I am about to commence Operation Hand Pollination. Will let you know how it goes.

Travel

Most of the year I spent happily ensconced in Sydney. And it was good. Then there was a brief trip to NYC last month where I voted in my first US election and, lo, it went how I wanted it to. Woo hoo! Well, the results did. The voting process was chaotic and insane and wow does the USA need the Australian Electoral Authority to take over and fix stuff for them, like, NOW.

Then we went to Sao Paolo and Rio in Brazil and Santiago in Chile. My love for South America grows. It’s warm when it’s supposed to be warm. None of this insane cold Christmas rubbish. The Southern Hemisphere rules, yo!

Truly Brasil, in particular, was AMAZING. I shall blog about it more in the new year. But in short our publisher, Editora Record, spoiled me and Scott rotten. Ana Lima, the executive editor, was so helpful and kind and fun to be with and we learned so much about Brazilian publishing—Editora Record has their own printing press (!)—and about Brasil. If you’re an author and you’re ever invited to Brasil. Just say yes. The fans are smart and funny and so enthusiastic. They are both legal and very fofa. See? I learnt a wee bit of Portuguese! I can’t wait to go back. Oh, and the food. How I miss the food and the caipirinhas and the cachaca. We just ran out of the bottle we brought back. Waaaah!

I hope your 2012 was as productive and fun as mine. And that your 2013 is awash with fabulosity.

Make sure you all get hold of Alaya Dawn Johnson’s new book The Summer Prince. Best YA book of 2013. Oh, and Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves which is most definitely the best adult book4 of 2013, probably of the century. You heard it here first. Both books are pure genius.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY!

  1. I may blog about what exactly is so hard about having the action confined to one day. []
  2. How To Ditch Your Fairy was also a break novel. What can I say? I’m easily distratced. []
  3. So did I use the D&D term correctly? You know what don’t tell me if I didn’t. []
  4. No, not Fifty Shades of Grey adult. Get your mind out of the gutter, people! []

Writers & Editors

Last month I got into a discussion on twitter—inspired by this Jennifer Crusie post—about the extent to which an editor can rewrite their authors. Crusie thinks NOT AT ALL and I completely agree and said so, which led to a back and forth with a good editor friend of mine, Juliet Ulman, who said she rewrites her authors. I happen to know many authors who’ve been edited by Juliet and love her editorial style1 and it became clear to me that we weren’t talking about the same thing.

There were also many folks commenting on Jennifer Crusie’s blog and on twitter who were like NO ONE CAN TOUCH A WORD OF MY WRITING EVER. And I was pretty sure that we weren’t talking about the same thing either.

What I think was going on is that we all seem to mean something different by “rewriting”. So I’m going to write about what I mean by rewriting and about how I view the writer/editor relationship.

Let me start by saying: a good editor is worth their weight in whatever substance it is that you love most.

Every single one of my published books have been rigorously edited. They have been vastly improved by working with an editor. Without all those editorial interventions they would be much, much crappier.

Editors have improved my books by pointing out where the story bogged down, pointing out things that made no sense, suggesting I cut characters/scenes/story arcs. They’ve also argued passionately to see more of particular characters and story arcs. They’ve made me expand scenes, add scenes, add chapters, strengthen characters’ story arcs. They have made me rewrite the endings of several of my books many, many times until we were both happy with it.2

Editors have improved my books in ways that I’m not even thinking of now. But they have never done it by replacing my words with their words. That is what I mean by editors not rewriting my work. Every word in every novel I’ve published is there because I wanted it to be there, because I wrote it. Or because Sarah wrote it.3

Now this does not include micro edits of the “their” for “they’re” or “there” variety. I have a tendency towards misspelling my own characters’ names as Sarah Rees Brennan can attest. While working on Team Human I kept writing Frances, when I meant to write Francis. I have to be watched like a hawke!

Nor does it include editors deleting redundant words like “just” and “really” and “actually.”4 Or supplying missing words. Sometimes I type so fast words don’t make it onto the page. Or words come out as homonyms “no” for “know.” Or more bizarrely I’ll type one word but mean an entirely different word “flirt” for “razor,” “quokka” for “effulgent.”5

This kind of editing is done not only by the editor but also by the copyeditor and the proofreader. The goal is that the final book will have no such mistakes in it. Alas and alack a book with no mistakes in it is rarely if ever achieved. Best to think of those last few typos as the flaw in the Persian carpet.

I have had a few editors write their own words as a suggestion to try and get across what they want me to do with a particular passage in a book and I have had pretty much the same reaction Jennifer Crusie described. I really hate it. Get your hideous words off my book! The horror! The horror!

But most of the editors I work with don’t do that. They’re more likely to write something like: Do you really think they would be quite this passionate given that they’ve only just met? Seems a bit quick. Rather than Alfonso should say . . . Basically I want my editors to tell and not show. Those editors I’ve worked with that do show only do it rarely. Over the years I have learned to simply not see those words. My brain looks at the suggested wording and goes: Editor no like this bit. Me fix.

I hope that’s made what I mean by “rewriting” a bit clearer. But if not please demand further explication in the comments.

However, I do not believe that every word, every phrase, every sentence I write is a precious, precious thing that cannot be fixed. I think everything can be improved. SHOULD be improved. And that working with a good editor is absolutely vital in that process. However, the editor’s role is to suggest, my job is to do.

Which is why every published novel of mine has gone through multiple drafts.

In the course of the twitter discussion Peter Mattessi requested that I “mention things like whether editors should be credited? And also your thoughts on Carver’s editor.” Peter comes from the television side of the writing world, which operates very differently from novel writing.

The process of editing one of my novels kind of goes like this:

Editor reads sends writer editorial letter which usually focus on the big picture stuff: stuff that doesn’t make sense, pacing, character likeability etc—>
I read and make changes (where I agree with them) based on editorial letter + stuff I’ve noticed that I want to fix—>editor reads this version—>
Editor writes next ed letter which is usually pushing me further with changes I’ve already made: be less subtle. As well as finer detail and more small picture stuff: this character use the word effulgent too much, why is everyone grimacing—>
I read ed. letter and make changes I agree with + other stuff I want to embettermerate6 —>
Editor reads this version and asks for further changes or passes it along to the copy editor.

It would be lovely if Peter and/or Sarah Dollard, who is also a TV writer, could write in the comments about how that’s different from what happens to produce finished TV scripts.7

To answer Peter’s questions. Yes, I actually do think editors should be credited. But they mostly are. It’s a very rare author who doesn’t thank their editor in the acknowledgements. It helps other writers figure out who they want to work with.

What am I thoughts on the relationship of Raymond Carver to his editor, Gordon Lish? I’m not really the right person to ask because I’m not a huge fan of that kind of minimalist writing. By which I mean I have never finished a Carver story. I find them unemotional, flat and unengaging. Yeah, I know, blasphemy. However, I’ve never compared the edited-by-Lish version with the pure Carver version. So I don’t know if he improved them or not.

Personally, I would loathe working with an editor like Lish. My gut reaction is that someone having their ego that tied up with someone else’s writing is more than a bit off. From the little I have read about the relationship, basically this New Yorker article, they seemed to have a pretty dysfunctional relationship. But many, many, many people love those Carvers stories so who am I to say?

It sure is an interesting relationship.8 And there are examples, though for some reason I’m failing to think of a single one, where a male writer’s work was supposedly largely written by his wife. Or at least edited by her in a Gordon Lish kind of way. Should they have gotten credit? I would think so. Lish should probably have been credited. It’s inarguable that he had a HUGE impact on those Carver stories to the level of being a near collaborator. But, on the other hand, those stories would never have existed without Carver. None of the stories Gordon Lish wrote on his own have had any where near the impact of the Carver stories.

So, um, actually I have no idea.

In conclusion: Good editors, I love them. But don’t ever agree to changes you don’t want. They are your words, own them.

  1. I had my editor submit my one adult novel to Juliet because I’d heard such good things. It didn’t work out but I mention this because I want to make it clear how much I esteem Juliet’s editorial acumen. []
  2. Endings are the hardest part. Always. []
  3. Truly we became as one while writing Team Human. Every word in that book is our word. []
  4. No, they’re not always really redundant just most of the time. Actually. []
  5. No, I don’t know why. Brains are really weird, okay? []
  6. Yes, that is too a word! Damn you, copyeditors! []
  7. In their ample spare time, I mean. []
  8. Further to what I said above: any editor worth their salt would tell me to delete this sentence because it adds nothing. They would be correct but I’m leaving it there to make this point. My blog posts are not edited, except by me, which is seriously not enough, and that’s why they’re not as well written as my books. This post is full of redundancies. There aren’t enough commas and etc. []

Team Human is Now Out Everywhere*

*If by “everywhere” I mean Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA, which, um, I do. Sorry, rest of the world.

Team Human is real! Team Human is out in the world! *bounce bounce bounce*

This morning (Australia time) we did a twitter chat about Team Human and I can’t quite believe this happened, but, well, there’s proof. Our chat #THchat trended worldwide!

How surreal is that? Thank you so much everyone for your participation and amusing questions. Yes, @colorlessblue, I promise I will add writing a bunyip book to my list.1

In other Team Human news here’s the very droll trailer:

I love the Vampires Are Wrong bloke. He has the best voice ever.

If you missed out on today’s Twitter chat you can always join a chat between me, Sarah Rees Brennan and Scott Westerfeld at Figment.com this coming Sunday evening in the USA (Monday morning in Australia).

Sunday July 8
8PM US-ET (5PM Pacific Time, 10AM Monday AUS-ET)

We’ll be discussing what it’s like to collaborate on a novel. Click here to find out more.

Oh, and Team Human was boingled today!

You can read the first chapter of Team Human here. In the USA it is available in all electronic formats. In Australia it’s available in many formats. Full details here.

Happy book birthday, Team Human! May you stay in print a really, really long time!

  1. My list of books to write is really long. I make no guarantees I will get around to it. []

Team Human as an Ebook in Australia

I’ve already had a few people ask me why Team Human is not available via iTunes. My ANZ publisher, Allen & Unwin, does not yet have any books available for sale via iTunes but they’re working on it.

In the meantime my publisher says that Team Human is available for Apple devices via the Kindle app and the Kobo app.

Or you can purchase Team Human through Booki.sh where you can buy the ebook AND support your local independent bookshop at the same time! Readers whose local indie is Gleebooks (Sydney), Readings (Melbourne), Fullers (Hobart), Mary Ryan (North NSW/Qld), Avid Reader (Brisbane), or The Turning Page (Blue Mountains) can buy Team Human via the links provided.

I hope that helps.

Day One of July Blogging Month

Well, this is exciting. A whole month of me blathering at youse. And, hopefully, youse lot blathering back at me in them there comments below.

I’m overcome with joy at the prospect. So overjoyed that I know that I said I wouldn’t blog on the weekend but this year the 1st of July is a Sunday and I couldn’t not blog on the very first day of my blogging month, now could I?

I thought I would start with some frivolity. Did you see #badwritingtips on twitter? There were some truly awesome ones. I loved Elizabeth Knox’s “Begin as many sentences as possible with a verb + ‘ing’, it makes everything so much more active.” Cracking good advice!1 You should all follow her.

Here are the bad writing tips I tweeted:

Repetition’s your friend. Really & truly repetition’s truly your friend. Repeat things or your readers really won’t remember.

Make sure you have a prologue. Make sure it’s as long as your book.

Ha, yes, @mysterysquid, a prologue is even better if it has absolutely no bearing on the book that follows it.

“Really” “you know” “actually” and “just” are the most useful and versatile words. Make sure you use them A LOT.

Don’t use specific details. Rather than describing actual smells call them “pungent” or “redolent”. Details slow the story.

It is always much better to use your precious writing time coming up with #badwritingtips than, you know, actually writing.

The last few huge bestsellers I read did all of these things.2 Seems to be the rule that to become a giant, world-wide, sell-millions-upon-millions bestseller you do, in fact, have to write in a way that the majority of the writers and readers I know would describe as “bad writing.”

The theory behind this is that for a book to sell in those insane numbers it has to be picked up by people who don’t normally read books. And that those kind of readers therefore haven’t learnt the reading protocols that frequent readers have. Thus clunky, obvious, repetitious writing works for those newer readers in ways it doesn’t for us jaded, sophisticated readers.

I suspect it’s a lot more complicated than that. Because that does not explain all the hard-core readers who read the mega-bestsellers. They can’t all be reading them to point and laugh and write side-splittingly funny one-star reviews.3

Not to mention that there are mega-bestsellers that aren’t full of this kind of “bad writing.” The Harry Potter books for instance. Especially the third one.4 For my tastes, they do get too big and insufficiently tightly edited as they go on but even then they are not full of the cringe-inducing repetition and generic descriptions of more recent bestsellers.5

Basically I don’t think we can explain how these mega-bestsellers happen. It’s kismet.

Any of youse got some entertaining crappy writing tips?

So this is the first of almost thirty posts this month. Feel free to suggest topics in the comments.

I leave you with a link to this really funny musical number about internet trolls and bullies. It’s very NSFW6 as it includes language that I know upsets many people. I loved it. My apologies to everyone who’s already watched it a million times and is now over it.

Happy July Blogging Month!

Team Human Alert: So, um, I have a new book out, Team Human, which I wrote with Sarah Rees Brennan and which publishes in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA this very week!

You can read the first chapter or take a squiz at some reviews or read about how Sarah and I wrote it together.

This week there’ll be a twitter chat where you can ask us whatever you want about Team Human organised by our US publisher, Harper Collins. It will be held on Tuesday 3 July at 6pm US East coast time. (That’s 8AM Wednesday 4 July for East Coast Australian types.) The hashtag to use is: #THchat

There’ll also be an online chat with Figment.com. Sunday 8 July 8PM US-ET (5PM Pacific Time, 10AM Monday AUS-ET) Scott Westerfeld will be me and Sarah Rees Brennan about Team Human. Mostly we’ll be discussing what it’s like to collaborate on a novel.Click here to find out how to take part.

  1. I cheated and made my gerund a modifier. Whatever. []
  2. Well, okay, not the prologue thing. []
  3. Yes, one of my favourite things in the world is reading the most popular one-star reviews of the most popular books. They are an art form! []
  4. My favourite. []
  5. Which I am not going to name. Because I don’t diss living writers. Not on the permanent record anyways. []
  6. NSFW = Not Safe For Work. Yes, I know you know that but there’s always someone who doesn’t know and is bad at google. []

More Team Human Fanart!

StreetAngel has done it again. In fact, she is producing a whole week’s worth of fanart to celebrate Team Human landing on 2-3 July.1

I am beside myself. These are so lovely and full of so many details from the books and oh! I know, I know, I am very daggy about fan art. It’s just so new for me to have any.

I have placed the art below the cut because I know some of you want no spoilers no matter how tiny. For the rest of you—feast your eyes! Continue reading

  1. Depending on whether you’re in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or the USA. I have heard rumours that some copies have already been sighted in the wild. []

July: Blogging A Lot Month (Updated)

I have decided to put this here voice recognition software to the test in the month of July by blogging every day.1 Yes, I will blog every single day of July 2012.

Tell Me What To Blog

If there’s anything you would like me to blog about please let me know! The comments are below in the manner of most blogs.2

I’ve had a few suggestions on Twitter:

@SirTessa wants me to write a complete post without correcting any of the voice recognition software mistakes. I WILL DEFINITELY DO THAT.

@WanderinDreamr wants me to write about Australian slang “the rest of the world is confused by”. My problem with that is, well, how am I supposed to know? Australian slang does not confuse me. Though I do love many of the words that are unique to these fine shores so I may just write about my favourite ones.

@ben_rosenbaum suggested I blog tongue twisters on account of the voice recognition software. I am ignoring him.

@nalohopkinson wanted me to “opine on bubble skirts”. How could I resist writing a horrors & joys of fashion post? Oh, bubble skirt, I shall SO opine about you.

I also recently got into a discussion on twitter—inspired by this Jennifer Crusie post—about the extent to which an editor can rewrite their authors. I think NOT AT ALL. Turns out that people mean different things by “rewriting”. I spluttered about on twitter in a way that I think was mostly confusing. A post is in order to clarify my thoughts. @pmattessi requested that I “mention things like whether eds should be credited? And also your thoughts on Carver’s editor.” He comes from the tv side of the writing world, which operates very differently from novel writing. I suspect my post will be about the writer/editor relationship with a little touch of the thankless work of the copyeditor.

Another interesting discussion concerned the way English-speaking cultures are so full of hatred for children & teenagers and how that is not the case in places like Spain, Italy, and Thailand.3

Many years ago I promised a post about writing dialogue. If any of you still want such a post I may attempt to finish it. It’s just that it’s hard because I’m not really sure how I write dialogue. You know, other than I type it and make sure there are quote marks around it. (And sometimes I use italics if it’s dialogue that’s not being directly said.)

Is challenging voice recognition software the only reason for blogging every day of July?

Nope. I really miss blogging. Not blogging hardly at all for such a long time has left me with many pent up THOUGHTS and FEELINGS that do not fit on twitter. I miss sharing them with you. But mostly I miss the wonderful crew of commenters who once hung out here. I miss your wit and your wisdom and your snark and your sincerity and your sarcasm and your silliness. I am hoping some of you will return. Even though blogs are so beginning-of-this-century and everyone’s on twitter and tumblr these days. I don’t care. I’m an old-fashioned girl. I still love them.

Also my newest book, Team Human, written with Sarah Rees Brennan, will be published on 2 July in Australia and New Zealand and 3 July in Canada and the USA. This means I will be doing a fair number of interviews and the like about said book all over the internets. But while I love TH dearly and am very proud of it and over the moon with joy that the early responses to the book have been so positive the idea of talking about it non-stop for a month makes me feel a bit tired. This will be my online respite.

A Digression

It’s a bit ironic, isn’t it, that by the time a book is published and it’s time to publicise it we authors have spent so much time with the book that it’s the last thing in the world we want to talk about. When I’m really itching to talk about my books is during the drive towards the finish of the first draft—when I know I’m going to finish it and talking about it won’t jinx it and the book becomes the only thing in the world I want to talk about. And—most of all—during the first few rewrites when it has become the only thing in the world I can talk about.

Unfortunately that is when very few people have read it and they’re all bored with me asking them questions about what they thought of the world building or the main characters and whether they think I should get rid of the gilded-wings subplot or expand the diabolic-exploding-hairclip subplot. They are so over my book and, by extension me, in fact, that if I ring them they no longer pick up. And my emails to them start to bounce. Waaaaaahhhh!!!!!!!

Fortunately there’s Scott and my lovely agent Jill and my editor who are always happy to talk endlessly about my book during these times. Bless them!

In Conclusion

In July I will blog a lot.

Update: @Marrije has also requested via Twitter that I “do a post on How To Find The Good Food In Any City? Isn’t this your superpower? Can you teach us?”

@MalindaLo has requested: “I blog about twitter etiquette: the good, the bad, the ugly.”

  1. Except weekends. Cause, come on, no one is on the intramanets on the weekend. Scientific fact. []
  2. I thought about having them above but my web designer said no. []
  3. And I’m sure in many other places I’ve not been to. []

Team Human Fanart

Team Human has its first piece of fan art and it hasn’t even been published yet! I am beside myself with excitement. Seriously, I screamed when Sarah Rees Brennan tweeted it.

Unlike many of my YA author friends, my books do not attract a lot of fan art. It would be more accurate to say that they attract almost no fan art at all. Seriously click on the fan art category for this blog and see how little there is. Now go over to Scott’s blog and check out his Fan Art Fridays. Or check out the paucity on deviantART.1

I’ve put it below the cut because it’s spoilery and if you’re anything like me you don’t want to read anything that might even possibly lead to the vague chance of spoilification. So really don’t look at it! Continue reading

  1. Not that I do that and not that I weep salty tears when I don’t do that. []

A Story What I Wrote in My Late Teens! Avert Thine Eyes! Run for the Hills!

Below is a story that I wrote in my late teens. I remember the day I finished it. I was so full of joy and pride in my genius. It was the best story I had ever written. (True fact. I was rubbish back then.) Maybe even the best story anyone had ever written!

Or, so, I thought on the day I finished it. I don’t remember whether I sent it anywhere to be published. I do remember that at some point, not that long after finishing it, I decided it was, in fact, the worst story ever written and consigned it to the “this is crap” file.

It is pretty awful. But more in a bad-boring than bad-entertaining way. Nevertheless, I thought it might be educational for aspiring writers to see what this particular published author’s juvenilia looks like. I’m sure there are other authors out there who wrote unbelievably great stories when they were teens. I, alas, am not one of them. Wasn’t till I was in my 30s that I wrote anything halfway decent. Some of us are slow learners. Very slow.

The good news is that it’s relatively short—just shy of 2,000 words—the bad news is that it seems a LOT longer than it is. Sorry.

I have added footnotes throughout to explain to you just what is so terrible about the writing. Not that it is even slightly difficult to figure out for yourself. I have resisted making any corrections because, really, the only remedy for this story is to take it out the back and shoot it. I’ve also placed it behind the cut so that you don’t have to sully your eyes with it unless you really, really want to.

Continue reading

Writing Goals Reduxing the Redux

Back in 2006 I posted my writing goals. Then I updated it in 2008 with the publication of How To Ditch Your Fairy and then again in 2009 after Liar came out.

My goals are not stuff like Become NYT Bestselling Author or Win Nobel Prize.1 Winning prizes and making bestseller lists is not something anyone can control,2 but I can control what I write. So that’s what my goals are. Simple, really.3

So the following are categories that I plan to publish a book in. When I publish a book in a given category I cross that category out. I also randomly add categories when they occur to me. Mostly, to give me the pleasure of crossing them out.

First the genres:

  • Romance
  • Historical
  • Crime (what some call mysteries)
  • Thriller
  • Fantasy
  • SF
  • Comedy
  • Horror
  • Gothic
  • Mainstream or litfic4
  • Western
  • Problem novel
  • YA

I have added a new genre: Gothic. This is Sarah Rees Brennan‘s fault. She has written a Gothic, Unspoken, the first of a trilogy, which comes out in September. I love this book SO MUCH. It reminded me of all those Victoria Holt5 books I read by the truckload when I was wee. Of how much I have always adored the Brontes.6 And Shirley Jackson.7 And how I have always thought Georgette Heyer’s one Gothic novel, Cousin Kate, is much overlooked. Me, I am dead fond of it. I even read some Barbara Michaels on SRB’s recommendation and enjoyed them mightily. Though as a genre reader they are a bit frustrating. I kind of hate it when the Creepy Stuff Happening in the House has a really boring logical explanation. It’s too much like a Scooby Doo episode. Anyways, SRB has given me a powerful urge to write my own crazy, scary house novel, which is a metaphor for female imprisonment and yearning. Only in mine she’ll get to blow said house up, which even though it has been done before, will make me very happy.

All I have left is western, historical, horror and Gothic. Though a friend says I can cross horror off because Liar scared the crap out of her. But she is the biggest wuss on the planet so I declare that cheating. Liar isn’t scary at all. Wait till I write my slugs book. Now that’s scary. Though if some more of you think Liar counts as horror I may use that as an excuse to cheat and cross it off.

I am hard at work on a novel set in the 1930s so I suspect historical will be the next one to get the old strike through. But it may take some time . . .

I’m also aiming to publish books that use the following povs:

  • First person
  • Second person
  • Third person limited
  • Omniscient

The 1930s novel makes much use of omni. When it’s finally done I will conquer the entire list!

Lastly:

  • Standalone
  • Trilogy
  • Series
  • Collaboration

A series is a sequence of more than three books that: 1) have the same character or set of characters but each book tells a separate story. You could argue that Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe books are a series of that kind. 2) are a large story that is told across more than three books.

Some people classify trilogies as a series but I think they’re their own thing. I also admit that that’s very hair splitting and may be heavily influenced by my desire to have one extra thing on this list. Hey, it’s my list. I get to do that.

I suspect the 1930s novel is a series. Though it might just be another trilogy, which would be really annoying. Or a duology. At which point I would add duology to the list.

The collaboration is a new addition to the list. I admit that it doesn’t really fit this list but I couldn’t think what other list to put it on. So, you know, whatever. I added it, obviously, because I get to cross it off. Thanks to having written Team Human with Sarah Rees Brennan which will be published in July. So soon, people!

My happiness at crossing stuff of my list is great. What have youse lot been crossing off your writing goal lists?

Disclaimer: This post brought to you by demonic voice misrecognition annoyingware. Apologies for brevity, wrong word choices, weird syntax and occasional incomprehensible swearing.

  1. Though I am not against those happening to me. I mean, wouldn’t that be grouse? I would not say no. Hmm . . . can you say no to being a best seller? Also is bestseller one word or two? []
  2. Well, not unless they’re hugely wealthy or know hugely wealthy people who are willing to buy gazillions of copies of their books from New York Times reporting stores. And then you wind up with the * meaning this book QUITE POSSIBLY CHEATED. []
  3. Well, except that I’m only counting them once they get published, which is not actually something I can control. It’s something I hope (fervently) will keep happening. []
  4. You know, Literature: professor has affair with much younger student in the midst of mid-life crisis. Though I have never written such a book nor will I. But enough of my readers declared Liar to be literature that I decided to cross it off the list. []
  5. Yes, I am aware that “Victoria Holt” is one of the many nom de plumes of Eleanor Hibbert and that her most popular books were written under the names Jean Plaidy and Phillippa Carr. I loved all those books as well. []
  6. Yes, all of them. Even the much neglected Anne. Well, okay, not Branwell. AT ALL. But then he didn’t write any books, did he? I love all the books by Brontes. []
  7. I worship Shirley Jackson, actually. []

Last Day of 2011 (Updated)

This is my annual post where I sum up what happened in my professional life in that year and look ahead to what’s going to happen in 2012. I do this so I can have a handy record that I can get to in seconds. (Hence the “last day of the year” tag.)

This was not a fabulous year for me but it was a whole lot worse for so many other people around the world that whingeing would be tacky. I’ll focus on the good:

Finally, finally, finally we were able to announce, Sarah Rees Brennan and I, that we wrote a book together, Team Human, which is all about how having your best friend fall in love with a vampire SUCKS.1 We had to keep that secret for well over a year and it nearly killed us. It comes out in July in Australia (with Allen & Unwin) and in the United States of America (with Harper Collins). Oh, and it’s totally a real book and not a hoax despite what that lying minx Maureen Johnson says. See, actual real people have read it!

Sarah Rees Brennan has been crazy busy. Not only did she write a book with me but she also sold a whole new trilogy. The first book, Unspoken, will be out in September 2012. (Yes, she has two books out within three months of each other. Yes, she has superpowers.)

It’s SRB’s best book so far. I loved her Demon trilogy2 but Unspoken is even better. I cannot wait for more people to read it so we can all talk about the fantastic things she does with all those delicious Gothic tropes. Seriously, it’s wonderful and I’m convinced that SRB is going to start a Gothic revival.3 In fact, SRB’s made me want to write my own Gothic, which obviously I will have to dedicate to her. It will have an insane house that . . . oh, actually, I think Shirley Jackson wrote that book. Hmmm. I guess I should update that list of writing goals to include Gothic.

Books out this year

There were no new books by me in 2011. It was the first time since 2005 that I went book-less. Turns out I am no longer capable of a book a year. And to think I once attempted two books a year. It is to laugh! From now on it’s more likely to be a book every five years. Maybe.

Books out in 2012 and 2013

Well, except that I will have a book a year for the next two years: Team Human and Team Human: The Sequel of Awesomeness.

Thank you, SRB, for being the best and hardest working and paitentest collaborator a writer could hope for. Without you it would have been an eighteen year gap between my last book, Zombies versus Unicorns in 2010—another collaborative book—you do all see how my lovely writer friends are saving my career, right? Thank you, Holly Black—and my next solo book in 2028.4

RSI

Often after a new post from me I get a few people saying, “OMG! You’re writing again! You’re all cured! That’s awesome!”

To which, thanks! It’s really lovely to know that my online jibberings have been missed. But, sadly, no, I am not cured. Still with the RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury). Alas and alack. I’m pretty much where I was when I wrote about it a year ago.

What I’m doing is managing the RSI. Figuring out how to get the maximum amount of writing done with the minimum amount of pain, which involves a lot of time and money. I swear I practically have my own staff: physiotherapist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, masseur, trainer, pilates instructor.5

I am extremely grateful to all of them while also resentful of the time it takes to buy me a few hours of writing. It does get me down. On the days when I don’t type I have virtually no pain at all. On the days I do type, even if only for a short while, there’s pain. For some strange reason feedback like that is more conducive to lying in bed feeling sorry for yourself than it is to writing.6

Don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely fortunate. There are plenty of people who have neither the time nor the money to be able to deal with the ailments that are making their life hellish. Whose ailments are far worse than mine, whose symptoms cannot be managed. I know writers who write with multiple sclerosis, while recovering from strokes, with serious heart conditions, with cancer and so forth.

There are people out there getting all sorts of amazing things done despite the most horrendous obstacles in their way. I admire each and every one of them.

Other Things I am Asked About

Q: How’s your 1930s book going?

A: I am still at work on my 1930s novel. Slowly but surely. I even read a small section of it at the lovely Sirens conference I attended this year. The reception was most pleasing. If you ever have an opportunity to go to Sirens—Do. A smarter, more interesting crowd of readers and writers does not exist.

But, no, the 1930s novel is not any closer to being finished. Best, really to forget I ever mentioned it. Instead watch the wonderful new US tv show SRB said I had to see: Revenge. The heroine is a wicked Nancy Drew, who’s in the Hamptons to revenge her unjustly imprisioned father and she has ninja super powers and the people she gets revenge on are, like, hedge fund managers. I love her so much!

Q: How’s your garden?

A: My garden is doing great. Thanks!

Well, there was the small matter of the accidental drought when the battery went on the irrigation system. But most of the plants survived. It was kind of amazing. All the native violets laid down and died and then the second they felt sweet, sweet water they sprang up and were green and flowering again. Life, I tell you, it’s a miracle.

Those few plants that died I replaced with passionfruit. Because, well, yum. Also it turns out that passionfruit are like triffids. They move when you’re not looking and grow REALLY fast. Though, so far they have not attempted to eat me.

And the drought made my poor freaked out where-has-all-the-water-gone Tahitian lime tree fruit for the first time. Fruit! On a tree! In my garden! Um, yes, I am excited.

And I am starting to win my battle against the slugs. Apparently, they love corn meal. EVEN THOUGH IT KILLS THEM. Mwahahahahah!:

What? They totally deserve it. They were killing my basil and my poor benighted flowering eucalyptus! I have to KILL THEM ALL. NO OTHER PUNISHMENT IS ENOUGH. And, no, I’m not channelling Emily Thorne/Amanda Clarke from Revenge because she would think that merely ruining the slugs was sufficient. SHE WOULD BE WRONG. THEY MUST ALL DIE.7

Slugs and accidental droughts aside, my garden is one of the great pleasures in my life. We use the herbs daily. Currently, thyme, rosemary, mint, bay leaves, majoram, oregano, kaffir lime leaves, sage, basil and parsley. There are native bees and rainbow lorikeets sipping from our grevillea flowers. It looks and smells amazing. Every time I get stuck I walk out there breathe deep, kill a few caterpillars, smell a few flowers, chew on some mint and everything is just fine.

Happy new year, everyone! Here’s hoping 2012 will be what you want it to be.

Update: I forgot to put my usual disclaimer at the bottom of this post, which led a few folks to write and suggest I use voice recognition software. So here it is:

This post brought to you by demonic voice misrecognition annoyingware. Apologies for brevity, wrong word choices, weird syntax and occasional incomprehensible swearing.

  1. Pardon the truly terrible pun. []
  2. Because, well, Sin and Mae and Jamie and Nick. And SRB even got me to start liking Allan by the end of the final book. []
  3. Yes, that was another bad pun. []
  4. Which is when the next total eclipse that can be viewed from Australia takes place. Clearly, it will be the best year ever. []
  5. I will say this: Damn, am I fit! []
  6. Crap. I said I wasn’t going to whinge. Sorry! []
  7. Also, Emily/Amanda is way too classy TO SHOUT IN ALL CAPS. []

Sekrit Project Revealed!

I have very exciting NEWS!

I wrote a book! The book is sold! It will be out early next year!

Even more exciting and this is the best part: I DID NOT WRITE THIS BOOK ALONE.

I wrote it with Sarah Rees Brennan, who is not only a wonderful friend, but one of my favourite writers.

The book is called Team Human. It will be published by Allen & Unwin in Australia and Harper Collins in North America and will be out 3 July 2012.

And here is the cover, which totally proves this is all real:

(We got to sit in on the photo shoot for it. Fancy, huh?)

Writing Team Human was the most fun I’ve ever had writing a book. All because of SRB.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with her—and seriously how did that happen? what are you doing reading this blog when you could be reading hers or, even better, her wonderful books—SRB is the author of the Demon’s Lexicon trilogy, which are some of the scariest, most gut wrenchingest awesome books I’ve read. Your heart will be seared as you read!1

Oh, and she’s funny too. Just read her blog. Seriously funny. In fact, it was her funniness that led to Team Human. We were instant messaging each other2 discussing a movie we’d just seen and she kept making me laugh so hard I fell over3 and somehow we got talking about a million and one extremely funny things and then we found ourselves agreeing to write a book together. For the full story check out SRB’s version of events.

Now, I have planned to write books with many people and each time we’ve both earnestly assured each other that we were going to truly rooly do this thing. But every time something would get in the way. They were already writing a book with someone else, we could not come up with enough good ideas, if we did come up with good ideas the enthusiasm would die, one or both of us was too busy, etc. etc.

Not this time. I don’t think it ever occurred to SRB that we wouldn’t write a complete novel. It occurred to me. I have never been as shocked as when I realised we were really, literally, actually4 going to write a complete finished book together! It was almost as surprising as the first time I did that on my own.5

I should have realised sooner that we would finish because almost straight away we were swapping chapters back and forth, doing our best to make the other laugh6. Such larks were had! Though I can see why I was full of doubt, apart from all the usual stuff that can get in the way, it’s kind of hilarious how completely different SRB and mine’s writing styles are. We must have the least compatible writing methods ever.

Readers, SRB made me outline. I know! It was HORRIBLE. We had to figure out Every Little Thing ahead of time. Who does that? Madness! She expected me to know who our cast of characters were before we started writing them! Who does that? Sane people figure out that kind of stuff as they write.

How could I have known SRB would put me through such torture? Other than this interview we did with each other on how she outlines and I wing it, I mean. (Actually reading that exchange between us gives you a very accurate idea of how we wrote a book together and of what kind of book we wrote. Hint: it involves slutty hamsters. Sort of.)

So, yes, extremely detailed outlining = very traumatic. Yet, somehow I survived and the book was written.7

And there’s a sequel! Which we are writing RIGHT NOW. Which was also outlined ahead of time.8 It will be published a year after the first in early 2013 by Allen & Unwin and Harper Collins.

And that is my big big news that we’ve had to keep secret for way too long. I hope you are a tenth as excited as I am!9

  1. Not literally. That would be bad. []
  2. Back in the days when I could do that without searing pain. Hmmm, “sear” seems to be my verb of the day. Sorry about that. []
  3. Literally. I was bruised! []
  4. Anything I said about not overusing the word “actually” on twitter clearly does not apply to this blog. *cough* []
  5. To be honest, I am always surprised when I realise I’m going to finish a book. I have started way more of them than I have ever finished. []
  6. I don’t think I ever caused SRB to fall over though. One day . . . []
  7. Though I continue to not outline my solo books. Agressively so. Which is probably why they take me so long. Oh, well. []
  8. Aaaarrrrggghhh!!! []
  9. If you were as excited as me you might die and no one wants that. []