Tag Archives: writing

Chapter Nine: At Beck and Call

I looked down so that she would not see my relief. In her eyes at least I was still Corpsmaster, and by taking the first move, I might have left the others here free. For there was something about this that raised my hackles, not just the near-insolence of their arrival, but a sense that … Continue reading →

Posted in: A Stranger's Blood, Blog, free novel

He Pays a Visit

  You finish writing a novel, you polish and rewrite, hand it over to your agent and re-polish and rewrite again, pass it on to the editor at the publisher and do that all again, sometimes writing new sections or insights to answer their queries. The book goes out, people read it, comment, give reviews. … Continue reading →

Posted in: Blog, history, writing

Abe, you really shouldn’t have…

I found myself posting a one-line review on Goodreads today. Making a face, possibly embarrassed, I wrote “I had too much fun reading this despite my better judgement… must give it four stars.” What was the book? Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  Look, I pride myself on my reader skills, on my ability to assess a good … Continue reading →

Posted in: Blog, writing

A Bad Movie

I’ve been told one of my all-time favorite movies is a bad movie. Maybe it’s true. It all depends on what a person goes to the movie to find. “The Man in the Iron Mask”, with Gabriel Byrne as D’Artagnan, Jeremy Irons as Aramis, Gerard Depardieu as Porthos and Leonardo DiCaprio as the young royalty, … Continue reading →

Posted in: Blog, writing

Nov. 6, 2012

   gender and identity      I’ve always regarded my gender as a pleasant accident even while priding myself on my androgyny. Indeed I have rather avoided participating in ‘women’s’ events. I’ve worried that the presentation smacks too much of a ‘here come the cripples’ attitude, as if women aren’t good enough in their own … Continue reading →

Posted in: Blog, gender

answers for a writer

I received these questions from a fellow author, Eileen Schuh, who wrote Schrödinger’s Cat and THE TRAZ.  Check out her link: Magic of the Muses: http://ow.ly/dRLWO What fun giving answers to these questions – fellow writers, help yourselves! What is the working title of your book?  Night Must Wait  and it looks like this will … Continue reading →

Posted in: Blog, writing

Santa Barbara Writers Conference


      I had barely two days at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference because of all the other commitments that came due in my life at this time in the year. I met up with old friends, made new friends, had all kinds of lovely and provocative interactions. Heard some fine writing, and many times said to myself — wish I’d written that


I wrote in my previous post that I found this conference a delight and I’ll try to say why. You might think that since I have an agent, and I have a contract for my first novel (planned for publication this coming September) I have no need to be haunting the halls of the Hyatt-on-the-beach and staying up until the wee hours in the company of a lot of odd characters.


First of all I’d argue that a good writer will never stop studying the craft. Just as no novel is ever so honed that it that couldn’t be better for another tweak or another jostle, so too,  no writer ever hits a static perfection until death. 


Hearing excellent work humbles me, makes me try harder. How wonderful and varied the work of all these other writers! Critiquing makes me think hard about where I’ve made similar errors in my own work, or where I may have stumbled on other wonders as they have, and I realize anew that of all sins, I cannot afford to be lazy. I return to self-editing with new violence.


Yesterday I hesitated in the science fiction/horror class over whether I wanted to read my own piece aloud, a rough draft of a chapter around page 80 in my new horror manuscript I Haven’t Seen Him. Fortunately I opted to have another student read it. He read it superbly, made it sound better than it was, but what I heard convinced me of where I needed to cut, and where I needed to shift the focus. You simply can’t hear your own work the same way if you are trying to juggle your voice and intonation, project, and not stumble….  So one opportunity in a conference is the chance to hear your own words in someone else’s voice, in the company of strangers.


In the critique, various other students and the teacher all gave me advice that I’m going to take far beyond that short chapter. The principles apply. They saw things I didn’t, both strong and weak. Living people have more of an impact on a writer than do all the fine books about writing. We’re still animals, mammals, warm blooded furry creatures that care about our community, so this community of learning from other breathing beings remains important through all our lives. I have favorite books on writing, Browne and King, Stein, Wheat, and Thomas McCormack. They are necessary, not simply valuable, but there is this different thing that happens when you are nervous and excited, (think adrenaline and pulse racing,) when you’re in the company of writers you respect and they are all focused on the product of your labor, all intent on making it even more of what you want it to be. It’s a rush, it’s sometimes acutely embarassing, mortifying, humbling, painful, but nothing else will fast forward you as effectively on the way to become a better writer.


More than this, you will make friends who know what you are talking about when you agonize over issues of violating point of view. On-line writers groups can be arranged. Your best supporters can be discovered, and then they fan back across the world like ambassadors. In the end even writing books comes back to the personal, the relationships we make.


Posted in: Blog, writing

writers writers everywhere!

Spent today at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference having a splendid time listening to some wonderful work and insightful critiques, and meeting up with old friends. I swear I learn more from hearing other peoples’ work than hearing crits of my own pieces. It is about the craft, and if you don’t personally own the … Continue reading →

Posted in: Blog, writing

Feeling virtuous today for having finished a full edit. I hit ‘send’ on the manuscript. I’m full of curiosity to see what the publisher’s editor tells me to do, and my firm plan is to be obedient! We’ll see how well I keep to my fine intentions. I don’t know how many of you writers … Continue reading →

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working with an editor

I’ve had the rewarding experience of working with two editors, Aviva Layton and Toni Lopopolo. My first experience  was with Aviva Layton some years ago and that was the customary situation where I hired her to read and critique, (not line edit) two different manuscripts. One of them she read twice. She gave me more than … Continue reading →

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