Being a professional writer, I’ve taken any number of writing classes, workshops and courses, of course.
I’ve also read a never-end of books on writing, some very useful, a lot not so much.
But for my money, as a writer (and reader) who lives too much in her own head, my best training to become a writer was the unconventional one, where people didn’t know they were teaching me to write.
There is something that sometimes comes out of nowhere and touches a piece of writing, which I can’t explain, which is funny, because I make my living explaining things in writing.
Older son calls it “fire.” Which makes a certain sense, honestly. Like fire, it is alive, unpredictable, has to be carefully handled so it neither consumes the rest of the story, nor disappears.
But I call it “It’s Alive” because it seems to have a mind of its own, beyond and above what you put down in the page. Read more
If You Give A Reader A Cookie – A Blast From The Past From December 13, 2017
Something I haven’t discussed, in this whole “where should you put your book” is that beyond structure there are reader expectations and… well, reader cookies.
“Reader cookies?” you ask. “You mean some publicity thing? I have to find all my readers and bake them cookies?”
Look, the thing to take in account on genre is that usually people have one favorite genre. They might read others, but they had one they absolutely follow and “eat” like peanuts. (Years ago Kris Rusch told me that science fiction readers are the narrower readers. I don’t think she’s right. I think she said that because most science fiction readers are prejudiced against romance. but she also said that romance readers read every genre, and all I can say is she must come from a universe where Spock has a beard. There’s no reason for her to lie, and I don’t think she was, but my experience is exactly the opposite of hers.)
But most readers, when reading genre, learn and come to crave certain points. Read more
Last year around this time, for reasons of applying to teach a workshop — so, you know, not because I’m a masochist — I had to look through the net to find my reviews.
The results were mixed — on finding them, not on them being bad — including reviews I KNOW I had for stuff like Darkship Thieves. So, I ended up trolling for reviews for every one of my books, including the fairly obscure, in fairly obscure blog.
This means, I ended up on this blog from someone who absolutely hated, despised and wanted my musketeer vampire book — Sword and Blood — to die in a fire. And not just because it was a vampire book, which one of my fans more or less drives me nuts with, by telling me that “Vampires are no, no, no.” Read more
I grew up in a dark age, when books were scant and hard to obtain. Also expensive.
Okay, on the serious side, for those of us reading this who don’t know, since we have a lot of new readers recently: I am Portuguese born and bred. My family is still in Portugal. I only learned to speak English at 14, and it was my third language.
However, half of each set of kids in my family tended to emigrate. My parents thought they were safe having only two and that if one left it would be the boy. But when I was 8 I decided when I grew up I was going to live in Denver and be a writer. Best decision I ever made, but that’s not important right now.
What’s important is that the Portuguese book market invented push-marketing before the Americans even dreamed of it. Books to be printed — in general — are chosen by prestige instead of marketability. For instance, from the US they tend to choose award winners (though frankly it also doesn’t help that they don’t/can’t understand our bestseller lists often lie) or books acclaimed in reviews. Then they run a very tiny print run, and when it sells it’s done. Unless you find it used or in a forgotten bookstore, you can’t find it.
For the purposes of this blog post, the important thing is that it limited my reading. Read more
As some of you know, the Hoyt household is going through feline upheaval. Greebo-cat went into hyperthyroidism mid 2019, and we finally put him in radio iodine therapy. This was absolutely necessary because though Greebo is sixteen, he’s also my “editor.” More on that later. Suffice to say I couldn’t go into a new phase of my career, and brave indie without him. So far, it seems to have worked, he’s gaining weight back, feeling well enough to put his sister, the young whipper snapper (11) in her place (she needs it) sleeping by my side, and herding me to the writing chair.
Meanwhile in December, son’s cat hit end-stage renal failure. Holding fire so, so far, but you know… it won’t last forever. And right after the new year Euclid cat — around 21 yo — suddenly fell of the health cliff. We’re trying a few things, but it’s likely he’ll leave us soon. No, not happy about that. That’s life.
Meanwhile onto “how can a cat be your editor?” Read more
There are things organizations (and corporations) do when being screamed at that make you wonder exactly what is wrong with them.
Or perhaps makes you want to tell them “You’re like the guy who bit off a piece of the true cross one Saturday night in Jerusalem, and this is why we can’t have nice things.”
This is the case, for instance, with the RWA deciding to cancel the RITA awards:
As a controversy over bias and a lack of transparency at the Romance Writers of America continues to roil the country’s foremost writers association for romance writers, the RWA has announced that it will postpone the 2020 RITA Contest until next year. The RITA Award is the U.S.’s top prize for romance fiction.