That question, or some variation of it, is one we hear too many times to count during the course of our lives. What do you want to eat? What do you want to do? What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you want to come from X, Y or Z? It is a question each writer needs to ask at various points of their careers — what do you want to write? What do you want to be, indie or traditionally published? What do you want, money or awards? What do you want to be, a genre writer or a literary one? Read more
Occasionally, you’ll hear a new writer to the field (especially one who’s come in fully indie, in the last 10 years), ask “Why is X genre called a dead genre?” If there’s a group of indie authors, all equally focused on writing stories, they may start getting deep in the weeds on themes versus character arcs vs. popular movies vs. whatever to explain it. Those have nothing to do with it. Read more
It took me a while to start writing this morning. Ideally, the post would have been written ahead of time, but, well, working ten hour days and spending the time standing at the bench making sure everything’s proceeding properly in the lab precludes not only the writing-of-stuff but also the thinking-about-stuff. My First Reader reminded me this morning, still in the wee dark hours, that it was Saturday. Given that last week I’d confused my Saturdays and Sundays and had not written anything AT ALL for this blog, it was a legitimate reminder. So I got up, got coffee, sat down with him to have a chat about topics – we often do this when I don’t have a good idea – and the rest of the family joined us. My Dad, who is staying with us for the Ginja Ninja’s high school graduation this coming Monday. The Ginja Ninja, who needed yarn and a crochet hook. Yeah, um, the ways of teens are passing strange… who wants to crochet before 7 am on a Saturday? Anyway, that one took a while as my yarn was still in a box and if we hadn’t found a random crochet hook we’d still be looking. And then the Little Man, who is terribly excited about his upcoming trip with Grampa, wanted to go over his packing list…
I was thinking, as I fielded questions and comments from all sides (did you know that Coke will take the scale out of a shower head? And that came up because the Junior Mad Scientist hated the way their bathroom’s shower worked, and could she use mine?) that this is something we don’t see done in writing often, but it’s a rich, wonderful, and sometimes very frustrating part of my life. Following multiple people through the threads of several conversations, sometimes with intersections and interruptions, is the lot of any Mother’s life. So is multi-tasking… as I turn back to my computer from a brief conversation about today’s itineraries. Read more
Once upon a time . . . I wrote big complex novels with multiple POV’s and groups of characters going off in different directions and doing all sorts of interesting things, before they came back together for the final battle.
Now I seem to be writing shorter works with fewer detours and side threads.
Oh, I know why I started writing short. Read more
Is there an Arabic speaker on the blog?
That’s a serious question. You see, for the next book in the Pocketful of Stars series I’m positing a terrorist splinter group that has split off from Al-Shabaab and is based on one of the offshore islands of the Swahili coast. If necessary I can give it a Swahili name, but the fact is that Arabic has more prestige in Swahili culture even though hardly anybody actually speaks the language. And after a few days of tinkering I have reluctantly concluded that one year of intensive Arabic many, many years ago is not going to suffice for making sure up an authentic name, at least if I want to get fancier than “al-[Arabic word].” So… anybody want to help?
This question is only one of the many ways I’ve found to spend too much time on research. It started with reading up on Swahili beliefs in djinn and demons. That’s one aspect of Swahili culture I know nothing about firsthand, because in my time on the coast I found it politic to stay far, far away from discussions about these matters. It was an earlier and less technology-oriented age (no cell phones, and my tape recorder was the size of a shoebox) and I had enough trouble already with people muttering about jinni and shaitani when they heard their voices coming out of the shoebox.