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Category: Writing about writing

Cool Things to Write About™

My favorite writing exercise of all time is from Ray Bradbury, in Zen in the Art of Writing. It’s very simple: you generate a list of nouns, conjured from your life experiences, as if they were titles. Bradbury always did this exercise in all-caps, and so do I; it makes the results feel more title-like, therefore conjuring sensations rather than simply specific images. How ominous does THE BLACKENED TRUCK sound? How mysterious is THE GEM…

Everything I know, I learned from talking animal stories

Dramatic, right? But ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you it’s accurate. Many of my literary models of heroism and virtue were people who ran on four legs, not two. Even now, I can’t get away from writing talking animals (case in point: my novel Daugment). Looking critically at which childhood stories have stuck with me, I’ve found several other reasons why a talking animal makes an incredibly powerful storytelling tool. Talking animals…

Writerguilt

writerguilt, n. the intense feeling of failure and existential doubt that occurs when words are not being applied to pages Writerguilt is the nagging feeling that the world is waiting for your words. Writerguilt is also self-indulgent. Breaking news: The only person waiting for you to write is you. But someone’s waiting on me! I hear you insisting. Fine, sure. Deadlines are real things. But editors, agents, and publishing companies work with writers who produce.…

Cooking and writing

I’m extremely lucky to be married to a former chef who catered for sitting presidents. Yes, I certainly get all of the consumption benefits of having a chef under my roof — but more importantly, I get a world-class firsthand education in how to food. I haven’t just learned “how to make a dish that tastes good.” That’s actually pretty simple: Follow a good recipe. What I’ve really learned is how food behaves. What the…

The Parentheses Process

I love details. They’re sort of the hallmark of my style, especially in my short stories — I choose very specific but arbitrary details, putting down broad strokes about a world I hardly know yet. I’ll describe how the clay coins of the realm feel in one’s hand, for example. Or the name and earthy smell of the new-fangled liquor everyone in the land is addicted to. But sometimes, instead of getting caught up in…

Why Daugment is free for libraries

Thanks to Smashwords’ super cool distribution plans to Axis360, OverDrive, and now bibliotecha (as well as their Library Direct program), my novel Daugment is available for free to libraries. I could charge for it, but…first of all, that seems horribly mean, and second of all, I have three good reasons for making it free. The altruistic reason: Libraries and librarians are awesome. Several of my good friends are librarians, and of course, avid readers themselves. They help…

The Scribblers’ Club

As part of my creative philosophy, I try to participate every year in at least one big generative project, at the end of which I have something to shop around or develop. (I’m also a masochistic writer.) A lot of years, that project is NaNoWriMo. In 2012 and 2013, my good friend Jill Corddry and I teamed up to crank out short stories on a regular basis (almost weekly, in 2012, and monthly in 2013). We…