February 2007


I meant to post this yesterday, but somehow, the day got away from me. But go here to see the two coolest kids on the block this month, Gregg Olsen and Phil Hawley — both their debut books are out and I have heard such fantastic things about each, I have to have them both. I mean, really fantastic, like, when writers are talking privately and they are in awe (and slightly envious of the talent of) someone else and they speak about something with a mixture of hushed reverence and envy when they think no one is really going to note the envy part? Yeah, like that. Awe. So put these on your wish lists, people, I really think you’ll be happy you did!

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Hey, I have a sort of funny post over on the Killer Year blog today, with a question for you at the end. Enjoy!

Alex Sokoloff over on Murderati wrote the other day about feeling the love — how she feels about the writing experience, and she summed it up with “writing is agony, but not writing is so, so much worse.” I found her piece to profoundly describe so much of the experience of writing, it was as if she’d stepped inside my head and my heart and explained it. Which, when I started really thinking about it (and when you’re polishing up the second book and you have to turn it in pretty soon, your brain wants to think of anything but that deadline), I realized it’s that “stepping in” that makes it so magical for me, as a writer, and also as a reader. It’s not just briefly experiencing other worlds, other ways of being, other people’s point of view–and it is all of those things, true–but it is the moment the writer connects something for me that I hadn’t necessarily been able to articulate myself, or opens me up to a realization which had been simmering beneath the surface which I’d sensed but had not yet found a way to access. I’m not sure which pleases me more as a reader–to register the surprise of the profound thought, an aha! moment of recognition but still, surprise–or to be caught off guard and made to laugh, to find the absurd in the world, in the situation, and to be so fully in the character, in that world, that it cracks me up as if I’m there, experiencing the irony.

I guess it’s natural to think of these things as book 2 finally coalesces, where the bits and pieces it into place and the universe feels whole and organic. It’s amazing to have gone from an idea, from a blank page, to a finished world, because it’s more than just words typed on a page. The dictionary is words typed on a page. Finding the story, finding the heart, finding the laughter in the moment–these are the real gifts of writing. As I zoom rather frantically (and full of terror, I assure you) toward the publication date of book 1 (May 1st), I want to remember to hold onto this feeling. There are so many things that are now officially out of my control, and for a world-creator (which we writers are, which tends to make us a bit of a control freak), it’s destabilizing to realize there’s not a lot else I can do in this stage of the publication process. It may do well, it may not, who knows? It’s terrifying to even think about it, because I cannot sit next to every reviewer, every reader, and explain my intentions if they don’t like something. But this thing, this writing, this creating, has brought me satisfaction beyond joy. It’s what I always wanted to do, growing up: tell stories.  I am very lucky that I enjoy the actual process of the writing. Yes, writing is agony for me, but now that I examine it, not in quite the same way Alex was describing above. It’s agony because I want to do it so well, and I push myself and the bar ever higher, and I have no idea if I’m hitting the mark or not. It’s agony because I want to create, to have this finished world that people can dip into which will make them laugh and stay with them as a real place with real people long after they put the book down, and accomplishing that seamlessly is daunting and difficult. It’s agony because I want to dig as deep as I can while holding onto the goal (for it’s imperative a writer know what she’s writing–profound thoughts may accidentally work their way into a comedy / caper such as I writer, but to strive to be profound would be to distort the world). It’s agony because I think I have something important to say underneath the comedy, and I don’t know if I’ve yet said it well enough. It’s agony because I could stay in that creative process forever, neglecting too many people I love, if I’m not careful, and so I have to part with it at least some of the time in order to live in the world. It’s agony to let it go into the world on its own.

It would be far, far worse, though, to not have the writing process to comfort me while the first book is taking its baby steps into that world.

I wonder what brings satisfaction to the rest of the world that keeps them going?

I am at that point in book 2 where I am almost done and yet, I feel like I’m miles and miles away. Carl told me I had intimidated myself, which is true. There’s the fear of not living up to book 1 and also the desire to exceed it. Scary. He also pointed out that I do actually have to finish the book and, you know, hand it in. Also true. I did give the editor a snippet for them to include in the back of book 1, and she loved it and so did marketing (Anne Marie) and I cannot tell you how relieved I am. I mean, it was only 2 1/2 pages, but hey, it didn’t suck and they were happy enough with it to go make room for it, so that’s a good sign right? Right? Bueller?

I wonder if I could just hand it in 2 1/2 pages at a time. You know, if they didn’t like something, then I could have an accidental computer crash or something could blow up. (You know, the Bobbie Faye version of “the dog ate my homework” is probably a minor nuclear meltdown.) (I wonder how difficult it would be to arrange a minor nuclear meltdown? hmmm.)

Er, the LCC pictures and round-up. They’re still on the new camera phone, which is tres cool but requires downloading and I am just too lazy tonight. So entertain yourself instead and go read through max’s new blog; I love max–she’s consistently funny, sharp, ascerbic and smart. She also taught me a helluva lot.

Swamped. That is moi, trying (um, sort of frantically) to finish book 2 by deadline. Just got back from the Left Coast Crime convention this weekend… have a post in progress on that, will be up probably on Thursday.

But I realized just now that I am an idiot — I’ve been so focused on writing book 2 (which has, scarily, turned out to be really fun), that I forgot to post about friends’ books which are out now. I’m going to focus this post on the ones out this week:

Allison Brennan’s SPEAK NO EVIL is the first of a trilogy; I’ve been lucky enough to read the ARC of the second book and review it for Spinetingler, and this trilogy rocks. If you like romantic thrillers, you’re going to love this set.  Here’s the first:

SPEAK NO EVIL

I was also lucky enough to read Rob Gregory Browne’s book KISS HER GOODBYE long before the galley stage and it’s riveting. I promise you, you’ll enjoy this one:

KISS HER GOODBYE

Then there’s Patry Francis’ debut out right now, THE LIAR’S DIARY. I have heard raving positives about her book and have just ordered it, so I hope to have it soon!

THE LIAR’S DIARY

Last month saw the debut of three other Killer Year members. I’ve just gotten an autographed copy of Sean’s and Sandra’s and need to get Marcus’ asap.  

BIG CITY, BAD BLOOD

 BIG CITY, BAD BLOOD

THE BLADE ITSELF

THE BLADE ITSELF

SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES

SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES

I’ll be back this week with photos and stories from LCC (no, really, I will). Lots and lots of good book stuff going on, and I should have a final cover within a few days (yay!), so that’ll be very cool.