Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I write in the attic

Here's my writing space. (Click the pic to see it larger). The attic's finished, with floor and ceiling and windows, and it's my hideaway where I can sit and think and listen to music and write. I did clean up a bit before shooting the old wooden desk. I'm a slob. I almost always write on the computer, longhand in my journal. I also paint here most of the time (watercolors and digital, see my blog for the portfolio). I cleaned, but left some of the junk, trinkets, the heavy concrete book toting toad who guards my library--four big bookcases off to the left of the shot. He's the greenish guy with a book under one arm in the back left, weighs about 80 pounds. I also threw in the SEABORN street sign I just picked up--that isn't normally on the desk. I just haven't hung it up yet. That's my podcasting stuff on the right, mic and mixer. Maps and other junk on the walls. That's about it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Writing, Rejection, Uncertainty, Time

Here are a few things I know about writing and getting published, but only if you catch me in an optimistic mood. (Otherwise, I'll deny ever writing this). I have never felt more certain about the writing path on which I've found myself--never more certain of the steps I am taking. With some careful contemplation, chin scratching, thoughtful "hmmmm" noises, I have broken it into four main points, Writing, Rejection, Uncertainty, and Time (WRUT?)

Here's what I think I know:


That age-old pro writer advice to "keep writing" turns out to be absolutely true. I have been writing fiction since high school in the late '70s. It took me--off and on--thirty-five years to get my first story published. (Yeah, I'm a slow learner). Here's what I think: I stepped over some word or story threshold a while back, around 2003, and I said to myself, "ἐξαίφνης"--exaiphnês--"Suddenly!"--you know, like Platonists seeing the Forms after their intense fifty-year graduate studies. Okay, never mind. Let's keep moving. Somehow I just knew that I had finally written enough to feel right with what I was writing, all that writing over the years paid off, writing isn't the word-brawl it used to be, words flow more freely from my fingertips to the keyboard. Writing isn't easy--and probably won't ever be, but I don’t struggle as much with plotting, sentence structure, dialogue, words. What I write is never right the first time; it just feels closer to right than ever, and I'm a better self-editor than I've ever been. Because I write--write all the time. I completed SEABORN in January and since then, I have written three short stories, completed an 85k word YA fantasy SALTWATER WITCH (going to my agent next week). And I'm over 60k words into THE NEW SIRENS, sequel to SEABORN. NaNoWriMo, it's not just for November anymore.


Get rejected early, get rejected often. Get used to it. It sucks but it's going to happen a lot. I used to keep a folder with all my rejection letters, but gave up after I broke the 100-reject mark. It's nothing personal, and I even think it has more to do with mood and what music the editor's/agent's assistant is listening to at that moment, how high in the stack your manuscript is, how high the stack is, than anything else--especially if you feel that you're over the above writing threshold. That a writer "ought to be" published makes no difference. We all ought to be published. It just doesn't work that way.

I can't remember my first rejection letter, but I know it was a form reject, and it was in 1980. I do remember a rejection a year later from Andrew Offutt, then editing a fantasy anthology called Swords Against Darkness (Charles de Lint's first professional sale was in this anthology). Here's a scan of the letter Mr. Offutt sent me, rejecting my story (I can't remember the title), and here's one of the first posts I made on about that early rejection experience. I have great rejection letters from Jennifer Jackson, Rachel Vater, and others, real letters that gave me real hope. Rejection can be good.


Good writing is rejected every day, some small fraction of everything going through the post never makes it to its destination, butterflies are flapping their wings somewhere, causing all kinds of bad shit to happen to your manuscript, your query letter, your chapters--and agents and editors are the busiest people on the planet, and they have moods and attention spans like everyone else. They also have incredible talent for finding talent. We know this because there are successful writers out there--obviously--and some agent found them, some editor took a chance, some publishing house--big NYC firms and small presses--invested in them, wrote up contracts for those authors to sign, cut checks, spent marketing dollars on them, paid artists for cover art, paid type designers and cover designers and copy editors, blogged about the whole thing, went to cons and introduced their authors to other authors and industry insiders. We know this stuff happens. It's just difficult to know how or when it will happen. Uncertainty.
Writing, rejection and uncertainty can all be tied together and developed, handled, manipulated by you the writer to some extent. On the other hand, you can't do anything about time. Don't even attempt it. Time always has the upper hand because it's never ours, but someone else's.


I think it's the only thing you can't do anything about. Everything takes time, and in publishing, double everything. Learn patience--that's from me, the slow learner. I can't tell you how many times I've been writing a letter or about to write a letter--nice ones, mind you, fingers are on the keyboard, passion in my soul...and that's when I get something in the mail or email from the editor or agent, and in every case I've thought "whew!" I'm glad I didn't finish that email. Be lazy when it comes to following up on anything you send to an agent or editor. Wait it out and you will be rewarded.

There's my take on it. There's always another book to write. WRUT. Write on.

The bronze age revisited

While I was writing my fantasy novel The Sarsen Witch, I didn’t think of it as a romance, so much as a prehistoric adventure about the intersection of the Neolithic and Bronze Age worlds, and the building of Stonehenge. In re-reading, though, I realized that the template I’d borrowed, in a setting millennia earlier than the Arthurian legends or the story of Tristan and Iseult, was the archetypal romantic triangle of king, king’s wife, and king’s friend. Ricca, the Wessex warrior chieftain, is a flawed and barbaric Arthur; Gwi, the bronze-smith, his trusted friend; Naeri, the woman they both love; and Daui, the vengeful kinsman who would destroy them all.

Now, after many years, The Sarsen Witch is coming back into print. In the dramatic cover by Tim Lantz, Naeri appears as she does in the first pages of the book – “chapped lips, windburned face, lean hard-muscled body … a creature spare and strong and hardy as the gorse”.

On a trip to England in 1990 I traveled through Wiltshire, retracing the path of Naeri’s adventures in the megalithic world of Avebury and Stonehenge. You can find some of my experiences on that trip in the archives at

Monday, October 29, 2007

National Novel Writing Month

Ah, lucky Carole, to have her novel out and be working on her next book! I, on the other hand, am still neck-deep in line editing as I fix a few loose gears and weak springs in Clockwork Heart.

I need to move quickly on the edit, though, because I'll be participating in National Novel Writing Month over November, and that takes a lot of time. I've been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2002; in fact, Clockwork Heart was my 2004 NaNoWriMo novel!

You can find me under DrDru at the NaNoWriMo site, and here's my personal update page, which describes previous novels I've written for NaNoWriMo. I haven't entered any information about my 2007 novel, yet. I will, I will! Soon. Tonight. I promise. It's going to be Indian-flavored weird fantasy in honor of the trip I'm taking to India in December....

So if you're a novelist or thinking about becoming a novelist, and you're not already signed up for NaNoWriMo, come join the fun! The goal is to write 50,000 words in one month, but there's no prize if you make it and no penalty if you don't. Why not try?

Hope I'll see you there!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wind Follower book trailer

Okay, don't laugh. I've been working on a book trailer for Wind Follower ever since Sylvia Kelso, one of Juno's authors showed me hers. She did a really wonderful trailer for her book, Amberlight. So I'm still learning how to use Windows Movie Maker. Nevertheless I posted it to youtube.

Anyways, Click here to go to youtube to see the Wind Follower trailer.

click here to go to youtube to see Sylvia's trailer for Amberlight

Juno Books

This blog is a team blog written by the authors whose books are published by Juno Books.

Don't know what Juno Books is?

Then pay the site a visit:

Juno Books is a small traditional press which publishes speculative fiction -- fantasy-- with a focus on the female. Strong kickassitude women. Not sidekicks, not the hero's girlfriend, not a victim. A heroine in her own right?

Read about adventurous quests, dark secrets, light humor, deep desires, high imagination, mystery, metaphysics, magic, myth...swept into the past, taken to a timeless otherworld, set in the future, or happening right now. Juno publishes books that go beyond the ordinary and take the reader with them.

If you want to see a sample of some of our writers, please visit