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Writing with Outlines and Making Room for Unexpected Monsters

By on Jul 26, 2015 in glassmere, writing | 0 comments

Glassmere marks my second real foray into a planned novel. The outline isn’t terribly strict, and it’s always changing and morphing. But it’s like this bright backbone I’m building around. For a seasoned pantser, this is a huge departure. What I like most about the outline, though, is that it’s not as rigid as I thought it’d be. Sure, there are some writers who do a far more strict version than I do, where every scene and beat is painstakingly draw out in detail. Others use a detailed synopsis. Just different strokes, y’know? But for me, having this backbone means that, even in times of crunch (which, let’s be honest, feels like every day these days) I have a blueprint. I have somewhere to go. It doesn’t mean that the words flow like water (or wine), though. There have been many days where I’m perfectly aware of what...

Moving My Brain and My Stories, Too

By on Jul 5, 2015 in writing | 2 comments

Now that the office is finally set up in the new house, writing has begun again on Glassmere. Frustrating to take a break from something I’m enjoying so much, but there’re lessons to be learned there, too. The older I get, the more I realize that writing is… well, it’s about the writing. The other extraneous chaff is part of it (the publishing, reception, etc.) — but on the most simple level, the most selfish level, I suppose, there is just the writing. And me. And I need it, and it makes me who I am. And I’m getting better at it every time I sit down to write because that’s my focus and not everything else. It’ll take a little to get adjusted to the new corner. The new house has a built-in office, and I can’t tell you the last time I had a corner to call my own. We scored this gorgeous Midcentury Modern desk on Craigslist (pictured...

Do You Want to be my Alpha Reader?

By on Mar 7, 2015 in glassmere, gothic, writing | 6 comments

If you follow me on social media, or anywhere really, you’ll note that I’m currently writing a magical realism novel called Glassmere. The elevator pitch is that it’s Downton Abbey meets Narnia. It’s set in the spring and summer 1914, and is the story of two generations of sisters (Eleanor and Julia who are in their late teens, and Alice and Lucy who are in their late seventies) and their connection to a place called the Other Country. If you want an aesthetic feel, my Pinterest board on the subject is quite comprehensive. Typically when I’m writing it’s behind very closed doors. Once the whole thing is written, taken apart, put back together, and edited, I share it with beta readers. Simple as that. But Glassmere is different. It’s a novel I’ve been working on, on and off, for more than four years. It’s rather well outlined, if I...

Eating Authors over at Lawrence M. Shoen’s Blog

By on Feb 20, 2015 in blog | 0 comments

With a whirlwind trip to California (that included the worst airline experience to date, thanks United Airlines!) and the snowpocalypse in NC, I totally forgot to share this bit! I met Lawrence at Illogicon last year, and through the magic of Tsu (really, this isn’t a joke) he asked me to write for his blog series Eating Authors. Pretty much up my alley, as you might expect. (And oh yeah, you might have noticed Mr. Shoen was just nominated for a Nebula. Pretty darn sweet! Also thrilled to see Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation up, as well, one of the best books I’ve read in… um, a long, long time.) I talk about my greatest food experience at a place called The Dragon Restaurant in Pittsfield, MA. LMS: Welcome, Natania. What’s your most memorable meal? NB: Food is part of what makes us human. Like any other art — and I do believe it to be an art — it inspires us,...

Two feet forward & re-processing writing process

By on Jan 16, 2015 in writing | 0 comments

Timehop is a fabulous app. It’s really built on one hook: you want to see what you were up to in the past. So every morning, I open my app up and get windows into what I was doing one, two, three years ago. You get the drift. It’s often awash with cute pictures of my kids, plates of food, and lots of updates on writing. This morning marked a year to the date I finished Watcher of the Skies. After starting a new job and having a very tumultuous year with our son (we were in the process of getting his IEP, I believe) the accomplishment was huge. To date, it’s one of the longest, most complex books I’ve written. And so much love and thought went into it. Often, when I write books I feel as if they give me something — with Watcher I feel as if something of me was lost. Not in a bad way, but in a way that’s essential to growing. A part of me, my heart, my...

On Achieving Writing Distance

By on Dec 27, 2014 in editing, publication, writing | 0 comments

Ever since I read Stephen King’s On Writing twelve years ago, I’ve been acutely aware of my biggest fault as a writer: my inability to achieve distance from my own writing. King talks about finishing a manuscript and then putting it away for a few weeks, letting it mellow a bit, in order to return to it with fresh eyes. But fresh eyes, man. That’s the rub right there. I have written many novels. And I have edited them, too. But when it comes to actually being able to see beyond my work in progress, to be able to step away far enough that it no longer feels familiar… that’s been a big challenge for me. I’ve written about my struggles with rejection before. And while I think I’ve improved in some ways, I still have a very difficult time moving past initial rejection. Take my novel Queen of None (you can pretty much follow the story of the novel...

On “failing” NaNoWriMo 2014

By on Dec 22, 2014 in writing | 0 comments

So even though I haven’t been posting here as much as I ought, I did post a series of meanderings over at Writer’s Digest over the NaNoWriMo insanity. The last post I somehow missed, but it’s live right here. You can click through all the other bits I shared from that final post, but I wanted to share the post here because it’s important. So, read away, losers. — So here’s the thing. If you’re being technical, Jonathan and I didn’t win NaNoWriMo. Neither of us hit 50,000 words. But I’m not upset in the least. Why? Because NaNoWriMo isn’t just about “winning” really. Sure, you get a nice little badge and you can share an icon on your blog and social media. But at the end of the day sometimes (and this has happened to me) what you end up with is more work than what you started with. From the outset, Jonathan and I wanted to use NaNoWriMo as a tool. Not an...

Introducing Two Brain Space

By on Oct 25, 2014 in fantasy, fiction, nanowrimo, weird, writing | 1 comment

So, in what’s probably not a surprise, I’m going to be doing NaNoWriMo again this year. I’m in an even-year pattern, as it goes. But what is a surprise is that I’m doing it with Jonathan Wood, my good friend and fellow writer. It’s, in a word, spiderpunk. If you want to follow what we’re doing, head on over to the new...