Monthly Archives: October 2012

A November Blog Series

Anyone who saw me collapse, breathless, elated, and half-dead into Twitter a few weeks ago–or read Book Math–knows that I finished my second book in October. Affectionally hashtagged as #magicbirdbook, it was slightly more privately known as The Book That Killed Me.

It was VERY difficult to write, and there were a lot of reasons for that, reasons which I’m going to explore in a series of posts throughout November. They’re already scheduled to go up, because I’m spending November participating in NaNoWriMo and probably won’t have a lot of time to sit down and write blog posts.

In hindsight, it’s probably better–when not calling it Magic Bird Book or using the actual title only a handful of people know so far–to call it The Book That Schooled Me. I got owned, hard. The act of writing any book is, I think, a learning experience, and this one taught me some very brutal lessons. Lessons I needed to learn, or re-learn in some cases. Lessons that will (already have?) made me a better author and more prepared for a career as one.

The first Lesson from Magic Bird Book will go up next Thursday, November 8th, then each following Thursday throughout the month. In the meantime, CODA has a cover and you can enter to win an ARC!


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Posted by on October 31, 2012 in Uncategorized


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CODA Cover Reveal!


CODA has a cover! Not just that, but there are advance copies with the cover on them! ACTUAL BOOKS!

To celebrate both, here is the cover:

Isn’t it awesome? I love that it’s dark and gritty, just like the book, and that they incorporated the coda symbol into the “O” there, which was always a maybe-not-so-hidden wish of mine. I love the speaker background and the hints of all-important blue. I love that it’s unlike anything else. There will be some tweaks to the final cover (secrets!) but this is exactly what’s on the ARCs. Which leads me to my next point…

Here is your chance to win the very first ARC of CODA I’ll give away. Very. First. No one in the world has CODA except publishing people. I’ll sign it and send it to you wherever you are on the planet or beyond. You can enter this contest if you’re hangin’ on Mars with the Rover if you want. I’d offer to doodle inside, but my sketching skills peaked at stick figures so it’s probably better if I don’t.

The book, as described on Goodreads: Ever since he was a young boy, music has coursed through the veins of eighteen-year-old Anthem—the Corp has certainly seen to that. By encoding music with addictive and mind-altering elements, the Corp holds control over all citizens, particularly conduits like Anthem, whose life energy feeds the main power in the Grid.

Anthem finds hope and comfort in the twin siblings he cares for, even as he watches the life drain slowly and painfully from his father. Escape is found in his underground rock band, where music sounds free, clear, and unencoded deep in an abandoned basement. But when a band member dies suspiciously from a tracking overdose, Anthem knows that his time has suddenly become limited. Revolution all but sings in the air, and Anthem cannot help but answer the call with the chords of choice and free will. But will the girl he loves help or hinder him?

So, if you want to get your hands on CODA months before the May release, here’s how:

In the comments, write me a 100 word story that could have this cover. The wilder and more creative, the better. Priority given to entries that use the following words in any context and any order:

  • Anthem
  • Track
  • Chrome
  • Corporation
  • Music

Brooks the Agent will help me judge, and the contest is open from right now until 5 pm EST on Wednesday, November 7th.


Posted by on October 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


Book Math

Plot ideas too good to pass up: 1
Approximate words written: 125,000
Actual length of MS: 53,500
Times I considered throwing my computer out the window: approx. 10,000
Caffeinated beverages: I can’t count this high
Cookies: See above
Months taken: 7
Play count of “Lovegood” from the HP7 soundtrack: 1035
Famous landmarks twisted for my own crazy purposes: 4
Misappropriated fairy tales: 1
Mad scientists: 1
Evil sorcerers: 1
Mischievous fairies: lots
Gateways to other worlds: 1
Airships damaged: 3
Characters killed: 10 1/2
Dragons: 2

= 1 finished book I’m prouder of than I’ve ever been of anything I’ve written.


Posted by on October 11, 2012 in Uncategorized


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The Unbearable Dullness of Settling

It’s been one of those weeks, and it’s only Wednesday. Looming deadlines, decisions to make, a migraine, laundry, wrestling with a book draft, abandoning 80% of my to-do list every day and having a new to-do list the next, guilt over not doing ALL THE THINGS, RIGHT AWAY, because some of that to-do list affects other people. I need to take a deep breath, eat some chocolate, get a massage, and get back to work.

So why am I blogging? Because this article – found in my agent’s Twitter feed – touched a nerve and now I’m feeling ranty. If my blog stats are anything to go by, you guys like it when I rant, so here you are. I’m a giver that way.

The author, who has a freshly-published book on the subject of the article, talks about the pointlessness of finding your passion in life before you make a career out of it. Get a career, he says, and then let the passion come.

I need a minute to figure out where to start with this. Saying “this is such BS” is tempting, but it doesn’t really cover everything I think, nor is it fair to this guy I so completely disagree with, and I do try to be fair. I’m completely willing to accept that this philosophy worked for him – more on that in a minute – but it doesn’t work for everyone. To offer this kind of sweeping “advice” is naive bordering on harmful.

Right this second, I’m sitting in my living room surrounded by the detritus of a writing life: empty coffee mugs, my iPod, a half-eaten snack, three notebooks and seven pens. Scrivener is open on my desktop, the manuscript I have been writing and re-drafting since March. By an almost immeasurable margin, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever worked on. I’ve doubted myself often. I’ve considered trashing it more times than I care to count. It’s made me cry until I laughed because there wasn’t any other choice but to laugh.

If I’d been waiting for the passion to find me, I’d still be in the dark. During every hard time, every self-questioning moment, what’s kept me going is the enthusiasm I have for writing, for words, for bringing stories alive. The passion I already had. That same passion got me through rough times with CODA, through the query process, through every challenge, obstacle, and pitfall that’s happened on its way to becoming a Real Book I Can Hold. It’s gotten me through this week, which is why the article annoyed me so much.

It could be argued that Mr. Newport was talking about people with desk jobs, office jobs, eight-hours-in-a-cubicle jobs. That argument works until it’s countered by the one that says every single publishing professional I know, and that’s a decent number spread across many career paths, says that the only way to make it in this world is to treat writing like a job. To be professionals about it. And, while I’m sure they’ll correct me if I’m wrong, I feel comfortable saying that absolutely none of them want to work with a writer who says, “Here, I wrote this book, and honestly I hated the experience, but I’m hoping I’ll learn to love it.” Even if he was only talking about desk jobs…so what? Passion is one thing that gets you through the rough times. I don’t think it’s born from them.

He also says that this advice doesn’t apply to people who have a lifelong dream of a specific thing, but I didn’t always know I wanted to be a writer. I always knew I liked to write, but that’s not the same. Even if I had known at 22 that I wanted to be a writer, I wouldn’t have been the same one I am today. That’s just the way life works. We change, grow, and learn, and then we apply those lessons to the life we have now.

Could the skills I use as a writer be equally applied to a different job? Yes. Would I enjoy it as much? No idea. I’ve found what I want to do. For the moment, at least, I don’t have a lot of interest in looking for something else to do. Nor do I have the time. But if I did, I’d use the things I’m good at, my own unique skill set, to do something else. I can’t help but feel he’s missing his own point here. Yes, he had different career options, but all of them built on skills he has and clearly enjoys. Whether he enjoys them because he has them isn’t really the issue, and is an argument for the philosophers among us.

Not everyone loves everything about their job all the time. I’d argue most people don’t. Work is hard, and it probably should be. I don’t for a second advocate giving up a job when things get rough. But the idea that struggling through misery is what makes us worthwhile humans frankly disgusts me. There are a lot of reasons to just keep swimming, even when the tide is against us, but most of them involve things like food and rent and bills, or eventual career progression, or because there are no other options.

Also, it’s pretty difficult to take seriously advice not to explore opportunities or hope for that “dream job” from a guy who makes part of his living from writing books that have nothing to do with his other career. Or from a guy who details in the linked article the three very attractive job paths open to him when he left college.

I wonder whether he thinks the barista who makes his coffee (for minimum wage) is just waiting for the passion to come.

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Posted by on October 3, 2012 in Uncategorized


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