Writer Conference of Two

Yesterday—when I should have been ensuring that my blog had a new post—I was instead meeting with Laura Montgomery to talk shop about writing and publishing for 4 hours.

It was glorious!

I don’t dare impose upon non-writers and non-publishers with such a prolonged concentration on the craft of writing, the intricacies of advertising, and the requirements of book design.

(We greeted one another with a Thai wai—and did a lot of hand washing—so as to minimize the chance of conveying COVID-19 from my location to hers, or vice versa.)

I’m not going to impose upon you with a blow-by-blow account of our discussions. But I will relay a few highlights.

Dorothy Sayers

Since I’m re-reading several of Dorothy Sayers’ mysteries, I spoke of a new discovery I’d made of something heretofore unnoticed by me. Sayers’ world building is largely focused on the social milieu in which her stories take place. She gives just a sketch of the physical setting—enough that the reader has some idea, but no more.

In Murder Must Advertise, I felt myself to be in the ad agency, not because the office premises were so vivid, but because the attitudes of the copy writers, the typists, the art department, and the account managers were vivid. I heard how they spoke, learned what their concerns were and what produced friction between different individuals and groups. It was fascinating!

In The Nine Tailors, I visited a village in the English countryside of the 1930s and felt myself immersed in the community gathered around the parson of the local church. In Gaudy Night, I experienced the society of the dons, scouts, and students of a women’s college in Oxford.

I’m really intrigued by how Sayers conveyed the social milieu, because my own world building tends to focus more on culture, art, religion, and social hierarchies. I’d like to bring more of Sayers’ community feeling to my work.

Lawrence Block

Lawrence Block has written many marvelous books on the caft of writing, and I’ve read all of them. But just recently I decided to read his Write For Your Life, a “seminar in a book” focused on how the unconscious beliefs held by a writer can hold her back and how to get free of such impediments.

Laura and I have both been reading Write For Your Life and doing the exercises within.

Next week’s blog post will be a transcription of my results from one of the exercises on building characters.

January-February Accomplishments

We looked over what we’d each accomplished so far this year. It’s helpful to be accountable to someone other than oneself. Here’s my list:

Jan 2—brainstorm short story about bridge engineer for the legions of ancient Rome
Jan 3—register Sovereign Night at the US Copyright Office
Jan 4—write flash fiction: “Ribbon of Earth’s Tears”
Jan 6—create cover for The Hunt of the Unicorn paperback
Jan 8—write first scene of bridge builder short
Jan 15—write “Were It Only Exile” short story
Jan 20—work on Here Be Elves bundle
Jan 21—publish Sovereign Night
Feb 1—register The Hunt of the Unicorn at the US Copyright Office
Feb 4-10—big marketing push for Gael & Keir series
Feb 10—publish The Hunt of the Unicorn on Amazon
Feb 12—first correction pass through Journey into Grief paperback photos
Mar 2—register Tales of Old Giralliya at the US Copyright Office

Looking Forward

We also shared our plans for the year ahead. More accountability to help with productivity.

I hope to adjust the categories and sub-categories for a bunch of my backlist books, as well as doing a few other publishing tasks. But the most important plans are my writing plans. Take a look!

March (early)—write short story about bridge engineer for the legions of ancient Rome
March (mid)—think about Deepearth Rising, Gael & Keir Book Three
March (late)—revise first 16k of Deepearth Rising

(April—visit several colleges with my daughter)

May 2—start writing Deepearth Rising
October (early)—write short story: “Sleeping Beauty 2”
October (mid)—write short story: “Sleeping Beauty 1”
October (late)—write short story, plot to be determined
November (early)—think about Gael & Keir Book Four
November (mid)—plan Gael & Keir Book Four
December—start writing Gael & Keir Book Four

I’m crossing my fingers that my health stays good and I don’t have any surgeries this year! 😀