Archive for the 'Writing life' Category
by Jessa Slade on April 23rd, 2012
Currently working on: Catching up
Mood: Juggling (cue circus music)
I was in Chicago last week at the RT Booklovers Convention and missed my post because I was just having too much fun! (And also because I left the power cord for my netbook at the hotel and couldn’t download my pix. If netbooks could be powered on caffeine and giggling, I would’ve been fine.)
Leaving at o’mg’dark-thirty in the morning, I captured this thrilling shot of the full moon setting at the Portland airport. What? You can’t see the pale, fuzzy circle in the upper left hand corner? I couldn’t either because I was still basically asleep.
But I did get a better shot of Mt Hood which I always take on the way over. What? You can’t see the pale, fuzzy triangle in the lower left side of the photo? I guess I was still basically asleep. You gotta sleep as much as possible before RT.
We stopped at Anderson’s Bookshop in Downers Grove to sign copies of DARKNESS UNDONE which completely woke me up. Most of the bookstores in the greater Chicagoland area probably have signed copies now. So swing by your favorite bookstore.
Since I had a few free days before the convention started, we got to stop by the Chicago Botanical Gardens (which shockingly I’d never visited before) to stock up on some peace and blue skies before plunging into the madness of book world. I took a bunch of pictures that made me want to write a historical romance, with heroines sneaking out to meet their heroes in beautiful gardens. There would be roses tucked behind ears eventually, I’m sure.
When we got to our conference hotel, the architecture made me want to write more science fiction romance. Check out these great levels. Can’t you imagine a Logan’s Run-style adventure, jumping from floor to floor? There was definition a lot of running on my part since our room was located at the farthest possible point from the elevators. But we compensated by having a great view.
Over the trees, we could see downtown Chicago beyond a strange little temple. One night, we had a great crashing lightning-and-thunderstorm, which we rarely see in Portland. The rain reminded me of home…
But we didn’t spend much time in the room, of course, because it was books books books and more books!
There was Linnea Sinclair & Friends Intergalactic Bar & Grille party with treats and games and — naturally — books.
I sat in on a great discussion with (tiny from right) Jeaniene Frost, Charlaine Harris, and Nalini Singh with RT’s Morgan. (The photo is fuzzy not because I was half-asleep this time but because I was fan-girling too hard. That’s my excuse, anyway.) Three vampire writers telling us secrets about their upcoming books; and refusing to tell us secrets too, the teases.
We had themed dance parties every night — hip hop night, Scottish night, Night of Stars and more. I brought waaaaay too many shoes… and wore them all
The costuming even applied to mascots, such as Bob the Alien (who escaped from the Intergalactic Bar) and showed up in a kilt at the Scottish party. In case you were wondering what Bob the Alien has under his kilt, if you look very closely, you’ll see that he has anatomically correct candy. Shocking!
But RT isn’t all fun and games. Well, it’s all fun, but not all games. Authors are there to work! We had the Ebook Expo and Giant Book Fair to meet readers and sign books books book.
I signed books and trading cards and book bags and e-book covers and t-shirts and scrapbook pages, but some other authors found other things to sign…
What could be better than man chest (okay, man belly) signed with your favorite romance authors?
Don’t answer that quite yet.
The end of the party is always a little sad. I thought I’d grab a shot of the aftermath: snapped rubberbands, scattered pens, a few leftover books, empty candy wrappers (or maybe that was just my table). Definitely nap time.
But the party never really ends. I’ll be at Authors After Dark in New Orleans in August, where the party REALLY never ends. But also, I brought home 104 lbs from RT which I haven’t even unpacked — thus ensuring the party continues — and at least some of it should go to one of YOU.
So, if you’d like to get some RT-themed goodies, assorted swag, and — naturally — books, leave a comment about what you’re reading these days and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a bag.
by Jessa Slade on April 9th, 2012
Currently working on: Stealing Easter candy from careless children
This week I’m at the RT Booklovers Convention in Chicago. If you aren’t attending, you can follow the fun on Twitter at #RT2012.
If you are my XY reading this, thinking, “I thought you said it was work?”, see all the work:
This picture doesn’t even show the big box of books coming with me.
If you ARE attending RT, I hope you’ll come find me and say hey. All Silk & Shadows readers who come hey me (let me know you read the post here) will be entered to win an RT schwag bag. Readers at home, leave a comment here about your favorite memory of meeting an author, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win too.
My RT schedule is all over the place, but you can for certain find me at:
Wednesday: Linnea Sinclair’s Intergalactic Bar & Grill, 4:45-5:45 p.m.
Thursday: Ebook Expo, 4-6 p.m., Grand Ballroom
Friday: Humor writing workshop (What? You don’t think I write humor? We shall see!): SPRINKLING SMILES INTO SAD (SEX, ACTION & DRAMA) SCENES with Dee Brice, Ashlyn Chase, Marcia James, Delilah Marvelle and Jessa Slade, 11:15 a.m.
Saturday: Giant Book Fair, 10:45 a.m.-2 p.m., Grand Ballroom
I’ll also be at all the evening parties, of course, probably dancing. If you see me limping during the days, you’ll know why.
Also also, I’m taking part in a “stalk the author signature” game with Ann Aguirre, Tes Hilaire & more. Come find me for your game sheet and signature. Someone will win an e-reader, a basket of books, and more.
If you’ve wondered about attending a romance reader convention, here are three useful tips:
- Bring an empty priority mailing box from the USPS, already filled out with your home address so you can mail your books back to yourself. You can pay online and drop the box at the hotel business office, easy-peasy. Books are crazy heavy, and you’ll be going home with more than you might expect. At least that always seems to happen to me
- Bring cute shoes AND comfortable shoes. You can wear the cute shoes the first day while you still care. On the second day and every day thereafter, you can switch to the comfortable shoes, because by then, you’ll be friends with everybody in the hotel and they’ll be in their comfortable shoes too. Heck, bring your slippers.
- Stay hydrated. I know, you think, it’s not like we’re lost in the desert. But those hotels are big enough that you can march for days. Bring a couple chocolate bars too.
You can never go wrong with extra chocolate bars.
by Jessa Slade on March 19th, 2012
Currently working on: One trilogy proposal, one novella revision, one novella brainstorming, one Portland stock signing tour, plus convention prep
Mood: Deer-in-headlights mode
Here’s the thing: I know how to say no. I just don’t say it.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I do say it when I want to. Sometimes I say it politely, sometimes I say it with derisive laughter. But lately, I haven’t been saying it because most of the things I’ve had the opportunity to say no to are either too fun to reject or too necessary.
And so I say yes. Sometimes with glee, sometimes with a long-suffering sigh. But either way it goes on my to-do list.
Self-help types make saying no sound so easy. And sometimes it is easy. “You say the toilet needs to be scrubbed? Nah…” But if saying no was easy, we wouldn’t need self-help types. I think my biggest problem is that I secretly like to multi-task. The stress makes me feel more alive. Maybe that’s just my blood pressure rising, but it counts.
Confession: Yesterday, I put something on my to-do list that I knew I wasn’t going to do just so I could cross it off later when I confirmed I wasn’t going to do it. See? I know how to say no.
I like making lists, often in colored pen on colored sticky notes, and even better do I like crossing things off. But it’s gotten to the point where I need a master list to keep track of the sub-lists. This is ridiculous. And March is already half over!
Right now, I’m still holding it together, but I’m afraid just a few more things — or maybe just one more thing if it was on fire — could put me beyond my juggling capacity. So here’s my plan going forward:
1. Triage existing yes’s and back out deadlines to clarify workflow.
2. Rev up the no machine and evaluate all incoming requests/opportunities with an eye on existing schedule.
3. Stock more chocolate.
I’ll let you know how it goes. Or you’ll just hear me screaming.
by Jessa Slade on March 12th, 2012
Currently working on: Laundry
Mood: Squeaky clean
I’m posting a bit late since I just returned from a week in New York City. I was attending a published author conference and had SO MUCH FUN!… I mean, it was sooooo much work. (Just in case my XY is reading this.)
Our conference hotel was the Millennium Broadway just off Times Square. I feel like I am not a complete rube, but in New York, I am definitely a country mouse. So many people in such a compact space — there are actual pedestrian traffic jams — make me just a little crazy. But the energy is undeniable. Or maybe that’s all the power pulsing through the light bulbs on Times Square.
Since DARKNESS UNDONE officially released last Tuesday, I did a stock
signing tour of every bookstore in Manhattan I could find that carried a copy of the book. If you live in the New York area, you can find signed copies of DARKNESS UNDONE at almost all the Barnes & Nobles. You’ll find me lurking in the vicinity of Nalini Singh and Gena Showalter.
My roommate, historical author Delilah Marvelle and I hiked all over NYC. I Google Pedometered our route afterward; we hiked 8.5 MILES! Truly pounding pavement. But the sore feet were well worth it starting off with breakfast with fabulous bookseller, Stacey of Posman Books. Not only does the store have a glorious romance section, it is located in Grand Central Station. How cool is that?
I also had the chance to meet Carla from Book Monster Reviews who along with book friend Karina joined me, Laurie London and Erin Kellison for a beautiful spring day in Bryant Park. We sat for a couple hours, talking about books and eating Crumbs Bake Shop cupcakes. I think that might qualify as a little slice of heaven. Although the black bottom cheesecake brownie cupcake contains over a thousand calories (according to the placard at the shop) I felt entirely justified because of the aforementioned 8.5 MILES.
From the New York Central Library, a quote from John Milton:
A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.
I’m sure he would have added friends and cupcakes too, had he thought about it.
I brought back some goodies to share (no cupcakes though) and am doing a giveaway through my newsletter. Sign up here.
Ah, New York, I miss you already.
by Jessa Slade on March 5th, 2012
Currently working on: Packing!
As you read this, I am probably in an airport, longing for free wifi, or maybe on an airplane in between Portland and New York which are REALLY far away from each other if you consult a map. (It’s also possible that as you read this, I am still packing since I’m typing this sorta late on Sunday night. But there’s no point going to sleep since I’m going to be up at OMG o’clock to be at the airport at 4:30 a.m.)
All this week I’m attending the PASIC industry conference where a bunch of writerly and publishery types get together and talk books. In New York! Heaven!
My excitement is all the greater because book 4 of the Marked Souls DARKNESS UNDONE releases on Tuesday. While I am in New York! If ever there is a place to celebrate a book release, it must be New York. There are COUNTLESS (trust me, I tried Google mapping them) bookstores on the relatively small island of Manhattan; these people love their books. I’ll be stocksigning every copy of DARKNESS UNDONE I can find in Manhattan, so if you live there, off you go.
If you live elsewhere and would like a signed bookplate instead, please contact me.
Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
Powells | Indie Bound | Indigo | Blackstone Audio
Since I AM still packing (hey, it’s not even 11 p.m.!) I’m going to cut this short, but you’ll find PLENTY of my words as I’m guest posting all over the blogosphere this week and next, so please come say hey and comment for a chance to win books ‘n’ stuff.
March 5: I’m being interviewed at My Bookish Ways (hopefully sounding erudite and/or readable). And check out the fabulous review!:
“Jessa Slade has created a rich, dark, complex world and populated it with equally complex characters.”
– My Bookish Ways
March 6: Wherein I reveal that I am a terrible liar at Paranormal Freebies.
March 7: Sharing the love for nerd heroes with the Book Reading Gals.
March 8: The important of first — and second — kisses at Romanceaholic.
March 9: “Clothes make the man” (so where are my heroes’ shirts?!) at Seeing Night.
March 12: Seeing the good in bad guys at Good Choice Reading.
March 13: Pull up a chair, a book, and a cup of tea at Tea & Book.
March 14: Delving historically deep with Vanessa Kelly.
And if you missed them:
March 1: I’m at Book Monster Reviews today talking about the visual side of writing.
March 2: Mayhem at SciFi Guy! Choose your favorite weapon!
by Sharon Ashwood on February 15th, 2012
As I write this, it’s Valentine’s Day.
I’m sure the set dressers have been at work. Outside my window, the sky is blue with white fluffy fleecies and the harbour is as still as glass. The goody table here at work is piled with sugary treats. The only thing lacking is stock characters from a romantic comedy doing a swooning grapple over the copy machine. (Just as well. The stupid thing breaks down often enough as it is.)
Being a writer is all about looking at the world through a lens of possibility. Adventure, mystery, and romance can happen at any moment. It’s our joy and curse to see it hovering within the veil of possibilities.
· What if the courier delivers the wrong package—the one meant for the exotic zoo?
· What if the deli down the street is the info drop for foreign spies?
· What if the ugly cactus in the boardroom has a hidden camera?
· What if the photocopier goes for a whole week without breaking down? Nah, fiction only goes so far.
But looking at the world in terms of potential has applications far beyond novel-writing. It applies directly to our own lives. Daydreaming is one of the best ways to figure out what we want. Ever given yourself permission to imagine driving a race car? Running a Fortune 500 company? People who write those self-help books (you know the ones) say that creative visualization is half the journey toward success.
In utterly practical ways, seeing the possible forms the basis of every successful compromise. In business and legal terms, how do you mediate an agreement without a little imagination? What about invention? Product development? Thinking outside the box is all about potential. It got us things like cooking fires and indoor plumbing. And, occasionally, someone worth turning into our Valentine. It takes imagination to see those hidden qualities.
So when you’re looking at the world through a creative lens, it’s not just possible novels you’re uncovering, it’s the basis for every advance (and quite a few gaffes) our civilization has made. For those looking for meaning beyond overpriced roses and impractical lingerie, consider Valentine’s Day a celebration of the possible. Those rose-coloured glasses might cloud our vision, but they also make us look toward the horizon.
Or into the chocolate box. Sometimes the best possibilities are right in front of us.
by Jessa Slade on January 30th, 2012
Currently working on: Expanding a story
Last weekend, I went to the Oregon Coast with some writer friends for a beach retreat. (I accidentally typed “treat” and it WAS a treat.) Writing retreats are enormous fun, of course, but I also want the time to be productive. So here are some of my suggestions for a productive writing retreat:
Go to the beach at a yucky time of year.
At the Oregon Coast, you can be guaranteed gusting rain November through July (and prohibitive prices August through September). So usually the horizontal “moisturizing and exfoliating” is enough to keep us inside at our computers.
Here’s a picture of me, measuring how many words I have yet to add. See, this is why you go to the beach in bad weather. Sunshine DEMANDS a walk on the beach.
Bring the right friends.
It’s best to surround yourself with writers who share similar productivity goals. Friends who constantly tempt you to walk on the beach as the sun sets are counterproductive.
Sadly, it turns out I am that friend. So don’t bring me. Except you have to bring me because I always bring the mint brownies.
Find an inspiring spot.
Not only is the right physical spot important — like this lovely little beach house surrounded by chirping frogs — but the right spot in your mindset and your work in progress.
I try to prepare for a writing retreat by making sure I have the right sort of project and that I clear my “real life” of distractions that might creep into the weekend. Actually, this last weekend, I did a bad job of choosing the project. I’m working on revising, and I found that I did not do as well as when I bring a hot draft to a retreat. I’ll know that for next time.
Never mind the inspiration, just focus!
Part of my problem with choosing a revision project instead of a hot draft, is that when I’m revising, I tend to stare off into space while I think. When I’m at home, in my little office, there’s not much to look at and I quickly go back to work. But at the beach… I just stared at the waves for hours! I needed to bring my focus closer.
A good writing retreat has a clear focus, whether it’s writing, brainstorming or just refilling the well. Be sure you know what purpose your retreat will serve.
Track progress on the retreat days.
Like tracking the sun across the sky… It’s easier for me to stay accountable if I track my progress in three chunks during a retreat day: morning session, afternoon session, evening session. If I only review my progress once at the end of the day, I might find I didn’t do enough, but now it’s too late. If I track in chunks, then a slacker morning session (sun on the beach!) can be rectified in the afternoon, or a slow afternoon (afternoon nap on the sunny beach!) can be made up in the evening (no sun).
As much as I want a writing retreat to be productive, well, it is a retreat. I try to capture some of that glory — and some of that sun — and take it back with me to rainy Portland.
Do you have a favorite getaway that never fails to rejuvenate you? Do you bring back souvenirs? I love to find good rocks.
by Jessa Slade on October 17th, 2011
Currently working on: Unpacking
My parents were in town this weekend and the weather was that gorgeous secret of the Pacific Northwest: the sunny week in October. See, right before the rains close in, nature gives us one more week of glorious blue skies and balmy temps. A cruel taunt? A promise? Whichever.
So we headed up to the Olympic Peninsula for a bit of walking, then back down Hwy 101 to the Oregon Coast.
While we walked, I thought about the new story I’m working on, and it seems to me, that our hiking and my story have a lot in common.
1. The stuff
When I start a new idea, I am excited and overwhelmed by all the stuff I might stuff in the story. Secondary love triangle! BB guns! String theory!
Much like my car has five doors for stuffing, I figure my story has many, many openings to be filled. But as you can see, Monster Girl is concerned about where she will fit. So it goes with my story; I have to ask myself — fun though it might be — whether I really need a talking, one-armed octopus.
2. First steps
I love the beginnings of hikes and the beginning chapters of a story. Both are so filled with promise. I feel strong and confident, with plenty of chocolate in my backpack.
The way ahead doesn’t necessarily look easy. There are barriers to be surmounted, but the adventure calls.
This part is less fun, but it seems to be true of hikes and stories, at least for me. Okay, I’m not EXACTLY lost, but there comes the moment where I definitely want to sit down, where the way seems a little more hazy and bleak than just a few steps or chapters ago.
This is where hikers and writers are made, I think. To quit? To continue? Walking out into the waves isn’t really an option (not on a Pacific Northwest beach, at least, not without a dry suit!) but I could parallel the shore on a new path.
Or build a boat of driftwood and dreams.
4. The view
I must continue — somehow — because I know — somewhere — I will come to the point where I can SEE the point. THIS is why I am here.
5. Panting fun
I’ve said before, I love love love The End. Whether writing or hiking, coming to the end (in mostly one piece with relatively few debilitating blisters) is a great feeling of satisfaction. But the satisfaction does seem relative to the exertion. Some of our best hikes (and by best, I mean make the best stories, of course) have been the worst technical hikes. Too long, too wet, too ridiculous, waaaay too much panting. But in The End, totally worth the reliving.
Especially if there’s a little chocolate left.
Do you find a certain pleasure in some kinds of hard work? Got any favorite hikes I should try someday?
by Jessa Slade on September 19th, 2011
Currently working on: Revisions
I’ve been in a funny place recently. Not just a place-place as I mentioned in last Monday’s travelogue, but in my writing. I’ve been all over the map — literally and metaphorically — and it is time I settled down to ONE thing.
This is a good time of year (in this part of the world anyway) to settle to a project. The weather is closing in. School has started and focused energy is all around. Even my garden reflects the need to pick. It’s harvest time!
But how do I pick my next project?
1. Flip a coin.
I’m not being flip when I say this. I find that flipping a coin helps me refine my preferences. If I flip and the answer comes up that I want, sweet. If the coin says I should choose some other thing… well, suddenly I realize that thing isn’t the thing I wanted. So I switch. After all, I don’t have to abide by the decisions of a coin.
2. Try a few things on for size.
Like new school clothes, the right story need to fit me this year; not have too many holes; and reflect the writer I’m trying to become. And if it is purple and sparkly, that’d be cool too.
3. Ask my sounding board.
Sometimes I can’t decide. But when I talk out my options with someone else, often I start talking myself into a choice, even if my listener never gets a chance to speak. (That happens around me occasionally.) Even if I can’t hear an answer coming into focus, the other person will no doubt have an opinion (other people always do). I guess this technique is very similar to the first technique except most people don’t appreciate being flipped.
If you haven’t read Malcolm Gladwell’s BLINK, I highly recommend it. He talks a lot about the power of instinct in decision making. Then you can read THINK by Michael R. LeGault, who prefers a more rationed approach. They provide some interesting points/counterpoints. Do you have favorite ways of making choices?
Note: Speaking of picking, we’ll be pulling a giveaway winner from our newsletter subscribers soon.
If you haven’t signed up yet, use the link at left.
by Jessa Slade on July 11th, 2011
Currently working on: A new world
So I’ve been writing hard for awhile. This is not noteworthy, really, since writing is what writers do. But because I’ve been writing hard, I’ve let a few other chores slip.
This is one of three dust-apatosauruses I found under the bed. I’m not proud of my lax housekeeping skills (actually, I am, kind of; you think just ANYbody can manage a herd of dust-apatosauruses?) which is why I finally dragged out the vacuum cleaner (pictured here for scale) to tame the beasts.
[Editor's note: No dust-apatosauruses were injured in the cleaning of this house. All dust-wildlife was released into the wild.]
Is it just my imagination — which I admit runs rampant on occasion — or does it seem to you that we’re all busier than ever? My brain is constantly humming with to-do’s and deadlines and wish-lists.
Really, the bees in my poppies got nothing on the buzz in my head.
Which is why Silk & Shadows is taking a summer vacation. We’ll be back the first week of September, fresh and spunky, maybe with new notebooks and first-day-of-school shoes.
In the meantime, we will be frolicking in the misty fields like Nils Blommer’s Meadow Elves:
Nah, actually, we’ll all probably be writing like fiends. Because that’s what writers do.
See you in the fall!