Archive for 'Jessa Slade'
by Jessa Slade on May 21st, 2012
As the sun was setting the other night, I took a few pictures of my Interlaken grapes. They were transplanted two years ago, so last year they were grumpy, but this year, they are promising a fabulous crop of wonderfully sweet table grapes. You can see the little grapelings thrusting out.
The grapes needed a break so they could come back stronger. I guess we can all understand that.
I have little peaches coming on too. Tiny, barely fuzzy little things that look like fairy butt cracks. Hopefully they are working hard turning that last sunlight into sugar.
The peaches will get bigger, although I admit I’m impatiently urging them along. Faster, faster!
After a gentle sprinkle yesterday (just enough to haze over my view of the solar eclipse) I found this hammock of baby spiders, sheltering together, with raindrops beneath them.
By November, these babies will be big garden spiders, trying to catch me in their webs!
By November, the grapes and peaches will be a memory. Funny how everything has its own season of glory.
We started Silk & Shadows back in November of 2008, and now, as 2012 ripens, we are turning over new leaves. So we are closing this chapter here at Silk & Shadows.
We started here at Silk & Shadows as new Signet Eclipse authors, sheltering together like the spiderlings. Now we’re bigger (a bit bigger, anyway) and we’re off to new adventures.
Sharon Ashwood’s FROSTBOUND is a finalist in the Prism contest and her new series with Harlequin Nocturne is looming. Be sure to follow her continuing adventures by subscribing to her newsletter.
Kim Lenox is in a new house with new stories brewing. Subscribe to her newsletter at her website.
And I’m busy shoveling compost, in the garden and into my computer. Gotta keep it rich and dark if I want that great harvest. You can keep track of me here.
We hope you enjoyed reading our posts, and we look forward to telling you more on our own blogs and elsewhere on teh interwebz (which has almost as many spiders as my garden). Please come find us on our social networking sites and say hey. We’ve enjoyed writing for you… That part never ends.
by Jessa Slade on May 7th, 2012
Currently working on: Plotting new story
Mood: Puzzled (like puzzle pieces)
So, the other night I had a dream. (Collective groan, I know, but it’s my blog post.) I was at an RWA conference and I was
creeping through the halls (which were lined with dessert trays). Everybody was freaking out because the power had been cut (although I could still see the dessert trays; I have that superpower in real life too) but I knew who had done it and I knew I had to fight… Larry Brooks!
My hard-core writer friends are LOLing while everyone else is arching one eyebrow in polite disinterest. Larry Brooks is an author as well as a writer of non-fiction writing craft books. He did a two-day workshop for my local RWA chapter recently, and I’ve been re-reading his STORY ENGINEERING: Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Success Writing, which I highly recommend to my writer friends. I’ve been using the 6 Competencies as one of my resources as I plot a new story that wasn’t quite working out.
It’s no surprise my subconscious dredged him up as a convenient villain while I wrestle this recalcitrant new story. Discovering a story isn’t working is always annoying. One of my character flaws is I hate being told I am wrong. I especially hate being told I am wrong by my subconscious, who isn’t even trying very hard to ease into the fact I need to rethink the story. Yeah, subconscious, I got it, you’re handing me how-to-write books off my own bookshelves, thanks so much. And BTW lining the path with imaginary desserts isn’t really sweetening the deal.
I’ve mentioned here before that I consider myself a dedicated plotter. I like to work out the big steps and many of the smaller steps before I really dig into the rough draft. I use a lot of worksheets and spreadsheets and beat sheets and blank sheets of paper. I like to plot, and I like my stories better when I plot. I like MYSELF better when I plot. (Not coincidentally, all my loved ones like me better when I plot too.)
And yet I am always shocked at how often I DON’T do the things I need to do. I started this new story, on a whim. The heroine’s voice popped into my head and I wrote pages and pages of scene snippets, mostly dialogue and interior monologue in the heroine’s fun, snarky voice. Then I thought, hey, this could be a book, or even a bunch of books. So I wrote synopses for a trilogy, just off the cuff. And then I started writing the first book, sorta randomly. And now I’m forty thousand words into this BOOK THAT DOESN’T HAVE A DAMN PLOT!
Writers who are “pantsers” or organic writers (people who don’t mind not knowing the damn plot while they write) probably aren’t freaked out by this, but I am. Hence, the dream. Reminding me what I need to do to get back on track. I need to MAKE a track for myself, which means going to the plotting board.
Trying new techniques is great, but I don’t think that’s what I was doing by skipping my usual plotting routine. I think, instead, I was trying to avoid the hard work. In my dream, I was creeping around in the dark, with a nefarious scheme against Larry Brooks, rather than doing the work I knew I had to do.
I don’t blame myself for being lazy. After all, lazy is a good strategy when it works. Why do hard work when lazy gets it done? Unfortunately, lazy wasn’t getting this story done. Apparently only a damn plot will do that.
So now I’m doing the work. Got my Word docs, Excel spreadsheets and Publisher charts all scribbled on. Hopefully there will be some real dessert trays in my future.
After I get this story plotted.
by Jessa Slade on April 30th, 2012
Currently working on: Filling plotholes
This last Saturday, I attended Write to Publish, a writers’ conference organized by Portland State University’s Ooligan Press. (Conveniently, the Saturday Farmers’ Market was going on in the park next door, so I was able to stock up on brownies and chocolate chip cookies too. I suppose I could have gotten kale, but…) I had the chance to sit on a writing panel with a handful of romance writing friends and talk with aspiring authors about writing in general and writing romance in particular.
In my four years now as a published author, I’ve done a bunch of panels discussions, and funnily enough, it’s getting harder, not easier. The more I learn, the more I want to tell. I want to talk, non-stop, for days about the mistakes I’ve made, what worked for me, what the future holds. And usually, I have about ten minutes.
So I thought I should try distilling my thoughts down to three (of course three) main points when I talk to aspiring authors:
1. Learn everything you can. Take in information from every reputable source. (Learn from the disreputable sources too, just be more selective.) So much is changing in publishing that you can never know too much. Learning about writing and publishing is a full-time job — on top of the full-time job that is ATUALLY writing and maybe the full-time job that is your full-time job. But heck, nobody said it was easy.
2. Write. Write a lot. So much of writing is… well, writing. Everything you learn in step one is irrelevant if you don’t put words on the page and write write write.
3. Keep writing. There are hella distractions to the writing life. You’re a small business. You’re a promoter and marketer. You’re a public speaker and compatriot to other writers. And that’s just distractions in the writing realm. You’re probably also a friend, lover, spouse, parent, dog walker, whatever. But steps one and two above are irrelevant if you don’t keep writing.
Wow. It looks like this writing thing IS easier than I thought. The devil is in the details, of course. But I think those three points are all you really need. I could relay those is way less than ten minutes, even with a mouthful of brownies.
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 April 2nd, 2012
Currently working on: Retyping notes from Larry Brooks workshop
Way back in college, I learned that if I read the course materials before the lectures, listened to the lectures and took notes, transcribed the notes from my notebook into my computer, and then re-read the notes, I was usually good for the test. This is why I like to attend workshops in person; even if I’ve read the speaker’s book, it forces me to take notes and then I remember more.
So when I found out Larry Brooks (storyfix.com) was coming to speak to my local Romance Writers of America chapter, I was psyched. I’d read his STORY ENGINEERING writing book and loved it. It is my kind of writing book; very analytical and no-nonsense, but fun too. (Nonsense and fun being not the same thing, necessarily.) But as much as I love reading craft books, I also like to hear the information presented.
Sometimes speakers have found new ways to present their information and it’s always interesting to hear what they emphasize. Writer friend Terri Reed says hearing previously learned information again is like looking at a diamond from another angle: from the top you see mostly the flat surface, while from the sides you see the angles, and from the bottom you see the point.
I highly recommend the STORY ENGINEERING book to fellow writers, because there is a lot of content best absorbed from the original source, but I thought I’d share some nuggets of thought from the weekend too:
- To stand out from the slush pile, a story has to be better than good. It has to be better than what is out there already. What makes your story stand out, not from the slush pile, but from the second cut?
- What is your central dramatic question? Can you make the question more provocative, more emotionally engaging? The more compelling the “what if” question, the more compelling the answer. And the answer is why the reader keeps reading.
- What is the burning ember of your story? Pass that burning ember to the editor and to the reader.
- Don’t settle; make it bigger.
Having spent a couple weekends ago in New York on the business side of writing, it was a joy to spending a weekend on the art and craft of writing. Next weekend, I go to Chicago for the RT Book Reviews Reader Convention. That will be the party side of writing!
by Jessa Slade on March 26th, 2012
Currently working on: Revisions read-throughs
We adopted our current dog, Talullah, as a puppy, and you know those cute puppy videos you see on YouTube? Yeah, we never got any of those.
From the very beginning, she was an absolute monster. Hence her nickname, Monster Girl. She was a biter, a runner, a not-listening-to-anything-you-sayer. She fought the leash. She fought bedtime. She fought other puppies. She was the worst puppy in puppy school. For months, she made me swear and/or cry on a daily basis.
What made the situation particularly bad was that our previous dog, Hannah, was The World’s Best Dog ™ so in comparison Talullah suffered. Not as much as she made us suffer, of course.
While reading a gazillion dog manuals — from positive-only reinforcement to shock collars, Cesar Milan psychology to Schutzhund training — I stumbled across a concept used with hunting dogs. The trainer suggested there are hard/soft dogs and fast/slow dogs that (and I’m paraphrasing a bit here) combine into four dog learning styles: hard-fast dogs and hard-slow dogs, soft-fast dogs and soft-slow dogs. Any of those dogs could become good hunters, but each require a different training style.
Something clicked for me. (See? I too can be clicker trained.) Hannah had been a soft-fast dog. She was incredibly attentive and interested in pleasing, and quick to pick up on anything we wanted. She made us think we were awesome dog owners because she was so easy.
Talullah is a hard-slow dog. Corrections that would have crushed a soft dog like Hannah (scowls made Hannah slink away, even scowls not directed at her) didn’t make a dent on Talullah. And though both dogs would set similar get-to-the-tennis-ball racing speeds, Hannah was quicker to master a task. Which is not to say that Talullah is a dumb dog, but she likes to work through problems herself, given the opportunity. It was me that was dumb!
Once I realized that T had her own style — a style completely opposite from her predecessor — we started making progress. T was a slower learner, but we could also work a little longer, where Hannah would have been bored and causing trouble in half the time. Getting through to Talullah had me and her knocking heads a few times, but as a hard dog, she doesn’t give up, and neither did I.
So, when it comes to hunting down your own dreams, what kind of dog are you?
I had a soft-slow dog writer friend. Harsh critiques could shut her down for weeks, and she couldn’t stand to have other people mess with her words on the page. She wanted feedback, but it had to be presented in a certain way, and she wanted to apply the feedback herself. Once she’d made her needs clear, our critique group was fine, but we had a few rough sessions before we learned our styles.
I have a hard-fast dog writing style. Given too long a line, I will run to the end and choke myself. Gentle criticism like “you might want to think about” or “have you considered” won’t stop me; I need to hear feedback like I just received recently: “You can’t do this because you are going to scare the editor.” Huh, okay then.
The trick, of course, is not just knowing what kind of dog we are, but getting other people to give us what we need to thrive. You can’t always get people to play along, so sometimes it helps to reimagine them yourself .
For example, I always take apart the revision letters my editor sends me and make it what I need it to be. My editor is great about giving me praise, but I’m a hard-fast dog A pat on the head is fabulous, no doubt, but I do my best with quick, firm directions. I read the praise, bask in the glow a moment… and then I delete it, so all I have left are the problems that need action steps. I am happy when I have a nice, stark list without warm fuzzies getting in the way.
Whatever dreams we’re after, it helps to know ourselves first. I think we can all be good hunters once we know what we need to succeed.
What kind of dog are you? Do you have tricks to make the world give you the treats you need?
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!