Writer. Editor. Leximaven. Game Designer. Vorpal Blonde. Bisexual Brainlicker. Midas's Touch. Schrödinger's Brat.

The Poison Eater: Singing Cities and Angry Robots

posted on: March 11, 2016
in: Blog, The Poison Eater: A Numenera Novel

Enthait is a city that sings. No. Singing isn’t the right word. The city’s sound isn’t one of mouth or lungs, throat or tongue. It is stormvoice–thunder crack and cloud breath and rain pattering on a bloodied blade. It’s a beautiful and terrible chorus that makes her bones howl in reply. 

Enthait is a city that sings. And every time Talia hears it, it knocks her back.

She hadn’t meant to emerge from the tunnels here, but she also wasn’t surprised to push open the door to Emont’s underground room and instead stumble into the bright daylight and open sky of the athenaeum. She staggered as the song threaded through her–everyone told her she’d get so used to it that she hardly heard it, but that day had not yet come.  

As she stumbled, a hand caught her by the elbow, rings clanking against the metal armband.

“Affah,” she said, nodding her thanks.

It was Burrim’s voice that answered, low and close. 

“Liar.”

[new draft chapter, work in progress]

 

Big news on The Poison Eater this week, and it is this: we’re partnering with a really awesome publisher called Angry Robot to publish softcover versions of the Numenera and The Strange novels! That means that not only will the books get a wider distribution, there will be more of them in the future AND we get the benefit of the really smart Angry Robot team.

I did a Twitch channel? broadcast? show? last night (my first one ever) for a really fantastic sci-fi podcast called Speculate with Monte Cook and Patrick Rothfuss about Torment: Tides of Numenera, and in it I talk a bit about the writing process. It might be of interest to some of you.

That’s all for now.

Finwa, Poison Eaters. Moon meld you.

~shanna

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Follow along! If you’re interested in learning how this novel (or, really, any novel) comes together, feel free to subscribe to this blog. Over on the right in the sidebar, you can subscribe to JUST posts that pertain to The Poison Eater, so you don’t get all the other stuff. Or just click The Poison Eater category to get a list of all the previous posts.

The Poison Eater: Double Fisting Your Writing

posted on: February 21, 2016
in: Blog, The Poison Eater: A Numenera Novel

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 11.14.03 AM

I can’t remember if I told you this already, but in addition to The Poison Eater, I’ve been working on the sourcebook for the upcoming Torment: Tides of Numenera computer game. (As well as thinking about dinosaurs and guns for this other thing).

I’ve always been someone who likes to work on multiple things at a time. I think it comes from my own nature of loving to start and learn new things (I once had someone tell me, “Well, of course you never finish anything. You’re an Aries.”), but it also means that if I get stuck on one thing, I can jump over to something else. That (plus, of course, damn and lovable deadlines) is what keeps me from hitting writer’s block (or, more commonly, writer’s “what the hell am I doing?” inertia.)

I like to have one book that I’m just starting (all these awesome ideas! and I haven’t written anything but ideas so it’s still perfect! WOOO!); one that I’m still in the “I got this” stage (cool. I know what I’m doing. This is going well.) and one that I’m in the “OH NO I NEED A NEW JOB!” stage (Ugh. This is awful. I can’t remember what I wanted to do with this book or my life. I should just tear it all up and start over.”)

Currently, that’s Predation (new), Torment: Tides of Numenera (knee-deep) and The Poison Eater (Ugh. I’m the world’s worst writer).

Having three projects that were all in the same mental space would be awful, I think. Particularly if it’s in the world’s worst writer phase. I might never write again.

On the other hand, I know lots of other writers who like to deeply immerse in a single thing. Anything that takes them from that thing is a nuisance and a distraction. I envy that in some ways. I don’t think I have the focus or patience to sink that deeply in a single thing, but there’s a lot of value in that process.

I think one of the biggest fallacies in writing (beyond: There’s only one way to do it) is the idea that you are going to figure it out right out of the gate. That you’re going to finally carve time and space out of your life and you’re going to sit down and make a single book and you’re supposed to just know how to do it. And that’s just utter bullshit.

It took me years of shame and “I’m doing this wrong” to finally admit that I worked on multiple things at a time, because I’d never heard anyone else talk about that. Worse, I keep trying to do it “right” — in this case, by writing a single thing. And, my god, the time I wasted.

Allowing myself permission to work on many things at a time might seem obvious to lots of people, but it wasn’t to me. It was one of the many blind spots I had in my own writing process. So if there’s something that you do that feels like it works for you, but you don’t think you’re supposed to do it that way, I say: keep doing it. Maybe, in the end, it isn’t your thing. But maybe it’s one of the important keys to your writing process.

Double- (or in this case, triple-) fisting your writing can be weird sometimes, I’ll admit. Today, for example, my task list looks like this:
Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 11.24.05 AM

And there’s a very different tone and sensibility for each book. So I have to figure out good ways to transition. I have talismans at my desk for that process. There’s a dinosaur with bright colors and feathers that reminds me to do good research and make sure we’re representing dinosaurs as they really were. There’s the cover and a map for The Poison Eater. All I have to do is look at Talia striding across the Ninth World and I remember what I’m doing. When I’m about to start working on Torment, I often jump into the beta of the game for a few minutes, immersing myself in the interactive version of what I’m making.

Working on more than one thing keeps me excited about each of the projects. Because I know that if I get stuck on one, I can jump to something else. And by the end of the day, I’ll have words and ideas to move all three projects forward. And that, more than anything, is what I know about what it means to be a writer: What words I have made at the end of the day.

~iadace~

 

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Follow along! If you’re interested in learning how this novel (or, really, any novel) comes together, feel free to subscribe to this blog. Over on the right in the sidebar, you can subscribe to JUST posts that pertain to The Poison Eater, so you don’t get all the other stuff. Or just click The Poison Eater category to get a list of all the previous posts.

The Poison Eater: Say No to Say Yes

posted on: February 18, 2016
in: Blog, The Poison Eater: A Numenera Novel

Photo on 2-17-16 at 10.28 PM #6a

How do I say no to thee? Let me count the ways:

  • Sorry, can’t make it to your event/wedding/game/dinner party/awards ceremony.
  • No thank you, dirty dishes.
  • Just walk by the XBox… walk right on by. Fallout 4 will wait for you.
  • “I’m sorry. I’m booked out with clients for the next six months.”
  • I can’t do your podcast/radio program/video blog until May.
  • Oh, puppy. I know it’s a beautiful day for a long hike, but how about a bone instead?
  • What dinner?
  • What shower?
  • Go away, social media. Go away, cute puppy pictures. Go away, trolls. Go away, interesting and informative articles.
  • I’d love to, but I must decline for secret reasons.

Saying no is, for me, the hardest part of writing. I WANT to say yes to all the things (Okay, not all the things, but many of the things). I like people (mostly), I like fun things (a lot), and in all truth, there are days where I’d rather do ANYTHING other than write. Those are the days where I almost convince myself that I like cleaning out the fridge.

But. That’s not my road. My road is the No Road on the way to the Yes Road. In order to find writing time, I have to leave something behind, like so much litter out the window on the highway of life. (Don’t actually litter. Duh. It’s a turn-of-phrase).

When I was 20, I thought I’d have time to do everything. Write all the books. Love all the people. Have all the sex. Eat all the desserts. See all the places. Learn all the things. Watch all the movies and read all the books.

Now I know better. Now I know that every gain is a loss. Every yes is a no. Every recipe perfected is a chapter unwritten.

Don’t get me wrong–I don’t want to suck the joy out of my life. One of my oldest, most favorite shirts just says HEDONIST on it in big, bold letters. I want it all, goddamn it. And there’s a part of me that’s still angry that I can’t have it. But the older, wiser (?), more realistic me gets it. It’s a return-on-investment equation. The bigger the NO, the greater the YES.

Today, I said yes to this blog post. I said yes to dinner and watching X-Files and playing with the dog. I said yes to work tasks that can’t be put off.

And then I said no to everything else. Because this novel needs a lot of yes from me today.

What will you say no to in order to say yes?

~iadace~
Shanna

PS – Did you snag the sample copy of the first chapter of The Poison Eater yet? Grab it here.

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Follow along! If you’re interested in learning how this novel (or, really, any novel) comes together, feel free to subscribe to this blog. Over on the right in the sidebar, you can subscribe to JUST posts that pertain to The Poison Eater, so you don’t get all the other stuff. Or just click The Poison Eater category to get a list of all the previous posts.

The Poison Eater: Have a Chapter!

posted on: February 14, 2016
in: The Poison Eater: A Numenera Novel

Photo on 2-14-16 at 10.24 AM #3

You can now download and read a draft of the first chapter of The Poison Eater

I talked about the chapter and my process a bit in our recent Kickstarter update:

The Poison Eater is a story that is deeply immersed in the Ninth World. Along the way, you’ll encounter places, creatures, and numenera that you recognize, as well as a lot of weird stuff that will be entirely new. Talia, the main character, will be your guide through the dangers and delights of the Ninth World.

I say all of that as though the novel is complete, and of course it’s not yet. I’m an organic writer (a process I do not recommend, by the way); I don’t start a novel on page one and write it chapter by chapter. And so I’m always tweaking and changing things as I go, making them better, upping the stakes, breaking more hearts, kicking more ass.

This first chapter will likely change a bit by the time I finish writing the rest of the book (this is just a rough draft, after all), but I’m happy with how it’s coming along so far. I hope will be too.

~iadace~
Shanna

 

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Follow along! If you’re interested in learning how this novel (or, really, any novel) comes together, feel free to subscribe to this blog. Over on the right in the sidebar, you can subscribe to JUST posts that pertain to The Poison Eater, so you don’t get all the other stuff. Or just click The Poison Eater category to get a list of all the previous posts.

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