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

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Bullet Journaling for Writers

posted on: October 26, 2016
in: Blog, Bullet Journal, Write., Writing Goodies

I’ve been planning to do a blog post on bullet journaling for almost a year now…and it just keeps slipping out of my grasp. Which means that my task labeled BJ post (yes, I laugh every time I see it too) has reached the point in my to-do list process where I either need to do it or dump it (more on this in a moment). So I am doing it, because I don’t want to dump it.

If you’re new to the term Bullet Journal, I suggest a quick internet search. There are tons and tons and tons of posts about what a bullet journal is, how to use and make one, and so on. Don’t look too long at the BuJo porn pictures, however, because if you’re like me, you will become intimidated and distraught at how beautiful some of these journals are and how un-beautiful yours is and you will never make one. But, as I keep telling myself, a bullet journal isn’t about making shit pretty, it’s about getting shit done. (Although if you can also make it pretty, I have nothing but envy and best wishes for you).

Okay, so go do your googling. Don’t get lost in the pictures. Come back soon, and I’ll give you the quick and dirty run-down of how I use a bullet journal for writing.

Here are my main tools. I like to keep it simple and easy, since I move around a lot and often write in coffee shops and away from my desk. This is the whole shebang: the Leuchtturm1917 A5 dotted journal; a small Checklist Notebook (Efficiency Supply); PaperMate InkJoy pen; Fucking Brilliant pencil (Calligraphuck); and a wraparound pen/pencil holder.

bulletjournal-outside

 

Here are the main sections that I have in my Bullet Journal:

1. Yearly writing calendar. The next two years, divided into months, with the projects that I’ll be working on each month and their deadlines. I write them in pencil, because they move around a lot. When something is complete, I write it in pen in that month, so I can always go back and see what I was working on when.

2. Weekly spread. I keep my weekly spread clean and simple, partly because I have no artistic skills, but also because I need lots of room to write tasks and notes.

I make a simple calendar on the left. Each day, I write the things I’d like to accomplish in pencil and then if I do them, I erase them and mark them off on the main checklist to the right. At the end of the day, I might write in some stuff I did, or things I want to remember. The pink boxes are my 6 things to do each day. They vary from week to week. This week, they’re mostly about taking care of myself and not working too much, because I’ve had a hell of an autumn so far.

On the right, is the general to-do list of things that I want to tackle this week. I add things to the bottom of the list all week long as they come up. There is no general order other than WORK and NOT-WORK and YES and MAYBE. YES are things that must be done this week. MAYBEs are things that I’d like to do. If I move a MAYBE task more than a few times, it gets moved to YES or it gets dropped entirely (see my earlier note about writing this blog post!). If a task comes up that’s for next week, I just add it to the next spread, getting a jump start on next week’s to-do list.

If a task is tied to a project (see Projects, below), I put the main page number of the project after it for easy reference.

bulletjournal-weekly

3. Projects. I typically work on a LOT of projects at once. This is the way that I like to work, but oh my god, keeping track of the details of each one used to be a disaster. I’d have a separate notebook for each project, but then I’d forget to bring that notebook and I’d write notes in the wrong notebook and then I could never find anything. Then, I tried keeping every project in the same notebook by sections. But it was impossible to tell when you started a project how much room it would need, and some projects flowed over into other sections, while other projects had too much empty space, and I still couldn’t find anything.

This, for me, is where the bullet journal shines. I have a sticky tab that says PROJECTS. Behind that tab lives every single project I’m currently working on, completely organized and discoverable, while also being incredibly flexible. Here’s how:

First, every major project gets a main spread. Left side gets the giant to-do list for that project — everything that I think I will need to do in order to complete it. On the right-hand side, I make notes about deadlines, word count, publisher, contracts, anything and everything that I might need to refer to about the project.

This spread then gets a tiny fold-over dot along the edge in a unique color. In the image below, for example, you can see a pink dot near the front. That’s the main planning page for the No Thank You, Evil! Kickstarter that we just launched. This is also the page that the to-do list items refer to as well (which I mentioned earlier).

I made a few pages of NTYE Kickstarter notes, and then I needed to work on a different project, Predation. So, on the next empty page, I started writing about Predation. I tagged that page with a green dot. And so on. Every non-sequential page for each project gets a folded dot in that project’s color. This means that no matter where the notes on a project fall in your notebook, you can find them all easily. You’ll notice that I have three main projects here, and they all overlap. (That first page you see with three dots is the index–the names of the projects are written next to the dots there, so I can easily see which one is which).

Sometimes, smaller projects and general notes get interspersed between the larger projects. A lot of times these are what I call my thinking notes — places where writing helps me figure something out, but where I don’t need to go back and re-read that information. Once I’m done making ‘thinking notes,’ their work is done, and it’s okay for them to get lost in between the bigger projects.

Sometimes, the notes are things that I will need to find again in the future. Maybe an idea for a short story, or some title ideas, or whatever. Each of these pages gets a short title and page number written in the index in the front of the notebook. (That’s on the same page as the “dot index” I mentioned). Then, I can just scroll that list and find whatever I’m looking for.

bj-circletabs
4. Lists. The very back of the journal has a section that is just lists. Things I love. Things I want. Things I accomplished. Gifts I’ve given. Books I want to read. They’re not comprehensive or complete, and I don’t need them to be. Instead, it gives me a place to write something down that isn’t a scrap of paper stuffed in a drawer somewhere.

I believe I’m on my fourth bullet journal for this year (and probably my last ~ this one might carry me as far as February or March of 2017). The first three are labeled (Leuchtturm1917 provides nice labels with each notebook) and tucked onto my shelf. Will I ever look at them again? I don’t know. But this year, they helped me lead a company, run two Kickstarters, write four books, and accomplish myriad other tasks, so I’d say they’ve earned their retirement.

And now, finally, I can go check that task ~ BJ blog ~ off my to-do list.

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

Excerpt from Wrecked (Working Title)

posted on: June 28, 2016
in: Numenera, Works in Progress, Write.

The draft of The Poison Eater is complete, and is currently in the hands of my editor and publisher, who will come back to me and tell me all the things that I need to do to make it great. In the meantime, I’m working on a Numenera adventure for Gen Con called The Skein of the Blackbone Bride (no spoilers) and a short story to accompany our underwater Numenera book, Into the Deep.

I started this story this afternoon. Here’s an excerpt from the draft, which I’m currently calling Wrecked (that feels a little too on-the-nose, so it will likely change). Beware: here there be typos, I’m sure. And ghost crabs.

*art by Cathy Wilkins

NU-ITD-46-Shipwrecks-HALF-PAGE-CathyWilkins-2016-01-18

This is where she died.

“Almost died,” Garil would say. Except that Garil did die here, and so he doesn’t say anything anymore, does he?

You left me here, she thinks as she shimmies down the seaweed-covered tether toward the wreck. The thought is followed by expletives, but not tears. You can’t cry this deep down in the ocean, she’s discovered. Well, you can. But you shouldn’t. There are some things they don’t tell you in training, because no one who is still left knows to say them. Don’t cry. Don’t trust. Don’t move.

Her weighted boots hit the side of the structure with a dull thud that reverberates up through her body. As soon as she lands, her right foot floats loose, sending her sideways through the water. She’s still got hold of the tether, by some lucky stupid instinct, and she tightens her grip on it, pulls her foot up to look. The back of her boot has automatically ejected the weight somehow; there’s just a blank space in the heel. The weight wasn’t magnetized—they’re not Therasti; they don’t have that kind of money—so she’s sure it’s rolled all the way to the bottom of the wreck by now, and is ruining some poor crustacean’s day right about now.

Hope you’ve got one hell of a shell, she thinks.

Normally, she hates tying herself to the wreck. It’s heavy and cumbersome and—and you almost died because of it last time. That too. But the boot thing is a problem—her hand is already aching from gripping the tether, trying to keep herself from spinning around it. So she brushes long strands of seaweed back until she finds one of the reality  spikes that someone else has driven into the side of the wreck and uses the cable from her belt to hook herself in.

Ethne’s six-eyed jybril circles and circles, clacking its sharkmouth, swishing its giant tail. The chittering sound of its rows and rows of teeth comes through the water, through her waterbreather, through the voicepieces she wears in both ears—one for the base, one for Ethne.

She clicks her jaw to the right. The movement turns on the voicepiece on that side. “Get your brehm-brained predator off of my back,” she says. “Before I kill it.”

“Good luck with that!” Crackle. Fade. Return. She bets Ethne’s voice is always full of static, even when they’re not a thousand feet under the surface. “She can swim—”

She clicks him off again. Why she bothers, she doesn’t know. Ethne’s a child. A child who thinks he’s able to control a ten-foot long insatiable predator just because it hasn’t eaten anyone on the team yet. It’s only been two weeks. Give it time.

Once, Ethne told her that he was surprised the jybril—he has a name for the creature, but she can’t remember it—hadn’t bumped her for a test bite yet, because it was attracted to the color red and her dive suit was red. She’d wanted to bump him for a test bite, but had merely turned her suit on dark mode, shining every light that it had right into the lenses of his fisheye goggles. She didn’t quite understand how light worked down here, but she didn’t deny the tiny pulse of happiness she felt when he’d pushed his hands over his eyes and ended the conversation. He wasn’t a bad kid. But he was definitely a kid.

They sent me down here with a child, Garil. And then the string of swear words that always seem to come after his name now. Spitting them out like bad seeds. She worries that she’s developed a syndrome. She hadn’t been topside in six weeks. She has forgotten the color of air. The smell of the sun. Can no longer remember what her own voice sounds like, beyond the burble and hiss of breath and breather.     

The jybril is too close, brushing by her with just a few feet to spare, and she waves it away. Which is a mistake. It’s not some little fish, easily scared off by an odd motion. Its teeth are nearly as big as her hand. It circles, long tail sliding by her. She compresses, doesn’t wait to see if it comes back around, and drops herself through the first hole she sees in the side of the hull.

~iadace~
Shanna

The Poison Eater: the Final Push Toward the First Draft

posted on: May 21, 2016
in: The Poison Eater: A Numenera Novel, Write.

This is my writing process. Do not try this at home kids. It sucks.

Sit down.
Forgot coffee.
Oh, a cookie.
Sit down.
No, not here. Other room.
Move everything.
Decide it’s cold.
Get sweatshirt.
Sit down.
Oh, I haven’t looked at FB in forever.
Story about trees that sleep.
Cool idea. Bookmark for future story.
Open Scrivener.
Look at stuff I’ve already written.
Decide ugh I am the worst.
Oh, cute dog.
Play with dog.
Sit down.
What’s FB?
No.
What’s cookie?
No.
But cold…
No.
Aw, cute dog…
No.
Find first word.
Begin.

Despite that, I am closing in on the shitty first draft of this novel. It is shitty and that’s what it’s supposed to be, because shitty is done, it is complete, it is killing the editor and the panic in my head to put the words down. Plus, beneath the shitty, I can see the shine. It’s like when your dog eats glitter. Ew, but also, oooh, shiny!

Here’s some of the “ew shiny.” Possible spoilers for The Poison Eaters ahead. Kind of. Keep reading at your own risk.

~~

The shadows that walked at night kept her up, creeping on the edge of her vision. Maeryl, with her fingers broken and bloody, sat on dunes beside her.

“I didn’t recognize you at first,” Maeryl said. “I couldn’t find you in the blackweave.”

Her voice was metal and Talia realized her mouth was too. Teeth and tongue and the black hole of her threat. Her face was covered in metal bandages that shone with red from the inside. The braids of her hair were black serpents tied off with their own pink tongues and the black of her eyes were spiders that fluttered their legs like lashes.

Her eyes bulged through the bandages, became vermillion buds that bloomed open to pink insides.

“You’re dead,” Talia said.  

“You’re saying the obvious,” Maeryl said. “Say something different.”

She was petting Khee with gloved hands. Gloves that were hands. Carved from someone else’s body and sewn to her arms at the elbows. They billowed, fabric or synth or skin. Inside them, things small and black shifted and scuttled.

The thing that wasn’t Maeryl flicked a hand and ran it down Khee’s back. Except it wasn’t Khee, not really. It was Khee gone inside out, the red of his flesh a raw and ruddy skin. Sutures, puckered and pink, ran along the lines of his shoulders. The creature shifted, and something inside went the other way, broken and bulging. His eyes were unseeing, white and thick, run with mucus. His snout lifted—the entirety of it nothing more than two rows of long, skeletal fingers that came together like teeth. Sharped at the ends. He sniffed the air and blood spattered from the holes in his bones.

like

Or maybe it was

look

the creature said in something that had once been Khee’s voice but now was bitter acid in the bowl of her stomach. Talia put her hand over her mouth, trying not to retch.

“Why are you here?” she asked with a mouth that no longer worked.

“You know,” the thing that was Maeryl and not Maeryl said.

“Here’s your ocean,” the thing said. “Beware the salt.”

~

Finwa, Poison Eaters. May the moon meld you and may you shine.

The Poison Eater: Picking Your Novel Back Up After You Put it Down

posted on: April 21, 2016
in: Blog, The Poison Eater: A Numenera Novel, Write.

Even those of us who write full-time sometimes have to put projects aside for long periods of time. Recently, I had to put my novel, The Poison Eater aside in order to finish up another book I was working on (The Torment: Tides of Numenera sourcebook). I’ve talked before about how I like to have multiple projects going at the same time, but one of the side-effects of that is that sometimes one of those projects moves to the forefront (due to deadlines or other needs), and you have to sink deep into it and focus on it solely for a while, pushing everything else to the side.

Now that Torment is finished and off for editing, I can move The Poison Eater back to the front burner of my brain. Of course, that is HARD to do after so much time away. I find myself saying, “Who is the character? What does that look weapon like again? What the fuck was I thinking here when I wrote those? Oh, I had an idea for this chapter, but I’ve totally forgotten it.”

This is the point where many people give up on their books. It’s HARD to go back to it. The sparkly bits have lost their shine. The path is overgrown and full of thorns. The characters you loved have started to fade into ghostly paper dolls. You can’t remember what happens next, and you are sure you screwed up whatever came before.

But here’s the truth: very few people have a life where they can work on their novel non-stop. Life intervenes. Someone gets sick. Work explodes. Summer arrives and you spend your days down in the dirt with seeds and soil. There are a thousand ways to step off the novel path — but there are also a thousand ways to step back on. It’s hard, yes, but not as hard as it looks. I promise.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 10.16.44 AM

I have a whole bunch of techniques for picking a novel back up and finding my way back into its dark woods. I thought I’d share a few in case you find them useful.

  • Use a Pinterest board or other visual resource as a reminder. I start an inspiration novel board very early on, pinning everything that makes me think of the book, whether it’s a color scheme, a character’s expression, a weapon, or a creature. As the novel develops, I start moving some of those pieces into Scrivener and I start making notes. Talia has this character’s eyes, but her tattoos look like that character, and this is the dress she wears when she goes to see Isera. Using art can help you remember tiny details about your story, and submerge you back into the deep well of writing space.
  • Use music. I have a Spotify playlist called The Poison Eater. Some of the songs are general, to get me back into the feel of the book. Others are specific to characters, places, or even scenes. If I’m struggling to remember a character’s motivation or need, listening to their song helps put me back in their mindset.
  • Take ridiculous notes. My notes for a novel are crazy, wild, all over the place, and probably make no sense to anyone else (god forbid someone reads my novel notebooks after I’m dead. They’ll think I’m completely psychotic). But just picking the notebook up and flipping through it can help spark connections and get you back to the page.
  • Reread what you’ve written. Do this on your phone or ipad, where you won’t be tempted to go into editor mode and try to fix things. Just read for the rhythm of the book, the sounds of the characters, the thematic essence. Read it aloud if it’s useful to you.
  • Watch a movie or show that captures some essence of your novel — a character, the locations, maybe even the plot. Do this mindfully. Be aware that you’re thinking about your novel, that you’re sinking into the story. This process can be a bit like guided mediation. Don’t feel like you have to watch the whole thing. If you’re halfway through and feel inspired, stop the movie and jump into writing (or start writing with the movie in the background).

Beyond all of those suggestions, I come back to what I always come back to: just do that shit. Seriously. There’s a moment where you have to stop worrying and wondering. Just know that you’re going to screw it up, be okay with it, and write anyway.

Which is what I’m going to go do right now.

~Moon meld you, poison eaters.

Predation 03: Play the Dinosaur (and other Foci)

posted on: March 22, 2016
in: Blog, Predation: A Cypher System Setting, Write.
[If you haven’t already read the Predation Overview, you might start here. There’s also a bit about the groups in Predation here.]
Sketch of Plays a God by John Petersen

Sketch of the Plays God focus by John Petersen

I’ve been playing around with some ideas for character creation in Predation. This game is going to be tons of fun!

Self-Evolves: Through the magic of bioengineering, lab-grown organs, and cybernetic additives, you have become something far better than human. Something smarter, faster, and more adaptable. Call it neo-human, survival of the fittest, or just bad-ass—whatever it is, you’re able to exploit these superhuman skills to the fullest.

Predates: You’ve long dreamt of being the ultimate predator and now you’re on your way to achieving that goal. Claws and teeth are just the beginning, thanks to advanced surgical techniques, body modifications, and 4D printing. Sure, everyone else can ride a dinosaur or fight a dinosaur…but you? You can become a dinosaur.

Walks with Dinosaurs: You’re not so sure about other humans, but you and dinosaurs are like this. You just get them—and they seem to get you. Through training, technology, and an uncanny understanding, you can get dinosaurs to do your bidding. Ask them to fight for you, forage for you, or just roar on command to entertain* your friends.

*scare the crap out of

Plays God: Sure, you’ve got all your eggs in one basket—but those eggs are going to grow up to be tiny T. Rexes and that basket is a test tube. Your knowledge of gene-splicing, cloning, animal husbandry, and other forms of creation is beyond compare. No one builds, breeds, or blueprints new species and creatures like you do. 

Interested in Predation? Jump in on the Kickstarter here!

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 14.10.10

Sketch of the Walks with Dinosaurs focus by Sam Cullum

 

Predation 02: We are all the butterfly

posted on: March 15, 2016
in: Blog, Predation: A Cypher System Setting, Write.
[If you haven’t already read the Predation Overview, you might start here.]
We are all the butterfly.

#weareallthebutterfly

GROUPS IN PREDATION

There are a number of groups and organizations in Predation. Some work together. Others are at odds. And still others join forces in public, while they put darker, more insidious plans into action under the surface. Player characters can interact with these groups and organizations by becoming allies, foes, business partners, or even members.

Here are two of Predation’s more prominent groups:

SATI

The Cretaceous Period and the information thereon is the property of SPACE AND TIME, INT. and may only be used for the purpose for which it is supplied. Use of this time period, or the information thereon, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without the express digital permission of SPACE AND TIME, INT.

~CLAUSE C-786b of the Space and Time, Interglobal, Cretaceous travel contract

The largest and most established organization is Space and Time, Interglobal (SATI). Originally, SATI was an interglobal conglomerate that began sending bioengineers, paleontologists, and other specialists back to the Cretaceous period on top-secret scientific/business missions. In the hundred years since, SATI has evolved from a group of scientists and explorers into a more militarized organization.

SATI continues to control the majority of the original time-travel operation bases—fortified underground bunkers filled with supplies, technology, laboratory equipment, and more that were set up by the early arrivals—but their hold is tenuous at best. Everyone, SATI or not, knows that whoever controls the bases also controls the supply flow—including any remaining time-travel technologies. As the asteroid draws near, attacks against the bases by groups like the Butterflies are growing more frequent and increasingly difficult to repel; the group spends much of its energy and resources keeping a tight hold on what it has, while still attempting to find a way back “home.”

Over time, many of the bases have become more self-governing and self-sufficient, a change that is also starting to threaten the larger structure of SATI. The capital base, SATI;0A (commonly called Soway) is attempting to bring the other bases back in line, but not everyone in this new generation shares the same beliefs, and it’s becoming harder for the organization to present a unified front.

The Butterflies

In the flickering firelight, the Queen of the Butterflies bows her head. A book—hand-bound in red leather—lays open upon her palms. She wears gloves, black and thin, nearly threadbare. When she begins to read, the group gathered around her becomes silent. Not a scuff. Not a breath. If anticipation were a sound, it would be this utter stillness.

The Queen’s eyes are closed. The words come from memory, from repetition, from belief.

Out of chars and ashes, out of dust and coals, like golden salamanders, the old years, the green years, might leap; roses sweeten the air, white hair turn Irish-black, wrinkles vanish; all, everything fly back to seed, flee death, rush down to their beginnings, suns rise in western skies and set in glorious easts, moons eat themselves opposite to the custom, all and everything cupping one in another like Chinese boxes, rabbits into hats, all and everything returning to the fresh death, the seed death, the green death, to the time before the beginning. A touch of a hand might do it, the merest touch of a hand.

She pauses, closing the book slowly, two delicate red wings folding soft around a pale body.

“We are all the butterfly,” she says.

“Stay the path,” they answer.

Together, as they slip away into the darkness: “And listen, always, for the thunder.”

The Butterflies are a subversive, guerrilla group. They believe that humans shouldn’t try to fix the time machine technology, that they should die out in the upcoming cataclysmic event so they don’t screw up even more of the evolutionary time path. These beliefs are based on the ”bible” that the Queen’s grandmother brought back in time with her, a copy of Ray Bradbury’s short story, “A Sound of Thunder.”

As a general rule, Butterflies eschew technology, subsisting on what they can make, steal, or scavenge. They identify themselves by painting or carving an image of a butterfly on the bottoms of their boots. It’s rumored that their spies have infiltrated all levels of SATI, and if you look carefully, you can find their graffitied messages on cliff faces, large trees, and the backs of certain dinosaurs.

Interested in Predation? You can back the Kickstarter here.

Graffiter_Thu_Mar_3_2016_0

 

Predation 01: An Overview

posted on: March 15, 2016
in: Blog, Predation: A Cypher System Setting, Write.

Predation art by John Petersen

I’m working on a new game setting for the Cypher System, called Predation. It’s in what I call the “shower idea” stage of creation, that weird brainplace where you just suddenly have the most brilliant idea at the most inopportune time. I know that some of you are following along on progress as I work on The Poison Eater, so I thought I’d start posting about Predation too. Writing a novel and writing a game setting are very different and yet also the same, and I think there’s a lot to be gleaned by watching two very different types of projects come to fruition.

In short, the idea for Predation came about because I wanted to make a game about dinosaurs. BUT I also wanted to make stuff up. (I like to research, but I hate having to stick strictly the research when I write; my preference is to use it as a jumping point for wild and weird ideas). So I was trying to find a way to do both things, and came up with the premise for Predation: that the humans walking among the dinosaurs are scientists from the far future who are stuck in the Cretaceous period. They brought back high-tech weapons and advanced sciences, the ability to bioengineer themselves and the creatures around them, and a knowledge of the future–a future that they might be changing with every choice they make.

Predation Overview

The history of Predation is actually in the future. A few hundred years in the future, to be exact. That’s when an interglobal conglomerate known as Space and Time, Int. (SATI) began sending bioengineers, paleontologists, and other specialists back to the late Cretaceous period on top-secret missions.

For those traveling back in time, it was the career opportunity of a lifetime. The unprecedented chance to walk among the dinosaurs, and return with tales of discovery, scientific breakthroughs, and experiences. But something went wrong—no one knows how or why, but the time travel process broke down, leaving them stranded with the dinosaurs.

Predation Cover by John Petersen

That was almost a hundred years ago now. Those early travelers had to find a way to survive, and even thrive, in this harsh world. Using the technology and knowledge they brought back with them, they built communities; bred, bioengineered and hunted dinosaurs; raised families; and never gave up hope that they would find a way “home.” That generation is dying out now, leaving the world to a newer generation, one that has only ever known this place, this time as their home.

That’s where you as the player come in. You’ve read the story in history books of the asteroid that destroys your home, and you know it’s coming soon.

In this land of tame and wild beasts, a land of far-future technology and far-past materials, of a historical catastrophe that is about to become your future, can you find a way to survive? Will you instead try to use your skills and knowledge to accomplish what your parents and grandparents could not—find a way home? Or will you join the fight to let this humanity die out, so that future humanity may still find a way to rise from the ashes of evolution?

 

 

The Poison Eater: Singing Cities and Angry Robots

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

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

~~

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, Write.

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, Write.

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.

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