It's been a while since I did a general update sort of post so here goes.
Last night I posted this on Facebook despite it being way too long for a status update and thought it was worth sharing here:
A year ago I was pregnant and deep into writing FreakTown. Today I took my six month old to the post office where we mailed off the contract for that book. If she wants to read it when she's old enough, I'll tell her I wrote the book because of her. I'll tell her that it was a time when I was tempted to write what I thought might sell, instead of a story I believed in telling. That I was tempted to write something easy, because I was pregnant and nauseated and tired all the time. That I was tempted to quit writing altogether because it seemed pointless with my books not selling and nothing resulting from all the hard work I'd put into this. But that wasn't the kind of mother I wanted to be, the kind of person I wanted this baby to know, so I wrote a book that was different and off-kilter and not quite a perfect fit in any of the usual genre definitions, a book I didn't think had much chance of finding a home. I wrote it anyway because I wanted my baby to know that sometimes the only way to get where you're going is to make your own path, and even if you wind up going nowhere the journey is worth it - your independence and integrity are worth it. If it did nothing but sit on my hard drive I'd be proud of this book. But it found a publisher, although that's no guarantee it will find readers, and I hope one day she does read it and is proud of it too. Even if she says to me, "Oh god, Mom, you're not supposed to write *those* kind of scenes! Now I'm scarred for life! Buy me a car to make up for it!" So, today was a good day.At least I didn't break down crying in the post office. I'm sure if I hunted I could find blog posts from those difficult months when I struggled with what to write, or whether to bother writing at all. I don't feel like reading them right now, I don't need the reminder of how badly I felt like a failure. My books may never find a wide readership and I may never make much money from writing, but I feel like I've found a way to tell the kinds of stories I want to tell that will at least give them a shot at finding a publisher and readers. Writing FreakTown was a watershed experience for me, creatively speaking. I recently did a tally of my written works: I've completed nine books of novella or novel length, and am now working on book ten. So it took nine books for me to start to get a handle on what I'm doing. Call me a slow learner, I don't care, every one of those eight that came before it was worth the time and effort they took to write, whether they were published or not.
This improved outlook has spread to the Mojo series. Red House was such a hard book to write and for such a very long time after I had no idea where to take those characters next, I didn't know if there would be another one. (I was also struggling with huge self-doubt, despite having two published books under my belt. That felt like a fluke, like at any time someone might come along and say, ha ha the joke's on you, we didn't really mean it when we let you think you're a published author.) I wanted to do one more Mojo to wrap it up, though, so I kept trying. I had a few ideas that went nowhere and I had an opening scene that sat around for months. Finally I had some ideas that felt like a real story, and that opening scene still worked. In fact, that opening scene told me what the book was all about. Crazy how that works sometimes. Even with outlines (which I now do) and character charts (which I tried but found useless for anything beyond remembering everybody's eye color) and goal-motivation-conflict worksheets (which, heh, no) there is still an element of magic to this. When you can feel that energy helping push the story into place, it's exhilarating and fun and worth all the nights you couldn't sleep because you were trying to work it out in your head. Mojo is back in that space full of magic and dumb luck and a wide open outline that leaves me a lot of room to wander around and play. Book three, tentatively titled Hoodoo Woman, is just shy of forty thousand words and going strong. The story and characters are going in a very unexpected direction. Part of me is scared readers will hate it because of that new direction, but I love it. I love this new direction so much, not only is this book going strong, I have stories for two more. I'll try to post an excerpt or two next week, plus a few tidbits about that new direction.
So there you have it, a general update on the writing-related goings-on around here. I leave you with this, just because: