Three Questions on Writing

Alas, his cat was no help.

Recently my friend Talis Kimberley, an amazing songwriter and musician, asked me a couple of questions I thought might be of more general interest. So I thought I’d answer them here. 1: What are you proudest of having written? That’s got a couple of answers. Every writer has, in his or her head, an ideal version of their book. It’s … Read More

Steam from manure: working with details


Recently on Facebook, fan Claudia Tucker asked me, “How do you decide what bits are superfluous even if it sets the ambience of the scene?” Every writer’s approach, methods and habits are different, so keep that in mind when I describe mine. We all deal with the same issues, but ultimately there’s no right or wrong way to achieve these … Read More

Guest blog: Melissa Olson, author of Trail of Dead

Longtime readers of this blog will remember Melissa Olson from our Indy Challenge blog swap. She’s visiting again to talk about her new novel, Trail of Dead, the follow-up to her debut, Dead Spots. At the end of the post, find out how to win a signed copy of Trail of Dead. ***** Hello, and welcome to my Trail of Dead … Read More

Nurturing creativity and doing a job of work


Last week, stuck for ideas for upcoming blog posts, I put out the call for questions from fans. I got this one from poet Eileen Sullivan: “In what ways do you think you nurtured your creativity as a child, wittingly or not? What remains of that life in your and your work? And in what ways do you seek to … Read More

Interview: filmmaker Lisa Stock

Filmmaker Lisa Stock

When it was announced a few years ago that Joss Whedon would be doing the new Wonder Woman movie, I was of the unpopular opinion that he was dead wrong for it. My main reason was that, in all the shows he’s produced and scripts he’s written, he has yet to show he can write about anything other than boys … Read More

The grubby heirs of Excalibur: swords in the world of Eddie LaCrosse


My friend Teresa Frohock, author of Miserere: An Autumn Tale (my review is here), asked me how the idea for naming Eddie LaCrosse’s swords came about. I thought this might be interesting to others as well. First came the idea of writing the initial novel, The Sword-Edged Blonde, as if it were a 40s detective novel. This was after years–well, … Read More

Writer’s Day #9: C2E2 report

writer's day graphic

  In my latest Writer’s Day video, I share some of my experiences at C2E2 in Chicago, by far the biggest convention I’ve ever attended.   [media url=””]  

Book Review: Paperback Writer by Mark Shipper

“Rock and roll is a joke and the joke is on anyone–performer or audience–who ever takes it for any more than that…” (p. 11) Writing about music, as I’ve said before, is tricky. The ones who do it well–P.F. Kluge, Sheila Kay Adams, Lee Smith–take it very seriously. So it follows that writing a parody about music, one that’s simultaneously … Read More

Review: My Old True Love by Sheila Kay Adams

Writing prose about music is, to borrow an analogy, dangerously close to trying to teach a fish to ride a bicycle. If you could say it in regular words, there’d be no need to sing it. And music can do some things far more efficiently than any other art form. For example, it takes over seven hours to tell the … Read More

What Does Revising Look Like?


  The photo above is a page from the in-progress Red Reaper novel I’m writing with Tara Cardinal. The print text* is the first draft. All the notes are corrections for the second draft (or first revision, if you prefer). This passage had some interesting challenges. Tara wrote it before she turned it over to me. Since this story is … Read More