Today I present a quick visit with my friend and fellow SFNovelists blogger Mindy Klasky, who has a new book out called When Good Wishes Go Bad.  Please check out Mindy’s web site and, of course, enjoy the Q and A.

Describe a typical day for you. How you do get yourself to sit still long enough to complete an idea/story?

In theory, I wake up, send my husband off to work, attend a fitness class at the community center, eat a breakfast of oatmeal and fresh fruit, make a pot of tea, then sit down and draft 2500 words each day. I break for lunch, then run household errands and spend the afternoon reading materials related to my current or next project before making a healthful, well-balanced dinner.

In practice, I’m usually running behind on deadlines for a variety of reasons, some of which are my own fault, and many of which are not. When I’m running behind, my days are a lot more harried: I wake up, send hubby to work, rush through some fitness activity (walking, an exercise DVD), skip breakfast, drink too much tea, write 5000 words, gulp lunch, edit 5000 words, then frantically make dinner from my carefully cultivated stash of “ready in 20 minute” recipes.

Having contract deadlines hanging over my head is a great way to concentrate on completing ideas and stories. I have never missed a contractual deadline, and I’m determined not to do so – even when I’d rather be outside in the fresh air, or lazing around reading a book for fun. My first publishing break came about because an author missed his publishing slot, and I’m not willing to give up mine!

What fascinating piece of research did you find while writing WHEN GOOD WISHES GO BAD?

WHEN GOOD WISHES GO BAD is the story of Becca Morris, a dramaturg for a theater company in New York. When I started writing the novel, I had a vague idea of what dramaturgs do, based on the essays that I’d read in a variety of theater programs over the years. In order to get a better idea of Becca’s day-to-day life, I contacted three prominent dramaturgs at local theaters and invited them over for dinner, so that I could ask them detailed questions about their jobs.

The dramaturgs who helped me were incredibly generous with their time, and they shared numerous tales, many of which made it into Becca’s story. One of the key things that surprised me as we all chatted around the dinner table, was how many ethical issues a dramaturg must resolve, particularly when working on a new, never-before-staged play. Of course, I gave Becca every ethical dilemma that I could!

What do you do to keep inspiration flowing? What is an activity almost guaranteed to help your Muse speak to you ? What’s the oddest thing that ever sparked a story idea?

Contract deadlines are tremendous inspirations ::grin::

When I do come up against a barrier to worldbuilding or character development, I try to take a break from sitting at my computer desk. I find that I solve a lot of book problems when I’m doing something totally unrelated to writing – taking a shower, or walking for exercise. (I suspect that the “sense-memory” of completing those actions frees my brain to work on book problems.)

WHEN GOOD WISHES GO BAD has several different “sparks” from unusual-for-me sources. The guerilla gardening sections were inspired by a post on Boing Boing about people who plant flowers in public spaces without permission. The hero’s Peace Corps work and his familiarity with the plight of African women was inspired by a long profile of one Burkinabe woman in The Washington Post.

What’s the most annoying or most stressful part about being a writer?

In many ways, writing is a job, just like every other job I’ve ever held. Like every job, there are good things and bad things to deal with.

When I was a lawyer, I constantly needed to juggle deadlines, completing my work in a timely fashion so that I could satisfy the expectations of multiple bosses. Similarly, as a writer, I need to turn in my manuscripts (and complete my edits, and review my copyedits, and finalize galley proofs) on a schedule not of my own making. I need to balance the needs of different editors, or of the same editor on multiple projects.

Many things are out of my control as a writer. Once I’ve written the very best book that I can write, the project passes out of my hands. I can’t control the cover, or the price, or the shipment of books to readers. I can’t control whether books are available in electronic formats, or when those formats are released. I can’t control when books go out of print. That lack of control is extremely frustrating, especially when readers write vitriolic complaints.

No matter how annoyed or stressed I become, though, I try to remember that I’m solving whatever problems arise while sitting in comfortable clothes, in a comfortable chair, in the privacy of my own home office. I’ll take a writer’s problems over a lawyer’s problems anyday!

How do you balance writing with other aspects of your life?

As a full-time writer, I find it relatively easy to balance writing with other aspects of my life. I do make sure that I take care of some disliked daily tasks (like making a salad for lunch or starting one of the ever-present loads of laundry) before I settle in for a day of writing work.

I make a point to stop writing at the end of my husband’s workday (or, more accurately, at the end of his commute!) I figure that after ten hours of consistent work, I need a break, just as I did when I held a traditional office job.

Balance presented a greater challenge when I was a full-time litigator at a major law firm, and when I was the director of a law firm library, supervising staff in seven different offices. Then, I attempted to get some writing done on a regular basis (trying to carve out half an hour each morning, before the day got away from me), and I dedicated almost all of my vacation time to writing. I regretted “losing” that vacation time, which always gave me an extra incentive to be productive at the keyboard.

Today’s post can be found at http://magicalwords.net, the group blog on the business and craft of writing fantasy that I maintain with fellow authors Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, A.J. Hartley, and Stuart Jaffe, among others. The post is called “Writing Your Series: An Addendum to ‘Writing Your Book’,” and it’s about the differences and similarities between writing a stand alone novel and a multi-book project. I hope you enjoy it.

Amid the continued politicking on health care and new reports of Tea Party thuggery, comes this from a friend of mine who lives in Australia.  One of the oft-repeated lies in the health care debate is that sure-fire applause line:  “The United States has the finest health care system in the world.”  The only problem is, we don’t.  Read this.

GOP Antics

March 24, 2010

Two months ago, I thought that the GOP was poised to make huge gains in this year’s elections.  But with Republican House members shouting about how the health reform bill is a “baby killer”, with Tea Party activists using racial epithets against John Lewis and other African American Democrats and calling Barney Frank “a faggot”, and now with this, I don’t think so anymore.  No one overplays a hand like the GOP, and they are fast turning themselves (back) into laughingstocks.

Keep it up there, guys.  You’re making this easy for the rest of us….

A Post About Not Writing

March 23, 2010

Today’s post can be found at http://www.sfnovelists.com, the group blog on speculative fiction that I maintain along with a group of over one hundred published authors of fantasy and science fiction. The post is called “More on Allowing Yourself Not to Write.” I hope you enjoy it.

Today’s post can be found at http://magicalwords.net, the group blog on the business and craft of writing fantasy that I maintain with fellow authors Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, A.J. Hartley, and Stuart Jaffe, among others. The post is called “Writing Your Book, part IV: The End Game,” and it’s about laying the foundation for your surprise endings and emotional high points. I hope you enjoy it.

I just received an automated call, which turned out to be a push poll sponsored by Americans in Contact PAC, and which used the voice of Michael Reagan, Ronald Reagan’s moron of a son (as opposed to Ron Reagan, who has turned out to be a pretty cool guy).  The poll was designed to rally older male voters against health care reform by focusing on abortion funding and by raising the specter of higher taxes.  I shouted “NO!” every time the poll’s authors clearly wanted me to say “yes,” and shouted “YES!” every time they wanted me to say “no.”  That was mildly satisfying.  I then tracked down AICPAC online so that I could call them and rant a bit.  But while Reagan’s voice gives the phone number at the end of the poll (too quickly for anyone to write it down or remember it) their site doesn’t give a contact number.  Probably smart on their part.

Things are heating up, people.  If you want to see health reform pass, make your voices heard.  Call your Congressional Representative and your Senators.  No, the bill isn’t perfect.  Far from it.  I’d love to see a public option and stronger restrictions on the insurance companies, but this is a start, and it needs to pass.  The notions of “starting from scratch” and taking an incremental approach are red herrings.  This process has gone on long enough.  Everyone has been heard from.  The GOP doesn’t want to start over; they want to kill any kind of reform.  A piecemeal approach can’t work.  You can’t, for instance, end denials of coverage for pre-existing conditions without mandating insurance for all.  Getting rid of the pre-existing conditions restrictions will send the cost of health insurance through the roof, unless it is offset by mandates that increase insurance subscribers.  The reform provisions work in concert, and they will, according to the CBO and every other independent analysis, lower costs for subscribers and lower budget deficits.

Now is the time.  Make the calls.  Make yourselves heard.

Today’s post can be found at http://magicalwords.net, the group blog on the business and craft of writing fantasy that I maintain with fellow authors Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, A.J. Hartley, and Stuart Jaffe, among others. The post is called “Making Historical Characters Your Own” and it’s about using historical figures as characters in your story. I hope you enjoy it.

Robin Hood, a novelization by David B. CoeSo I forgot to mention in my last post that there is a new contest up at my website that deals with the Robin Hood novelization.  Answer an easy question about the movie, and you’ll be entered to win a drawing for a free signed copy of the paperback when it’s released at the end of April!  So go to the site and enter the contest!  And good luck!

Robin Hood Jacket Art!

March 9, 2010

Robin Hood, a novelization by David B. CoeSo, as of yesterday the novelization of Robin Hood is in production.  The books are being printed and after a long process of editing, revising, and working with the studio to make the book as true to the script and the shoot as possible, and also as effective a stand-alone novel as possible, my work is pretty much done.  The novelization will be released on April 27; the movie comes out on May 14.

And finally I can share with you the jacket art for the book.  No surprise that Russell Crowe is on the cover, but still I think it’s a pretty cool image.

I’ll post more about the process when I have some more distance from it, and when I’m not coming down to the wire on my next book.  But I did want to thank all of you who have been so supportive as I’ve struggled to meet the various deadlines on this project.  It’s been exciting, and it’s been a challenge.  I’m glad to be working on my own books again, but I would jump at the chance to write another novelization.  I think….

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