Friday, October 06, 2006

Where Creativity and Technology Meet

I’m giving a short (as in three minutes) talk tomorrow and the topic is on how technology has most impacted your creative process.

Boy, let me count the ways! Because there are tons.

1. Putting me in touch with the vast community of other writers out there.

I have met some of my closest and dearest writing buddies through online writing forums and e-groups. We talk writing craft like lunatics, wrestling with plot, pov, pacing, character, conflict, pretty much any aspect of craft or the writing process you can name. And in the act of wallowing in all these different processes, my own becomes richer, I get to try new things, and even if they don’t work in the long run, they almost always jiggle something loose or spark an aha! moment, which makes them worth their weight in gold.

2. The World of Publishing at my fingertips

Never before has information on agents and editors and different publishing houses been so plentiful. If there’s an agent or editor you’re interested in, chances are you can find out much about him or her through the internet; who they represent or publish, what types of books they like, which conferences they’ll be attending. Some are very accessible and will often offer advice on how to make your work stand out or what common problems they see with first novels, offering you a chance to do some much needed polishing before submitting your work. Being closely in touch with the industry fuels my creativity in a big way, reminds me I’m part of this amazing process of getting books in front of readers.

3. Research

Okay, first I have to confess right up front that I’m a major research geek. But the truth is, there are books I couldn’t have written if not for the internet and the research I had access to. The most striking example of this is my May 2007 book, Theodosia Throckmorton and the Serpents of Chaos. This book takes place in Edwardian London, a place I certainly have never been. It also jaunts off to Egypt at the turn of the century, another place (and time) I have yet to visit. The beauty of the internet is that I found everything I needed to research this book, from maps of London around the turn of the century, to diagrams of the layout of pharaoh’s tombs in the Valley of the Kings, information on Egyptian gods and goddesses, archaeology, to the logistics of Edwardian life, such as transportation, lighting, and even the political climate. I was like a kid in a candy shop!

4. Connecting with my readers

The internet allows writers to connect with their readers like never before. From websites and email to blogs, writers have all sorts of way to communicate with their audience. I adore hearing from my readers, knowing what they thought about a book, even the parts that weren’t their favorite and I love having even more ways to connect with them. (But I don’t have to convince you guys, do I!)

Hah! It just occurred to me; the question was, What ways has technology impacted your creativity? Notice how I kind equated technology with the internet!

Pretty obvious which technology has had the greatest impact on me!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Why I Write For Boys

While I've always been driven to write, I caught a compulsion to write books for boys when my own two were growing up. I can so clearly remember when they'd finally mastered reading and were so excited to dive into the world of Books. Except there were so few stories that engaged them. Having been read to for years, they wanted action and excitement and adventure! Not the simple school/best friend/slice of life stories that were written at their reading level. In fact, that's how The Forging of the Blade was conceived, an action-packed, Tolkienesque adventure for emerging readers with third grade level reading skills.

The funny thing was, reviewers didn't get that book. At. All. But just about every elementary school teacher or librarian I talked to most emphatically did. And it was the Texas Librarians (TLA) who really gave that book a chance to find it's audience when they nominated it to the Bluebonnet list. (Have I said how much I HEART librarians!!)

When I wrote Werewolf Rising, I wanted to explore boys' puberty experience a bit. I'd watched my sons and their friends get hit by this wallop called male adolescence, and watched them struggle to make sense of all the emotions and sensations flooding their bodies, and I was struck by what an incredible transition it was. How much they were truly transformed. And I wanted to come up with a concrete, physical manifestation of that change, and thus lycanthians were born.

My own puberty experience, and that of my women friends, seemed more gradual somehow. Maybe simply because estrogen is a kinder, gentler hormone than testosterone, I don't know.

I was also struck by how much guys seemed to crave mentors. How much they loved being around men. They seemed to need that contact with older male role models in a way that was much different than girls. Probably because both tended to be around women more in their younger lives, so boys had more role modeling to catch up on, which was further fueled by the testosterone wave.

But here's a funny little thing about writing. You're not always writing about what you think you're writing about. At least, I'm not. I really thought the primary theme of Werewolf Rising was going to be control; learning to control new, unfamiliar urges. Instead, it really turned out to be about bigotry.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Who's Who In Lycanthian Society

Okay, due to popular demand, I'm going to try and identify who everyone is here in the collage.
(If you click on the collage, you can see it super-sized.)

Left Column, top to bottom
Ranger (black wolf)
Luna (white wolf - no she didn't have pups in the book, but she looks exactly like this)
Nuri (the class clown of wolves)
Bottom Two Wolves (subplot cut)

Middle Left Column,
Ranger again, this time howling at the moon
Sterling, Luc's grandfather
Kennet, Luc's father
Teague, pack's bard
Rolfe and Wiley

Middle Column
Snarling Wolf - general wolf picture
Playing Wolves - general wolf picture

Middle Right Column
Kevin, a half human, half Lycanthian who's subplot got cut. (He was mentored by into the pack by Luc's dad.)
Wanda, another half human half Lycanthian who's subplot got cut. (Unable to control herself, she keeps seeking humans out, even though it puts her in great danger
Wolf pup Keir (both pictures of black pup)
Wolf pups Kana and Zola

Right Column
Ulric, pack's Alpha
Sasha, Ulric's mate and pack priestess
Wolf pup Zola