Writing Life #4

As a regular feature, our authors periodically answer an interview question to provide a glimpse into the mysteries of their minds.

What’s your favorite part of the process of taking an idea to a publish-ready story? Which part do you dislike the most?

David P. Cantrell:

I enjoy writing, although it’s not easy for me, and at times, I have to force myself to stay the course. But, then comes a glorious explosion of ideas, like Kilauea’s lava it’s unstoppable. It’s exciting; I find myself smiling as I type. It’s a special feeling and hard to explain. I think most golfers, even duffers, know what I mean though. It’s the feeling they have when everything comes together, the club head meets the ball at the sweet spot, and a magical moment is burned into their memory. Those kinds of memories bring golfers back to the course and me to writing.

You don’t have to be a golfer to understand that sand traps are their nemesis. Self-editing is a giant sand trap for me. I’m not talking about shallow scars in the landscape filled with hard-packed white sand. Think of craters created by a mortar and filled with very dry talcum powder. I can swing away in my self-editing trap for days before I give up. Honestly, I think my aversion to self-editing is more about self-doubt than anything else, which is why I’ve come to appreciate an experienced editor.        

Lee French:
Though the writing itself is fun and awesome, there’s a particular moment that I love more. It’s that point when suddenly everything makes sense and the idea spins in a new direction. The story had to go that way all along, but I hadn’t realized it until some unknowable piece of the puzzle resolved into a specific shape. The revelation is incredibly satisfying, and it makes everything else work. This moment often comes during conversations with another writer, when a discussion about the finer points of a plot or character turns unexpectedly into a furious brainstorming session.

What I hate most about the process is working up the promotional word barf. Something has to go on the back cover. Sadly, “This book is awesome, so buy it” isn’t good enough. This part isn’t about ideas or characters or plot twists or witty banter. It’s about distilling the book I just spent months toiling over into a short glob of manipulative horse puckey that only reflects a few facets of it. Bah! Bah, I say.

This book is awesome, so buy it.

Connie J. Jasperson:
I love every aspect of writing craft.  From the first moment that everything goes to heck in one character’s life to the final point of getting the hero to the final denouement–I love the crafting of the tale. To me it’s like playing a really long, wonderful RPG that has the best, most immersive storyline ever.

However, once the book has been written, one must sell the damned thing, and that means far more than just writing a concise blurb for the back which is difficult enough.


One must attend (cue the dramatic music!) book signing events.

The process of trying to sell my books in a one-on-one situation is daunting–I’m not really good at verbalizing why my book is the best book for you to read at this moment., when I would much rather just give you a copy and let you take it home and see for yourself why it’s so awesome.

I can sell my friends’ books–I can sell them like I was hawking ice-cream in the desert. But I can’t seem to find a smooth sales-pitch that makes MY own books sound intriguing–and they are.

I was brought up in a home where self-promotion was a sin–one simply did not brag about one’s accomplishments. They would speak for themselves.

But that is not true of books, because they remain silent until a reader cracks them open, at which point they begin to speak and can’t be silenced. The trick is getting them into the reader’s hands in the first place–once that has been accomplished, the book will sell itself.

I just need more practice.  Would you like to buy a book? It’s barely used, and well-maintained. It only had one owner, a little old lady who only read it on Sundays, and it’s still under the 10 year/90,000 word warranty.


Author: Lee French

Lee French lives in Olympia, WA with two kids, two bicycles, and too much stuff. She is an avid gamer, casual bicyclist, and lackluster gardener. Most of her writing is done in a Beanbag of Comfort +4. Best known for her young adult urban fantasy series, SPIRIT KNIGHTS, Lee is an active member of SFWA, PNWA, and NIWA.

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