Thursday, September 20, 2012

New Serial Short Fiction Up!

I've started participating in a fun, interactive writing project with my fellow 2012 Golden Heart Finalists (aka The Firebirds).  Today, my first contribution is up on the Firebirds blog.  It's an interactive serial short story in which readers pick what happens next, and the next segment will be written by Darynda Jones, RITA-winning author of First Grave on the Right (and the whole, excellent Charley Davidson series).  Darynda has a hilarious voice with a dark edge to it, and I'm thrilled (and more than a little humbled and nervous) that she's going to pick up the story.  The rest of the series will be written by a team of talented Firebirds from all over the world (from Australia to India to South Carolina) with all kinds of awards (including the Golden Heart and the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery).  It's going to be a blast seeing where our team takes this story.

So...go check out Part 1 of Pray for Night.  It's a short, fun read for your Friday coffee break. There are zombies.  There are nuns.  There are phone numbers on cocktail napkins and drunken debauchery at charming pubs.  And I have no idea what will happen next, so go vote and help us out!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Burn the Boats

4028mdk09 / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

When the Spanish conquistador Cortes landed in Mexico in the 1500s, he burned his ships on the beach.  There was no going back.  It was survive—conquer—or die.

I’ll put aside for the moment my moral argument with the Spanish conquistadors, and the fact that this story is utterly false.  (According to Wikipedia, he scuttled the ships to prevent a mutiny.  But whatever.)  Sometimes, it’s a pretty useful philosophy for living your life.  Choices, second chances—these things can be paralyzing.  If I can always go back, how can I move forward after a decision?

This is how I’ve been feeling revising my latest book.  It needs work.  I need to make some big changes.  But there are multiple ways I could take the story, and I’ve been stymied in a swamp of possibilities for weeks.  The only way to get out, I think, is to pick one boardwalk out of the marsh and burn the rest of them to the ground.

Usually, when I’m revising, I save every deleted word.  You never know when you’ll need it, right?  But not this time.  I’m hitting delete on tens of thousands of words and not looking back.  The only way out is to write my way out.

How do you force yourself out of tough spots?