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  • Felt Tips Now In Print

    Felt Tips Cover

    That’s right folks, the Felt Tips Office-Supply Erotica anthology, featuring my short story What Is It, Suzie? along with stories by over 40 other amazing authors, is now available in print!

    Edited by the inimitable Tiffany Reisz, other of the Original Sinners novels, all proceeds from the sale of Felt Tips goes to charity, providing kids with much needed school supplies. So go ahead, let this unique and exciting volume grace your shelves (or nightstands) and remember: it’s for the children.



  • Writers, Writing, and Fetishizing the Process

    I am still–and continually–reading Page Fright, which means I have become more obsessed with the process of writing than usual. It also makes me think of how both writers and non-writers fetishize the process, giving birth to the idea that ‘real writers’ write longhand, or only use typewriters; that ‘real writers’ must have certain conditions met–perfect silence, a particular type of paper, a certain brand of pen or colour of ink. It can lead many budding or potential writers to believe that unless they also adhere to these ideas, they cannot possibly write and will never be ‘real’ writers.

    Yet this fetishizing of the process comes with a grain of truth.

    I’m leery of the idea that a ‘real’ writer must do anything but write, but I also recognize that I have my own process that I find difficult to deviate from. When I write by hand, I could use a ballpoint pen if that’s all that’s available, but I vastly prefer my Sharpie pens because I like felt tip pens and Sharpie has everything I want in a felt tip. I can write in a typical word processor–OpenOffice, say–but I’m only truly comfortable with a Scrivener project where everything is set just so.

    I have my preferred formatting (Times New Roman, 12pt, 1.5x line spacing when drafting; Andalus, 12pt, 1.5x line spacing, printed with a 2″ right margin for editing and rewriting) and my preferred setting (on the bus or train; in a coffee or tea shop, or in a diner; at the front desk at the motel where I work; and always within speaking, texting, or tweeting distance of fellow writers). My Moleskine notebook–where all manner of notes both writerly and practical are written–must be black, and so must the Sharpie pen I write in it with. I edit in green Sharpie pen, and my critique partners get their critiques written in purple and orange Sharpie pen, respectively.

    I have these rituals which surround my writing, but they have all developed as the result of squeezing the most writing time possible out of a very busy schedule. I write longhand at work because it is more practical and edit longhand because it gives me a fresh look at my work; I write and rewrite in Scrivener because the labels and folders help me keep track of where I am in my writing or revisions. I save and compile redundant copies all over the place because I don’t ever want to lose the work I’ve done. Everything I’ve incorporated into my writing process is there for a purpose.

    And that is the most important consideration for any part of the writing process. Writers write; how we accomplish that must be there to help us continue writing, not tie us to conditions we won’t always have the luxury of meeting. So whether you write longhand or exclusively with a computer, and whether you use fountain, felt tip, or ballpoint pens, find a process that works for you and keep on writing.

     

    Do you want to read an erotic short story by yours truly and stories by 43 others while supporting a worthy charity? Of course you do! Get the Felt Tips: Office-Supply Erotica anthology by Tiffany Reisz today! EBooks available at AmazonSmashwords, and Barnes & Nobel



  • Fear Of Writing

    Writer: n. Someone living in a constant state of wtf by choice. ~Eric Andrew Satchwill

    Lately, I’ve been reading Page Fright: Foibles and Fetishes of Famous Writers by Harry Bruce. At one point, he quotes a number of authors talking about the abject terror they feel when they sit down to write, and it got me thinking about my own attitude towards writing.

    I don’t approach writing with fear so much as complete and utter bewilderment. I’m far too stubborn to not be writing, and compared with the fear involved in shifting one’s identity as I have, the fear of a blank page is laughable. Even so, when I stop and think about what it is I’m doing as I writer, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the sheer audacity of it.

    You see, I’m not just putting down words, I’m creating worlds. I’m picking up human failings and fleshing them out into living, breathing people, and I’m putting them in some of the most absurd situations I can imagine. I take these situations and play them out to their logical conclusions until I suddenly find myself to be the custodian of several worlds, numerous diverse people, and the engineer of no less than three wars between them.

    And I had thought that all I would be doing was following one character through an ordinary day in his life.

    It’s not only the large scale, ‘I wasn’t planning on starting another war but apparently I am’ realizations that so thoroughly bemuse me while writing, it’s the details. It’s realizing that while the situation makes perfect sense based on the chain of events and the worldbuilding, the fact that I have a gay daemon and his lesbian slave trying to find a misplaced closet is completely and utterly ridiculous. It’s these sorts of things that make me stop, blink for several seconds, then burst out laughing. I can’t quite explain how it happened, but it did, and it works.

    And you know what? I love every absurd, bewildering, and downright ridiculous moment of it. I love knowing that I am tackling something that no sane person would try and that without me, none of these situations could play out quite the way they have. This is who I am. This is my calling.

    Whether I chose this vocation or it chose me, I am a writer and I am not afraid.

     

    Do you want to read an erotic short story by yours truly and stories by 43 others while supporting a worthy charity? Of course you do! Get the Felt Tips: Office-Supply Erotica anthology by Tiffany Reisz today! EBooks available at Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Nobel



  • Felt Tips is Here!

    This is an incredibly exciting day for me because today I have become an author. That’s right. I have been a writer for years now by simple virtue of putting ideas out in words, but today I can officially call myself a published author.

    Felt Tips CoverFelt Tips, the office supply erotica anthology (and second kinkiest thing I’ve done for charity), is out today.

    That’s right, you can read my short story, What Is It, Suzie? along with short stories by 43 other incredibly talented writers, including our infamous editor and author of the Original Sinners series, Tiffany Reisz. All the proceeds go to charity, providing kids with much needed school supplies.

    You can get the Felt Tips ebook today at Smashwords or at Barns & Noble for $4.99US. (Other stores coming soon, and print edition forthcoming in 2013.) So click, buy, support a great charity, and above all, enjoy ;)

    Edit: now available at Amazon (US)!



  • Characters Are Messy

    Much like with people in real life, character dynamics can get… messy. Especially when we’re suddenly forced to look at them through the eyes of an outsider.

    I ran into this in the scene I’m currently writing for the second book in the series. I’ve spent more than an entire book with my core cast by this point; I know their quirks and foibles, I know how they feel about themselves and each other, and I know what brought them to this point in the story. I love them and understand them as rich, complex people.

    And then I bring a new character in, and she’s seeing their household for the first time. Suddenly, I’m seeing my beloved characters through the eyes of a stranger, and I see a middle-aged man living in a one-bedroom apartment with a much younger man, and a woman half his age who wears a collar and calls him Master. And it feels awkward when I put it that way.

    On the other hand, if life were straight-forward and simple, our stories would be, too. But our stories are complex, messy, and more than a little awkward because that’s what life is like, and we tell stories as a way of making sense of life.

    So I will continue to write my beloved characters in all their messy complexity. I will do everything in my power to make them as real to my readers as they are to me so that they will see past the awkward exterior to the (hopefully) inspiring story beneath.



  • A Kobo, a Dropbox, and a Sharpie Pen

    Since today is Back Up Your Novel Day, I thought I’d share with you how I work backing up my novel into the daily process of writing so that I never forget to do it.

    First and foremost, I use Dropbox as my primary save folder. Anything saved on my computer is automatically backed up, without my even having to think about it. First draft, second, third; it’s all there, and I can access my files remotely if my computer crashes or if I don’t have access to it for whatever reason.

    I also tend to work at least partially in hard-copy, whether it’s writing at work during November or editing and rewriting during the rest of the year. Granted, this is only a partial back-up, but thanks to my printer and any one of my numerous Sharpie Pens I have a hard copy of whatever I’m working on somewhere… even if that particular filing system leaves much to be desired.

    Finally, and as an aid to the writing and editing process, I save an up-to-date version of my novel on my Kobo. I just compile from Scrivener (love you guys so much!) into epub format, save it directly to my device, et voilà! An easy-access quick-reference to everything I’ve written in my novel thus far, and–you guessed it–another back up.

    And that’s just what I do on a daily basis. At semi-regular intervals, I also back up everything I’ve added or changed on my computer, my phone, and my Kobo onto a usb key. I even have copies on there of things I’ve deleted from my other devices for reasons of space or convenience (it’s no fun scrolling through several hundred photos on your phone just to get to the latest one).

    If you’re like me and have backing up your work built into your creative process, good for you! You’re ahead of the game. If not, think of this as a reminder to back up your work, and to think of ways that you can do it more and more often.

    I’ve shared only a few of the ways you can back up your work. What do you use? How do you make sure you won’t lose all your hard work to a computer crash? Share your answers in the comments :)



  • Writing for Fun and Frustration

    or

    Why Am I Wrestling An Octopus Into A Mayonnaise Jar Again?

    “Writing a novel… is like wrestling an octopus into a mayonnaise jar.” –Attributed to Patti Hill.

    I think this quote describes the writing process perfectly (thank you @BA_Matthews for bringing it to my attention). It’s not impossible to wrestle an octopus into a mayonnaise jar. They’re squishy and can squeeze into small places easily. But they’re also slippery and will wriggle out of your grasp, especially if they’ve decided they don’t want to be in mayonnaise jars, thank you very  much. And we invariably come to a point where we wonder why we decided to try wrestling octopuses into mayonnaise jars in the first place (but are too stubborn to give up because now that we’ve started we’re going to damn well finish the job).

    I’m not sure what possesses us to write. I can’t quite say why, after two years, I’m still beating my manuscript into submission, but I am. What I do know is that I couldn’t stop if I tried. I can’t imagine not having half-edited chapters strewn across the house, not tapping furiously away on my computer, and not yelling at my characters for refusing to reveal some all-important element until part way through the third draft. I can’t imagine not living in this constant state of joyful exasperation.

    And perhaps that’s the point. The joyful exasperation. All the frustrations, hair-pulling, and setbacks come with visible progress, excitement, and growth as we learn our craft and our art. For us, the process of writing is at least as important as the finished product. We complain, we moan, we gnash our teeth… and we love every minute of it. In the end, when our octopus is firmly in its jar and sitting on the shelf, we’ll look at it and remember what an insane, wonderful time we had putting it there.

    That, is why we write.



  • And Now For Something Completely Different

    We all have our writing routines. Some are more strict than others, some involve a particular setting or music, and some include what we’re reading when we’re not working. Sometimes we need these routines–and sometimes we need to abandon them for something completely different.

    My routine typically involves listening to no music whatsoever while working, and reading a similar genre to my own during leisure times to keep in the proper mindset. Recently, however, I hit a bit of a snag. The novel I’m up to the eyeballs editing and rewriting, Fallen Things, is urban fantasy (though I wonder sometimes if it isn’t more contemporary fantasy), so I’ve been reading a lot of urban fantasy. A good idea usually, but it wasn’t working this time.

    Whenever I sat down to work, I was annoyed with what I was writing. Whenever I went to relax with a book, I was annoyed with what I was reading. Whatever I was doing, I was annoyed, and I realized that I just wasn’t getting a break from anything, which wasn’t helpful. Something needed to change.

    A couple of things happened at once here: the first was that I was looking for some music that related to the character I was working on. While I usually find listening to music while writing distracting, I relate certain songs to certain characters and listen to those when I’m doing other things. This one, however, was being tricky. Nothing seemed to fit–until I abandoned the lyric-filled pop and rock music for Beethoven. It fit him so perfectly, and since I wasn’t trying to sing along with it, I could listen to it while I worked.

    The second thing was finding a selection of classic literature on sale three for ten dollars. Having two versions of the song Wuthering Heights, (Kate Bush and Pat Benatar), I thought I ought to actually read the book sometime. This was a complete departure from what I had been reading, and I loved it. For the first time in a while, it actually felt like I was giving my brain a break from the work I’d given it. I didn’t have to compare things like style and point of view because they weren’t  meant to follow the same guidelines.

    I still spend a good deal of editing time glaring at the screen. That’s a natural part of the process. But the task doesn’t seem so impossible any more, and my leisure time, filled with Emily Brontë and Beethoven, actually feels like leisure time again. I can actually relax.

    Sometimes our writing routines help us to be more productive, but sometimes we need to know when to put aside old practices and shake things up a bit. Sometimes we need something completely different.



  • My Interview With Fellow Felt Tips Writer Jenny Lyn

    I’d like to take a quick break from my irregularly scheduled blog to direct you towards my Felt Tips interview with Jenny Lyn, posted here on her blog. She’s doing interviews with all the anthology contributors between now (well, from a little before now) and the release date December 12, 2012. I encourage you to go back and read the other interviews, and to keep up with future instalments. I know I will be!

    Felt Tips is a charity anthology of office-supply themed erotica conceived of and edited by the incomparable Tiffany Reisz.



  • Why I Love My Local Independent Bookstore

    Walking into this bookstore is a different experience than walking into pretty much any other bookstore for one very good reason: it isn’t any other bookstore. It isn’t just another of a large chain of stores striving to make every shopping experience absolutely identical. This bookstore has an identity.

    I’m talking specifically about Shelf Life Books in Calgary, but I’m sure a lot of this applies to whatever independent bookstores exist in your community.

    To understand what Shelf Life Books is, let’s first see what it’s not. When I walk into a big chain bookstore like, oh say, Chapters, I usually need to know what I’m looking for specifically. It’s not really set up for browsing, confronting me instead with shelves packed with dozens of copies of the current best sellers. It feels more like going to a grocery store than a bookstore, and I tend to treat it the same way. I go to a specific aisle for a specific item. I can be assured to find the latest from any of the major publishers, but the chances of discovering something new and relatively unheard of is unlikely.

    Here, I have to browse. Even if the store is laid out into genres—I can’t imagine a book store that isn’t—the displays and the books themselves compel me to slow down, walk around, and really look at what’s there. For the first time in my life I’m deliberately looking beyond the fantasy section for something different. I’m looking—shock and horror—at non-fiction, finding books about things that interest me and things I didn’t even know interested me. Picking up The Last Lingua Franca: English Until the Return of Bable by Nicholas Ostler was hardly a surprise seeing as how I love language, but Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber was something I never expected to get into but did. Today it was the ninetieth issue of The Believer and Light Em Up, a book of microfictions that fits in a matchbook. Some of these things I wouldn’t be able to find at a Chapters, and the rest I wouldn’t even think to look for.

    Shelf Life Books encourages me to linger a while. I can sit at a table and write, just as I am now, which is something I haven’t been able to do easily at a Chapters (I’ve tried. The tables at the mandatory Starbucks are tiny and noisy.) The atmosphere here is an escape and not just another mad-dash stop at the mall on the way to the movie theatre.

    Another thing that bears mentioning is that a local, independent bookstore is, well, local. There’s a section for local authors—fiction, non-fiction, and poetry—and works from local artists on display. The red chair on the wall behind me is by a local painter by the name of Veronica Funk, who also has paintings on display at Café Koi on 1st Street.

    I never know exactly what I’m going to get when I walk into Shelf Life Books, and that’s the beauty of it. What I do know is that I’ll find something new and interesting to discover, and is there any better reason to love a bookstore than that?