deborahjross: (Default)
Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer.

--Barbara Kingsolver
deborahjross: (Default)

Last night I sent off the revisions for The Heir of Khored , the final book of The Seven-Petaled Shield trilogy. Am feeling very pleased with it. That wonderful feeling of reading your own work and thinking, "Wow, I really nailed that scene!" So, elation but also exhaustion. As you can tell from my (well, partly deliberate) sentence fragments.

What do you do when you've been working on a project for what seems like forever (7 years) and it's finally done. Out of your hands. Fini. (I still have to do page proofs, but the essential work is done.) Some writers go on vacation. Kick back, get a massage or twelve, watch all the seasons of Eureka, go out to dinner, etc. Others sit around and mope, wondering what to do with themselves. One very fine writer of my acquaintance gets depressed until she starts the next project. 

Me, I have a list of things I've put on hold during the crash and burn deadline period. I've written out a few things, pinned the paper to my bulletin board. I stare at it, my mind bereft of ideas as to how to accomplish the tasks. I think that state of blankness is about par for the course. The thing is, when we pour ourselves into a project, particularly one with a a deadline so it's not only all-encompassing creatively but in terms of how many hours it eats up every day, and then it's over, it's as if we've been pushing a very large, very very heavy object and it suddenly slides out from under us. Falls off a cliff. Disappears into another dimension (aha! PublisherLand!) I feel like a cartoon character staring into the void where my book used to be.

As much as I want to dive into the creative projects I set aside because of the deadline, I also need to take care of the void inside of me. Read more... )

deborahjross: (Default)
Do you think of yourself as a creative person? What is a creative person, anyway? Do we construct impossible stereotypes that then makes us feel we don't have the inherent talent to achieve our dreams.

The myth of the creative person | Nathan Bransford, Author
deborahjross: (Default)

I've put together a collection of essays on writing - craft, survival, inspiration, career, and many other topics. Here it is, new from Book View Cafe! If you've enjoyed my blogs here, check it out!



A cup of inspiration, a dash of understanding, and a generous serving of wisdom for writers new and old. From the desk of writer and editor Deborah J. Ross comes a collection of warm, insightful essays on the writing life: including getting started, negotiating with the Idea Fairy and creating memorable characters, writing queries, surviving bad reviews, dealing with life’s interruptions, confronting creative jealousy, and nourishing yourself and your creative muse.


It's available in epub and mobi versions (so you can read it on your Kindle or Nook, as well as other ereaders) and you can download a sample chapter. Only $2.99.

deborahjross: (Shield #1)
Recovery (which includes return and renewal of health) is a re-gaining—regaining of a clear view. I do not say “seeing things as they are” and involve myself with the philosophers, though I might venture to say “seeing things as we are (or were) meant to see them”—as things apart from ourselves. We need, in any case, to clean our windows; so that the things seen clearly may be freed from the drab blur of triteness or familiarity—from possessiveness. Of all faces those of our familiares are the ones both most difficult to play fantastic tricks with, and most difficult really to see with fresh attention, perceiving their likeness and unlikeness: that they are faces, and yet unique faces. This triteness is really the penalty of “appropriation”: the things that are trite, or (in a bad sense) familiar, are the things that we have appropriated, legally or mentally. We say we know them. They have become like the things which once attracted us by their glitter, or their colour, or their shape, and we laid hands on them, and then locked them in our hoard, acquired them, and acquiring ceased to look at them.


Creative fantasy, because it is mainly trying to do something else (make something new), may open your hoard and let all the locked things fly away like cage-birds.

J. R. R. Tolkien on Fairy Tales, Language, the Psychology of Fantasy, and Why There’s No Such Thing as Writing “For Children” | Brain Pickings
deborahjross: (Default)

We are, each one of us, full of magic.

Ha! That got your attention, didn't it?

Finding "magical" ideas isn't a matter of sitting in front of the blank page thinking up cool magic systems. I could sit around all day trying to dream up ideas and get absolutely nowhere. Ideas ambush me. They fall out of pine trees on my head during daily walks, hit me while I'm filling the dishwasher, or rise up and scream at me while I'm working on another writing project altogether.

Where do they come from? Why, from our own lives. Finding the magic within is a matter of opening yourself to the possibility of ideas.

Yes, I know, that is much easier said than done. Begin by simply allowing yourself to be inspired. Creative people hear in the wind the lilt of a new melody...or the whisper of ghosts wanting attention. They see in the sunset the finger paints of a playful god...or the ominous portent of prophecy looming at the cusp of fulfillment. It's all in the imagination, which, if you are going to write or paint or make music, must be allowed to romp freely without the deadly inhibitions of reality thrown at you by well-meaning but magic-challenged friends: "That's silly." "It's just moving air. There's no magic in Coriolis forces."

No magic? Balderdash. I found magic in weeds./;;'>>>>/.

It's true. My long-running battle with the noxious and unbelievably tough knapweed in my pasture ended up on the pages of my first book as my heroine Jetta's intense and frustrating battle with an enemy she can never ultimately defeat. Fire—the elemental fire at the heart of Jetta's world—is alive. It thinks. It wants...the freedom of the open air, the fuel in living greenery, the defeat of the Firedancers who were created at the Beginning of all things to fight its encroachment onto the land. But no matter how many battles the Fire Clans fight and win, fire will still exist. Still want. Still hate.

My frustration with knapweed became Jetta's determination to defeat the enemy threatening her entire world, and from there became a story about duty and sacrifice and what we will do to protect the people and places we love.

I am Jetta, as all writers are in some aspect their characters. Knapweed chokes out everything around it, killing all the native plants except for the trees and making a wasteland out of formerly beautiful meadows (and my horse pasture). I did not know, when the first, surprising line of Firedancer popped into my head, that this tale about preventing devastation was really about my fight against knapweed. But "This fire was malicious" pretty much captured many surly suspicions about my enemy as I, hot, sweaty, and thoroughly sick of lugging around my little sprayer, surveyed its malevolent encroachment. I imagined it laughing at all my efforts to get rid of it. I assigned it an evil genius capable of plotting its next move into previously untouched areas. I—well, okay, I have an active imagination and too much time to think whilst hunting out every rotten plant. So?

I daresay writing fantasy beats the heck out of therapy.

There's magic in everything. It informs our lives as fantasy writers and lets us "write what we know" in the grandest sense. Aren’t there daily struggles we all deal with, from getting the kids to the school bus on time to impossible people at work? The children become magical but maddening creatures and the cretins become orcs. Geez, I love fantasy.

My advice to beginning writers: turn off conventional wisdom and find the magic around you, whatever you write. Be observant—but let what you see pass straight through your reality filters to the inner child, the one who still remembers the enormous possibilities in an empty box. Let the spark flare, no matter how silly it seems.

That really is magic.

Sign up to win an autographed copy of Firedancer at Goodreads starting April 15!

Want to know more about Firedancer? Read on...

The Ancient, the strange, living fire imprisoned at the heart of the world, has grown tired of its cage. It is pushing its way up everywhere, defying the magic of the Firedance that has bound it since the Beginning of all things. Jetta ak'Kal, the most talented Firedancer of her generation, has already lost her lifemate, the village she was supposed to protect, and her confidence to its bold attacks. Now, a year later, her clan ignores her insistence that the Ancient is acting strangely and sends her to protect Annam Vale with only the most erratic journeyman in all the Fire Clans for a helper. Poor Settak has only stubbornness going for him—and a long-cherished love for Jetta that she cannot return.

They arrive in Annam to discover the Ancient crawling up through abandoned mine tunnels. Thrown straight into battle with an enemy that still gives her nightmares, Jetta's private little war is complicated by the presence of Windriders, masters of air, the Ancient's most potent fuel. Arrogant and cocksure of their own ability to protect Annam, most of them side with a village faction that thinks Jetta ak'Kal is a greater liability than an asset. Only Sheshan ak’Kal seems reasonable, but his undisguised interest in Jetta sets Settak bristling.

Beset on all sides, Jetta must somehow bring Windriders and Firedancers in an unprecedented alliance to stop the Ancient, for if she fails, Annam Vale and its big, laughing Stone Delvers will be only the first victims of the firestorm that will surely follow.


S. A. Bolich lives in Washington State with 2 horses, 4 cats, and a dog, and is winning against the knapweed, thank you. Her first novel, Firedancer, came out September 2011; the sequel, Windrider, is due out in May 2012. Her short fiction can be found at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, On Spec, Damnation Books, in Defending the Future IV: No Man's Land, and many other places, and is upcoming in The Mystical Cat fantasy anthology and the Gears and Levers steampunk anthology from Sky Warrior Books.

You can find more information about her and her work at her website:, follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and subscribe to her blog, Words From Thin Air. You can also download an extensive excerpt of Firedancer at Goodreads.

GUEST BLOG: Sue Bolich on "Finding Magic in Weeds"

Mirrored from my blog.
deborahjross: (Jaydium)
Louise Marley is one of my favorite writers, and I love how she talks about the process of writing. Part of my delight is that she is also a musician and the relationship between the two creative processes make a lot of sense to me. Anyway, I just discovered that she's been blogging on how she writes novels. She says something I need to hear over and over:

"One of the most important lessons I've learned from the past twenty years as a writer is that each and every one of us has to respect our own process in accomplishing the enormous task of writing a book. I have a colleague (the fabulous K.W. Jeter) who once shared with me an 80-page outline of a proposed novel. Eighty pages! My role model and mentor, Connie Willis, outlines an entire book in great detail and then write her scenes out of order. The redoubtable Stephen King, in his essential book On Writing, says the only time he tried to outline a novel it was a disaster. (It was Rose Madder, and I have to agree with him that it wasn't a success, though I still acknowledge him as a master wordsmith.) Each of these great writers has his or her own way of doing things, and a list of achievements to prove that it works--for them."

Here's the first part. You can noodle around her blog site and find the rest.
How I Write a Novel: Part One | Louise Marley | Blog Post | Red Room
deborahjross: (Deb and Cleo) about to be enlightened by much joyous piano music.


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Deborah J. Ross

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