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Friday, February 26, 2010

Around the Web

Alex Van Helsing #1 turned up over at vampires.com :
The cool thing about vampires being so popular is that there are more and more vampire books coming out (which totally kicks ass). .... Unfortunately, many of the new young adult books are stories of forbidden love and are directed at teen girls for the most part. But good news boys (and girls), there’s an upcoming book that‘s not just another cliché love story – Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising by Jason Henderson. ... I have to say that I totally plan on reading this. I really need a new young adult book to read that doesn’t involve emo lover vamps. Don’t get me wrong, I love some girly romance novels but I do like to mix up my reading list.

I love reading this-- that's the idea. Actually, I appreciate all kinds of books myself, but the idea with Alex Van Helsing was to create a big, exciting adventure series about vampires and vampire hunters, and try to avoid the format of the romance stories. That doesn't mean we won't have romance-- but romance books follow a certain arc, and Alex stories will follow a diffferent sort of arc. So it's exciting to see what people have to say.

I promise to post whatever I find that turns up and respond to it if I have anything remotely useful to say.

Monday, February 15, 2010

On Reading On Writing

I've been enjoying the past couple of weeks of breathing after finishing a draft of Alex Van Helsing #2, and I've been spending my time mostly in reading.  This reading has been all over the place: classics, short stories, new young adult, even an unpublished manuscript.

The great thing about reading is it allows new ideas to percolate, an idea will bubble up and I'll either jot it down or even just knock it aside, not now, reading. Like the ideas are jabbering students around my desk, waiting for me to look up at them.

I've even been reading a fair amount of "writing on writing," especially Stephen King's On Writing, which is about one-fifth memoir and four-fifths writing instruction, and of course it's full of inspiration, if you're like me and the most inspiring thing you can hear is something wonderfully practical. King gives great advice, like making sure to keep to your own vocabulary. Likewise Orson Scott Card, who wrote a whole series on writing.

I read a lot of writing books, and the main thing I get out of that is that one writing book, like a drink for a drunk, would be too many. One writing book and you've got one person's advice, and that advice might work for Card or King, but a hard-and-fast Card rule might not work for you, and how would you know to think that if you had just that one? One is too many. Two is never enough: once I start reading people's tricks, I want to read everyone's. Not that I'll use half of it, but I take a great joy in seeing how writers approach their craft.

What advice applies to me? is the question that keeps repeating itself, and the answer is: whatever feels right. You have to have a sense of self and give yourself permission to build a synthesis of all of that wisdom.

The lazy statement people like to make is nobody knows anything, a kind of zen koan that means that you'll hear a lot of conflicting advice. But I tell you: you will know more if you listen to what everyone doesn't know and then sift through for yourself than if you never listen at all.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising gets a cover!

Some good news today: Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising finally has an official cover, and you can see it now at Amazon. I'm of course totally stoked about this because it's a new thing for me-- every project I've ever worked on has had a cover that was either painted or drawn, but HarperTeen likes photos, so Lo, we have a teen model who appears, ostensibly, to be Alex Van Helsing.

It's funny how the details of a project slowly flow. In my case every detail is fascinating and fun-- I feel that way about process, too, I'm excited by notes and early sketches. I want to see the thing come together.

Check it out!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Time Off and New Ideas

I've been remiss in not updating my blog in well over a week. First, I did turn in my draft of the book. What's that like?

Always a let down, actually. A manuscript-- even one that's a lean 54,000 words-- takes a long time for me to put together, but by the end I'm always scratching my head. I polish what i can and yet i know I'm too close to it and can't see clearly anymore.

So it's turned in and you prepare to re-write soon enough, and you do other things. In my case, what I've been doing is reading, disappearing into other, masterful works. Since turning in the manuscript a week ago I've read To Kill a Mockingbird and Rebecca, and now I'm starting Then We Came to the End on paper and The Scarpetta Factor on audio. And I have a new idea niggling at me, something that started as a poster, an absurd, crazy collage image that I made, and now I'm working backwards to see if the outline is absurd, too, or possibly one of the coolest ideas I've ever had.

That's how ideas turn up, sometimes as posters, sketches, jotted lines, maybe a song. They can turn up anywhere. Yesterday the Idea seemed stupid again, dull and unimaginative, and then today there was a mention of something else in a newsletter that seemed to send a signal, hey, that's a good idea, there, don't toss that yet. So it goes.

Nice to have some extra time, time to get back to work.

Reading, reading, reading

I've been remiss in not updating my blog in well over a week. First, I did turn in my draft of the book. What's that like?

Always a let down, actually. A manuscript-- even one that's a lean 54,000 words-- takes a long time for me to put together, but by the end I'm always scratching my head. I polish what i can and yet i know I'm too close to it and can't see clearly anymore.

So it's turned in and you prepare to re-write soon enough, and you do other things. In my case, what I've been doing is reading, disappearing into other, masterful works. Since turning in the manuscript a week ago I've read To Kill a Mockingbird and Rebecca, and now I'm starting Then We Came to the End on paper and The Scarpetta Factor on audio. And I have a new idea niggling at me, something that started as a poster, an absurd, crazy collage image that I made, and now I'm working backwards to see if the outline is absurd, too, or possibly one of the coolest ideas I've ever had.

That's how ideas turn up, sometimes as posters, sketches, jotted lines, maybe a song. They can turn up anywhere. Yesterday the Idea seemed stupid again, dull and unimaginative, and then today there was a mention of something else in a newsletter that seemed to send a signal, hey, that's a good idea, there, don't toss that yet. So it goes.

Nice to have some extra time, time to get back to work.