Author Archives: Heidi

About Heidi

I write novels - fantasy, urban fantasy, science fiction & young adult (YA). Then I query. Then I wait. Sometimes get to send in a manuscript. Then I wait some more. Someday the waiting will end in joyous celebration. I know this.

Creating the Unpredicatably Predictable

fantasy house hunting heidi2524 ATCAs a reader, I want new stories to enjoy, but I’m also looking for the types of stories that I enjoy.

This means I hit the fantasy and science fiction aisles of the bookstores, not the horror or literary fiction aisles. For the, ah, three decades that I’ve been reading these kinds of stories, a lot of the same themes, archetypes, plots, and settings have occurred. You name it, I’ve seen it – probably at least twice.

But I keep seeking out these kinds of stories.

Because each author has their own spin on farmboy-goes-to-big-city.

I like the predictability of what should happen, what I expect to happen, and the light vibration of something new that I feel from the first chapter that grows as I read a new book, letting the author lead me down a path that feels familiar but I know I’ve never traveled before.

As a writer, I tell the kinds of stories I like to read. It is my job to entertain the reader, to give them something the same but different, to fulfill their desire for new stories that are the same as the stories that they enjoy.

Some days it is easier than others.

A. C. Crispin had a recent ACCess blog post about “How to Satisfy Your Reader without Being¬†Predictable” which I found to be a great read on this topic.

Then Brandon Sanderson talked about how one archetype his early novel Mythwalker worked (and eventually became his later novel Warbreaker) while another tried-and-true fantasy plot didn’t pan out in his “MYTHWALKER Prologue + Updates” blog post.

I think Brandon best surmised this balancing act of the same but different, being predictable and original, when he said …

Not every aspect of the story needs to be completely new. Blend the familiar and the strange-the new and the archetypal. Sometimes it’s best to rely on the work that has come before. Sometimes you need to cast it aside.

I guess one of the big tricks to becoming a published author is learning when to do which.

 

How Many Authors Have You Rejected?

When I go to a bookstore, I walk straight past the romance and horror and non-fiction over to the fantasy and science fiction section, and often browse the young adult (YA) aisles as well. Even though I know there are great books on the other shelves, those are the genres I’m interested in reading.

Now I want to find a book.

What I’m looking for depends on my personal tastes, what I last read, what kind of story I prefer, and what I consider to be a “good” book. My friends have different opinions and they have loved books that have done nothing for me, and I’ve been crazy about a book that they found “okay”.

In order to make a decision about which book to buy, I read the back copy. Sometimes I put the book back, sometimes I start reading the first chapter. I know within the first few pages whether or not I want to spend 3-4 hours with that book.

When I finally choose a book, buy it, and walk out of the bookstore, it’s nothing personal against all of those other authors .. but I have just rejected them.

 

Now – take that above situation and translate it in to an agent’s world … far more people than they could ever represent, some queries that appeal to them more than others, deciding which manuscript they want to spent 1-2 years of their life with, and then sending out rejections to the rest. Nothing personal, the agent just didn’t choose your book.

 

It Really Is All About Me

I’ve been seriously living the Writing Life for six years. Six incredibly long and impossibly short years. And the whole time, every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year, I had to decide whether or not I was going to write or do something else.
artist trading card by heidi2524 You can look anywhere and to anyone to be inspired and motivated. But ultimately it comes down to what you do with the time you are given.

My passion for telling stories is the reason I write. My passion to be a New York Times Bestseller is the reason I edit. My family and friends are very supportive. They accept and (mostly) understand this is part of who I am right now.

Sometimes I don’t.

And that’s when the weakest link in my chain forms a crack.

I’ve read a lot of author blogs and interviews and talked in person to some fabulous people. At some point, from what I can tell, all authors develop a crack in their chain.

Even Neil Gaiman.

Sometime I can spot weld the crack by writing – just get some words on the page, tell myself I only need 500 words on the page, and be pleasantly surprised by the time I stop typing, that there’s over 1000 words on the page.

Sometimes I let the link break, completely, and spend hours playing a computer game. This is my down time, I’m offline, unplugged, eating cheesecake before a pizza dinner and tomorrow is a new day. When tomorrow comes, I hook the chain together with a new link and decide I’m going to write.

James A. Owen said it best in Drawing Out the Dragons

If you really want to do something, no one can stop you. But if you really don’t want to do something, no one can help you.