Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Book Limbo

Okay, before I get into the "meat" of today's post, I have to give a little update on the Books-A-Million situation. I went back in there yesterday, and now I think I can safely say that their whole "Beloved as Beach Reading" thing was just a result of poor shelving skills. That place is FULL of books in the wrong section. I found the latest Jacqueline Carey hardback in the YA section, even though all of her other titles are where they belong, in sci-fi/fantasy, and I found not one, not two, but THREE books that aren't even supposed to be released yet all out there and chilling on the shelves. As an author, I find that kind of troubling. See, when Important Publishing People look at sales figures, they only see the sales from your release date on. That means that if people at Books-A-Million shelve your book a week before it's supposed to come out, and your book sells 100 copies during that week, those sales WON'T show up on your all important first week of sales tally. For first time and/or midlist authors, that can be a really bad thing. So if you see a book by an author you love, and you know that book isn't supposed to come out until the next week, RESIST, no matter how much you might want it. I know it's hard. I had to walk away from Lauren Myracle's newest, Bliss, and I am DYING for that book. Boarding school! Ghosts! Horrible murders! Twist ending! What's not to love? But since I love Lauren Myracle, I'm waiting until Tuesday to buy it.

But on that Tuesday? It shall be mine.

As for my own books, I am, as the title of this blog says, in book limbo right now. I'm not quite ready to start on Demonglass 2 yet since there are still edits to do on Demonglass 1, and I want to make sure that first book is completely locked down before I reopen the door on Sophie and Co. I have written a few snippets of scenes for Demonglass 2, and I have to say, it's a very strange experience working on a sequel. For one thing, I'm writing a book that Hyperion has already paid me for, which is VERY different from writing Demonglass. There's a little more pressure, sure, but there's also the lovely feeling of knowing that THIS book already has a home. It's also weird to think that I'll actually turn in Demonglass 2 to my editor several months before Demonglass 1 comes out (January or February 2010!) So when my first readers- an idea I still can't wrap my mind around- are first discovering Demonglass, I'll be nearly done with the whole series.

I've been having fun playing around with ideas for Demonglass 2, but since it's not due until late 2009, I figure I should probably write something else in the meantime. And therein lies the problem.

It's not that I don't have ideas. Ideas are actually the easiest part of writing. That's why I always used to laugh when I was in the agent-getting process, and people would say, "But what if he/she steals your idea and sells it for him/herself?" Well, first of all, no agent is ever going to do that. But secondly, ideas are literally a dime a dozen. EVERYONE has an idea for a book. Most people have dozens. It's that whole sitting down and writing it out part that separates the idea-haver from the writer.

That's why I think it's so interesting that "Where do you get your ideas?" seems to be one of the most popular questions auhtors get (exceeded only by, "How do you get published?" And hey, I've answered that one!) Meg Cabot jokes that she gets her ideas from "The Idea Store," an answer I think Stephen King has given a time or two as well. And I can see why you'd give a jokey answer to that question, because... well, there is no real answer to "Where do you get ideas?" You just do. I know it's a cliche to say it, but ideas literally come from everywhere. Sometimes it's something you read or watch. As I've said before, a lot of Demonglass came to me after watching the show Hex and reading Anne Rice's The Witching Hour. I really responded the the Southern Gothic-y vibe of the Anne Rice book, and I loved the creepy boarding school aspect of Hex. So I started out writing a Southern Gothic set in a creepy boarding school. Everything else developed from that.

Ideas also come just out of nowhere. For example, the other day, I was putting a band-aid on Small Son when it suddenly occurred to me that a character in Demonglass 2 should get severely injured (funny how Small Son's barely bleeding scraped knee becomes a character getting all eviscerated by demons on the page, but there you go!)

I liked my injury idea, tucked it away, and let it stew for a couple of days, and before I knew it, I had a MAJOR plot/characterization moment bubble up as a result of that character's injuries. I mean, it was such a good idea that I actually said, "Oh!" out loud when it dawned on me. That one moment ended up giving me direction for the entire third act of the book. All from Small Son and his scraped knee.

That's why I'm definitely more of a "pantzer" than a "plotter." When I have an idea, I jot down everything in my head about that one idea, including any scenes that occur to me. Then I start writing. When I hit a wall, I go back to my notebook and start jotting down any plot problems I'm having and any possible solutions. Once that knot is untangled, I write some more until I hit another wall. Then back to the notebook, ad infinitum, until the book is finished. I like doing it that way because I feel like the plot twists that come about end up being more organic and legitimately twisty. The audience doesn't see them coming because I didn't really see them coming.

Anyway. Ideas.

I have buckets of them right now, but none of them feels right for this particular writing juncture. I'm still kicking that haunted house book around, but I'm not really having fun with it, namely because the work I have been doing on Demonglass 2 has all signs pointing to that book being a little darker and angstier than the first (see above, RE: major character getting jacked up by demons), and I don't really want to deal with TWO dark and scary books banging around in my head at the same time, especially since I am one of the least dark people you will ever meet, despite writing a book that full-on has "demon" right in the title.

Then there's the other idea I've had for quite some time, an idea I love so much that I want to take it to Vermont or California and get gay married to it (providing, of course, that my idea is female. Which I think it is.) Now this idea is fun and exciting and there are no demons or ghosts or people getting their insides all on the outside or anything!


There is no doubt in my mind that this idea wants- nay, needs- to be a series, and I don't want to be "That Author That Only Writes Series." I need my next book to be a stand alone.

Which leads me to the idea I had last night. I couldn't sleep thanks to fretting over whether or not to buy a new car (I decided not to, BTW. I like to think it was a mature decision based on the fact that there's nothing technically wrong with my car other than it being old lady-ish, but I suspect it has more to do with the fact that I really could not give a damn about cars, and the idea of spending another day at a dealership was making me feel crazy in my head.)

This idea is good. It's cute. No one gets killed in it. Well, no one important. ;) And it features a heroine who is so different from Sophie that I think I can avoid falling into that horrible trap that plagues so many of us who feel most comfortable in first person POV: that all of our books will sound the same.

So we'll see. I have been led astray by too many Slutty New Ideas to place my trust in this one lightly.

But I have a good feeling about this one...

Ooh! Before I forget, if you would like to find me in other places in Internetlandia besides this blog, feel free to friend me on Facebook. I'm also hanging out with a bunch of super cool authors who also have books coming out in 2010 at 2010: A Book Odyssey. I'm really thrilled to be in a group with these ladies, as they have some AWESOME books coming out. So please check it out!

Next time, I may have some exciting Demonglass news to report!

Until then, au revoir! (and be a hint as to the exciting news. Maybe. I'm just sayin'. ;) )


serenity said...

This post was fascinating. Dilemmas I had not considered when it comes to a multi-book deal. I had people ask the "What if they steal your idea?" question too. I leaned towards the whole "They just don't do that" thing. But it will make even more sense to ask, "Have you ever tried to turn an idea into a whole book?"

There were tons of nuggets in here, so I'll probably read through it again. Good luck picking the next idea to work on. I'm so excited for you! And now, I'm off to friend you on Facebook.

Maureen Lipinski said...

My first drafts are awful(as I'm painfully aware of since I'm deep into soul-sucking revisions), since they usually are full of "INSERT FUNNY, YET SMART, COMMENT HERE THAT WILL MAKE LOVE INTEREST LAUGH."

My latest is full of little marginal notes like: "Uh, this isn't possible based on the rules you set up in this main character's world."

Possibly followed by a "This book kind of sucks."

Ha ha!

Charmalot: said...

This was such a thought-provoking post... I've totally experienced 'idea-thief' paranoia, but serenity has such a great perspective: ideas are great, now turn it into a book! I can't imagine the pressure of a multi-book deal, though - so exciting and scary at once. My first ms took years to write. It seems publishers want the sequel in a matter of months! I especially enjoyed how small son's knee scrape triggered major plot points to come. Imagination at its finest :)

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