In Which: There is rambling

“Be present on social media, Liz. It’s good for the book.”

<checks date of last blog entry>


One of the casualties of writing to deadline is that recreational writing – and the exhortations of people insisting that blogging is an important marketing tool don’t make my personal blog any less recreational – gets shoved way, way down the priority list. It’s an absolute truth that writing a book is hard, but I’m starting to think that editing a book is even harder, and I’m not done with this one yet. And as always, I won’t be able to keep it in the rock tumbler as long as I’d like to. Are there writers who don’t pick up the bound versions of their books and flip through and find a million things they’d change?

Speaking of which, I do worry about the second book. I love it unreservedly. One loves one’s children. But it’s a different animal in a lot of ways from the first book. In my mind, it’s a logical progression of the story, but based on some of the things readers have enjoyed in the first book…hmm. I’ve had some nice early reviews, which reassures me that at least it was in the rock tumbler long enough to make it readable. And it is the book I wanted and needed to write. But whether it’ll find a real-world audience? We shall see.

I still love staring at the cover. Which is a weird thing to say, I suppose; it seems vain, but I’m not the one who drew it, so I guess it’s OK? I think about the third book’s cover, which is, of course, not even a gleam in the milkman’s eye at this point. But I am really looking forward to it.

I’ve delivered a draft of the third book. There will be changes, of course; but unless someone says “What are you, nuts? You can’t do that!” the story itself is more or less baked. I don’t know what it’s about yet. It’s a strange phenomenon, but when I write a book, I don’t know what it’s about until I’ve been done with it for a while. THE COLD BETWEEN is about belonging. REMNANTS OF TRUST is about revenge. This one? I can’t reduce it to a single word, not yet. Connection, maybe. Or community. (Doesn’t sound very space-opera-y, does it?)

Humanity. Maybe that’s it. Which sounds pompous, but really, humanity is such a small, personal thing. We’re human on our bad days and our good days, and when we say the wrong thing, and when we do the right one. It’s the one thing every one of us has in common. It’s probably a cliché to suggest that the world would be a better place if we all remembered that, but I also think it’s probably true.

There have been other things going on in my life besides the time-devouring act of completing a novel. But there’s a point at which you stop writing about your kids online, and I think I’ve hit it. She’s old enough to have veto power over what I do and don’t expose about her life, small and large. So I’ll only say two things: 1) All is well; and 2) Parenting is sometimes paralyzing. All those people who tell you it’s hard? They mean it. And it’s hard in ways that – no matter what you read or how you prepare – are going to kick your ass and make you question your entire existence.

There’s some parenting stuff in Book 3. How could there not be?

Somewhere in August – the 21st, I think – I hit the first anniversary of being without a day job. That I didn’t note the occasion, or even really think about it until after the fact, suggests that I’ve adjusted. Mostly that’s true. I’ve got a routine, of sorts, that more or less works for me, and I’ve weathered what I hope are the worst of the alone-all-day-weirdness changes. (We’ll see about that. I’m almost certainly out of practice dealing with people I don’t know, and next week I get to go to NYCC and…deal with people I don’t know. If I’m weird, PIDK – well, thank you for being part of my learning curve.)

When I think back on how all of it happened…it was clearly the right decision (and I say this well aware that I’m privileged as hell to have been able to make the choice). And I do have feelings about the endgame at that last job, which are probably best left unsaid. There’s also some reformed smoker stuff going on about the software industry in general, and some thoughts about the big STEM push in schools – but that’s a different blog post, and possibly also best left unsaid.

October, so far, looks like it might be fairly restful. There’s a little promotion I’m doing for REMNANTS OF TRUST, but so far nothing huge. And then there’s November, during which I will again do NaNoWriMo, and end up with 50,000 words of…something. I have a few scenes in my head, and the odd complication, but so far that’s all. Generally, when I start writing, I have an end point in mind. This time…well. Can’t say much without spilling Book 3 spoilers. 🙂 But suffice to say, I have a good place to start.

Someone asked me a few weeks ago if I might write about different characters someday. I might, at some point. But I’ve lived with these characters for so long. They inhabit my head and put their feet up on my coffee table and drink the last of the hot chocolate and generally hang around making pests of themselves. They are not finished with me yet, and so I am not finished with them. That’s OK with me. Like I said, one loves one’s children. All of them.





5 thoughts on “In Which: There is rambling

  1. Happy belated one year full time author anniversary! Sounds like you made the right decision and I’m glad as one of your readers that we won’t have to wait years for another book. Nice cover, by the way! I hope you have them framed on the wall where you write. I’m really looking forward to this next book…and the one after that!
    Ah, raising kids…not for the faint of heart. I sometimes think back to before my first was born, and how mature and knowledgeable I thought I was. Kids can take all that confidence and blow it right away in the storm! Or leave you feeling totally clueless and unprepared. And then the next day, it’s wonderful! I think what I enjoyed most was learning about who these boys are who came from me, but are most certainly not me, and watching they themselves discover who they are.
    On your topics maybe left unsaid, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the push for STEM education, especially as so many other things are cut in the schools.
    I hope you have a great time at NYCC, even with all those people you don’t know!

    1. Thanks, Jan – covers, I have to admit, have been one of the best parts of this whole process. Never what I expect, and always so much better than what I imagined. I’m so blessed with the artist, and with my editor who imagines these things in much the same way I do.

      Hehe, I’m going to get myself in trouble if I start ranting about STEM. My feelings are based on my own narrow experiences – I know the software industry, but I don’t know much about other scientific industries. And my kid is the sort of student who’d thrive pretty much anywhere – smart and social and without emotional issues that would make her struggle in a traditional classroom. So my feelings on the issue are both narrow, and kind of complicated.

      As a general rule, kids learning more stuff = good! But. I am viscerally pub off by the idea of education being geared exclusively toward producing a future corporate workforce. There’s also the HUGE issue that not all people want to do tech work, nor are they all suited to it. The emphasis on STEM education seems backward to me, and a tacit acknowledgement that we really have turned into a society that is catering to corporate interests rather than the interests of actual people. (And I’m not suggesting those interests are always in conflict, but let’s remember who’s important here.)

      It’s also focusing on the wrong problem. STEM education seems to be advertised as a way to produce an exploitable workforce, rather than deal with issues of education in general. As the parent of a middle-schooler, my problems with education have a whole lot more to do with her only having gym once a week and the complete lack of a school librarian than how much math she’s getting.

      And those are the problems of a privileged kid in a privileged suburban school. Some schools have FAR more fundamental issues. Which is a much more serious problem that has to do with national standards (or the lack thereof), local politics, and how much society in general values educating the next generation. Complicated, thorny, yucky problems that are not addressed at all by the chant of STEM STEM STEM.

      Heh, told you it was another blog post! 🙂 I suppose the TL;DR version is: People are not cogs, and the biggest problem with US public education isn’t what technical skills are being taught. Reasonable people are free to disagree with me!

      Parenting is one of those things, isn’t it? All life experiences change us, I suppose, and I knew on some level I had no idea what I was getting into. But just when I think I know what I’m doing, something comes in from left field and I’m lost again. Just like when she was an infant, I suppose. 🙂

      1. I think one of the things (among many) that bothers me about the push for STEM education is that parents and kids can start to see it as a sure thing. I remember seeing an article recently that said around 50% of college graduates with STEM degrees weren’t working in their field. Back when I first got out of college, if you were in any one of most STEM fields (especially computer science or any kind of engineering), you were guaranteed a job. It might not be the job of your dreams, but you would be pretty certain of being employed, and at a decent salary. But now I feel like lots of kids and parents are being sold a bill of goods. They are told to push their kids to get STEM degrees so they will get good jobs. So they do the student loans, get the degrees, and then there aren’t jobs out there for them.
        It really bothers me in New Mexico where I live. There are a few really good jobs at the national labs, and there’s always health care work anywhere you go, but other than those, there aren’t very many options for STEM careers. So pushing for STEM degrees means the best and the brightest will leave and go elsewhere because they will have to to get a good job and be able to pay back those loans.
        It ends up draining the state of those who might be able to make a difference here. I do like to see girls encouraged to keep going in STEM where they have already shown an interest, because I think it can be very discouraging otherwise. But there are lots of kids who have talents in the arts or teaching or management or many other areas that aren’t STEM. But we see music and art programs cut at the schools, scholarships to state schools cut, tuition increases, etc. that just mean anyone who is really motivated might get out of school with a big loan amount hanging over them, and not be able to even entertain the option of staying local and taking a lower paying job.
        Sorry to rant about this, but it does bother me. Thanks for your thoughts on the topic! I appreciate the discussion! You are so right that people are not cogs. And I really believe that college shouldn’t be job training for a corporate workforce!

      2. Agreed, with all of it. In software, at least, there is no shortage of people. There is, however, a shortage of people cheap enough for companies to want to pay. Not to get all tin-foil-hat about it, but it’s hard not to see the STEM push as a way for large corporations to flood the market with an overabundance of cheap labor.

        I agree that focusing on not discouraging girls from tech is a good thing, but the problem, as I see it, isn’t primarily in the schools, it’s in the systemic sexism (and racism) of so many technical professions. The atmosphere for women became palpably worse from the time I started in software to the time I left. If the point of the big STEM push is to get more women into higher-paying fields – well, they’re leaving out at least half of that equation.

        And you’re right: there’s no focus on the community and its needs at all.

        So yeah, I’m happy that the schools are at least paying lip service to the idea that chromosomes don’t determine talent. But the emphasis seems very strangely focused, and not sustainable long-term.

  2. Oh, and your covers are really cool! I used to think the writers got to design the covers and pick artists and all that. But I’ve learned it doesn’t work like that. You still get really cool covers! Kudos to your editor and the artist!

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