essays

breaking chairs to make room at the table

A recent study of the New York Times's "By the Book" feature revealed that male authors mention other men and their works four times more often than they mention women and their works, whereas women tend to mention authors and works of both genders about equally. (See: the data and an article.) These numbers made me curious about the gender distribution of recommendations in the science fiction and fantasy corner of the literary world, so I decided to take a look at the recommendations made in the Tor.com "Five Books" feature, in which contributors recommend books centered around a particular theme.

City of Islands blog & interview roundup

Here's a round-up of the blog posts and interviews I've written and given for the release of City of Islands! In them, I talk about writing for children in these dark times, the lessons I learned as a bookworm child, and the importance of fun adventures for young readers.

All of my blog posts and interviews, present and past, can be found on the Other page.

thoughts on writing short stories

In this awkward time in which I am preparing to release one novel, getting ready to edit another, and halfway through writing one vast and terrible behemoth that is going to take many, many months of work to finish, I have been working on a couple of short stories.

These are stories that have been sitting in my mind for a long time--because all short stories sit in my mind for a long time, lurking in the shadows for months or years before I feel ready to write them. It might not seem to make sense, from the outside, that I can dive into writing a novel with very little preparation but require eons of contemplation to get into a short story. But it makes sense to me, and I've been thinking about why.

getting stuck and getting unstuck

The novel I'm writing now is longer and more complex than any I've tried to write before. This is a good thing! It is exciting and epic and full of things I love and there are monsters everywhere!

But it is also long and complex and full of characters and everything is interconnected across miles of story geography and years of story time and tens of thousands of story words, which means that it is a lot to handle. I am trying to be better about thoughtful first draft writing. That is, rather than jumping head first into a story and assuming I'll figure it out later, I am trying to plan a bit more. I'm not full-on outlining, but I am trying to be more deliberate about each step I take in the story--even when that step comes as a result of a wild idea that strikes in the middle of the night.

That means than when I hit a snag--which I do all the time, because it is a big and complicated story--I try to figure out why I've hit a snag, rather than barreling through or giving up entirely. I try to think about the problem in a way that actually helps solve the problem and gets me writing again. To do this, I ask myself some questions about the story to figure out what's keeping me from moving forward.