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The Next Big Thing, -8 degrees F style

Welcome to the frozen wasteland edition of Next Big Thing blog hop! Last week I was tagged by the talented and charming M. E Garber. You can read her contribution to the hop here, as well as find links to her published fiction. I think that great things are ahead for M.E., and I look forward to reading more of her work.

What is the Next Big Thing? Well, think about all the completely marvelous things you would have loved all your life, had you only known about them. If only someone had introduced you to asparagus ice cream, instead of leaving you to stumble across it the day after you vowed to quit dairy for all eternity.

No one wants a reader to miss out on the story that could be the great love of their life. Enter the Next Big Thing, an ongoing series of introductions to writers you may not know about yet, but certainly want to meet. To that end, here I am, answering the carefully devised list of questions so that you can learn all sorts of fascinating things about me and my work. (Because I am always fascinating.)

1: What is the working title of your current project?

What I’m currently working on, or what’s recently finished? My agented novel is Until The Waves Hold Me Under. The novel I’m currently working on is Crossroads for the moment. I’m dreadful with titles and the majority of my stories have working titles of either the main character’s name (“Wren”) or something of significance (“Crossroads”). I try to gussy them up before they go out the door. Sometimes I succeed (“This Place From Which All Roads Go”), other times it’s beyond me (“In The Library Of Souls”)

2: Where do your ideas come from?

I’d like to say that I have no idea, that some magical idea fairy distributes them while I sleep, but that’s rarely true. They mostly come from the odd corners of my mind, or occasionally from some phrase or feeling that gets stuck in my head. The world of the Aware, for example, came from a handful of places, among them the memory a time I was in a cafeteria as a teen and felt someone’s sadness as a tangible presence. (For a quick introduction to the Aware, “Sea Glass” is still available at Abyss and Apex, thanks to their decision to leave stories up through the awards season of their year of publication–yay!)

3: What genre do you write?

No!!! Any question but that, please. Speculative fiction, for the most part. I’m not good with categories, literary or otherwise.

4: Cat-person or dog-person?

I am a dog person surrounded by cats. My dog is completely devoted to tending the puppies of our people pack. The cats can’t get enough of me.

5: What’s a one-word description of yourself?

Indecisive. No…wait, let me change that!

6: Will your work be self-published or traditionally published?

To date, all my work has been traditionally published, though I never rule anything out.

7: How long does it take you to write a first draft?

Short story or novel? Novels range from a few months to a year or so, depending on how focused I am. Short stories generally take a day to a few days, unless I get distracted.

8: Whose work would you compare yours to within your genre?

Ack. Okay, I’d rather answer number three twice than try to answer this one. Seriously, I have no real idea. I have writers I love to read, but that doesn’t translate to a direct comparison with them. In young adult, for example, I love Kristin Cashore, but I wouldn’t compare anything I write with her work. Maybe the comparison area of my brain is lacking.

9: Who are your favorite writers?

They are legion. I read everything I could get my hands on as a kid, and reread books I loved then on a somewhat regular basis. Madeline L’Engle (with a few exceptions), Tolkien, C.S Lewis, Betsy Byars, Lois Lowry, Julia Cunningham (another writer who I feel like I was maybe the only one ever to have read), all the people who wrote horse stories…too many writers to list.

As an adult, I have favorites in all sorts of categories. Maureen McHugh is awesome. So is Elizabeth Hand. I love Sarah Monette’s short stories, and Cheryl Strayed’s memoir. Kurt Vonnegut. Toni Morrison. Mary Oliver. Douglas Adams. Ray Bradbury, who spanned the distance between childhood to adulthood for me. So many, and I hate to even start a list, knowing how many I will leave off, because of room, or because I can’t possibly think of everyone without days to leaf through everything I’ve ever loved.

10: What else might pique a reader’s interest?

Um…. I’m a compulsive rescuer of turtles crossing the road. I love documentaries. I play absolutely no musical instruments. I spent one winter counting branches nibbled on by deer in apple orchards.

That is it, I believe. To close, I toss the baton into the able hands ofWiddershins. She won me over with the bio on her blog, and with her blog in general, and while I’ve not yet read her novels, they’re on my list. Tune in to her blog next week, and you can see how she fares with these same questions.

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Nothing but questions

I have about fifteen different things I should be doing this morning. Instead, I’ve been thinking about who I write for, and how it’s changed over time, and whether I approve of that change, and how it’s been shaping what I write. About who I want to be when I grow up as a writer.

For me, writing started as an escape, as solace. These days it’s sometimes that, but often something else entirely. I’ve been sitting at a crossroads for a while, and I have yet to choose a direction.

Why do we write the things we do? What stories do we choose to tell, and why those and not others?

How do you know where you want to go as a writer?