Thursday, April 30, 2009

the roller of big cigars

Things you see when you live in the mountains go out running at 4 a.m.

Wild animals, mostly.

When it's warm, I sometimes narrowly avoid stepping on rattlesnakes.

Shooting stars, every day. The meteor showers in August and November are unbelievable and constant.

Last week, when the moon rose, it fell into a direct line with Venus, which somehow became magnified to the extent that it looked like a second moon. Then, when Venus began slipping behind the narrow crescent of our moon, it looked as though the moon were exploding. That sight, I thought, would probably have been one of those Stonehenge-type occurrences that would have resulted in some shaman dude being sacrificed if I'd seen it a thousand or so years ago.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


This is my 124th blog post of 2009. I think there have been a couple days when I posted more than once, though.

As of today, there are just 133 days until in the path of falling objects is in the stores. A lot can happen in 133 days. I know I'll be in Chicago for the ALA annual, doing a book signing, as well as being an actual author at the YA Authors' Coffee Klatch. I'll be putting the specific information about times and locations for those events on the path of falling objects and Ghost Medicine websites.

I am just about finished writing my second book in one year (the last was written in the summer of 2008). That's about a normal pace for me, but this one has battered me quite a bit.

Oh well, I like a good beating now and then.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Going back to this whole teacher/school/education thing... a few posts ago I left off saying something like this is why Jack hates school...

Or something like that.

Most secondary-level teachers are child-hating control freaks to whom habitual applications of "sit down," "no talking," and "because I said so," serve them the way heroin serves junkies. They don't ever stop to consider if learning can take place while a human being is standing or talking... behaviors that are completely normal and beneficial to human children.

And, after years of mainlining their shit directly into their veins, the majority of these teachers become obsessively focused on "product" as opposed to "process."

Oh... and they hate kids, too.

So, by the time he's about 15 or 16, Jack hates them, and Jack hates school.

It's okay, though, because Jack hates being sixteen, too.

Monday, April 27, 2009

farther (behind)

So it's like this whole Sparta vs. Athens thing, too. And, no, of the woefully few movies I have ever submitted to viewing, I have never seen 300. And you won't talk me into seeing it, either, so don't even try.

But I mean this whole math and science, math and science, math and science thing is also characteristic of the black-and-white, us-or-them political/psycho-paranoiac attitude that has defined our personality of state for the last decade or so.

And so, as Athens fell decimated by plague under Pericles, it looks like we are in for a bit of populational cleansing at the hands of a nice influenza epidemic, too, as we wall ourselves in behind the perceived safety provided by our faith in calculation.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


math and science
math and science
math and science


Just saying that makes me feel so much smarter.

Earlier this week, I read an editorial in The New York Times (which, by the way, I read religiously every day to begin my adjustment from writing into reality) by Thomas Friedman (a columnist I usually think is pretty swell) about the sorry state of education in America.

In his piece, Friedman echoes the commonly-sung dirge about the failures of the American educational system because our kids are lagging behind kids in Singapore or Sri Lanka, or wherever in -- you guessed it:

math and science
math and science
math and science

Tom, you're in a forest. Time to look around and take note of the trees.

They don't only bear the fruit of calculus and physics. The thing is, every time someone wants to bash American intellectual achievements, they quantify the comparative challenge by playing the math-and-science-and nothing-else-matters game.

Just sayin'. Maybe we need to somehow quantify and standardize predictive or prescriptive assessments in creativity, innovative vision, and aesthetic reasoning. I have a feeling (feeling?) that we Americans are kicking ass in those areas.


Come out and see me at UCLA today. I'll be at Mrs. Nelson's booth (Zone H, Booth 813) signing books and secretly distributing Advance Reader Copies of in the path of falling objects, but only to people who suck at math and science... (I wouldn't want these ending up in the hands of non-Americans).

Oh... from 2 to 3 p.m.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Today: At College of the Canyons in Valencia, California

I'm giving three talks to kids about careers in writing. Should be fun.

Tomorrow: At L.A. Times Festival of Books at UCLA, Zone H, Booth 813

I'll be doing in-booth book signings from 2 - 3 p.m.

Allison and Liz and the other incredible people back in New York sent out a box of ARCs of in the path of falling objects and some more hardback copies of Ghost Medicine, so I'll be giving some out FREE.

But only if you're nice.

Jack can be an angry guy, but there's a difference between angry and mean.

We don't do mean.

Friday, April 24, 2009

jack (is back)

I don't like e-books. I don't want a Kindle. I tried downloading free books onto my iPhone, and it was cool just to know I have books in my phone, but I won't read a book on a screen.

I need paper.

I need to feel the edges of each page between my fingers and see the marks I leave on them. I need to be able to underline and circle, fold a corner, or stick a post-it between something and something else.

And, no, it isn't cool to be able to do all that by dragging your finger or highlighting and clicking. I want to do it myself, on real paper, in a real book.

First thing I do when I finish writing a draft of a novel (which, because of the way I write... first draft is usually final draft)? Have a righteous drink. Like whiskey. While I watch all those pages come out, hot and perfect, from the laser printer. And I'll carry that fucker around with me for days, rereading it the only way that books are ever supposed to be read... off of paper.

I know, I know... there's this deafening chorus droning from every direction about The future of *this* is the new *e-this*, and the future is here now, and it is ultra-hip and cool and talks to you like fucking TomTom so you don't get fucking lost, because God only knows you could NEVER find your way around without it.

See if you can get it on the paper.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

jack takes over

I'm just staying home. Writing all day today. Getting stuff ready for this weekend at the LA Times Festival of Books at UCLA.

But Jack has taken over today, so I apologize in advance if this is a bit edgy.

Warning: The following blog post uses the word "fuck" 15 times.

You know those silicon wrist bracelet thingies? A friend of mine works for author Chris Crutcher, and they recently had some really cool ones made, but one thing: the bracelets have the word @#$% on them, as opposed to the word "fuck."

I'm going to assume that when you see the word @#$%, that you generally read it as "fuck." Right? Or, maybe "shit," depending on the context, but on Crutcher's bracelet, I think the context demands the use of the form "fuck." Because, if it was "hell," you'd just go ahead and write it out.


Because, isn't @#$% a nastier word than "hell?"

This is all rather paradoxical, in so many ways, because Crutcher has been the target of so many censorship campaigns, especially at school libraries, resulting from complaints over some of the words he uses in his books.

And so I thought, Wow, that's weird, because obviously the Crutcher people think it's okay to censor a silicon wrist bracelet by using the word @#$%, instead of "fuck." [Memories of Susan Patron: self-censorship is the most insidious form of the practice]

But Chris' assistant, Kelly Milner Halls, explained to me that they could not get the silicon wrist bracelet manufacturer to make a silicon wrist bracelet (hereafter referred to as SWB) with the word "fuck" on it, so they had to compromise with the word @#$% .

What the fuck?

A fucking compromise?

You know, as I said to her, our recession is NEVER going to get better as long as whores get picky about morals.

That pisses me off. I bet I could find some whoring SWB manufacturer who wouldn't think twice about using the word "fuck" on their product.

But, if they put "fuck" on the bracelet, then kids could get in trouble for wearing them at school.

Oh. I get it. That's why books that say "fuck" should be taken out of school libraries.

Shouldn't they?

Kelly told me a story about an eleventh-grade boy who was told to remove his Chris Crutcher bracelet that had the word @#$% on it, or face suspension. Mind you, it wasn't the word "fuck" on his fucking bracelet, it was actually the word @#$%

This conclusively proves Theorem 7 from Smith's Universal Calculus:

@#$% = fuck

This is why Jack hates schools and teachers.

Fuck you, Jack.

More to follow...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Yesterday, a young writer asked me a question that authors probably get asked as frequently as anything else. He said that he loves to write, knows exactly what he wants to write about, but sometimes he gets stuck. So, he asked, what do you do about writer's block?

Well, I spoke with him for a while about the topic, but, here you go: One thing I do about this Writer's Block thing that I don't believe in is this. What I'm doing now: you can write about this unicorn of a problem. I'll step out of what I'm doing and write something rambling and only partially coherent for my blog, for example.

I'll tell you the truth: right now, even as I type these very letters, I am in the middle of what is, so far, one of the most exciting, terrifying, and violent scenes in the book I am finishing up. So, I'll make myself stop writing and get out of it for a while, in order to let things carefully and slowly develop in my head with precision.

I explained to him that there is often a tendency among writers to desperately want to get to the next turning point, but not put down on paper the things that you need to in order to arrive at that spot. This is probably the most common cause of Writer's Block, in my opinion, and, really, the best way to deal with it is by patiently going through those first appetizer courses before gorging yourself on that climactic event you can't wait to get out of your system. Or down your throat.

Or whatever.

Just sit down and do it.




If you say you know what you want to write, then you have the cart. So, hitch up to it and ride.

Can't get simpler than that.

Oh... if you don't know what you want to write, but you know that you want to BE a writer, then... in all sincerity... you should grow some balls and quit.

Seriously. Because that isn't Writer's Block, it's reality block.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

father and son

This was a pretty cool moment for me.

Yesterday afternoon, my son asked me, "Dad, when you have some time, would you please burn me a copy of your Clash, London Calling?"

By the way, he does talk like that.

I can't even begin to imagine what I would have wanted to share from my own parents' music library when I was fourteen years old.

Wait... yeah, I can.


Monday, April 20, 2009


Ten Random Things About in the path of falling objects (which is coming out this October from Fewiel & Friends/Macmillan):

1) Matthew, the brother whose story is told through letters between him and Jonah, is modeled after my own brother. Probably about 75% of the stuff in Matthew's letters to Jonah actually came straight from letters my own brother wrote home when he was serving in Vietnam.

2) I still have all those letters. They are flat-stacked inside a big history book right here in my writing office.

3) Our family actually has a black 1940 Lincoln Cabriolet convertible, one of the very few in existence. It's sitting on blocks at the moment, inside a sealed garage. I have a photograph of Wendell Wilkie riding in one when he campaigned for the presidency against FDR in 1940. Some people say that the Lincoln in the picture is actually our car, although it can't be proven. But the car has only had two owners.

4) I have ridden in the backseat of a car all the way up from Mexico, sitting beside a life-sized tin statue of Don Quixote.

5) Many of the place names are entirely made up, but I have spent a great deal of time driving through the incredible state of New Mexico, and have vivid memories of the drama and desolation of the countryside, especially up around Farmington, which is where a lot of the book takes place.

6) The "play list" in the book contains some of my favorite songs from the summer of 1970.

7) I once knew a man named Walker who was missing a leg. I always knew I would have a character with such a name and infirmity in one of my books.

8) Whenever I write something, there are always parts of my stories that come to me in my dreams. I have amazing and intense dreams every night, and I almost always remember them. I dreamed about the roadhouse in the novel in the path of falling objects, that's why I put that little episode in there. As a matter of fact, last night I had a dream about an orphanage in Africa. Never been there. Strange.

9) I've mailed out advance reader copies (ARCs) of the book to librarians or teachers in every state mentioned in the novel -- EXCEPT to New Mexico. If you are a Young Adult Librarian or teach a high school reading program (especially for boys) in New Mexico, contact me... I will send one to you. By the way, the states mentioned in the novel: Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

10) Another important literary prop in the novel: I wrote about my habit of making literary references in my books on an earlier blog post... and I made this huge list of all the works I allude to in in the path of falling objects, but... duh! I left out a really important one that keeps coming back... The Bible, and, in particular, the story of Jonah from The Bible. I also like all the "Jonah" references in Moby Dick, which is one of my favorite books ever.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

(dead) (line)

I've never minded having deadlines imposed on me. Most writers I know seem to be very good about extending theirs, but it seems like every time I've gotten a deadline that I've beaten it with gobs of time to spare.

I've made a deadline for myself, though. It has to do with finishing up my current project.

Pretty soon.

My apologies for not being my usual self these last couple of weeks. I am certain the voice of the blog reflects a certain distant state of mind. I wish Drew could come back and take over writing these posts for me, but I haven't seen him in weeks, think he's maybe taken off for Mexico or someplace like that again.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

you mess with me, I mess with you

I don't know very many other writers. I hang out in my yard with horses and dogs, and I dig in the dirt, run, and mountain bike in the hills.

Once in a while, some crazy bitch rear ends me when I'm stopped at red lights.

Occasionally, I get to meet and listen to other authors, and almost every time it's been an affirming experience for me, because it seems like real writers often go through the same things that I do. I wrote about this on a post a month or so ago about Susan Patron, self-censorship, and self-doubts.

I've also had the pleasant opportunity to hear Lisa Yee speak on a couple of occasions. She tells a story about how, when writing an edgy YA novel, she began using "swear words." Characters can do that to authors, I think, and the consequences can sometimes be troubling. When my characters cuss, I begin adopting their ill-mannered colloquialisms, too. Because my characters in Ghost Medicine chewed tobacco, well... uh... never mind. Since I start taking on some of the characteristics of people in my books, and they always do things that I've done... I wonder if my characters ever say, amongst themselves, oh shit, I hope I'm not the one Smith makes do.... Anyway, obviously, it's a two-way street, I guess, as far as influence goes. This is why I've got to finish this book I'm wrapping up before my character entirely destroys my life. And not just because of cussing.

One of my favorite author blogs to visit is the blog of Brian James. Brian hits the nail on the head in so many ways, about music, about writing... stuff like that. On one of his recent posts, he writes about that incredible feeling authors get when things just pop into your mind as you're typing away. It is a pretty amazing thing, I have to agree, and this is another time when it is so reaffirming to me to hear a writer of Brian's caliber talk about how, once you get to a certain point, the story just reveals itself and the ending may evolve into something of a complete surprise to us.

I'm right there, too. I have no idea how this thing is going to play out, but all the elements are coming together... so what happens in the resolution is out of my hands.

It's in the hands of the character who's trying to destroy my life.

Friday, April 17, 2009

four seventeen

Yesterday, I brought hardback and audio copies of Ghost Medicine out to Henry Mayo Hospital in Valencia, California, to leave for any young patients who want to read or listen to a book. This was done in coordination with the American Library Association's Teen Literature Day and Operation Teen Book Drop, which was sponsored by a couple Young Adult/Guy Literacy Groups.

On the way to the hospital, the woman behind me crashed into my car when I was stopped at a red light.

I love my life.

Also yesterday, I received a package containing the fall galleys being released by Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan. Oh, and their catalog, too. I must say that page 18 is pretty damn cool. It's difficult to decide which title to read first. If covers, catalogs, and flap copy are accurate ways of judging, this looks like one hell of a powerful list.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

mad jack

Just a reminder that I'll be doing a live radio interview today with Paul Strickland of KHTS-1220 at 12 noon, Pacific time. We'll be talking about in the path of falling objects and a bunch of other stuff. The feed will be live-streamed on the web at KHTS-1220.

Probably one of the most important characteristics of good writing, at least for me, is the author's development of reader empathy for his protagonist. This can be particularly challenging when you have a main character who's angry. Anger is such an unbecoming emotion, I think. Which brings me to this guy Jack.

It can be done.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

the week ahead

On Thursday, I'll be doing a live radio interview with Paul Strickland of KHTS-1220 at 12 noon, Pacific time. We'll be talking about in the path of falling objects and the other events listed below. The feed will be live-streamed on the web, and also available as a podcast if you burrow around (I think on the lower left-hand side of the page) at the following site:


Thursday is also an important day for a couple of other reasons: First, I will be participating in "Operation Teen Book Drop." I'll be bringing audio and hardbound copies of Ghost Medicine into our local hospital for their young patients.

The day is done in conjunction with the American Library Association's "Teen Literature Day." ADULTS: Read to kids that day. Get over yourselves and do it. I will, too.

And, finally, coming up on April 26, I will be at the Los Angeles Times' Festival of Books at UCLA, signing copies of Ghost Medicine and sneaking out a couple Advance Copies of in the path of falling objects from 2 - 3 P.M. I'll be in Zone H, Booth 813 which is being run by one of SoCal's ultra-coolest indie booksellers, Mrs. Nelson's Toy and Book Shop.

Hope to see you out there.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

the banker

into this angry and self-destructive place.

But nobody put a gun to my head and said, here, sit down and write this out.

So now I've peeled back the cover on this world I can't get out of.

Fuck you, Jack.

Monday, April 13, 2009

(awkward) (silence)

I find myself slipping into one of those awkward and silent episodes again these past few days. I guess it's kind of like Sartre's Nausea. Maybe not.

So, I'll share a bit of a note I received today. Again, a handwritten little message for me... and I've said before how cool it is to get handwritten notes in this day and age. In any event, the note came from a reader... the wife of a friend of mine. I'd loaned them one of my only remaining ARCs for in the path of falling objects, and this is what she wrote to me:

I just wanted to write you a quick note to express my appreciation for letting me read your novel. I truly could not put it down. I fell in love with the characters and still carry them with me today. J- will probably tell you toward the end of the book when Jonah (xxxxxx -- semi-spoiler omitted) I was bawling my eyes out. I wish you all the best in your writing career. I am confident you will have a very successful one.

Nice note.

And, thanks.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

five random lines

Because it's Sunday morning, and it's really nice outside... and I've got a lot of stuff that I'm in the middle of, getting in the way of stuff I keep neglecting, I'm just going to post five random sentences from what I'm finishing up, and say nothing else:

Imaginary girls don’t talk on phones or show up in pictures.

In Marbury, guns made gods of boys like us.

I did something to your brain, and you'd better get help, Jack.

That side: The worst things I'd ever seen in my life.

You haven't gotten away from anything.

Happy Sunday.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

saturday procrastination club

I've managed to find some way of procrastinating my way out of all the grown-up stuff I should have done this week, including my laundry.

Yes... I do my own laundry, as opposed to assigning a member of my entourage to manage it.

God! I am so useless when I'm writing. It's even gotten to the point where I am trying to calculate which would take less time: washing clothes or going to the store and buying some new ones.

Okay. I give up.

On Facebook, I just took the "What Facebook Quiz Are You?" Quiz, and the result was: You're the Facebook Quiz with all the spelling and grammar errors in it! You are careless and uncommitted to reality and will do virtually anything to get out of acting like an adult! You are a loser, and nobody likes you!!!

That said, this is ALA's National Library Week, and on Thursday, two important things are taking place: Operation Teen Book Drop, and Teen Literature Day. So, I've been sending out copies of Ghost Medicine and ARCs of in the path of falling objects all week to Young Adult Librarians all over the country.

So now, I am pretty much out of my ARCs, sorry to say. So, if you're a YA Librarian or run a Teen Reading Program, contact me and I'll see what I can do... or you just might have to make plans to get to Chicago for the ALA Annual in July.

I'll be there, too.

Friday, April 10, 2009

delay of game

Well, I was supposed to be interviewed live on a radio station yesterday, but the interview was postponed due to live coverage of the L.A. Dodgers' game.

If I'm going to get bumped, I can see no better reason than being bumped by my favorite sports team.

So, the interview will definitely be on, live, next Thursday at 12 noon, Pacific Time. It will stream live on the Internet, too, so by next Wednesday, I'll post a link here for anyone who wants to listen.

It should be a good piece. We're going to be talking about my forthcoming release, in the path of falling objects, which is coming out in October, as well as some other important upcoming events.

On April 16, the day of the interview, I will be participating in Operation Teen Book Drop. I'll be delivering copies of my books, and audio books, to local hospitals for their young patients.

Then, on the following weekend, I'll be appearing at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at UCLA, in the booth of one of the coolest indie booksellers anywhere -- Mrs. Nelson's.

I'll put more up on the LA Festival as the date approaches... but for local folk, it will provide you with an opportunity to win an autographed Advance Reader Copy of the not-yet released in the path of falling objects.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

spoiler warning

A while back, I was contacted by a teacher from Seneca Valley Intermediate High School in Pennsylvania about my book, Ghost Medicine.

Of course, to me, there are few things that are more rewarding than experiencing a connection through my work with readers, especially young people, their teachers, and librarians.

Well, the ultra-incredible kids at Seneca Valley held a book discussion on Ghost Medicine, which they recorded and posted on the Internet as a podcast.

You can hear their discussion by clicking on the following hyperlink:

Ghost Medicine Podcast

Click on the audio feed beneath the book's cover in the lower right of the page.

I will warn you about two things:

1) Eh... kind of a spoiler in the discussion if you haven't read the book (so... go out and read it and THEN listen to the podcast).

2) These are the smartest kids in the world, who, when they take over the planet, I am fully expecting will offer me some form of menial employment.

Wow. I am blown away by this. Seriously.

Seneca Valley Intermediate High School in Harmony, Pennsylvania... you rock.

And consider yourselves adopted.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

swallows, bats, and springtime

I know the emotion that some people attach to the swallows coming back to Capistrano. We have cliff swallows here where I live that come back the same day as the ones at the mission.

But the coolest things that come back every springtime are the bats. Not baseball, which I love, the flying rodent kinds.

We get thousands of bats here, and on warm spring evenings I like to sit out on my deck and watch and listen to them. I know, most people have no idea what bats sound like, but they make a really cool clicking sound.

I also enjoy "fishing" for bats. You can actually do this with a fishing pole, but I just use my arms. I can stand out on my deck (I have two of them, the higher of which is probably 20 feet off the ground) and wave my arm quickly over my head, and bats will dive-bomb at me.

And I've caught more than a couple bats since moving up here about 12 years ago (not with my bare hands, though... ewww). One thing that's amazing is how small some of them are... I mean, I've caught a bat before whose body was no bigger than my thumbnail.

Sometimes, when it's really warm, I'll go to bed and leave the doors to the decks standing open (we live in a very remote and safe place). And I've woken up a couple times with a bat or two flying around in my bedroom. The thing that's weird about that (and I know there are people reading this who are on the brink of nausea at the thought of it) is that when bats fly, their wings make absolutely no sound at all. The only way I ever know when one's in my room is when it inevitably crashes into the wall trying to find its way out. I know... you're thinking bats have sonar, they'd never crash into walls. But this is not true... especially in light of the strange architecture of my room and the very high-pitched ceiling... it's easy to see how a sonar-packing bat could get confused.

Anyway, just thought I'd share my springtime and flying rodents story, thanks to my friend, Kelly Milner Halls, who blogged today about a research project she's doing with rescued bats.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

more on superstition

I hate being superstitious. It's like the most extreme and debilitating, get-in-the-way form of OCD.

I guess that's why it was so easy for me to come up with the super-creepy character of Mitch, from in the path of falling objects.

A few posts back, I commented on how fervently I avoid even accidentally reading my horoscope, and how even Magic 8-Balls terrify me. Ever since then, I keep getting emails about my new horoscope prediction.

Of course, I don't open them.

So cut it out.

I will never read them.

So... when I write, I usually also keep the internet going. When I get tired, or need to think for a bit, I will sometimes pop over to the 'net and check out my email, or Facebook, or even sometimes ask a random question to Google and see what happens.

Yesterday, though, I blew it. I figured out my entire life on Facebook. I found out what my parents should have actually named me, where I am supposed to live, and... ugh... how I am going to die, all by taking Facebook quizzes.

It said I am going to die by drinking the black fluid from inside a Magic 8-Ball.

Monday, April 6, 2009

tear another page off the mayan calendar

I'm beginning to think some things don't actually exist.

Like chupacabras, for example.

I mean, am I wasting my time sitting outside all night with my night-view video camera trained on my corral hoping to catch one in the act of chupa-ing one of my cabras (that's goat)?

I really hate my goats. I've even gone so far as to weave delicate necklaces of raw bacon for them at night, hoping to entice a not-so-random act of predation on them, but no such luck.

I read an article last week in The New York Times about the increasing popularity and trendiness of goat meat, too. It's supposed to have more protein than beef, or something like that. All I know is that mine would have a slight after-hint of bacon, too.

There are a couple of things going on right now, the convergence of which is likely every bit as psychologically cataclysmic to me as the final square of the Mayan calendar (which, I believe, when painstakingly translated into the modern vernacular contains the phrase "By the way, you're royally fucked"). One is (as Grant calls it) The Deal, and the other is The Book, both of which make me absolutely insane and impossible to live with.

So... off to dive into the convergence and hammer out more words. First stop: tear another page off the thinning Mayan desk calendar.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

tips for writers

You should never lick can lids. Just in case your mom never told you that.

Or stick your thumb inside the opening of a pop-top beer.

Okay. Those are my writing tips for today.

Usually, when I read other writers' blogs with tips about writing... no, wait, pretty much always... those tips don't mean anything to me. Maybe it's just me... I don't know.

I've been writing a hell of a lot lately. I did an interview for a radio station earlier this week (it will be posted on the web in a few days), and the interviewer asked me how many hours I put into writing each day when I'm in book-writing mode.

I don't even look at it that way, to be perfectly honest. Because counting hours is too much like a "job" to me, and I just do what I do until I'm finished and satisfied for the day.

Then I go lick can lids or jam my thumb into a pop-top beer can.

But, seriously, if I had to quantify it, I'd say that when I'm writing, I put in eight to ten hours at it per day.

But I don't count.

It's very important that I start my day with my work. And coffee, too. Then, right when I get to a really good part that I'm excited about, I'll usually go run a few (maybe five) miles and think things through. I don't wear iPods when I run, as much as I'd like to, because they interfere with thinking, and they also make it really easy for mountain lions to kill you.

Which is something your mom probably didn't tell you.

But it's true.

I built a sauna at my house a few years ago. Sometimes, when I'm writing, I'll take a break and go sit in the sauna for half an hour or so. It's also a good way to think things through. Sweat, steam, and silence.

I am heading there now. I need to think about the strange place I've left myself in today.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

the view from here

There are lots of sites online that offer up regular reviews exclusively limited to the genre of YA.

Well... sort of.

Here's something that happened this week:

ONLINE REVIEWER:(to readers) Hey! You can help me out by picking the next book from my "To Be Read" shelf and I will review it!!!!!

[ASIDE: Have I ever told you how much I loathe the exclamation point, especially when used in multiples?]

ME: (posting) Oooh! Oooh! Pick the one written by a woman, about that girl!!!!

[Yeah, I pretty much hate myself]

ONLINE REVIEWER: Uh... But... all the books on my "To Be Read" shelf are written by women. And... uh... they're all about girls, too. But... hey!!! If you pick one, I'll read it and review it!!!

Okay. I know my friend the English professor has already railed about my misogyny in Ghost Medicine, and he just now sent me an aha!-I-caught-you-again-you-misogynistic-bastard email about in the path of falling objects, but let me make this clear:

You're wrong.

That assumption would validate a belief that all men are like Mitch, from in the path of falling objects, or are alcoholics, like Carl from Ghost Medicine.

The bottom line is, and I'll post it again for the thousandth-and-first time: It is not true that boys don't read and won't spend their money on books, it's just that they are product-placed out of the market. When they go into bookstores, or read online sites about YA fiction, they get the general impression that it's about 90% geared toward girl issues.

So, what do you expect them to do?

Friday, April 3, 2009

back to hell

Okay. I have to say that sometimes I scare myself.


Here's the situation: if you could strip away all the cosmetic niceties behind which just plain evil people hide so there were no aesthetic filters, the world could be at once pretty damn scary and pretty damn easy to figure out.

That's part of the idea behind The Marbury Lens, but the hell created in that story is... well... so scary it's starting to bother me. As I said in an earlier post, one reader of in the path of falling objects wondered how I could think up a character as disturbing as Mitch.

Well... all I can say is, want to see something you'll never forget? It's coming.

Enough said on that.

I was fortunate enough to do another interview with radio station KHTS yesterday. A very pleasant experience, and I got to talk about lots of things I don't usually get to blather on about in most of my interviews. So I'm pretty sure I'll like this one, as much as I truly do not like interviews with me involved in them.

In any event, when the piece is up on the KHTS website, I'll post more about it here.

Now, back to hell.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

london calling

Some of the pictures recently on the blog were taken in London, like this one of boats on the Thames. I've spent a good deal of time there, and in other places in England, and part of the book I'm writing at the moment is set in London, as well.

I'm in the crazy part of the book at present, which makes me particularly useless and impossible to live with. So, I'll shut up now.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

april fool

It's been a particularly crappy last couple of days. If I were into astrology -- but I'm not because I'm paranoid about reading things like astrological forecasts or tarot cards... heck, even Magic Eight Balls scare me -- I'd say that my something was definitely in retrograde.

Which sounds painful.

The one redeeming thing in these last few days from hell?


I happened to have received some very uplifting messages from librarians scattered around the country about my books, their reactions to them, and, most importantly, the reactions from young adult readers.

Anyway. Back to work. I still have a few minutes of time.