Wednesday, April 21, 2010

the what-if

Stacy asks:
Where do you get your ideas from?
Answer: I'm really not sure. They just sort of come to me, these what-ifs that whisper in my ear when I'm not expecting it, very often while I'm in the shower or driving in my car. Very often it happens in response to something else. The seed of the idea for Faking It came to me after watching one of the first episodes of Sex and the City. And after listening to the Duran Duran song Ordinary World, I knew how to answer the what-if question to the next phase of Andi's story. The idea for Why I Love Singlehood came after I found out that the guy I was pining for got a girlfriend.

The finalized product often looks different from the original seed of the what-if, but then again, so do we. Writers are like sculptors: we shape and mold, scrape and peel, stop and start again. We look at our masterpiece from different angles, find beauty in the flaws, surprises in the creases and textures, smoothing out the dents along the way. It has been said that Michelangelo claimed that David was already a finished piece of marble, and he just chipped away at the unneeded pieces. Likewise, I always loved the film Amadeus, when Salieri marveled that Mozart merely took dictation when he wrote his music, the concertos and minuets already finished in his head. I've never experienced that kind of genius, but I have been in awe of my novel in final form, wondering how did that happen? How did the what-if turn into words, which turned into characters with voices and beating hearts, which turned into dialogue and plot, which turned into a story, which turned into a book?

I suppose it's part of the job I love -- the creating and the creation.

It seems that no matter where I go, I've got a scrap of paper handy with me. A memo-book in my purse, a notebook in my backpack, a journal beside my bed, etc. I try to jot down the ideas as they come: a what-if, a snippet of dialogue between two people, a character name or description, a title (this is very hard to do in the shower). I've got quite a few what-ifs waiting to be born. And that's really what it's all about.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Elisa answers!

Amanda asks:
I read 'Faking It' on my kindle today, what a refreshing and unexpected gem of a find. I will read 'Ordinary World' tomorrow. I guess my question is this, is Andi and Devin/David's story done after 'Ordinary World' or is there more to come?
First, thank you, Amanda!
Second, this is probably the question I am most frequently asked by readers . And it both flatters and touches me to know that people have come to care about Andi and Devin so much that they want more. I love them dearly as well.

My answer is this: although I have no plans at the moment to write another Andi/Devin story, I never say never! Truth be told, I had thought Andi and Devin's story ended with Ordinary World. But with so many readers asking me for more, I found myself asking Andi and Devin if they had another story to tell. Their answer was "Maybe. We wanna take some time off first."

I will say that this little what if has been whispering to me... I'll say no more, however, because to talk about it would be like trying to pull up a tomato plant while it's still in seed form. I've also got at least two other what ifs ahead of it, also stand-alones, so it might take some time before a third Andi/Devin novel gets written, if at all.

In the meantime, my writing partner and I are still working on the manuscript for Why I Love Singlehood and looking forward to its completion. We hope you'll come to care about its characters just as much as you do Andi and Devin.

Keep the questions comin', friends.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

just ask

Got any questions for me? Questions about writing? Questions about Faking It or Ordinary World? Questions about life in general? Ever wondered why I'm so obsessed with pop tarts or Duran Duran? Wanna know my favorite color? I'm attempting to include some regular features on this blog. The first will be "Ask Elisa". Once a week I'll post my answer(s) to questions from my readers.

Be sure to look out for "Ask Andi" and "Ask Devin" days as well...

Friday, April 2, 2010

good friday

Wishing a Peaceful Passover and a Blessed Easter to those who celebrate. To those who don't, a Happy Spring; and to my dear friends and family in the northeast who are still drying out from the rains: Here comes the sun!

"Pace e bene." Peace and goodwill. My thoughts are with you.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

the dilemma of self-promotion

I hear it from traditionally and independently published authors alike: more authors are in charge of their own promotion. Whether it's keeping up on Facebook or Twitter or their blog, or booking their own readings and blog tours, a significant portion of time goes into these actions, taking time away from writing.

Case in point: Around 4:00 yesterday afternoon, I was about to start revising a chapter from WILS. I went to my email inbox to retrieve some comments from my reader, when Stephen Windwalker's email appeared that the Kindle Nation Daily post was ready to go live. As if automatically, I went into PR mode: I immediately hopped on Facebook and Twitter and posted links. I came here and typed up a blogpost (which took longer than usual because I kept getting html format errors when I tried to "publish"). I emailed the link to a few others. I went back to Facebook and responded to some comments about the link. Then I went back to Twitter and followed up on some Tweets in the same vein.

By the time I finished all of this, two hours had past, and it was time for dinner. And while I finally did get to the chapter (took me three hours, and I still think it sucks), I went back online to check my Kindle Store rankings (which took a significant jump thanks to the Kindle Nation Daily post), post a thank-you on Facebook to everyone who re-posted the link to their own profile page, and so on. Went to bed around midnight. Thankfully it wasn't a school night.

Promotion can be a lot of fun, but I can understand the complaints of some writers hesitant to jump on this merry-go-round because "I just wanna write." Granted, I'm the worst of the worst time managers, but there's no getting around the need to keep that promotion carousel spinning on a daily basis, and the easily formed habit of putting it before the writing. And yet, without the writing, there's nothing to promote.

Once again, it's all about balance. We're authors. We're writers. We've got to put the writing first. There's no rule on how much time we devote to it -- be it ten minutes or two hours or 200 or 2000 words per day. There's not even a rule that says we need to do it every day. But we can't make it the afterthought. We can't let other things interfere with our writing time. Lord knows we wouldn't cut into a doctor's appointment to update our status (well, I wouldn't...). Why do it with our writing time?

That said, I'm off to the coffeeshop to catch up on grading homework papers. Hopefully later I'll get back to the manuscript...