Monday, September 24, 2012

Yes, you CAN polish a turd!

There probably isn't a writer out there who hasn't by now heard (or read) Anne Lamott's advice on allowing yourself to write shitty first drafts. But in case you haven't, here are a couple of quotes from her book Bird by Bird:

“For me and most of the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts."

~Anne Lamott

“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper. What I’ve learned to do when I sit down to work on a shitty first draft is to quiet the voices in my head.”

~Anne Lamott

Now, I have to admit, when I first read Ms. Lamott's views on shitty first drafts I was a little skeptical. I understood what she meant--how paralyzing perfectionism can be, how fearing that what we spit out onto the page isn't good enough keeps us from writing anything at all, yadda-yadda-yadda.

But a niggling little part of me thought that if you start with shit, no matter what you do with it, it's still going to stink.

Until, that is,  I happened upon an episode of Mythbusters that changed my whole perception of "shit." Apparently, shit is just another malleable substance that can be elevated beyond its humble origins.

The next time you look at the first (or second or third) draft of whatever you're writing and think, this is utter shit, remember--it is possible to polish a turd. 

I know this for a scientific fact, because Adam and Jamie proved it on Mythbusters:

So just keep polishing.

Come on, everybody, shout it with me (and Anne and Adam and Jamie)!

"Bird by bird, polish that turd!" 

Or, if you remain skeptical, at least remind yourself that a fertile imagination is a prerequisite for a good writer. Polished or not, shit is a great fertilizer.

And if you still can't stand the thought of writing a shitty first draft, think of it instead as preparing the soil in which you're going to plant the seeds of your brilliance. ;)

What's your take on first drafts? Just how shitty can you stand them? 

Bonus Question: Did I squeeze the word "shitty" into this post enough times?

Bonus-Bonus Question: Should I have substituted another word for "shitty"? Maybe "crappy," or perhaps "shizzle-y"? *

* I thought about it, but ultimately decided if it was good enough for Anne, it's good enough for me.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Book Signing that came close to being Gone With the Wind almost left me In a Fix

I survived my first book signing event!

Um, yes, I know I should have posted this last week. But this month has been eating my head. Busy, busy, busy! Book launch, signing, birthdays (many, many family birthdays!), anniversaries, a fund-raising ball...whoo-eee! Lots of excitement for a tends-to-be-solitary writer.

So I took a little blogging break just to, yannoh, breathe.

Anyway, I know I promised you posts on polishing turds and advice about book reviews from an ass--and I'm gonna get to those soon*, I promise!--but first I thought I'd subject you to a few signing photos.

Because it's my blog, and I'll bore if I want to, bore if I want would bore too if it happened to yooouu... (You have to imagine that set to music. Or maybe not... Listen, let's just forget I ever sang said it, okay?)

Barnes & Noble set up a table for me:

Tor had sent the foam-board poster ahead of time, which I thought was very nice of them. And I got to keep it. Yay!

They also sent what I considered an optimistic number of books (these, plus the ones in the window display), but apparently we sold most of them, so that was good:

If you're wondering what that thing on the end of the table is, it's a model of a catapult. Or, as my daughter called it, the "candy-pult." There's a connection to the book (how's that for a teaser?), and flinging Hershey's Kisses into the audience after each question encouraged, um, intellectual discourse on the nature of genre fiction. *cough*

Here's a close-up of it:

A special guest came to the signing with me:

(That's Jen the Amazing, one of my Twitter buds. She couldn't be there in person, so I made Popsicle JenFace. That's her "buy Linda's book" expression.)

I chit-chatted for a while...

(There were some more rows of chairs behind these, and people standing behind them, too. Of course the people standing back there may have just been trying to get to the romance shelves I was blocking. Or, yannoh, hoping to catch a stray piece of chocolate. Still, it was nice to see them there. Not too bad a turn out for a totally unknown newbie author.)

After I yakked for a while, I read a short passage:

(Note the audience's rapt attention to the words "half-naked man.")

And then people actually asked me to sign books!

(I know! It amazed me too. I'm still kind of befuddled by the whole idea of it.)

During the whole event the weather kept getting worse and worse. The store manager announced there was a tornado warning, and told everyone to get away from the windows. Fortunately, the store was spared any major damage.

(Though I did miss out on a good headline. Just think of it: "Local Author Takes Area By Storm." Alas. Maybe next time.)

After the signing, TG took me and our kiddos out to my favorite restaurant, where I indulged in this ...

... and collapsed.

I guess the store manager was happy with how it all went, because she invited me back for another signing before the holidays. I'm thinking of hiring a some actors to dress up as Vikings for that one. ;)

*Always a relative term with me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I remember.

I don't dwell--I've always been one to look more to the future than back on the past. But some things should not be forgotten.

So I do remember.

Do you?

Friday, September 7, 2012


I am experiencing the very odd sensation of not knowing what the f*** to say.

Here it is Friday, and I haven't posted since Monday.

Well, not here, anyway. I have been a bunch of other places, doing interviews and guest posts, generally popping up and saying, "Look at me! I wrote a book!"

I'm starting feel like some literary equivalent of Whac-A-Mole.

Like if I don't duck back down fast enough, somebody is going to connect with that hammer.

Hope this guy isn't out there in cyberspace waiting for me:

So I'll just put out one last invitation to my very first (!!!) book signing/reading tomorrow (click here for details, or just go to the Events tab at the top of the page) before I duck away again.

I would dearly love to see anyone who lives within a a reasonable driving distance there. I'll even give you (chocolate) kisses if you come. Er, I mean show up. (Sorry. That's just the way my mind works sometimes. Okay, most all the time.)

Oh, and I promise I will get back to non-promotional content on the blog real soon. Some upcoming topics:

  • Advice From an Ass, or How I Learned to Ignore Reviews
  • Shitty First Drafts: Yes, You CAN Polish a Turd!

Which would you like to see first?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


My launch day.

IN A FIX has officially been published. It's out there. (See? I changed the sidebar from where you can "pre-order" it to where you can "buy" it. Whoa.)

*clears throat* I am a published author.

Hmm. Even typing that doesn't make it seem real. Here, maybe if I type it bigger:

I am a published author!

Nope, still doesn't feel real. I mean, it's a very strange feeling when something you've worked toward for years is finally a reality. I think part of me doesn't quite trust it. Like the realness of it is fragile, a bubble on the edge of bursting...

Or a balloon... a room full of porcupines...

I'm half afraid it could still pop.

But, like with a bubble or a balloon, I'm going to enjoy it while it's here. :)

And then I'm going to get back to work on the next book. Because as much fun as all the getting published stuff is--and trust me, it is--I still like the writing part best of all.

Thank you all for sharing the journey with me.