Yes—I missed last week's post. Since I'm between writing projects, I've been spending a large portion of my time on non-writing activities. My biggest project of late has been reorganizing the collection of Microsoft Access database applications I wrote shortly after accepting my new job as a database administrator. Instead of a loose collection of programs, I've created what I call "The Plan". It centralizes the automatic database updates into a single program and organizes the primary data repositories into a tightly integrated database system. Data is stored in specific locations with well-defined groupings. These databases are updated using a single application. Three other Access applications make up the various user interfaces each one meant to be used by a specific group of people. This will make maintaining the entire system far easier.
This does not mean I've not been thinking about my next project. It has been a close toss-up between a third Dragonverse novel and a new YA novel involving a dragon and a deformed teenager. If I do a third Dragonverse book I'm going to have to go back and revise the first two to bring them up to my current standards. I've learned quite a bit about writing since penning Dragonverse and if I'm going to write a third book I'm going to want to make sure the first two are updated.
The other possibility is a YA (Young Adult) novel about a dragon and a deformed teenager. I've never written a YA novel before which means the story could be a challenge. The genre has certain formats that must be adhered to otherwise it might be rejected by the readers as not being a true YA novel. Luckily, I will have the help of Susan Forest, an award-winning YA author whom I met at Launch Pad this year. She has expressed an interest in reading and reviewing the story once it's complete. I'm still working on the major pieces of the plot and if I can solve a few issues before the start of next year then this will most likely be my next project. I want the story to teach a lesson as well as present a story to the reader. I will need to develop a large amount of back story—most of which will not appear in the book—in order to make it clear in my mind as to how everything will fit together. I will let you know in this blog how this goes.
In other news: I picked up the recent copy of Locus magazine and was shocked as to how many people I've met are in the magazine. I originally picked it up because of a large article featuring Linda Nagata--another author I met at Launch Pad and someone I've kept in touch with over the years. A quick flip of the pages revealed Jenn Brissett, Ann Leckie, Ellen Datlow, and Eugene Myers—all people I've met at Launch Pad. If you are a writer and you do not have a circle of acquaintances who are published writers, then I highly recommend you do something to change this situation. The above writers are all award-winning, well-known writers in their field. They are people just like you and me. I count them as friends and acquaintances I can talk to if I need advice. We stay in touch via Twitter and an occasional email and we will get together anytime we find ourselves in the same location together. We support each other as all writers should.
Writers need to interface with other writers. I did not really understand this until I attended my first Launch Pad. Attend conferences, join a writer's group, apply to Launch Pad (multiple times if you have to), go to conventions, or watch to see if a writer is appearing in a library or a book store. Introduce yourself to them. Talk to them. But don't think that getting to know a well-known author is a gateway to publication. They've all worked hard to get to where they are. They will give you advice, provide guidance if they have the time, and will answer your honest questions if at all possible. But they will not, and cannot, give you a direct line to their agent or publisher. That's your job. They also don't have the time to read everything every writer asks them to read. The biggest advantage of knowing other writers is feeling like you belong. Listen to what they have to say and learn what they have to offer in the form of wisdom. Eventually, if you treat them like a person and not a means to achieving another goal, you will gain their confidence and eventually their friendship and trust.