Melissa Marr (melissa_writing) wrote,
Melissa Marr

Random notes (but mostly about co-authoring Blackwell)

I'm sure my attempts to blog more faithfully will fade, but since I'm traveling less this year, I thought I'd try blogging more because, over time, travel is why the blog became to spiderwebby.

I spent last week away writing. It was a productive 17k flurry. Well, it was MORE, but then there was revision, deletion, edits, re-writing, & at the end, it was 17k that wasn't tossed in the fire. Right now, I'm working on the next adult book. Aside from a short story, that's my whole to-get-written focus for 2012.  That short story is a bit scary for me bc it's for an anthology that I'm editing with my friend & fellow writer, Tim Pratt, & we (in some blur of insanity) invited some authors to be in that I am pretty sure I'm not worthy of sharing pages with, much less editing . . . yeah, I'm way nervous.  (And this, my dears, is why good friends are so essential. Writers don't become less insecure--at least not most of those I know--so we need each other to pat our hands/smack us & say "hush.")


Eventually, I'll resume the second Blackwell well . . . which, oddly, has an outline. (See the process notes below on that little aberration.)  For now, though, I'm pretending I'm going to finish this novel & write a short story, & then . . . not-write for a few months. I like the occasional illusion now & again. . .  

News-y Stuff:

It just came out in paperback last Tuesday.  There were even more reviews: Lesa's Book Critiques was one that made me grin like a fool.  She writes: "Once in a while (not often when you read as much as I do), a book comes along that is amazing, surprising in its originality. Melissa Marr’sGraveminder is such a book. It’s not new. It won the Goodreads Readers Choice Award for Best Horror for 2011. However, with the paperback just out, I had the opportunity to participate in the blog tour for the book. And, honestly? I can see why it’s called horror, but it isn’t horrifying. It’s remarkable."

There are a bunch more reviews over on my webpage from the hardcover release, including the ones from USA Today, NPR, & Library Journal.

The new cover is over on the webpage too.

There are a bunch of Wicked Lovely world stories and other ones in this collection.

Reading Teen reviewed one of the stories that actually led to me selling the collection. I wrote it the weekend before I wrote WICKED LOVELY, & it was first published in CRICKET magazine 6 months after WL released.  Reading Teen is also doing a giveaway.

Reading Lark reviewed the whole thing.

It releases in exactly one month from today.

Notes in reply to questions: Yes, there is a story about Seth after the end of DARKEST MERCY. Yes, there is a Keenan/Donia story. Yes, "Stopping Time" & "Old Habits" (Dark Court stories) & "Cotton Candy Skies" (Shadow Court story) are all in there. So are the story that started the series "The Sleeping Girl & The Summer King," a vampire story, a selchie story, and a handful of others.

My next YA is releasing 4 September 2012 from HarperCollins. No flap copy, cover image, or much else is available yet. I think the cover is going to be available in March. There may be a dedicated CARNIVAL website around that same general time too.  Advanced Reader Copies will be at both BEA & ALA in June  (as will I).

I'd love to tell you more, but I thought I'd try playing by the rules this time because it's the opposite of habit for me so therefore entertaining to me to try it.

. . . mostly.  I do periodically share sentences from it over on Twitter.

Co-authoring Blackwell

In theory, I'll blog about various upcoming projects, but since a lot of folks have asked about the co-authoring thing, I thought I'd (finally) mutter about this some here.

Blackwell is an almost criminal amount of fun. Kelley & I only work on it when we are together in the same place. This means we've gone to the mountains (VA), coast (Oregon), & desert (AZ) on writing retreats. I do retreats regularly, but co-authoring has been such a joy because the entire time is spent writing or discussing the project while we take walks in the desert or alone the ocean or . . . umm, sit at a concert at a festival drinking mead (her) or bad wine (me).

We began the project in part because of Sarah Rees Brennan & the first Smart Chicks Tour in 2010 & a woefully early airport day. Sleep deprived & chugging caffeine to wash down our very healthy breakfast of donuts, Sarah said, "You know what you should do? Write a book together!!!" Kelley & I exchanged a suspicious look, & then we patted Sarah on the head & explained that too much sugar might be bad for her.

. . . but Sarah had planted a dangerous idea. Kelley & I successfully planned a tour, edited an anthology (ENTHRALLED, Sept 2011), & executed a second Smart Chicks AND second anthology (SHARDS & ASHES, out in 2013).  Umm, and we had a giant retreat 3 group retreats for writers (& 2 more on the schedule & a third Smart Chicks Tour, details to come soonish).

We ignored the subject, but we kept circling back to it.  So we decided to tentatively try. We wrote 1/3 of a book, & then we shopped it.  Because we both had an editor and didn't want to play favourites, we shopped widely. Our agents took it out to a list of editors--in the US & abroad, In every case, we included our publishing houses for existing works, but no one received special treatment.

It immediately sold in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Brazil, France, Vietnam, Thailand, & Russia.

Then we wrote the other 2/3 of the book (& the outline for book 2 & some chapter of book 2, but don't tell our editors that bc the FIRST book isn't technically even due till March 2012, so we're not admitting exactly how far ahead we are).

We submitted the book to the US & UK editors & the agents, completed revision, & now we wait (READ: inevitably write the rest of book 2 & outline 3).  Yesterday, the series sold in Romania--the first deal based on a whole book. Film folks are sniffing around a bit.  All of that is nice, but honestly, the best part is that I get to hang out with a writer I admire/friend I cherish and make up a story. The retreats, tours, & anthologies are all fun, but this is . . . better.

The challenging parts are still there though.  Writing is fun, but it's still work.

How we work:
Kelley gets up in the morning. No, really, it's a very odd thing, but she wakes up in the wee hours (about 2 hours after I go to sleep).  She reads what I just finished & then writes her next chapter/chapters, & then I wake up. We talk about the text, and then she has her lunch while I'm having breakfast.

I take possession of the file while she takes a break. I read hers & write my next chapter(s).

We either break for dinner OR she writes while I break. Then we discuss. She breaks & sleeps. I write.

What this means is that, aside from odd moments,  we are working on the book 24hrs a day when we're together.

It's not a work routine that would fit every co-writing team, but for us, it's perfect.

The hardest parts (& how we deal with them):
Kelley & I write our solo projects very differently.  She outlines; I am totally not-outlined. To make that work, we have to meet in the middle: we use a loose outline that we tweak as we go.

Because of the nature of the characters, my characters are not as "rush into fights," whereas Kelley's character is more actiony. There are days where she wants to NOT kill things & days where I desperately want to fight a troll. We either a) suck it up and stick to the outline or b) revise the plan.

I like to wait till I'm at the retreat; Kelley likes to get a head start so writes on the flight out. . . But Kelley finishes the writing before the flight home; I'm still writing on the plane home.  We accept it. She writes her first chapter on the way to retreat, & I write "just one more" on the trip home after retreat.

After the 4th day, we break out the painkillers or heatwraps for our hands (I travel with these essential writing aids) OR we take a day off and go to a music festival/the beach/hike.


If you have topics you want me to address or questions on co-authoring, post them.  Since the beginning, I've always tried to answer questions in the blog or on Twitter or in the newsletter. (Info on newsletter sign-up here.)
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