I have worn out three keys on my keyboard: A, E & R.

The D, N, H, S & I keys are also showing signs of wear.

I think I will be done with this draft by Saturday morning.

Back to scribbling now… or, more accurately, back to pounding the crap out of my keyboard now. The story is a series of electrical impulses that erupt in my brain, crash through my arms and explode out my fingertips, bruising the keys.

Think high energy thought for me, please.

in the middle of the night…

I woke up at 3:30 this morning thinking about the chapter I’m revising. I took this as A Sign. When the Muse kicks you in the rear end in the middle of the night, you might as well get out of bed. I’m glad I did because this is turning out to be a scribblecious day.

I am fascinated by the excellent questions that poured into the Comments section yesterday. I will answer them when I know this draft is going to make it in under the wire, aka next week.

What other writing process questions do you want me to answer?

Finally, because I made such a fuss about the terribly written demand for help from a student in November, I think it’s only fair to post an email that came in last night. This one is a wonderful example of how you can get an author to write back with the information you need. Teachers, feel free to share this!

S., who is my favorite 8th grader in the world because of this letter, wrote:
Dear Mrs. Anderson,
I am an eighth grade student and am doing a 30 page report about you
and three of your books( Speak, Catalyst, Prom). I have gathered
information from numerous sources but I seem to be needing more,
thats at least what my teacher said. In your interviews with
teenreads and St. Petersburg, I managed to acquire some weird
information, aka what clique you were in in high school. If you know
of a good website or have any information that might not be out
there )like what kind of writing you do, and what you are working on
now…..) that would be greatly appreciated. I think your books are
amazing and so touching. My favorite one is Speak, when i read the
book, i felt her pain. thank you so much for being such an amazing

THAT is how it’s done, my friends. (For the record, I wrote her back and suggested she use the Tags on my LiveJournal as an index. It’s the fastest way to come up to speed on what I’m doing.)

A round of applause, please, for S!

continuing the conversation

A thread about writing popped up in the Comments yesterday. Since some people don’t read the Comments, I figured it would be more useful if I responded here.

The first question was: Because of the crushing deadlines you (and many other authors) encounter, have you ever thought of an additional scene that you might have wanted to add to any of your stories after the book was finalized and sent to the printer?

No, I never think of additional scenes after the book comes out. Despite the deadline pressure, the book doesn’t go out until it is ready. I’ve never had to ask a publisher to move a publication date, but if it came to that, I would. The integrity of the book is the most important thing.

But I have thought about putting some of the “cutting room floor” scenes on my website, after the books have been out for a while, so that fans could read them. I’m sure they would lead to interesting discussions.

The only problem is that my webmaster is already overwhelmed with work and I’m afraid if I ask for anything extra at this point, he’ll move to a desert island.

Follow up question! Do you always write chapter by chapter when you draft? Or do you ever end up with gaps in the initial draft that you have to go back and fill?

I start at the beginning and stumble forward, though I usually have several later scenes in mind before I ever set down the first word. In early drafts, there are chapters that are fully fleshed out with narrative, dialog, action, and story momentum. But there are also chapters that contain only a few lines that say something like “Main Character does something profoundly stupid that sets up the consequences in Chapter 30. Also, the sub-plot with the mermaid needs to be brought up. Add imagery of seashells?”

As I move through draft after draft, I figure out if, in fact, I need the chapter in question. If I do, the scenes that carry the proper load of the storytelling kind of show up in my brain. That’s the magic part. I cannot explain how that happens. It just does.

Other questions?

2008 Resolution Tracker
Week 8 – Miles Run: 24.25, YTD: 171
Week 8 – Days Written: 7, YTD: 56

44 weeks left this year.

Another unveiling

Busy weekend writing. Busy week ahead…. you guessed it, writing. My cold is gone but it woke up the asthma dragon who sleeps in the deepest lobe of my lungs, and we’ve been wrestling a lot. I tend to lose these battles. I’ve been getting my running in, but veeeeery sloooooowly because of the hacking and sputtering. I am trying to convince myself that running with a reduced flow of oxygen is a cool new conditioning technique. And I am off to the doc today to see if he can prescribe a nostrum that will put the dragon back to sleep.

I hates lung dragons. (Does anyone remember the Yosemite Sam quote?)

In much happier news, I can share the cover of my fall book with you!!

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The story follows the adventure of a slave trapped in New York City in 1776 while the city is torn back and forth between Patriot and British occupations. It doesn’t come out until the fall, so more details later. (Thanks to perfykt for the nudge.)

Last week mousesnovel asked in response to my announcement that I left a character on the cutting room floor: Was it difficult to eliminate the character? I’m not sure how much you can tell me, if it will give spoilers, but I know I get very attached to mine.

The different parts of the writing process feel like different countries to me. The etiquette and customs of one country is extremely different from the next. In the early drafts, I include everything that falls into my head and I love it all. I could never cut out a character at that stage. When I get to later drafts, that changes. The only thing that matters is what works best for the story. if I fall in love a character and she doesn’t work in the story, she’s gets cut. I can always send her flowers, take her to the movies, or go out for coffee with her. But if she isn’t a vital thread in the fabric of the story, out she goes.

Hacking, typing, howling

OK, one more dash from the Cave of Revision, this time to pick up medicine, dump the tissue-filled trash basket, and proclaim thanks and celebration throughout the Forest because my fundraising goal for the Team in Training Half Marathon has been met. Karen McQuestion, a Wisconsin journalist now working on a novel, put me over the top, and is the happy winner of the audio version of TWISTED. Thank you, Karen! Thank you, everyone who contributed! Because of you, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society can save lives.


…. it’s not over. You see, it’s called the Team in Training. My teammate is my best friend and Beloved Husband, Scot. Since my name is on the books, it’s easy for me to beg for donations. Trust me, my friends, if it were not for this guy, the books would not get written. He keeps me going in more ways than I can count.

Scot is 29% of the way to his goal. Please donate to the hottest bald guy in running shorts! He makes the world a better place.

New Topic: Attention teachers of FEVER 1793! There is a terrible outbreak of yellow fever in Paraguay right now.

One more thing: I stayed up last night to watch the eclipse. We had a foot of snow the night before so the the back meadow was hushed and brilliant with a million moon-filled diamonds sparkling. As the dragon ate the moon, the snow dimmed and fell into shadow. Then the stars came out, exuberantly, like a chorus that’s been impatiently waiting its cue. BH stood with me as the dragon swallowed the moon and her belly lit up red. A dog down the road couldn’t stop howling. We understood what he felt.

I woke up early this morning and watched the moon set, and am now watching a beautiful sunrise. In the middle of all these revisions, with kids home on vacation, plus the hacking, disgusting cough, having these still moments in the real world of moon and stars and sleeping meadows is quite nice.

Back to the Cave. Miles to go before I sleep.