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Monday, January 30, 2012

Guest Blog/Giveaway with Author Alex Bledsoe


As my regular readers will know, one of my favorite authors is Alex Bledsoe, who I "met" years ago when we both had short stories in the Pagan Anthology of Short Fiction (Llewellyn 2008). Alex is the author of numerous books in the fantasy genre (my favorites, the Eddie LaCrosse novels which are a mix between noir detective and sword and sorcery--brilliant!), a couple of classic vampire horror with a twist, and his latest, The Hum and The Shiver, which may have created an entirely new genre...Gravel Road Fantasy (like Urban Fantasy, but set in the back hills.



Alex's writing is like the man himself--clever, charming, and never quite what you expect. For instance, would you have guessed that the author of all these books is also a stay-at-home dad? AHA! I thought not.

Alex and I decided to exchange blog posts. My post on his blog today can be found at http://alexbledsoe.com/2012/01/30/guest-blog-deborah-blake-on-maladaptive-intertia/ and here is Alex's kind contribution to my blog. Please show him some love by leaving him a comment :-) And as it happens, I have an extra HARDCOVER copy of BURN ME DEADLY, the second book in his Eddie LaCrosse series, which I'll be giving away to one of today's commenters.

And then go on over to his blog and say hi to me there, and while you're there, feel free to explore a little...

HERE'S ALEX'S POST:

FINDING TIME WHEN YOU’RE OUT OF IT

By Alex Bledsoe

When people find out I'm a full-time writer and also the stay-at-home parent of two small boys (ages 4 and 7), they immediately want to know one thing: how I find time to write.

Well, here’s how I do it.

There's a certain wisdom to the old adage that you find time for anything important to you, and certainly writing is super-important to me. But it's also a matter of prioritizing, and breaking the task down into its components so that you're not trying to do the wrong thing at the wrong time.

For example, for me actual first-draft, pull-from-you-brain writing requires relative silence and solitude. I try to average between one and two thousand words a day, so to reach that goal, I get up early, between 4 and 5 AM, so that I've got the house to myself. That lasts until about 6:30, when my oldest son wanders in for his daily dose of breakfast and Japanese cartoons. Once I've got him settled I might get another half hour until my youngest son awakes, and after that there's basically no more writing. After I get them to school/preschool, I have another break of about three hours.

At 12 my youngest son gets home, and we pick up my oldest at 3:15. Especially in the winter, it means they're around constantly. However, it doesn't mean I can't use the time productively. When they're underfoot, constantly interrupting and demanding unreasonable things like attention and affection, I'm still able to edit and revise. Working on existing text is easier, or at least can accommodate more distractions, than first-draft writing. So when the kids are around, that's what I do.

When you start so early, you often run out of steam (at least mentally) pretty early in the day. By dinnertime there's not much creative juice left. But that doesn't mean I can't work, because that's when I do my research and reading. Since I'm usually researching something that fascinates me enough to include it in one of my novels, it's fun rather than work. And as for reading...again like the old adage says, you can't be a writer if you're not also a reader. I do most of my fiction reading outside the genres in which I write, something I'd recommend to anyone who doesn't want their genre fiction to read like everyone else's. And I read lots of nonfiction.

And with that, my writer's day is done.

I don't hold this up as any sort of example of how it must be done. Every writer is different; some do their best work late at night, which I can't imagine. Some produce first drafts that are very close to the finished work, something else I can't do or even comprehend. But one thing we all have in common is that we've figured out how to make our writing a priority--not more important, but as important as other aspects of our lives.

BIO: Alex Bledsoe grew up in west Tennessee an hour north of Graceland (home of Elvis) and twenty minutes from Nutbush (birthplace of Tina Turner). He now lives in a Wisconsin town famous for trolls. His books include The Hum and the Shiver, Dark Jenny and The Girls with Games of Blood.

And here are a links to a few of his books. Go get one. I promise you won't be sorry. (Unless you read the vampire books late at night. These are NOT shiny vamps. They are horror vamps. Don't say I didn't warn you.)

29 comments:

  1. Nice post, Alex. It's clear that writing isn't a separate chunk of your day--it's woven throughout your day. Much like parenting!

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    1. Thanks, Anya! That's exactly right. :-)

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  2. I enjoy this post a lot because me and my husband are trying to have kids (I would be a stay at home mom) and I am trying to become an upcoming author. This post helps me realize that not only is one of these possible but actually both of these are possible. I do want to know if it is still possible to read books from the genre you write. I ask because I love to read and also the books I am writing expand over multiple genres and as far as I know it does not follow any book I've read. Is it possible to write a book in a genre you read without making it follow another book?

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  3. Gracielou--
    My two cents on your question: I actually read LOTS of books in the genres in which I write. In part, because that is what I like to read--there is no point in writing what you don't like. And in part to see what is already out there, so I don't duplicate it.

    Alex may have a different take on this, though. I'm curious to see what he says.

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    1. I didn't mean to imply you should *never* read in your own genre, just that it shouldn't be *all* you read. A good story well told can occur in any genre, and every well-told story you read can teach you something new that benefits your own writing.

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    2. I agree completely, BTW. I write primarily paranormal romance and urban fantasy, but I also read mysteries, contemporary romance (especially but not limited to humorous), sci fi, fantasy, and lots of YA.

      Some of the authors I have learned to most from technique-wise don't write in any of my genres.

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  4. Alex - you may not think you're writing 'what must be done', but you do capture the important bits: discipline, consistency, and flexibility. Bravo!
    Liv

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  5. It is very true that a writer's ability differs throughout the day. My productive period is very late at night into the early morning, as daytime is too distracting. Your examples of discipline and routine are necessary and show that a writer does not need a solid, uninterrupted block of time in order to write because is not just about sitting at the keyboard.

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    1. Burton Rascoe famously said, "A writer is working when he's staring out the window." I would amend that to say rocking a baby to sleep, folding laundry, or anything we can do with one part of our brain while the rest of it is working on writing. Once you learn to recognize these times as opportunities and not impediments, you can accomplish a lot.

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  6. Wow I'm impressed with your self-imposed structure. It sounds productive and yet not inflexible or crazy making.
    I'm scared to read one of your books randomly, though, cause I'm a wimp who has nightmares with anything horror related. Is there one that won't stop my heart?

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    1. Judy, I can't read horror either ('cause I'm a wuss), but only two of Alex's books are scary:Blood Groove and Girls with Games of Blood (I think I'm getting that one right).

      The Eddie LaCrosse books are fantasy and *hardly* have any scary moments :-) And The Hum and the Shiver can be a tad *creepy*, but only in a goosebumps kind of way, not in a *nightmares inducing* way. I recommend them all highly.

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  7. I need to discipline myself to write. Have a home office and all but I get sidetracked, which is bad. My husband is retired but works part time so that is usually my best time or late at night. I've been known to write until 4AM which kind of kills me for the day. I admire what you do. Plus I love horror.

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    1. Thanks, Jo Anne. I've been pondering a new horror novel lately, once I finish my current WIPs. We'll see what happens!

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  8. This has been my biggest struggle lately. Any advice for doing this with very young toddlers? My 1.5 year old wants to be on me all the time!

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    1. When Charlie was little, I had to cram more stuff into nap time because when he was awake, no work was going to get done. It was tricky learning to "turn on" the writing switch in my brain at will, but like anything, you can learn it. :-)

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  9. Thank you, Alex, for the great post, and thank you, Deborah for sharing your love of Alex's books with us.

    (I'd be at Amazon checking on his titles now if I hadn' stopped to post. (: )

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  10. What a wonderful experience for you and your family as well being an accomplished author! Very nice to have made you acquantance. I hope I will as fortunate in being chosen for your book! Sincerely, Debi Livsey aka prudence puddleduck

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  11. I was a stay at home mom and then went back to work about the time my first novel sold. I work in a university with a fairly flexible schedule compared to other jobs. You are right, though, that it takes effort and some creativity to give writing the same attention as other demands on the schedule. Good for you for making it work.

    I also will admit that I'm like Deborah. I cannot read horror--can't watch it, either. The Eddie LaCrosse books sound more my speed. ( :

    Patrizia w/a Gabriella Hewitt

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    1. Thanks, Patrizia. If you read one of the Eddie LaCrosse novels, drop me a line and let me know what you thought.

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  12. You are correct in that we find the time for what is important to us. Years ago when I wrote the book of my heart, I did it with the company of 7 daycare children from newborn to 8 years old. Now I'm in the house alone (except for 2 demanding felines) and I struggle to make myself sit and write.

    The other thing is determining when the words seem to flow the best for you. I am a morning person, but don't ask me to put anything on paper before 4 p.m. By 10 p.m. I'm done for the night.

    Thanks for visiting with us today. I look forward to meeting you in person and getting to know Eddie LaCrosse.
    Many Blessings - Angela

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    1. Thanks, Angela! I hope you like Eddie, too.

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  13. Hasn't it been great having Alex as our guest today? I love being able to introduce one of my favorite people to a bunch of my other favorite people :-)

    In the morning, I'll come check for any other comments, and pick a winner for Alex's book!

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  14. Thanks for having me, Deb! Always a pleasure, never a chore, as my English friend Tony says. Hope we can do it again sometime!

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  15. Angela Drake! You are the winner of Alex's book, BURN ME DEADLY (the 2nd Eddie LaCrosse novel). In HARDCOVER, even.

    Email me at magicmysticminerva at yahoo and send me your contact info, so I can put it in the mail to you.

    Congrats!

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  16. Heading over to Amazon now to check out those books! They sound like they're right up my alley ;)

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