By Popular Demand: My PW Article (yay!), a Facebook Fan Page, and Tips on Writer’s Block (plus a cameo by Buffy Summers)

Hello lovely people!

I am DROWNING in the manuscript for Seekers Book Five right now, as it is due IMMEDIATELY and I still have a couple more chapters to go (<– being deliberately vague so as not to give my editors heart attacks).  But hey, it’s only midnight.  There’s AGES of writing time left before I have to go to bed.  Right?  😉

But first I must post a blog, so I’m sorry this one will be short!  Last week’s was quite outrageously long, so perhaps this will help balance it out.  :-)  I do have two very important exciting things to announce, though!

One:  I was interviewed by Publishers Weekly!  All about my appearances on Jeopardy!  This is seriously about as exciting for me as actually being on the show.  I mean…Publishers Weekly!  They’re the coolest!  And the reporter was SO lovely and enthusiastic.  :-)  So hopefully that’ll tide you over until next week’s blog.  🙂

(A small note: the Smarty-Pants Sheltie book that’s mentioned in the article is actually book six of the series — book four is Bulldog Won’t Budge and book five is Oh No, Newf!, and those will be out in October and (I think) February, respectively.  Featuring a hilarious bulldog and a big lovable Newfoundland!  Aw, dogs are awesome.)

AND!  I have finally succumbed and joined Facebook.  I KNOW, what century am I from that it’s taken me this long?  But when it comes to my books, I quite like hiding in my office and writing them, rather than sauntering out on the Internet where people might tell me they hate them. 

On the other hand, brilliant authors with exceptional self-promotion skills, such as wonderful Mitali Perkins (who’s in my writing group! yay!), have convinced me that every author must have a Facebook fan page.  A FAN page!  How weird is that?  But OK, I’ve done it…and now you can be my fan, too!:

Tui T. Sutherland on Facebook

Well, that feels very bizarre.  But I’ll try to only post absolutely fascinating, book-related things, and I promise there won’t be a million status updates a day.  :-)  Certainly not until Bears 5 is done, anyway.  😉

And finally, I got a splendid email through the Pet Trouble site which is a question for me, rather than for Sunshine, so I figured I’d try to answer it here:

Hey Tui!  I watched a bit of the episode where you were on Jeopardy (on YouTube), and I have to say you did a great job! So, I’ve been wondering if you were going to write any more books along with the other Erin Hunter authors? And if you have the time, I’m a fellow writer and I was wondering if there were any tips you could give me to get me out of writer’s block since I’ve been in a writing slump. Though I only have 10,000 more words to go before I’m finished. 🙂 Yay!
Chelsea  😀

Hi Chelsea!  First of all, yes, I am doing more Erin Hunter writing — specifically Seekers Book Five!  Which is what I should be doing right now, instead of writing a blog, la la la.  After that, who knows, but I love working with the other Erin Hunters, so I hope so!  It all depends on what needs writing, and how many of my own projects have deadlines tromping up on me. 

I’m actually fascinated by all the writing questions I’ve been getting since Jeopardy — I always wonder whether I yammer too much about writing on here, and if it’s boring people.  But I’m always happy to do that, if you’re really interested!  So feel free to send me more questions!  🙂

I have a couple of pieces of advice about writer’s block, although I’m not sure any of these are particularly creative or different from what you’ll hear from other writers…but hopefully they’ll be helpful anyway!

(1) Sometimes you just need to take a break from writing for a little while.  Take the dog for a walk or go to a movie or a museum…and don’t feel guilty about it!  Give your brain a chance to relax before you go back to the manuscript, so hopefully when you do, you’ll feel refreshed and eager to write again.

(2) My favorite trick when I’m in a writing slump is to make myself write at least one sentence a day.  Even if I’m exhausted or I know So You Think You Can Dance is waiting for me on the DVR, I figure all I need to squeeze in is a minute to write one sentence.  That way (a) I feel like I’ve accomplished my writing goal for the day, (b) I can tell myself that even if that’s all I do, still I’ll eventually end up with a book, right? :-), (c) it keeps me thinking about the story, so I don’t lose track of it by abandoning it for too long, and (d) often writing just one sentence kind of tricks my brain, because then I’m like, "oh, well, now I know what the next sentence should be…and the next one…" and before I realize it, I’ve often written a whole page.  But even if that last part doesn’t happen, just writing the one sentence a day can help me feel like I’m not in such a slump after all.

(3) Every now and then, I hit a wall in whatever I’m writing.  This usually means I need to back up, erase the last few pages I wrote, and try to come at the story from another angle — changing who’s in the scene, or introducing a new character in a different way, or something like that.

But when I’m not sure exactly how to do that, what I try to do is remember what got me excited about the story in the first place.  Why did I want to write it?  What do I love most about it?  For example, in the vampire book I have coming out in September (Never Bite a Boy on the First Date), I mostly wanted to write (a) the female vampire narrator being sarcastic and funny, and (b) cute romantic interactions with extremely cute boys.  So whenever the action felt like it was getting slow, I’d have her run into one of the boys.  Voila!  Dialogue and cuteness ensue!  (Well, I hope it’s cute.  I’d date at least two of them.  Er, if I were a teenage vampire, I mean.  And not, like, married and stuff.)  😉

Speaking of vampires, have you all seen this?  (Warning, if you’re a Twilight fan, avert your eyes!  This is not for you!  But if you’re a Buffy fan, come on in.):

I think the awesomeness of Buffy’s eye-rolling speaks for itself.  :-)  Too funny!

(4) If you’re really stuck with what should happen next, maybe try taking a break from the manuscript itself, and write something else involving those characters.  For instance, take a minor character and write their diary entry for that day.  Or describe your favorite character’s best childhood memory.  Or make up a scene where two of the characters who would normally never meet are stuck in an elevator together.  What would they say to each other?  It doesn’t have to be brilliant, because this isn’t part of what you’re going to publish (eventually).  This is just for you, for fun, to get you playing with the characters and enjoying their company again.  🙂

(5) Finally, one of my favorite things to do when I’m having trouble writing is: read about other writers.  I don’t mean blogs online (although those are fun, too!), because then you can get sucked in and spend the next month on the Internet instead of writing (er, not that that ever happens to me or anything).  I mean books where writers give advice about writing, or biographies and diaries of famous writers.  It’s AMAZING to realize that every single writer in history has struggled with exactly the things you’re struggling with. 

In my next blog, I’ll list some of my favorite writing books, but I’m afraid for now I really must go work on BEARS.  My GOODNESS.  So much for a short blog!  See, this is what happens when you let me start talking about writing. 
;-)  And next week I’ll also talk about ReaderCon and what I think are upbeat books for YA readers!  🙂

But I hope that all helps, Chelsea!  And I wish you lots of luck!  It sounds like you’re well on your way to finishing…the middle part is always where I slow down, so I think that’s very normal.  Just keep going!  You’ll get there!  🙂

Boy, I hope I have fewer than 10,000 words to go on my manuscript, considering I have to write them all tonight.  HMMMMM.  (Hee, OK, now I’m just torturing my editors.  I’m going, I’m going!)

(P.S. because how can I not mention So You Think You Can Dance at least once: I TOTALLY CALLED that Tabitha and Napoleon would use "Halo" for a hip-hop, didn’t I?  I DID!  Hence, of course, I LOVED it!  Happiest hip-hop ever!  So, no surprise that that worked for me.  ;-)  Yay Evan and Randi!  It’s going to be so weird to see them all with new partners this week…la la la, I mean, once Bears is finished, of course…)  😉

Quote of the Day:
"If you hear a voice within you saying, ‘You are not a painter,’ then by all means paint.  And that voice will be silenced."
Vincent van Gogh