Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Paul Hostovsky - On Repetition and Revision

Today we have poet Paul Hostovsky guest-blogging on the use of repetition with us! Paul's latest book of poems DEAR TRUTH is now out from Main Street Rag. He'll share a poem from his book at the end of this article!


I went through a phase once where everything I wrote turned into a sestina. I was in love with that form, under the spell of the repetition. There is much pleasure to be had in repetition—we all know that—and yet doing something over and over and over again, as good as it may feel, can also be bad for you, not to mention bad for your poem. Paul Fussell says in his book, Poetic Meter and Poetic Form, that the trouble with sestinas is that they usually give more pleasure to the contriver than to the apprehender, i.e., the use of repetition in a poem often gives more pleasure to the writer than to the reader.

Repetition is many things: rhetorical, humorous, incantatory, sexual. Rub-a-dub-dub. And just as there is a time and a place for sex, there is also a time and a place for repetition. That being said, some people like to have sex in odd places and at odd times. And some people like to have sex all the time. And some people just don’t like sex at all, and don’t see what all the fuss is about. Fussell doesn’t say anything about the fuss over sex in his book on poetic meter and poetic form. But I think he would have to admit that sex and meter are inextricably related. For example, intercourse is often delightfully trochaic. However, rereading this paragraph now, I notice that I’ve used the word sex at least 8 times. That’s a bit excessive, don’t you think? A good writing coach would surely say that using sex 8 times in the same paragraph is a bit excessive. S/he might even say it’s an example of pure prurience, and incontrovertible incontinence on the part of the writer who has sex on the brain, not to mention very bad writing to boot. S/he would probably tell me to revise.

When I revise my poems—and I revise compulsively—I often struggle with the repetition question. When I’m in the first draft of a poem and under its spell, the use of repetition can propel me forward, can feel central to the poem’s movement and invention, its argument and rhythm. But sometimes when I return to the same poem later, the repetition has lost its magic, lost its fire, and it feels like returning to a bunch of empty beer cans and used condoms at a campsite, evidence that somebody had some fun here at some point in time recently, but there’s no fun now and in fact there’s a lot of cleaning up that needs to be done.

I know I’m repeating myself here, but getting back to the sexual analogy, one could argue that both the sexual impulse and the repetition impulse—its itch, its urge—partake of the same subtle brand of insanity. And one could also argue that in the making of great poems there is a certain amount of, well, teetering on the edge, and flirting with madness, through the sleeve of the imagination. You have to be a little crazy to make poems, after all. And the repetition can get you in the mood, it can get you going, it can make you crazy enough to fall in love with the words. Which is what a good poem is, after all: an act of love. And it’s hard to go back and revise something as irrational as an act of love.


Everyone Was Beautiful

The day that everyone was beautiful

was like any other day, the only difference

was that everyone was beautiful and the day itself

was a beautiful summer day or spring day or

one of those late winter days that smells like spring

and if it was fall it was early fall

when it’s all but technically summer and everyone

was simply beautiful, not sexy beautiful

or movie star beautiful or drop dead gorgeous beautiful,

but everyone but everyone had this patina

of slightly bruised longing, this shimmer of

I think I knew you when we were children,

this look of I’ve loved you ever since you were born

and probably longer than that and it all started

with the paperboy careening out of the blue

dawn on his bicycle, pitching to the left and right

with his ballast of fifty today’s papers

in a vast canvas sack slung over his shoulder

balancing himself and the whole world

on the tip of morning, the streets beginning to stir

with shadows and workers and cars

all of which were perfectly beautiful,

and it continued on like that throughout the day

with the gas station attendant and toll collector

and motorists and pedestrians and clerks—

even the boss, even the boss’s boss who always

seemed an ugly sort of fellow really, especially

on the inside. But on that day even the ugliness

was beautiful—it was a beautiful ugliness

the day that everyone was beautiful and the day itself

was a beautiful summer day.


Thank you for guest-blogging here, Paul!

If you want to read more poems, DEAR TRUTH can be purchased here!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Author Interview - JILL MYLES

Ooh-la-la! Today we have a paranormal romance author Jill Myles in for the interview! She is represented by Holly Root and her debut novel GENTLEMEN PREFER SUCCUBI is now out! It's part of THE SUCCUBUS DIARIES series. Stick around till the end of the interview for info about a special prize for her blog tour commenters!

For the illustration, I drew the main character of GENTLEMEN PREFER SUCCUBI. Jackie Brighton was a dorky museum docent until she got turned into a succubus...Now she's got vampy hair, eyes, and a smokin' hourglass figure. Trouble is abound!

Now without further ado...onto the questions!

1) Thanks for joining us, Jill! What is GENTLEMEN PREFER SUCCUBI about?

It's about a dorky museum docent who wakes up one morning and finds herself in a dumpster. Which is weird, but when she crawls out of the dumpster, she finds out that even
stranger things have happened - she died and turned into a succubus. And as a 'suck', she now has to answer to two different masters - a vampire and a fallen angel. Since succubi are treated as a little bit like free agents in the supernatural world, everyone has a favor to ask...

2) Sounds fun! What inspired the story?

I was working on a story about fallen angels, but it wasn't gelling. I went to lunch with my sister and we were talking vampire romances, and I cracked a joke about "what if vampires were sex starved instead of blood starved"? And it sort of blossomed from there. I made the heroine awkward and kind of bad with people, because I didn't want her to be ultra-beautiful AND competent. I wanted to see what happened when someone a little less competent suddenly got a hit with the immortality stick.

3) I've been hearing raves about this story! How do you keep your story exciting and fresh?

Aw, thank you! It's kind of weird to say, but for a long time, I fought what I was writing. I didn't want to write funny novels. Didn't want to write sexy. Didn't want to write adventurous stuff. I kept trying to tone it down and write some serious epic fantasy, but the funny stuff kept calling to me. And even when I wrote the serious stuff, people responded more to the funny bits that kept sneaking in no matter how hard I tried to get rid of them. Eventually I embraced it and decided that I didn't have to be a serious writer. I also tend to let my internal editor have free reign. I love thinking up bizarre scenarios, and instead of telling myself "No, that's stupid and outlandish - there is NO way that would happen in the story", I try to think of ways that it could possibly be included. Nothing is too weird or 'out there', it just has to make sense in the environment you're putting it in. I'm a big fan of including outlandish things in the otherwise normal world.

4) I quite agree! What was your journey toward this debut publication like?

Kind of textbook, really! With long pauses in-between. I wrote 4 novels before
Gentlemen Prefer Succubi, and no one in New York was interested in them. After lots of revising and a year and half of querying (and 2 novels making the rounds), I got an agent in 2006. He shopped my book for a year and Pocket made an offer in 2007. And not long after I signed the contracts, my book got rescheduled out alllll the way to 2010. So it was hard to sit on my hands and wait for almost three years -- there were a couple of times I thought I'd go crazy with the waiting. But now that it's here, it was worth it.

5) What's it like to work with Holly Root?

Holly is pretty much bottled awesomesauce. I feel like I can lob her any stupid idea and she'll listen to it. I can call her in a panic and she never loses her cool. She's constantly thinking about ways to improve my career, and she's funny and so easy to talk to. Every time I talk to her, I'm impressed as to how together she is, and how market savvy. I really feel like I lucked out having Holly as my agent, even when she makes me rewrite the second half of my novel...AGAIN. Don't let that sweet demeanor fool you - she's a taskmaster! But I love her for it -- she won't let me get away with 'good enough'. It has to be great.

Wow! This sounds like such an exciting debut! Congrats to you, Jill! And thank you so much for being a part of this interview.

Readers--if you're interested in reading GENTLEMEN PREFER SUCCUBI, you can order it here.

Also, Jill is giving away a SUPER prize to anyone who comments on any of the blogs she's touring on this month. The prize is a free query critique by super agent HOLLY ROOT. Jill will announce the winner on the last day of her blog tour (1/27). More info on the blog tour is over at Shelli's blog!




If you're an author, editor, agent, or illustrator and would like a five question interview and a drawing of your character (or of yourself), email me at rtlovejoy (at) yahoo (dot) com. Check out the FAQ page for more information!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Author Interview - SEANAN MCGUIRE

The first interview post of 2010 is...Seanan McGuire! Seanan is represented by the amazing Diana Fox. She's here to tell us about her urban fantasy series called OCTOBER DAYE. The first book is called ROSEMARY AND RUE and the second book A LOCAL HABITATION is coming out this March.

The illustration is of Toby, the main character of the OCTOBER DAYE series. Since the story is a mix of modern day and folklore, I wanted to try a noir look with a pop of color for the fantastical elements.

1) Thanks for joining us, Seanan! Can you tell us about the October Daye series and what A Local
Habitation is about?

The October Daye series is a blend of ancient folklore and modern life -- the phrase "
fairy tale noir" comes up a lot when trying to describe it. Faerie is real, all the old stories and ballads are real, and all the fairy tales happened. It's just that we've managed to blur the history enough to forget certain essential details. October "Toby" Daye is the changeling daughter of a fae woman and a human man, running as fast as she can just to stay where she is.

A Local Habitation, Toby, who serves as a knight errant for one of the local nobles, is sent to a fae-owned computer company in Fremont, California. It's supposed to be a pretty straightforward check-in. It turns into a murder mystery, and there's a good chance that no one's getting out unharmed.

2) It sounds like a really unique story. What inspired you to write the October Daye series?

I was a folklore major, and I've always been fascinated by the way the old fairy tales changed to fit the standards of the time. It's the sort of candy-coating that we see with "real" history all the time. So I started wondering...what were the stories originally? And if the fae used to be absolutely everywhere, where did they

3) Intriguing! What kind of research did you do for the story?

I read books of
fairy tales and folklore texts until my eyes hurt, and then I read murder mysteries until my eyes hurt even more, and then I did it again. Six times. I have a lot of books. The cats use them as blunt instruments when they want my attention.

4) So does my cat! With all the books, it sounds like you know your genre well. What's your key advice for writing
urban fantasy?

Read urban fantasy. Read as much urban fantasy as you can get your hands on.
Read everything else you can get your hands on. You both want to be aware of what's going on in "your" genre, and aware of the tools that everybody else gets to play with. One of the beauties of the urban fantasy/paranormal romance sandbox is its flexibility -- you can totally borrow tools and toys from other genres, as long as you give them back when you're done.

You should also be aware of the differences between urban fantasy and
paranormal romance, and make sure you're billing yourself accordingly. They're both fantastic genres, and very closely related, but they do have differences, and you can save yourself a lot of rewrites later by getting into the right groove now.

5) Very wise. You're very prolific with three books coming out next year. What was your road to publication like?

Long. I had to write five books before I figured out what I was doing, and even then, it took me another year of tinkering to really get something into publishable shape. I was very fortunate to find a fantastic, understanding agent who doesn't mind the fact that my logic is not like your Earth logic, and she hammered the rest of what I needed to do through my head with a big pointy spike. Then DAW offered on the Toby books, and I've never looked back.

I feel very fortunate to be working with two publishers right now, because it's letting me learn more about the way that publishing works, and about the different expectations you'll encounter in different genres (my books as Mira Grant are science-fiction horror, not urban fantasy). I'm super-excited to see what happens after this!

You're living the writer's dream, Seanan! Thanks for being a part of the interview today!

If you're interested in the first book of OCTOBER DAYE (ROSEMARY AND RUE) you can find it here. A LOCAL HABITATION can be pre-ordered here. Also, be sure to check out Seanan's LiveJournal and Twitter!

Thanks everyone, cheers!



If you're an author, editor, agent, or illustrator and would like a five question interview and a drawing of your character (or of yourself), email me at rtlovejoy (at) yahoo (dot) com. Check out the FAQ page for more information!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 2010!

Happy New Year, everyone!

New Years is my favorite holiday of all time. I like the feeling of shiny newness. How did you ring in the new decade? I went to the Labyrinth masquerade ball! David Bowie...fairies...and "dance, magic, dance!"

I've got a lot of plans for 2010...expect my site and blog to get some revamping later on! I've been very busy over the holidays, but there are posts coming up as I catch up on my blog work.

Here's me ready to masquerade: