#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller
How I Work..and other stuff

There are patches of ground showing through the snow. Can it be that spring is stirring?

I drafted a full chapter of “Taming Dylan” yesterday–I’ll polish it today and go on to write Chapter Two. I am already LOVING this book. Getting CHAPTER ONE done is usually a big challenge for me, because everyone has to be on stage, and there are a lot of things to juggle. I guess because “Taming Dylan” takes up where “Logan’s Return” leaves off–in fact, there’s a slight overlap of time–it feels like a continuation of the first story. And, of course, that’s exactly what it is. :) The Montana Creeds series is really one long book.

At personal appearances, I always get a lot of questions about how I work. (For those of you who live in the Spokane area, I’ll be at Auntie’s Book Store tonight at 7:30–we’re gathering in the coffee shop.) My method is a long, involved subject, but basically, I sit down at my computer, say a little prayer, and open up whatever I wrote the day before. I go through that, making adjustments as I go along, noting potential problems or loose ends, often writing down the name of a secondary character or an animal so I won’t forget it. Then I start the new chapter, and that’s where the magic happens: everything around me dissolves, and I am INSIDE the story, with the characters. It’s rather like virtual reality–I can move among them, observe them, listen to what they say to each other and themselves. It is all so real to me that I have to resurface for breaks–every thousand words or so–but I don’t always come up for air. Or lunch. :) I write fast–a legacy of serving an apprenticeship in the ‘categories’–shorter books that are part of lines like Silhoutte’s Special Editions–in the old days, I had to produce quickly to make a living, since the advances were relatively low. And now it’s a habit, one I wouldn’t want to break! (In the words of poor Anna Nicole Smith, it’s expensive being me.)

My daily quota, as I’ve probably mentioned before, is 5000 words. I write 5 days a week, 6 or 7 if I’m under a pressing deadline. Since the process is a 24/7 kind of thing, I’m always and forever making notes of ideas, insights about a character, scraps of dialogue, things like that. You might even see me at a slot machine, rummaging through my purse for a pen and a notepad!

I’m beginning to see my art work (artist trading cards, hereafter referred to as ATCs) as a dimension of my writing. When I’m working something through in my personal life, there is usually a parallel in the book I’m writing at the time. As with the Lincoln piece, which as I mentioned yesterday is a visual record of plotting the first Civil War book, and also a way of stimulating my imagination, the art is a record of the journey and, at the same time, part of the journey itself. I absolutely LOVE mixed media art–mine tends to be humorous, rather than edgy, but looking at other people’s work stimulates me, too. Even if it’s edgy. :) I pour over books like Lynne Perella’s “Beyond Art Dolls” and “Mixed Media Mosaics” by Laurie Mika. I adore Ann Baldwin’s collages. The more color and texture a piece has, the more interesting I find it. I’m also working on a tribute to my father, a way of working through the loss, I guess, and also honoring his memory. At some point, I hope to display some of my work on the website and join an ATC artist’s link online, so I can trade. There is some AMAZING stuff out there.

I’m adapting well to the Weight Watchers program. I’ll keep you posted on my progress. Next weigh-in is Thursday night. The thing I love about WW is that it really is a lifestyle, as the commercials say, and not a diet. I have to do some planning, but after that, I don’t have to think about food, and that is a plus.

How I do run on. :)

Thanks for showing up to “listen”.

The Firefly Syndrome

Over the weekend, I discovered that I suffer from the Firefly Syndrome. Especially when it comes to art–with writing, I’m pretty disciplined and focused. With art…

Well.

I go from one fascinating project to another; rubber stamps here, watercolors and artist trading cards there. The centerpiece for my Lincoln tribute, which is a sort of visual journaling process. (I flat out admire Honest Abe, but beyond that, it’s a plotting system, a colorful chronicle of the first Civil War book.) I LOVE the idea of recording the journey in polymer clay and collage. I also tried a great candle technique I saw on Carol Duvall–you take an ordinary inkjet print of a photograph, pin it to the candle, and making sure the candle is upright and on wax paper or something, you use a heat tool (rubber-stampers, you know what I mean) and carefully go over the picture. The wax seeps through and the picture is bonded to the candle in the coolest possible way. You heard it here second. :)

Jamie and Gil and Martha, I so enjoyed seeing you at the signing at Waldenbooks this Saturday. Jamie’s first book, “Betrayed”, was just published by Tor. It has a wonderful premise. Haven’t read it yet, but I certainly intend to. If you like paranormal stories, check it out!

See? The firefly thing again. Off I go, chasing this firefly, and then that one.

The world is just TOO full of interesting people, of beauty and color and texture! Indeed, we should all be as happy as kings. (Or queens.)

Enough already.

The stitching across the toe of a cowboy boot is called a toe wrinkle.

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