Highlights, lowlights, and … headlights?

I’m back from my all-too-quick visit to the UK last month. I re-visited Cornwall and Stratford-upon-Avon, doing a little research along the way! Here are the highlights:   Things look really good in pictures. I would LOVE to live my life there, in all those great moments. Look! Shakespeare’s schoolroom! Look! School boys walking there because it is STILL a school, and how cool is that? Look! Wildflowers! Timber-frame buildings! The ocean! My trip wasn’t solid goodness, actually. I neglected to snap pictures of me, pulled off the motorway when the oil light on my rental car lit up 30 minutes after I hired it. No screen shots of my purchased phone minutes vanishing while I waited on hold for the car hire agency to take my call. And definitely no pictures of me sobbing when they said it might take two hours for help Read more…

For My Writerly Readers Who Write

Like most writerly types, I am wordy. Verbose. When two words will suffice, I am likely to use twenty-six. Or two hundred. Or two thousand. (See what I did there?) (And here?) I have a way of tidying up these (unnecessary) words that I’ve never heard anyone else suggest, and I want to share it. Though I always try to remove the deadweight during one of the final revisions, I will often find myself with a larger word count than is ideal. Here’s how I tackle it: by deciding what final word count would make me happy, and evenly removing the words from each page. That means that if I have an 85,000 word manuscript, and I want to get it down to 78,000, I will need to remove 7,000 words. If I have 365 pages, then I need to Read more…

Failing Onward!

I’m writing this down in hopes it will inspire anyone needing that push to keep trying for success on a difficult task/project/dream. If you’ve seen the video about making The Wedding Gown for the daughterling, then you know I met the deadline and gave my daughter a gown that was absolutely perfect for her. It wasn’t a huge challenge, because I have the background in pattern-making and costume design. I started patterning in December and slowly worked my way through sourcing fabric, perfecting the fit of the pattern in a “muslin” (fake fabric), buying and cutting the real fabric, sewing the gown, cutting up the lace embellishment, mosaic-ing the lace pieces to fit onto her bodice, embroidering crystal beads and pearls onto the lace, and attaching the lace to the gown. I would do about an hour’s worth of lace Read more…

May the Fourth: Bahama Mama Meets Star Wars

For about fifteen years I was airplane phobic. I worked on this fear in several ways because it was important to me our kids could visit their grandparents, who lived 3,000 miles away. Eventually I got past my fears, in part by imagining my flights as “fun,” gradually transferring my love of Star Wars-style space flight to my own flights. Happily, in all those years of flying to grandma’s once or twice a year, we never experienced anything worse than lost luggage. Skip forward to 2012. I now love flying. I’m still able to recall my fears, and occasionally they rear their ugly hydra heads, but mostly I love it. I write my MARS SERIES, about a girl who loves to pilot. Skip ahead to 2015: I’m ready to fully remember and inhabit my old fears, and I start writing Read more…

Writing Edmund, Second Earl of Shaftesbury

First off, writing time travel fiction involves research. Lots of research. Books. Internet. Museums. Rinse and repeat. All those activities informed my writing of Edmund and his world in A Thief in Time. But in another way, writing Edmund was a job I began preparing for when I was just seven. That was the year I saw my first two Elizabethan-era dramas onstage. I don’t remember which I saw first—Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead or The Merchant of Venice—but I was at that golden age of language acquisition, and I soaked up the thees and thous and cansts and wherefores just like they were any other new-to-me words uttered by adults addressing other adults. I was smitten by the rhythm and sound of all those delicious words, chewing them like Halloween candy long after the weekend of play-going was over. At Read more…

When Childhood Dreams Come True

When I was five, I was given three wonderful things: a library card, books to read, and the nickname “Cidney.” When I was seven, I learned that there was a job where you wrote stories. I was sure this was the best job in the world. I was sure it was what I wanted to do with my life. And although I tried on other ideas for anywhere from a few weeks (magician, violinist) to years (actor, costumer), my baseline “what I want to be” was always: AUTHOR. When self-publishing burst into my awareness in 2011, I decided to go that direct-to-reader route, and I’ve never been sorry. I love this method of publishing. I am doing what I always wanted to do: making a living as a writer. I’ve loved it so much that I pretty much shelved the Read more…

High Anxiety

HIGH ANXIETY is a Mel Brooks song/movie some of you might remember. It’s also a common feeling for a writer. It hits at, say, a few weeks before your next book releases. Even with a hyper critical  insightful editor, awesome beta readers, and dedicated ARC readers, I still get anxious before putting a new book out there. Is it funny enough? (Is it funny at all?) Is the romance swoony enough? Are the stakes high enough, menacing moments frequent enough, conflicts sufficiently … conflict-y? So I turned to one of my favorite 20th century products: the sticky note. I started reading through the manuscript again, popping a yellow note wherever I lol’d, a pink one for romantic angst, a green one for menace, and white ones for something harder to describe which I call “heart.” (Maybe “emotional core” is more descriptive? Nah, I like Read more…

The Best Part of Writing Time Travel Fiction

By now, you’ve probably heard my next book is time travel-y. It’s the kind of story I love: 16th century English earl meets 21st century California girl. I’ve always held off writing actual time travel, though, because I was intimidated by the research it would take. I mean, I couldn’t just make stuff up like I do with fantasy. ;o) But it turns out that the best part of writing A THIEF IN TIME has been … (drumroll) the research! 100% the research! Although my story is mostly set in contemporary Santa Barbara, the “time travel” takes us back to the Elizabethan Era. I got to research word use, education, religious practices, funerals, and the price of a tankard of ale (one penny, for the curious) along with a host of other things. And while the bulk of my research took place on my computer or Read more…

This and That

My friends ask me all the time how that writing thing is going and what I’m working on now. (Poor unsuspecting souls! How long do you have to listen?) It’s been almost a year since SIREN SPELL released. So, WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING WITH MY TIME? Oh, this and that. Since last year, I have: 1) Completely re-drafted a manuscript that is going to agents. 2) Moderately re-drafted another manuscript for the distant future. 3) Done all the research and world-building for a NEW SERIES-YAY!!! (More on that below…) 4) Worked with cover artist Alexander von Ness to update all the Ripple Series covers. Look at the shiny! And I also 5) Worked with my brilliant narrator Sarah Mollo-Christensen to produce the third Ripple Audiobook, and 6) Made a wedding gown! (More shiny!) Also this past year, Dr. Science became interim prez at Read more…

4 x 4: Four Questions Each from an Author and a Narrator

Now that CHAMELEON, Book Two in the Ripple Series is out in audio, I thought I’d give everyone a chance to meet Sarah Mollo-Christensen, my fabulous narrator. Sarah is an actor, dog trainer, and audiobook narrator living in New York City, and I’ve had so much fun working with her on my Ripple series audiobooks. Today you’ll get a sneak peek behind the curtain to see what goes on in the minds of an author and a narrator when they work together on an audiobook. 4 x 4: Four Questions Each from an Author and a Narrator   FOUR QUESTIONS FOR CIDNEY: SARAH: How do you choose a narrator–what are the main things you look for? CIDNEY: First, I’m looking for someone who can bring both descriptive sections and dialogue sections to life, equally. Once I’ve found a few narrators Read more…