Friday, December 31, 2010


I'm not big on ceremony, on waiting for events to line up before I commit to a certain course of action. I've never resolved to start a diet or exercise program on January 1st. When I want or need change in my life, I tend to start it now when it needs doing (albeit sometimes after a respectable procrastination period).

But...argh...I love making lists. So here are my career-related resolutions/goals for 2011:

1. Work smarter.

2. Be more patient.

3. Learn something new every day (which I do already).

4. I've been a very fortunate woman this year, so I'd like to give back more to other writers. Others have helped me and it seems right to perpetuate that. Good writer karma.

5. Write a handful of shorts set in my post-apocalyptic world.

6. Write the best books that I can.

On a personal level:

7. Be more patient (can you tell I struggle with this? :D )

8. Reply to my email more promptly (or when I get around to it).

9. I resolve to not get lost more than once per week. Or, when I do, use the phrase "There's more than one way to get to XYZ".

10. Maintain my current weight/health and improve my overall fitness level.

11. Enjoy life--because it's really pretty sweet.

Happy New Year, folks!

Saturday, December 25, 2010


I was outside Walgreen's when I saw a man dressed in last decade's jeans and this season's sneakers.

"Got any change for the bus?" he said as I approached. His teeth sparkled gold and yellow.

I artfully dodged him the way one dodges gum on the sidewalk.

"Merry Christmas, bitch," he added.

For whatever reason, this year people seem snarkier than usual. Maybe it's Texas; the weather this winter has been typical--for spring. Maybe it's because the holiday season started so early and we're all weary to the bones of Rudolph and Frosty and the Little Drummer Boy. Or maybe we're just tired of being told that if we love people we have to buy big rather than thoughtful.

It's the most stressful time of the year.

So now that Christmas Day is here--and almost over--I hope you're all feeling the holiday stress dissipate. Merry Christmas, folks.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Inspiration is Everywhere...

...but I almost always find it in these places:

The Big Picture.

Strange Maps.

Dark Roasted Blend.

Where do you go for inspiration?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Santa's List

For all my talk about list-love, there's one list in my life that's woefully empty: my Christmas list. It's basically an empty Post-It flapping around staring covetously at my shopping list.

There's nothing I want for Christmas--at least nothing money can buy. Somehow this makes me feel like a bad daughter.

But if we're talking about things money can't buy, the list looks like this:

- Super powers.

- To catch my cat in a truly LOLcat moment.

- To bake a cake worthy of Cake Wrecks.

- For that one traffic light that always turns red as I approach to stay green.

- For the people I love to be safe and happy.

- For clowns to become extinct. Ditto mimes.

- For my pillow to constantly be cool side up.

- For someone to start publishing Dorothy Koomson's books here in the US.

- For GRRM to deliver a completed manuscript to his publisher.

- I'm not saying spiders have to become extinct, but I'd be okay with never seeing (or feeling) another one again.

What's on your Christmas (or holiday) list that money can't buy?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lists and Goals

Before I began querying, I made a list of my most important goals. I keep it in a file labeled "silly crap."

But there's nothing really silly about it. To me it's a way of putting my wants out there, like an adult version of a letter to Santa. The act of writing these things down gave them weight--something that casting them to the air and hoping for the best could never achieve.

There seems to be a mindset amongst some writers that publishing is a crapshoot, a game of chance, like a lottery. Manuscripts are tickets and the more you have out there, the higher the chances of winning.

That's simply not true.

You have to have goals right from the beginning beyond "I want to be published." You have to take serious steps towards fulfilling them. Hoping is lovely, but it's most effective when it walks hand in hand with hard work. You have to create something worth selling. It's not easy. And it's not a lottery.

One of my early goals (one I kept in my head) was to write something commercially viable. I wanted to shoot for as broad a spectrum as readers as possible, which meant steering my story down a different path to the one I might have taken if I'd gone SFF.

My next goal was to find representation with an agent who loves (and sells) Commercial fiction. So I made another list.

Lately, I've been called "lucky" a lot. I can't deny a certain number of things lined up in such a way that a wonderful opportunity came my way. But a lot of hard work went into creating that luck (and not just on my part. Anyone who questions whether or not they need an agent, or whines about that percentage, has no idea how hard agents work). And it all began with goals scratched onto a list.

My list has eight items. I've acheived three so far:

- Get a great agent.
- A contract with a fantastic publisher for at least two books.
- Enough money to keep writing.

Do you like lists? If so, what's on yours?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Week of Firsts

As the old cliche goes: There's a first time for everything. It's been cool/exciting/interesting week or so filled with firsts around here.

- My first book deal.

- My first spam from PR companies.

- My mother's first threat to sell my old report cards on eBay. And my school photos (she emailed me one. I rue the day she bought a scanner.)

- My first batch of Italian Wedding Soup this fall (but not the last, I'm sure).

- My first brilliant self-promo idea, which I'm planning as I write this.

Did you have any cool/weird/funny firsts this week?

Monday, November 8, 2010


So I've been sitting on incredible news for a week or so now. My debut novel, WHITE HORSE has sold to Atria (Simon and Schuster).

From Publishers Marketplace:

Alex Adams' debut WHITE HORSE, a post-apocalyptic quest novel about a woman who must guard and protect her unborn child while searching the desolate world for her lost lover, to Emily Bestler, in a major deal, including two additional books in a planned HORSE series, by Alexandra Machinist at the Linda Chester Literary Agency (world).
Film rights: Justin Manask at Office for Literary Adaptation

And from Publishers Weekly:

Alexandra Machinist at the Linda Chester Literary Agency closed a nearly seven-figure three-book world rights deal for author Alex Adams. Emily Bestler at Atria bought Adams's debut, White Horse, along with its planned sequel and another title, at auction. Horse, which Machinist called a "postapocalyptic quest novel," follows a woman searching for her lost lover while protecting her unborn child. Justin Manask at Office for Literary Adaptation is shopping the film rights.

My agent Alexandra is an amazing and brilliant woman. I'm so thrilled to be working with Emily and the team at Atria.

I'm so excited...and stunned...and excited all over again. :D

Friday, November 5, 2010

No No, NaNo

I'm a fan of NaNoWriMo...for other writers. For me it just doesn't work, so I'm not joining in all the fun and games (again) this year.


Well, I don't like to rush through a first draft. I feel like I lose something if I do. When I write, I nail most of my prose in that initial "telling." The way my main characters express themselves on the page goes a long way to me understanding who they are. I like learning how they see the world, hearing the little stories that have made them who they are. Who they are is what drives the plot. It's slower, but hey, I love doing all the heavy lifting up front.

And I really don't want to lose what--for me--is part of the magic of storytelling.

I can pound out 50,000 words in a month (and more), but they have to come naturally because the story is dragging me there.

So, once again, it's no, no to NaNo. But for those of you doing NaNo this year, good luck. I'll be cheering you all from the sidelines.

(And for the sake of clarity: I love that we each have our different processes. It makes talk about books and writing even more fascinating.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I'm a lazy blogger. It's not that I don't have things to say, it's just that I feel my words are best used in my WIP or as a direct answer to a question--usually when someone needs help (or an opinion) over at Absolute Write.

I'm not much of a ranter. I'm too easy going and live-and-let-live to get offended by much (except what's with jeggings? With stirrups, no less!) And I'd write about writing but my peers already do an amazing job of that. I'm too busy reading their blogs to do a rehash of their great advice. Look to your right and down a bit. There they are. Go read them, too.

Which leaves me with a handful of my favorite things: books; food; LOLcats.

So let me tell you what I've been reading lately that I loved:

Lee Child's WORTH DYING FOR. Reacher is BACK.

Beth Bernobich's PASSION PLAY. Such a beautiful cover.


Jackie Morse Kessler's HUNGER.

Emma Donoghue's ROOM.

And I've just cracked the spine on Christopher Farnsworth's BLOOD OATH; it's a really fresh and riveting take on vampires.

This LOLcat is cracking me up.

And if anyone would like to bring me a bacon cheeseburger right about now, that would be swell. I'd be super-grateful.

Also, if you've read something drop-dead amazing lately, please share. I'm always looking for my next favorite book.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Siblings Without Rivalry

My sister and I couldn't be more different.

There's an eleven-year age gap between us which means she's the baby and I'm the typical eldest child.

She's a blue-eyed blonde, while I'm all dark eyes and hair.

I basically tripped over my own feet trying to scramble out of the nest when time came to pick colleges (I chose one a good eight hours away--by car), while she's still content to linger with our folks.

She just had a car accident involving her and a shopping cart bay, while I'm a one-shot parker.

She's the fashionista and the shopaholic. I'm...not. Although all bets are off if shopping involves shoes and great boots.

I love alpha males, she loves the betas.

She dresses her Bichon Frise. I let my dog keep her dignity.

She loves rugby. I really don't.

I'm outward-going and confident while she's much shyer.

We both love chocolate. And lipgloss.

We both read urban fantasy.

We mocked BloodRayne in the theater until we cried.

I can tell her anything. She can tell me anything.

We'd both do anything for those we love (especially each other).

My sister and I couldn't be more similar.

The commonalities and differences between siblings fascinates me. How similar (or dissimilar) are you to yours?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Where I Would Go...

The latest post over at Mother. Write. (Repeat.) kick-started my brain into thinking about the places I want to visit someday before my knees need replacing.

El Camino del Rey in Andalucia, Spain. Yes, really.

The American Museum of Natural History.

The world's underground cities--modern and old--including the catacombs in Rome.


Then to Africa to thaw out; I want to see big cats in the wild. Resisting the urge to write LOLcat captions for them won't be easy, but I do like a challenge.

Victoria Falls, especially the Devil's Pool.

Provence and Tuscany--for the scenery and good eats.

The Richat Structure.

The Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico.

Some place unexplored thus far.

My favorite places in fiction.

My places in fiction. Like me, my main characters tend to be explorers and adventurers or they're pushed to undertake some physical journey. I gave the planet a fat lip and some broken bones in THE BONE JAR and now I'm rebuilding it somewhat askew for my WIP. So, yeah, I'd love to walk that world for a bit, just to check things out.

Where would you go if money and time were not an option, and you weren't in immediate need of a hip replacement?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bad Movies Aren't All Bad

It's become a weekly ritual: every Sunday I go to the movies. It gets me away from the computer and drops me right in the middle of someone else's story. I can lose myself for a while and refill the creativity well. Plus, I just like being entertained; storytellers love stories. Some are hits, some are dismal misses, but it's never time wasted.

I admit it, I learn as much from bad movies as I do the good ones. When a movie isn't working for me, I like to sift through my memory banks afterwards to figure out why. Today, it was easy and ultimately fascinating. I walked out of the movie snapping my fingers (and scraping popcorn off my boot).

I'm a big M. Night Shyamalan fan. He won me over with THE SIXTH SENSE and secured my affections with SIGNS and THE VILLAGE. But his latest offerings have been a little thin and it took today's viewing of DEVIL to figure out what's been lost.

DEVIL was decent enough. Really, it was a million miles from awful. But compared to his previous work it was downright anemic. I can see what he's trying to achieve with his body of work, this building of modern mythologies and timeless tales. I have serious mythology love and it's an element I like to incorporate in my own stories so I'm naturally drawn to his work. But I can't help feel that he's concentrating so hard on the plot now that he's forgotten about the core of any great story: its characters.

Characters are story. It's because of them that there's any tale to tell. It's because of them that we care enough to watch or read.

Who can forget Cole, the boy in THE SIXTH SENSE, and his distraught mother, in utter despair because she can't help her son? Or the father who abandoned God in SIGNS, yet never loses faith in his own family? And the blind girl in THE VILLAGE who will do anything--anything--to save the boy she loves? I was invested in every last one of them. I sat on the edge of the theater's musty seats willing them to prevail because I cared.

Yet in THE DEVIL we have...what do we have? A group of people in an elevator, each of them guilty of some bad behavior or crime. A cop whose family was killed in a hit-and-run. A security guard whose mother told him a childhood story about the devil coming to earth to punish sinners. By all rights, the cop's plight should have induced some empathy, but I just never connected. Too many scenes involved him flirting with the forensics girl and we're just told that he's recovering from a serious drinking problem. Not exactly a character at the end of that proverbial rope. Nothing like Cole, nothing like Mel Gibson's former priest, or the girl hellbent on her sweetheart's survival.

Instead of empathy I had meh-pathy.

It wasn't until the climax that I developed sympathy for one of the characters trapped in the elevator. But by then it was too late: I already didn't care.

To really love a story, I have to care. Either that or be so entertained by what's going on that I don't care that I don't care.

So, what I took away from DEVIL was this: As a writer, it's my job to make the reader care about my characters as soon as possible. It doesn't matter how cool or twisty my plot is, if the reader doesn't give a damn about my characters then I've failed. Ideas are nothing without life breathed into them. They just sit flat on the screen or page unless interesting people live and love and lust and burn and ache and suffer in them.

I hope M. Night Shyamalan figures that out, because he's really one hell of a storyteller.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Writer Envy

It's a common thing: writers who sit around crying into their coffee about the success of others.

"S/he got a better deal."
"S/he is getting more/better reviews."
"S/he isn't as good a writer as me."
"Why not me?"

I get it, but I don't--and won't--subscribe to that kind of thinking.

I don't begrudge anyone their success. I know what kind of work it takes to create a workable schedule and stick to it. I know how hard it is to push words onto a page in some kind of fashion that's both interesting and readable. Our writing might look easy or trite or but it never is--make no mistake it's hard work.

I'm one of those weird creatures who is happy for anyone who gets a book deal. Good books on the shelves means more books for me to read. I am, after all, first and foremost a reader. My love for writing came after that first love.

I won't measure my successes (or failures) against someone else's yardstick. And my self-esteem is resilient enough that I don't need to drag someone else down to make myself feel better.

I won't do it. I won't envy others their success. Even if in time people envy me mine, I'll still be the first one to say, "Congratulations!" and mean it.

Envy only leads to misery, and I like being a happy writer.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

No Longer Counting Words

Word counts. Admit it, we all love to see those numbers climb. They are, after all, a tangible representation of progress. The higher the number, the closer we are to The End.

For too many years now, I've been a slave to those figures. Each day I've judged myself solely on how much or little I've added to the total word count, berating myself when I didn't meet that number goal, groaning because I'd have to do it all over again if I met or exceeded my magic number.

End result: I began to enjoy the have-written rather than the act of writing itself.

And you know what? That's just not working for me anymore. I want to luxuriate in the prose, write it the way I want my words to be read. I want to savor rather than slop words onto the page with the intention of fixing them in the next draft.

Yes, there are people for whom this works beautifully, who write fantastic first drafts at blazing speeds, and for a time I, too, could lay down at least functional prose in mass quantities. But writers grow and change. Goals evolve. And sometimes we must revolutionize the way we work if we're to move forward.

So I've stopped counting words.

That's not to say I'm ignoring word counts entirely. There must be forward momentum--always. But now I'm measuring my progress in other ways: a scene conquered, a plot epiphany (and really, aren't stories a series of epiphanies?), prose that pulls double duty (at least). Things other than accumulating numbers. And at the end of the day I'm a happier writer; more productive, too.

Not to say my way is right. But it's right for me. For now at least. I'm always open to evolution, and always looking for a way to climb outside the box.

So if watching the numbers is stressing you out, don't be afraid to try something else--even if it's just temporary. This isn't a one-size-fits-all gig.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Email woes

If anyone out there has sent me email at my regular address and had it bounce, you may also contact me at aadams1 at

For some reason, gmail seems to be hit and miss lately.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A (not so) subtle shift

My writing landscape is vastly different to what it was twelve months ago. Back then, I was trying to push out genre fiction (which I love to read), trying to be some mystical combination of other writers rather than just listen to my own voice.

That just wasn't working for me.

Between then and now I've spent most of hours (mostly while trying to sleep) thinking about the stories I want to tell. And what I've discovered is they're not genre at all. That's been hard to come to terms with. My whole identity as a writer has shifted as a result. Believing you're one thing when you're not is not easy.

Yes, I'm funny, but I'm a better writer when I'm not.
Yes, I can write crime, but I'm a much better writer when I don't.
SFF is my mental vacation destination; I can't write it to save my own hide.


About a year ago I started with a short story. It was a whim, meant to impress someone else. It quickly evolved into a novel that wasn't sure what it wanted to be. That half-done manuscript sat on the fence for several months debating its literary label, until one morning I opened the file, put my hands on the keyboard, and asked, "Okay, what the hell are you?"

And the words came.

And now that manuscript is out in the wild fighting for its life. I hope it puts up as good a fight as my heroine.

So (again).

I'm leaving genre fiction to the experts. They do it so beautifully. And in return I'll sit back and enjoy the stories they tell. I don't want to be them; I just want to be me.