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Month: January 2016

Weekly Recap

The Witch Who Came In From the Cold is live!!! Read or listen to Episode 1 FREE right now:


New Releases of Note


Cover Reveals


On the Internet

The 2015 Diversity in Publishing survey is out and, to no one’s surprise, publishing is overwhelmingly the domain of straight white women. Why does this matter? For starters, it reflects the extent to which low salaries, unpaid internships, stringent educational requirements and more serve to limit access to publishing jobs. Then it leads to in-group bias in editorial decisions and acquisitions–straight white women tend to favor books written by and about straight white women, and can be shockingly blind to insensitivities and offenses in the work they choose to promote. That’s how we get multiple children’s books featuring smiling slaves and the parade of unending Nazi romances, just to point to a few recent examples. Readers and writers can and should do more to promote the diverse voices among us–actually promote, as in buying books and boosting others’ voices instead of talking over/for them–but publishers need to take a long, hard look not only at their own editorial board but at their hiring practices and recruiting process. Daniel Jose Older has more, especially on the tendency to confuse the calls for better representation with censorship.


Heather Webb on time management for writers.

Kameron Hurley gets righteous about publishing contracts, including my oh-so-despised non-compete clause.


In Writing

  • Revisions on A Darkly Beating Heart. Lots and lots of revisions. With more to come.
  • Final chapters outlined for rhymes-with-“fey hairwolves.” Now, to have free time to finish drafting it . . . !
  • Long potential career path chats with a friend, leading to settling on next project.
  • Freelance work.

As it’s the end of January, I’ll give my monthly writing total, which is also my yearly total for 2016: 29,107 words. Ugh. Ew. Yuk.

January and February are historically my worst months for word counts. Aside from the fact that I always seem to be in the midst of substantive edits for contracted books in January (and this year is no exception), thus taking away from my drafting time, I do seem to struggle with seasonal affect during this time. The post-holiday malaise is real, too, and my motivation bottoms out around this time. I know, however, that once I turn in ADBH revisions, I will feel so light and ecstatic. As I’m aiming to do so in one week, I’m going to grit my teeth, get through my final pass, and then look forward to joyous, joyous drafting for the rest of February.

Therefore, I am setting my February word count goal for 45,000 words.



I’ll be at New York City Teen Author Festival in March!

An Evening of Treachery at McNally Jackson

Mega Book Signing


I’ll also be at Northern Virginia Teen Book Festival and the Tyranny of Petticoats Launch Party earlier in March.



What I’ve Been Reading



How was your week in reading and writing? What are you planning for February?

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The Witch Who Came In From the Cold Launches Today


Guys, I am so excited. Today marks the series premiere of The Witch Who Came In From the Cold, an episodic storytelling journey several years in the making. When Max Gladstone and Julian Yap, the founder of Serial Box, first approached me about participating in a serialized story, I was already way on board, but then they started describing the particular project they had in mind: Witches. Espionage. Cold War. Secret magical wars. All my happy-makers. “Of course,”  they said, “we still need some help shaping the villains . . .”

Fast forward several hundred email brainstorming sessions and one epic, gourmet food-filled weekend encamped in Julian’s condo with Max, Ian Tregillis, and Cassandra Rose Clarke, plus the far-too-cool Margaret Dunlap to help coach me on the showrunning process. I’m absolutely amazed by how well this season has come together. In some instances, we all seemed to go through a mind-meld where we independently converged on the same plot points. In others, each author concocted something truly magical and witchy totally on their own that none of the rest of us could have possibly devised. Max’s sense of worldbuilding and wit; Ian’s precise, devastating language and atmospheric sorcery; Cassandra’s killer dialogue and careful characterizations. I love every single episode, and can’t wait to see where we head with Season 2.

From the creators of some of today’s most ingenuitive fiction comes this online serial in 13 weekly episodes. Lead Writer Lindsay Smith (Sekret and Skandal) brings her experience writing on foreign affairs in DC to bear at the head of the writers’ room comprised of Ian Tregillis (the Milkweed Triptych), Cassandra Rose Clarke (Our Lady of the Ice), Max Gladstone (Bookburners and the Craft Sequence), and Michael Swanwick (Stations of the Tide).

While the world watches the bitter rivalry between East and West fester along the Iron Curtain, the Consortium of Ice and the Acolytes of Flame continue waging their ancient war of magic. Kept to the shadows, this secret contest crosses the lines of politics and the borders of nations with impunity – the intrigues of spies may know clear sides but the battles of witches spill out over all. Tanya Morozova is a KGB officer and the latest in a long line of Ice witches and sorcerers; Gabe Pritchard is a CIA officer and reluctant Ice recruit. Enemies at one turn, suspicious allies at the next, their relationship is as explosive as the Cold War itself.

The first season is ready to launch, and Serial Box is giving away the pilot free. If you love it, then you can subscribe via the Serial Box app to get the weekly episodes delivered directly to your device of choice (audio, too!). Or you can purchase each episode individually on Amazon and iBooks. And each week, we’ll continue the conversation on the Serial Box blog with behind-the-scenes intel and much more.

From the ashes, friends . . .

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Weekly Recap

This Week’s Releases


Cover Reveals


Tristina Wright discusses allowing male characters to show emotions in YA.

Riley Redgate wrote about female self-hatred in fiction and life, and the need for confident girls.

Jennifer Garam on how to keep writing when no one gives a shit.

And I shared my Further Thoughts on Outlining.


Accomplished in Writing

  • Added a chapter to rhymes-with-“fey hairwolves.” Revised outline from here to the end of the book (which is staggeringly close!).
  • Added a chapter to sithbaby trashfic. Plotted secondary trashfic with co-conspirator. Reveled in trash. Glorious trash.
  • Filled in the remaining scenes for the final episode of The Witch Who Came In from the Cold, Season 1! Just in time for Wednesday’s launch!
  • More progress on A Darkly Beating Heart revisions. Almost ready to start second pass on these edits.
  • Progress on freelance work.

Favorite line written: “We aren’t the only ones with monsters beneath our skin.”



Winter Storm Jonas has buried husband, dog, and me under a couple feet of snow for the foreseeable future, but we still have power, so I’m not seeing the downside?

Snow sheltie. #dogsofinstagram #sheltiesofinstagram

A photo posted by Lindsay Smith (@lindsaysmithdc) on

I’m taking the opportunity to catch up on books, movies and TV shows that I’ve missed out on over the past . . . ummm . . . five months or so. Whoops. Reading Six of Crows and Last Song Before Night; watching The Martian and Agent Carter, Season 2. Wondering how many days I can get away with working from home next week, given that our car is currently little more than a bump beneath the dense blanket of snow.


Next week: everything you ever wanted to know about writing a serialized fiction adventure with some of the awesomest names in SFF, and probably plenty you didn’t! Subscribe to The Witch Who Came In From the Cold now so you don’t miss out on kickboxing KaGeBezniks, socialist socialites, spell-casting Brits, one extremely magically tormented CIA officer, and a station chief who once killed five four six men with a shovel in the Korean War.

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Further Thoughts on Outlining

I’m completely overwhelmed by everyone’s response to my post about how I improved my writing speed. Thank you so much! It’s very gratifying to hear that it resonated with so many of you, and I’d love to hear more about your results. I also got some great questions, and quite a lot of “But what do I do if I HATE outlining?” so I’d love to address some of the common ones.


I hate outlining because it robs me of the joy of discovery [or other reasons]. Am I a lost cause?

Of course not! Different things work for different people. I know there are writers who can really get into the “zone” on a story, and crank out an entire novel–without an outline–in extremely short periods of time. I do think that on the whole, however, un-outlined stories are slower to draft because of the cognitive load problem I mentioned in the original post. So if you really, truly hate the idea of outlining because you think it will ruin the joy of discovery, then try finding some other aspect of your writing that you can offload in advance. Give yourself a starting point and ending point for a scene, and sketch in some sensory or thematic details. Then you’re doing less of the “setting the stage” work in your head while you write while still feeling the joy of discovering what your characters will do next. Or you can do a lot more character work beforehand–worksheets with information about how they speak, their dark secrets, their feelings toward other characters, etc–that you can refer to as you go rather than having to make each up on the spot.


No matter what I try, I can’t seem to push past XX words a day. Any tips?

Usually, when I’m having a hard time meeting a word count goal, it’s because I either a) haven’t done the work to know what the thing I’m writing is actually about, or b) have run my creative well dry and am not keeping it suitably refilled. I can usually tell if it’s the former because I just get blocked and stare aimlessly around with no idea what should happen next; I can tell it’s the latter because every sentence I write sounds the same and my characters are just empty mannequins who shrug their shoulders and frown a lot while having lengthy stretches of dialogue that goes nowhere.

If your problem is A, try this: pull out a piece of paper. At the very bottom, write the next major thing that you know you need to have happen. Then use the remaining space to chart a course toward that thing from where you are right now (or possibly even a little bit before).

If your problem is B: take a deep breath. Step away. If you have time to spare, give yourself some time away to read, watch an inspiring TV show, take a brainstorming walk, or otherwise do something that isn’t beating your head against the keyboard. When you’re ready, put yourself back into your story, but focus on those sensory details you’re missing. Reconnect with the worldbuilding and setting, whether it’s a middle school cafeteria (sticky tabletops, green linoleum, noseprints on the windows? go nuts) or a fantasy high cathedral (thin shafts of light streaming into the darkness, dust motes on the air, your character’s heavy mantel making them sweat and slicking their hair to their neck). For me, the challenge in keeping my writing feeling fresh is in inviting others’ words and worlds and phrases and thoughts into my head, and that means not neglecting my fiction reading, either. Fresh exposure to new storylines and language helps my brain slowly digest and remix things into something hopefully new, and keeps my sentence-writing muscle all limbered up.


I just can’t write every day.

Neither can I. So I don’t. My creative energy is really awesome Monday through Wednesday, sucks dirt on Thursdays, and is a total mixed bag through the weekend. And when I finish a big project, I always take a week or two off (schedule permitting). So I write when I can. Just don’t use it as an excuse. There’s a big difference between “I cannot write right now” and “I really could write right now and really should write right now but I’m going to let inertia carry me on to scroll through Tumblr for a few more hours until I fall asleep.” If you’re procrastinating, and you know you’re procrastinating, look at the reasons as to why. Procrastination usually comes from fear, a lack of confidence about one’s ability to proceed, and/or a lack of understanding as to how to proceed. With outlining, you are breaking the steps down into manageable chunks so you can at least tackle the last of these. The other two, we’ll address at a later time.


Have you tried changing up your writing process? How is it going?




Weekly Recap

A weekly recap of reading, writing, and random nerdery.

New Releases I’m Excited For

Amazing cover reveals and book announcements!


(Oh, hey, that last one’s mine!)


Tristina Wright sold her “queer teens in space” saga to Entangled Teen.

Poe Dameron is getting his own comic book series.


Recommended reading:


Writing things accomplished:

  • Smoothed some emotional inconsistency in A Darkly Beating Heart. Still revising.
  • Completed sample chapter of potential YA proposal. Loved the spooky dark unstable exchange between heroine and villain. May have hugged my laptop on the train.
  • Started drafting Act III of rhymes-with-“fey hairwolves” project. Time to start answering questions (at least a few of them) about how all this wacky science fantasy works!
  • Realized I’d written myself into a corner on the dumb sithbaby fanfiction. Reaffirmed why yes, seriously, I need to outline. Beat head against wall for a bit.
  • Wrote lots of promotional material for The Witch Who Came In from the Cold and the A Tyranny of Petticoats anthology, both of which launch soon!

Still mainly in revising/promotional mode, so my 2016 word count isn’t doing too hot so far. February promises to be much better, however.

I wrote a detailed post on how I drastically improved my drafting speed and writing output in 2015, and people seemed to like it! Maybe you will, too!


Other Tidbits

The AMPAS announced their 2016 Oscar nominees and, with #OscarsSoWhite you need sunscreen, I’ve almost entirely written these awards off. Some smart people said smart stuff about it: Tu Books’s infographic on the (lack of) diversity in Oscars, incredible performances by non-white actors that were snubbed, responding to AMPAS’s “conspiracy” tweet. I will confess a tiny thrill that Mad Max: Fury Road (one of my top movies of 2015) got several nods, though none for that amazing soundtrack that fueled at least 50% of my 2015 writing time.

Adam Driver (Kylo Ren) hosted Saturday Night Live last night, and the Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base skit was everything I’d hoped for.

That Dragon, Cancer, an independent game created by a man coping with his own son’s terminal illness, released this week. I haven’t played it yet, but with the cancer-related deaths of greats David Bowie and Alan Rickman this week, I’m going to have to stock up on tissues to tackle this one.


How’s 2016 treating you so far?


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