Writer Tech: complete vs. finished

A week ago, I got to the final scene of my work-in-progress. It is complete, which is to say, it's got a coherent plot with a beginning, a middle, and an end. My elevator pitch for Unremembered Lives is "a Romeo and Juliet story set against the backdrop of a bitter 1913 copper strike in Michigan." At 91,000 words and 363 manuscript pages, it's the shortest of my novels so far, but that's not surprising. Unremembered Lives has a relatively compressed time period (seven months in 1913) and it takes place mostly in one small town (Calumet, Michigan). Now comes the editing. Usually ...
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DOC and EPITAPH optioned

Last summer, I signed an option with PalmStar Productions for a screen adaptation of Doc and Epitaph. So much time had gone by with no news, I was starting to wonder if they'd dropped the project, but yesterday an announcement appeared in a number of outlets, so I am free to talk about it now. I've learned a lot since 1996, when The Sparrow was first optioned by Antonio Bandera's production company. First lesson: don't get excited. Many are optioned but few are produced. An option is an agreement that for a set period of time (usually one year, with an option ...
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When characters surprise me

Unremembered Lives is about 4/5ths complete now, and the characters have officially taken over. That's a good thing. This has happened to me before, and I've heard other writers remark on how startling it can be. [Spoiler Alert!] When I was writing The Sparrow, I knew that the priest was going to stay true to his vows but I was also aiming at a scene where his resolve would be tested. I even knew the line I was going to steal from Shakespeare: "Serve God, Emilio. Love me." When I finally got to the point in the story where I was going ...
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Historical novels: alternative facts allowed?

Technically, novelists can make up anything they please, but getting things right is important to me, particularly when writing historical novels. I always try to create characters whose actions, decisions, dialog, and thoughts are comprehensible and who feel real within a narrative that seems believable. That's true even for science fiction like The Sparrow and Children of God, where the situation and all the characters are entirely fictional. Obviously, when Abraham Lincoln fights vampires, it's fantasy, not historical fiction; nobody's going to mistake the fun parts for what really happened. Personally, I hesitate to use a historical personage's name for a character ...
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DOC for $1.99 on Kindle

Doc is my personal favorite among the books. Click to find the special e-book offer.    ...
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Crass Commercial Message

The easiest and probably cheapest way to have me inscribe books is to order from Mac'sBacks. Order by Dec. 14th for delivery by Dec. 24th. http://www.macsbacks.com/mary-doria-russell-signed-books There's a COMMENTS box at the end of the order form where you type in if you want just a signature or an inscription like: To Janie, congratulations on graduating from dental school." Or whatever. The owner, Suzanne, brings books to my home to be inscribed and then mails them directly to you. If you buy from the Evil Empire, you'll have to pay Darth Vader for the book, then pack it up and mail it to ...
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Annie’s lasting legacy

She was the dog of a lifetime. A perfect fit, coming at the perfect time. Imperial and needy, ruling the household, enriching our lives. Annie Fanny was the dachshund model for Rosie Posey in Dreamers of the Day. She was not a speaking character precisely -- it's a political romance about the making of the modern Middle East -- but she was a supporting actress in the drama. True story: I was going to name the dog in the novel after Annie, because "write what you know," right? Publicist Brian McLendon advised me not to. When I asked why not, he said, ...
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Writer Tech: Connecting historical dots

While working on each of my previous six novels, I assumed it was either the only or the last story I'd ever write. Even follow-on books like Children of God and Epitaph came as a surprise to me. So I'm amazed to find that I've begun to do the research for an eighth novel. I am still immersed in writing Number Seven. Unremembered Lives is now a little over the halfway point. Ordinarily, 175 pages would be a long enough sample for my agency (Dystel, Goderich and Bourret) to offer publishers, but for any author, every new book is a separate ...
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Thanks for all your kind words

The loss of a beloved pet is something so many people have experienced and still feel years later. No other post has gotten so much response. Thank you all. I'm sorry to say that we've been turned down for Zoey and Bryant -- the rescue group that works in Ohio is looking for a young active family for that pair, and we don't fit that category any more. But the woman who fostered Annie Fannie saw our application and remembered our names because I'd sent her a copy of Dreamers of the Day to show how famous Annie had become. Kathie is ...
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