Thursday, October 10, 2013

Guest Blog by Anton Strout - The Twinsanity of Writing Life - October 10, 2013

Please welcome Anton Strout to The Qwillery is the author of The Spellmason Chronicles and the Simon Canderous series as well as numerous short stories. Anton's most recent novel is Stonecast (Spellmason Chronicles 2).  If you happen to have a ticket to New York Comic Con this coming weekend, Anton will be there as a Featured Literary Guest on Friday!

The Twinsanity of Writing Life
By Anton Strout

The hardest struggle for an author is discovering what does and doesn’t work for them in actually getting words down on the page. For instance, my fellow authors Jeanine Cummins and Carolyn Turgeon were once unpublished slackers but we all got so sick of not writing that we banded together and formed the Dorks of the Round Table. Through our efforts in that writing group—meeting with seven pages a week and showing no mercy—I’m proud to say we are all published now, and Carolyn’s book MERMAID is even being developed into a major motion picture by Nicole Kidman’s production company!

But enough about them, back to my favorite subject—ME!

Now that I am published and (moderately) successful, I’m committed to turning out a book a year. I’m sad to say the Dorks have disbanded, but the onus is still on me to find my tips and tricks to keep writing and keep up with my production schedule. I’ve spent years figuring out and creating my rut. My rut works. I like my rut. I think ruts can be good for some writers because they can be a great way to focus yourself in on the work.

This past year, my wife and I were fortunate enough to welcome a child into the world—scratch that, make that two children. Yep, twins. While they are truly the most amazing things I’ve ever had a hand in creating, the publishing world waits for no one, no matter how cute their chubby little cheeks are. Suddenly I have found myself with a lot of my writing time taken up with diapers, bottles and general cuteness. My ruts, once well work tracks filled with writerly goodness are now filled with stuffies and toys.

Over the past six years as a published fantasist, I hadn’t realized how truly a creature of habit I had become. With dawning realization, I knew that if I was going to make my deadlines with my publisher, I needed to come up with some new routines. Time for a life hack!

Take away all the distraction of life—a day job, book deadlines, a husband or wife, children, socialization—and there is just one true axiom left about how to accomplish any writing. If you’re going to get words down, you need to get your ass in that chair. And I also realized that I needed to do it by any means necessary, which meant any and all chairs had to become my writing chair.

Let me break it down for you: I have an hour commute into Manhattan every day from the wilds of rural New Jersey to my day job with Penguin Random House. Once that time was reserved for more sleep or podcast listening, but now it has become the time I write down whatever scene interests me that morning in a notebook. Lunchtime at work became eating at my desk as I entered my scrawled morning notes into my computer, giving it a rough first edit. The bus ride home became the same as my morning commute with even more writing. After dinner and putting the kids to bed, I had several hours to take a break, watching a little television with some light editorial to my pages for the day. The hours of ten to midnight have become straight word processing as I write, followed by a very sound five hours of sleep a night.

Do I have days I break my routine, where I collapse from exhaustion? Absolutely, but overall sleep is for the weak and I can catch up on it when I’m dead. I have deadlines to keep, and readers I don’t wish to keep waiting. I can’t deny them their gargoyle filled fix now, can I? If you want to get a book down, you have to find the time to commit, by any means necessary. I’ve finally started to feel normal once again, thanks to having a new routine in place around the twins.

Now I wonder how my routines will change when they start to crawl….

The Spellmason Chronicles

The Spellmason Chronicles 2
Ace, September 24, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages


Alexandra Belarus was an artist stuck working in her New York family’s business…until she discovered her true legacy—a deep and ancient magic. Lexi became the last practicing Spellmason, with the power to breathe life into stone. And as her powers awoke, so did her family’s most faithful protector: a gargoyle named Stanis. But when a centuries-old evil threatened her family and her city, Stanis sacrificed himself to save everything Lexi held dear.

With Stanis gone, Lexi’s efforts to master Spellmasonry—even with the help of her dedicated friends—are faltering. Hidden forces both watch her and threaten her, and she finds herself suddenly under the mysterious wing of a secret religious society determined to keep magic hidden from the world.

But the question of Stanis’s fate haunts her—and as the storm around her grows, so does the fear that she won’t be able to save him in her turn.

The Spellmason Chronicles 1
Ace, September 25, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages


Alexandra Belarus is a struggling artist living in New York City, even though her family is rich in real estate, including a towering Gothic Gramercy Park building built by her great-great-grandfather. But the truth of her bloodline is revealed when she is attacked on the street and saved by an inhumanly powerful winged figure. A figure who knows the Belarus name…

Lexi’s great-great-grandfather was a Spellmason—an artisan who could work magic on stone. But in his day, dark forces conspired against him and his, so he left a spell of protection on his family. Now that Lexi is in danger, the spell has awoken her ancestor’s most trusted and fearsome creation: a gargoyle named Stanis.

Lexi and Stanis are equally surprised to find themselves bound to each other. But as they learn to work together, they realize that only united can they save the city they both love…

About Anton

Anton is the author of the Simon Canderous urban fantasy series and the Spellmason Chronicles for Ace Books. Anton is also the author of many short tales published in anthologies by DAW Books. The Once & Future Podcast is his latest project, where he endeavors as Curator of Content to bring authors and readers together through a weekly news show format.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @antonstrout  ~  LiveJournal  ~  The Once & Future Podcast


  1. Thanks, Anton! Wish I was going to NYCC to meet you.

  2. No one told me we had disbanded! I've been sitting in this Panera, eating bread and waiting for you guys! HOW TRAGIC. Love, Founding Dork, Jeanine Cummins