Thursday, February 25, 2010

A few things....

First, the picture is from back in 2004. I haven't been to the zoo in far too long, and it's not going to be any time soon. Sigh.

I have two things to cover today.

First is the Twitter Story Plan

I have written a story that I plan to post on Twitter at ten lines a day. The posts would go like this:

Start of Day 1
End of Day 1

The trick, being, of course, that I would have to post the last lines first and work up to the top so that when people saw the posts they could read through them in the proper order. Does this make sense to the rest of you? I've been holding off on this for some time just because I didn't know if it would work. I think it's worth a try.

The story is 200 lines long at the moment. I may play a bit with the ending still. I did this as an experiment to see if I could write something within the limitation of line size. All in all, I think it came out better than I had hoped.

I am curious to see if Twitter people think this will work and worth their time to read.

Second, the Other Writing Stuff

Writing has taken a beating here at the last of the month. I did get Silky 3 finished, but I want to read through it still and tighten it up a bit. I'm having trouble finding the time with so much else do at the end of the month, from Vision: A Resource for Writers to the updates for Forward Motion and even the latest DAZ newsletter are all due on the same day. Add to that a miserable cold, body aches and general annoyance at life, and you can guess how well the writing is going. I seem to do fine in leaps and bounds, and I am keeping at least 1k a day going, but I'll be happy when this month is over and I can have a few days to relax. I wanted nothing more than to stay curled up in bed today. But here I am. I have the DAZ newsletter nearly done -- the one thing that I cannot ignore since it's the only piece of all this work that actually pays me.

The back ache is really the worst of this. Ugh.

I am having a bit of a problem for next month. I always start something new on my birthday. Early this year I had a couple pieces in mind, but I haven't had a chance to do hardly any of the background work on them. This leaves me with really very little I can do. I have one outline I've been holding on to -- a YA mystery -- that might be a good one to go at, finally. I also have ideas for sequels to a couple lesser novels that might be fun, too. I think I need to look for some fun little birthday project to brighten an otherwise not great day. Russ will be in New York (or somewhere on the East Coast) for my third birthday in a row. He was last home the first few days of January, and he's not going to be back until the end of April for a few days. So I'm sitting at the half way point in a very long, long winter alone. The weather and the amount of snow has made it impossible for me to go any farther than the mailbox on the street. I hope by the end of March we'll be rid of all this white stuff!

I am still working on my other project, too -- the one mentioned in both this blog and my LJ. I have plans, and I'm working up to inviting a couple people to join me in the experiment. We'll see if they're interested. I might write more on this in the next few days, if I can get ahead of the other work I need done.

In the mean time, I would love to go work on some writing right now, but I think it's back to work on the newsletter and get it done.
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Friday, February 19, 2010

A change of Plans?

Yes, I am a couple days behind on this posting. It's been a busy week, an annoying week -- and a snowy week. Yes, it is snowing again, though not much I'm glad to say. We already have drifts that are over five feet high in several places. We really have to start hoping for a slow warm up this next spring. Even the meter reader today mentioned the fear of floods.

Whenever spring gets here.

But let's talk about writing and not the weather for a while. I recently had an odd realization -- one that has flittered about my mind before, but never quite as strong as in the last few weeks. Even if an agent picked me up today and I started seeing my books in traditional markets within a year (that would never happen, by the way), it would be really unlikely that I ever see more than a fraction of my books in publication. Even if I stopped writing today, it would be difficult to see them all make it to print.

Which, in turn, makes me think about the true reasons I write. First, of course, is because I love it. I love the rush of creation and -- oddly -- I love fixing the creations later to make them better. I love writing stories and (here's the important part I've been missing) I love sharing those stories with others. By a 2008 total, I have written 77 novels and sold 18 of them. (Here is an online list of my works up to that date. I have written over a dozen more short stories and I'm not sure how many new novels: ). I am prolific. I will always be prolific because it is the way I work. I have more stories than I can write and more stories written than I can get published.

It's an odd realization.

I have a few of my pieces up for free in various spots on my websites:

Angst of Hero Naming (Poem):

Sub-Textual Evidence for the Existence of Alien Life and the Extrapolation of Internet Protocols (SF short story):

Author Versus Character (The infamous Poodle Wooves story):

Don't Go Home for the Holidays-- A Tale of Spies, Aliens, and Really Bad Timing (A novel-sized collection of short stories on a blog -- read in the order on the Table of Contents)

PSI (SF Novella):

The Last Dragon (Fantasy 100 word drabble):

the end of the world and we know it (poem dedicated to don marquis and archy and mehetibel):

A Message from the Lost (Poem):

Return to Redlin (Romance novella) -- This is a PDF, not a web page so click to see and right click to download:

I know there are a few more pieces at various websites still, but I'll just go with the ones I have put up myself. That's really an odd, wide range of work, but it does indicate my wide range of prolific tendencies. I am not stuck in one genre, though Return to Redlin is my only romance and I don't see myself writing more of them. I need to get something from my YA contemporary collection up, since it's the only one not represented at all.

Here are three things I can say about myself as a writer:

1. I am mostly an 'old style' science fiction and fantasy writer.
2. I am prolific and not likely to slow down much in the coming years
3. I am not fully in tune with the current market.

That last one is the difficult one, of course. I know I'm not writing for the current market because there is so little of the current market that I find enjoyable to read -- and I write what I want to read. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop trying to break into the market because there are still a few writers out there whom I enjoy so there is still hope. However, I'm starting to see two things:

1. I have a hellish amount of written material that is never going to see publication
2. The publishing world is changing in many strange ways.

With that in mind, I am working up a test project of a very small, invitation-only publishing company. To test out the feasibility of my ideas for this company, I will first be working with some of my own material. (Yes, that does mean self-publish. You can stop gasping in shock.) Hey, I have enough to spare, after all! If I see even the slightest glimmer that the overall project might work, I'll start inviting a few others to join me. This is not going to be one of those 'get rich quick' schemes. I don't expect sales to ever be spectacular because the market is so fractured that it's difficult to draw enough attention in one direction.

However, there are only two real choices for those of us who aren't in touch with the current market. We can let our material sit in files, or we can choose a few pieces and see if we can work up a little interest and make at least a few dollars to help out in this horrid economy. I don't know about others, but for me even making and extra $100 a month can make a huge difference in basic lifestyles. Many of us are living on the edge -- many people all over the world are, in fact. Why aren't we using our works to help make life a little better?

For me, the hold up has always been a dream to reach a traditional publication stage. Even if I do this, I am not giving up that dream. Publishing is not an either/or world. It may be best not to mention some aspects of your career -- like self-publishing -- unless the work has made extraordinary sales. But just because you chose an ebook publisher or self-published some work, doesn't mean you are forever tied to that track and can't take a trip on another one.

As with any experimental project, this one might not make it any farther than the drawing board. However, I know there are a few other writers out there who are faced with either being too prolific for their own good or not writing material that suits the current market, but which they enjoy reading. Or both. I've had a lot of experience in the publishing world over the last ten years, from both the author and publisher side. I know all the mistakes I've made on both sides, and I think it's time to stop riding along the tide and start making some waves of my own, so to speak.

There are a lot of questions. What are the top ebook readers? Kindle, Nook, Sony, Palm, iPad, etc... Oh, and let's not forget those who are reading on cell phones and the new netbooks. How many different types of files do you need to make to be a viable ebook seller these days? What is the best route for offering print books? What is the market for signed books and limited editions? What 'extras' can you provide to make purchases look more appealing? A big problem with ebooks is that they are 'shared' which means fewer sales. What if the original sale included something concrete -- something that could not be shared? Perhaps even bonus points towards buying other books, print books and Café Press stuff at a discount. Would that encourage some people to buy rather than pirate?

And what about the very basics of marketing that we don't even think about much these days -- websites, twitter, blogs, journals, facebook, and all the rest. A publishing company needs those sorts of Internet links and so do the authors.

What prices can ebooks sell for that will draw readers to relative unknowns and not feel as though they are risking too much? I've seen studies that show very low prices can actually mean more income. I'm seriously looking at $3.00 ebooks.

Art work. I can do some, at least. Art is far more important to draw sales than many people realize. I can't do it all. I have a limited talent in what I do, but I can get things started.

The big problem is going to be editing. This is a problem that will have to be worked out before this can be a viable project. It is far harder to deal with than buying ISBNs and ads. Those just take an application of funds. Editing takes skill and should be compensated for in funds, but with a new company like this, pushing for a marketing presence, that's going to be difficult. And yet necessary, because any amount of market presence can't overcome poor editing in books.

The good part of the 'new world of publishing' is what makes it attractive to people who rush into self-publishing. First, it is relatively easy to set up some of the options. Second, it doesn't cost anything up front for much of it. The problem is that many people stop there. (And we'll ignore the idea of editing and expectations from the uninformed.) The next step is the hardest for almost all writers and that's marketing. And there is the question of the ISBNs --those magic numbers that cost quite a bit, but that open the door to certain places.

Oh yes, and time. It's not like I have boxes full of time stored away somewhere. I have other commitments that I am not going to short. So this may prove to be unreasonable just from that point of view.

But you know, there is no harm in trying. There's no harm in looking at options and fully informing ourselves about what might or might not work. As long as a person understands the problems, limitations and expectations, it's not going to hurt to try something.

So, we'll see where this goes. It's a fun project to research at the moment, even if I never go any farther with it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Free Story

Return to Redlin is my only true romance story -- an old-fashioned 'Mary Stewart' kind of romance. It's a novella of about 26,000 words. You can find it linked on this page:Zette's World

I hope you enjoy it!
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It's time to cut

There comes a point where you just have to cut things out of a story. I hit that point with Silky 3 over the last few days. The problem was that I didn't realize it at first. I just got bogged down in rewrite, rewrite, change, rewrite -- an entire section that just kept dragging along. This is an adventure! It can't be this boring!

So, I would rewrite pages. Change things around. Add in more enemies. Rewrite.

And then, in a fit of frustration, I threatened the story with true bodily harm. If it didn't shape up, I was going to start cutting out pieces until it did.

Well, duh.

I looked at it. I looked at it again. Then I cut about 5k from the story, reworked a few references and you know... suddenly the story isn't dragging any more.

There wasn't anything in those 5k words that I couldn't sum up in a couple lines and move on. I am so much happier now.

Sometimes it's hard to tell when you need to rewrite to make something interesting and where you just need to cut and summarize. However, always remember that if something isn't interesting to you as a writer, it's not going to be interesting to the reader. If you are bored, expect the same reaction from someone reading the work. You have to really be tough with every single page. You have to feel the excitement. If you aren't, then do two things. First, if you are in the edit/rewrite phase, put the work aside and write something else for a little while. Get it out of your head. It's possible to be bored with a book simply because you have been working on it for too long. If you read and reread the same book by your favorite author, day-after-day, you'd get bored with it, too. It might have nothing at all to do with the story itself.

Put it aside. Write something else, work on art, clean house -- do anything but work on that book for a few days.

Then go back and read from a few pages before you found the problem and see if it flows through it. If not, start seriously looking at if you need the scene, or if you could, instead, give a few lines about what happened and move on.

There are a few times when it is better to write a little rather than a lot. Never bore the reader. Also remember that since you are your own perfect market you had better be writing something that pleases you.
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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

More snow on the way....

We are about to be hit by another snow storm. About five inches, but also some icy stuff again. This has been an unpleasant winter. I'm starting to think we're going to have the snow with us well into March. I just hope it doesn't all melt too quickly. I'm far too close to the river. I walk down there on spring mornings to watch the sunrise.

Let's not think about that now. The snow storm is enough to consider. I went out and scooped the two inches from the other day, finally. Partly because I had to get the trash out to the street, and also because I don't want ice forming on top of the snow. Just makes it all the harder to get up after it has been stomped down and had ice poured on it.


Now, on the other hand, writing is going very well. I'm about a third of the way through the rewrite of Silky 3 and 4 into one book. I want to have it done by March, so I'll be pushing on this one. The new book, UPI, is going okay. Right now my guy is chasing down a dinosaur. This was not planned. Well, actually, nothing in the story is planned. We'll see how well that goes! It's up to 14k, so it's moving along fine, even though I had to drop it for a bit. Back to it now, though!

And that's really it for me today. I have one book review to post and I'll have a second one maybe tomorrow. Or the next day. I have work to get done!

Just not right now.
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