Thursday, April 26, 2012

Trouble with the Wandering Tale

It seems I forgot a wee detail regarding my intended arc for these stories. I have the habit of mentioning things in stories that actually regard future parts of the Tale - this has the effect of locking me into certain choices. I refuse to retcon the things. While it might be easy to change small details in the story even after I've published it (seeing as few people have actually read them yet), it seems dishonest to me somehow.

Fortunately, we're dealing with fiction here, and I can change things as I please, provided nobody else has read it yet. The detail in question concerns a certain character who was supposed to feature as the main character in the fifth story of the Wandering Tale. I discovered to my embarrassment that, with the timeline I've set up, he's about a decade younger than he would need to be if I want to keep everything in the right time frame.

Drat. That certainly throws me for a loop.

It is one of the dangers inherent in writing these stories. They are basically stand-alone but with a certain amount of interlink and weaving going on for the (intended) delight of dedicated readers. This means those links need to remain consistent - however, I'm not paying as much attention to them as I would be if it were a single, cohesive novel.

No matter. I've already figured out a path around the problem. I'm the only one who needs to know the path we didn't end up taking.... For those who are interested, that story will still be written, it just won't tie in to certain other events in the way I'd originally planned.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Prioritize Pending Projects

If there is one reason I'm desperate to make a living as a writer, it's so I'll have enough time to write. When I think of all the things I want to write in the near future, I start twitching. I don't imagine I'll ever be able to find time enough for it all, and that bugs me. And then, of course, there are the projects I want to start. And revise. And record.

Of course, when there is too much to do, we need to know what comes first. So here's my list for things I want to accomplish by the end of the summer, sorted roughly by priority.

Write "The Merchant of Menace"
As the next entry in the Wandering Tale, which is the only currently-published example of my work that I know has readers (thanks to all dozen of 'em, too!) this easily takes the cake. It is also a necessary precondition for something further down on the list. It also has a tentative publication date (set and enforced by myself, of course) that I would like to keep to. May 20, if you're wondering.

eBook Publication of Twixt Heaven and Hell
I left it last with some notes for further revisions, but was concentrating on submitting it to agents at the time. I need to finish that as well as do some truly deep editing. I need to get a cover made. I hope to have some kind of book trailer done, either audio or video (those are further down on the list, though). If all goes well, this one will hit the stores in July.

Finish Thirteenth Night
Last summer I began to write a "sequel" of sorts to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. The original vision for it was a Shakespearean slasher play featuring the abused Malvolio as the killer. Sort of a Hamlet meets Scream sort of thing with a dark comedy vibe. It started out fairly well, and I'd really like to finish it before another summer rolls around...

Get a Serious Start to Clanless
For those of you who missed this post featuring this episode of the Roundtable Podcast - which in turn features me - I was pitching a novel to those fine gentlemen that was tentatively titled Clanless. After appearing on that podcast I got back to thinking pretty heavily about that book and I'm very excited to write it. This one and Thirteenth Night are very much vying for third place on my priority list, because while I want to finish both of them and already have the play started (and some of my friends tell me they want to read it), it is less likely to be published or performed in the near future. Can't ePerform an entire play. Not and do it the kind of justice I would want, anyway.

Film/Record Twixt Trailer
Been mentioning it for awhile, and already have a rough script written. Next step is to write a plan for a video script and then start finding some advisers and decide which format it will end up in. This depends on a lots of other people, else it would be higher on the list.

Finish and Publish the first Wandering Tale collection
I've decided to gather up the first five stories of the Wandering Tale (three of which are published now), and publish them as a single eBook. Of course, there will be additional materials thrown in to make it worth the buyer's money even if they have one or more of the singlet eBooks. Maps, additional history, maybe even a sixth story that caps everything off...

Start Podcasting the Wandering Tale
The very supportive Dave Robison (one of the peerless paladins behind the Roundtable Podcast) has several times urged me to do a recording of The Swordsman of Carn Nebeth. As with book trailers, podcasting my writing gives me one more excuse to perform, and to involve other people as well. It's enjoyable to lift a bit of the solitude from this little hobby of mine.

Aie... I could probably double the size of this list, but I'll be honest - if I'm still just looking at the summer, I've got more here than I can handle as it is. Doesn't mean I won't try to get to all of it - but I have to be careful. I've definitely suffered from project ADD in the past, and I'd very much like to finish anything item I start.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Better Late than Never!

"The Giant of the Tidesmouth" is now up at both Smashwords and Amazon (those are links! Click them! CLICK THEM BOTH!).

If you're the type who likes his fantasy filled with the ring of steel on steel, you're going to like this one. As I mentioned in this post, "Giant" has more fighting than the previous entries. I don't want the Wandering Tale to become all sword-and-sorcery (well, without the sorcery... so just swords-y I guess) but it is an awful lot of fun to write.

I hope you enjoy this latest novella. Even after editing it rang in at 25k words, a good bit longer than the others. You'll have to tell me if you think it's as tightly told as the others!

No, seriously. Tell me. It's so quiet around here...

I cannot be certain about the exact time frame for the next story, but I'm still shooting for a one-month-to-publish deadline - and I think I can make it this time. The next one will be called "The Merchant of Menace" (with apologies to The Bard).

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I Want it All

Aside from being a great Queen song, the title of the post is also how I justify chasing all my dreams simultaneously. I've been putting a lot of time (and what little spare cash I have) into this self-publishing gig lately, and I intend to continue doing that.

Coming up, though, are some auditions for a local professional theatre. The chances of me getting picked up as either a regular or a one-off casting are both fairly slim - NOT because I'm not a good actor (I damn well am, and don't you forget it!) but because, well... let's face it. There's a lot of damn good actors out there, and oh-so-few paying roles.

Either way, I'm auditioning. If a hit a rare confluence of luck and skill, then I'll actually get a role out of it, and that will be awesome. It will bite into my writing time, and maybe even give me some hard decisions about my publishing timetable this year - but ya know what? That's one hard decision I very much want to have to make.

Wish me luck. :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Book Trailers

I cannot tell you how much I love the idea of making a book trailer. Aside from being an author, my greatest dream is being an actor. Furthermore, I know lots of actors, so conscripting some talent wouldn't be hard. Ditto for a lot of the other talent - costumes, props, film editing, etc - that goes into making a film clip of any length. The budget may be tight, but I bet I can get it done.

Even if I can't get a full-on filming done, a voice-only book trailer is also a possibility. While the next story of the Wandering Tale ripens for awhile, that's what I've been doing; writing the script for both a film and pure audio version of the teaser. It's both great fun and very challenging. I discovered when writing the original synopsis and queries and summaries for my book that it's damned hard to just condense 160k words into less than five hundred. The summary you can find in this post is one of the better ones I managed to write, and I'm still not particularly happy with it. It's yet another skill that the indie author needs to hone, but all-too-often isn't warned about until the time comes to use it.

Either way, writing a teaser script is fun. It isn't my first foray into script-writing, at least, and being a performer myself I have some sense of what can and will sound good when actually given voice. That's another fun aspect - I've been playing around with Audacity and my mic, recording the most dramatic lines over and over and adjusting the pitch and what not. It's amazing how much cooler these things sound when you bring the audio down a couple octaves. Deep voices are one way to hack the human perception of coolness, I'm sure.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Giant of Tidesmouth

For anyone who is interesting and/or keeping track: I've finished the next story in the Wandering Tale, titled The Giant of the Tidesmouth. This one is more action-heavy than the previous tales, and the violence is a bit more explicit and center-stage. This is an exception and not the rule. I enjoy writing a good fight, but the Wandering Tale was and is not meant as a gore-fest, nor will it become so.

I still need to do the edits, and in order to do that properly I need to leave the first draft on a digital shelf for a time. My usual time frame for that is at least two weeks (preferably a month) of not looking at the story itself, but I'll be condensing that this time in light of the fact that I am behind schedule. I aim to have the story published in about a week.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Seduced by the Indie Scene

I think I've made up my mind.

I've been studying the publishing industry for years - since high school - because I decided I wanted to be an author. I think I know quite a bit about it. Over the last few years though, it has been changing rapidly. The things I learned when I first started looking at the whole business are beginning to erode.

All in all, I'd rather be on the cutting edge of the new wave than crashing into the beach with the old one.

In other words, I've decided to focus my energy on self-publishing for now. I've got a small list of maybe ten agents I still want to query. After I receive their rejections (just going with the odds, there) I'm done chasing that traditional route. Thus, chances are that I will be publishing my first novel sometime around June-July (by my current timetable). It's a big decision, but to be honest I'm just happy to have made it.

My first novel is titled Twixt Heaven and Hell. It's epic fantasy focusing on the years just after Angels and Demons make contact with the mortal world. Here's one of the query letters I've been sending out to agents:

When the wizard Darius and his elite soldiers, the Gryphons, come across a devastated village deep within their own lands, they do not hesitate to pursue the enemy soldiers who had slaughtered their people. Before they are caught, the murderers disappear in a night of fire – leaving only ash in their wake. The power of the Enemy had grown.
Darius rushes back to the mighty city of Bastion to warn his leaders. However, the High Council - 'wisest' of the wizards in Bastion - are more concerned with keeping Darius in line than in fighting the war. They constantly seek to check him with orders that keep him out of trouble. Fortunately, Darius has never been one to let orders get in his way.
As the War grows ever more destructive. Darius must prevail not only against his own leaders but also against the machinations of the enemy warlord Mertoris Traigan - a former soldier whose cruel brilliance has given him control over a society dominated by sorcerers and Demons. Darius must tread a careful path between disobedience and betrayal as he seeks to unravel the secret of the Enemy's new power, enlisting the help of Angels and men alike. For though Angel and Demon may be doomed to strive against each other for all eternity, Darius dreams of a future without the War. Darius dreams of a day when his people need no longer give their lives to the ancient conflict, or suffer at the hands of their enemy.

Darius dreams of victory - and of peace.
 So... does that sound like something you'd like to read, or should I change my mind again?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Persistance and (im)Patience

Some authors are very vocal about turning their back on traditional publishing. JA Konrath is almost iconic in this sense. Here is a man who has slogged through the mud of the old process, as it were. He went through the whole Published Hero's Journey: The Call to Agents, the Endless Refusal of those calls, the Supernatural Persistence (wrote multiple novels before he was published), Eventual Representation, Continued Rejection (by publishers, this time!), and finally the triumph of netting that big author advance and becoming the real deal.

... and now he's advising people not to do all that, but to self-publish instead. Okay, I don't actually remember if that's what he is advising - I only remember that that is what HE is doing. Has stated he will never attempt to traditionally publish again, because he makes more money as a self-published author.


Now, I'm sure there are still advantages to going the traditional route, even if they all amount to one basic thing: An air of legitimacy. Your work has passed muster with the people who make their living in 'the biz' and that gives you bragging rights.

There is, of course, a fine distinction to be made. Being published by a traditional publishing house means that somebody, somewhere, thought your work would sell.

That doesn't necessarily mean it's good. I'm sure we can all think of some examples.

Without getting too far into what separates the 'successful' from the 'good' (A strong case could be made, I'm sure, that they are really one and the same!) let me just state the point as it pertains to me: Just because something wasn't accepted by the agents and publishers doesn't mean it wasn't good. It means they didn't think they could make enough money off it to justify the work.

Independent publishing changes that. You don't need teams of people. ePublishing, even more so. Now we can publish books with an overhead of precisely nil. Zero. Donut. That means that even modest sales are profit.

There remains, though, that issue of validation. Sure, I can go it alone. Stop chasing the traditional route. Dedicate all my writerly energy to self-publishing. It'd be easier in the short term, certainly. There will remain, though, a question lurking in the back of my brain:

Am I self publishing because I think it is a viable route and better in the long run - or because the traditional industry rejected my first attempts?

After all, I am no JA Konrath. I have been submitting one novel - my first novel. Plenty of other folks did that, got rejected, and wrote their second novel. Then the third, and fourth, and so on until they were published (I will live forever or die trying!).

Then again, if the self-ePublishing option had existed back then, would they still have done the same?