Big in Japan

Last week has been huge. The biggest in my career as a writer. I’ve signed contracts for two publications, including one for the start of our new novella series, Outliers. So obviously the only solution is to celebrate with terrible-awesome 80’s music.

With regards to the other agreement, I don’t want to give away any details until the publisher’s formal announcement. However, after some soul searching, I’ve realized that I can’t allow myself to write reviews about a particular type of product anymore. This aches because of a recent release I really wanted to cover and discuss. But to do so would slightly risk being a conflict of interest, for reasons similar to why I don’t do book reviews these days.

It’s not that an author necessarily shouldn’t review books, as it can be done ethically and fairly. A decent metaphor for the matter is the dilemma of dating at one’s workplace; perfectly acceptable as long as Human Resources is informed and one is prepared for the consequence of a relationship failing. But personally with regard to reviews, I’d rather just avoid those financially interconnected concerns down the road. Recuses over excuses.

I’ve one final short story window to commit to this year… and I just noticed it’s due in two weeks, so that’s all the time I have for today.

Anxiety Begone!

I hit 10,000 words for the novella. A point when I realized two important things.

1) The main character and I have nothing in common. I wondered a few times to myself if he was a Mary Sue. I can now safely say he is not.

2) Beneath the layers of plotting and events, fighting and backstory, I have scraped together some 200 words that really hits the character’s internal conflict on the head. And as a result, I am considering renaming the story.

In the long run, these 200 words of higher thinking will be somewhat lost in the 30,000 to 40,000 length of the tale. At this point, the plot has begun to thicken, the main character is beginning to really develop.

Every 1,000 words that go into it make me more and more nervous. Short stories seem so easy. These longer tales seem to require more concept of pacing. There are times when I wonder if I’m just blathering details. My anxiety comes from the fact that I’ve never done a novella for publication before.

Ugh, I wish I had some kind of reassurance that I’m writing the right thing.

Thoughts About the Future

Winter is a good time to really think about the future. Staying indoors more often because of the cold, trying to figure out what you want to do in the new year, it gives you lots of time to reason with yourself. As I chip away at my novella, I start to think about some of the fears underneath there.

I almost feel like I’m cheating with my 1,000 words a day approach to my novella. You see, as I’ve reread the first draft, I’ve discovered that quite a bit of it is salvageable. Thus I’ve been able to lift lines and simply copy over sentences and sometimes paragraphs from the original draft. At the moment, I’m at 5,000 words, so it’s a good time to review everything I’ve written thus far, make corrections, added a few more lines, and then get back to writing. I think I’ll call this method the tally-mark method. Five 1,000 word chunks, and you review as you scratch the fifth.

But while lines of prose have been both created and copied over, my best news is that I found a way to really beef up the plot some. Not only does it set the ground work for a better story, the new character and additional plot twist he brings adds some flavor. I still need to sort out the details, but there’s a lot of promise here.

Although I’ve already got a publisher I plan to pitch this story too, I’m also jotting down random ideas for the next novel or novella. That was all part of my approach: Write short stories first. As I obtain success with that, slowly work your way into doing a novella. After a few of those, do a novel. I think it’s very rare when a would-be author comes up and says “I’ve got a plan when it comes to getting published.” And even more rare when that plan, at least thus far, seems to slowly be working.  

Single Vs Multi Author Anthologies

After reading various reviews, I’ve noticed that many fantasy and sci-fi readers really don’t seem to like the short story anthology approach from a single author. They often prefer a single, longer and more grand story to a dozen little tales. They’re more forgiving of anthologies from multiple authors. My guess is that they like the variety and the chance to ‘sample’ several authors at once, where as they expect more if it’s just from one.

Also, multiple authors have the benefits of a very expanded ‘social network’ of people they can tap into. Thus banding together is really useful for the starting author types. If twelve unknown authors can mention their collective work on Twitter and Facebook, their word will reach much further than any single author. It seems that cooperation pays.

I understand the frustrations of SAAs, to be honest. Reading Robert E. Howard’s anthologies, the tales gradually got better the closer you got to the end of each individual tale. But when it ended, Howard started the details from the beginning, which got very tiring. This happened because Conan was published in magazine installments, so the transition to an anthological book tended to result in many details being described again and again.

As I consider this, I begin to scratch off plans to release my own single author anthology. I decide instead that it would be better to keep them available for multi-author anthologies, after some re-writes. Or, push them out as their own novellas after some rewrites.

P.S. I’ve posted something on the Bolthole about this for discussion. It will make interesting business talk.