Monday, January 1, 2018

Goals 2018

Looking ahead at the new year, I'm hoping to get a few things I have control over accomplished.

The first of them is a project I'm currently calling Dirty Animals.  It's a comic book, and it's the first time I'm taking an active stance at breaking into the medium.  I've currently got an artist working on the sample eight pages I'll need to potentially interest publishers, and once they're complete I'll hopefully find someone to letter them.  And we'll see from there.  I don't want to go on and on about it at this point, but there it is, first time I mention it here.

The second is writing the sequel to Sapo Saga, which is something I've been working on in notes for a while.  That's my preferred method to working on a new story, working on notes, just seeing how far the development can get.  As far as I'm concerned, if you haven't put in the time with your version of notes, it'll show, and it's the worst literary crime a writer can do, because it always shows, when a writer hasn't thought their story out, aside from whether or not they actually have the technical skills to write a competent story.  It's the thing fans think they're on top of, when discussing movies, the hottest topic of discussion in Western culture, but again, it always shows how little they've actually thought any of it through.  There's a huge difference between an emotional and an intellectual reaction. 

So anyway, that's the two things I intend to work on.  And I'm sure there will be other things.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Appearing in a new anthology just released.


It's always nice to report being published in something I didn't myself put together.  5 Totems is the second anthology edited by Scott Quine (after WriteClubCo, named for the writing group it sprang from) to feature my work.  Here's the Amazon listing for the paperback.

Scott's one of the nicest people I've ever known, and the best boss I've ever had.  The thing anyone knows about him is his abiding love for Chuck Palahniuk, and maybe most people he knows know he looks like Paul Rudd.  His father, Dennis Quine, also appears in the anthology, and I can begin to understand Scott's obsession with UFO radio shows based on the little I've discovered about Dennis recently. 

(I can't say I know Bruce Kooken or Robert Davis, but if Scott vouches for them, they've got to be okay, too.)

I've got six stories in the book, including a Space Corps story I've been itching to write for years.  Actually, the version in the book is an abbreviated take on the one I originally wrote, but Dennis found it confusing, so I tried one that was a little more straightforward.  Dennis read through all my stories, and I rewrote another one ("Nothere") based on his feedback.  It was interesting, that process.  Made the experience seem professional.  The Space Corps story used to be incorporated into two separate books in the saga (outlines, as they have yet to be written), but it seemed prudent to extract the material, put it in its own context.  In a lot of ways, that brought me back to how I used to write Star Trek stories, which was the first fiction of any kind I wrote outside of school projects.  If for some reason you end up actually reading the anthology, the story I'm referring to is "Rue the Day."

A few of the stories have been reclaimed from projects fizzled out with other people over the years, so it was good becoming reacquainted with them and seeing them appear, finally, somewhere.  One of those ("Ajax"), I honestly can't recall the original project, but it was fun to reread, and to remember I could write something like that.  Apparently I have a label for one of them (The Tarnished Age); that story's called "Unsafe at Any Speed."  All I had to do with that previously collaborative landscape was rename the city and a hero from the project's creator.

So, again, thanks to Scott for making this happen, and I hope you'll have a look.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Spoiling for a new project

Obviously I don't check in here terribly often.  I've been trying to figure out what my next project will be.  I completed, recently, a few screw-around projects that had been sitting around for far too long, and that was itself a nice slate-clearing.  The IWSG has a contest with the entry date coming up soon, and I wanted to write something for that, and even started writing it, and maybe will even finish writing it, who knows?  There was another contest I found out about, and thought about taking the IWSG story and using some of its elements for that, but...I didn't really want to deal with the prospect of winning that one, which was extremely unsettling to realize.  I mean, I want to be discovered.  I want to make a living writing stories.  But this contest...Aside from an obscenely generous cash prize, it expected the winner to make a lot of publicity appearances.  Talk about your insecurities...I didn't really envision myself as the kind of person they'd be interested in using for those appearances.  But what do I know?

Anyway, I've been writing comic book scripts regularly again for the past few years, short samples, which has kind of gotten me back into that groove for the first time in a decade.  Recently I found a couple artists who expressed interest in drawing up some of these scripts.  Who knows what will come of it, but I figured I'd document it.

Found out today that the agent involved in the IWSG twitter pitch thing hasn't had a chance to read any of the queries from that event, yet.  So there's always a chance, right?  Seven Thunders still has a chance!  But we'll see, right? 

My latest project may be a Seven Thunders spin-off, actually, another short story set in Space Corps, which is itself always a little thrilling, knowing I'm actually writing Space Corps material, after dreaming about it for so long...

I keep wondering how much of my struggle is because it was always going to be a struggle, and how much because of the way I've approached it.  They say persistence is always the key.  But what does persistence look like?  Obviously I've maintained this blog for five years, but apart from all the self-published material I've put out in that time (!), I haven't really made that much progress.  Persistence as in relentless?  Yeah, not so much.  I lack that kind of drive, and my relationship with the world always seems to be at least passively aggressive.  Writers ought to be in conflict with the world, to a certain extent, but it also seems as if some of them can get away with it better than others.  Recently I've been in a great deal of conflict.  I find myself wondering all over again how it is I could have reached a point where I have no meaningful connections, no one who truly understands me.

Woe is me.  Alas, poor Yorick.  We all end up as skulls, eventually.  What's to worry about?  All the minor tortures, really.  Try, try to keep perspective...

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Just sent a query...

Even though I'm no doubt once again dropped from its membership rolls, I participated in the Insecure Writers Support Group's Twitter pitch session last week, and an agent gave me the go-ahead to send a query letter.

So that just happened.

I sent along a pitch for Seven Thunders.  In the query I acknowledged that it's up on Wattpad, though the first chapter I included is actually entirely new.  The chapter Wattpad denizens have read and commented on is of course the first one, and I got the idea that it needed work, so I'm glad I was spurred to rewrite it. 

Now, I can't say whether or not the facts of the above paragraph will affect the fate of the query, but I feel better for them.  Sometimes you don't realize a rewrite is necessary, and that you really are capable of writing something better, unless something makes you understand.

But, since I've recently watched Midnight in Paris again, I'm full of Hemingway bravado, and am feeling pretty good regardless of the query's outcome.  I thank the IWSG for the opportunity, and the agent for pushing it along a bit more.  Can I really ask for more?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Seven Thunders on Wattpad

I just finished serializing Seven Thunders on Wattpad.  (You can read it here.)

I made it available this way mostly because I'm still uncomfortable about self-publishing it, even though I've since done so for a Space Corps novella (Terrestrial Affairs).  Obviously I've self-published a lot of stuff.  So what's the deal?

I started serializing Seven Thunders back in January (apparently; seems like a long time ago now!), posting chapters about once a week (sometimes more, like this week), taking the time to edit them as I went.  The editing was really the big achievement here.  If you've read one of my self-published books, you'll know that.  I fixed things, and I took things out, and I added a thing here and there, and hopefully generally made the story better than when I started the process.

Seven Thunders is important to me, as the story I've dedicated the most time to, and spent the most time developing, and anticipating the most and being most significant in a backdrop (Space Corps) that I have spent even more time working on over the years.  I've written about it before and chances are I'll write about it again, if I ever decide what to do with it.

Seems in some respects by posting it on Wattpad I made my options shrink, because publishers consider Wattpad as a publishing venue, regardless of how many views you get there.  Yet I found that I had to do something with it, because Seven Thunders had become almost too precious to me.  (Again, anyone who's actually read my self-published books will scratch their heads trying to figure out how that's even possible.)  I needed to find some perspective on it. 

Writing other Space Corps stories, of varying lengths, over the years has helped.  Some of them I posted to my writing blog (Sigild V), and some of them have appeared in various anthologies (and in Terrestrial Affairs).  Just getting Space Corps itself out there is a kind of relief.  But having Seven Thunders itself, which I originally wrote in 2012-2013, be seen is entirely different.  This one's the most personal, this one I've invested everything in.  That sort of thing.

And now it's all there.  Waiting to be judged.  Or not.  I just entered it into Wattpad's "Wattys" competition, where it has a chance to be awarded one of several honors that may not may not help find readers.  At this point I have a little over 200 views across individual chapters, most of them for the first one.  Heavy readership on Wattpad is in the thousands.  I'm nowhere near close.  As far as Wattpad is concerned, Seven Thunders still barely exists. 

It's scary and exhilarating at the same time.  You always want to believe lucky breaks are possible, even though they're one-in-a-million.  What if, right?  But it's out there.  It's finally out there.  That's what it's really about...

Monday, May 22, 2017

Terrestrial Affairs is free...until Wednesday


Thought I should mention that the Terrestrial Affairs giveaways haven't ended.  The ebook is free thru Wednesday, if you'd like to have yourself a nice and easy look at it.  Be sure to review it at Amazon and/or Goodreads if you do!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Space Corps...just putting it out there...

So anyone who has visited this blog recently knows that Terrestrial Affairs has been released, and that it's a Space Corps story.  I've got a Space Corps label where you can trace back every time I've mentioned it previously, and you can see without even looking at all that material that I've talked plenty about it.  A few years back, on another of my blogs, I spent a whole A-to-Z April exploring different characters and stories from the Space Corps saga, and that was well before I really had anything available to read.  Earlier this year I wrote a Space Corps story for the IWSG anthology contest, and it wasn't selected, but it kicked off a renewed sense of interest in finally getting Space Corps out in the open.

So I did something pretty radical.  I finally started using my Wattpad account, which I set up years ago, and began posting edited chapters of Seven Thunders.  (You can read them here.)  I finished the manuscript four years ago, and it's been sitting in a computer file, because I didn't know what to do with it.  This was the story I'd wanted to write since 1998.  It sat percolating for years, and in the meantime I started writing other novel-length stories, sort of figuring out what that was like.  I tried getting a number of them published, had no luck, and then started self-publishing them.  Then I lost all faith, basically, in my ability to be published traditionally, but I didn't want Seven Thunders to be dumped unceremoniously in anonymity, like the rest of my self-published material.  I suck at blogger networking.  I admit that.  I started blogging well before all the cool bloggers you read and/or are ever considered blogging.  But I blogged back then like I did anything else I wrote, which was just for the fun of it.  It wasn't until much later that I even thought visitors could be a real thing, when I randomly started getting comments about stuff I said about TV shows.  Then I found a community, and they were all writers, and they all supported each other and...

Well, I didn't really fit in.  Everyone I connected with, they didn't much care about how blogging was "supposed" to work, either, or we parted ways eventually, and so I never got that bump that everyone else in the community seemed to. 

But that's not really here nor there.  The point is, I got past that.  I started editing, and posting, Seven Thunders.  It's been interesting.  If I were to write Seven Thunders today, it would probably look a lot different.  Recently I've written a lot of much shorter works.  Seven Thunders was written when I had come across a formula for works of a certain length, and that was always my goal, and somehow I always hit it, one way or another.  But it always felt vaguely stifling, creatively.  The more I worked the shorter lengths, the more I saw the creative potential in that.  I'm not saying I don't stand by Seven Thunders, today.  Hey, I'm posting the thing once a week, over at Wattpad.  And I'm not saying the shorter works I've been doing are inherently better.  I'd like them to be longer.  Until Terrestrial Affairs I had gradually been pushing them to be longer.  Terrestrial Affairs, which I'm perfectly happy with, thank you, ended up being the length it is because I had a very short window in which to write it, and I was able to finish it in that window, but I didn't have a lot of time to punch it up to greater length, which meant I had to go with my first creative impulses, which is not something I normally like to do.  But again, it worked with Terrestrial Affairs, especially when I realized how the previously unrelated Wendale sequence fit into it.

I wasn't particularly updating this blog when I developed Wendale, so there isn't anything to see here about it, but I was mulling it through last summer, last fall, and on into winter, three seasons of development, evolution, only to discover what it really was, something embedded in something else, in the spring.  And while I had envisioned Wendale to be more like the Miss Simon stories I was doing last year, I'm actually happy that I was able to do that style but in a genre context as well, because that was what I'd been thinking through that period, too, but I couldn't quite decide how to do it.

I have no idea how interested anyone will be in Space Corps.  I have no idea if Terrestrial Affairs will be anymore successful than the other stuff I've self-published.  I have no idea if Seven Thunders will find an audience on Wattpad.  But I'm starting to not care.  Space Corps began on notebook pages, stuff I obsessively chronicled, for myself, because I wanted to see where the story would go.  Now, it seems to be looking around the public sector.  But nothing about it has changed, really.  I'm okay with that.
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