Saturday, July 23, 2016

Story Length

One of the disadvantages of submitting a story to someone else for publication is the fact that you are forced to comply with their requirements for length. It can't be longer, or shorter, than they think is appropriate. Or than they need it to be in order to cram it into their publication.

This is perfectly understandable, albeit a pain in the rump, when dealing with print media. It costs money to print things. So what you end up with is a publisher telling the author 'edit it down, make it shorter, compact it, trim the fat' and so forth. What they are really saying is 'weaken the story and take out the details, flatten the characters, minimize the world building, and keep the immersion to a minimum because we can't afford to put quality story telling first'. The more you spend on printing, the smaller your profit margin. For the print publishers, the ideal situation would be a one page book that they could sell for $250.

But for electronic publications it makes about as much sense as those computer RPGs that still use pen and paper game mechanics.

Simultaneously, one of the advantages of writing for self-publication is the ability to let the story set its own length. My latest book is a bit longer than I expected, but not outrageously so. I doubt that a print publisher would touch it, no matter what they thought of the quality of the writing, simply because of the length. Along the same vein, I submitted several short stories a few years ago to some online magazines. Some of them were crap, and I freely admit it. Some of them were pretty good, but they were too long.

You see, when I write a science fiction or fantasy story, I like to make sure that the reader has at least a superficial idea of what I'm talking about. So when I describe a place, I don't just say that the character went somewhere imaginary. I say, it had cobblestones, or the roof was slate and leaked a little at the north end, or whatever. This, unfortunately, requires space. The way some editors go on and on, you would have thought they had to pay for pixels at double the price of ink.

This is all leading up to me digging out some old stories and looking them over. At least one of them is going back onto the workbench. I still like it. So I'm going to fix it the way I originally intended it to be and publish it here. If no one reads it, so what? At least it will be done.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Weaving A Tapestry From Chains

I'm working on the rewrite of my first "Portals" series novel, titled The Songs of Chaos. Right now I'm in the process of aggravating myself into a state of frustration. The problem is my own lack of ability to make up my mind.

Everyone uses a different method to create stories. Some people use a rigid outline. Some people are pantsers. I use a modified systems that kinda sorta splits the difference. I think of a plot as a series of scenes, like links in a chain. Each book consists of at least one main plot, along with supplemental minor plots and supporting scenes that flesh out the story. I read advice from Holly Lisle that suggested this approach when I first got started. But she recommended using index cards and physically sorting them. The idea being, I guess, that having the scenes in front of you all at once would help you keep it all straight.

My problem with that? I lose things. I am a slob. My desk has to be seen to be believed. So I do it all on the word processor and keep them sorted by using a different font color for each scene, or each plot, depending on what kind of sorting I am doing.

How does this relate to the book I was talking about when I started this rambling? I am using this method on The Songs of Chaos right now. It's working fine. The issue is me. I have a critical conflict point I am developing. I know how it is supposed to go. I know how it will get resolved in general terms. But I CAN'T MAKE UP MY CURSED MIND about the right approach for the protagonist to take. And it's critically important, because how this gets handled will not only affect the rest of the book. It will have repercussion throughout the series.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Recompense (Book 3 of My Trilogy) Is Live On Amazon

Published the final version last night just about sunrise. New covers for every book in the trilogy. I may tweak the author bio and teasers in the other two books a bit when I have had some more sleep. The only thing left to do now is adapt the layout for Createspace. I have been dreading that and putting it off until all three books were done. Anyway, Recompense is about 50% larger than Wrath. According to my beta readers it's the best work I have ever done, for which I give devout thanks. It was also the most painful work I have ever done. I hope you all like it. I'm going back to bed.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

I Am In The Process of Uploading

The cover art for Recompense is now uploaded to Amazon in draft mode, and the description as well. I had to do some re-writing and editing per feedback, but it turned out to make things better. Someone said there's no good writing, only good editing. They were right.

As soon as my last reader gets their comments back to me I will finalize and upload the last version. Thankfully. Finishing this trilogy was on my bucket list, even though I do have another one in the same world already started. And I am in the process of finishing a novel in another universe. And I am in the middle of two more short stories. I really want to get this one published and done. It's well past time.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Moving Along

Yes, I'm still writing. Adding a few last scenes. Reason being, I am leaving a tie-in for the next book, and I want to make sure I do it seamlesssly without leaving a cliffhanger. My intention is to wrap this story up clean, while making sure that there is plenty of room for additional work. Besides, Pete is having fun:)

Yes, I have an ending, already written. Yes, I really am almost done. If I could see clearly, and it if the carpal tunnel would ease up, I would have it done already. But it's coming. I swear.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Once More, I Must Adapt

Bless their hearts, my daughter and son-in-law care deeply about us. And they want so much for us to enjoy the benefits of modern technology that they are always eager to share the newest advances. As an example, my dear son-in-law sent a gift. Yesterday I received a copy of MS-Windows 10. A second hand laptop, one which will be a massive improvement over the one I am using now, is also on its way complete with a hard drive ready for the new operating system to be installed.


It came on a USB stick. One of the dinky, skinny ones. about a third the size of the plastic packages that lead for a mechanical pencil is sold in. The specs say that Win 10 requires a 1 ghz processor, 20 gb of drive space, and 2 gb of RAM in order to work. Internet access may be required, depending on what I want to include in the installation.

This is not exactly comparable to the 5.25 inch floppies, which actually flopped when you waved them, that MS-DOS came on. As I recall, DOS required 512 kilobytes of RAM, a 4.77 mhz processor, and no hard drive was necessary if you were willing to boot from the floppies themselves. Now MS-Windows come with something called Cortana. I think that's what it is called. It's a built in AI intended to make life easier for us poor foolish mortals who haven't got sense enough to be trusted with direct control of our hardware. Forget zombies. Skynet is practically here.

But you have to stay current. Like it or not. My head hurts. Is it possible for a brain to develop arthritis? Once more, into the breach. Or the BSOD, as the case may be.