Tag Archives: author woes

Bloody Banquet in Progress

So… I don’t remember exactly how much I talked about the whole Winlock experience.  Just to recap, my book was accepted, published as an E-book, then I was released from my publisher because of low book sales.  A lot more than that went on, the short version of which is that I’m very grateful to Monique Happy for her dealings with me, and a bit disappointed with the company to which she answers.

All of that aside, however, I had written a draft of book two in the Corpse-Eater saga, Bloody Banquet and started in on book three, Cankerous Cuisine (or maybe Curdled Cuisine, haven’t decided yet), before I found out that I didn’t have a publisher or a timeline anymore.

When I did find out, it sort of took the wind out of my sales, as these things are wont to do.  I set the books aside for a bit and have only just now really started digging back in to Bloody Banquet.  It’s a bit rougher around the edges than I remembered.  I still like most of it, and even have those wonderful moments where I stumble across something clever I didn’t remember putting in, but over all I think I need two or three more times through before book two is ready to come out.

What I really need, though, is a peer review group.  I want to get an off-line group… I just find it easier to deal with people in person, but I’m not sure that my book will be a good fit with most of the people I’m likely to find in a conservative Texas town.

I don’t know, I’ll sort something out, I suppose.

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Short stories

Short stories are NOT my forte.  Let’s get that out of the way right up front.

My first attempts to write short stories were unsuccessful on many, many levels.  Basically it would start off with an idea.  I’d say to myself, ‘you know, this idea isn’t exactly worthy of an entire book.  I should make this into a short story!’ So I’d start in on the ‘short story,’ only to realize, after about fifteen or twenty pages (maybe ten or twelve) that I hadn’t even finished introducing the universe everything took place in, much less gotten to the meat of the story.

So I’d amend my plans.  No, not a short story, this would have to be a book after all.  Then, about five or ten pages later, I’d hit a brick wall and decide that I could come back to this story later and see if it was really worth getting into.

So I would fail to write the story, and fail to keep it short.

Eventually, I’d come back to it and, in most cases, fail to remember what the hell the story had actually been about anyway!

These days I’m a little bit better about it.  I mean, sure, I only finish about one in ten of the short stories I write, but let’s be honest, that is a massive improvement from zero percent,

But in order to do that, I rarely have a fully fleshed out story as the end result.

Basically, when I’m working on a short piece, I essentially attempt to establish a mood instead of really telling a tale.  Getting a full story arc into just a few thousand words is rather difficult for me, so instead I just find the emotional high of a story and attempt to capture that as powerfully as I can.

Another trick I’ll try is practicing a technique with which I am unfamiliar, or one which is difficult to impossible to maintain over the course of an entire book.  I’ve written a few where the entire story is dialogue written from one character’s perspective, that’s a good way to keep things short.  And it’s fun, too.

But I feel that I am missing out on something.  I’d like to be able to generate these more traditional pieces.  Unfortunately it requires a discipline and skill set that I largely lack.  Still, you should always push yourself.  I’m a big believer in that.

I’m going to make a concerted effort, over the next couple of days, to write a couple of short stories associated with my corpse-eater saga universe.

I’m inclined to think that having an established universe for the story to play out in will be helpful to me.  One of the traps I’ve fallen into in the past has been spending so long trying to tell all of these details that are unnecessary to the plot, but make the world as a whole work.  I’m hoping that the knowledge that I’ll be able to share these details, or have already shared them, in some other work will serve to help me focus my attention to the story itself.

Here’s hoping.

Book 3

I’m almost done with Bloody Banquet.  Fingers crossed, I’ll have it sent off to my second round of beta readers by the end of the week, and in the hands of my editor near the beginning of September.

Book 3 has me a little worried, though.  It’s not that there’s a problem with it, it’s that I don’t know exactly what I’m doing with it.  I’ll be honest with you, this is going to be the first time in my life that I’ve written book three of anything.  I got to book three once before, but I didn’t really have any reason to finish it so… I let it stagnate.  But now I have a contract.  I am required to make this work.

Okay, I am being a bit optimistic there.  Given how shitty my sales have been there is the distinct possibility that I’m going to get a polite brush off soon and find myself having to self publish any further books I want to write about a ghoul named Walter.

But let’s assume that, for whatever reason, my publisher decides to let/make me keep going.  Everything I had from here on out was just a vague idea.  I know some of the things I want to have happen, but now I’ve got to put them in order, make them stand up straight and behave themselves.  I’ve got to actually make the book.  And I’m kind of terrified.

The promotion game

I just finished the first draft of my big promotion ploy.  There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done on it.  Like, oodles.  The end product is actually going to be another book.  Not a full length novel like what I normally write, but a book, something to be published and sold…. Even so, I count it as a promotional device, something that will, hopefully, get people to try out my other books.  The ‘real’ books.

Sorry I can’t go into too many details right here and now, I don’t want to spoil the surprise just yet.  The thing that’s frustrating to me is that even though this project is, itself, a promotional tool,I’m going to have to try to promote it as a product unto itself.  The reason that this might work is that the new book is designed to be more of an attention getter than my novels have been.  Novels have a tendency to get swallowed up in the tide of new literature that’s released every year.  Unless something draws people to it, unless something makes them stop and stare for a second, their eyes just float right over it.

So I’m making a decoy book, something that is meant to make people stop, stare, and read, with the hope that they will then say, ‘hey, what a clever writer, what else has he written?’ which will, hopefully, lead them to my ‘real books.’

It’s a bit absurd, but let’s be honest, if you’re an artist and you want to make a living as an artist, absurd is just the first stop on your trip to crazytown.

The screenplay experience

A friend of mine wants to make a movie and I’m helping him on the script.  It isn’t the first time I’ve tried writing a script, and it probably won’t be the last, but I have to admit that I rather prefer writing novels, as a rule.  There’s a lot about writing scripts that is fun, like knowing that people will actually be saying the words that you put down on the paper, and getting input from people who have a very different creative viewpoint than you.

But there are sacrifices as well.  One of the big ones is that you have to realize going in that even though you’re doing the writing, this project is not about your creative vision.  That’s a hard one for me.  I’m used to being able to listen to someone’s critiques, think about what they said, and then decide, screw it, I like that bit the way it is.

You can’t do that on a screenplay.  Well, you can do that some of the time, but not all the time and not to the person running the project.  I’ve had a couple of times when I’ve been told to take out the line of dialogue that I thought was the best in the scene.

There’s nothing wrong, of course, with arguing about it, or putting up a fight if you really believe that the script is taking a dive, but you have to pick your battles, and know that you could well lose them.

Over all, I recommend that people try writing screenplays if they get the opportunity, but go in with your eyes open.

Impatience

My book, Awfully Appetizing, was released in e-format in the middle of June.  Since then, as I may have mentioned on here a couple of times, my book sales have been less than spectacular.  Part of that is because I suck at promotions, I freely admit that.  Part of it is because I have never really been a social butterfly.  I don’t have the network of friends, kind of friends, acquaintances and such that some people do.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but it does make it a little harder to get that big push of sales when you start out.

But one of the big things that I really believe is holding me back is the lack of print books.  A lot of people these days have e-readers, certainly, but one of the exciting things about a friend writing a book, at least to me, is having them autograph it to you.  I love having my own copies of books by my writer friends.

Plus, there are promotional opportunities that only exist when you have print copies.  I was going to do a book giveaway on goodreads, but apparently they only do that with physical copies of the book, which makes a lot of sense.  And I’ve had several times when I talked to people about my new book coming out, but when they expressed interest in it, I had to say, ‘sorry, it’s only available for electronic readers.’

It isn’t my publisher’s fault.  Winlock press, and Monique Happy in particular, have been great about keeping me up to date with what’s happening and when.  But apparently Lightning Source has buggered things up and we’ve ended up pushed back to the end of the queue.  I’m annoyed.

And I’m impatient as hell.

Promotional Project Woes

So, as I’ve mentioned before, my book sales are not exactly where I want them to be at the moment.  My publisher and I discussed a couple of promotional things that I can do, and I’m hoping that as soon as my book becomes available in print, as well as just online, my sales figures will start to rise.  But in thinking over what I can do to draw some attention, both to my book and to myself as an author, I remembered an idea I had a few years ago.

It’s pretty much a perfect fit with my current series, and I while nothing is guaranteed, it at least has the potential of drawing quite a bit of attention.

The downside is that it basically centers around my writing another book.

That’s right, to promote one book, I’m going to need to write another one.  And how do I promote the second book?  I’ve got a few ideas on that front, but i’m going to be playing it all a little close to the vest for right now.  And that isn’t the point of this blog.

The thing that’s giving me trouble at the moment is that writing this new book involves a complete style change for me.  I’ve spent years learning to write a particular way, and now I have to make massive adjustments in how I approach my new book.

There actually isn’t all that much to write.  Where one of my novels will typically be around eighty thousand words, this new project might get up to ten thousand.  But I’m struggling with it more than I do when I’m writing a novel.  With a novel I hit maybe one or two walls in the first half of the book, five or six right in the middle, and one or two as I approach the end.  With what I’m working on now, it feels like every paragraph is its own wall.  I find myself lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, trying to sort through one more line.

In the end I expect it will all be worth it.  Even if this doesn’t work as a promotional tool, it’s a project that is forcing me to practice writing skills I don’t usually use, and I’m a bit believe in that.

But in the here and now, I’m starting to get frustrated.

Thanks for sharing, now please stop

The other day an older relative of mine came up to me and told me that he had an idea for a book.

I smiled politely, listened to the idea, and tried to give him the impression that I appreciated the idea and would certainly keep it in mind for the future.

I’ve already forgotten the idea.

I’m sure that it happens in all of the arts, people coming up and telling you what you should do next, but I honestly think that it’s worse for the storytellers.  Whether you write books, plays, movies, commercials… whatever it is that you do, everybody, an I mean everybody, has at least one idea for that medium that they think is pure gold.

Here’s the thing people: your idea might very well be brilliant!  It might be the greatest story idea that anybody has ever come up with in the history of mankind.  It doesn’t matter.  I don’t want to write your story for you.  In a few select cases, for very close friends or people in the industry, I might be willing to try writing a story with you, but by god, I’m not going to make that journey on my own.

Why?

Because the idea is the easy part!

Yes, you heard me right, the idea is the easy part.  I know you’re skeptical.  You’ve read books based on stupid ideas, you’ve watched movies where the plot is so thin it would fall apart if you blew your nose on it.  There are plenty of terrible ideas that somehow come into the light of day.  Given.

But it’s still the easiest part of the process.

I’ve got plenty of ideas.  I could spend the rest of my life writing the books that are currently sitting in my mental queue.  Okay, maybe not the rest of my life, but well over a decade, trust me on this.

The hard part of telling a story isn’t the idea, it’s bringing the idea to life.  The reason writers go to conferences and read books and join critique groups and hire editors has nothing to do with fixing our ideas or making them better: It’s all about getting what’s in our head onto the page in such a way that somebody else can appreciate it!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that my relative knows that I’m a writer and wants to talk to me about the things that I’m interested in.  I’m happy that when he thinks about books and stories he thinks about me and wants to be included in that part of my life.

But I do rather wish that every time we talked he wasn’t trying to put a new project on my plate.