I set myself a challenge last night to write three flash fictions* and a novella before Camp NaNoWriMo starts on April 1. It seems like kind of a lot, considering that I'm also deeply into the revision process with Chosen of Azara and planning my Camp project, Book 3 of Daughter of the Wildings. But Dean Wesley Smith, one of my indie writing gurus, encourages writers to produce new words each day, to stay in practice and improve their skills, and to have more stuff to release. I figure he knows what he's talking about and he's got a point, so I'm doing it. Having smaller things to release in between the big novels will keep my writing and book-production skills sharp and getting sharper, and it can only raise my visibility.
So, anyway, how's the challenge going? Good so far. Last night I wrote flash fiction #1, "The Midnight's Brilliance," which clocks in at 1,524 words, and today I wrote "A Familiar Face," short and sweet at 828 words. I've got one more planned, which I'll write tomorrow. Then I'll take a day or two to de-suckify (yes that's a word, I'm a writer and I used it so that means it's a word) all three and then post them here on the site for a while. Eventually they'll go into another collection, but in the meantime they'll be here for free and you can get a peek into how my mind works when I'm writing on a weird prompt in a hurry.
In the meantime, I anticipate finishing Stage 1 of the Chosen of Azara revision next week, and hope to have Stage 2 done by the end of March. I use a four-stage revision process, which I've adapted (or am still adapting, it kind of evolves as I go) from Holly Lisle's How To Revise Your Novel course (which, I'm telling you, if you write and want to publish your writing, either independently or with a publisher, is the best $250--for a 22-week course--you can ever spend). Stage 1 is assessing what I have right now, identifying the problems with the story; Stage 2 is planning the revision based on my notes from Stage 1, Stage 3 is actually marking up the changes in the manuscript, and Stage 4 is typing it all in. This process saves me a lot of revision passes, and gets me a lot deeper into the novel problems with plot, structure, conflict, character development, world-building, etc., than anything else I've tried. Anyway, still hoping for a May release of Chosen, but not ready to make any promises yet.
Now to go do some planning for Book 3 and the Estelend novella. Onward!
*If you're not familiar with the idea behind flash fiction, basically it's very short stories written quickly with a minimum of planning. Just like it sounds.
I'm looking at three weeks between now and the start of Camp NaNoWriMo, and taking Dean Wesley Smith's advice to produce new words every day more to heart, and wanting to produce more short stories to post for free here and then later to package into collections and sell. So I've got ideas for some weird (fantasy/fantasy-ish) super-short/flash fiction, and I'm looking through old notes and story fragments, and what happens? One fragment, just a couple of paragraphs and a few lines of dialogue, decides to morph into a novella set in my Estelend world and loosely connected to Chosen of Azara.
And now I'm going, AAAHHH! what to write! what to write!! There are eighteen days from today to the start of Camp NaNo (excluding Sundays, which I take off from writing) and including today and March 25th, my jury duty day (hopefully I can get some writing done while I'm hanging out in the jury waiting room, and hopefully I don't get rescheduled to sometime in April). At a minimum of a thousand words a day, that's eighteen thousand words. Figure an average of 1500 words for each of my super-short stories, so that's 4500 words, leaves 13,500 words for the novella. Not sure that's quite enough, but if I up my word count to 1500 a day (also very doable) that'll leave me with 22,500 words for the novella, to write before April.
Can I do it?
So I was talking with some people over on the National Novel Writing Month boards about doing Camp NaNoWriMo in April. National Novel Writing Month in November is one of my favoritest things ever, and Camp, usually held in the summer, is an easier-going version. I didn't do Camp last year because I was busy with the How To Revise Your Novel course and with revisions on Urdaisunia. But my schedule's a little more open and flexible right now, with time for both revisions and writing new stuff, so I decided to go for it. Since I just finished the draft of Book 2 of Daughter of the Wildings, I wasn't sure I was ready to start on Book 3 yet, so I was thinking maybe I'd tackle a bunch of short stories or possibly write a fanfic. (In another identity, I'm also a fanfic writer. But that's another post for another time.) Then, right after that, while I was eating lunch and perusing the self-publishing blogs, the back cover blurb for Book 3 of DoW just came to me, all at once. It's really cool, with a great western-type scenario that's very adaptable for fantasy, and builds on where Book 2 leaves off, and gets Silas and Lainie to the next place in the overall series story arc. I have a beginning, and know where I want it to end, and a few ideas for the middle, so I'll be writing Book 3 for Camp NaNoWriMo in April! Maybe this one will be easier than Books 1 and 2 were. I hope.
As I've said before, I wrote Book 1, Beneath the Canyons, back in the summer of 2011. As soon as I finished the book and realized it was going to be a series, Silas and Lainie started bugging me to write more of their story. I've had the very ending of the series in mind ever since then, but there were too many other projects in line ahead of it. So it's really exciting to finally be able to work on it, and to finally be getting some cooperation from my muse (if not always from the characters *gives Silas the Evil Eye*).
In the meantime, I'm still developing some short story ideas, with a goal to write one a week for the next three weeks, and to post them here once they're fit for human consumption.
In other news, through tomorrow (March 9) you can get some great deals from Smashwords on ebooks for Read an EBook Week - including a coupon for 50% off Urdaisunia!
I finished the (very) rough draft of Daughter of the Wildings Book 2 today (three weeks ahead of schedule), and now it's in the revision queue. It was a tough one to write, but there were some very interesting developments, and the plot has thickened for the beginning of Book 3. Silas finally settled down and decided to cooperate. I think he was mad that I wouldn't write the sex scene that he wanted. You may (or may not) have noticed that I'll write an occasional sex scene when it's appropriate to the plot and character development, and nothing too explicit. But what Silas was asking for did not fall into these guidelines.
Silas: Oh, come on, it'll be fun.
Me: No. What do you think this is, 50 Shades of Wizard Bounty Hunters?
But we eventually came to an understanding, and finished off this adventure on a successful note.
(In contrast, Roric, from The Lost Book of Anggird, gives me The Look and says, "I beg your pardon, you want me to do what?" when it's time for one of those scenes. *Sigh* characters, can't live with them, can't knock them over the head and bury them in the back yard. Or... I'm the author, maybe I can *evil laugh*)
Anyway. The major revision of Chosen of Azara is coming right along, and I'll also be done with that ahead of schedule. I'm hoping for a May release but not making any promises yet.
The rest of March is going to be kind of disrupted, with doctor and dentist appointments and jury duty during the last week (unless I get postponed or excused). Instead of jumping right into DoW 3, I'm going to work on some short stories, shooting for one per week. I'll post them here as I write them, and then, a while after that, bundle them into another collection.
In other news, Urdaisunia is now available in the Kobo and iTunes stores. Still waiting on the Sony ebook store, but it should go live there eventually.
Finally, did you know Smashwords distributes to libraries? From the Smashwords FAQ:
Does Smashwords distribute to libraries?
At a time when a lot of the major publishers are price-gouging or outright refusing to sell ebooks to libraries, Smashwords offers a large selection of titles at reasonable prices (most Smashwords authors set their library prices at or below retail price, and some even donate their books). If you work or volunteer at a library, you might look into if your acquisitions department is aware of this option.
As mentioned earlier, I am within shouting distance--probably a few thousand words--of finishing the first draft of Book 2 of the Daughter of the Wildings series. (No title yet; I'm not very good at coming up with titles.) Although I love the characters, the setting, and the whole idea behind this series, this book, like the first, has been kind of a terrifying adventure to write.
There are generally considered to be two basic approaches to writing fiction. "Pantsing" (short for writing by the seat of your pants) means you sit down with maybe just a basic idea and make it up out of nothing as you go along. "Plotting" (also known as "planning") means that you've planned the story out ahead of time, you have an outline of the events of the story and all the who, how, when, what, where, and why figured out before you start writing. This isn't an either/or thing; it's more like a spectrum, ranging from people who say they sit down with nothing more than a title or a character's name in mind and start writing from there, to people who have planned exactly what will happen for every 100 words of story. Most writers will fall somewhere between these two extremes. Which way is better? Neither. It just depends on how the writer's mind works, their comfort level with not knowing ahead of time what they're going to write, and, to an extent, what they're writing. For example, an intricate mystery novel probably requires more advance planning than does a stream-of-consciousness literary novel.
I'm more comfortable plotting. Not in extreme detail, but I do like to have a good idea of what comes next and where things are headed when I sit down to write. I'll start a novel with the beginning, the ending (or at least a general idea of how I want things to turn out) and most of the major and minor events of the story written down on notecards or as bullet points in a document. Things will change from time to time as the story details develop, but generally I know where I am and where I'm going.
But writing the first two books of the Daughter of the Wildings series has been completely different from this. All I had to start them was a basic idea of the first scene or two, and the basic premise. With the first book, I only had a vague idea of what was going to happen next through most of the story and I really had no idea how it was going to end, and the ending completely surprised me--for one thing, Beneath the Canyons was supposed to be a stand-alone novel, but the ending opened up more questions than it answered. Ta-da, instant birth of a series.
Once I had an idea of the general story arc of the whole series, I knew pretty much where Book 2 had to end up. And I had the first scene in mind (which now turns out to be the second scene). Again, I found myself stumbling from scene to scene not knowing what was going to happen next, and finding some surprises along the way. I wrote about some of them in an earlier post--Silas looking at some events and drawing a different and much more logical conclusion than the one I had planned for him to come to, and then the day when he pretended he had no idea what he was doing and then decided he did. (This was when the book almost got titled "Silas meets one of the awful fates from the 'apologizing to your characters for the horrible things you've done to them' thread on the National Novel Writing Month Boards".) Then the biggest surprise of all--when it came time to confront the bad guy, it turned out the bad guy wasn't who I thought it was!
So, a mix of panic with, "Hey, this could be really cool," and I decided it would work. And it does, and the ending is falling into place perfectly now. I don't understand why the books in this series are turning out to be so hard to plan. I don't like that mind-numbing, stomach-wrenching feeling of writing the last paragraph of what I know, and then trying to think of what comes next. But now that I look back over the story, I can see where, in the process of desperately trying to make things up as I lurched from paragraph to paragraph, I've done some really interesting things with the world, the characters' situations, and some plot threads from the first book. So, hooray.
This is why my plan is to have all five books (at least, I think it's going to be five) written before I start revising and releasing them. Since I don't know what's going to happen in the future of the storyline, I need to be able to go back and make adjustments to earlier books to match. But when it's done, you'll be able to start reading the series knowing that it's done and that the story isn't going to go off the rails right in the middle. The going off the rails will have already happened and been dealt with.
On another note, if you like the idea of a mixed-genre western with an unlikely couple as the main characters, I strongly recommend reading Camille Laguire's Mick and Casey stories: Have Gun, Will Play (novel), The Curse of Scattershale Gulch (novelette), and two of the stories in Waiter, There's a Clue in My Soup. Plus she's going to be posting a new Mick and Casey serial in March!
In today's news: A Cure for Nel, and Other Stories is still free at Amazon, through March 5th. This collection contains three stories: "The Peach Tree" and "You Can't Take It With You," which were posted on this site for a while, and a previously unpublished story, "A Cure For Nel," which takes place in the same world as my forthcoming novel Chosen of Azara. A short story collection on your smartphone, tablet, or ereader is a great way to pass the time while you're waiting at the doctor's office or riding the bus, and a free short story collection lets you try out a new writer with no risk but a few minutes of your time.
More free sampling: I'm continuing to post chapters of Urdaisunia, if you've been reading it serial-style here on the site. Watch for two or three new chapters a week, with up to three chapters (not including the prologue and Chapter 1) available at any one time.
Also, I'm within shouting distance (a few thousand words) of finishing the rough draft of Daughter of the Wildings Book 2. But that's a whole other post.
A Cure for Nel, and Other Stories is free at Amazon from March 1 - March 5.
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