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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Brain Dead, But Raring To Go

I left my office Friday night for the last time around 1 AM in the morning. I brought my project to a place where I could logically stop and my successor could easily step in. I packed up my personal belongings and come Monday morning, I'll be moving downstairs to my new spot in the company. It's a huge relief to be starting anew.

I had dinner with a friend a few weeks ago and we were talking about the writing process. She was fascinated by the "voices in your head". She was genuinely interested in the process that I go through to wrangle a story onto the page and it was fun talking about my writing experience. It's hard to explain exactly what it is like to have whole worlds bouncing around in your head populated by characters that have a voice in your head and a story to tell.

Most of my stories are born in dreams. I "wake up" in a story, playing a role in what is going on, and gather all the information I can before the alarm goes off. I have had some really vivid and incredible dreams.

Meanwhile, the characters and story lines continue to jostle about in my head trying to get my attention. UGH! And just when I felt I was getting the new ones under control an old one popped up and demanded a rewrite.

*taps fingers*

I need to get these pests in some sort of order.

I suppose it is better to have them lining up and waiting to be written instead of facing a blank page and having no ideas whatsoever.

Recently, an old story came vividly back into my dreams. It was originally written when I was in my teens. It has been sitting in storage in my office closet for years. But the other night, it returned with such vivid intensity, I woke up crying. I dragged the old manuscript out (I can still feel the bumps on the pages from my old typewriter keys) and looked it over. The story is solid. The writing is decent considering how young I was. The dialog is lacking, but I realized it was because I lacked the maturity to actually do justice to the topic. I sat on the floor in my office with my little dog at my side and read over some parts of it. I was a little embarrassed at first with the dialog, but then I realized it was written when I was 14-16. It deserves a rewrite. It's a solid story and the characters are actually well drawn out. I've added it to the pile of "Things Rhiannon Needs to Write".

It's a growing pile.

It's getting scary.

EEK!

I am getting some of the ideas fluttering around in my head into some sort of weird order. I'm writing down what I can on them so the idea will settle down until I can tackle them. Easier said than done at times, but its helping me get focused.

I thought I knew which novel I was going to write next. Now I'm not sure. BAH!

Oh, well. *sigh*

Stupid Muse. She's trying to make my head explode.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Overwhelmed

Next week I start a brand new job at the company I have worked for the last four and a half years. My division is shutting down and for awhile it looked like I would be facing the unemployment line. Not the best feeling during this economic downturn (gas and food prices have obliterated our budget) and I was not looking forward to the job hunt. Luckily, my bosses wanted to keep me around and when a position opened up in another division, I was offered the job. I, of course, snapped it up.

It has several advantages to my present situation. The most exciting part is I won't be dealing with a certain State agency on a regular basis anymore. Some of the people there are kind and helpful, but the program I have been working with for the last few years has been completely overhauled and ruined and the wtfuckery has reached epic proportions. The annihilation of the program meant it became impossible to implement which resulted in my division in the company being shut down. When you're a governmental consulting firm, you have to be able to provide your clients with direction to good, solid, helpful programs for their small towns; not programs that will eat up resources and basically blow up in their face.

So I'm moving to a new position and I'm very, very excited.

Of course, this means I'm rushing to finish up my present project and train the person taking over what is left of my duties. Though I loved the 3-day Memorial Weekend and it allowed me to rest up, I have lost one day I could have really used to get my stuff wrapped up.

Yeah, I'm stressing.

I haven't been writing as prolifically because of the crush to get things done at the day job. I have been coming home completely drained and falling into bed to sleep until after midnight, get up, putz around, maybe write a little, then pass out again. My only consolation is that it will be over soon.

My writing is definitely second burner until the end of this week and then I hope to get back on track.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Other Gatekeepers

I was recently asked if I have tried to contact agents about my novels in the comments of another post. The answer is absolutely yes.

The first thing I did when I decided to try out traditional publishing was look up the publishing houses I thought my novel might appeal to. Over and over again, under the submission guidelines, it was made clear that without an agent, don't bother trying.

This ran counter to some of the advice of successful authors who said to represent yourself and keep going without an agent. But a whole other set of publishing professionals said that without an agent you're a dead duck.

So, last year, instead of sending out a bazillion submissions to publishing houses, I sent a bazillion submissions to agents (well, maybe not THAT many, but you know what I mean...) Relatively quickly, the form letter rejections came in. "Not what we are looking for," they read. Over and over again.

I actually wasn't bummed out over the whole thing. I expected it because by now I realized that as hard as it is to get published by a major publishing house, its just as hard to find an agent unless you have an in road to one (an author friend refers you, etc). It was rougher on my husband. He was annoyed by every rejection that came in. He had, after all, read my novel and liked it a lot and he doesn't read my genre! My mother and husband took it harder than I did.

I had now read enough about the publishing world to realize it could take eons to make any headway. I was also involved in a writer's group and saw that if you did not master the art of writing a query letter, you were screwed. One of the other writers helped me with my own query letter and when I showed my husband her notes, he was flabbergasted. He was annoyed enough over the fact I spent several months trying to figure out how to summarize my novel in two pages. He watched me begin to agonize over the query with just as much fervor.

When the last rejection letter came in ( I didn't know it was the last, some agents just didn't respond), I didn't care anymore. I had been reading enough blogs of successful writers to understand that the traditional publication route was very long and, at times, soul crushing. Its hard to stand in a bookstore looking at a book full of typos and a plot you've seen a million times on Lifetime that you cannot read past a few sentences without thinking "Mine is better!" and not feel frustrated.

Toss in a very supportive fan base who can't understand why the first publisher you approached didn't throw a million dollars at you to publish the story they love so much and you can imagine my feelings.

As I researched endlessly on the world of traditional publishing and read a ton of contradicting articles about how to get published, my husband read up on independent publishing by using the publish on demand technology.

One day, he walked up to me and said, "I think you should self publish your books and take back control."

And here I am, declaring myself an independent author, and striking out on my own. The fans are happy their book is coming out and I'm happy to be back in creative control.

Of course, I have a few things to my advantage. I know several kick ass artists to do my cover. I know a former professional editor. My husband is a tech geek. I have fans waiting for the novel.

As the World Dies will not be a roughshod novel when it comes out. It's my responsibility as an Independent Writer to make sure it is the best possible product.

I owe it to myself and my fans.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Good Solid Endings

Last week was a rough one. I won't go into details, because there actually aren't any. It was just one of those weeks that seems unusually hard for no real particular reason, but it messes up your sleep, your eating, and your brain power.

This week will be better. Or else!

But the weekend brought some good times going out and about with my husband as we shopped for our new HDTV, hung out with friends, and just spent quality time together. I got a dragon henna tattoo down at Secret Oktober in South Austin. Wendy specializes in henna tattoos and goth dreadfalls and she was doing a special event at the store. I love her work on the dreadfalls and I'm already jonesing for a new pair. They were amazing! She also does makeup for the opera here in Austin and has done some really cool special effects makeup as well. You can check out her site here.

Along with our HDTV, we picked up a copy of the Special Edition of The Mist. It is my all time favorite Stephen King short story and I've been dying to see this movie for ages. We missed it in the theater, so we decided it would be our first movie to watch on our HDTV. My husband fixed up our new theater system and we snuggled up on our leather sofa to watch the movie.

I loved it.

I totally loved everything about it. It looked so much how I had imagined it from Stephen King's descriptions it was unbelievable. The casting was spot on and it was a truly kick ass horror film. The CGI was a little disappointing at times, but I could easily overlook it because the design of the monsters was just so terrifying. The one scene I could not imagine on film was done so well it evoked the same feeling of awe that I felt when I read the short story.

As for the ending...

What a freaking perfect ending. It was brutal in its perfection and just awesome. In fact, I cried. It was just that well done. Amazing.

What was even better...the husband and I checked out the black and white version the next day. On the Special Edition DVD you can watch the color version or the black and white. I honestly prefer the black and white. It wiped out my disappointment in the CGI completely. In fact, in black and white, the monsters scared me even more! The blood somehow seemed more brutal. It was great. Watch the black and white version if you can. It's spectacular.

After the movie, Corey and I talked about the ending and how Darabont had taken one step further than King had in the actual short story. It has been the gripe of many people I know that Stephen King can't end a story to save his life. In fact, one friend is still mad at him for the ending of The Dark Tower.

Ending a story can sometimes be the most difficult part of the process other than starting. An ending should be something that is satisfactory to the reader/viewer and fit naturally into the framework of the story and the world that has been developed. A good ending doesn't mean you have to wrap up all the threads and clearly resolve everything that happened in the plot to be a good ending. It just has to work with the story that is being told. The Thing has an amazing ending. The two men facing each other as the base burns to the ground and the snow swirls around them as they wait to see if either one of them is infected is just awesome. Event Horizon is another film that had a pitch perfect ending that leaves you wondering, but fits all that has come before.

The ending to the film version of The Mist is another ending that fits perfectly with the events leading up to it. After the horrors seen by the survivors, the choice they make is understandable. It is not a Hollywood happy ending and it was great.

But, I also love happy endings. I love it when a story reaches a good solid ending that has been slowly blossoming over the course of the story. I just accidentally watched the series finale of Moonlight online. As I watched the episode, I had no idea that this was THE LAST EPISODE (since CBS sux and canceled the show). I thought it was wrapping up next week for some reason. At the end of the episode, our hero and heroine seem to finally decide a vampire and mortal cannot be together and its heart wrenching. In fact, I felt quite surly at the thought of the last episode would be about them being estranged. And then, low and behold, the writers were not jerks. And our beloved vampire turned around and won his lady's heart. And I almost stood up at my desk and cheered. When the door to the apartment closed on their passionate kiss and I was grinning. The two characters had been building up to that moment all season long.

I quickly checked to see if there was a previews for the season finale next week, then realized I was wrong. I had just watched the season finale. I felt an enormous sense of relief immediately. Despite cancellation, the show had a solid ending that I could embrace and be happy about.

Frankly, a few years back I almost gave up on network serials because I was tired of the freshman shows ending on a cliffhanger that would never be resolved. Invasion, Surface, and Jericho's cancellations really pissed me off. At least Jericho was able to come back and wrap things up, but over the years many serials have been left hanging when the ax descended. I still can't figure out why the networks don't let them know about their cancellation in time for them to wrap things up for the viewers.

My whole point of this post (and there is one) is that a good ending is what a viewer/reader deserves. It is up to the writer to find that pitch perfect ending that suits the story. Whether its a gut wrenching ending like in The Mist or the perfect kiss between a vampire and a mortal like in Moonlight, an ending should satisfy.

I have a few short stories I've never been able to finish. I think I realize why now. I haven't found that perfect ending yet.

I think its time to start digging for some.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Creativity Overload....UGH!!!!

I think my brain is trying to kill me.

Seriously...

It is as if some sort of dam has burst somewhere in my imagination and ideas for stories and characters are flooding my every waking moment. Which is not always a good thing when I have a day job, husband, and life to attend to beyond my writing.

The funny thing about this overflow: I'm not writing.

It's too much. I'm having trouble with focus and getting my head in gear.

Ugh!

I did get some original stuff down on Friday night, but then I realized, that if I kept going, I'd be writing the beginning of a new novel. That idea scared me, so I saved and logged off. That hasn't kept the characters and scenarios from haunting my thoughts. Along with at least two other viable story plots and characters.

*grumbles*

I'm trying to sort out how to get refocused and where to direct my energies. I may have to turn out a "short" summary for the one story that seems foremost in my mind just so I can satisfy that muse and get to the ones lined up behind it.

Meanwhile, I've been cruising the blog sphere and soaking up information on the publishing world. What a confusing, conflicting, bizzarro place! I'm still watching the traditional publishing news, but I have found several good resources for Independent Authors and I've been spending lots of time there. To try and pacify the muses, I'm hoping to use The Novel Notebook that was put together by Lynn Viehl to get at least the information that's in my head down in a cohesive manner. I may not have all the answers to her notebook, but at least I can put down what I can.

The website will probably go live this weekend. We postponed it while I figured out exactly what I wanted on it. I've been swinging all over the place with some of my ideas. My husband has had to guide me toward some sort of sanity. Not always an easy thing when it comes to me.

I did split the last two novels of As The World Dies apart this weekend. The third books is the longest, which I expected, and it covers a lot of ground. As I was formatting it, I couldn't help but read a few parts and it is definitely the darkest of the three books.

The second book is "lighter" in some regards. It definitely shows the building of the new world and the work of the survivors on their fortifications. I took the time to read a bit about Katie and Travis and their relationship and I was really happy about how that turned out. Those two characters were my favorites and I loved how they evolved. I do feel I missed some opportunities in this part of the trilogy and since its the shortest of the three books so far, I am happy I now have the chance to flesh a few things out.

The As The World Dies Untold Tale of Eric was very popular with a lot of the original (and new) readers and it will be fun to integrate characters from that story into the framework of the novels. Eric is in the original novels, but he got swept to the side during the online draft.

In final news, I had to switch artists for the cover. I was disappointed that my first pick was unable to do the cover, but the artist that is coming on board is amazing. I think it will work out very well. Once the cover is done, I'll post it here.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Vampires Arise

The last few years I have been all tied up with the zombie hordes. They've been damn annoying, too. I absolutely despise zombies and they have a really good way of wrecking a good dream when they show up and start eating everyone. I hate it when that happens. But I've been writing about the cannibalistic dead pretty heavily for awhile now and if I don't write I get "stopped up" and the zombies run amok in my dreams until I wrestle them down onto paper.

In other words, my mind doesn't let me rest until the story is done.

But my first, true love, is the vampire. The bloodsucking undead have terrified and fascinated me for years. I absolutely feared them and nothing my mother or anyone else said could convince me that they were not real. I'm not even sure where I first heard about Dracula, but I begged my Mom relentlessly to let me see the old black and white film when it showed on TV. I think I was around six. She finally gave in. The next morning she found me curled up on my sleeping bag outside her bedroom door with a towel wrapped around my neck.

In fact, for years, it was part of my nightly ritual to tuck my covers up around my neck securely. Now I was just a kid, so I really didn't think about the fact that Dracula or any of his minions could just pull down the covers and have a nice hearty drink.

Of course, what I fear is what I am drawn to it seems. I would watch Hammer films as a kid with a pillow over my face, peeking around the edges, and then screaming at the slightest hint of blood. I finally read a vampire novel when I was a teenager. It was like nothing I had ever read before. It was Anne Rice's The Vampire Lestat . I had a healthy diet of Agatha Christie, Victoria Holt, science fiction and classic literature novels before I borrowed that book. I read it in one night and it literally made me sick to my stomach. I just remember I felt like I was drowning in darkness and I felt queasy. Funny how life works out...considering I'm Goth and a horror novelist!

I avoided vampire novels like the plague for awhile, but finally sat down and read Bram Stoker's Dracula and I was smitten. Since I love Victorian Gothic Literature, I read the old classics first and worked my way up to modern times. I was reluctant to pick up Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, but I finally read it and loved it. Though I read all the books that followed up to the novel about Armand, the first in the series held the most magic for me.

The state of vampire novels today actually makes me quite sad. I do love the urban fantasy of the Sookie Stackhouse and Rachel Morgan novels, but the bloodsuckers never quite feel like "real" vampires. I'm not sure what it is, but something just feels like its missing. Most of the other vampire novels are stuck in the paranormal romance genre and I have a rough time imagining a vampire looking like a Fabio clone. I have tried to read a few of these series because I was desperate for a good vampire read. I threw one book across the room and just gave up.

My own vampire stories are rather diverse. My favorite is about Lady Glynis Wright, an English aristocrat who longs for an indecent life as Lord Byron's lover, only to end up the Bride of a powerful vampire. My great love for Victorian literature definitely influenced that novel and its rich in Gothic imagery. The heroine, though, is just great fun and I adore her. She's a bit wily and always contrary. I recently renamed the and I hope to release it early next year.

The second vampire novel is about a modern day girl in East Texas who starts off the story buried in the forest. That vampire novel is very Texan, and very modern, but keeps to the traditional vampire lore. One of the things that haunts the character named Amaliya throughout the story is that she has no reflection and she has to go to great lengths to hide this from others while dealing with it emotionally. Since there is necromancy, zombies and vampires in this novel, I see it coming out after the zombie trilogy.

I'm not saying that my vampire novels are greater than anything else out there, but I am aware they are different. Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I like my vampires to be something dangerous and not tame. Creatures that aren't swayed by a beautiful virginal girl's undying love or seeking their long lost soulmate. I adore Glynis because I would be afraid of her if I met her. Despite her courtly manner, she is dangerous. She is a passionate creature that is also a killer. The same with Amaliya. They are both creatures of instinct and great power.

After the zombie trilogy is out, I will be turning my attention to both these novels. The vampire stories I posted on Scribd got my vampire muses stirring around in my head and I have at least one unfinished vampire story that is begging to be finished.

I think posting the vampire stories on Scribd yesterday reminded me that yes I like my zombie tales, but I also write about much more than just the shambling, mindless dead. The beautiful undead with the wickedly sharp teeth and jewel eyes are also lingering in my imagination.

Maybe its just time to look back at what scared me first...and most.

Zombies, Vampires, Genetically Altered Rats and Robots.

I'm a fan of a blog called Paperback Writer. Lynn Viehl is a very prolific writer and I am in awe of the amount of work she puts out every year. I'm not necessarily a fan of her genre, but since I found her blog and found her to be so entertaining, I do plan on picking up her science fiction work. I enjoy reading her advice on the writing process and though I have decided to be an Independent Self-Published Author, her insight on the publishing world is fascinating. Reading about how she does not have control over the titles to her books or the covers made me grateful that I have creative control over what I will be presenting to my readers.

One of the things my husband and I had discussed at the beginning of this endeavor was that we wanted to have free material online for fans to read. We're big believers in the new media and have a lot of respect for Trent Reznor and his recent stand against the big corporations' stranglehold on the creative process. Though I would like to make enough money from my writing to one day be able to stay home and only write, I'm aware of the fact this will take some time and my readership needs to grow. Presenting free works online is a good solid way to bring awareness to my writing and to also give back to the fans who have supported me the last two years with their encouraging words.

While visiting the Lynn's blog, I noticed she had free short stories, writing guides, and short novels for free online at Scribd. I've been slowly reading through these and enjoying them very much. And they are doing their job in that I am now aware that 1) she exists as a writer 2) I enjoy her writing style 3) I want to pick up her books. As I was prowling around Scribd, I realized this was the perfect way to post the works I had wanted to give out free to the public and possibly garner awareness that 1) I am out here 2) I'm a good writer 3) maybe someone will pick up my books.

Therefore, I have now uploaded three vampire tales, one robot tale, and my latest zombie novella. Anyone interested in my writing can visit my Scribd page here. Some of the stories have had a long shelf life on my hard drive and I'm very glad to finally get them out to the general public.

One of the stories, Vengeance, was actually well received by an editor who actually turned it down for her magazine. It was too violent, but she took the time to tell me she did like the story, especially its ending. Maybe it was too controversial with the idea of a battered wife getting her revenge against her abuser from beyond the grave, but I still love the story and it felt great to get it up onto Scribd.

Another one, Flesh and Circuits, was originally written for a robot anthology. I mucked up the original premise trying to get it to fit the guidelines and the editor rejected it. Though I agreed the horror element did not belong, he made quite a few suggestions for the story that did not feel right to me. In fact, my husband was livid over the proposed edits. "That's not your story," he said to me. I considered changing my story completely to try and satisfy the editor, but realized I liked my story as it was. I had no desire to eliminate one character altogether, change the basic plot or throw out the "happy" ending. This was during a time where I was dying to get my foot in the door in the publishing world and it was a rough choice to make. But in the end, I loved my story as it was and was determined to keep it that way. Now you can read the original version on Scribd.

Another short, The Aspect of her Eyes, came to me one night and I could not stop writing until it was done. It is a darkly romantic piece and I really loved the way it flowed. The narrator of the piece is a servant of a master vampire and he/she (it is never clarified which sex the narrator is) observes the great eternal love the vampire has for his bride. It's a story that was very well received by my friends who love the vampire genre and they encouraged me to try and get it published. When I submitted it to a magazine that specializes in the genre, the editors never answered. I was more than glad to dig it out and put it up on Scribd.

The Memoirs of Moniki the Great was a short that I loved writing, but when I got done I had no idea what to do with it. I couldn't even figure out what market it belonged to. But its a fun yet touching story and I wanted to share it. After posting it today, I feel inclined to do a follow up called Moniki and Monsieur Rat versus the Nazis.

The last story I posted today is actually a novella. It is one of the As the World Dies: Untold Tales. It's recent appearance on the forums was very well received, so I thought I would tidy it up a little and post it for the Scribd readers. Also, anyone who enjoyed the story when it was on the other forums can download a complete copy of it on Scribd.

I have some uncompleted short stores tucked away on my computer that I now feel the inclination to finish. At one point I had tried to write short stories to try and pry the door open to the publishing world. The problem was that my short stories were not what magazines or anthologies were looking for. It's rough to break in when the gatekeepers have predetermined concepts of what they want.

I hope to post a fantasy short called Dragons in her Eyes and a vampire short called The Two Mothers in the next few days. I have a few other short stories and novella ideas bouncing around in my head, so those may be posted in the future as well.

I hope you enjoy my works. Please drop me a line and let me know. I always love hearing from the readers.




Monday, May 5, 2008

More Proof that Trent Reznor is a gOD!

I woke up the other morning to find my very groggy husband about to go to bed. He had stayed up all night to make sure he snagged the new Nine Inch Nails cd that Trent Reznor put online for FREE. He downloaded the best quality version off the Torrents and I was thrilled to load the new album The Slip onto my mp3 player. I kissed him goodbye and dashed off to work.

The news that NIN had put out a new album that Trent said was "on him" was all over the music news and the boards were filled with ecstatic fans exclaiming their delight with the new album. I was almost bouncing off the walls with my own excitement.


Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails in San Antonio (Photo: Me with my crappy cellphone)


I am a die hard fan. I have mad love for Trent Reznor and his creation Nine Inch Nails. When I was struggling with dealing with the emotional fallout on a childhood I would not wish on my worst enemy, his music assured me I was not alone in my desolation. If anything, his music (not necessarily his lyrics) was reflective of my own feelings. I freaking loved his music and his music saved me. Add into the mix the fact one of my novels was born when I fell asleep listening to The Downward Spiral and that pretty much gives Trent Reznor god-like status in my life. If I ever met the man, I think I'd blurt out something stupid like "You saved me" then do something equally dumb like hug him or burst into tears or both.

Plus, lets admit it, the man is beautiful! I like to kid my husband that Trent is my future second husband (or is that Christian Bale). But the man could look like Iggy Pop and I'd still adore him for his incredible music.

As I read through all the comments, news articles and Trent's simple message to his fans that this one was on him, it struck me how much he is already changing the music industry. By giving away his amazing music for free, he is creating tons of good will with his fans and drawing in new ones. I'm dying to see him when he goes on tour (I hope he comes my way on the second leg of the tour).

But once more he has inspired me when it comes to my writing. This time its not a vivid scene seeping into my dreams that gives birth to a novel, but the confirmation that independence from the gatekeepers looking at the bottom line is a good thing for any artist.

I think the reality of this endeavor is continuing to sink in. The absolute freedom of choice and the personal responsibility that comes with being an Independent Author is just now fully gripping me and shaking me awake. I admit to a very passive daydream in the past of sending my novel out, getting it published and sitting back and letting the publisher do all the work. This was supposedly the norm, but now I see it is not what I want.

It is not what I need.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Research! Research! Research!

Bloody hell....I'm exhausted.

It's been one of those ultra-busy weekends where I did a lot of socializing and dashing about and not much along the lines of writing. I know I needed to get out and be a social beast, but I have to admit feeling a wee bit guilty about neglecting my "other" job.

Of course, I'm talking about writing and now self-publishing.

Writing used to be my "other job" all by its little lonesome. It was my "other job" I could neglect because I was busy with the real job or just living my life. But when I became very serious about it last year, I did a lot of research on how to be more productive in my writing and turn out a damn good book. I felt I elevated myself to the next level as a writer and I am proud of the work I produced last year. My "other job" really did become another job!

Now that I have fully come to understand exactly what publishing and the gatekeepers are all about, I have decided to self-publish my work instead of waiting around for years hoping that someone in the publishing business is actually interested in a well-written horror novel about zombies. Which means self-publishing has now become my other "other job". How's that for a tongue twister?

I admit I now have a big ol' soft spot for Cliff Burns. He's a damn good writer and I love his rants. I love them because they are honest and from his gut. I love a straight talker. My husband is one of those people. When he's passionate about something, by God, you're gonna hear about it. So Cliff Burns was the first self-published writer to catch my eye, but I've now found the blogs and websites of quite a few "indie authors" that have a wealth of information. It's not just their commentary on the gatekeepers of the publishing world, but the sharing of their own experiences with the traditional publishing world and self-publishing that I find encouraging and educational.

Here are two of the blogs I've been reading the last few days:
http://mickrooney.blogspot.com/
http://aprillhamilton.blogspot.com/

Both authors have very interesting tales to tell and share a lot of information. Mick Rooney is posting about his experience using Lulu.com to publish his novel and shares his knowledge of how to format your own novel and how to submit it to Lulu. April Hamilton's blog has a lot of great links and she has put together what she calls her Indie Author Guides. I am just starting to review her guides and so far they are quite informative.

The more research I do, the more I realize I am part of a new movement. The new media has swung open an unknown door to countless writers that have GREAT ideas, can write a GOOD story, but do NOT fit the preconceived notions of the publishing world. I feel excited to be one of the indie authors that will hopefully pave the way for others.

There will definitely be a difference between people who can't write, turn out horrible work, and throw it out there in a sloppy format (I've seen these) and those determined to put out the best work possible.

I am determined to put out the best work possible.

And one more thing...

I'm not going to bother querying the traditional publishers. I realized that this would be a waste of my time and slow me down. I need to concentrate on what I am doing now to get my writing out there to my fans.

As for the future....who knows?

Anyway, I'm exhausted and need to sleep soon.

A new story is up on fanfiction.net for people to read. It is a rough draft, but its a good story. It's about two of the more popular minor characters from As The World Dies: Ken, the resident cute gay boy and his best friend, Lenore. I've had one reader express her discomfort with Ken being gay, but I have a ton of great gay friends and they will have representation in my books. I love people in all their shapes, colors, sizes, sexual orientation, religious affiliations..etc. The world is full of diverse people and my stories will be too.

Meanwhile, I'm happily formatting As The World Dies and getting ready to start the revisions on the second book in the trilogy.

It's fun to be an independent self-publishing author of zombie novels.

Friday, May 2, 2008

I Am Not Pulling a George Lucas! I Swear!

I had a comment to my last post that was really quite sweet. I appreciate hearing from fans that loved As The World Dies. It's very encouraging to have that kind of support when doing something as crazy (or not so crazy) as self-publishing. Knowing that there are fans out there dying for this story in novel form is the major reason I chose to do this.

But the question was asked (as it has been by others) as to how the story was being changed. From Glenn's comment "The question I have, are you going to change much of the story when you do self publish? Just curious. Personally (and of course you're the author and know what you want) I think the story is EXCELLENT and really doesn't require much changing."

I have to admit that portion made me giddy.

As The World Dies has several things happening to it. Let me explain.

First, the original online story ended up being well over a 1,000 pages long and around 300,000 words. In other words, it was one massive huge gigantic enormous wowzer of a tome. I had been considering printing it out, but when I realized how massive it was I decided it was time to figure out how to manage it. As I was looking through the story, I realized there were three naturally occurring "endings". In fact, during the writing of the story twice fans thought the story was over when it was actually not. So I chopped up the book into three sections.

Upon rereading the story, I realized that scenes I thought were in the story, actually were not. These were actually important scenes that gave further depth to the characters and I was bummed when they were not there. But I have to give myself a break since I was writing on the road and sometimes had no Internet connection to double check what I had previously written on the forum. At that time, I never imagined I would make As The World Dies into a novel, let alone a trilogy. If I had, I may have taken greater measures to not let anything fall through the cracks plot wise or with character development. In the new version, these scenes are included. I am not taking anything out of the story or removing any characters.

It's not until the third book that readers of the original will see any major scenes added. When I wrote what was to be the last novel in the trilogy, I admit, I was rushing to be done. I had a lot of negative things happening in my life at that time and the darkest part of the series does come in the final book. I deliberately left out a huge, dramatic event in Jenni's story because I just didn't want to go there with her. Yet, it was an important part to her development. It will be restored in this version.

Also, someone who was supposed to die (and I let him/her live) was left alive because I just didn't feel like killing anymore characters. I broke my sacred rule of "if they die on the movie screen in my head, they die in the book". I was just emotionally wrung out at that point and didn't want to do it. This time around they are going to die. And I ain't telling who it is.

Finally, the book is being edited for spelling, grammar, etc. I am also doing research on things I glossed over before.

So what does the revision actually mean? A tighter, better written story. Nothing is coming out, but things are going in. Things that make SENSE. None of that Han Solo shoots second in the revised version of Star Wars.

'Cause, as you long time fans know, Jenni ALWAYS shoots first.