Getting it Wrong

Anyone who has written for any length of time has a few of these. Stories with a notion and characters you like, with decent plot, decent or better execution (in your humble opinion), also with one teensy problem—no traction. In other words…

…They don’t sell.

It happens. Sometimes you don’t get anywhere because the market for that particular “type” of story didn’t exist at the time. Maybe the market existed when you wrote them but didn’t by the time you were ready to send them out. It happens. Markets are born and die all the time. Editorial tastes can be mercurial. And, as I’ve mentioned before, with patience and perseverance, you can wait it out. I think ten years is my current record on that.

Sometimes, though, the problem isn’t them. It’s you.

These days, of course, you can just forget patience and put the story out yourself by various means: ebook, Patreon reward, whatever. It’s nice to have options. I was thinking of that the other day when I revisited an old story I’d written in the same universe as All the Gates of Hell, one of my favorite books. I think I had some notion of turning the premise into a story series, but it didn’t happen, mostly because this piece failed on the launch pad. I still liked the idea and was considering doing a Kindle short read or something of the sort. So I revisited the story…

…and now I know why it didn’t sell.

A little perspective always helps, and I was too close to this story for too long. It had to sit out of sight and mind long enough for the scales to finally fall from my eyes. Now I could give it a good hard look.

I wasn’t totally wrong. The premise is good, the characters likewise. Most of the problems are structural. The beginning is too slow. There’s way too much backstory in the time allotted, and an infodump just doesn’t cut it. If anything, at 7600 words the piece is too short. It should have been longer, with suitable pacing to make all the bits well-blended and cohesive. No way I was putting it out anywhere in the shape it’s in. Perhaps it can be fixed, but it will require a complete rewrite and expansion and I have too much else on my plate right now with new work. So it’ll have to wait.

I hope it’s more patient than I am.

Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

Pensacola-LighthouseWe took a short trip down to Pensacola, FL. That’s Carol’s hometown, and since there’s a good chance we won’t be back that way for some time, we took a nostalgia/farewell trip. I have a lot of happy memories–and some less so–from Pensacola, mostly due to its association with Carol, but it was home to her for a lot of years. Carol was pleasantly surprised by how much hadn’t changed–her old house was still in use, her grammar school is still there, even some old-school relic tourist motels that have served as landmarks for 50+ years, still in operation. Pensacola-Lighthouse-Keepers QuartersWe took advantage of the chance to visit the Pensacola Lighthouse, located on the Naval Air Station. Which, for the uninitiated, is also the home base for the Blue Angels precision flying team. The guard at the gate warned us about heavy traffic, and we were wondering why that would be the case? Then Carol realized that this was a practice day for the Blue Angels, and that they’d be flying near the lighthouse. We had thought about climbing to the top, but people book a year in advance to be able to watch a Blue Angels practice session from the top of the lighthouse. Must have been a fine sight, as we got a pretty good one just watching from the porch of the Keeper’s quarters. I was able to catch this one on a low pass. 1 Angel-BlueBest I could do with a camera phone. Those guys are fast. Carol grew up with this type of thing as a common occurrence, but for me it was a treat.

We’ve been pretty good vegetarians for a while (Well, Carol better than me), but it was time to eat seafood. Especially mullet. Carol wasn’t going to visit home without a taste of mullet. Sometimes, you just have to eat the fish and be done with it. Until the next time.

Power’s Shadow is still wending its way through the edit process. I’ll post here once I have a release time for the ebook.

Rambling Status Update

Today’s post really is all about me, so fair warning. If you’re not in the mood for narcissist on parade, bail now.

The new Yamada story has gone through a couple of revision passes and was safe to hand over to First Reader. Likewise for the “Voodoo Christmas” story, which turned out well enough that it might be worth trying on places that do seasonal pieces. Regardless, everything gets at least one revision pass because, except for me who has no choice in the matter, nobody sees my first drafts, not even First Reader. They’re generally a mess, since I give myself permission to write awkward transitions, to ramble, to write things out-of-order, whatever it takes to get the story out. In revision, all those permissions are revoked, and the offenders will be ruthlessly hunted down. I’m still in the habit of printing out a hard copy once a story first draft is finished, so if there ever comes a time when anyone cares, they can read them after I’m dead. Maybe.

That catches up the short story projects, at least until First Reader reports back on the Yamada story. Once I’ve attended to that, it’s time to decide what’s next. At some point this year I’d like to get back to work on the sequel to Black Kath’s Daughter. At the end of BKD Marta had only found three Laws of Power, and there are four to go…well, four that she knows about. Up until BKD, all my novels had been stand-alones. The sequel definitely won’t be. While on the surface the only connection between The Long Look and BKD is the setting (500 years later) and the Power called Amaet, there’s more to it which will come out in the third book. Still, you can read BKD without reading  TLL and it’ll make sense. That probably won’t be true with the third. The working title is Power’s Shadow, but is of course subject to change.

Yesterday I got a clear reminder that the best advertising of all is a happy reader championing your work. Writers need champions. Probably because, when we do it ourselves, nobody really believes us. That’s sensible because, sure, what else would we say? Yet we have to do it anyway, since usually we’re the only ones who will. Though it is nice, every now and then, to be able to say “Don’t take MY word for it….”

In the last year I’ve done three signings, which is three more than I usually do. I don’t know if this is a blip or a trend, but time will tell. I’m actually in danger of running out of books. I’m still on track next year for a novel and a short story collection, so that should help. I’m also thinking of doing a print version of one other ebook this year. Just the one, though, so I have to decide which one. Right now I’m leaning toward A Warrior of Dreams. There are a couple of pending reader reactions, so I’ll make up my mind when the votes are in.

That is all.

In Passing

I wasn’t going to mention this here, but it occurred to me that some people out there might be annoyed with me if I didn’t, so here goes. I have a new Kindle single in Amazon’s new KDP Select program, which means in this case that the download is free through Sunday, and free to “borrow” from Amazon for the next 90 days after the free download promotion is over.

A Hint of Evil-US

A Hint of Evil-UK

It’s the first story in a projected series, “Tales of the Divinity Recruitment Taskforce,” and concerns what happens on earth when the War in Heaven “accidentally” spills over into the mortal realm, and I don’t mean spiritually:

“The world is a very changed place. When the Archangel Michael accidentally chased an archdemon onto the physical plane, the War in Heaven spilled over into the human world in a direct and tangible way. Now most nations on earth are ruled by an Ecumenical Council, and Anti-Demon Taskforce agents such as Samuel Donovan fight a guerilla war against demonic incursions. Yet Sam Donovan is far from convinced that the alleged “War in Heaven” is what it seems to be, even as he and his fellow agents struggle to keep humanity from becoming “collateral damage” to the schemes of greater powers.

Matters go from bad to worse when Sam discovers that the Adversary is recruiting earth’s non-aligned spiritual beings, ancient and forgotten gods and goddesses, monsters and immortals, to fight against humanity. The situation then goes from worse to terrible when the Advocate and the Ecumenical Council discover that Sam has the natural gift of detecting evil. Now he and the Angel Deneba are partnered in the newly formed “Divinity Recruitment Taskforce” to track down, assess, and if possible, convince other non-aligned powers to join the war on humanity’s side.

To complicate Sam’s life even further, it turns out that Deneba has a sister, a fallen angel named Aereis, who has also taken an interest in Sam’s gift. Especially after Sam gets his first good look at this fallen angel—and sees no evil in her. Sam still has a job to do, but it’s getting harder and harder to pretend that he knows beyond all doubt that he’s on the right side.”

I will try to keep these to a minimum, I promise.

Ebook Reviewing – Nice Hammer. Too Bad This Isn’t a Nail

Not too long ago I was listening to a podcast where the guest was a well-known critic/reviewer in the sf and fantasy field. I was especially struck by an exchange during the interview where the reviewer mentioned owning a Kindle and how much he was enjoying it. So the host asked him how owning the ebook reader had affected his reviewing habits. To which the reviewer replied that it hadn’t affected them at all, because he didn’t usually review books on the Kindle. There’s a reason for that, of course, and that reason—at least in theory—has nothing to do with being prejudiced against ebooks. Continue reading