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Archive for the ‘Novel Plans’ Category

Link SMASH!

I have website!

My official Annie Bellet website is now live.  There are still some tweaks happening, and content will be added, but the basics are in place (including an awesome header image by my friend Greg).  Go HERE to visit.

The official Pyrrh Project website (my soon to be here e-pub series put out through Doomed Muse press) is also live.  There isn’t much content yet, but it’s being tweaked and produced and there will be more stuff added to that site as well over the coming months.  But the publication schedule is up, at least.  Go HERE and bookmark it so you don’t miss any announcements/freebies etc.

That’s that for now.

(More) Things I Learned about Novels

The novel is finished.  It’s the third one I’ve written (well, that I count, because the early attempts were just that…attempts).

This novel kicked my ass.  I don’t think I’ve ever found a writing project to be so difficult before.  But I learned some valuable lessons.

1) In the future when choosing to write a novel in a genre I’ve never so much as tried writing a short story in, allow more time than I think I’ll need.  A lot more.  Like twice as much or better.  This will be very important to keep in mind if I’m ever under contract, because I’ll need to allow for a further out deadline than I might otherwise.

2) Just because a book has a lot going on and multiple points of view doesn’t mean it will be long.  I figured that once I added a third semi-major view-point character that I’d be good on the length problem.  No the case (though closer than the book would have come otherwise).

3) Fast pacing doesn’t mean skipping description.  I think I also finally started to grasp the idea that “setting is character opinion” better in this book, so even if the rest of it is a giant fail, I got to practice pacing and setting.

4) It doesn’t have to be good, because frankly, in the middle of a book, I don’t even know what good is anyway.  All I can see is the thousands of words standing in the way of finishing and the giant mess that might be on the page behind me.  Done is good.  Done is my new definition of good.

So.  That’s over.  Now, if my brain will stop trying to write sequels, I’m going back to short fiction and working on the e-book project until the end of the year.  I miss short fiction.  Being able to begin and end something in a single session sounds like heaven right now.  And I’ve got five (yes…five! I’m so behind on admin work) stories that need to go out to markets.

As for the finished book, I have no idea.  It’s being workshopped this next weekend and the query will go out to editors.  I’ve given it to a couple first readers as well.  Whenever they get back to me is when I’ll drag it out into daylight again and see about adding enough words (5-7k should do it) to make it commercially viable.  Unless it gets a full request before then, in which case I’ll go into panic mode and do whatever needs doing at that point.

So… The Eeeevolution

No, this post isn’t about evolution.  It doesn’t matter what I think about evolution anyway because I choose to believe in the Flat Earth theory, which has hot light and cold light and an anti-moon and… (I’m kidding here. Seriously. But google Flat Earth Society if you really really really have to).

This post is about the e-book revolution or whatever you want to call it and some of my history/thoughts at the moment on the whole thing.

About a year and a half ago I decided that this writing thing was for me and that I should give it a real go.  I found a blog called A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing by an author named JA Konrath.  It kind of blew my mind in many ways for many reasons.  Relevant to this particular topic is that Konrath is currently making a very cushy living doing e-books (he’s also traditionally published) and is very candid about his path and where he’s at.

Back then I figured that self publishing was still pretty much the same as vanity publishing and not really an option for what I wanted.  That’s changed, clearly.  I decided to keep reading everything I could find about ebooks and to follow Konrath’s posts and the comments (more and more e-authors post good comments on his posts, and comments online can be gold.  Except on you-tube, and sometimes even then).

Konrath posits that all you need for success as an ebook author are four basic things (and I’m way paraphrasing from memory, so forgive any inaccuracies, they are mine and not Konrath’s):  1) a good book 2) a good cover 3) a good blurb 4)  a low price point (he recommends, I believe, under 5 dollars).  I don’t think being traditionally published hurts, but he does have an interesting point.

About six months ago, I decided that I would get my feet wet with ebooks in a big way as soon as I fulfilled a couple of conditions.  The first was to sell at least two short stories and be getting more personal than form rejections.  The second was to have a couple more novels for traditional publishing written and submitted.

I set the first condition because that is where I felt my writing would need to be, ie at a level that has proven it can sell, before I would be comfortable with trying to achieve tenant one of the checklist (write a good book).  I set the second condition because a) writing is practice and having a few books written before I write more books is always good and b) I wanted to make sure I wasn’t taking away too much time from other parts of my business plan.

I have fulfilled condition one and will have soon fulfilled condition two.  Which means that starting early next year, I’ll be going ahead with operation e-book experiment in which I plan to put Konrath’s theory to the test.  The publishing world is changing, there’s no doubt about that.   This might be paper book nostalgia talking, but I lean toward trad publishing doing all right in the end and sticking around.  I don’t think the big publishers are going anywhere anytime soon.  But e-books aren’t going to either, and I see really no way the author who stays on top of this stuff can lose.

Look at the porn industry (stay with me now…).  The internet caused a huge shake-up in porn. Huge.  The giant piles of money turned into more disparate piles of money because suddenly everyone with a camera could produce and distribute porn.  Sound familiar? But there is still porn. And still money to be made in porn, lots of money.  Even for amateurs.   I look at publishing the same way*.  Things are going to change, but books won’t go away.  The author provides the product and as long as people want to read, there will be demand for what I do for a living.

So basically, conditions fulfilled, I’m jumping on the e-train.  Stay tuned for a post about the specifics in another month or two (as soon as I have some cover art for a preview, perhaps?).  I think the future for authors lies somewhere in the happy middle between trad and indy.  They are both ways to make money, to find readers and connect with an audience.  Each has advantages and disadvantages, and I think there is, in the end, a way to get a bit of the best of both worlds.

*I just know that somehow I’m going to get flack about this porn/publishing analogy. Sigh.

Deadline!

Well, today (the 10th) has passed me by.  And no, the novel is not done.  It’s close, but not quite there.  Oops.

However, I think I know what factors have gone into my total fail to finish on time (mind you, I have some leeway, I set my deadline a little ahead of the actual doomsday because I always try to factor in life things).

First and foremost, a lack of focus.  I’ve actually written quite a few words in the last month (need to update my progress meters, I’ll get around to it), but on multiple projects instead of just focusing down one project at a time.  I switched which novel I wanted to do and lost about a week of productivity before I realized that I didn’t have the time I needed to write that novel.  I could really use that week back (if I’d stayed with the current novel, I’d be done!).  So I’ve learned my lesson there about multiple projects.

Second, writing in a wholly new genre involves a learning curve and the work definitely goes more slowly.  I’ve been working very hard on getting a thriller pace and character milieu and all the other things that come with writing a book like this.  It’s been slower going and a lot of second-guessing and pep talks to myself these last few months.  Didn’t plan on that. But hey, now I know.

Third, I’m sick.  First was migraines, then they left a nasty cold in their wake.  It sucks. Writing while my head is a fog from drugs or stuffiness or fever is lame.  I’m pushing through because I have to, but it ain’t fun and I’m making mistakes in the manuscript.  Caught one today where I’d changed a character’s name mid-book.  Yay for find/replace.

So yeah, /end whine.  I will finish this novel sometime this week.  And then my Q4 entry for WotF which I haven’t even really thought much about.  Then… well, I’ll tackle that once I hit Sept 30th.  Until then, the novel and my Q4 entry are my focus.  That’s what is up with me.  Getting toward the wire, time to work.

(In happy news, I got the proof for my Contrary Magazine story, and that was pretty cool. It’ll be up soon!)

Another Quickie Post, Another Sale

I’m deep in the middle of “oh god oh god we’re all gonna die (before I finish this novel)” land, so this will be a quick post.

First, I sold another story.  My story “Insect Effect” will appear in the next issue of Contrary Magazine.  Does that title sound familiar? It should, because I put it up on Kindle.  See, I somehow mis-marked my submissions records and had the story listed as rejected.  Totally my fault.  Fortunately, the folks at Contrary were kind enough to overlook that (the story is down now, and won’t be available again except at the magazine until after the contracted date).  But it sure has taught me a lesson in double checking everything before doing anything that might compromise a sale.  Fortunately this time I don’t have to pay for my mistake and my story still gets published by an awesome ‘zine.  (They have some very odd, surreal, and beautiful stories, I’m happy that my odd and surreal story gets to be among them).

Well, my Friday novel deadline is looming tall.  Time to drink another monster, stab the short story plot demons in my head (seriously, my brain wants to go back to short fiction. It keeps trying to escape) and go right back to the novel.  I’m almost through the swampy middle and into the home stretch.  Writing a thriller has been different and more challenging than either of my other novels to date, but I think I’m learning a ton doing this, and hopefully will have a kick-ass book at the end.  But first… I gotta get to the end.

Getting There

Had a rough patch or three in the last couple weeks with my crazy novel project, but I’m in the home stretch on one novel at least.  I had set it aside to work on the one I really wanted to workshop, but realized after a few thousand words that TVMoSS is going to be a lot more complex as a novel than I originally thought.  While I think I could probably still write it (at least a passable for workshop draft of it) in a couple weeks, I’m not sure I want to.

So I switched back to my thriller.  And hit the great swampy middle.  The last novel I wrote (my second ever) I took an eight month break in that swampy middle.  And I swore never again.  No more breaks.  But the middle is still not fun.  There comes a time when I’m writing and I can’t tell if what is falling out onto the page makes any sense at all.  I was so worried about this novel never making it to 80k words, then I solved a problem and added a POV.  Which is great for adding words, but suddenly I had a character with a whole storyline show up a third of the way into the book.  Is this done?I wondered, and can this work? Am I screwing it all up?

I don’t know. I still don’t know.  So I guess in the end I am glad I’m taking this book to the workshop.  DWS will tell me if he thinks it is broken.  And the others will all let me know if they’d even want to read past the first 50 pages.  So we’ll see. But it’ll be done at least. And I’ll have written my first thriller ever.  I keep wanting to have a character fireball something or whip out a sword or teleport.  I miss you, speculative fiction! I also miss short stories. So very much. I haven’t written a short story in like two months.  I will soon. After Sept. 10th.  I’ve still got WotF to win, right? *grin*

These are the days, however, when I’m glad I have a super supportive spouse.  He went on a long walk with me this afternoon and I told him all about my detective (the POV I’m working into the story).  My husband is psyched to read this novel now, when he was lukewarm about it in the beginning.  His excitement helps me.  He thinks the story sounds better, more complex than it originally did.  He loves  the idea of the character and the motivations behind him.

As writers, we are so often alone.  No one can write for us.  It just can’t be done. If someone is writing for you, then they are the writer.  Bouncing ideas off people is good, but at the end (or beginning) of the day, we just have to sit down and do the work.  All on our own.  And what we do is subjective.  We can’t ever know if it’s really any good, because “good” varies with the subject offering the opinion.  But when I say “hey, listen to this idea” or “hey, does this work, do you think?” to a responsive, interested ear (like my husband), it helps with the isolation and quell that feeling of insanely typing away into the dark nothing.

So even though I have to wade into the swamp each day by myself and try to kill a middle, I’m not truly alone.  I’m fortified by all the people that support me, and by the brave souls who have gone before and those who are wading into their own swamps alongside me.  We’ll slog through.  And we’ll get there.

Back to the swamp now.  I’ve got a novel to slay.

Overdrive! Progress Meter!

Hey, I solved a problem with my novel (the first one in the doom writing drive of doom).  But that problem that I solved? It means more words (which is good, the novel was going to be too short to market).

So here we go. I’ll update this post instead of spamming my blog with meters.  So check back to see how screwed I am *grin*

Goal is 155,000 words by September 10th.

Progress:

74459 / 155000

Novel Writing Overdrive!

I’ve just been reminded that I need to have my novel for the Novel Workshop in October done by September 10th.  Glancing at the calendar, that’s really not very far away at all. Meep.

This wouldn’t be nearly as much of an issue as it seems like if I’d finished the novel I am currently working on (which is very nearly done, I’m over the middle hump but desperately trying to figure out how to make it long enough).  See, I don’t want to workshop *this* novel in October.  I want to workshop the one I intend to write after the current novel.

You know, that novel that I haven’t even started yet.  Oh, I have characters outlined, and a rough idea of what happens. And sort of the setting.  And I did some research, if you can call reading a few westerns and watching Deadwood and Silverado again “research”.  But hey! Who doesn’t love a challenge, right?

So it is time to go into novel writing OVERDRIVE!  You know, that magical “extra” gear that really tough people are supposed to have. Or race cars, or something.  Counting prior social obligations and leaving Saturdays free for “hi, still married” time, I have exactly twenty one writing days until September 10th.  21. Days. That’s like three weeks. Awesome.

Not a problem. Right?  So my goal will be five thousand 6250 words a day on each of those twenty one days.  This pace should give me two finished novels.  At least if I totally fail it I have the first finished novel as my back-up for the workshop.  But I’m not going to fail.  Even with a pinched nerve in my shoulder, I can probably find 4-5 6-7 hours a day for twenty one days to you know, do my job.  (I was almost at this pace before Starcraft 2 pwned my life).

And the plus side is that will leave me with the 10th through the 30th to actually write something for WotF fourth quarter.

Well, time to put the writing into overdrive.  Just think of it as my writer-fu leveling up. A lot.

Working on Vacation

My novel isn’t done yet, and I leave in two days to go on vacation for a week. So I’m bringing my netbook and intend to represent the iconic image of the fiction writer drinking an umbrella drink on a hot beach with the laptop open, working in the sunlight. Only, I’m Irish and don’t want to be a crackling lobster, so I’ll be in the shade instead. Covered in Zinc. Glamorous, I know.

I’m hoping I can focus and get at least 30,000 words done, which will leave about a week’s worth of work for the week after I get home before I head out to another workshop with Dean Wesley Smith. This next one is on pitches and blurbs, which will be perfect timing for finishing a novel. I intend to get the first three chapters cleaned up, a synopsis, and query letter done at the same time I finish the novel so I can use what I learn at the workshop to get this novel sent off. That will be novel number three.

Got two nice rejections, one on the fantasy novel, one on the sci/fi novel. So I switched which editor had which and will see if maybe the new stuff is more to their tastes. So far I’ve only gotten one form rejection on my novels, which said they were returning the material unread due to not being agented. Oh well. I sent it back out (and actually doubt that no one read it, since the packet wasn’t mailed back in the order I sent it and it was missing the top paperclip, so something happened to it on its journey between envelopes). The hunt for publication continues. This part is boring. Thank god for writing/working on new stuff. If I had all my hopes on the stuff I’ve already done, I think I’d be going crazy by now. The rejection on my full stung a little more than I’d expected, but I made myself get the query back out. Keep it automated and done, that’s how I manage to move on.

Besides, I get to go drink fruity girly drinks on a beach in the sun shade while writing about serial killers and thieves. There are definitely worse jobs 🙂

Oh, and my grandmother is apparently passing on her super-old awesome typewriter to me. I think I’ll have to type up a story and send it out that way just for old time’s sake. (I wrote my first stories on an old typewriter my parents had in a closet. They were two page epics with no punctuation). I wonder if you can still buy carbon paper and such. I’ll have to check. Maybe I’ll write a short story ode to the pulps with a crazy title. Sounds like fun.

Characters and Pain

This will be a fairly short post, for reasons that will become clear in a moment, but I wanted to at least get these thoughts out while I was having them.

First, I quit the middle grade novel. I’m done for now, the fun has gone out of it and the voice of the piece isn’t in my head anymore. So I’m setting it down and turning to finishing my suspense/crime novel. Which turned into me restarting my suspense/crime novel. I hadn’t touched the file in a long time, and it turned out that I had only about 6k words done (2k less than I’d thought, oops). Also, the beginning wasn’t what I wanted. I’ve learned so much about setting and character in the last few months that those six thousand words didn’t reflect what I’m capable of now.

So I started over yesterday. It’s been slow going with the writing this whole week because I’ve been in horrible pain from a shoulder injury. Which brings me to characters and pain. I used to watch House, mostly for Hugh Laurie (ok, maybe ALL for him), and stopped watching when the episodes kept focusing too much on the plots and not so much on the characters. Having spent a scant week in horrible, never-ending pain, I now “get” House’s character even better. I’ve been an irritable bitch this entire week, and I fully blame the pain. Pain really does bring out the worst in me, as it brought out the worst in Dr. House. I don’t know how I’m going to work this into characters yet, but I’ve definitely filed away this hard-learned lesson for later.

I’ve been working on giving my characters more sides, more depth. Sometimes this comes from giving them better goals, and sometimes from giving them better weaknesses. I’m mostly working on pacing in this current novel, but I’m still practicing character building as well. My main character is a con artist, thief, and absentee mother of a chronically sick kid. Not the most obviously sympathetic protagonist. It’s her voice, her opinions, and her ultimate humanity and struggle that will make or break whether readers like her or not (though having a serial killer douchebag as the antagonist won’t hurt I think). That’s a challenge to write, but I think it’ll be good practice (and I love anti-heroes, personally, when done well).

Anyway, I’m going to go ice my shoulder and take more pills. And maybe watch an episode of House after I write a “please don’t divorce me I love you I’m sorry” card to my husband *grin*

(That last is a joke, he’s putting up with me admirably)