Saturday, December 31, 2011

Remembering Back and Looking Foreward

Today is the final day of the year 2011.  As I look back on the year, I feel rather pleased overall.  Back in May, I attended Con-duit, a science fiction and fantasy convention held each year in Salt Lake City.  I listened to published authors and artists talk about their craft and the industry.

I listened to Tracy Hickman explain how in the digital age, authors can go directly to the reader in ways that they never could before and try methods of publishing that never existed before.  I took meticulous notes as panelists in one session discussed available resources for epublishing and self publishing.  Afterwards I followed up on blogs and podcasts that further discussed the matter.  And I was energized!  With inspiration drawn from Tracy Hickman, Howard Taylor, Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Katherine Rusch, Michael R. Mennenga and Michael A. Stackpole, I knew I could do it too!

I got to work and polished up my first novel for publication and got it published in August (or was it september?).  Now on the final day of 2011, a mere seven months after that fateful convention, I have two novels and one short story published with another novel and another short story to become available in early 2012.

What are my hopes and plans for 2012?  I'm going to keep writing novels and short stories and I'm going to work on promotion and marketing.  In these first few months of my published career, I have not sold many copies.  I feel that the major thing holding back sales so far is that few people that read fantasy know I exist yet.  The stories are solid and enjoyable.  The stories are merely circling in the slow eddies of my close friends and family when I need to push the books further away from the shore into the main river current of readers worldwide.  I can cite instances where I have squandered opportunities to get word of my books out but I will get better.  Failure isn't stumbling, it's not getting back up after you fell.

A common saying among successful writers is that this is a marathon, not a sprint.  As long as I keep writing, as long as I keep telling people that they can buy my books and where to find them, sales will eventually pick up.  My books, at 3.99 each gives you many hours of satisfaction for less than the cost of a value meal at most fast food restaurants.  And with my 0.99 short stories becoming available too, the menu of available reads just gets better and better.

To all of you who actually read my blog, Happy New Year!  We're going to have a wonderful time together next year!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Fixing Literary Flat Tires

I was working on the final scenes of one of my upcoming books, and hit a snag this weekend.  I was writing and writing but something didn't feel right about the direction the story took and I got stuck.  Today, I took a step back and studied it more critically.  I found out what my problem was and now I can move forward again... after moving backward and rewriting about two thousand words.

I had placed my antagonist in a position where he needed to let go of his anger and hatred so that he could return to the love of his life without our protagonist's blood on his hands (the "super happy ending" I had mentioned in a prior post).  The problem was that he was at the place physically to have his change of heart but the catalyst for the change was not present.  She got left behind before she could give her "I can make you happy, but if you get in that boat and go after him, we're through" speech needed to make him weigh the cost of his revenge.

I could just force my way through as is but then at the very last minute of the story, the dear readers will feel that the antagonist's actions feel emotionally false and become disconnected from the story.  Readers will let you get away with fire breathing dragons and alien spaceships as long as the characters act like genuine people but they will bail on you if they act out of character because the plot says they have to. 

The ending is a critical moment in a book.  A mediocre book with a good ending will actually get better praise than a good book with a mediocre ending thanks to the way the human mind only remembers clearly the final impression or most recent experience with something.  Also, throughout the story the author is making promises.  At the end, if those promises weren't met to the reader's satisfaction, they feel robbed.  And robbed people are unhappy people.

So just give me a few days to fix my most recent literary flat tire so you don't have to feel the bumpy ride.  Thank you.