Resolutions, part 20

I make resolutions all the time.  Some don’t last as long as it takes for hot french fries to cool.  A few take hold and stick.  Some (like get healthie) are so big and vague that they are doomed for failure.  Organizing my work area is transient, an ephemeral as lasting as a morning fog.  The tricky part is making good ones, meaningful ones, that lead to gradual improvement.

Holiday street light decorations shining along the river

image by Jack on flickr at [], under Creative Commons 2 []

I start off every year hoping to grab aspects of my life that are both important and doable.   The ones that last longer are ones I want to do.  “Shoulds” never last, and in fact rarely have any impact.  Forcing improvements, just creates stress, disappointment, and inadequacy… then no matter how noble the improvement it dies in bitter dregs of failure.  The change, the resolution, needs some tangible benefit to become self-sustaining.  One long term resolution I renew every November: to write more steadily again and finish story drafts.

The problem is that writing original stories doesn’t result in as many tangible payoffs as writing fanfiction. Fully original stories have so little payback for the effort.  Professional editing and marketing costs way more than I have the resources for.  The stories I have released have not generated commentary or sales, which are the only feedback you get.  Fanfic can easily track hits, subscriptions, likes, and comments.  I’ve gotten more of all four metrics for a single short story fanfic I posted two weeks ago than dozens of originals I’ve put for sale or released for publicity.  I can resolve every year to do more original stories, but there just isn’t any payoff for the time and effort.

But yet again I’ve resolved to work on that rewrite of my novel draft this year.  I made some changes last time I started the revision, but I really have to stop trying a major new effort in the holidays.  I still love the concept and have a good character or two, but the nitty-gritty of deep revision is like writing from a detailed outline and my muse chokes.

That time of the year by Evan Wood

Shuffle them words!

I don’t know how to fix that and so I’ve set some simpler resolutions, some are non-writing and some are not very significant but boost confidence, like crossposting a well-received story to another site.  (that’s turning out not as helpful as it’s just not generating much feedback compared to the first place– confirming that changing sites when I did had been a good move)  On the good side, NaNo crazy resulted in eleven posted stories, which has also boosted hits on older stories.  But now I have like six unfinished stories with recent chapters and a challenge I really want to post.  There just are not enough hours in the day to have more than two active stories.

Send help, or at least a cookie!

Make a Joyful Noise

Time always slips by so fast during the holidays, doesn’t it? I was waiting for the notice that an anthology I contributed to had gone live. The final deadline was mid-November, and NaNo kept me busy and left me exhausted as December started. So it took me about a week to learn the anthology had already gone live.

Then it took me a few days to make sure it was listed on my Amazon author page with my own chapbooks and collection.

This flash anthology was put together by and for students of Holly Lisle. These are all very short stories, of five hundred words or less, created after her free flash fiction class. They lean toward the fantastic, but I believe we include every major genre. The great thing for you is that the ebook version is free, and available in multiple formats. (You can of course get a dead tree version if you decide to collect everyone’s autographs to say you ‘read us when…’)

Take a chance on us, the first one’s free. 😀

A Collection of Shorts

I released my first collection of short and flash stories on Kindle!  This is a mixed collection of science fiction and fantasy tales, all quick reads.

A Necklace of Garnets: Speculative Short Fiction… and Shiny

“This collection includes tales like a heroine pushed past her endurance when fantastic help arrives and another who discovers unexpected freedom from all servitude and obedience becomes the headiest temptations. Another must reclaim what was lost after losing a long and brutal war with little more than wits.

These short stories show what happens when desperation and temptation collide under great stress. But who are the heroes and who are the reviled?”

Now this collection was a long time coming, no matter how you measure it.  I started reading the Little House books before the Bicentenniel in ’76. The writing bug hit late, when other hobbies just didn’t express my mind’s eye enough.  So lets count that as forty years of wide reading, staying near SF, fantasy, and romance, along with visits to mysteries. But my writing usually has elements of all four genres.

I did the required compositions in school but without any relish.  I can’t even remember anything I wrote for school assignments outside a school paper on mass drivers as a potential replacement for rockets to earth orbit. (Mass drivers are now used as ship weapons and that rocket vertical on the Superman amusement park ride) I also wrote a handful of stories when a college SF club did a short lived magazine. One of those was a spear carrier POV of an original series Trek episode. In between I did a lot of tabletop gaming, making worlds, campaigns, and characters, some memorable and against trope. Other hobbies from painting, to stitching, to rubber stamping, came and went. Until I reached the end of a video game that left me outraged.  Really, really. This was not the later Mass Effect 3 ending, I dodged that outrage because I started writing a different fanfic ending some time before.  And then I wrote another. Without quite realizing it, I had written a million words of fanfic. So let’s count that eight years coming, writing for fun and creating new adventures for characters I loved or loathed.

A friend told me about NaNoWriMo a little over a decade ago. That just seemed a lot to do in one month: fifty thousand words. I still think the month before Christmas was a bad time to do that.  The dark part of winter always seemed a better time, thought with world wide participants season can’t be the only reason. But late fall or late spring are just times when people are preparing. Part of the importance of the event is the challenge part, where you and a writing friend are doing it at the same time. I’ve finished the challenge six times, with one attempt fail due to a lengthy hospital stay. But with NaNo is the encouragement to publish. Polishing something novel length and original is a lot more than fanfic. So as part bootstrap following Holly’s writing advice and part fund raiser, I’m doing short stories first. Short stories as training ground have a long history in SF, so if that honed my favorite authors, it seems a good plan. So I wrote my first original novel length for NaNo ’12, but it was hopeless and I lacked the skills or even the budget for editing or serious classes for that. This winter I started another challenge to get stuff published this year and make actual money, with short, short stories as a starting point. So let’s count that as two and a half years that I’m getting serious at writing original stories.

Now publishing stories where you want something more tangible that the occsional squee of a good review has really only been since last year.  And along came the epic computer meltdown and scams mentioned earlier. No fiction was lost but lost tools, time, and certain kinds of stress really slowed down my efforts. Writing  projects aren’t that slowed down, but all the logistics of finding betas, covers, mailing lists, blog entries and just web presence get to be back burnered during the extended technical issues. Some of the pieces have been ready since February. A recent breakup made the nest less empty and more angsty too.  So let’s count that as five months of getting the publication ready.

And now it’s out.

I expect to be adding more collections, probably bigger. I need to find very low budget business address because of the spam and mailing list laws. But I’ve started!

Hello, World!

That is the traditional way to start, isn’t it?  An author blog is suggested for any wishing to publish, but I admit this took a lot longer than writing a NaNo draft because it requires more reflection on what is important for my writing, more important than any one world or character.  Sure I could ramble on about my apprenticeship in fanfic, which is writing with training wheels.  But much bigger, real, paid writers have started there, so it’s not a new idea.  After that reflection I decided I should start where I started in writing: where heroes are eliminated because it’s convenient.

Hero is not really a four letter word and villains should not be admired and praised.  In too much of pop culture of fiction, video, and games the hero is an endangered species, not just someone with his fanny in a bear trap.  Glory is not permanent, but grinding the hero into nothing and lauding bad behavior is a danger sign.  Heroes teach us that dragons can be beaten, and we have a lot of dragons.  We need more heroes.