Yes, those of you who are following me as I hobble through my progress toward Pro in 2002 with Baby Steps, beset with occasional fits of absentmindedness or anxiety or old bad habits... the payoff.
The manuscript and the query are in the mail. A significant quantity of odd denomination postage is in my file folder to help me use up those odd lot stamps I found when I cleaned up my desk when I moved, and to top off any future manuscript packages when they have strange amounts of postage needed. Such as submissions to Canada and so on. The postal worker even thoughtfully gave me a new rate sheet, so now my postal scale is useful again and I do not have to try to read the teeny numbers on its face. Just the how many ounces it is side, where the numbers are printed larger.
Step Next is to repeat the process, repeatedly. At least and especially the manuscript process. I'm very irritated at the size of the stack of unsent stories, especially since I made that resolution to throw everything at a pro market at least once before dropping it to lower paying ones and to my own story collections. How to balance the immediate cash benefits of doing e-books, which take no upload fee and will sell a few copies if I post about them here and there where people have already seen my writing - or selling them to paying markets and hoping to find the ones that pay faster?
Any of them could be the one that made the sale. It was tough to let go of the idea of quick money by throwing a volume together, but maybe I can work on a batch of submissions as if I was doing that volume. Some do pay faster than others too, and it will look even more like the Aegean Stables if I just keep doing two or three more short stories a week and don't start rewriting the same quantity to get them out there. The outgo has to match the output. That takes practice. I have to believe that after a couple dozen more times it will start to get more habitual and trust myself to do it.
As for novels - I've been premeditating the rewrite on Rites of Chavateykar for weeks. The easy way is to pad it to 40,000 or 45,000 words and have a nice short novel as an e-book with no upload money that will hopefully earn enough to shift it over into Print On Demand or help pay for Launchpad. There's also the longer gamble of really gritting my teeth and padding 37,500 words of very tight short novel into a good 75,000 or 80,000 words of solid fat fantasy novel in the currently most marketable length expectation.
The one that I'm good at and have done most of my books in.
It seems ludicrous. Pad it to twice its length and still keep it that gripping? How can I add that much muscle, if I do that, won't it go to fat?
But it's starting to look doable. Laugh if you like. I bought two multipacks of sticky notes today, with a combination of five different neon colors. I'm planning that rewrite. I'm going to print out the rough of the book, then identify the plot threads and especially the ones I want to expand on. There's actually some room for expansion. There's a great scene toward the beginning that establishes characterization and well, has a lot of humor in it. Size humor mostly. It's written multiple point of view and I did a scene from the point of view of the dragons in the dragon caverns - intelligent, witty, funny dragons commenting on the Imperial Court and the activities of the assorted humanoids in it. Dragon Banter Scene was one of the more memorable ones and the dragons are interesting side characters. Then everyone in the Imperial Court gets up to go marching off to war. There's a reason for dragons and dragon characters, this is an important military branch. But nothing in the rest of it is seen from the dragons' point of view, though the Empress's dragon has a dialogue scene with her toward the end. That side plot can expand, seriously expand. The logistics of the march could come into it as well, since the dragons are doing most of the carrying and probably a dragon's in charge of the supply train.
This rewrite is going to be almost like writing another book that size.
While basing it on the previous one and using probably about 95% of it - not much needs cutting in Rites, thank the gods.
The more I think of it, the more my little 3 Day Novel was almost anorexic. The more possible the rewrite looks - the more ambitious version of the rewrite that would take it out of 'cheap little ebook' status into Agent Bait and Query Pro Publishers category. With the additional final task of synopsizing and writing up a nice proposal package to have that ready to ship on the drop of an interested reply to a query.
Dragon Empress Zathikora will die in three days if she doesn't discover the Rites of Chavateykar...
Not a bad hook line. I can play with it.
I can also fiddle with her lover a bit, he needs more depth and more background and possibly more relatives looking to benefit from his Court position as the Empress's favorite. I think he needs obnoxious relatives. There's nothing wrong with expanding on the humor threads when I've got that much action in it. And expand a little more on his witty friend because everyone who read it liked his witty friend - who isn't a classic sidekick type at all, not a wuss or a coward or anything like that. More just that he's sarcastic and quick with words.
I can also take the major plot points and throw a few more difficulties in the way of the characters, that would help.
Scary, but it's starting to look doable - and I've got no reason not to try it. Every reason in the world to run with it. I adore Zathikora, she's great, she's a character and a half. Flawed, colorful, bold, tough, good at recovering from it when she makes mistakes, she's memorable and yes, darn sexy. Bigger than life. And I still love Chavateykar himself, it's darn hard to take a character who's a god and make *him* that heroic, but he is and there's a nice subplot around him that I could deepen.
Hm... the battle scenes could expand too...
I think the sticky notes were a commitment to give it my best. It's been done. Some writers have even taken short stories and expanded them into good novels without losing quality. Therefore it can be done. More action, more conflicts, keep the same timescale where they're concerned so that it does have that Three Day Countdown flavor to it and just show more of what all went into its interesting ending.
As for embarrassment about sticky notes or postage buying or manila envelopes... it's a long story. I haven't put it into the blog yet. Might as well, in short form.
For most of my life every one of the people in my family and mysteriously everyone I went out with before Holly the Romance Writer (not Holly Lisle, but I'm beginning to believe that women named Holly simply grow up to be brilliant writers and deeply good people. If you're a girl's parent, consider naming her Holly for the auspices. I have never met a cruel, stupid or boring Holly) hated my writing. I have had chronic money trouble all of my life. In childhood I wasn't allowed any allowance - because I would 'waste' it on candy - or worse, on postage and writing materials or save up for a typewriter. Then at fifteen, family disharmony exploded into separation and I wound up living with my generous, loving grandmother who did buy candy or clothes or anything else for me that I wanted... she was very generous, impossibly so by my previous experience and fairly extreme compared to the other high school kids I hung with. Except for one thing. Books or writing materials or postage.
Then came adulthood and bad relationships and money trouble when going out to eat was mandatory to end fights, when spending sprees on stuff for the house or on clothes (for some reason the people around me seemed to think I ought to put a lot of money into clothing and I've always had a deep desire to just get a lot of black stuff that's comfortable and replace only when it wears out) and in fact, several relationships, wound up tanking important things like rent or bills on spending sprees to avoid domestic arguments. I was brainless. I'd rather have my wallet out than go for a 36-hour personal brawl over my assorted many faults that eventually accurately included being a wimp for not standing up to the fights - some fights you just can't win. I learned that. But I also had a lifetime's terror of getting in trouble and having to defend the purchase if what I wanted was in any way connected with writing.
It's one of the reasons mind control comes up as a theme in my books. I recovered from a lot of it and am still recovering from a lot of it. I have to remind myself that a $5 box of manila envelopes or $3 worth of sticky notes is spending money on work to make more money in exactly the same way that buying art materials is. I sold enough drawings to just get over the flinch when it came to art toys and art books. Even very expensive art toys will usually pay for themselves.
Every time I do that, I get a little bit stronger. Every time I get past that flinch, I am successfully desensitizing myself to an old conditioned reflex. Bruised Apple Used Books really helped, for the past few months I've been raiding their cheapest rack without destroying my budget on it and I'm getting used to having new books I haven't read yet and replacements of old favorites every week. Parents, it's important to let your kid have an allowance whether it's that or paying them for chores. They will get very weird about money if they don't get to handle money or make any choices or decisions in their lives. They may wind up either spendaholics or so stingy with themselves for years and years that it gets ugly - and joyless. Buying things that are just for pleasure is harder, movies and things like that aren't even on my list after the troubles in the relationship. I made a ton of money and it all went down the 'stop the fighting' drain. I had a bankruptcy. Put me off eating out in a big way.
But it's possible to overcome bad habits and it's possible to overcome a flinch like that. The sticky notes weren't an absolute necessity. I have to stop being quite so crazy-stingy, this type of rewrite really will take a hard copy that I can scribble on. They will make the process a lot easier. They will help me organize it.
I don't have to defend that decision to anyone but me. But I do have to get rid of the shadows of the past and the habits that do not serve any purpose.
And the soft feet pawing my feet are reason to finish up and feed the cat a Pounce treat.
I need to adapt myself to heaven and lose all the habits of hell.
Robert and Ari >^..^<