alexandraerin: (Default)
A few months back I posted some construction posts for Star Harbor Nights. They haven't really gone anywhere because I wasn't quite sure how I wanted to develop them. While a lot of my sleeping projects seem like they're better suited for books than serials, SHN was born out of my adolescent desire to participate in a serial medium (comic books) and it's hard for me to breathe in that universe within the confines of a book.

But it's not easy to write as a serial, necessarily. One of the problems with writing Star Harbor Nights has always been that it's even more sprawling than Tales of MU. In both universes I have the problem of having too many characters who are fascinating and fun to write, but in Tales of MU I can prioritize such things because I have anchor/viewpoint characters that I need to tie things to.

I think this is why I've always done best with SHN when I used the chapter/sub-chapter (or arc/chapter, or whatever you want to call it) structure I started out with: 1-1, 1-2, etc., for five or six chapters in a row. It keeps my attention focused in one place.

For a while I was trying to write it page-a-day style, thinking that would keep the story moving. It had the opposite effect. I spent months writing Rhyme running around Webmistress's underground hideout. It was a fun story but it didn't build momentum. I knew that when I revived SHN I wanted to do it with longer story segments but I wasn't sure how much longer. I also felt like I wanted to bring more of a cinematic scope to it. Above all, I knew that I needed something distinct from the Tales of MU format, because they are such very different projects and it needed something that works as well for it as the thing that became my default approach worked for Tales of MU.

A few days ago I think I hit upon the right idea. It was while I was thinking about Doctor Who, and the way the series is structured. You have your individual episodes, which have a story built the way an episode of a TV show is built. You have two-parter stories, and you have arcs that spread across episodes (and sometimes seasons), and then you have the seasons themselves. This sort of thing has been adapted across medium in things like the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics for "Season 8" of the TV show.

I think that's what I need for SHN. I have the big stories I want to tell... the Big Bads, the world-threatening and world-shattering events... and then I have the small, intimate stories I want to tell about the characters who make us care about the world in the first place. This seems like the way to do it. Writing a season's worth of television seems to operate under similar lines to the way I work: you have a basic plan, you need to get from point A at the beginning to point B, but then what happens in between is often a lot of making things up as you go, taking advantage of opportunities that come up and working around obstacles as they occur.

So SHN is going to be coming back. Probably during the summer. I need time to plan out a season, and I have good luck with starting things in the summer. Both Tales of MU and SHN were first launched in the middle of the summer. I don't know if I'm going to be starting from the same point I was looking at with the construction posts. I'm loathe to do a whole reboot (the universe has been rebooted enough times already, comic book universe or not) but I might want to start from a cleaner slate than the one I was looking at just so that new people have an easier time getting on board.

Abandoning SHN was never in the cards. The Harborverse and the MUniverse are tied together way too deeply. Not in a way that matters too much to the story of either, but the little crossovers are canon to both. Also, I doubt very much I would be a writer at all if not for comic books, and the long summer nights I spent with my older brother spinning whole worlds' worth of stories about them.

Tuesday

Apr. 12th, 2011 09:17 am
alexandraerin: (Default)
News For Today

I'm now on the "long tail" themed panel at WisCon, which is scheduled for Friday afternoon. That's good because it gives me one panel on Friday, one on Saturday, and two on Sunday.

That's really it for the news today. Today's a big writing day, which means it's a day for doing great things, not spinning great plans.

Personal Assessment

Slept well last night, which seems to be the single greatest indicator of my day-to-day cognitive abilities. I'm still waking up as of this writing (9:30), but I'm not going to be putting virtual pen to virtual paper until 11:00 so I think I'm in good shape.

Dreams From Last Night

Kitchen dreams inspired by the writing of C.S.E. Cooney. My subconscious is going to have to start giving her screenwriting credits, I think. If she dreams of residuals, this is probably why.

Plans For Today

Writing Tales of MU. My specific plan there is to dispense with the remainder of the weekend and Monday morning, and Mackenzie's first class. If all goes according to play I should finish the day with a multi-several-thousand word chunk of writing that can be divided up into two chapters, for Wednesday and Friday. The chapters may get slightly smaller than they have been from here on out.
alexandraerin: (Default)
Well, I think I made the right call in rearranging stuff. It's not yet 3 in the afternoon and I've got flash stories written for the rest of the week. I'm not done writing, but it's very invigorating to know that anything I write in the next three hours or so is padding for next week. On the other hand if I'd stuck with my initial determination to finish the week's main MU writing today, I'd be "at work" until eight or nine o'clock tonight so instead of feeling a profound sense of accomplishment I'd probably be a little stressed right now.

I'd also have to ignore the comments coming in on the new chapter, which means I wouldn't be making corrections as they come in... it's always easier when I can do that.

The reason for my late start this morning is a late night last night, which was caused by a bit of a disturbance in the neighborhood just before I would have gone upstairs. It left me kind of keyed up and so I got to sleep quite a bit later than I would have liked to.

Even with that I decided to go ahead and announce the Wednesday update today. Why not? Tomorrow I'm planning on writing Wednesday and Friday's update. Think about how many things could go wrong and I'd still be able to nail that. If tomorrow I only write half as much as I expect to, that'll still be Wednesday's update. If I can't write at all tomorrow and I have to do it Wednesday... that will still give me Wednesday's update done on Wednesday. Best case scenario is that I have two chapters done tomorrow and I've got the rest of the week to do other things. But even in the event that I'm only done with Wednesday's update on Wednesday and I still need to write Friday's... well, that's not exactly a worst case scenario but it's the worst one that's worth considering. I believe I can write two chapters tomorrow for Wednesday and Friday, but failing that I have Tuesday and Wednesday to write Wednesday's and Thursday and Friday to write Friday's.

As a long term plan, giving myself two days to write a chapter doesn't work out so well. There's no sense of urgency, so my tasks expand to fit the time available. I come to count on having the two whole days. Also, if I devote my whole week to writing Tales of MU I'm not writing anything else, which is not good in the long run. That's why I plan on getting the chapters done quickly and using the time between updates as a contingency. After this week, of course, I'll have the additional contingency of having a buffer of chapters written in advance.
alexandraerin: (Default)
So, I've decided I'm not going to be writing the Magisterion XIII half of the OT this weekend as I'd originally planned. This won't cause me to slip from the about-every-other-week schedule I've been achieving on the OTs, and in the long run it will lead to more regularity there.

Trying to keep a schedule for the Other Tales that depends on me writing them on weekends is going to hurt both my personal life and my professional life. My personal life because it means I'll constantly be cutting into my weekend... my time for friends and family and relaxation... to write, and professional life because there will just plain be weekends where there isn't enough stuff I can cut into to muster the time to write.

With my new and evolving approaches to time management and to the act of sitting down and writing during the week, though, this won't be a problem. I mean, I'm going to be done writing the main Tales of MU story for next week in a single day. Consider what an awesome OT story I will be able to give shape to if I give most of a workday over to it, instead of trying to write it in fits and starts over the course of a weekend? The semi self-contained/standalone nature of a lot of the Other Tales has already given rise to some of my best work in the MUniverse. The less often I have to effectively dash one off as an afterthought, the more often that will happen.

I've got some big plans for next week, but the biggest part of it is that they're already basically halfway done and the biggest remaining part of them will be done on Monday.
alexandraerin: (Default)
Eight hour work day.

Four-ish hours of writing.

7,000 words.

That's about 1,700 words an hour per writing-hour. Just under a thousand averaged out over work-hours. I don't have to work to convince myself that 875 words an hour is okay. I know that's good.

Adding it to the 3,000 words I wrote on Tuesday and the almost 6,000 words I wrote on Monday, that works out to about 3,000 words per day for a five day work week, which pleases me because that's what has always seemed to me to be a good average work day. I'm just discovering that it works better to do it as an average than to strive for it every day.

I have good days. I have bad days. I have average days. I think I can count on having two good days a week most weeks, especially if I'm not beating myself up over the bad days and not pushing myself too hard on the average days. I mean, this week I had a brain-fog day on Tuesday and a day when I was absolutely physically incapable of sitting at the computer and working on Wednesday and here I am on Thursday night (Thursday! I guess I got the hang of it after all?) reporting that I've got an average of 3,000 words a day.

There will be weeks when I don't get two good days, of course but if my publishing schedule means two good days gives me a buffer then those weeks will be okay. I mean, right now I've got Friday and Monday's chapters both done-ish (substantially finished, I know me and I know they'll both get some tweaks and filling out before they go up) and I have a start on Wednesday's.

I'll put Friday's chapter up just after midnight. If I end up needing sleep before then (kind of a crapshoot right now), I can still get it in queue and set up the email notification to go out auto-magically.

I'm going to do a little bit more to fill in some details on the first part later on tonight, between the time Jack leaves work and when he gets home. I'm going to restrict myself to that timeframe for work/life balance reasons. The chapter is closed until then. If I had been planning from the start to split the results up into individual chapters I would have given more attention to the opening part to begin with just to make sure it will stand okay on its own. Now that this is the gameplan I'll do that for the future.

Heh. It's funny... at one point in a previous chapter (much previous), I mentioned doing that before: splitting a chapter in half and then taking the opportunity to expand the first half. I considered that to be a good thing, in that the split allowed me to explore something (two things, in fact, because it was now two chapters) in more detail. The explanation I gave ended up being used on TVTropes as evidence of MU's "filleritis". Just goes to show how subjective these things are. Some people will always clamor for more detail about everything. Some people want things to be a little more selective.

I like TVTropes as a website and a diversion, but my feelings about it are somewhat mixed as I have a commenter right now who seems to think it's a playbook or scorecard. It's not so much that he accuses me of Doin It Rong (much, though he has)... it's more like he fails to notice that I'm not doing what his careful study of TVTropes suggests I would/should be doing and reads the story through a lens that's much heavier on things like Conservation of Detail and people learning Aesops. It's frustrating to deal with comments from someone like that. I suppose I really should learn to ignore them, but when someone addresses a question directly to me as author that's founded on completely faulty premises... well, again, I should really learn to ignore it.

But I can only do so much self-improvement at once.

You know, it's funny to me to realize that I haven't kept up the "work day" scheme I was trying since I first posted about it, basically, but somehow it unlocked the concept of thinking of things in terms of work days again in my brain. Monday, Tuesday, and today I've sat down and spent eight solid hours working. Note that some of that work was sitting here listening to music or getting up and tossing around a ball or taking a bath, but that's work. It's necessary to my writing process to pause to reflect and gather my ideas.

The point is that having eight hours allocated for work... it's working. I feel like I did when I was punching a clock, and that's not a bad thing... at my last job I was one of the most productive and happiest people on the floor. When I'm on the clock now, my mind doesn't stray much to other topics during my "down" times. My browser doesn't stray to other sites during my "up" times. And I'm getting stuff done.

Tomorrow's my tech day, belated due to injury on Wednesday. We'll see how well the concept translates. And then Monday I'll be writing for the rest of the week. Again, we'll see how well this all works after a weekend. I think I've got it, though. I'm not going to announce three updates a week unless Monday ends with me having three updates in the bag but it's in sight.

Edit-Dendum:

I just want to add about this whole work day thing... if I felt the slightest bit guilty about taking Wednesday off, the whole thing would fall apart. In the past (especially when I allowed anonymous commenting on my blog) I've had people viciously attack the idea of me having a work ethic when my schedule took a hit from sleep problems or whatever, and as I've said before, it takes a degree of brazen confidence to be a writer. You have to be fairly shameless to look at a blank page or an empty screen and say, "I can do better than that." That, and if you believe you're lazy and shiftless, it's hard to dig in and get to work.
alexandraerin: (Default)
Okay, so I'm about midway through writing the next chapter of Tales of MU. And when I paused for reflection on how to improve and continue it, I realized I really want to expand the beginning part with Ian more. Give him a proper introduction in the volume, give new readers a proper introduction to the sexual and sensual aspects of the story, etc. And I realized that will give a chapter that splits pretty evenly into two segments: Ian, and Amaranth. And I thought, "Well, that's good." Each of Mackenzie's lovers introduced in turn.

But then I thought how weird it's going to be to have a chapter segmented like that, and I thought that with my current plans to have all largish chapters (5,000 words = 20 pages) is going to result in a lot of segmentation.

And then I thought, "If I split it into two chapters, then I'm already looking at 'bloat' to the timeline I wanted to follow for book 1." But my concern there is not about how many chapters it takes to get somewhere... a "chapter" is not a concrete unit of story, time, or space. It's about how much real world time.

But my next thought that followed on the heels of that one was, "But if I already have Monday's chapter done-ish because it's branched off from this one, I can do a chapter on Wednesday and Friday next week and be right back where I was."

And then the lightbulb came on.

I settled on two updates a week because trying to do more consistently introduced too many chances to fail. It's not a matter of volume of words produced. My three-updates-a-week periods generally had around 9,000 words. When I was doing 5 updates a week, the chapters were shorter... maybe around 2,000 words, so 10,000 words total. Two updates of between 4 and 6 thousand words? Right in line with everything else.

The key factor is that it's easier for me to make sure I have two days I can sit and do serious writing in than it is to make sure I have three days or five days.

So here's what I'm thinking now. I'm going to go ahead and write what I'd planned on writing for Friday. But I'm going to post half of it (about 3,000 words... my good ol' standby.) And the other half is going to go up on Monday. Monday I'm going to write another 5 to 6 thousand words. That's Wednesday and Friday's chapter. Some other day next week... Wednesday or Thursday... I'll write another 5 to 6 thousand words. That's next Monday and Wednesday.

If I have an off day? If I have 3,000 word day or even a no thousand word day? Meh. First of all, I only need to be able to muster one and a half heavy writing days per day to keep up with the demand... writing MU heavily two days a week will give me a buffer. I don't expect the buffer to last long because Stuff Happens, but it will be a regenerating buffer. When I've tried building a buffer before it was based on the idea of things like writing four days a week and posting three. It's way too easy to stumble there, and having a break between days when I'm writing MU really helps.

Within a day, the momentum of just working on MU is very helpful. But from day to day, I need to be able to turn my mind towards other things, and to let my mind wander over possibilities without immediately having to write them down.

So, anyway... the chapter breakdowns I talked about for the first book of MU will not work out exactly the way I said. There will be a minimum of three chapters to cover the weekend (possibly four... slightly shorter chapters allows for more gradation of time, which seems to me to be a good thing) instead of two. But in terms of how fast in real time the story moves along and how much space is allotted to various things, I'll be more or less in the same neighborhood.

And while I'm finding that spending a whole day writing on one subject/project works best, this plan is flexible enough that if I have a week that's busy with other things I can spend a few hours each day writing so I don't lose my whole buffer.

This might seem premature but I'm not going to announce a Wednesday update until it's Monday and I have the chapters for the rest of the week done. If that happens... if I have a writing day on next Monday like I've had this Monday and like I'm having today, then I think I'm really on the right track in terms of what I've been doing differently.

That's enough talking about it. Time to get back to writing.
alexandraerin: (Default)
...I'm about ready to go upstairs and fall asleep. I crashed/took a nap during the day yesterday that only lasted maybe four or five hours, six or the most, but I woke up from it feeling energized and frankly a lot better than I've felt for a while. I didn't do any of my flexible work day items on Monday, but that's why they're flexible... and I did get a bunch of stuff done that wasn't on the list because I didn't have a clear enough head to remember they needed doing.

When I talk about "feeling better", I mean both it in the sense of both well and good. I've had some really bitter, cranky moments over the past week or so. I mean, in the midst of that there's been a lot of intellectual awareness of how awesome my life is, but when I'm not sleeping or when my brain has a million screaming adenosine receptors that are wondering where all the caffeine molecules have gone, all of my emotions become small and sharp and stabby. I become impatient and all too ready to believe the worst of people.

I think I handled it better than I have in the past, in terms of avoiding more of the situations that can arise out of moods such as that. Not a perfect performance, but, eh, no one's perfect.

My idea for the second quarter fundraiser is more fleshed out now. Specifically, the details of how I'm going to carry the winning storyline forward. I'm getting a little more skilled at writing in non-serial format, and some of my best work in the MUniverse is the stuff that is almost but not quite standalone. I mean, take how the Harris family story has been developed so far, as a series of short stories that tie together to make a bigger story without the day-to-day blow-by-blow.

So what I'm thinking is that instead of having a "Moar MU" serial that I try to run along the same time as Mackenzie's tale, I'm going to have a monthly back-up feature. The monthly back-up feature will be... as its name suggests... a feature that runs each month with a story that gives a look at/advances the plot of whichever story/cast/setting wins the vote.

Hmmm... when I was writing this, I had been planning on doing a big fundraiser and then running the winner for a year but now that I read how that last paragraph came out, I'm reconsidering: smaller monthly fundraiser with the winner getting next month's slot? That appeals to me on several levels. But on the other hand it would be easier on me if I knew what I was writing. Maybe something in between? I don't know. I'll consider it.

In any event, the monthly back-up feature would give me a little more leeway than another serial. The story would generally be longer, and I'd let people follow along the progress as I'd probably work on it in bits throughout the month.

And now I'm starting to feel genuinely sleepy. I tell you, I'm really looking forward to what's about to happen.
alexandraerin: (Default)
News For Today

Big news item in preceding post: The Gift of the Bad Guy delayed a week.

There are two days left in the run-off voting for the Rose and Bay award.

The first copy of the first Tales of MU book auction continues through Friday.

Personal Assessment

Sleep still very uneven. I tried and failed to sleep during the night portion of last night. I got some sleep this morning. I've also been having a lot of random cramping in the past few days. I've been eating a lot of dairy so I should be potassium'd up, so I suppose it is really random. My right arm was not usable for typing for a large portion of the weekend, but now it's okay in most positions.

Dreams From This Morning

Oh, man. So many of them and they all sort of ran together. What I remember is this: the seven dwarfs (Disney version) having a falling-out because Grumpy got a girlfriend, a zombie attack with zombies that combined features of the Half-Life headcrab zombies and the zombies in the Borderlands Zombie Island expansion, and I was abducted by a demon/genie thing and made to answer four riddles about things that all mortals must taste and it turned out it was air, water, earth, and fire. (Genie/demon things have interesting ideas about how mortals experience existence.)

I don't know, I just don't know.

The thing that was especially horrifying about the zombie dream is there were all these weapons lying around (again, a combination of things from Half-Life 2 and Borderlands) but none of it was effective at all on the zombies. One of my clearest memories of the dream is picking up a Combine pulse rifle as a small horde of zombies shambled closer and then watching as concentrated fire right in their faces did nothing.

Plans For Today

Having pushed back The Gift of the Bad Guy a week, I'm taking the rest of the day off from it. I've already done work/research related to it between the hours of midnight and six this morning. Tales of MU is my priority for the day. Though I did have a flash story pop into my head while I was taking a bath a minute ago (thought I'd posted this before I got up, but I guess I didn't), so I suppose I'll do that first.
alexandraerin: (Closed forever)
Just the other day I was telling Jack how it would be kind of nice to go spend a week and a half with my parents with only my little netbook... living at the dollhouse makes it hard for me to get up and walk away from the computer, because there are a limited number of directions in which I can walk that will not just take me to another computer. After weeks of a furious work pace in multiple directions, I was looking forward to the chance to relax a little.

So, of course, on day one of my semication, my one computer becomes inoperable.

On the plus side, my famously poor pattern recognition skills have finally pieced together the common factor in every time my netbook gets virus'd: airport wi-fi. To be specific, every time the poor thing gets hammered, it's after (or in this case, while) I use the free wi-fi at Omaha's Eppley Airfield. I never caught on to this before because in all the cases before there was the more obvious common factor that the problem always showed up when I was visiting my parents. This was obviously more correlation than causation, as sometimes I'd be staying at their place in Nebraska and sometimes here in Florida, and there was no sign that anything was wrong on their network. So it just seemed like a run of bad luck.

When my computer restarted in the middle of the airport and I got a phoney warning from "Microsoft Security Essentials" trying to get me to buy Palladium Protection Pro (Microsoft Security Essentials is a real thing, but they don't shill for antivirus programs you've never heard of), it hit me that no matter where I'd visited them, each time my lappy had succumbed had been soon after a trip through the airport, or multiple airports. I'm not saying I got infected in Omaha each time, but it seems likely that an airport was the vector in each case.

I could kick myself for having taken out my lappy in the first place after having told myself (and the internet) that I was going to be relying on my Kindle for time-passing and nerve-calming during the trip part of this trip... but if I had stuck to that, then I probably would have pulled out the lappy next time, and who knows whether or not I would have made the connection between that and any infections that manifested later?

Lesson learned. From now on I'll stick to my Kindle when I'm traveling, and use my phone for those things which must absolutely be checked on/kept up with.

Anyway, I'd planned on rather leisurely beginning (or even finishing) the Little Aidan story tonight and doing some bookkeeping, get confirmations out to the people who paid for AAEs this weekend, but I've spent the past few hours de-verminating my laptop and now I just want to get to bed. The Aidan story will be going up later in the week; I'm going to press on with the next chapter tomorrow. Now that the immediate tension/suspense has been resolved, the construction posts will be returning... a development no one can welcome more than me, as it makes it the writing come both easier and faster.

I did finish reading Habitation of the Blessed during my flight, and under different circumstances I would have already posted a review of it. I would like to share my thoughts about it by and by, but for now I'll just say that it is a wickedly funny book. Humor is not its only or even chief virtue, but it's one that I suspect goes remarked on less often than its other ones, in the same way and for the same reason that the wisdom and beauty which twine themselves through Douglas Adams's novels aren't often remarked on. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy would not be as enduringly popular if there weren't a good deal of sense running beneath the surface of its more obvious sense of humor, and the first book of the Dirge For Prester John trilogy wouldn't work as well as it did if there weren't an incisive sense of humor running beneath its insightful sense of everything else.
alexandraerin: (Default)
I've had a weird, random attack of anxiety and stress this past night. I don't know what caused it. I'm at a relative lull in the The Gift of the Bad Guy project, the previews have gone out with only minor issues that were easily fixed and the pre-sale's going very well considering that I haven't begun to push it yet.

Actually, I suppose that might be the cause... I've reached the point I was focused on and now all the nervous energy that was being channeled in that one direction lacks direction.

In any event, next week I'm going to be with my parents. It's going to be a regular work week for Tales of MU, but I'm going to be relaxing a bit on some of the other stuff that I've been working on... with only my netbook there there'd be a limit on how much non-writing stuff I could do. I think it'll be a timely break, as I've been pushing myself hard lately.

Among the things I'm going to be doing is sort of "auditing" my old and languishing projects to see what has the most potential for being "litsnacked". Revisiting old work is often pleasurable and even revelatory, so it's kind of a light job.

I'm not just going to be looking at what has a high page count that I can throw into an e-book and put up for money. I'm going to be looking at stories that had... that have potential but didn't reach them, and figuring out how I can either bring them to some kind of a conclusion or get them to a point that I can start building on them again.

I'm going to begin (or rather, resume) work on the sequel to The Gift of the Bad Guy as soon as it's completed, but I also have my eye on other projects that can be worked on at the same time. Some of the top contenders for the first non-gifters LitSnacks book are:


  • The 3 Seas
  • The NanNo that I started under the title "Dustball Ramblers"... needs expanding, but there's quite a bit there to work with.
  • A book based on that Fantasy In Miniature story that everyone said would make a good book. You know. That one.
  • The unfinished Marnie Masterson story The Stars My Devastation.


There are other things I have "on tap" that will require more development, and other projects that have a substantial word count available but that I'm not ready to adapt into this format. Still, some of them might see the light of day before all of the above have done so. Part of the point of this is that it's a format where I can develop a book very quickly when the muse moves me. I mentioned at one point (I think before I started working on The 3 Seas, when I made a post about different ideas I had that I wanted to do something with) a story about post-apocalyptic survival... it's been rearing its head in the back of mine for a while now.

I've never wanted to do anything with it because to me even a really interesting apocalypse isn't a story, it's a backdrop... a setting. And a story that's a bunch of people or a single person or a couple banding together for survival is really just a form of wish fulfillment, as counter-intuitive as that might sound. The typical apocalypse survival scenario is "real life, but then adventure happens, and only I/my surrogate and company have the skills to deal with the adventure", writ large. It's not terribly interesting to me. But writing the first chapter of The Gift of the Bad Guy gave me some insight into a protagonist and an angle on the story that speaks to me.

Anyway, in case anybody's wondering why I set up a webpage called "LitSnacks" for a one-person operation instead of just selling the books on my personal website I'm simultaneously building up: no, I'm not interested in running an actual e-press or publishing other people's works. But I'm operating under a theory that to people who aren't already Alexandra Erin fans, a "company" page will seem more like It's An Actual Thing, and people trust Actual Things more than they trust people on the internet. It could be the difference between hitting back/x as soon as the page loads or sticking around to see what it's about.

I'm not trying to set up my own little playground and cut it off from everybody else, though... that's pretty much the opposite of what I want to do with myself this year. Once I have some more of my own content on the site, I am going to see about starting an affiliate program where other people can put up links to their own inexpensive e-books.
alexandraerin: (Default)
So, one of the lessons I've learned over the past few years is that not everything works as a serial. This should be obvious. I mean, among the reasons I started doing serials is my belief that not every story's suited to be a novel. Form should follow... I don't know, not function exactly, but the form of the story should suit its needs.

And yet the bulk of my stories and attempted stories have fit into a few very narrow confines. Serials and flash fiction being the most common... extremely long, open-ended stories and extremely brief ones. I've written a few short stories. I've attempted a few novels. I'm not really sure I have it in me "to novel", though. I'd go into that more, but that's really a side point.

I've been talking a post about Gift of the Bad Guy and my plans for it. These are also, incidentally, my plans for Dustball Ramblers and possibly The 3 Seas and a very evolved version of that story I started writing one time with a bunch of my D&D characters that maybe six of you have read. And possibly the book about the woman who is a wizard, though that one I might live to novel yet.

None of these projects are going to work as the sort of open-ended serial I write. That isn't to say they could be serialized; it is to say they don't lend themselves to the Tales of MU style, which means I'm not the right person to serialize them. But there are things about the serial format that I like. I like the immediacy, the instant gratification for both author and audience. I like not having to wait to get paid, for that matter, and having my full body of work continue to generate income passively.

And I'd like to diversify my income a bit more, branch out from cup-rattling and into selling content... without putting a subscription gate on my principle work, Tales of MU, naturally. What I'm planning wouldn't have worked three or four years ago, when nobody knew who I was. I have a name to trade on now, but having other options doesn't make my original plan less sound.

So what am I talking about? A series of unfortunate events of very short, very cheap e-books. In a few weeks to a month, I intend to put Gift of the Bad Guy up for sale in this form. It might not be called that. I haven't worked out if that's the name of a series or of the first part or a title that will work better for something later in the series.

This will be part 1 of a series. It'll be between 25,000 and 30,000 words in its final form, most likely. Maybe between 50 and 70 pages. Smaller than a NaNoWriMo-winning novel, and that always seems to me to be a respectable size for a novella. I've been seeing the term "novelette" lately, and it might fit, though I still have some qualms about using any novel-derived label as to me a novel is a specific form.

This story will be self-contained and it won't be. I mean, you'll read it and I hope you'll be satisfied that it doesn't just stop in the middle of a scene, but it will very clearly be a part 1, and not in the sense that The Matrix would have been a part one if they'd ever gotten around to developing the rumored sequels for it that they never actually produced ever. There's no fight scene or big resolution. It'll be more like part one in the sense of being an introduction.

I'm thinking it will debut at about $1. Unless I give in and go the Retail Mind Tricks route and make it 99 cents. Future installments in the same series will be more like the $2 range, because you already know what you're getting. I want the buy-in to be cheap on the first book, you see, and I want it to be affordable to continue reading.

Print editions will happen when there are enough volumes to make an edition worth printing. If demand is high enough, I might shop around for something other than self-publishing, or at least do a pre-order dealy so I can do a volume print run to save everyone involved some money.

So, anyway, that's the deal. As I suggested above, I'm planning on reworking The 3 Seas into this format... no idea yet if any of my other gestating/failed/malingering serials will go the same route. If you've ever been a supporter/sponsor of The 3 Seas serial version, you'll be getting courtesy copies of any e-books that include material adapted from the stuff I've already published in that version. You've already paid for it. I'll be letting you know when I have more of an ETA on that. Editing is slower for me than writing, and that's basically what the 3 Seas job is going to be.

These things'll come out between 1 and 3 a month, depending on muse and ability. My intent is that after I've been doing it for a while, there will be something like a snackbar people can order from a la carte. Some of the stuff might be truly stand-alone. Some might end up being only two or three installments before being brought to a close. I'm going to be eschewing a one-size-fits-all solution here. I may or may not end up attaching share-alike type licenses to the books, since I'm obviously not going to be overly bothered about piracy of my $1 e-books.

Like everything else I do, it's an experiment. I think it could be big, but I won't have to invest too much in finding out, as I've already got most of the first offering

(And I'm going to be taking its results into account as I consider what to do with my RPG project.)

Answer To The Fully Anticipated Question:

Definitely PDF, probably also EPUB.
alexandraerin: (Default)
News For Today

The big news is that I have medicine. It's over-the-counter but it's helping. I went out yesterday and got a big value box of the store brand version of DayQuil/NyQuil Sinus. The trip outside took up my afternoon and left me pretty wiped out afterwards, but the plus side of that is that i slept really well last night.

(The NyQuil probably helped there, too.)

I've needed new pillows for a long time, and there were some on clearance. They were actually advertised as being great for stomach sleepers, and they are. I'm sure that helped, too.

Personal Assessment

Don't know why it didn't occur to me to get some cold/sinus medicine sooner. Well, actually I do know, but "don't know why it didn't occur to me" is pretty much a very long-winded way of saying "I am pretty absentminded and I completely forgot about the most obvious thing." Okay, so that's pretty long-winded, too. Have I mentioned lately that I don't do conciseness well?

I've still got a tickle in my throat but sinus pressure is decreased and my nose isn't dripping so much.

Joints okay, back okay, slept okay. It's a pretty good day in general.

Dreams From Last Night

None distinct. Apparently NyQuil cancels out valerian in that regard.

Plans For Today

I'm hoping to be done with tomorrow's chapter. I've also got a post in the works about my plans for Gift of the Bad Guy, which will touch on some of my larger plans for the coming year.
alexandraerin: (Default)
Okay... here's the business post I was going to post last week.

This week, in addition to trying to do slightly more fiction writing than I did last week and the week before, I'm also copying the old Star Harbor archive over to the current site, which I'll start updating again once I have everything up where it can be read by the public (and me! It's hard to write an ongoing story when I don't have easy access to What's Come Before). I let the registration on the other site lapse, unfortunately... the stories are all still there in a database but not in the right format to just import into Wordpress, so I'm going to be doing a lot of copying and pasting and manually reformatting of a few things. Not fun, not creative, not terribly fulfilling, but necessary.

My other non-TOMU goal is to wrap up the current chapter of Tribe. I've said this before and it's still true: my biggest problem with Tribe is second-guessing everything on the basis of how much I like how the first chapter came out. I'm going to try to do that less. I'm also going to write out outlines of future chapters. I didn't do this for the first one, but I went into it knowing the beginning, middle, and end of them and it made a big difference. For the others, I either didn't know the middle or I didn't know the end.

I write Tribe very differently from most of what I write, and apparently it shows to the point that I have had three different people forget that it's me and ask me if I've ever read it.

I'm way behind on totaling fundraising and updating the sponsor lists. That's going to be my task for the weekend.

Now, the difficult news:

The MU diplomas.

I beat myself up over my failure to deliver on these more than I do anything else. It's utterly fruitless and completely counterproductive to do so, especially when it leaves me paralyzed when I'm trying to do something to address them. When I was in Maryland I resolved to suck it up and take care of business there as soon as I got home, but I've since realized that I don't even have a good copy of the template files.

So... for the 12 or so people who never got them (I do have a list, and I'm going to go directly into my PayPal archive and double check that), I'm going to be issuing refunds. I'm sorry. I should have done this sooner, when it became apparent that what I was doing wasn't working. I'm sure some people will pop up and say they don't want a refund, they'd rather wait until I get this back on track, or even that they don't care at this point and would rather consider it a donation... but I'm going to be doing this across the board. I feel the need to resolve this and get it taken care of, to get a clean slate.

You folks have waited long enough. Some of you might not even need or want a diploma any more, some of you might have changed addresses. If anybody still wants a diploma, you probably will have the opportunity to order one again, once I've balanced this out. I'll log orders as they come in using Google Calendar, to make sure I get them taken care of.

This has weighed on me so much... I don't want to sound like I'm a victim or a martyr for what is my failing. This was my first wholly unassisted business venture and I only got about a 50% success rate on it and that is not good. I've held off on launching some other things because of the doubt and guilt that I've felt over this, like "what right do I have to put out more books/make new t-shirts/whatever when I haven't delivered on this?"

But at the end of the day, me not making a living doesn't help me fix things.

So, anyway, at the middle of the month I'm going to start issuing refunds in the order that the unfilled orders were received. I should have everybody's money back to them by the end of the month.




Okay, at this point since my goal is to make things right for people, if you never received a diploma and really want to me to count it as a donation just say something on this post. I mean, if I send money back to you and you turn around and send it right back, that benefits PayPal and nobody else. If nothing else, that will help me make sure the people who want refunds get them faster.
alexandraerin: (Default)
More Tribe coming up tonight, but I wanted to take a moment to share my plans for it, longer term.

I just registered the domain name "fantasyinminiature.com"... Tribe's subtitle, which I've been in love with since I came up with, and which I think has much broader and deeper potential than just Tribe. I subtitled Tribe that because it was a poetic summation for the microchapter approach. But in some respects, stapling Tribe--one great idea--to the "fantasy in miniature" concept--another great idea--ended up wasting the potential of both.

I'm not going to break up the coupling, but I think it's time they opened up to seeing other partners.

To cut through the metaphor, fantasyinminiature.com is going to be a flash fiction site, which will include dribbles and drabbles of short-short fiction from me. I frequently have ideas for little bits of fantasy or horror but I don't always write them, usually because I'm not sure what to do with them. I know a few sites that are happy to take them, but... well, I'm much more comfortable working by myself. The need to actually send it off somewhere is one thing that makes me drop the habit of writing flash fiction almost as quickly as I acquire it. I might try something with licensing terms, whereby the stand alone stories on the site can be reprinted with attribution (and a link/URL) freely, but I don't want to expend precious spoons pursuing venues for 300-600 word stories.

Yeah, it may be time to give Creative Commons a try.

I might experiment with podcasts, too. Stories that short seem like a good place to start.

Tribe? It will be hosted on this domain, as a separate and distinct feed, but with all updates listed on the front page. 3 Seas may end up there, too. That honestly just occurred to me, but it's always had a bite sized page size. The old domains will redirect to the new URLs for convenience.

Hmmm. I started this post to explain my plans and I find them evolving as I go. I should think out loud on my Livejournal more often.

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