Monthly Archives: June 2014

Life After Gabby

The completion of the Gabby Wells storyline will take me some time.  A couple of years.  Not including the time it took to convert screenplays into novels that have since been tossed, just getting the novellas written, edited and published will probably take a year in total.

We’ll release the novellas, one at at time, every three months.  That will give me a year to write as many of the Gabby Wells novels as I can, and we plan to release those every three to six months, depending on how fast I can write them.  If I could have all of those novels written by the time the first novella is released, that would be great.  That’s a lot of words in a short period of time, but that’s the goal.

But, I do plan a writing life after Gabby Wells.

Gabby-HeaderUp until my adventures in novel writing, I expressed my creative storytelling through screenplays.  I did that for over 20 years and many of those stories I plan to turn into novels.

The first non-Gabby story I will probably write is based on a screenplay I wrote called Redemption.  It’s a horror story and my wife’s favorite thing I’ve ever written.  I plan on that being the first in another series of books that involves a nun and modern takes on horror themes.

Plus, there are non-series stories I’d like to tell too.  I have another screenplay called Martyrs that I would love to turn into a novel.  It involves a young girl stuck at her father’s office as it is overrun by terrorists.  And a novella from a screenplay called Forgiven, about a young woman driving across the country who happens stop at a gas station while it’s in the process of getting held up.

And there’s more.  A lot more.  Many, many stories.

I just hope I have time to write them all.

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Word Count and Wreaking Hovac

Been very efficient this past week, typing out over 12,000 words.  I’m nearing the end of the first draft of Lost & Found and I must say I’ve really enjoyed putting Gabby through hell.

Writers have an odd relationship with the characters they love.  They create them, cherish them, give them hopes, dreams, goals, loves and then expend all of their energy trying to destroy every single one of them.  Not all at once, of course.  Just a little bit at a time.

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When I started this novella I didn’t intend to make Gabby’s life so miserable.  It just sort of turned out that way.  And for the better, from a story perspective.  In crisis is where we see what someone is truly made of, what friendships really mean, which convictions are founded in stone or sand.  I’m not sure how much suffering still awaits Gabby in final chapters of Lost & Found, but I’m sure it’ll be just a little more.

As long as it makes the story stronger, its worth it.  She won’t mind.

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Writing is a Lot Like Golf… or an Ex-Girlfriend.

Writing is a lot like golf. It only takes one good swing to keep you hacking away for another 18 holes.

While working on the first draft of Lost & Found I inadvertently setup a really awesome situation.  The options were limitless.  With that came pressure not to screw it up.

So, I tentatively started into the scene, worried about letting myself (and the reader) down.  Yet, as the scene unfolded, the goals, the obstacles, the failures and the victories became clear to me.  The words were visual and creative and descriptive and effective. (A lot of ‘ives’ I know).

I was so excited when I was done.  I felt like I hit a homerun in the bottom of the 9th to win the game.  Or, to stick with my original analogy, hit the ball off the first tee with force, driving it straight and deep down the fairway.

Remember, preceding this moment of zen, I had been whining on this blog about how much of a struggle the writing process had been for me; having to write the outline backwards, writing words and hoping most of them would remain in the second draft.  Stuff like that.

golfIt’s like I had spent the previous day slicing the ball, digging it out of hazards and high grass and fishing it out of the water, with triple bogies and impatient foursomes behind me screaming to let them hit through.  But that one drive made me sign up for a lifetime membership.

That’s how addictive this writing thing can be when rare moments of inspiration hit.

It reminds me of painful relationships I was involved in while in college.  You date a girl.  She’s cute.  She likes you.  Then she stops calling.  You wait by the phone. Nothing happens.  You still wait by the phone.  Nothing happens.  You see her in class, she barely acknowledges your presence.  Then, one day you happen upon her in the cafeteria and you share a lunch.  You laugh, have a good time, she touches your hand, thanking you for picking up the tab.  Your heart flutters and you forget all of the anguishing minutes waiting by a silent phone.  You have hope once again that your relationship can be saved.

It’s that kind of false hope, but in writing, it’s more like fleeting awesomeness.

I may never get another one of those writing nirvana moments for the rest of this novella.  Or the next one, for that matter.  More than likely all of the future words I ever write will by 99% work and 1% inspiration.

But, it doesn’t matter.

I had one of those extraordinary moments where it all clicked.  Like hitting that perfect drive or the touch of a thoughtless girlfriend; momentary joy that makes all of the prior and future suffering not so bad.

I have the second half of the novella ahead of me.  And, for the first time in a few weeks, I’m really looking forward to writing it.

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Word Count and 50,000

Plotting out Lost & Found has really come in handy.  In a week I’ve written nearly 8,000 words.  The story is humming along.  I’m about half-way through, so it should end up in the 30,000 – 40,000 range, like the rest.

GW-Wordcount-061714I have been amazed how changes in the market, or new information I have come across during the learning process, has altered my approach.  These novellas exist because of a podcast I heard a few months ago.  The more I learn, the more I want to set myself up for success.  Sometimes, that requires changing my path.

There is one option out there that I have not yet decided on.

Bookbub is “a free service that helps millions of readers discover great deals on acclaimed ebooks while providing publishers and authors with a way to drive sales and find new fans.”  This has been used extensively, and often with great success, by many independent authors.  Just because you want to use Bookbub doesn’t mean you can.  They are selective about who they promote and you have to meet their criteria.  One of those criteria is that the book has to be at least 50,000 words.

They don’t promote novellas.

Now they also want your book to have great reviews on Amazon and, preferably, critical acclaim from sources other than readers.  So, the word count isn’t the only hurdle, but one of the basic ones.

So, as I write, I wonder, “Should these novellas be short novels instead, 50,000 words, so promotional opportunities could be made available to me?”

I don’t know the answer to that question yet.  I don’t want to add words for the sake of word count.  I want to add words because they make the story better.  As mentioned in a previous blog, Skyway will probably leap over the 50,000 word limit by the time it is done.  But, when I look at the rest of the novellas, I’m not sure almost doubling The Homecoming Incident will make it any better.  And, at this point, Lost & Found doesn’t feel like a 50,000 word short novel.

What does all of this mean?  It means I haven’t made up my mind.

I won’t know for sure until all of the novellas are written. Because, when that is done, I want to look at them as a whole, as one large character arc, and see what has to be altered to maximize their overall effect.  Maybe that process will require additional words.

But will that turn into five 50,000 word short novels?

Only time will tell.

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Wordcount and Writing Backwards

I’ve been chugging along slowly, but surely.  Mostly slowly.  I was able to draft almost 7500 words on the Lost & Found novella before I slowed things down.  I realized that I knew the end of the story, but some of the middle parts were fuzzy. And, since I was diving head first into writing the middle section, I knew I had to clear things up.

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In order to hash out the blank spots in my storyline, I decided to write backwards.  Or, better said, outline backwards.  Since I knew how it ended, I wanted to make sure every step in the story lead me there.  Plot point by plot point, I outlined backwards, identifying what happened in that plot section and what was the hook to make the reader want to continue on.  Eventually I made it through the fuzzy middle and to where my actual writing had stopped.

Now I have to move forward again, one word at a time, fleshing out those plot sections with dialogue, action and character.  Yes, that’s the hardest part, especially on the first draft, but at least I’ve devised a road map to get there.

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Pressure

Something important occurred to me this weekend.  Something that placed a crap ton of pressure on me.

As I fleshed out the plot for the second novella, Lost & Found, I realized it is the single most important book in the entire series.  Why?  Because, we intend to give the first novella The Homecoming Incident away for free, as soon as we are able (it takes time to move it from .99 to free in the Amazon world).  So, we’re hoping a lot of people will check out The Homecoming Incident for nothing and be inspired to take a chance on Lost & Found.

If they take that chance and don’t like Lost & Found, then they’re not going to invest any money in the remaining three novellas & five novels in the series.  That’s another eight potential novels/novellas that won’t be read.  And that’s a lot of work not being seen.  Hundreds of thousands of words.

So, this second novella became a hec of a lot more important.  And telling you only adds to the pressure to succeed.

It’s a good thing, though.  I should approach every story as if it’s imperative to the success of the series.  It was just that “Ah-Hah!” moment that kind of jolted me from “let me see what I can flesh out” to “Good Lord, years of work are now waiting for my timid fingers to type something brilliant.”

Only time, a good editor and reader’s opinions will tell if I’m successful or not.

No pressure…

 

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