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Monthly Archives: April 2010

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Well, in case you haven’t heard (and if you’re reading this you probably have) I have my first publication credit! I have a short story called “Power in the Blood” for which I’ve been paid (in pounds sterling!) and you can find it it at Hub Fiction.

I wrote this story years ago and actually podcast it as an interstitial podcast episode between Valley of the Shadow and Legion. I submitted it to PseudoPod before I did that and it got rejected. The editor was very kind and gave me some feedback. When I recently decided to get serious about getting published, this was one of the first ones I picked to send around. As you can see, persistence sometimes pays off.

So that’s what I want to tell you. If you’re gonna write and try and get that writing published, don’t let the first few rejections throw you off your game. Keep plugging away at it.

And if you read the story (fair warning, it’s graphic) and feel like dropping a comment, here’s the place to do it.

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James Melzer, Drew Beatty, and I have a nice chat on ebooks, podcasting and publishing.

Mentioned:

Drew Beatty
http://www.drewbeatty.com/
http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/drewbeatty
http://twitter.com/drewbeatty

James Melzer
http://jamesmelzer.net/
http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jjmelzer
http://twitter.com/Melzer

Scott Roche
http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ScottRoche

Paul E. Cooley
http://shadowpublications.com/?q=node/167

Zach Ricks
http://www.madpoetfiles.com/

Jennifer Hudock
http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jennybeans
http://jennybeans.net/2010/04/10/the-dark-side-anthology-project/

Critters.org E-book Pricing Survey
http://critters.org/surv/

Jake Bible
http://jakebible.com/

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Alan Middleton, podcast fan (and better yet Archangel fan) and associate professor at Ohio University wants us to fill out this podcast survey. It’s not over long as these things go and asks some good questions. It will be available for five weeks and he hopes to have the results available in a few months. He’ll be putting them in a paper and providing them to the community at large to help us learn a thing or two about our listeners’ habits. This is everything from how they listen to the kinds of ads they like/don’t like.

Help a brother (and our community) out by taking a few minutes and filling it out!

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So last night I tweeted the following, “Well so much for podcasting any of my short fiction…” Why did I do that?

Well, I was chatting last night with Zach Ricks, a man who I’m proud to be a writing partner with and with whom I hope to continue to build a friendship and the subject turned to, as it often has of late, selling our fiction projects. It seems that according to one very knowledgeable source, podcasting your fiction before selling it to more traditional venues may reduce your pool of choices. Publishers, some publishers anyway, want first publication rights and if you’ve already self published it or put it out there for free then they may not be as eager to snap it up. That came as a surprise (though I’m not sure why). My instant reaction was to pull back and go, “I don’t want to hurt my chances at selling it”, because I do, in fact, want to sell what I write. I don’t want this to be a hobby, something I just do for fun. I want to entertain, but at the same time I don’t want to do it all for free. In this, Mr. Hutchins and I are in agreement.

After an okay night’s sleep, a cup of coffee and a dose of thinking, things look a little different this morning. As I have often said here lately, you need to look at why you’re podcasting. Why do I do this? I don’t do it for the money, obviously. I do it in part to improve my writing and generate feedback. I do it in part because it is indeed a hobby. I do it as a way to get my name out there in the writing world, even if it is “only” in the small pond we inhabit as podcasters. If these are the reasons why I do it then what harm is there in selecting a few stories from the ones I’ve written and use those to do that, while selecting others to pursue more traditional venues with? None, I’d say.

I believe in the “power of free”, but this is not an either or pursuit. I firmly believe that I can offer you, my audience, some freebies in podcast form and give you the opportunity to purchase it in various forms should you so choose. If those stories are less marketable to traditional venues, well I guess that means you can expect me to be pimping those in Smashwords hardcore. Some of you have actually bought my stories sight only half seen and for you I am especially grateful. I also believe that I can pursue print publication with stories that I won’t be giving away any time soon and once those stories are available in the wild, at a price, that some of you will go out and buy those magazines or what have you. Not all of you will and that’s fine, I don’t have that expectation. Once those particular stories are sold and it comes down to selling reprint rights, I don’t see why I wouldn’t podcast those as well.

I guess I say all of this to say that I will be forging ahead. I will be podcasting some of my short fiction in the near future, starting with Bitter Release and Music Box. I’ve already self published those after all and so if any damage has been done (and maybe none has) then what’s done is done. I’m rather proud of both stories and I hope that you’ll listen and if you like them, I hope that you’ll consider buying them.

I will also continue to submit stories to Great Hites. I think what Jeff is doing over there is great and while it’s a strictly “for the love” publication, I don’t think that diminishes its value and that may indeed be the largest source for stories I elect to sell and podcast through this site and Smashwords.

Ultimately what it comes down to for me is this. I have a great luxury. I don’t have to make a living doing this. I have the freedom to give some things away completely, with no expectation of making any money. I have the freedom to elect to try and sell other things without giving them away in the near term, to see if I can indeed one day make a living with words. My friend Dave said, “You need to choose which road to publishing you are going to take.” and while I agree with what I think he meant, I don’t think there’s only one road or that we have to do anything only one way. We’re trying to make our own roads here, aren’t we? There are “rules”, but there’s enough of a maverick in me to want to try and find out which ones of those I can break, or at least fold, spindle, and mutilate.

Thanks to everyone for their continued support of all of my efforts, monetary or otherwise, and be sure to let me know what you think of all this madness in the comment section. Maybe what I’m trying to pull off here is the publishing equivalent of a mullet. I think we can agree that pulling off the “business up front and party in the back” with your hair takes a great deal of moxie only truly accomplished by greats like the Swayze and perhaps the same is true of doing some free and some not free.

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In the latest feedback episode of the Cybrosis podcast novel an email I sent sparked a conversation about writing your protagonist as sympathetic vs. interesting and the challenges therein.

In my own writing I tend to try and make my main characters likable (or at least sympathetic/understandable). I’m not necessarily looking to make someone who you’d want to go out and have a drink with, but I want them to at least have something appealing about them. If you can’t like them then you should at least be able to say “I can see how they got there”. I want you to want to know them better or at least care about them and what they’re going through.

When they were talking about characters that are more interesting than likable/sympathetic, they seem to fall into talking about the ones that you love to hate/hate to love. I find Cyris, P.C.’s protagonist, to fall more into this category. While not the most interesting character in the story, she is interesting and that does save her and the story. It sounds like he’ll be transitioning her into a more sympathetic character as the novel progresses. That will be a nice trick if he can pull it off. I say that, not because I doubt P.C.’s skill, but because making that change without losing who you’ve built her to be in the course of one novel would seem to be quite the challenge.

So, sympathetic or not, your main character has to be interesting. As I said, I want my protagonists to be both interesting and sympathetic and I think that’s what most writers are really shooting for and what most audiences want to see. On the other hand, writing/watching anti-heroes or real shady characters can be a lot of fun. But if you go that route, the more unlikable they are the more interesting they have to be to strike a balance.

Some examples of unlikable, but interesting protags from my tweet stream are Grendel, Thomas Covenant (yes!), Sandman, Perry Dawsey (yes and yes!), Tony Soprano, Dexter, Francis Urqhart, Cal Mcaffrey. Looking at that list, the ones I’m familiar with, definitely show that to take the real chumps/rotten apples and maintain your audience’s interest in them you definitely need to make them interesting. I recently wrote a short story for Great Hites and I’m not sure which camp Bogdan falls into. (Maybe you can give it a read and tell me?) I don’t really like him or what he stands for, but I can at least see why he is what he is and feel sorry for him. My hope is that that tension makes him interesting even if you hate him.

So what’s your experience here? Can you think of some (un)sympathetic protags that weren’t interesting enough to save them? How could they have been improved?