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Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Nameless Writing Project(s) (or, Throwing Out My Soul and Wondering What You Think)

Some of you might recall this post about my financial troubles (more like financial stupidity compounded by some very real financial problems).  Recently, things have grown a little worse.  I haven't talked about it much on this blog, but one of my pet leopard geckos (Noodles) has had an ongoing eye problem for close to three years.  This problem is not cheap.  In the last few months, I have forked out several hundred dollars for lab tests, vet visits, medications, and so forth (in the last week, I've spent $200+).

This makes things difficult for the summer:  we generally do not work during the first part of summer at the University of Florida, I have no immediate income, and jobs are scarce or difficult to acquire in part because most of the students in the town have gone home, leaving an economic void.  It's not that I won't have the money when I start receiving a paycheck again.  My salary goes up starting at the end of June and I start teaching again at about the same time.  The problem is that I won't have that money in time to pay my rent in July and the recent health issues with Noodles have put me dangerously close to being bankrupt during most of June (when my Sister has decided it would be a lovely time to visit me -- go Ashley).  While I have no doubt my family would help me out, I would prefer avoiding asking them until I've exhausted other options, one of which I want to talk about here (after the fold):


The Project
I have two ideas that I'm considering to meet my financial demand for the summer -- $1,000 (more or less; this number is somewhat random, to be honest).  Both of them are writing related, and genre specific (which should please all of you).

The World in the Satin Bag Ebook Release
One of the things that has been sitting on this blog going to waste is the very thing that started the blog many years ago:  my blog novel.  It's an interesting little work (violent, barely YA fantasy, full of myths and monsters and magic and other fun things).  But the longer I've left it on my blog, the more I've realized that I have no intention of traditionally publishing WISB.  It's from a different point in my literary history and I have, for lack of a better phrase, moved on.  But I do want to do something with it while it's on my blog.  That something is this:
  1. I want to edit it, including entire rewrites of sections of the novel, trimming it where it needs trimming, and so on;
  2. I want to put it in electronic format;
  3. I want to get something resembling a decent cover;
  4. And I want to release it as an ebook (or maybe even a real book) on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.
I have no illusions about the novel becoming one of those super sellers on Amazon.  But I know a number of you have ebook readers and might want to read the book in a format other than blog format.  Doing an ebook release will also mean an updated, proper version will see the airwaves.

Short Fiction Blog and Ebook Releases
I quite enjoy writing short fiction, and there aren't enough pro markets out there to warrant keeping good stories on the market.  The reality is that not every good story gets published by the big guys; they don't have the space.  Something I'd like to do is release short fiction on my blog in numerous formats and ask for donations (via Paypal).  I know some have had success doing this.  I've even thought of a number of short fiction projects I'd like to tackle doing this:

1) Catnip Pete Stories
Talking cat detective in a world of talking animals and humans. There are a lot of cat jokes and the stories are very rooted in the old Private Eye pulps with lingo adapted to cat language. It's a lot of fun.  I've considered doing a novella length serial here.  If you're not familiar with the Catnip Pete stories, see the Fiction section on the navigation bar.  Two stories are already available (the first a flash fiction piece and the second an unfinished novelette).

2)  Stories of Altern
Some time back I did a project called Worldbuilding Month and wrote thirteen posts about a world I was working on called Altern.  I've already written two stories within that world and would love to write more.  Altern is partially rooted in European folklore and mythology, with many of its house spirits and critters appearing in exaggerated form.  "The Gnomes of New Timberfax," for example, is a story about, well, gnomes, but of the evil, razor-toothed variety; "The Beautiful Are Not Far Away" is less humorous, but equally as dark, involving the tales told about the holes in trees (and the bad things that come from looking through them).  Many more stories can be told about this world.

Tied into this project are a few more experimental works, such as a story I've been working on for some time called:  "A Brief Account of the Aberwithy Minstrel Monks of New Timberfax During Her Majesty's War Against the Reinark in 114."  It's a collection of journals from a soldier which is annotated with historical corrections and explanations by an imaginary editor. It's a fun way of playing around with world building and I find it immensely fun to write.  I'm not sure how I'd release it on this blog, but that's something to think about later on.

3) U-Pick Story Project
One of the things I've thought about is having something where readers get to pick the next story to be released based on a synopsis.  I'd begin with a story I particularly enjoy, see how it was received, and then give readers the power!  I write science fiction, fantasy, and some things between.  I'm not tied to any particular kind of SF/F, which means the stories would be quite varied.

Edit:  Jordan Lapp has suggested using Kickstarter.  I received similar suggestions from Doug Lain.  I may do that this weekend to see if I can meet my goal, and to give me a nice kick in the butt to do something really cool with my writing.  But which project to choose?  No idea...

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The big question, however, is this:  what do you all think?  Would you donate money for a short story released on this blog?  Would you buy an updated version of WISB in ebook format (or a print edition, for that matter)?  Do any of these ideas sound interesting to you?

Let me know in the comments.  I'd seriously like to know your thoughts, good or bad.  Rip me a new one.  Tell me I'm an idiot or a genius.  Tell me you're interested.  I don't care.  I just want to know.  I'm throwing out ideas and seeing where they fall.

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15 comments:

  1. Maybe start a kickstarter account... maybe, for X sized donation, you'll use that person's name as a character... maybe for the largest donation, that person can name the genre or even the plot... dunno just spewing ideas here.

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  2. Perhaps if I did a series of short stories I'd offer to make the villain in each based on the person who donated at a certain level? That's a good idea. I thought of doing Kickstarter. Do you know much about it? If I started a project now, would it go up today, or do they hold projects until the first of the month? I know some sites do that (LibraryThing only does early reviewer things at the start of the month).

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  3. Wow! What a jaw-droppingly awesome list of choices. I am not qualified to suggest a choice (although I would likely buy a novelette of wisb) as I am little more than an interested bystander. I do hope that whatever you choose to do pays off.

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  4. WISB would be a full novel, although I could certainly write a story set in the same world that is novelette length.

    Do you have any opinion on which of the projects you're most interested in, though?

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  5. Mur Lafferty has had great success with Kickstarter, but she has a huge following.

    I do the name your price thing with Bandcamp.com and that has worked out well for me. I've made a decent amount of money and have got lots of new folks on my mailing list.

    It is a good idea to use the content that you have already created. The worst thing that can happen is that not a lot of people will buy it.

    Best of luck.

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  6. Yeah. I have a fairly small following, but large enough to make a decent sized fiction project work, perhaps. I might be delusional on that front, though.

    Do they have something similar to Bandcamp for people who write fiction? That's a good idea for ebooks, I think. Have a floor of 99c and a ceiling of "whatever you are willing to pay." I could see that being used to great effect.

    And I agree about using properties/content that I have already created, but I do want to do some original works. I was thinking of using worlds I've already built writing new stories within it. But that's just one idea. I have enough short stories already written that might do fine on their own, though.

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  7. Well, I'd like to read about the Bespectacled King, but, considering what you have above, I'd be interested in your experimental fiction tied to Altern. And everything else.

    And I'd buy a WiSB ebook, too.

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  8. I suppose I suggested a novelette because I already have a stack of books waiting to be read. But as paper or ebook, WISB would be easier to read than slogging through the blog (which is why I haven't finished reading it, although what I did read was impressive) has been.

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  9. Carr: Ah. I'm not going to release The Lands of the Alger here. That's a whole new novel and I need to carefully outline it. The damned thing is incredibly complex, I'm learning. But I do have a chapter about the Bespectacled King that you might get to read soon enough.

    So one vote for Altern fiction? :P

    julirose: Well, an ebook certainly is coming, but that's sort of secondary to the other projects, since that's not going to be finished until next month, to be honest. But you'll hear about it when I get it done. I'll likely release a print edition too, just because some people might not have eReaders. Likely mass market or trade paperback.

    Thanks for the comments and suggestions and opinions, folks!

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  10. Yeah, I'd be a bit worried if you started releasing chapters of a novel that complex before you worked out the details. I get the impression from people who write on the epic level (okay, mostly GRRM) that the process is hardly linear, and things change halfway through. Perhaps it depends on how much you outline, but I wouldn't want you to feel forced to adhere to chapters you had already posted on here.

    Instead, I'll look forward to whatever it is that you will offer.

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  11. Don't worry, you'll be one of the few people to see the working draft for The Land of the Algers. I just need to figure out who the primary POVs are and the primary conflict.

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  12. I think I would start with what you already have so that you can get it up there as quickly as a revision would allow. Plus, I'd love to read World in the Satin Bag in a more convenient format and would happily contribute to the starving college student/artist fund! ;)

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  13. WISB won't be finished for several weeks at best. That's sort of the secondary pursuit. The other stuff is where I was going to use Kickstarter. I don't need much to edit WISB unless I'm going to get a professional editor to look at it (which is a possibility).

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  14. Well, essentially what I'm saying is - go with whatever brings funds in the fastest. :)

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  15. I was thinking of maybe doing something called The Altern Compendium, which would incorporate the stories, histories, and so forth of the world of the same name. Sort of like an academic anthology. Fictional writers, fictional editors, and so on.

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