My style of book prep seems like an ever-changing thing. While everyone has their own ideas and ways to make writing a book manageable, there are a lot of differences between genres, and people writing within those genres. I’m excited to talk about what I’ve been doing to write my latest few projects, and how this differs from my earlier, young’un projects that were barely a departure from fanfic.
Yep! I’m a fourth of my way into November, and I’m thinking of projects to write about. Not that I’ve stalled. No. I even wrote four thousand words–today–on my delicate little Nautilus. It is a delightful write, mostly because I can escape this world into somewhere else. A somewhere else much more dangerous.
I’ll be up front with my readers: I recently spent three months away from my job, on disability and stress leave, due to the circumstances of a particularly nasty divorce. I continued to work at a job that took up, quite often, 12-13 hours of my day. I found a terrible depression brewing, and it came to a head after I had my tonsils removed. One day I simply woke up and didn’t know who I was. I had free time, finally. What to do? I didn’t know; my default was television. So I had a small breakdown.
And the next day started writing in this blog again. I’ve finally broke (most of) the habit of defaulting to the television for my free time. I then went to therapy, made some awesome friends, and then returned to work. While I’ve returned to my high-stress, high-octane job, I’ve found returning from work ends with me sitting at my computer with a powerful need to write. This is a very good change in habits, methinks, but I can’t say how long it will last.
That stated, I have several projects in the wing. New ideas haven’t yet presented themselves–mostly because any fresh thought tends to fall into one of the projects as “fodder.” Continue reading
Since moving to St. Louis I’ve noticed my writing preferences changing. I haven’t begun a new project in over a year now, mostly due to my wife’s hard line on my getting something published, or quit trying.
I’m writing about all the taboo subjects, with all the taboo characterizations: no strong female lead, no tried-and-true character types in my Fantasies (like Lothlorien-esque elves, or Twilit werewolves), and they’re being written to communicate many things, not just an adventure or coming-of-age. People in these books, much like people in the real world, are sometimes racist, sometimes dumb, and rarely zealous to a cause. My elves inhabit soul-less bodies, where the living minds are imprisoned elsewhere. My world is dangerous the way the real world is, the way a city is, the way religion is. It is a minefield in the mind. It is the Grimm fairy tales as initially written. It is a ghost story as understood by the haunted.
I recently finished reading my last finished project, David and his Shade, a Modern Fantasy novel that I frankly couldn’t stop reading. It’s about a boy who, up until his thirteenth birthday, was kept in total ignorance of magic and its uses. It’s about a school that opens his eyes. It’s about a world at war (much as it is in the real world). It’s about dangerous things, inside and outside the classroom. It’s about Big Brother and its vice grip on knowledge. But most of all, it’s about David figuring out his place in it all and ultimately coming to the question that requires answering: should he remain in the world of magic and learn all he can about it, or should he “grow up,” as his father’s friend says, “and return to God-fearing reality”?
He is in no way unremarkable. All the characters are. In the 231 pages, a rich story exists. A story I feel needs to be shared. It’s not an easy one, or a simple one, or an easily tossed aside one. I have something to say.
So I’ve been trying to figure out how to market such a book in the post-Harry Potter days where every agent underneath the sun screams, NO BOYS AND SCHOOLS OF MAGIC. AT ALL.
It’s not past its rough draft stage–I still have to reinforce several characters, introduce themes and questions much earlier in the story, and connect several loose ends. I have much to do, especially given all the forgotten “flavor.”
But I’m having a hard time with it. Even when it’s all finished, written up, final draft drafted, climax climaxed, etc, I’ll be fighting the wall of Unpublishable. No agent will read my query past David attends a school of magic. No publisher would touch it with a ten foot pole simply on content alone.
Nevermind David fights a murdering troupe of Lost Boys, trains under a creature twisted by nightmare, and meets Mephistopheles himself. Nevermind New York is uprooted and severed by the emergence of demons who owe no allegience to any country. Nevermind a six mile high Worldtree blocks all sun from Boulder, CO half the day, or the fact that science backs most magical theory. No.
It’s too close to the most popular universe in fantasy fiction, so it has no selling value. Perhaps I’ll word my query with imploring desperation: Please, Mr or Ms Agent, read my first ten pages before making your decision.
Perhaps I should do that with all my work.
I did it. On Sunday I wrote 10k words. Yesterday I finished my book: 225 pages, 120k words. It’s rough, as in rough draft, as in not anywhere near ready to be sent out to editors. So, I’ve been running through it in my head, and I will attempt to write a jacket cover:
David Price doesn’t sleep too well. He never has: nightmares and night terrors fill his mind, and he’s haunted during the day. He accepted an internship at Cliffsedge School of the Mind to escape the boredom of summer and possibly figure out what’s going wrong with him.
At this school, the classes are tough, the teachers tougher, and complex dangers lurk in corners best left undisturbed.
David’s nightmares make studying nearly impossible, and when a well-meaning professor separates Cold Man from David for a night, instead of restful slumber he stumbles into a hole into reality while dreaming. Perhaps his shade is being spiteful for his efforts to remove it. Perhaps he inadvertently fell himself. He’s quickly learning being haunted at a schoo lof magic is anything but simple. Whatever the case, his nightmares just got much more dangerous, and seem to be spilling into the real world in the form of 200 year old children that had spent their lives in a world much like Peter Pan.
Coupled with getting to know a hundred other thirteen year olds; dealing with a magical school filled with ghosts, mythical creatures, and political intrigue; and learning material way above his grade level, David must confront some of his darkest fears by learning the name of his shade—and finding a way to undo what he set in motion—while passing internship to get into 8th grade.
David’s life is anything but simple.
Anyway, that’s the gist of it. Only other major point (that has nothing to do with the plot itself) is that it’s not Earth as we know it: massive, mile-high magical trees grow in different places in the world: New York and Colorado, for two. They are major sources for magic. There’s a lot more going on, but that’s the main plotline. I’m excited, but not overly much. This marks the fourth finished novel I’ve written. Three are collecting dust after I’ve worked/reworked them to singing perfection (obviously not, since nobody wants them). Hopefully this doesn’t ring too “Harry Potter Ripoff” (I don’t care for the HP books whatsoever, but I love the idea of teaching the reader about magic).
I might have to go to a writing workshop or something. Four books seems to be overdone for some kind of publication. But maybe not: this might be how a lot of people do it.