An Answer…

Over the weekend, I read a really interesting post on The Passive Voice blog. It was an excerpt from a post by Dean Wesley Smith, looking at the tools and opportunities we have today and asking why we, as writers, still think that it’s difficult to write like the old pulp writers:

Yesterday, in the last chapter of the book I did about writing a novel in five days while traveling, I made a comment near the end that I found the exercise fun to be able to (just for a few days) feel like I belonged in the world of the pulp writers.

And I made a comment that I was born too late.

A reader wrote me privately with a good comment. Basically the reader reminded me that I should feel lucky to have the modern things we writers use such as computers, control of our own work instead of selling it to gatekeepers and so on.

The reader made a very good point. We do have it so easy, so much easier than the pulp writers did. I know that, I study the pulp writers and their lives.

Yet even with things being easier, it is unusual for a writer in 2017 to write a novel in five days.

So why do writers in this modern world not just write novels every week, week-after-week?

That even “Why?” question…

I knew the answer. Writer’s belief systems. Modern writers don’t believe they can.

That belief has been trained out.

Writers of the modern world have been taught to think that writing at pulp speed is different, unusual, a fantastic feat, massive work, and on and on and on…

I then realized I had done it too. And until tonight I hadn’t caught myself on it.

Look back at the last chapter I wrote. I called the entire idea of a novel in five days, “Crazy.”

Why? Writing a 40 thousand word novel should take me between 35 and 40 hours.

Sitting alone in a room and making stuff up for 40 hours in five days. What is so crazy about that????

And more importantly, what is so difficult about that?????

It’s a fair question. And it got me thinking: what are the false writing beliefs that are crippling me right now?

I can think of a few:

  • First drafts are never publishable.
  • Prewriting is not as important as butt in chair, hands on keyboard.
  • You can’t have more than one active WIP at the same time.
  • You can’t write short stories while working on a WIP.
  • Writing a short story per week is hard.

Well, it’s time to break free from these crippling beliefs, starting with the last one.

I’ve had a bunch of short story ideas recently, and I’m going to start running with them. I’ve neglected my short story writing for the past six months, so my active submissions have dried up somewhat (at least to the pro markets). But a lot of magazines have been giving me personalized rejections, which tells me that I’m not too far from a breakthrough. Trouble is, I just haven’t had anything to send them lately.

If I could write a novel per week, that would be absolutely fantastic. I’d probably write in a crazy obscure genre like Sword & Planet, except it’s not that obscure because Princess of Mars influenced everyone from Clarke, Bradbury, and Heinlein to George Lucas and the US Space Program.

But I’ll start with the short stories. And from there, who knows?

Plugging along with Gunslinger

Gunslinger to the Stars
Phase:3.0 Draft
Due:3 days ago
57%

So I’ve passed the 50% mark on Gunslinger to the Stars, which is kind of pathetic because I was hoping to finish it by today. Regardless, it WILL be finished soon, and when it is, it’s going straight to the editor.

Right now, I’m shooting for a publication date of May 15th. Things are on track to put it up for pre-order by the end of February, except I probably won’t put it up on Amazon until a month before it comes out (Amazon nerfs pre-orders for indies). Regardless, I am REALLY excited.

I’ve also got a super rough book description. Seriously, it took maybe twenty minutes and definitely needs some work. But if you’ve been following Gunslinger’s progress and are curious to see it, here it is. Feedback is definitely appreciated.

The name’s Sam Kletchka. Perhaps you’ve heard of me: captain of the Star Runner, military contractor for Earthfleet and interstellar privateer. But before all that, I was a hired gun, freelancing across the galaxy one gunslinging job at a time.

Perhaps you’ve also heard about the incident in the Gorinal Star Cluster. There’s a lot of things that the powers that be, especially the Immortals, don’t want you know. I’m here to set that record straight. When the jumpgate went dark, I was there, along with Jane Carter, my better half, Tarak, my telepathic copilot, and the empath shapeshifters of the Silver Diadem.

It was a tough scrape, but fortunately, I brought some friends: LOVE, my 1911 9mm; KINDNESS, my 2011 .45 ACP; MERCY, my Ruger .22 Charger Rimfire; FAITHFULNESS, my .300 AAC Blackout; RIGHTEOUSNESS, my .50 Beowulf; JUDGMENT, my M203 grenade launcher, PRESERVATION, my Mossberg 590A1; and TRUST, my 15″ Chainpure Kukhri. But the greatest of these is CHARITY, my alien-modified AR-15.

If you never want to leave your safe space, then stay down there on Earth. As for the rest of us, we’ll be chasing our destiny among the stars.

Yeah, that’s definitely not going to be the final version.

It’s interesting just how much this book has changed through the last two revisions. The story hasn’t changed at all, but it’s shed more than 20% of the words in the revision process and I’m not even finished with the third draft. When I told my roommate that I wanted to cut out a good 10k words this draft, he thought I’d have to cut out a character or something. Yet that hasn’t been the case.

It’s amazing how much you can improve a story by cutting out all the unnecessary words. It’s the difference between a small shot of deliciously thick hot chocolate, and a large mug that is far too watered down. I thought I had the main character’s voice down, but it didn’t really shine until I started aggressively cutting.

That’s the thing about measuring progress by word count. Sometimes, it’s not about how much you can write, but how much you can cut out.

Between now and May, I’m going to write a short story from Jane Carter’s point of view. It’ll be something of a prequel, and hopefully showcase a bit of her character. I’d also really like to write a short story from Tarak’s POV, but that’s going to take a bit more thinking through.

Lots of interesting story stuff going on behind the scenes. I’ll do my best to keep you guys updated on the blog!

Check out the sci-fi story bundle!

Hey guys! Awesome news: there’s a new sci-fi adventure bundle up on storybundle.com, and Bringing Stella Home is one of the bonus novels! This is a big collaboration with a bunch of really great authors, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. To explain it a little more, here’s the curator Joseph R. Lallo:

The Sci-Fi Adventure Bundle – Curated by Joseph R. Lallo

My history with StoryBundle goes all the way back to the very beginning, literally to the Big Bang (Bundle) that started it all. Since then, both StoryBundle and I have been on a remarkable a journey. I’ve published over a dozen new titles and found my way to the top of charts around the globe. StoryBundle has worked with some of the finest authors in the world and continued to help worthwhile charities. A few things have remained constant. StoryBundle is still dedicated to gathering and distributing hand-picked indie books from talented authors, and we’ve both kept a soft spot in our hearts for the science fiction action and adventure that brought us together in the first place.

When I was asked to curate this bundle, we felt the history of the bundle and that initial sci-fi flavor would be a fine theme to build it around. Over the years I’ve collaborated with some of the superstars of indie publishing as well as some talented up-and-comers, and they each had exciting new projects to offer. Quick and witty dialogue, chilling and realistic settings, deep and philosophical quandaries, and good old fashioned carnage fill these pages from cover to cover. Each one embodies the intrigue and excitement that you can only get from quality science fiction.

This is one of the biggest and best bundles we’ve ever put together. Oasis by New York Times Bestseller Dima Zales will blur the line of utopia and dystopia. The complete Big Sigma Series will take you blazing through the galaxy with a desperate race pilot and a quirky AI. Cyborg Legacy, the latest from the prolific and talented Lindsay Buroker is available for the first time anywhere in this bundle. Tim Ward takes the world of Hugh Howey’s Sand in cinematic and thrilling new directions with Scavenger: Evolution. Tammy Salyer assembles a rugged team of space marines in Contract of Defiance and Contract of Betrayal. Geoffrey Morrison returns to his deep-sea world of devastation and decay with Undersea Atrophia, and that still only scratches the surface. We’ve got brilliant series-starters by Patty Jansen, M. Pax, and Joe Vasicek that are sure to hook you from the first page and never let you go. All told, that’s fifteen titles from nine authors in one colossal bundle.

Every title is a cunningly woven tale of sci-fi mastery. We’ve got aquatic wastelands and complex time loops. There are hard-edge military stories and tales of the struggle to survive. The triumph of the human spirit, the fall of civilizations, and everything in between can all be yours. Just name your own price and dive into the action! – Joseph R. Lallo

And for three weeks only, the Sci-Fi Adventure bundle authors are gifting you with not just one, but TWO free books! WE’ve got The Backworlds by M. Pax, and Ambassador 1: Seeing Red by Patty Jansen. That’s two free books in addition to the 13 already in the bundle!

The initial titles in the Sci-Fi Adventure Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:

  • Cyborg Legacy by Lindsay Buroker
  • The Big Sigma Collection Volume 1 by Joseph R. Lallo
  • Undersea by Geoffrey Morrison
  • The Spectras Arise Trilogy Book 1: Contract of Defiance by Tammy Salyer
  • Shifting Reality by Patty Jansen

If you pay more than the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular titles, plus EIGHT more!

  • Bringing Stella Home by Joe Vasicek
  • Temporal Contingency by Joseph R. Lallo
  • Undersea Atrophia by Geoffrey Morrison
  • Oasis by Dima Zales
  • Stopover at the Backworlds’ Edge by M. Pax
  • Ambassador 1A: The Sahara Conspiracy by Patty Jansen
  • The Spectras Arise Trilogy Book 2: Contract of Betrayal by Tammy Salyer
  • Scavenger: Evolution by Timothy C. Ward

This bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!

It’s also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.

  • Get quality reads: We’ve chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.
  • Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth. If you can only spare a little, that’s fine! You’ll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.
  • Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there’s nothing wrong with ditching DRM.
  • Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now!
  • Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you’ll get the bonus books!

StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.

For more information, visit our website at storybundle.com, tweet us at @storybundle and like us on Facebook. For press inquiries, please email press@storybundle.com.