SW-VII Reproach (thumb)First, just a quick update on my latest writing projects.  I got the feedback from my second round of test readers for Star Wanderers: Reproach (Part VII), and while I think the story still needs work, it’s getting closer. I probably won’t be able to get it out by the end of September, but first or second week of October it should be ready.

It’s funny–I sent it to a guy and a girl, and while the guy thought it didn’t need any changes (and he’s studying to be an editor), the girl pointed out a few things that need a little more reinforcement and development.  It’s mostly just minor changes I think, getting more into Noemi’s viewpoint and figuring out exactly what she’s going through, and making that clear to the reader.  So yeah, it shouldn’t be too hard.

In some ways, writing this book has been like writing myself out of a corner.  The story in Reproach runs parallel with the events of Sacrifice, and some of the stuff that happens there is pretty complicated.  For example, it’s got a sixteen year old girl who feels like her only hope at happiness is to convince her best friend to share her husband, and the best friend actually kind of comes around to it by the end, though the whole ordeal is almost unbearable for her.

Writing about monogamous relationships is hard enough when you’ve always been single–it’s doubly hard when you’re writing about polygamy.  But I’m actually fairly pleased with the way it’s come out so far–even though it’s not quite ready to be published, everyone who’s read it has really gotten into it, even the readers who haven’t yet read the earlier books in the series.  It’s been a challenging book to write, but it’s been a gratifying one, and I think you guys are going to enjoy it.

Of course, all of this is yanking me away from Sons of the Starfarers, which is really kind of aggravating.  On an interview I listened to recently, Jim Butcher said that writers are either writing, thinking about what they’re writing, or thinking about what they’ve written.  The way my brain is wired, I can only really do one of those things at a time, and I’d much rather write or think about what I’m writing than think about what I’ve written.  But yeah, Reproach is more important, so after finishing the current chapter I’ll put Sons of the Starfarers on hold for a couple weeks.

Also, I’m working to get print editions out for all of my Star Wanderers books before Christmas.  Part of this is because of the new Matchbook program from Amazon, but mostly it’s just because … well, why not?  For those of you who want paperback versions of these novellas, that will soon be an option.  I’m having a little trouble figuring out the cover art (RBG vs. CMYK, getting the covers to print attractively instead of turning out way too dark, etc), but that shouldn’t take longer than a few weeks to iron out.  Expect to see parts I-IV out by November.

Finally, a funny thing happened to me at Leading Edge.  For those of you who don’t know, it’s a student-run science fiction & fantasy magazine where student volunteers read every story submission and write a critique for the author.  Well, while sitting in the slushpile, one of the editors came in and showed me a story that I’d critiqued … twice!  The first time, I’d given it a rejection.  The second time, I’d actually recommended that the editors buy it!

Well, I racked my brain a little bit to figure out what had happened, and as close as I can tell the only real difference was in how distracted I’d been when I’d read it.  The first time, it had been fairly noisy and there’d been a lot of distractions.  The story had some good parts to it, which I mentioned in the letter, but I didn’t really pick up on the character motivations well, so I rejected it based on that.  The second time, though, it had been quiet enough for me to really pay attention to the story, enough to really get what was going on.  I finished it, and the ending moved me so much that I knew I’d have to recommend that we publish it.

The editor wanted to keep the rejection sheet anyway, but I tossed it in the garbage since really it wasn’t all that helpful anyway.  And the moral, if there is one, is to pick up every story with the idea firmly in mind that you’ve got a potential gem in your hands.  Too often, I think we read stuff flippantly, as if we already know that it’s not worth our time and attention.  Well, don’t do that!  Who knows but what you’ve got your new favorite story of all time sitting right in front of you?  Give it a chance!

And on that note, I leave you with this:

See you guys around!

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