The Value of Encouragement

I mentioned last time that something interesting happened while I was working on the revisions for BlackWolf.

This needs a little backstory, so here we go with a flashback scene.

Go back twenty years. I finished the first complete version of BlackWolf (then, the full title was Black Wolf, Demon Wolf – I got tired of typing that). It wasn’t my first novel, but we don’t talk about the first two; this was the first one I had hopes for. A very good friend and mentor, a local mystery author, read it for me and gave me her thoughts. She also heard that a Canadian fantasy author, Charles de Lint, was Writer in Residence in Ottawa, a rather larger city than ours, and that he would read work sent to him and send it back with his thoughts. What she didn’t discover from her source was that, quite reasonably, one was only supposed to send the first 100 pages or so. We sent the whole thing. Oops.

He was kind enough not only to read the full thing, but to say some very encouraging things and write me a rather long letter breaking down his observations and suggestions. He also offered to meet with me to discuss it. So, in May of 1995, my father gave me a ride to Ottawa (I was 21, and I never did get the whole driving thing) and I spent a very instructive afternoon. I was at least as shy then as now, and I was nervous, and I remember I started to giggle a couple of times at comments that were meant to be serious, but I also remember that he was very patient. Between his letter and that discussion, I learned the fundamentals of how to take what I had written, this wonderful ecstatic creative outpouring of raw material, and look at it in a whole new way, so that I could work it into something not just good, but much better than good. Continue reading

BlackWolf and Yin-Yang

So… yeah.

I’ve been madly and obsessively working on a heavy-duty edit of BlackWolf roughly since my previous blog post. First a detailed comb-through by myself and repairs on all the things I flagged, then reading it aloud to my patient Jackie and repairs on all the things we noticed that way. It’s now reached the point where anything else I try to do myself will be more harm than good, so I’ve sent it off to my wonderful test readers. Based on their feedback, I’ll make whatever further changes are needed, and I’ll release it this summer – in July sometime, if all goes well. While its in their hands, it’s time for me to switch focus to other things. Writing-related things, of course. Housework? Don’t be ridiculous! I don’t get a massive creative adrenaline high from housework!

Something interesting happened in the process with BlackWolf, but it’s long enough and sufficiently different from the rest of this post to deserve its own, which I’ll do in the next couple of days.

Several other books are clamoring in my head to be the next on the list for “official” release. I believe Renegade gets that honour. Even though I originally wrote it rapidly and simply as an experiment, I’m actually too pleased with it to leave it to languish in the shadows. I’m already working on editing that, and finding that it’s relatively easy to do compared to the older works. Why? Because it’s all new and clean and shiny, written based on an old-old idea but otherwise entirely with my current skills. There’s much less repair work to do because, well, it’s put together properly the first time! That’s making me feel rather optimistic, actually, that perhaps the process of editing will be less exhausting once I get the old ones cleaned up and released and can move on to newer ones. Continue reading

Revision, humility, and self-development

I’ve spent some time over the past few days, around the things mentioned in my previous post and especially yesterday after that post, reworking Lamia as the next formal release. While this experience is probably very good for me as a writer, it’s currently rather frustrating. Somehow, a single major flaw with three consequences has been slipping past me ever since I finished the first version in the late 90s. Since I’ve now spotted it, I’m going to have to un-weave and re-weave an extensive amount of text – I’m unsure just how great the extent of the damage is or what it will take. *sigh* I’m grateful that I saw it before putting it on Smashwords, but given that I’ve been proud of Lamia and have considered it fundamentally complete for over a decade, it’s turning into a lesson in humility as well.

In fact, since I’m currently considering approaches to how to fix it (that’s a polite way of saying, Idunno what to do yet) I’m probably going to set it aside and take a look at BlackWolf instead with an eye to revision for official Smashwords release – although since I wrote BlackWolf several years before Lamia, I have to admit, that idea is making me a bit apprehensive. Alternatively, I could try taking Renegade more seriously.

The rest of this might make more sense if you sneak a peek at the Lamia page for the description. Continue reading

Self-publishing updates

It’s been a tiring few days, but I think it’s been reasonably productive. :-)

I’m happy with Smashwords and the response so far. At this point, the combined sales and sample downloads have doubled what I had through this blog alone. The sample downloads of the first 30% are at least giving it a chance; if someone tries that much and dislikes it, fair enough, but I’m hoping at least some will get that far and want to see what happens. Whether I make any money off it is irrelevant; the whole point is simply to be more visible. I do find it interesting and amusing that a number of friends and family who had no interest at all while it was simply here and on my other site, suddenly want copies of exactly the same text that has now been uploaded to a self-publisher. Continue reading