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Posts Tagged ‘The Thin Edge’

Without going into dreary details, I was suddenly presented (about 10 minutes ago) with an opportunity: did I have a space-based SF short story, size in the 2-3k range, that I was willing to submit?

I turned to my Writing Portfolio spreadsheet (uh, you catalog your stories, don’t you?) set the words column to look for under 3500, and shazaam!  Three good candidates.

I relate this because between now and the end of July, there is no possible way I could write at 2-3000 word story.  As it is, I will have trouble making my Riddled Space deadline of 31 July.  But because, back in July of 2015, I wrote “Command Decision” for a market called The “Gernsback Writing Contest”, got rejected, but never deleted it, I have something to get to the editor tomorrow.

In the writing business, you have to be able to strike when the iron is hot.  It helps if you have a backpack full of ammo, ready to rock and roll, instead of pouring your minie-balls there on the battlefield.

Write.  Write often.  Submit to markets.  Save ALL stories.

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Way back in September, just after I finished the 3-Day Novel Contest, I looked at my hard drive.  I mean, really looked at it.  What did I see?  Seven novellas, all of which did not make the cut for 3Day (I’m not altogether sanguine about my chances this year, either).  Of the group, one will never see the light of day, a second is actually a far-distant sequel to The Honorable Thing, and the third (“Live Wire”) is still in the judging queue.

That left me four novellas, of the seven, that were suitable for self-publication.  So I picked one.  I then reached out to other 3DN participants.  Hey, if I am going down a road, why not have friends along?  I have three or more who really want to see how things go with me, then they will join me.  Not a problem!  One I completely empathize with.  I am glad to have a cheerleading squad on the bus with me.

So, I buckled down, shook out the novella, and sent it to a beta reader and an editor.  Tremendous feedback returned.  Both of them, highly successful professionals, stressed how much more they wanted to know about my characters and demanded sequels.  Thus, the Family of Grifters series was born.

The Longest Con was a 2014 3DN entry that garnered zero attention from the judges.   But it was both one of my favorites and one of the shorter works I have done.  Now, I’ve been asked to add something to it (understandable), and get it published.  I engaged one of the great upper mid-range cover artists, Christian Bentulan, to create the first of what I hope will be many covers for the Family of Grifters series.  Oh, you want to see it?  Here it is!

The Longest Con

The Longest Con

Pre-order opens on 2/1/2017, TLC launches on 2/10/2017.

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I’ve gone ahead and crossed out the steps that I have already taken to set myself up as an independent author.  Now I am down to the last two:

  1. Create a Amazon KDP account.
  2. Panic because I forgot something.

I am actually somewhat pleased with myself–I have almost a whole week to plot my 3 Day Novel entry for this year.  I know I’ll have to do some research, but I had to be ready to leap when the publication date for Paradisi Chronicles gets set.  So, I am testing BookFunnel now by spamming my friends.  I really hope it goes well.

Did you miss the signup for my newsletter?  Click here, and you’ll be part of the launch of my indie career, and read some fiction that you might just like.  Some stories are going to only go out to newsletter subscribers, so don’t be left out.

 

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Remember, way, way back, when I said that I was going to really push for traditional publishing?  Well, I still am.   Most of the reason was marketing.  I’m an author, not a salesman, I say.  And to an extent, that is still the case.  However, when I stumbled into the world of the Future Chronicles and Chronicle Worlds:Paradisi, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to launch an indie career as well.  After all, every single FC anthology that Samuel Peralta has launched has hit #1 in the Amazon SFF Anthology ratings.  With that many eyes getting the anthology, and perhaps even reading my work, it would be a tremendous waste not to have something else of mine for the readers to sink their teeth into.  And it has to be ready before the anthology launches.

Thus, this list.  Here’s a number of things I have to do before the end of August, which is when Paradisi is scheduled to launch.  I am posting this as a public checklist for my benefit as well as a guideline for others who might wish to follow me.

  1. Set up a mailing list via MailChimp (cheap for now.  Might have to move to AWeber later)
  2. Using the link for my newsletter, complete my blurb and Author Notes for that story and get the list to Samuel Peralta, the anthologist.
  3. Put the link on this blog (in case someone is moved to sign up)
  4. Write a newsletter (what a concept!)
  5. Set up a BookFunnel account, so I can send out the freebie stories that I am promising my subscribers.
  6. Format the freebie stories.
  7. Get a cover for the freebies!
  8. Convince someone from here to sign up for my newsletter, so I can test the whole thing out. (I’ll test it out first, I need a second tester)
  9. Format the next paying story (God’s Sandbox)
  10. Create a Amazon KDP account.
  11. Panic because I forgot something.

If anyone notices something I’ve forgotten, please let me know.

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In August of 2015, while wandering around in one of Facebook’s Open Call groups, I discovered The Future Chronicles, a collection of anthologies curated by Samuel Peralta. He had some pretty prestigious folks either writing for him, or praising him. Within FC, I noticed an Open Call for something called Chronicle Worlds: Paradisi. Simply put, a group of authors had collaborated in creating a future history with timelines, events, and characters. They had written seven novels, and Samuel wanted to anthologize a series of short stories set in that universe. Did I want in? Heck, yeah!

The process involved understanding a timeline, understanding the settings (it involves the migration of ten plutocrats and 100,000 of their closest friends through a wormhole to Andromeda and the Paradisi star system), and coming up with something compelling. It was, in a sense, a competition, but one unlike the usual markets that I haunted.

First off, it was indie run. Samuel publishes these anthologies via Amazon, and not through a press. CW:P is something like his seventeenth, so funding like author compensation is already baked in. He hires professional editors, cover artists, and such. This is the big time. His anthologies hit the Top Ten in the SFF category in Amazon within a few days of launch, so yeah, it’s a big viable market.

I wrote a story, “Nuking the Noomies”. There is a large back-story behind that, but you’ll have to get the anthology to read about it, as I put it in the Author Notes. I finished the story on October 16th and sent it off to the Canon Keepers. This step was required to ensure that my story didn’t violate any of the novels that have already been published, and any of the stories that were planned for the anthology.

Then my younger brother, John, died suddenly, two days later. I got comments back the next week, but I was in no state to work on the piece. However, I did manage to address the Canon Keeper’s concerns and in before the December 15th deadline. There was a LOT of editing at this phase, so by the time the story ended up on Samuel’s desk, it was pretty polished. Sam sent it off to the anthology editor, so I was happy that he accepted it.

By this time, I had befriended a few of the other authors in the anthology. They all got comments from the editor on their work. For me, nothing. I didn’t know what to think. Finally, I got the email. There was exactly one question, some stray punctuation adjustments, and the editor seemed to like contractions. I was happy that I didn’t have a lot to do, but it felt a lot like I was trying to climb a step that wasn’t there.

I got a call from my mother that evening, and raced down to her place (~200 miles south of me) to get her to the emergency room, then to rehab. I let the editor know about the family emergency, and she reassured me that a small delay was OK. Five days later, I was able to get back to Noomies, perform the changes, and send it back. Then the weird stuff started happening. OK, weirder stuff.

The editor told me how much she liked the story. Then Samuel sent me this: “Bill Patterson – I kid you not, I am already getting fan mail about YOUR upcoming story from readers.” What readers? Maybe Samuel has a bunch of beta readers he sends stuff to. Then, last night, I got this: https://www.facebook.com/groups/futurechronicles/permalink/1111605112267390/?comment_id=1115231275238107

Translated: based solely on the strength of Noomies, the anthologist has invited me to write a story in a new anthology!  The only requirement is that history has changed from what we know. I have already sent him two ideas. Samuel has 175 authors on his list, yet he reached out to me. I’m (obviously) fit to burst. Then I look around at all of the other authors who have been invited. Oh, dayam–now I’ve got to deliver!

Lesson: You never know when your big break is going to come. Just keep pounding the keys, going to events, exploring those Open Calls. Someday, something’s going to give you that big break you’re seeking.  It’s The Thin Edge in practice.  If I had blown off Facebook as mere fluff, I’d never be where I am now.

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So, you thought the blog was defunct, right?  No–only my posting behavior to this blog was off.  However, several things have occurred that further put me off my feed since July.  Brief list:

  1. My brother, John Patterson, passed away with no warning, on October 18th, 2015.

That affected everything.  He was not married (although he tried mightily), and had no children (because he was a responsible man).  My two remaining siblings live on the West Coast, and my mother is in her 80s and not doing well.  Thus, I am the executor of his estate.  Big job, it is.

Then came November and NaNoWriMo hit.  As the Municipal Liaison, I had a duty to make my 50,000 words, come hell or high water.  I did.  Oh, it was utter crap, but I still did it.  Why?  I had a perfect out–14 of the 30 days of November, I was down at my brother’s house, working on estate stuff.   I was counseled to take the pass and concentrate on estate stuff.

Nope.  Two reasons:  John would not have wanted me to slough off NaNo and my ML (and ML Mentor) responsibilities–he was not an author himself, but he used to send me all kinds of encouragement to keep writing.  Second, I had a golden opportunity to demonstrate that it is possible to write 50k even when a major life event has occurred.

December came, and the estate stuff got worse (if possible).  It’s January now, and I have a bit more breathing room.  Then I read Hugh Howey’s extremely excellent blog post:  So You Want to be a Writer…  In that, one of his mandatory steps is to write a blog entry every day.  I will ramp up to that, this is the first step.  Things will be busy the next two days, then I’ll post to catch everyone up.  There have been Happenings.

 

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They tried hard. But they should have known, from Comic-Con, how packed out these kinds of events could get. When you get top YA authors, A-List personalities, and good old Stan Lee in a venue, you have to expect chaos–even if it’s about books.

Book-Con ’14 was one crowded place. There was a time when I had found myself at the back of the hall and thinking, “What if there was a incident, and everyone had to get out?” It would be like that Who concert in Cincinnati–people getting crushed.

However, some lines were worth it: like the one for the NYTBSA Said author looked up, said “Hi, Bill! How’s the work going?”, then graciously signed a book for me. I was floored–this famous author remembered me! I discussed THT for the ten seconds I had in front of him, then exited the line to allow others to get books.

Still bemused, I walked across the aisle to Mid-Sized-Press-Company. I guess I was grinning, for one of the people behind the table said “Ah, got a book from [NYTBSA]?” Her badge labeled her as “Chief Poo-bah”. I related the story of how THT came to be. She said, “What is this project? Tell me about it.” I did so. At a certain point in my pitch, I always get goosebumps. I happened to glance down, and she also had goosebumps. Whaaaa?

She looked me dead in the eyes. “If [NYTBSA] passes on your project, I want it. This is a verbal request for a full submission of your manuscript. If the website says our submissions are closed, put in your query letter that I personally asked for it.” I’ve never seen anyone look so intent, and I’ve pitched a few folks on my work, though not necessarily this one. So…wow.

The next week, I related this to one of my trusted associates while at a writers meeting. One of the people there overheard me, and said “If I had any capital, I’d option that concept right this second.” He is a screenwriter with some solid credentials in the film industry, and he was saying that if he could, he would offer me cash, that minute, to grant him exclusive development rights for my concept for the screen.

Again, double wow. Just a single paragraph of pitch, and three industry pros (writer, editor in chief, screenwriter) are not just mildly interested, but absolutely possessively interested. Color me stunned.

After some major thought, I came to this conclusion: I had always wondered whether the NYTBSA was either humoring me, or mildly interested, or something along those lines–encouraging while not really sold on the concept. Now I know. Validation. It’s a wonderful word.

After BookCon, I had an excellent meeting with Grant Faulkner and a few Municipal Liaisons from the Tri-State area.

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