What’s got two thumbs and has a new Breakers novella out for you all? This guyyy. You can’t see it, but I’m pointing my thumbs back at myself.
Outcome - Breakers

Outcome is a novella set at the beginning of the plague outbreak in my Breakers series:

“Ellie Colson is the only one who believes in the end of the world.

As an agent of the Department of Advance Analysis, she’s one of a handful of people who knows about the spread of a new virus—one she believes will wipe out mankind. With her bosses in denial, she flies to New York to get her ex-fiance Chip to safety.

But he’s already been scooped up and quarantined—and so has his adopted daughter. Pursued by her own agency, Ellie will stop at nothing to break Chip out before the virus claims them all.”

    Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  Apple iBookstore  |  Smashwords

Note that it’s free everywhere but Amazon and B&N–I want Outcome to be a gift to my readers, and a way for new people to check out the series and see if they like it. It’ll (hopefully) be free on Amazon and B&N within a few weeks, but they make you jump through some hoops first.

In the meantime, please grab it from whichever store you prefer. Oh, and you won’t hurt my feelings if you want to spread the word.

Writers can’t agree on anything. That is because we are simply a subset of “people,” who can’t agree on anything either, but it is more fun to pretend there is something different about us that makes us especially prone to bashing each other’s heads over the most minor of issues. If nothing else, writers are–hypothetically–particularly skilled at rhetoric and word-usin’, so our spats often look more dramatic and convincing than they are.

For instance, there’s a subset of authors out there who will argue quite vehemently that in the early days of your writing career, it is worthless–counterproductive, even–to actually try to sell your books.

Instead, you should wait until you’ve got a decent backlist built up. Five, ten, twenty books. Something like that. Because you’re new to this, it’s more important to work on your craft than to waste time flogging your first books. There’s little point in marketing if you can’t yet write worth a damn. And do you know how little damns are worth? Nothing. Damn this cold weather! See, I’m just giving them away.

Furthermore, when you only have one book up, you’ve only got one book to sell. Captured eyeballs have no other titles to wander off toward. None of yours, anyway. Whereas if you have five or ten books, if you point a potential reader to one of them, they will also have four or nine other books of yours to peruse. Marketing efforts become much more efficient and thus timeworthy when you have more than one book to sell.

And really, the argument concludes, if you write a lot of books, make them available everywhere, and make sure they look nice, you won’t need to market. The books will sell themselves. You won’t even know how! Cream rises to the top, you know. Because it is of a lesser density than the less-fatty milk beneath it and thus it is a law of the natural universe that it will rise. The same physical law of science applies to books. Just ask Newton.

There’s some truth to all these ideas. I have found that is indeed easier to sell books when you have multiples of them to play with. There are all kinds of tricks and games you can play with a three-book series, for instance. And it is very difficult to keep one book selling all the time. It is like.. pushing a snowball up a hill that is also covered in snow. The further you push the ball, the bigger and heavier it gets; as you exhaust places and means to advertise a given book, the more snow it accumulates. It gets harder and harder to keep moving. But if you’ve got nine other little snowballs waiting down the hill, when one ball gets too big to push, forget it and run down to one of the others. Let the big one melt for a while.

And it is simply true that your fifth or tenth book will be better than your first. Unless you’re Joseph Heller. But for all us non-Hellers, in the early days, it is just a better use of time to focus on your writing instead of your sales. Work on your craft and the sales will come later. Craft!

But here’s the thing. Marketing is a craft, too.

That’s right. Marketing is a craft. It’s a science and an art–one of the dark ones, mwa ha ha ha!–and there are just as many myths about selling as there are about writing. For instance, did you know you don’t need a social media presence at all? (I italicized that because italics means you’re an expert. Fact.) It definitely helps, but there are all kinds of things you can do to promote books that don’t involve time-consuming Facebook sessions or blogging. Oops.

Your initial attempts to sell your book are going to be just as hamhanded and cliche-riddled as the first book you wrote. So you know what? Probably best to get them out of the way early. When nobody’s going to see your embarrassment. Thing is, every attempt to sell is a learning experience. The curve is steep. It just doesn’t take that much time and effort to accumulate a clue or two. In fact, this whole damn thing is like D&D. It takes much more experience points to advance from level 19 to level 20 than it does from level 1 to level 2. If you devote the next three years to writing–no marketing, no promotion, nothing but writing–maybe you come out the other side as a 20th Level Writer. But guess what? You are still a 1st Level Salesman. The puniest little kobold can knock you unconscious. Sweet Tiamat! Get behind the fighters!

Meanwhile, if you dedicated 95% of those three years to writing and 5% to learning how to sell books, you’re going to emerge from the dungeon as a 19th Level Writer and, say, an 8th Level Salesman. From there, guess who’s going to have an easier time building their career?

Not to mention the very minor point that if you learn how to sell your books well enough to quit your job or at least reduce your hours, you can dedicate all that extra time to writing. (See? Italics.) You will have more books and they will be better than the person who comes home from their office and dreams up stories for two hours every night while their spouse dreams up new ways to kill them without being caught. One guy’s scrabbling to get in a Sunday afternoon killing dragons with his buddies while the other woman is spending every day slaughtering her way across the Castle of the Golden Lich. Guess who levels up faster?

I’ve just spent 400 words expounding on something that is self-evident once you hear it. Selling is a skill. A craft. To get good at it, you have to work at it. Should you spend more time learning how to sell than you do learning how to write? Absolutely not. I mean, maybe. Look, it’s your life. If you’re a writer, the writing should come first.

But not putting in the effort to learn even rudimentary ways to get your books in front of people who might actually be interested in buying them? That’s shooting yourself in the foot. No. It’s worse. It’s denying you even have legs. Well, you do! You have legs. Learn how to use them, for god’s sake. Don’t rely on outside forces to get you moving. If you sit in one place, the only thing that’s going to get you rolling is an earthquake. You don’t have to train to become a marathon-seller. But at least learn to walk.

By the way one of my books is free until Christmas. See how easy this is? (Side note: this very last bit is irony. This post will in no way change the outcome of my giveaway. I just got aggravated reading for the hundredth time about how writers shouldn’t bother to learn how to sell the things they are writing.)

Humanity has spread throughout the galaxy, but its ships and settlements remain isolated by the limits of light speed. Even simple messages would take years to travel between settlements. But one thing keeps the network of mankind connected: the Flames.

Portals linking two places together, Flames can be crossed in an instant–but if you don’t know how to navigate them, you’ll be lost in the void. Fewer than one in a million people can cross the Flames without getting lost. Known as Ferrymen, these men and women are the one thing that holds the universe together.

Their stories are found in the new Walk the Fire anthology.

* * *

Man. Lot of topics to cover here. I suppose I will start with the people who made it possible: my fellow authors. Walk the Fire is a shared universe anthology edited by John Mierau, and he’s established quite a crew of authors here. Nathan Lowell, whose Solar Clipper Trader Tales are regularly high up the science fiction charts. Jason Andrew Bond, author of the bestselling Hammerhead. Patrick E. McLean, the guy behind the hilarious-looking How to Succeed in Evil series, the stories of a hapless consultant to the world’s supervillains.

And, of course, me.

It’s funny how small the real universe can be. I’ve spoken with Nathan Lowell on a handful of occasions. Just a few weeks back I was on a video chat about ebook pricing with our coauthor Brand Gamblin. I’ve been aware of fellow contributor Matthew Sandborn Smith for years now–I used to see his name all over the place when I was focused on selling SF/F short stories to traditional magazines.

And now we’re all in an anthology together.

Shared universes are so much fun. I have previously participated in one for The Aether Age (holy crow! Just $0.99 and it has two of my stories in it buy it now now now) and it was a total blast. First, you get to fool around in someone else’s world, finding the corner of this strange place you want to write about, and then when the book comes out, you get to see which corners of it your coauthors found to make their own. It’s a pretty gleeful experience, really. I highly recommend giving it a shot, if just once. Me, I leap at the chance.

The chance to be in Walk the Fire, incidentally, came as an invitation. That is So. Cool. A few years ago, back in my previously-mentioned short story period, one of my goals was to reach the point where editors were inviting me to submit to their magazines/anthologies–as opposed to me writing stories on spec and submitting them unsolicited. I imagined I would reach this point by selling to a lot of pro markets, where I would then be read by other editors, who would nod sagely and then fire me an email.

Well, I made a couple pro sales, and a whole bunch of semipro sales, but it wasn’t until I started self-publishing that this modest little dream came true–I believe the editor found my work during a giveaway of Breakers. (P.S.: Breakers sequel coming soon! Join my spam-free mailing list if you want to be notified.) How weird is that? This business is so weird! I’m getting where I wanted to go, but the path I’m on is utterly, starkly different from the one I expected to take.

And speaking of different paths–my story is weird. I mean, there are weirder stories out there. I am sure that if Jeff VanderMeer had been asked to contribute my story would look like a condensed Reader’s Digest story in comparison. But by my standards, my story is pretty weird. That’s one of the fun bits about short stories in general: you get to branch out. Spread your wings. Learn things that may help your later works down the road. Short stories are a very different beast from novels, so I understand why some writers don’t bother, but I am very glad I spent a couple years focused on the form.

Anyway, I’m ramblin’ again. Walk the Fire is live (currently on Amazon, think it will be elsewhere soon), it’s jam-packed with an array of authors, and it’s just $3.99. If it sounds like your cup of tea, please go give it a look.

I’m nearing the halfway point of the first draft of the unnamed sequel to The White Tree. It’s a big book. A lot of travel. A lot of new characters. A lot to keep in mind, in other words. Oh, and it might be the better part of 700 pages long. I’m thinking I could use a couple-three beta readers to help me out.

What’s a beta reader? A beta reader’s somebody who reads an early draft of a book with an eye for making it better. This can cover everything from proofreading (“You misspelled ‘rein’ again, dummy”) to problems with characters and plot (“How did they get from the Cauldron of Scalded Souls to Naked Fairy Lake in two days? In chapter 42 you said they were 1000 miles apart”). It’s a pretty broad role, really. Your feedback would pretty much be whatever you feel comfortabe giving. And what do you get in return?

…Nothing! Absolutely nothing! Ah ha ha ha!

Well, not quite nothing. It would be a volunteer position. In most ways, the compensation will be pretty minimal: a free copy of a book you were (presumably) going to buy anyway. Getting to read it weeks or months in advance of when the final version will be released to the public. Helping me increase the book’s overall awesomeness. And a thank you on the acknowledgements page.

It’s probably going to be about three months before I reach this stage, so don’t expect to see any hot new copy until then. But I figure I may as well start casting the net now. So if you read The White Tree, you liked it, and you want to help the sequel be even better, please let me know–just leave a comment with your email here, or drop me a line at edwrobertson AT gmail

From there, I’ll let you know when completed draft day draws near. Thanks, everyone.

Short answer: Yeah. I’m working on it right now, in fact. I’m about 160 pages into the first draft, which I envision being about four times that long.

What does that mean for its completion date? Well, it’ll be at least another three months until the first draft is done, and more like 4-5. I’ll need to give it at least a couple weeks to cool off after that before I start revising, which will probably take another 1-2 months, say. It’s almost March now, so barring any localized tornadoes, meteor strikes, etc. (and who ever heard of a natural disaster in Southern California?), I would guess it’ll be ready somewhere between August and October.

Why so long? Yeah, I know, Amanda Hocking can write a book in 9 days. Well, for one thing, it’s going to be a long book. Most novels fall into the 70,000-120,000 word range. YA, paranormal, and romance tend to be on the shorter side of that range, which is part of why you often see those authors with so many titles and such fast turnarounds. Also they are very prolific and dedicated.

Epic fantasy’s a whole ‘nother beast. I’ve got this book outlined for about 175-200K words. In other words (if I’ll have any left at this point), about twice as long as your average book. I’m not sure how long the longest epic fantasy runs, but those 1000+ page tomes from George R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss and the like have to be 300-400K words. Man. Typing that out, I suddenly understand why it’s taking them 4-5 years between books.

Anyway, so right, a sequel. And yes, there will be a sequel to that, adding up to the trilogy that is mandatory by all bylaws of Big Fat Fantasy Epics. The Cycle of Arawn. Don’t worry, I’ve already got the entire story arc planned out, more or less. The series won’t bloat beyond that. And in terms of plotting, if you’ve read The White Tree, you know the series isn’t going to be the story of one vast quest to find a Master Sword and defeat a Ganon. There will be an overall arc to it, but it’s going to be a little different than the unified quest story personified by The Lord of the Rings and books like it.

And I think that’s all I’ll say for now. I need to get back to actually writing the thing!

Apparently I became a freelance writer this year. In one way, I’ve been one for years, but in another, more important way, this is the first year I’ve made anything even close to a living from writing or regularly sought writing-related work. I don’t know precisely what I’m doing with this recap of 2011–mostly I’m recording what happened for myself, both for future reference and to help set goals for 2012–and it seems like a list of accomplishments could very quickly turn self-congratulatory. In that case, bear in mind my accomplishments for 2011 also included several dozen rejection letters, more than one unflattering review, and most importantly of all, remaining desperately poor. It was not an unbridled success. In fact, many bridles were involved. I’ve got so many bridles here I should probably pack in the whole writing thing and open a bridle shop instead.

That said, in 2011, I:

* Wrote 220,000 new words of fiction

* Finished 10 short stories

* Finished 2 novellas

* Finished 1 novel

* Began another novel, first draft approximately 1/3 – 1/4 complete

Funnily enough, this met almost exactly half of my extremely ambitious goals I set out near the start of 2011. Those were honestly so lofty (20 short stories, 4 novellas, 2 novels, 400,000 words total) that reaching just over half of that still feels pretty damn good. Also, I:

* Sold 5 short stories (not all written this year) to AE, Fantastique Unfettered, Sorcerous Signals, Fusion Fragment, and wrapped up the year with a second sale to AE.

I’m really happy to appear in all these magazines, but that first sale to AE was particularly exciting. They’re a new pro-paying market, meaning I’ll be able to join the SFWA as soon as AE‘s been around long enough to qualify. They were (will be, technically) my first pro sale, which is one of those things that simultaneously means nothing and a whole hell of a lot: nothing in that nobody’s beating down my door yet, and if I stopped working now, no one on Earth would notice; but a whole hell of a lot in that it’s a big milestone, the sort of thing that lets me know I’m heading in the right direction. The money was nice, too.

The second sale to AE confirmed I’ve found an editor who likes what I’m up to. That’s always a tremendous boost, both for that “yay someone likes me” factor and because it means that, with the right kind of story, I’ve got a much better chance to find it a home. I had that previously with Reflection’s Edge and M-Brane SF, but with RE closed and M-Brane on hiatus, Fantastique Unfettered is probably the only place I had left where my name would mean anything to the editor. That guarantees nothing–you still have to write a good story–but if they’ve liked your work in the past, they’re (probably) much more likely to like it in the future, too.

On the other end of publishing, I jumped into the epub/self-publishing/indie author world in 2011, finishing the year with 2 novels, 2 novellas, and 3 story collections up for sale at just about everywhere ebooks are sold. I wouldn’t call it a smashing success–I’ve sold maybe 400-500 books and given away some 1000 copies of the novellas–but it’s resulted in a few hundred bucks I wouldn’t have had otherwise and mostly favorable reviews.

I could write several thousand words on this whole experience, but I need to drive the breadwinner to work in a few minutes, so instead I’ll say it’s been somewhat frustrating but mostly fun, that I’ve learned a ton, that I plan to keep doing it, and that I don’t really know where to go from here. I plan to keep submitting to traditional agents/editors; that world is far, far from dead. But I’m hoping my other work snowballs enough so that, by this time next year, my income from it is a good chunk of the monthly totals rather than a fraction.

Oh, and I will say this about self-publishing: royalties are so, so awesome. It is nothing short of stupendous to be paid month after month for work I finished long ago. It’s intoxicating. I’m drunk on getting paid for stuff I already did! Even in my case, where it’s only $10 here and $15 there, it adds up. (Side note: for most people, one of the keys to success is getting your work placed with as many distributors as possible.) Obviously, this is not exclusive to the indie world. I hear traditional authors have heard of these “royalties” as well.

But this is the first time in my life I’ve gotten them, and it’s great. The economics of making a living writing fiction suddenly makes so much more sense. It isn’t really possible to make support-yourself cash writing short stories. For new authors and midlisters, novel advances are typically between $5000 and $30,000, which after taxes, the agent’s percentage, etc. is somewhere between half a year of grocery money and the upper fringe of the poverty line. Hello, caviar!

But if you can pull in $100-500 for a short story a few times a year, and pull in a modest advance every year or three, and supplement this with regular nonfiction gigs or the odd spec piece, and you can depend on a small but steady trickle of royalties on stuff you haven’t touched in months or years–put all that together, and you might just not die in the gutter. Even on the lower end, you can be a spouse/living-in-sinmate who isn’t a total piece of shit in the bringing home the bread department.

From where I’m sitting, that’s a heartening thought. Because as productive as 2011 was for me–as of sometime last year, I could think of myself as a “working professional” without feeling like (much of) a fake–there’s still a lot of road ahead.

And I suspect some of that road will be paved with nonfiction, and with metaphors like that, it’s a shock I could barely afford a trip to the dentist. But more on that–nonfiction, not dental work–in a later post.

Lightless is a fantasy novella, a story of wizardry, monsters, and a world with no concept of days. From its Amazon description, where it’s available for Kindle for $0.99:

“When daytime lasts for 16 years, so does the night–and even if you survive what lurks there, stay too long, and you can never come back.

The king’s daughter Dalia has gone missing. He fears she’s fallen into the Lightless. Tasked with getting her back, Chief Tracker Vickory Carroway recruits roguish wizard Tom Raquepaw, the only man known to have traveled to the Lightless and lived to return. With days to spare until Dalia’s lost for good, their investigation leads them into the darkness–a nightmarish world of monstrous creatures and equally monstrous men.

Lightless is a novella of 60 pages / 17,000 words.”

Yes, a novella. Too short for book publishers, too long for (almost every) magazine, ebooks have once again rendered novellas a viable format. If you buy it, anyway. If you don’t, novella writers around the world will continue starving to the point where their ribs are classified as lethal weapons. What I’m saying is I’ll die if you don’t buy this. Hope you’re okay with that, murderer.

Meanwhile, I continue to be deep in the throes of NaNoWriMo, where I’m currently a few days behind schedule. For now, back to my groundhog hole.

Links ahoy:

The Battle for Moscow, Idaho & Other Stories

When We Were Mutants & Other Stories

The Kemetian Husesen Craze

I just uploaded them to the Smashwords catalogue, so they should be available on iTunes, Sony, and everywhere else within the next few weeks. Smashwords offers sample downloads, if you’d like to check them out. A bunch of these stories are linked in my bibliography (it’s down the page) as well.

So I’ve had these collections on Amazon and B&N for some time now, too, but was procrastinating on Smashwords because I’ve hardly ever used Word (the only format they accept) and the table of contents looked complicated. It wasn’t. It’s basically just a dumbed-down HTML with clicking instead of coding, and the Smashwords Style Guide makes it all terribly easy. If you’re a small or self-publisher and you’re not using Smashwords, do it. Formatting takes a couple hours, tops, and once you have a template in place, you can knock it out in less than thirty minutes.

Now some numbers, because I like them:

All told, there are twenty short stories here. Mutants has eight pieces and is about 50,000 words long. Moscow and Kemetian both have six and are about 24,000 words. The average story is just under 5000 words, then, with the longest (“Steve Kendrick’s Disease”) at 8400 and the shortest (“The Magic Taco Wagon”) at 25. 12 of these stories have been previously published in various magazines and anthologies, meaning 8 were new. To you, anyway. I’ve seen some of these stories dozens of times.

As long as I was being all businessy, I updated The Zombies of Hobbiton to include links to my other stuff. Been giving that one away for free, so it seemed wise to provide clickables for readers gullible enough to want to read something else with my name (virtually) stamped on it.

Smashwords has nearly twice as many books online since when I posted my first with them at the end of March, so standing out is harder than ever. We’ll see if it makes any difference there and elsewhere to have several titles made available at the same time. I doubt it!

I’ve blogged about this before, but novellas are a strange breed. Big paper book publishers don’t really sell them because readers don’t really buy them. They’re only good for an hour or two of entertainment–how much can you really charge for that? Many big fiction magazines will print them, but obviously not more than 1-2 per issue, because they’ve only got so much space. They’re not very widely-published in online mags, either, because they only have so much money to spend per issue and I don’t think they’re seen as very popular.

But I just finished revising my second-ever novella two days ago. After cuts, it came in right under 17,000 words. It feels great–but it’s a fantasy novella, and a quick look at Duotrope shows three pro markets for the length: Fantasy & Science Fiction, Tor.com, and the Writers of the Future contest. Expanding that to semipro pay (around 1 cent/word) turns up three more markets.

Not many options.

Let’s get specific about terms here, because the precise definition of “novella” varies. For determining awards eligibility and such, SFWA defines short stories as 0-7499 words, novelettes as 7500-14,999, novellas as 15,000-39,999, and novels as 40,000 words and up. Nobody outside the industry really pays attention to or even knows the definition of the word “novelette,” though. And the line between novella and novel is definitely wide and blurry–40,000 words is only about 133 pages, which is extremely short for a modern-day novel. Even Harlequin category romances are usually more like 50,000, and except in genres with page counts that are frequently shorter (Young Adult) or longer (epic fantasy), publishers generally won’t touch anything from a first-timer below 80,000 or above 120,000. Plenty of exceptions, but that’s conventional wisdom these days.

If you asked me to define length by some combination of industry standard and gut feel for reader expectations, I’d break it down like this:

Flash fiction: 1-1000 words; roughly 1-3 pages

Short story: 2000-9000 words; 6-30 pages

Novella: 15,000-36,000 words; 50-120 pages

Novel: 60,000-300,000+ words; 200-1000+ pages

There are some missing word counts here, clearly. I’d shade anything in between toward whatever category it’s closest to, but the in-betweeners are kind of bastard lengths. A 1200-word piece is really more flash fiction than short story; 12,000 words should probably be called a novella, I guess, but if you ordered something labeled as a “novella” online and three days later you got a story that’s only 40 pages long, you might feel a little cheated. Same deal if you ordered a “novel” that arrived as 150 pages. Technically accurate, just lacking.

It’s not a big deal, though. I’m just looking at this stuff for two reasons. One, I like numbers. I spent far too many minutes tweaking that breakdown above, because that is the type of thing my brain considers fun. Second, I think it helps conceptualize what each of these lengths means.

Looking at that, you can see a novella is somewhere between a quarter and a half the length of a shortish novel (and knee-high on a grasshopper compared to the tomes of George R.R. Martin). And it turns out that length is awesome to write.

This may be particular to fantasy and science fiction, because in my still limited experience, 50-120 pages is the perfect length to create a world that feels expansive and lived-in. You don’t have the roaming scope of a novel, where you can divert for several pages just to explain the social habits of AI or the breeding cycles of dragons, but compared to a 15-page short story, you can do an immensity of exploration. My recent novella is set in a secondary world where the day cycle is radically different from our own. This changes just about everything about the world. I couldn’t do more than hint at how in a short story. With the 60ish pages I wrote, I was able to spend a significant amount of time in both halves of the world.

Why not just write a novel? Um, good question, actually. I may just do that. I like this world and I’d like to see more of it.

But the story I had in mind didn’t have to be that long. It was big, but it wasn’t novel-big. And that’s pretty much why I wrote it this month despite being in the middle of a full-length novel: I’d had this novella idea on the backburner for months, and I got stuck about 3/4s of the way into this novel. It wasn’t fun to write anymore and meanwhile I couldn’t wait to take a shot at that novella idea I was in love with. I hate to lose momentum in the middle of a book, but eventually I said screw it and just jumped into the novella.

Where I found, yet again, that it’s possible to carry the whole story in your head at once. Maybe other people can do this with novels, but I have a hard time visualizing and tracking an entire damn book at the same time. You’ve got dozens if not a couple hundred different scenes to write. There are subplots and side characters and themes and back stories and worldbuilding flying right and left. With so much to keep track of, it’s easy to veer off course, be it starting in the wrong place, hitting a plot-swamp where you don’t know how to bridge your middle to the end you’ve got in mind, or whatever else. Point is, novels are huge and they’re messy.

Novellas aren’t huge. They’re just big. If you have a beginning and an end, it’s pretty easy to visualize how to bridge the two. It’s a hell of a lot easier for me, anyway, and when I can see where I’m going, I write a whole lot faster. If I had it all planned out and hit a hot streak, I could probably burn through a novella’s first draft in 7-10 days. And I’m kinda slow.

Instead, between pre-plotting, drafting, and revising, it took me the better part of the month. And that was a good thing. I got a lot of writing done while getting enough perspective from that bogged-down novel to start thinking I may have taken the last few chapters in the wrong direction. Now that I’ve had some time away, I don’t really have a problem scrapping them and taking a different route to my ending. I could have taken a break for short stories instead, but I was low on ideas and typically am slow to come up with them, and I would have been tempted to come back to that novel-in-progress much sooner. Maybe too soon.

Instead, I have something big to show for the month. The length is a handicap now that I’m sending it out to markets. But I’m no longer reliant on the 3-6 places that’ll buy a fantasy story of this length to see any money from it. If they pass, I’ll peddle it for a buck or two through the usual online stores and see what happens. I have a feeling novellas look a lot better on ereaders than they do as a thin slice between two covers.

Well, not quite. But the fine man over at Free Book Reviews did give The White Tree a very, very nice writeup. Seriously, the first sentence of the review proper includes the word “masterpiece” and that’s not preceded by the words “not a,” anti-“, or “what in Bizarro World would be considered a.” Give it a read.

It’s been a while now since I finished or reread The White Tree and it’s been very cool to see the odd review roll in and remind me of what’s between the covers. Like that main characters Dante and Blays get into and perform an awful lot of trouble. The review puts it better than I could when it says, in reference to the two, “not all heroes have to always do the right thing to do the right thing.”

One of the main things I wanted to do with that book was write an epic fantasy where the heroes are very rarely faced with obvious choices between good and evil, leaving them to make a lot of decisions that are questionable, amoral, or outright wrong–but without making them antiheroes, exactly. I’m hardly the first one to do that, but it’s still gratifying to read about someone else getting the same kick out of that as I did.

Incidentally, The White Tree‘s still available at Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble.

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