Sunday, November 15, 2015

Project Updates

Time to advise my adoring public of the current state of affairs regarding my work.  I've been rather prolific lately, if unsuccessful in selling most of it.

Axis of Eternity, a young adult sci-fi novel, died on the vine, as discussed below, and is available for review on this website.  Posting the story on this site has been valuable in that it has given me conclusive data as to why the story failed, specifically:  readers don't find it very interesting.  About 80% of those who start chapter one bail out before reaching chapter nine.  It would seem that the literary agents were correct to avoid this one.

The failure of a two-year project is discouraging, but it's not reason to abandon all hope in my writing.  It was, after all, my first serious attempt at publication, and very few writers knock the world on its ear the first time out.  Operating on the assumption that I don't yet know how to pace a novel-length work, I've been polishing my craft with shorter stuff, including the following:

Thump Dumps A Chump, an adult humor piece in a "black exploitation" vein, sold and published this summer by Fabula Argentea, as is recounted here.  I wound up pleased with how this one went; I learned how much simpler it was to sell short fiction than a novel, enjoyed my interactions with the publisher and got my work out in front of a few dozen people.

The Commander, the story of Fabrice, a Congolese child soldier who finds himself visited by, advised by, and occasionally controlled by, a disembodied spirit of uncertain motives.  This one sold right out of the gate and will be published in the pending YA anthology A Thousand Words for War.  All signs are encouraging here; the anthology has reached the galley stage with an eye on a spring release, and having read the whole thing I can say that there are some very formidable stories in there (wait until you read "Mechanika" by Mara Dubrishus!).  The story's been foregrounded by the publisher for publicity purposes, which seems to speak well of their opinion of it and of the overall marketability of the concept.  I found myself so encouraged by this that I wrote a companion piece which further details Fabrice's journey; that story, A Boy and a Solider, also sold right out of the gate, though I've been asked to withhold the release details by the publisher for the time being.  Depending on how the stories are received by the public, further episodes or even a novelization could be in the works.

Don, adult sci-fi featuring Don Quixote as radical climatologist, is working its way down the list of respected sci-fi mags through serial rejection.  At present it's my entry in the quarterly L. Ron Hubbard "Writers of the Future" contest, which offers a $1000 grand prize and hence tends to draw submissions from the best unpublished writers on Earth.  Having read last year's winners, I can say with some confidence that I won't be winning this.  But it's a good story, well-written and particularly appealing to readers familiar with the source material, and I'm confident that it will eventually find a home somewhere.

Magic Beans is a genetic engineering spin on "Jack and the Beanstalk" which was originally written for a YA anthology to be published by the same house that's turning out A Thousand Words for War. They politely turned it down as "too adult" for their purposes, and I'm not inclined to disagree.  It's working its way through the same serial rejection process as "Don".  It's got enough merit that I think it will eventually find a home as well, though perhaps not a high-profile one.

The Rule of Three is a Terry Pratchett tribute, an early draft of which I posted briefly here a week ago.  It's the story of three modern-day witches, their small-scale alchemists' shop, and a war with unscrupulous corporate rivals.  It's the funniest thing I've written, line-for-line, and almost certainly provides the most accessible mainstream entertainment; its shortcoming is that the Pratchett influence is a bit too obvious.  This one's just going out to publishers now, and I really don't know what to think of its prospects; it could easily resonate strongly with a top-tier editor and make it into a SFWA-qualifying publication, or it could prove so obviously derivative that it's greeted with scorn by everyone who encounters it and falls through the cracks entirely.  We shall see.

So:  some minor successes, no catastrophic failures, and potential for bigger things down the road.  Writing is fun.  I recommend it.

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