Sunday, November 29, 2009

To Serial or not to Serial??

Today has been a particularly refreshing day. Thanks to the wisdom of Victoria Nelson's On Writer's Block, I think I may be making some headway in my block.

Nelson's thesis is that a block is actually a message from your subconscious telling you that you need to change something about the way you are working. In my case, I think that I'd been using writing as a place to run away from the rest of my problems for a long time. Maybe years. So I couldn't control my job, relationship, (or lack of relationship at certain points) or social life. I could sure as heck control my novel, darn it.

It was only recently that my subconscious put up a block. "No," it said. "I'm not doing this anymore. Go face your other problems. I can't play in this much pain." And so, this morning, I actually spent some time facing what was going on in my life. And after looking at it head on and crying a good bit, I suddenly felt waaay better. Like better than I have felt in a really long time. I've spent the whole day actually feeling comfortable in my skin. I cannot tell you how relieving that is.

Anyway, one of the things that I think my subconscious is trying to tell me about my writing is that my subconscious does not want to write serials. Jason and Azazel were not written as a serial. They were written as books--a trilogy. I've chopped them into chapters and put them up piecemeal, mostly because I thought that was how internet publication was done.

I'm starting to think that's not the best idea for me. For one thing, I'm not sure that I particularly like the format. I don't particularly like to write about the same characters for a really long time, and I don't write indefinite story lines. I'm much more comfortable in a novel format. Furthermore, I don't like to READ serials. When I like a book, I want to get into it--read the whole thing in a few sittings. that end, I'm thinking about experimenting with various kinds of publication models.

One thing I want to try is posting an entire book online for free, and having it available on Smashwords as a free download for ebook devices. I'll see if I can get donations for that. Even if not, I think the free book will serve as an advertisement for other stuff that you have to pay for.

Another thing I may do is to post half of a book for free on my site and then tell people to buy it if they want the rest.

A model for something like this might consist of two new books a year, which is a pace I THINK I can live with but am not sure. Certainly, the pressure of trying to get Poisonlands together was really getting to me. Whether this was because it was a format I really didn't like or whether it was because I was pressured by the idea of deadlines, I'm not sure.

What not serializing would do is free me up to concentrate on marketing, blogging, etc. I need to find a real niche for this blog, so that it can kind of function as its own entity and bring in some revenue as well.

What are your thoughts? Do you like serials? How do you like to read books?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I have finished the first episode of Poisonlands.

I have never been so proud of myself for writing something in my life.


(Does this mean my writer's block is cured?? Please God, say yes.)

So, a little about the idea behind Poisonlands. It's really intended to be a web serial, in the truest sense of the world. It revolves around about eleven beats or episodes, all of which are broken into four parts. Posting two parts a week, it will take two weeks to get through one episode.

This means that the first "season" of Poisonlands should run for about 22 weeks or 5 1/2 months. MUCH longer than the books in the J & A trilogy, which are currently running about two months to completely serialize.

Probably, I will sell the episodes individually, for .99 a pop. This may not work--after all, it didn't for Stephen King. So, I'm toying with how to make the entire season available. I don't plan to publish it in print, and I'm not sure if people would pay like $9 for an ebook???

If it takes off, and if I can conceivably play about in this world long enough, there will be more seasons.

Anyway, yay me. I plan to reward myself in some fashion, probably by using food. Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving to all!

I've been interviewed!!

Check it out:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Time to Dance with the One that Brung Ya?

I'm not making any promises (not even to myself), but I did spend last night working on a new outline for (of all things) Poisonlands. That's right, the web serial that I had about as much interest in working on as my lesson plans. :P

I don't know. I think if I can actually get my butt in gear, it could be cool. I've just finished reading Sloppy Firsts, by Megan McCafferty, and holy strawberries, Batman! That was a great book!! Heck, it was too cool to really write about. Suffice it say, there is no real plot to speak of, but I was somehow glued to the page. I kind of really want to dive into the sequel, but it's about 9:00 now, and I need to go to bed soon, so I think I'm going to do a little work of some kind on Poisonlands. (Don't know if I'm ready for drafting quite yet...still, this planning leads to outline block, so...) Maybe an hour. Then I'll curl up with the sequel in my bed.

Wishing you all sweet dreams. And don't forget to check out episode six tomorrow. Jude's back, but for how long??

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Okay, let's call a spade a spade

Well, boys and girls, it's official. I have writer's block. Yup, the bad kind. Not the if-I-just-do-a-few-writing-exercises-everything-will-be-fine kind. I am a bit of a mess lately, as was evidenced when last night, the discussion of the latest idea I had sent me into a fit of tears and left me angry with my boyfriend for reasons that are not his fault.

Why is all this happening? Well, the sad fact of the matter is, this is happening because of my job. I haven't talked about this online, because this is a public blog, and I was concerned that any initial reaction on my part to it could create further problems for me at work. But the dust seems to have settled a bit, so I feel okay about writing.

Some parents of my students went poking around on my website and seemed to get a little worried about the mention of Satanism in my bio, the pentagram on the front of Breathless, and the fact that like the third word of the manuscript is crotch. They called the school board. My principal discussed it with me and we decided the best course of action was to not discuss the website with students, refer them to the school website instead of mine, and I made a decision that while students can read outside books for extra credit, they could not read mine, because that would be unethical.

The thing about teaching is that it's a delicate balance. I've always tried to keep my personal life as separate from teaching as possible. After all, I've always been intensely worried about being able to control a classroom if they knew I drank an occasional beer in bar in town on the weekends. They'd never listen to me again!!

And now, with students coming up to me in the hallways and saying things like, "So I hear you're a Satanist," I'm beginning to feel like that thin line that is keeping everyone in line is about to snap. I hate it.

On the one hand, I don't want to not write what I write. But every time I have an idea, I keep thinking, "I can't post that on the internet. If they read that, they might think this about me."

What I need to do is somehow reconcile myself with my job. After all, writing is my hobby. It doesn't pay the bills. I need to continue teaching. It's a good job, and on most days I like it. But I've got to figure out how to be an effective teacher and keep writing. I can't be dodging questions like, "Do you think underage drinking is okay?" on a daily basis.

Anyway, until the paranoia fades, I can't promise I'll have anything new in the spring. I will be serializing Mischief in January. (with big warning signs saying that the book is intended for people 18 and older.)

As a final note, if you are a parent of one of my students and you're reading this blog, please believe that there is no part of me that in any way ever has wanted to damage your child. I only want my students to succeed. And I want them to learn to think. I think the only way they can do this is by being exposed to lots and lots of different ideas. Your child really can't be hurt by an idea. Or some words on a page. I swear. The actions your children take will be their own responsibility. And no book or website or teacher will ever force them to do something wrong. But the only way they're going to be able to determine right from wrong is if we teach them to think for themselves.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Idea Block '09 Continues!!

In the past three weeks, I have toyed with (and discarded) several ideas. One was about a girl who knew this boy, who it turned out was actually a prince in another dimension where they had three-foot insects and creepy frog characters. (Okay, it was cooler than it sounds. I swear.)

One was to write a whole bunch of short stories retelling various fairy tales. Sleeping Beauty was going to be a heroin addict and Cinderella a teenage runaway.

One was to do something like Twin Peaks, with a soap-opera kind of mystery story in a small town.

One was to do something set in college.

As you can see, my ideas have gotten less and less filled in as time goes on.


I've never experienced this before. I've had writer's block before. That's when I sit down and stare at a blank screen, and I can't put words together. This is not writer's block. It is idea block.

And it's not going away.

The worst thing that could happen is that I can't get anything finished to start serializing after Mischief goes up in early '10. Then I'll probably lose my audience and disappear into internet obscurity, my chance at making it as a writer ruined.

Okay, well, I'm being melodramatic, I guess. I just for the life of me can't figure out what I want to write about. Why don't I know this? And what's worse, I really, really want to be writing. I really do. But I can't. I can't. I can't. Ah, the curse of being creative.

You know, we writers are not quite as whimsical and superstitious a breed as some other groups of creative people--like painters or musicians. We're not exactly the type who sits around waiting for the muse to strike. We set page goals. We keep graphs. We're organized people, able to balance our left and right brains. So when something this utterly right brained happens to me, I really have no idea what to do with myself.

Say a prayer to whatever deity you worship for me. And if you don't worship a deity, then just concentrate on sending some positive energy my way.