I’ve been getting this question a lot lately, so I thought I should post an update here. The status of the third Unbroken Chain book is that there isn’t one, and currently there’s nothing in the works. That doesn’t necessarily mean there will never be a third book. I have ideas spinning in my head, and a plot that I think would make for a killer third installment. Shit hitting the fan. Hey, when Ashok’s around, shit tends to do that. Ultimately, Wizards of the Coast has the final say on whether a third book will happen, but there are things you as a reader can do to help the cause.
Both the Realms and DnD are in a state of transition right now. DnD Next is in the works, and The Sundering is coming, which means big and exciting things are on the horizon. Personally, I can’t wait to see where authors like Ed Greenwood, Paul Kemp, Erin Evans and others involved in The Sundering are going to take us on this journey. I mean seriously, have you read Brimstone Angels? If you haven’t, you should. I hope we will also be looking forward to more tales from writers like Rosemary Jones and Erik Scott de Bie. You can never have enough Shadowbane, in my opinion, and I know I’m not alone in that.
So, what can you, the reader, do to help your favorite authors? Glad you asked. Here’s something: word of mouth. It helps more than you think. Talk up the books you like to your friends, or post on social media like Twitter and Facebook. ‘Like’ the books on Amazon (one click and done!), post a rating on Barnes and Noble.com, maybe write a review if you’re feeling spunky. Speak up, shout out about the books you love. Publishers are listening; tell them what you want. If it’s a third Unbroken Chain book, believe me, I want to give it to you.
I was going to do a post about how I started writing my fourth book yesterday, and all the usual writing weirdness that attends that, but then…
Remember my post last week, where I talked about how real life kept interfering with my writing schedule? Yeah, suddenly, the last two days, that x20. So I get to save the book starting post for later.
Here’s a secret: procrastination is always something else. It’s a sign of something bigger that’s going on in the writer-brain, and it’s up to you to figure out what.
That’s what’s been gnawing at me for the past few weeks. Last week I posted about being “almost done” with my book–as much as any book can ever be called “done”–but my progress has slowed. Sure, that can be attributed to my current level of life craziness, but it’s not entirely that. There have been plenty of opportunities for me to write. I’ve just … chosen not to. And I finally figured out why.
I’m worried about letting this one go.
I think the current WIP is pretty good. It’s definitely the best book I’ve written. The world excites me, the characters are fun, and all I want to do it start writing the next book so I can see what happens. I want to dive into back story, keep building the world, and learn the hidden motivations characters have. This world and its characters inspire me so much. Yet I don’t want to send them out into the wild because I’m afraid that agents won’t love it as much as I do. Or if by some miracle one does, I’m afraid editors won’t. I’m afraid it will languish and will become just another book on my hard drive. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been assured this project will sell; deep down I’m petrified it won’t.
So I don’t work on it. If it’s never done, it can’t be rejected, right? And it can always just be this awesome thing I wrote.
Here’s the rub. That’s not good enough. First and foremost, I want my words to be read. I want readers to be entertained by my stories. I want to do school visits and sign books and enjoy my stories through my reader’s eyes. And I can only do that if I stop letting my fear control my actions.
I can’t imagine trying to write without my husband’s support. He listens to me babble about my stories, celebrates my successes, sympathizes with my rejections (and knows I’m joking when I call people jerks who don’t recognize my brilliance), and is always happy to point out stupid mistakes in my stories.
Most importantly, he respects my writing. He gets abandoned when I’m at writing group or a convention, and he gets abandoned a fair amount at home, too, when I’m working on a story. I’m lucky to have him.
Happy 5th anniversary, J! Someday I hope to dedicate a book to you.
Because sometimes you get in a groove working on your manuscript and you don’t want to stop for anything: school, work, food, sleep, your significant other (who can always retreat to the basement for a Warhammer 40k session with his brother–thanks, honey!).
This is my way of saying that I can’t stop writing right now, not even to…er, write…I mean blog. Because as Gary said, your WIP is usually the first thing that gets put on the back burner when life demands your attention, but you have to push back whenever you can and take the time you need for your manuscript.
So, I’ll be over there in the corner with my laptop if you need me. Next week, I’ll let you know how it’s going. And if you hear any strange murmuring or cursing…yeah, you should probably worry. Or send coffee.
I signed up to do a story contest for Codex, an online writing group I’m part of. Just a little thing, write a short story based on a random prompt for Halloween. It’s due this Sunday.
I don’t think I’m going to make it.
Procrastination had always been part of the plan– I figured I would crank most of the story out the last two weeks before the deadline. Then last week (post birthday whining) my oldest daughter got sick, which left me playing Florence Nightengale for a few days. I cut a fine figure in a nurses outfit. Then, of course, I got sick, which hammered a few more days. After which I had to run around and catch up on all the things that I’d put off while I was lying next to my toilet, wishing my stomach would stop trying to climb up my esophagus.
So, that kind of cracked my schedule, which means it’s likely I’ll be bouncing out of this contest. Not such a big deal– it was mostly a way to make me crank out another short story, and I will finish this one up. But it points out something that drives me crazy sometimes. Writing is always the thing that seems to get bounced when the schedule gets crunched. It makes sense. Having no absolute deadlines, it can always be put off.
But if you put it off long enough… well, then you’re never writing.
That’s why you have to force it into the schedule. However you can. Because if you don’t you’ll never have a deadline to force you to write.
Which, oddly enough, is something I really want.
So I’m near the end of the process for the WIP–a YA novel set at a boarding school–and I’m at the point where I’ve gotten tons of great advice and critiques and suggestions but I’m unsure how to incorporate them. Oh, yes, some of them I already have–but it’s the little niggly ones that are eating at me. The ones that make the story richer, that make it more complex, that make it awesome. Sure, it’d be okay of I stopped now. But I won’t. The last mile of a marathon is the hardest but also the most worthwhile.
I recently read the same story twice. One version was published in a pro SF magazine. One version is unpublished. (And if you are in my online or offline writing group, or have recently posted a story on your blog, don’t worry, it’s not yours!) No, this is not an example of plagiarism, it’s just two authors having the same idea at similar times. The pro story is unsurprisingly better written, by someone who cares about each word. It’s also longer, and the author made good use of the length. The two stories cover the same events almost exactly, and with the same characters.
Reading them so close together was a great lesson in point of view. Here’s the thing: if your point of view character is observing the action rather than participating in it, why? That only distances the reader from the story. And if even the main character can’t change anything, even their attitude towards events, why are you telling the story?
The pro story dropped me into the head of the character who was suffering the most, kept me there, let me experience her thoughts and feelings (this is where making good use of the length comes in), and at the end, had her make a key decision about the rest of her life. The unpublished story didn’t do any of that, and as a result, it fell flat.
Now if I can just remember this lesson when writing my own stuff.
The title of this post will not come as a shock to my crit group. They know I absolutely hate this part of the writing process. But in this case, instead of coming at it from the perspective of someone just sitting down to write the much-maligned synopsis, I thought I’d come at it from the other side.
I just finished my query letter, 1-page and 3-page synopsis for Dragonfly, my YA steampunk novel, so the group can critique them in a few weeks or so. It occurred to me while I was working on all three that on some level, I actually do enjoy the process of breaking down the novel to its essential elements and putting them into various forms, whether it’s a fairly detailed 3-page summation or a quick 3-paragraph pitch that reads like back cover copy. It’s a challenge, and it can be fun if I let it be. The part that I actually hate is the pressure associated with composing these documents. The make-or-break, oh my god if this sentence isn’t just perfect the agent is going to wad up the query letter and play wastepaper basketball with it kind of pressure. The stakes are high, and I can’t ever really forget that.
To combat the pressure, it’s helpful for me to remember that, for one thing, I have a crit group that has my back and will help me write the best synopsis possible. On top of that, I’ve actually started showing the query letter to my husband and brother to get their opinions. For a variety of reasons, I usually don’t have family members critique my work, but in this case it’s actually helpful because it’s a way for me to talk about the book with them and share my excitement by showing them all the shiny bits and exciting twists.
It’s a safe bet that I’ll never love this part of the process, but it’s necessary, so it’s important to find what enjoyment I can in it. I also promised myself some chocolate when I was finished. That always helps.