Tag Archives: City of Glass

A bedtime story, courtesy of my granddaughter

I had grandma duties yesterday, so much of what on other days of the week is usually my writing time was taken up with running after an energetic almost-three-year-old. (She will be three next week.) After I picked her up from daycare, she claimed she was tired and said we should take a nap together. I knew pretty well from the outset how that was going to go, but I didn’t mind the opportunity to lie down for a bit either. I’m a notorious night owl, and I’ve been staying up much too late recently.

So into bed we go, do everything the way Mira wants us to, getting sufficient stuffed animals, covering up, etc., and then she informs me, “And now we need a story.” (“Und jetzt brauchen wir eine Geschichte.”)

“Oh,” says Oma (that’s me, in German), “Are you going to tell me a bedtime story?” (Speaking in English — I try to speak as much English with her as possible.)

Ja.” So she settles in, sitting upright next to my head. “Es war einmal …”

Here the story she told me, from memory, translated into English, with a rough approximation of creative grammar.:

“Once upon a time there was a princess. The princess had a horse. She rided to the castle on her horse. It was the castle of the prince.”

Oma: “Was the prince asleep?”

Mira: “No, no, Oma, only the princess sleeps!” [Editorial intrusion: sigh.]

“The princess wanted to visit the prince. They were friends. But then the evil witch comes and turns him into a frog.”

Oma: “Did she kiss him and turn him back into a prince?”

Mira: “Let me tell the story, Oma!

“The princess didn’t want to kiss a frog. But then the evil witch came again and turned the princess into a frog. And then they ran away. When they got away from the witch, they kissed. And then she was a princess again.

“And then they went on vacation.”

And then they went on vacation (Image copyright by blessings, licensed through Shutterstock).
And then they went on vacation (Image copyright by blessings, licensed through Shutterstock).

* * *

My progress on City of Glass has slowed a bit. It has come to my attention that the longest story in my new collection From Earth to Mars has a few typos. It seems that by mistake I didn’t include the edited version that was published in Giganotosaurus; instead, I must have used an earlier version. I read through the collection before publishing, but somehow I didn’t notice the mistake.

Anyway, I am temporarily unpublishing the collection and going through everything one more time. It’s still available, but please don’t buy it until I republish! This is rather embarrassing, and I hope those who already bought the collection will forgive me. Once I have the new version ready, drop me an email, and I’ll send you a copy.

So that’s mostly what I’ve been doing the last couple of days. City of Glass is at just under 11,000 words now, and I’ll get back to it once I have From Earth to Mars uploaded again.

Also, in case you missed it during previous promos, Beyond the Waters of the World is free today and tomorrow. Be my guest, and if you are so inclined, pass the word along. 🙂

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week and making great progress!

Moving forward on City of Glass, some thoughts on story length, and a new cover

Not too much to report this week. I’m enjoying writing the new version of “City of Glass” a lot, exploring avenues in the story world I couldn’t when I thought I had to keep it at short story length. When selling a specfic short story to traditional markets, the best chances of making a sale are for stories under 5,000 words. Some markets won’t even consider stories longer than 4,000 words. Since most online and print mags pay per word, it makes a lot of practical sense. For print mags, the shorter the stories, the “more” they have to offer their readers in each issue — one novella can take up half a magazine. For online mags, which often operate on a very low budget, it makes even more sense — the shorter the story, the less they have to pay the author.

In this brave new world of epublishing, the situation is diametrically opposite. Readers are used to getting complete novels for 99 cents, and if all they get is a short story, they feel cheated. I do my best on my covers and in my descriptions to make it completely clear that the product they are considering is a short story (officially defined by the Science Fiction Writers of of America as a piece of fiction under 7500 words), I list the word count and the number of pages, and yet I still get reviews from readers who were apparently expecting novels. I’m not the only one — it’s a common complaint on the Kindle Boards.

Anyway, “City of Glass” was originally 4500 words when I was trying to market it to traditional short story markets. It is now at 10,000 words, about half complete. The new first draft should come in at close to 20,000, after which I will have to fill in the blanks I left and add more sensory detail (window-dressing). It looks like it won’t be any problem to turn my reverse-Cinderella story about a glass-maker on Murano into a novella (officially defined by SFWA as over 17,500 words *g*).

This project has me thinking that I could do the same thing with some of my other short stories, like “Dragon Time.” (Not that I need any new projects …)

Speaking of short stories, I’m putting together a new mini-collection, a 99c jobbie like Never Ever After, Story Hunger. Here’s the first version of the cover:

What do you guys think? Any and all comments welcome!

Another Round of Words: Fast draft fail and a new project

This past week, I gave up on the fast draft course I was taking. But since the course instructor was mostly absent, it wasn’t much of a loss, other than the thirty-five dollars I paid for it. I’d been hoping for some regular tips and encouragement on increasing writing speed and outwitting the editor; instead, we were all on our own, posting our daily page counts and wondering where the instructor was.

But everything is a learning experience, and I’m hoping I can try some fast draft writing on my own after Christmas, this time using the tips someone in the course posted from Rachel Aaron’s site that I’ve mentioned before.

I think another problem was that I may not have done enough brainstorming and research before I started writing Ygerna’s story. I realize that one of the principles of the fast draft method is not to look things up while you’re writing. Instead, you make a note of whatever it is you need to add later and just barrel ahead. But by the time I quit, it felt like every other sentence was a note to myself about something I either had to research or look up in the other two books to make sure I have everything consistent.

As a result, I was beginning to feel frustrated with the project. So I put it aside, temporarily, and now I am working on a novella / short novel version of short story I wrote many years ago, City of Glass. A lot of critique partners had told me that it didn’t work as a story, that it wanted to be longer, but I didn’t want to believe them. I always have so many projects going at any given time, after all. But after I decided to put Ygerna on a back burner for a while, I was going through my list of potential projects, and this one suddenly spoke to me. It’s a story about a glass-maker on Murano who makes a prince a glass slipper — and ends up with a marriage proposal. But since she has no interest in marrying some conceited noble, she has to figure out a way of getting out of the situation. It doesn’t help that the glass-makers of Murano are forbidden to leave Venice, for fear they might share trade secrets …

And now the writing is flowing again. I’m treating the old short story like an extended outline, adding all the parts all my writing friends said were missing, deepening the characterization, adding more detail. Until now, this version is coming in at about three times as long as the original story. And I’m having fun again!

Once I’m done with City of Glass, I’ll get back to Ygerna, but I don’t think I’ll experiment with fast drafting on that one anymore. The notes on the things I need to look up are often details I really need to know to continue with the story, not just window-dressing. TI will have to allow Ygerna whatever time it needs.

I hope everyone is winding up the year in style and has plenty of successes to look back on!