Tag Archives: stories

Giving more books away and a new review

I was recently asked how my strategies for getting reviews were working, and all I can say is – not. I have several people interested in doing an interview with me, though. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Writing a review is definitely more work than sending out interview questions and then posting them to your blog. I’m not knocking it; it’s just an observation. I’m learning as I go here.

I did get a review yesterday, though, completely unsolicited, for my new story collection Never Ever After. By a guy who must be another ideal reader of mine. *g* I got such a kick out of it that I have to quote it:

First off, I’m struck by her lyricism. Although she’s writing in a novelistic style … there is a kind of poetry to her language, a rhythmic and musical quality to it. Unlike texts that hew completely to a novelistic style–where the reader can “forget” the language and thereby concentrate on the story–Nestvold’s stories really make you revel in a good turn of phrase.

Gotta love it when someone thinks you’re talkin’ purty, right? 🙂 The flip side of the kind of style I used in these stories is that for some readers the language gets in the way of the story proper; it draws attention to itself, something we are taught not to do. But it’s fun to break rules now and then.

So if you like revisionist fairy tales and language that calls attention to itself, you can get my short story collection, Never Ever After, FREE from February 5-7. Pass the word along!

I’ve mostly been sticking with the two days of marketing a week, while the rest of the time I’ve been editing Shadow of Stone. I’m about halfway through, now. Still haven’t contacted the professional editors I’m considering hiring, though. I really should do that tomorrow — as long as I can get it taken care of before I have to pick up my granddaughter from daycare. 🙂

Despite marketing efforts, sales of Yseult have dwindled to just a couple a day, and it has dropped off the bestseller lists. But if I spend too much time marketing, I won’t have any new material. According to Those Who Know, publishing new books is the best way to draw attention to the books you already have. I need to keep that in mind when I’m tempted to try Something! Anything! to push my sales figures back up.

If anyone has any tips on getting reviews, I would love to hear them!

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Monkey

That’s the name of a story that just sold to Daily Science Fiction — one of the pieces I mentioned submitting in my last blog entry. Which means less than a week between submission and acceptance. Woo hoo!

Apparently it’s a good thing that I added “getting my stories out on the market again” to my list of goals. I haven’t sold a short story for months now, but neither have I been writing or submitting much short fiction, as evidenced by the backlog accumulated that I mentioned in my last post. After selling my novel Yseult / Flamme und Harfe to Random House Germany, I thought my future was in novels, so that’s what I concentrated on, neglecting stories.

Wrong.

My German publisher rejected the novel they requested I write on spec. I won’t go into all the mistakes I made at that point in my writing career; but one of the things I realized is that I cannot allow myself to concentrate so much on a novel project to the extent that I totally neglect short fiction. Stories don’t make a lot of money, but they can be written in a week or three (depending on the length and the amount of research involved); they don’t require the same investment in time and emotional commitment; they can be sent out and accepted (or rejected) in a week.

Besides, my batting average with short fiction is way higher than with novels. I’ve only sold one novel of the four I’ve sent out onto the market. (We will not go into the novels I never finished … also a lot more than the short stories I never finished …) Short fiction: my database tells me I’ve sold 46 short stories, and I have a total of 24 either “ready to send” or “on the market” (not including those I don’t consider ready for submission). I have five stories marked as “trunked” in my database.

Another thing to consider, however, is that in the brave new world of ebooks, I might be able to do something with those rejected novels, whereas short stories, both singles and collections, are notoriously poor sellers in ebook format.

Nonetheless, there is something in me that enjoys those story acceptances so much that I have to figure out a way to balance work on novels and short fiction. I have to learn to allow myself to take breaks from whichever project seems most pressing — or relearn. That used to be the way I worked when writing a novel. If I was stuck or bored, I would take a break to write short fiction. But then the pressure started feeling like what I have when I’m working on a translation project. I couldn’t take breaks for any extraneous monkeys.

But now I’m allowing the monkeys to come back. I hope.

When reality is creepier than fiction

The other day, a friend of mine tweeted me about the sneakered feet that have been washing up for years in and around Vancouver, BC. Her comment was that it “creepily reminded” her of my story, “The Old Man and the Sneakers” (Farthing April 2006). I have to admit, the similarity had never occurred to me — my sneakers didn’t have any feet in them, after all — but once she mentioned it, I realized she had a point.

The funny thing is, the inspiration for that story was also a true incident, not the least bit gruesome, which you can read about here. The short version: a container ship lost a couple of containers of tennies during a storm, and after a while they started washing up on the shores of Oregon and Washington, my old home turf. This struck me as a wonderful starting point for a humorous story, which is what I used it for. Here a brief excerpt:

It began the summer the Nikes washed up on the beach by the dozen—but never by the pair. The old man knew it was a sign. Young people descended on the sleepy town on the Oregon coast to collect sneakers, descended on the towns to the north and the south, beachcombing for sandy, wet tennies as if the shoes were the rarest of treasures. They held trading parties in the Safeway parking lot, big public gatherings characterized by laughter and loud music.
That was when the dancing began.
It was all wrong. They danced in the parking lot, wearing mismatched Nikes and cutoffs, an intimate dance, hip and hop and hot, rubbing their body parts against each other, in public.
The old man watched, and his face grew red and his chest grew tight.

Now if the shoes had feet in them, I’m sure I would have written a very different story.

My progress on new fiction in the last week has been minimal, and I need to get back to a daily word count. But I’ve done a lot of editing on two different projects, both Chameleon in a Mirror and Yseult, as well as some brainstorming and organizational work on another novel, Fragments of Legend. Mostly however, I’ve been doing translating, the work that puts food on the table. We have a big project right now that needs to be done before we go on vacation — less than two weeks now. Nothing like a little pressure to make you work harder!

Shiny New Stories

Working to complete a couple of things to deadlines, I got not one, but two stories finished this week! One was for a story challenge on the Codex Writers Workshop; the other was to be able to get a story in to a market before it closes. Total word count for the week was 5500, one of my most productive weeks in a long time.

I’m really enjoying writing short stories again. For the last couple of years I’ve been concentrating on novels. With novels, you spend so much time in the same world for so long … With a short story, if the research isn’t too complicated, it can be finished in a week or two. And then you have the satisfaction of having something that’s done and can be sent out after revisions–which don’t take anywhere near as long as for a novel. Of course, if it turns into a novella or there are tons of facts to check, it can easily take longer. (I still haven’t finished the story set on Jupiter’s moons, frex.)

In the spirit of getting things done, I recommend a great post by Kristen Lamb on self-discipline. I’m definitely not the most disciplined person in the world, but when I plug away, even I can get things done. 🙂