Tag Archives: writing

Clarion West Write-a-thon

I’m participating in the Clarion West Write-a-thon again this year. This time, I want to use it to get some new short stories finished. I’ve been concentrating on novels much too long, and my story inventory has dwindled to little more than a dozen. I’m going to try to finish at least six new short stories, and also polish and send out six stories that have not yet been on the market.

Wish me luck! And feel free to sponsor me if you’re so inclined. Clarion West is an excellent cause.

Brave New Worlds and (Cowardly?) Stubborn Old Bitches

As we all know by now, the publishing industry is in a state of flux, and none of us can really predict how things are going to look five years down the road. A couple months back I started trying to participate in the revolution by creating some ebooks of my own by uploading some previously published stories and novellas. All the experts assured me that I could have my files ready in a matter of hours, minutes even.

Uh, can you say days? And then come the error messages from Smashwords

Well, there was too much going on in May, including both travel and increased grandmother duties, for me to deal with renewed demands on files that had originally been approved. Finally tackled that task tonight, thus this little rant. I can only hope that all those experts are right and eventually I will need mere minutes to create new ebooks. Right now, however, I have pretty much forgotten everything I taught myself in March and feel like I’m starting over from scratch.

Perhaps an ebook a week is the ticket.

Writing a synopsis (again)

Here I am, writing another synopsis, probably the most despised of all writerly tasks. And I’m not even finished with the first draft of Fragments of Legend yet! So why am I doing this to myself?

1) I’m trying to learn how to use the synopsis as a tool for finding holes in my plot

2) The next Villa Diodati workshop is coming up, and I can get some valuable feedback from my fellow expat writers

Anyway, while I’m at it, I thought I would put together some tips I found useful, both to share with others and for myself, so that I would have them all in one place.

– Give your synopsis a hook, a reason to keep reading. If you can’t come up with one, then maybe your novel still needs one too. This is what I came up with as my hook:

“What if the most famous epic of medieval German literature, the Nibelungenlied, had been written by a woman? Kyra Silberburg, an American book conservator in Germany, discovers evidence in the backing of an old herbal that could mean precisely that.”

Ok, so it’s a literary mystery, not a Big Idea plot in which the goal is to save the world. But I like literary mysteries, and I like stories that challenge received notions of gender, and this beginning would promise a reader like me precisely that.

– Leave out the sub-plots

This is going to be a bit difficult with the synopsis of this book, since it plays out on three different levels: the modern level in which Kyra discovers the manuscript fragments; the medieval level telling the story of the woman who wrote her own version of the Nibelungen legend; and the mythic level of the events surrounding the downfall of the Nibelung Burgundians.

But since I’m mostly writing this for myself right now, I don’t have to worry about that yet.

– Don’t include every step along the way to the resolution, only the major turning points

This is turning out to be very useful for me as a writing tool. When I started doing this for the modern level of Fragments of Legend, I soon recognized a number of logic gaps on the one hand and unnecessary scenes on the other. Hopefully now that the important turning points are clearer to me, I won’t have to write as many questions to myself in my manuscript. Maybe I will even be less likely to get stuck on a regular basis!

Some useful links:

How to Write a Synopsis

5 Steps to Writing a Synopsis:

A page with links to a lot of links to different articles about writing the synopsis:

“Dragons and Princes and Witches, Oh My!”

That’s the name of the first collection of short stories I’ve put up on Smashwords.

Still battling with the formatting a lot. The Smashwords style guide suggests using 3-4 hard returns rather than page breaks, but I don’t care for the way that makes stories run together. So I’m uploading a new version of the collection in which I added page breaks to the header info. We’ll see if that’s any better. I’m also having problems with em-dashes getting swallowed.

Once I have a better handle on the formatting, I’ll upload some of these initial experiments for the Kindle too.

“Dragon Time” as best-“seller”

Giving away “Dragon Time” for free with a coupon during the Smashwords “Read an Ebook Week” has been quite successful — just not monetarily. It is now listed on page three of the current bestellers. (!)

Now if I can only get my collection up in time to profit from this …

Entering the Ebook Era

I have finally gotten around to uploading my first ebook to Smashwords, my Tiptree and Sturgeon-nominated novella, “Looking Through Lace.” To celebrate the event, I have also generated a coupon, good for the next month, for 50% off. If you would like to download the story, use Coupon Code: YP88U at checkout!

I still have a bit to learn: while the pdf and mobi versions look good, the html preview has lost the formatting for the front matter. Eventually I’ll get the hang of it, I’m sure.