Books and Things

Just a quick and probably pointless reminder that, if you’re in the US, and would like a free paperback of my first novel, you can enter the giveaway at Goodreads before midnight on the 18th. A handful will enter, a handful will win. You could be one of them.

Many months ago, I mentioned my “next” novel, and options I was considering for “publishing” it. I noted at the time that I was about two-thirds finished with it. Astute readers might notice that it’s spectacularly failed to materialize in the interim. Well, there’s a reason for that…

Shortly after I posted that, I came to a scene I just really (couldn’t | didn’t want to) write. I’d start, get a couple lines in, and… nope. Not happening. I completely blocked on it like that for around a month, and finally said screw it, I’ll write something else in the interim.

Which I did.

A few weeks ago, I published, you may recall, a novella called Stanley and His Sword. Before that, though, I actually published two other things…

Now, novel #1, Mendacities, has not exactly been a resounding success, in any sense of the word. I came up with around a dozen reasons for this, two of the most pertinent of which are “I suck” and “people simply don’t buy non-werewolf, non-vampire, non-wizard young-adult coming-of-age novels”.

What people buy are romances, erotica, and vampires, werewolves, and wizards. Which is a problem, because I really don’t want to write romances, erotica, or books about vampires, werewolves, or wizards. So I was browsing Smashwords, the e-book site, looking at what other people had just published, to see if I could get any inspiration, and there I saw, well… an e-book, let’s be honest.

It was, I thought, initially, something even more unsalable than Mendacities – a rape fantasy. Then I remembered Rule 34, and I thought, hell, there’s probably a small but meaningful market for that sort of thing. And I checked on Amazon and elsewhere, and, sadly, found this to be true. There was a bigger market for that sort of thing, apparently, than for Mendacities. And I read the preview excerpt of this certain story, bottle of mental bleach at the ready, and discovered the writing was… not so hot.

And so, feeling depressed and cynical and bitter, I said – aw crap – “I could probably do better than that”.

And thus, as an experiment, I sacrificed a lot of my self-respect and wrote and published a novella that is sorta kinda not really actually entirely about rape. I couldn’t bring myself to write a straight “fantasy” of that sort, no matter how much I drank, so the act in question is really just the beginning of an oddly amusing early Victorian comedy-of-errors involving a lovely sociopath and a personable idiot. And, because it seemed the only opportunity I’d ever have to do so, it’s written in a relatively authentic period style, something I’d always wanted to try.

Well, I wrote it, and I published it, and, whereas I’d promoted Mendacities heavily, I didn’t mention this story anywhere. Not a peep. All I did was tag it on Amazon with a few terms, including a certain unpleasant four-letter one.

And it sold.

Five months later, it’s selling at a faster rate than Mendacities. Which isn’t saying much, really. It’s hard to be positive, because of the considerable lag in reporting sales through all the various channels, but I think that within three months it may have been read by more people than have read my novel.

Which is just a wee bit depressing and demoralizing, let me tell you. Well, I decided to try and capitalize on the (relative) success of the story by writing a sequel, which I did a little while ago. It’s an comedy of errors crossed with a mystery crossed with an adventure, and it’s one-hundred-percent rape-free.

As far as I know, it hasn’t sold yet, which may or may not reinforce some cynical suspicions I held about the success of the first story.

I’m really not proud of either story. They’re absolutely nothing at all like Mendacities, or my forthcoming second novel. They’re deliberately written in a relatively period style that many will find aggravating. (It takes skill to write that badly on purpose. Really.) And the first one, y’know, contains a really rather unpleasant scene I’d rather not think about.

If I’d been smart, I’d have published them under some random pseudonym, and it’d be easy to pretend they’d never happened. But I used my name, and some people recently asked me about them, and I discussed them briefly in passing elsewhere, so I figured it was time to ‘fess up, as it were.

Yes, I wrote Well Met By Gaslight, and the sequel, Never According to Plan, the first two of perhaps four planned novellas in the “Hortence and Zedock Adventures”. If you enjoy somewhat dark Victorian anti-romances with occasional bits of savage violence, some small degree of humor, and a lot of banter between characters, some of it a trifle long-winded, you might like them. Most people, though, will just want to pretend they never happened…

Anyway, back to the original story – I wrote the two novellas as a way to distract me from the scene in the novel that I didn’t want to write. I went back, I tried to write it… still wasn’t happening. So I wrote, as a break from the headache-inducing Victorian stuff, Stanley and His Sword, possibly the most lighthearted contemporary fairy tale ever set in Duluth, Minnesota. (Did I mention the long and kind of kinky sex scene? No? Okay, never mind.)

Well, that was, praise be, enough to break me out of my funk over Novel Number Two, which I’m back working on. At the moment I’m somewhere between eighty-five and ninety percent finished; if all goes well the first draft should be done by the end of the month. Then a month or so to rewrite and edit, and with any luck my lovely little novel of life, love, and ecoterrorism will be out before Christmas.

But, before that happens, you can go snag a free copy of Mendacities. It’s not very good, obviously… but it’s free. That’s got to count for something, surely?

Published in: Meta | on August 16th, 2011| Comments Off on Books and Things

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