Dark clouds over heaven?

Reminder: for those of you who missed it last week, there’s a poll I’d really like you to take part. The target group is published authors (self-published, trad-published, and hybrid), so if you have writer friends who wouldn’t mind spending a few minutes answering a couple of questions, please let them know about it.

I was going over some of the results from last week, even though it’s still too early to jump to any conclusions, but the first thing that struck me was the small number of traditionally published authors that answered the poll. Which got me thinking.

I searched a bit online about the reasons why a writer would choose a path outside that of traditional publishing, or if there’s something else wrong with it, particularly if there was anything off-putting outside it being hard to get noticed by publishers and agents. I was looking for something outside what most people have heard about. I thought it would be a wild goose chase. I thought it should be bright sunshine over heaven.

And then I stumbled on this article.

Now, I have no knowledge of the intricacies of contracts in general (let alone publishing contracts), but I’ve been following Susan Spann’s tweets about such things, particularly everything she tweets or writes about rights as often as I can (which admittedly is not as often as I should), and I must say that what this article describes was something I had a hard time accepting. No, not because it was far-fetched or false (apparently, it’s VERY real), but because I honestly (and gullibly, I guess) believed that every traditional publisher would shy away from. At least when it comes to payment. I was under the impression that a publishing contract is more often than not a struggle about who gets what rights, and any problems about payment would stem from that. Perhaps it’s just me and my limited knowledge of the industry. If so, mea culpa.

I don’t know if what Michael Kozlowski describes is a one-of incident or the norm. I have yet to land a contract. You’ll need an agent’s or a publisher’s opinion on that. I really hope it’s the former. I mean, you’d think that with all the pressure Amazon is putting on traditional publishing in general, traditional publishers would be more protective and respectful to their authors. Perhaps what Mr Kozlowski describes only happens to dubious and small houses. If that’s the case, then maybe not all is lost for traditional publishing. But what if it’s the norm? Has any of these publishers considered what would happen to their businesses if all the writers chose not to partner with them?

It’s things like that, that make me want an agent in my corner before I go anywhere near a contract.

The past 10 days or so

The past ten days or so have been a nightmare, with regards to writing.

Remember my post from a few weeks back when I said I had to delete a plot arc that stretched for 25 or so chapters? I thought once I rewrote these 25 chapters (keep in mind please that my editing process involves rewriting the draft in the first place, so that would be rewrite #2), every piece of the puzzle (for the sake of argument let’s call the puzzle, STORY) would fall into place. And it did. Up to a certain point.

The particular arc I had to remove, however, extended like a ripple in a calm pond. It occurred to me about ten nights ago (once again, just as I was about to fall asleep) that since that arc was out of the way, a certain character’s importance lost its value. Said character was supposed to be the big bad guy (in the original draft that evil character fooled the MC, and lead him right into the wolves’ den). Allow me to clarify something here: the adversary in my story was never that person. The enemy was my main character’s attitude and perception (spawned partly but not limited to his madness – another reason I had to shift the voice and style to more “literary” with more inner thoughts), and the environment which kills humans (the Darkening is a post apocalyptic story, in case you forgot). So the big bad guy was originally there to take my main character to the last location the story would unfold, and all the unresolved plot arcs would come to an end. He served shall we say, as a bridge. Lo and behold, said bridge was also part of the plot arc I wanted to remove. Which made the big bad guy’s existence rather unimportant.

In my attempt to guide my characters from one location to another, I had come up with a weak solution (don’t worry, I paid for it), instead of choosing the most obvious option, though not necessarily the one the MC wanted to take. It was there in front of me the whole time, and all I did was run away from it! DOH!

But I did mention of ripple effects, yes? And that is none other than the big bad guy’s presence. He is no longer needed. He no longer serves as a bridge to take the MC from location A to location B, he no longer deceives the MC of his role. Now all he has to do is just be at location B and be the bad guy, who has his reasons for being the bad guy (if he didn’t, he’d be a very flat character, and we don’t want that, do we?).

So the question I’ve been trying to answer is whether or not I should delete him altogether and how am I going to change the rest of the story. Can the bad guy (who, as I said is NOT the main adversary) have a reason to exist in a story, where he’s introduced in the third act, with such a small role to play, yes or no? To remove him completely would probably mean I would have to change the entire story and plot, which means delete the whole thing. At least that’s what I think. For the past ten days I’ve been trying to come up with patches that would fill in the plot holes the deletion of that one minor plot arc created.

I won’t lie to you, I was on the verge of mental breakdown. I even thought about giving up completely. Add this to a series of rejections for some of my short stories that knocked on my door (or rather came through email) and I certainly did not want to see, and you can understand why I doubted my ability to write.  Even when I step back from the story I still can’t see how it will work in the long run. I don’t want to have a story full of plot holes.

Despite all this, I think (and I stress the word think) I managed to patch things up. The problem is I won’t know until I finish everything and give it to someone else more experienced than me to read it. If I had a kingdom, I’d shout “my kingdom for an affordable developmental editor!” Preferably one that offers free patience lessons along with the feedback. Alas, I don’t.

Inspirational prompts

I’d like to start a new category, one that will (hopefully) inspire you to write more or at least evoke something inside.

I’m very much a visual person, in that I’ll see an image and a story will pop into my mind. Well, maybe not a whole story, more like a scene but the point is that things will start stirring in my head. I know that for others this happens when they read something or when they put together certain words or when they hear something.

So I want to start this new category called “Inspirational Prompts” where I’ll be posting a picture, a string of words, a full sentence etc, that hopefully will motivate you into writing something. It could be a completely new story or it could be a new take on a scene for something you’ve already written and want to reword.

Write down your stories or scenes that spring from it. If this idea of mine has helped you, write a comment and let me know. I’ll share your enthusiasm. Don’t send me your stories; they are for you, to help you if you’re in need of it or to simply increase your daily word quota. This is me trying to help the community by giving something back. Feel free to reblog whatever you think others may find beneficial.

I should also point out that since I write mainly horror, fantasy (dark fantasy mainly) and sci-fi, a good deal of the images I’ll be posting will be related to that. Of course I’ll have others, non-fantasy related.

So, this is the first image.

(Where possible, I will mention where I found each image from and who owns it. In this case, the pinterest image simply says Found in twitter.com)

What thoughts go through his mind? Why is he in the background? What about her? What could they say to each other if the image showed them in the exact same place but in a futuristic setting?

Let your imagination run wild!

Oh, yes, this is from my pinterest page, I started solely for these blog posts. If you have any more images to share with me or wish to give me a quick tour of how pinterest works, please do so 🙂

What is YOUR dream?

Today I’d like to get as many of you involved into a little exercise. Well, not really an exercise but it may help you get in touch with the feeling that sustained the need you have to write (or had, if you feel you are stuck).

I would like you to write in the comments below what was or is that one dream you have (or had) that you wanted to experience through your writing that would make you feel complete, both as a person and as a writer. I’ll start with mine.

I’d like, in years from now, to sit on a bus or train or a restaurant or any other place, one that I’ve never been before – preferably in another country than my own – and accidentally overhear some people sitting next to me – complete strangers to me, mind you – having the following conversation:

“Have you read [title of book] from Sarantopoulos?”

“Yeah, it was OK.”

Just that. Nothing more. Just two people I have never seen before, who don’t know what I look like but who have read my stories and have deemed them OK for their tastes and their wallets. Not “great” or “amazing” or anything else pompous; just OK. No contracts with absurdly lots of 0’s, no TV contracts or excessive fame, no nothing. Just… OK. What I want, is my stories read by as many people as possible. I don’t care how they get their hands on them, as long as they do.

Now, if I ever get to experience that, then I will know for a fact, beyond any doubt, that I have done well in choosing to write and that I have succeeded in doing so. I’m certain I’ll be sitting next to them giggling, while reading a book or munching down something from the local cuisine, feeling like I’m at the top of the world. Chances are I won’t even introduce myself and let them build their own imaginary picture of me.

I often wonder how achievable this is for someone like me?

Please comment below what you want to get out of your writing. Don’t be shy to whatever it may be. I’m a dreamer so I get to dream stuff like that. You may be a more down-to-earth kind of person so you may have a dream to achieve fame or lucrative contracts that will allow you to carry on writing. Just share your dreams with the rest of us here.