Is what my house is these days. I’ve finished the first part of “The Lion and the Scorpion,” and it’s awesome. It’s exactly what I wanted to accomplish – it lays the groundwork for the “big ideas” about addiction and fascism I’ll be following up on, without clogging the pace or getting in the way of the killin’ a story like this needs to have a lot of. There are no boring bits, and let’s say it, as much as I love George R. R. Martin he does have those sections where he spends pages on the heraldry on shields of great houses that don’t even exist in his world anymore. And okay, some people love that level of detail. Me, I’m tapping my foot going, “more killin’!” And of course you write the book you want to read. Also, I managed to write 100 pages without using the word “intricate,” which is a big accomplishment in a fantasy story. Don’t tell me the scrollwork was “intricate,” tell me what it looks like or don’t bother, mkay?
I have an art student from UNR working on the cover; we’re very much of the same mind as to the most important elements – the sword that spells out letters in red on the blade, the red-hooded man, the scorpion sigil. None of this means much to you I know but in about three weeks max this puppy will be on Kindle, for .99 and you can see for yourself. Naturally I’m hoping for the reaction Hugh Howey got for “Wool,” which is essentially, “a, this is great and b, it’s 99 cents so why wouldn’t you check it out,” leading to huge sales so he could pub the next story for 1.99, etc. Then he put out the “omnibus” of stories 1-5 for 5.99 for a while, which now I see today sells for 1.99 as he’s got two more stories now, one for 3.99 and one for 2.99 that just came out this month…so the first story eventually becomes the loss leader for the last. Fucking genius. And these new stories are prequels, which make me go hmm, the story of the meteor falling ten years ago and how the Emperor and the Stormlord went from ordinary folks to… Yeah, that would be my “parts six and seven,” if this story takes off.
It does have to take off, though. I have to write what sells. If it fails, is met with a shrug, and sells less than let’s say 1000 copies in two months, it’s dead. 1000 copies is $350 in my pocket, not a ton but enough to justify keeping on with the story.
And, it feels like a finished story; certainly the next story begins as they walk out the gate of their school, but if you only read this one you wouldn’t feel robbed, or left hanging (too much) fire. So I’m excited to see what happens. As always, it’s the promoting and marketing and pushing it that terrifies and dismays me far more than thinking of four to six hundred more pages full of neat tricks and inventions…that’s the easy part.
No grass will grow under my feet in the mean time. Next up while I wait to see how it flies is “Come Dark O’Clock,” my gay demon romance, which is shaping up nicely as a good, light break from all the darkness of “Lion” and the emotional pain of “Less Than.” It’s more in the “True Blood” vein – thematically, that is, this is not another imitative “shifter romance” cadging other people’s prebuilt worlds. Funnier, lighter, though of course with suspense and excitement and humor. Once again, 100 page story with an open ended ending, and up on Kindle by let’s say January and if that one flies, more stories there too, if not, so long.
This story is however posing a short-term creative problem. The thing that makes Charlaine Harris’ world work so well is that it is a world, the village of Bon Temps is completely populated with minor characters. I need to give Sol, the sorcerer-to-be, a “village” of his own, or at least a few people to be his sidekick, backup, and/or go-to’s, and I’m putting the story here in Reno because, hey why not and besides there’s a ski resort to start and where else am I going to put that.
The creative problem is that, I’m also nearing the point where I can if not complete “Less Than,” at least move the story forward. Yeah, I’m nearing the end of that odyssey too. Not so long ago I was all boo hoo, I’ve got to give Caroline the life I can’t give myself, the friends and social life she needs to progress. Well, I’ve got friends and a social life of my own now, and the development of hers will mirror mine, in the unspecified location she lives in. So the question is how much of my new life and experience to give Sol and how much to save for Caroline. I think the reality of my life goes to Caroline, the lonely girl lonely no more, and I’m just going to have to make shit up for Sol. So a tricky act – Sol lives in my real city and its real places, but his friends are imaginary, appropriate I suppose since the rest of the cast of characters are demons; and Caroline lives in a fake city but gets my real friends, my real life, or at least a close fictional approximation.
I’ve got through February now to make this happen, and I’ve never felt so creative in my life – creative as in productive, pushing out pages on two or more stories at a time. If making this new Kindle career happen ain’t gonna happen now, I can’t imagine when.