Thursday, August 14, 2008

Life, the Universe and...

The story so far: a week or so ago, I mentioned that the haunted house novel is back in the compost tumbler, getting more work (having its plot hammered back into shape ... I won't say straight; it would be altogether the wrong word), and to fill the void we're doing a fantasy novel in September/November -- well in time for Christmas, if you're thinking of giving books.

And now, the conclusion: I have An Idea. It's going to take some work, but this should be exactly what I need to git myself the hell outta Dodge -- albeit it not in time to get the novel into gear by next month! So we'll be dishing up the fantasy as a stop-gap.

I'm looking at the book right now, since Aquamarine is, from my perspective, done. (It's passed out of my hands, at least. I understand we received the ISBN today, and tomorrow the pilot copy will be ordered in for checking purposes. So, the book goes "active" next week. Phew. What a process.)

Therefore, the sound you hear is gears jamming. In my brain. I'm switching cogs from a drowned future (Aquamarine) to a historical fantasy. You have to come to a screeching stop, shunt into reverse and hurtle backwards about 1500 years. One novel is about submersibles, super-ships, SAM missles and two of the most delicious heroes I ever dreamed up. The other book is about jagged, ice-bound mountains, camps of war in the distant north, battles and adultery and revenge and ambition ... another two of the most edible heroes I ever dreamed up.

The common denominator is, the guy/guy relationship at the heart of each novel, and I'm trying to focus on this while gears crash-feed in my cortex, and I somehow get out of the warm, tropical waters and into the aforementioned icy crags, all set about with deep, dark forests and frost giants.

And, a good time will be had by all. Trust me on this. I wrote the first version of this novel (ouch) eighteen years ago ... it was mostly-het, or fairly-un-gay, or mainly-straight, in that version. At the time, I was still lusting after a contract with a major publisher, and in those far-off days, any novel that had gay undertones had to be VERY undercooked ... lift the cover, and the blood ran.

You know, I never did get to slap my paw print on any contract issued by A Very Major Ney York Publisher (or, not yet, anyway), and in the last couple of decades I think I've made something like one, maybe two sumbissions in that direction. Here's the truth: I can't honestly be bothered.

In other words, never overlook the comfort factor of finding your niche and settling into it. Right now we have 25 titles up on the website, with ebook versions of all, and by the end of 2009 the tally should be close to 30, because I have a number of things in very late-stage development.

And (this is vastly important) it's FUN.

Quite often these days, I'm asked why I do this ... what's it all for? Well ... why does anyone do anything? There are three reasons, I can think of: the money, the glory, and the fun. There ain't much glory in independent publishing, and I don't think anyone ever got rich out of it (though you can earn some quite nice bucks on the side ... vacation money; certainly far beyond anything a so-called "royalty-paying publisher" could ever hope to match).

The fact is, most indie publishers and writers do it the fun of it. It's all very philosophical. It's the same motivation driving folks who ride bikes down muddy slopes at high speed, somersault over the handlebars and dig up tree roots with their faces. And the same "gotta do" drive inside folks who work massive overtime on a stultifying job, so they can go skydiving one weekend a month.

Over the centuries, this "gotta do" spirit has been characterized in many guises and termed bushido, chivalry, bravado, exhilaration, adrenaline-addiction and sheer stupidity, with a positive index of 42 on the Dent-Beeblebrox Scale.

Where on the scale does indie publishing fall? I'd say ... well under the "plow the bitumen up with your nose" mark; a bit below the "overtime for skydiving" line, and a couple of notches above the "eat noodles for six months to buy a stair-master" mark. (If it had been a plasma screen, we'd have been neck-and-neck there; it was a close thing.)

And yes, by now you can tell that the Mel-o-Sphere revolves serenely in sheer, untainted vacuum in the nexus of the Event-Free Zone ... in addition to which, I have to go back to work. Life just ain't fair days.

Ciao for Now,

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