Sunday, July 15, 2012

Stuff I'm Working On Now...

Since I imagine you got sick of seeing every blog post about writing entitled "Productivity Update," I decided on a different title this time.  So here goes...

-Escape from the Wastelands-Three complete, continuous chapters now.  The Lawrenceville group has seen the first two and I'll be sending the third chapter (and hopefully a couple more) their way when the deadline comes July 22.  This novel was originally the last half of a longer novel, but I broke it in half.  So basically a whole lot of the later half of this book is done, but there's not much at the beginning.  In the event I find a buyer for Battle for the Wastelands, I hope to be able to finish this one relatively quickly.

-Battle for the Wastelands-My Kennesaw writing group is going to go over the whole manuscript Aug. 1, around six weeks after I sent out the whole manuscript for their critique.  I've done some tinkering since then, including revamping the climactic airship battle based on learning more about how historical airships operated.  My goal is to start querying agents and publishers, with DragonCon being a big source of the latter.  Hopefully there won't be big revisions to make based on the Aug. 1 meeting.

-"Melon Heads"-Back when I was at student at the University of Georgia (this was in the fall of 2003, I think), I was surfing the Internet for urban legends and came across the tale of the Melon Heads.  I cannot find the original site at the moment, but the gist of it was that back in the 1950s, a doctor opened his home up to children with hydrocephalus.  He abused and experimented on the children, who one day rose up and ate him, then fled into the nearby woods.  They (or their descendants) are supposedly still living out in the woods, killing and eating animals and attacking people.

I wrote a short horror story about the "Melon Heads," thinking they had never been covered before.  Over the last few years, I've been trying to send it to different markets and it's gotten better each time.  The current version is a bit tongue in cheek, on top of the gruesome violence that some of my friends who've read earlier versions have seen.

(I actually brought it to a church writing group once and got some very shocked reactions, including a revelation by one group member that he actually had hydrocephalus and had it remedied surgically.  I was expecting group members to be shocked if not outraged, but I wasn't expecting anything medical to come up.)

Unfortunately, now I'm running out of places to send it.  It's getting to the point that I could either send it to some market that won't pay much if at all, or I self-publish it for the Kindle.  My friend Jeff Baker has done this with his short story "Slip Drive" and made more money than I'd get from the lowest-paying markets.  My friend James R. Tuck has also self-published some crime fiction on Amazon too.

I sent the story out again this morning after the newest version of it got rejected by a new and well-paying market.  If I get rejected again, it might be time to, as I often say on Facebook, "sacrifice it to the Kindle god."  James knows some artists who create e-book covers, so I'll take a look at their work and see what they've got.

"The Past Is Ashes"-This short story is the result of a trope-inversion exercise I came up with and is one of the first new short stories I've written in years.  Basically the hero's quest for revenge is not the result of the villain destroying his hometown (cliched), but the villain instead building a fort there.  This leads to his neighborhood being eminent-domained, his family having to move into the ghetto because house prices have gone up everywhere else, etc.  The actual Word document is called "Gentrification War."  I sent it out last week to a market with a history of getting back to me quickly.

-"Djinn"-In addition to sending this one out to various markets, I'd like to include it in a collection that I'll get into detail about in a bit.  Basically it follows a group of American soldiers into a cave complex in Afghanistan, hunting for al Qaeda.  They find their prey dead, clawed up or burned.  Then the mysterious killer comes after them.  I'll basically describe it as "Jeepers Creepers in Afghanistan."

(Don't laugh.  "Jeepers Creepers" is actually a really good movie.)

I sent a partial to a relative who is a two-time Afghan vet and he took issue with the accuracy of some of it, including some of the weaponry used.  I set it aside after that, but I've done some thinking and I don't think the problems can't be fixed.  I've tinkered with it a little bit, but haven't written much new material.

Now about the collection.  I've noticed a theme in most of my horror fiction that they'll all fit into the real world--the events are not widely known and don't have much impact on the wider world.  That reminded me of the quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet--"There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy."  I pondered an anthology with the title More Things In Heaven and on Earth, but I've found that I've only got three or four stories that are in good enough condition.  "Djinn" would make five.  At minimum, I think I'd need ten.  One collection I enjoy--Nameless Cults: The Cthulhu Mythos Fiction of Robert Howard--includes over twenty stories.

I'm told collections are hard to sell unless there are very famous authors involved, but my friend Nick said there are agents willing to represent them.  Given my writing priorities these days, I'm thinking this will have to wait until after the first Wastelands books are done.  Maybe after that, I'll be a very famous author.  :D

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