That last one looks so lecherous, one can not help but be amused.
Okay, so I’ve been down this road before, all too recently in fact, but I’ve had time to reconsider a few things, and certain betrayals. And have concluded that a few things needed to be set to rights, things that I had in truth planned to do all along, but then advanced in the unset schedule mostly because I could.
For all of those people, those early adopters who bought The Sixth Line of Defense before this point in unnoticed history thank you very, very, very much. I have said it before, and not so much in recent history since I’ve experienced a serious drop-off in sales, but I appreciate every, and I do mean, every person to spend their dollars on my books. It’s not entirely about the money, though it is extremely nice to have even the tiny checks of recent quarters fill my often empty bank account. So thank you one and all, and I’m sorry. With the second book in the Forgotten Children series now out, and have seen just a few sales, I have been flip-flopping on the issue potentially drawing more people away from the world and series I have set aside until such time as I can take a new and fresh look at where it will go sometime in the future. And I’ve been struggling with the answer, to how much to charge. The recent, mostly unnoticed, change of the price to $1.99 was a step in the right direction.
However, I have for a very long time been waging an internal war because of a strong wish to have more than one freebie on the lists, especially as the Salak’patan series expanded so much and my catalog has grown to 10 novels. With an eleventh I plan to start as a pre-order soon, and release at the end of August, there is perhaps no better time to add a second freebie to the list. And The Sixth Line, as the oldest is by far the best choice to take the step down. The only reason I didn’t do this sooner, much less tried and then near auto-failed a new price, was for fear of insulting my loyal fans who were so unlucky as to find me early on in this ‘career’ and who had paid for the book. So sorry, this wasn’t done with malice, merely the right choice that proved unfair to some.
The Sixth Line of Defense is now Free
Quote from Book 2 of Relics and Remnants series
Smashwords, my adored and awesome publisher is hosting their annual Ebook Month when a great many of their authors, myself included, put their books on sale. All of my books, save the newest, are now ON SALE, for 25%-50% of their sticker prices depending on how recent they are. So if you’re missing one, two, or nine of them Now is the perfect time to buy!
The promotion lasts for the whole month of July, but time moves along swiftly, so don’t miss out.
Incidentally, if anyone glances at such a title and automatically their minds ventures beyond an R-rating, than you are sick puppies and you should wash your minds out with soap. Well… no, not really.. your ‘twisted’ mentality is mostly normal. This journey into a somewhat philosophical territory, however, is entirely SFW, and has nothing to do with the ‘Size’ of a certain thing that question normally evokes. Rather this is me, yet again, rambling and ranting about the abnormal things that pass through my head on a regular basis. Today these rantings will return several subjects I have touched upon at least several times in the past, most of which has to do with something most writers will struggle with at least once, word count.
Out in the real world, in all honesty, I am one of those quiet people most people wouldn’t even notice. I am rarely motivated to join in seemingly any random conversation that just so happens in my vicinity. This really has almost everything to do with the fact that I have very little in common with most people (surprise, surprise, I know :D). But when it comes to my hobby and strange form of personal entertainment, I don’t think there is a sane person on this planet who would reasonably argue that I am a person of few words. And when it comes to writing and word count, unsurprisingly if you were to ask any 1,000 writers or readers about what is the ‘magic number’, you are all too likely to get 300 or 400 different answers that vary by the digits. As the internet age has been born and grown into the kind of awkward adolescence we are all living through, I have discovered that when it comes to writing, as it is with SO MANY other things, trying to find two people who agree 100% on something is like finding an undiscovered Van Gogh painting in your family’s attic. There is so much contention out there on so many subjects that it has nearly reached a point where it is simply not worth consulting the proverbial ‘sages’ for anything like an answer.
Back when I started writing, eons ago, there was no such readily available source of information, even one as filled with so many differing opinions as the internet is today. Nor have I ever been one of those people who readily relied on the ‘experts’ who wrote the resource books of ages past. While I might have found at a glance some standard inside some book written by some failed author turned ‘expert’, back in those far off days when I was first trying to come to terms with how long any given story should be, I did the only thing I could think of at that time. I took a published novel, selected one full page of text and counted how many words was on it, then I multiplied that number by the number of pages, and rounded upward. What that experiment ultimately told me was that book was somewhere in the vicinity of a 100,000 words. And ever since that time that has in part been my ‘magic number’, one that set a kind of goal line for my first efforts. In other words anything above that goal was therefore considered ‘Safe’.
Of my now 10 books the smallest is 120,000 words and according to another of those self appointed ‘experts’ over at the writer’s digest website, that book is 5,000 words past his ‘magic number’ for sci-fi and fantasy books. So it could really only tweak my normally perverse sense of humor to want, at least a little, to point this person my way and watch as they mentally unzip into a state of homicidal rage. This is because my largest book makes that already sizable number look like I wasn’t even really trying. That book The Tangled Path of Destiny, book 5.5 of the Salak’patan series, quietly takes 115,000 words that ‘expert’ recommended and detonates and 500 megaton warhead on top of it. At 226,000 words, it could be reasonably argued I would have been better off splitting the story straight down the middle. It was an option I considered at that time, but rejected mostly because it would have messed up the balanced progression that fit seven books into five slots. The two time lines founds in the four books of 4 and 5, all but required concurrent but separate time lines, and the sheer masses of books 4.5 and 5.5 could easily have filled four or five books rather than just two. At 226,000 words I was well aware that I was in danger of creating a critical mass of text that would consume all of creation, but despite that I still feel it failed to tell ‘the whole story’. According to that same expert any writer who tries to put a book out there that exceeds those, rather arbitrary, magic numbers is a writer ‘who failed to edit properly’.
While I can not, will not, or never shall claim that my editing is spot on perfect, I do believe at the core of my being believe that not once in my life have ever used any more or any less than the exact number of words necessary to tell the story I had in my head. And quite frankly I believe that any agent or publisher who rejects a novel simply based on the arbitrary number that is word count doesn’t deserve that job. A story should by every right be just as short or long as it needs to be in order for it to be whole. For that all that I or others might argue I would have had been better off splitting my literary behemoth right down the middle, ultimately it would no longer be the whole and complete thing that it is. Granted doing this would have made me more money, but quite frankly I’d take far less satisfaction in that, than I do in having that massive tome on my ‘shelf’.
The reason I have brought up all of this is because it is all but certain that once again I will in the near future violate my own versions of those magic numbers. For me, I have few doubts, I calculate the minimums, maximums, and magic numbers different than other people, as my ‘over-sized’ collection proves beyond a shadow of doubt in the opinions of ‘experts’. For me I define things at least a little like this:
* 27,500 words and under = A short story (and something I have never successfully written in my ‘official’ writing career)
* 30,000 ~ 60,000 words = A novella
* 60,000 ~ 1,000,000 words = A novel
After about a million words I figure you might be overdoing this just a little, but hey who am I to argue against someone’s choices?
For me the magic number for a worthwhile book size sits rather vaguely between 125,000 and 155,000, beyond that point is when I personally begin to speculate if I am pushing the limits. This is true even though I have personally violated that range two and half times. So in other words I make it my personal goal to provide my readers with what are essentially are ‘double sized novels’, twice the fun same bargain price.
So why is all this relevant? Because I said two and a half times, and soon enough it will be three. For most of the past few weeks since The Sixth Movement was released I have been working on Change of Seasons which will be Book One of the Relics and Remnants series and the book I plan on releasing later this year. It is not that I am rushing towards an early release date, though I have considered giving the Pre-orders Smashwords has been plugging a real, planned, chance to see if that route might be worth it in the future. Rather it is because I have been aware that first two or three chapters of that book were going to require considerably more work than I normally have to go through in order to reach the level of quality and consistency that I have worked hard to achieve with at least 9 of my books. (And again thank you to my friend Melody Hewson for trying her very best to improve and fix my ‘bad’ book).
More than once in recent years I have had people who expressed their outrage, vented their frustration, or otherwise were shocked that as a writer I could take stories I’ve written in the past and simply burn them, discard them, delete them, or otherwise destroy them. It’s something I have done many, many times, case in point is The Sixth Line of Defense which had an ‘original’ version that was destroyed and The Sixth Movement which had 4 partial beginnings I deleted for being wrong, awkward, or otherwise unworthy. I’ve destroyed perhaps 200 stories in my life with word counts ranging easily between 2,000 and 160,000 words, though of that bigger variety of discards are the exception rather than the rule. In general stories I’ve discarded in the past were ranged around 20,000 words. The reason I have most often done these wanton acts of literary destruction is because those stories were Old.
Over the years my writing style, narrative, even my way of constructing a sentence has evolved beyond any real comparison to what it is today. In truth anything older than six years old might as well have been written by someone else for all that someone might recognize those stories as being something quintessentially mine. It is for this reason that it is entirely easier for me to burn the old stuff, and start over fresh, entering that revisited story with a far better understanding of the characters and worlds. It has come to the point when I really don’t even hesitate over hitting ‘New Document’ and then typing out a file heading with a 2, 3, or 7 on the end of those temp titles, as I move down through the versions of things. When it comes to Change of Seasons specifically, that was an idea I played with a long time ago, picked up and put down several times, re-read a dozen times in between, and then in two great mad rushes of activity, finished. Because of this convoluted evolution, the original 40 or so pages were nearly 9 years old by this time, and therefore were far from being up to my current standards. And in so many ways it would have been easier for me to have deleted those forty pages and shoe-horned in new passages in their place. Proof of this assertion is found in the fact that it has taken me two weeks to fix those forty pages, a time that would have given me plenty of time to do three, perhaps even four full editing run throughs on the full length of the novel. In other words it is FAR easier for me to write something fresh and new than it is for me to fix something old and stale.
As has been consistently the case throughout my writing ‘career’, when it comes right down to the brass tax of things, my books inevitably get longer as I edit them, not shorter. The scenes, explanations, and conversations that enter my books during that first draft stage of things, are almost always needed and necessary. In the grand scheme of things, there is perhaps only 3% worth of my stories that I could delete and not feel as if those books suffered from the absence of those words. Whether a wip (work in progress) gains five words or 50,000 as I edit them hardly matters, they get longer because there are details, insights, and additions that can and will improve the over all story. As of this afternoon and that point when I can say that final ‘first draft’ of my next book has achieved a consistent intermediate stage of completion, that expansion has pressed forward well beyond the outer edge of even my vague ‘magic number’. When I started fixing those oldest sections, the book stood at a very, very respectable 165,000 words. But in some ways the proof of how much my style has changed over time, by the time I reached that border between what was old and what is still ‘new’ the newest version of the first draft is now 195,000.
The truth is I just a little surprised myself by how much that number had changed these past weeks. While I expected some reasonable amount of expansion, perhaps 10 or 15,000 to fix everything that was old, I could not have anticipated a 30,000 word bump. But those old pages needed to be fixed, obviously, seriously, so this is the result, a book that has bloated outward to a word count bordering on being ‘too big’. However, once again, I can’t force myself to seriously consider cutting the book in half. It would result in two incomplete halves of the same story. SO I have ask myself, does Size Matter? In the grand scheme of things, I am really only just another a simple story-teller, weaving a web of words to entertain myself and those twisted enough to like the results of my hobby. Is it really worth my time, effort, and sanity to worry about magic-numbers that ultimately don’t matter? Should I limit myself to saying _only_ what is necessary or should I just toss up another rude gesture towards the ‘experts’ of the internet and tell the story I want to, in as many or as few words as I deem necessary. It’s a question any writer will one day have to look squarely in the eye, and whether that question is a behemoth that threatens to swallow the world whole or one that sneaks past them as quiet as a mouse, it is a question that they will need to answer.
When it comes down to it, I can in truth breath a sigh of relief over this latest ‘crisis’ situation. Beyond this now eliminated border line between old and new the narrative and story is no more than a year old, so I can fully expect an easy editing ahead. While it is likely to grow by some small measure as I struggle somewhat to fix all the big and little mistakes ahead. And there is a 50/50 chance the book will top 200,000, especially when it still needs a rant in the form of author’s notes. However the chances it will bloat outward to become my new biggest book are all but non-existent.
However an hour of your wasted time later, I ask you, when it comes to word count, Does Size Matter? If you as a reader, believe that the writer worked hard enough to earn your entertainment dollar, does it truly matter if a book is 50,000 words, or 500,000 words? Or, alternatively, as writer, do you feel as if there is some arbitrary ‘Magic Number’ that makes word count some vital, all important, benchmark that makes you, as a writer, a success or a failure, based upon that number?
The website for author Shiva Winters and her books.
Always a pain in the butt, but what’s a girl to do. SO.. even though I’ve Still HAVE NOT finished my final, _final_ read through, the book has already been pre-approved for sale and release come the 31st. As much as one or five few more missed mistakes in the final copy bugs me, if I am to fail in my authorly duties the book will be there come next Saturday. I will try in earnest to get past that last hurdle, and establish a finalized first edition, but at least this pain in my backside is over with.. for now.
Oh, and incidentally, as was always part of the plan the Sixth Line of Defense is now selling at the $1.99 series introduction price.
The Sixth Movement is now on Preorder at Smashwords.
To find out the ‘whole’ story and hear a girl have a nervous breakdown at the same time, look down.
Okay, so I’ve gone quiet again, hardly unusual I know, but this time it is for both good reasons and those that are not quite so much ‘good’. Real life has loomed up and left me with not a lot of time, and no added energy to do much online. However over the last two weeks, I have been little by little been making good on my word. Progress on editing The Sixth Movement has been made, mostly at a pained crawl. However, as of this afternoon and at the end of my sixth go through those pages I can only conclude that I am close to being done. One last pass should confirm that I’ve clarified and caught as many of the awkward patches and mistakes as I can by all logic expect to catch with one of my books.
However with real life about to again intrude rather grossly on the time I’d rather be doing other things, I don’t honestly expect to make massive amounts of progress. At best I can expect that I will have the ability to finish my last go around through the book, confirm all my many thousands of corrections are still in place, and then finally choose amoung the covers I’ve made, and write out my teasers. I expect that by Saturday or Sunday I will have everything ready and will add the book onto Smashwords. Which means that it will be hitting other stores in about three weeks from now.
Okay, so in the several weeks since my last Un-update, I haven’t exactly carried out the plan to work my way towards editing and readying my next book. What can I say beyond sometimes I get distracted, very, extremely, horrifyingly distracted. I did write near 600 kilobytes of yet another somewhat directionless and massive free-writing effort, (For layman that’s about half of one of my normal sized novels) otherwise known as 87,000 words. It is in similar veins as Wandering Steps across a Starry Sky in that it was never designed to have a purpose beyond entertainment. But rather than being focused on creating a complete image of a select group of characters this new potential book is mostly focused on world building. As is often the case with my efforts that story has been pushed off to the side and will likely in some year down the road get a serious revisit and will be added to my catalog one day.
However that partial story is not why I am suddenly back ‘on record’, breaking the pattern for my silences by saying something well ahead of my normal months between Un-updates. After I set aside that other story I stepped back into my archives and shockingly enough finished something else, achieving as I so rarely do a completed rough draft. And perhaps even more shocking to those who have listened to me rant on and off for some years, I finished something I’ve been promising for quite sometime. The book that will formerly be known as the Sixth Strike, has achieved that much venerated status of being shifted into my ‘Completed’ folder. I say ‘former’ because after two read throughs and something of a struggle to restart that stalled project, I feel strongly that a change of identity is needed.
As was mentioned in some of my earliest posts the Sixth Line of Defense was a near complete re-write of an older story. The book I published at the start of my ‘un’-professional writing career contained ‘most’ of that original story leaving out about 1/4 of that original dialogue dangling. Originally when I rewrote the story into its’ new embodiment and planned for its’ second coming, the next book was supposed to be an action packed continuation. One that really piled it on while introducing an expanded world and some other things that would be spoilers if I listed them here, hence I entitled that concept as the Sixth Strike. However it proved itself to be a very hard seed to sprout, much less grow beyond two dozen pages. Amusingly enough I had five false starts before my little mutant of a novel really started to grow, which laughably enough makes this recent effort number 6. If I was a little more crazy, I’d call it kismet, but will leave the declarations of it’s true nature to the historians to decide.
Of those many false starts, including one that was lost in a great tragedy of a computer that was only ‘mostly dead’ several years ago. Though that particular version, and it’s great potential, was lost, the story I had been writing stuck with me. It and its’ four siblings were a heavy influence on me, I won’t lie about that. Often enough when I start a story there is some singular idea, concept, or scene that I find far too entertaining not to shoot for. And this was the case for all the scattered false-start pieces, now discarded, for what was supposed to be the next in the Forgotten Children Series. All of those potential books had some element, some way of expanding that world that I liked very much, so in the ironically apt 6th attempt I combined those various elements. The book that came of that effort is deeply pleasing, at least to me, and one that definitively plays out the wish to expand upon the first novel, however the results of those efforts are not an action packed romp across the colonies.
So, in essence, calling the new book The Sixth Strike would be false advertising, the book itself needs a new name, one more in line with the true nature of what those pages contain. At this time the title that rings the most true is The Sixth Movement, a title which for me calls up mental images of grand orchestrative efforts, complete with violins. Which suits my whims quite well since this book has now in fact to come to be the soft notes in between the moments of greatest drama. I had considered seriously The Sixth Revolution, since the less mature among us would have less opportunity to equate that title to something that vaguely rhymes with GM. However a Revolution much less a Sixth one sounds far better, and much more fitting as what might potentially, in the far off future, be the fourth book of this series. The title The Sixth Strike has since been pushed back to being third in the line of succession. Where the title will in fact meet with the idea, since the second book sets it up rather nicely for that part of the expanding story.
As well as changing the title of that now much closer book, the completion of the rough draft puts me into a position where I feel my better option would be to move ahead with the editing and publishing of the series I have often lamented as being an only child. That other still unnamed book that would have been my next novel, is far better off being given a stay of sentence, since it will take more work to see finished nice and proper for publishing. While the cover art for The Sixth Movement will likely not be any less troubling a task to fulfill, what’s beyond that page is a much quicker and easier fix in terms of editing. (Not to mention it’ll finally give me good reason to give up a repeated lament.) So at this time my next (little) big thing will be the continuation of the Forgotten Children Series. But this won’t likely begin until I’ve had some face time with the real and actual inheritor of the name The Sixth Strike, since the beginning of that next book was half the motivation for the finishing of its’ sibling. Once I’ve gotten at least some of that out of my system, it shouldn’t be too much longer before I find the kick in the pants necessary to make me get to work.
This is what I imagine fire kittens look like.
Super Fuzzy: Check
Perturbed expression because it is both cold and wet: Double Check
Conclusion: I hearby declare this a Fire Kitten, we be warned to tread lightly and feed often.