alanajoli: (mini me short hair)
It's been a long time since I've posted, but I have a lot of news to make up for it!


First: Today is the release of my newest interactive novel game for Choice of Games: Choice of the Pirate. Right now it's priced at $2.99, which is a 25% discount on the full price of the game. It's probably the most ambitious game I've written yet; set in the fictional Lucayan Sea, it borrows all the old pirate tropes from cursed treasure to ghost ships and adds a little extra magic to the mix. I'm very pleased with how it turned out, and I hope that many people enjoy the adventures!
You can read all about the game here at the Choice of Games blog.

Second: I'll be at the James Blackstone Memorial Library's local author expo tomorrow (5/21) afternoon. If you're in the area and would like to stop by and chat about my novels or games (or just shoot the breeze), please come on down! There are about thirty local authors attending, including reporters and children's book authors, so it should be an interesting mix. I'm not on any of the panels, but I may see about leaving my table for a bit to hear them.

For more information, you can visit the event website.

Thirdly: In honor of the game releasing and the author expo, I've finally uploaded the Redemption Trilogy to the major booksellers! You can nnow find them at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Kobo.
They're also still available at DriveThruFiction, Smashwords, and iTunes as well.

Lastly: I've accepted a position as Editor in Chief of Outland Entertainment, where I'll be editing a number of very cool comics! You can find out more about us at our latest newsletter or by checking out the comics lineup!
alanajoli: (mini me short hair)
Happy International Women's Day!

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Back in 2006, Lindsay Archer and I sat (and sang, and entertained passers by) together at GenCon, selling copies of Into the Reach and other Chronicles of Ramlar RPG books. Now, with the final book of the Redemption Trilogy on the horizon, we've almost come to the end of the journey that started there.

To celebrate International Women's Day, DriveThruRPG is featuring games and novels by female game designers, writers, and artists. There's a lot of great stuff there, including quite a lot of Firefly RPG content from Margaret Weis Productions. Into the Reach and Departure, by virtue of being written by me and illustrated by Lindsay, are also included in the feature. I think this is a fantastic way to point out just how many women are creating works in the role playing game industry (thanks in part to leaders like Margaret Weis, who have been there since nigh on the beginning). It's nice to be a part of this community!
alanajoli: (mini me short hair)
One of the Redemption Trilogy Kickstarter stretch goals that got funded was the re-editing and prettification of Into the Reach and Departure to be re-released as new editions. At long last, Into the Reach has been re-released! It's currently available through DriveThruFiction and Smashwords. I'll be releasing it at Barnes and Noble and Kobo as well -- and probably Amazon, though I'm hesitant about that for numerous reasons (but Bottom Line dictatese that it's a necessity) -- but I'm more concerned at the moment about getting Departure cleaned up and off to the backers than getting the widest distribution possible on Into the Reach. If all goes well, all three novels will be up everywhere by the end of the year.

Into_the_Reach_by_LinzArcher

So hurray! That's a big hurdle jumped, and I can move on to the next things. Or, rather, I can keep working on finishing up the details on Showdown at Willow Creek (renamed to give it more Western flair), which is in beta, and get prepared for that release, while also moving on to the next things. What's in store here for the next few months?

  • Edits and formatting on Departure

  • Work on Choice of Pirate, my next game for Choice of Games

  • Finishing up coding on the autobio project. The project is now in four batches per year instead of two, which means more authors and more fun. This batch features Shiloh Walker and Margaret Weis, who were both fantastic to work with!


  • Speaking of the autobio project, we've added some fun new structure, so along with the long essays, like Shiloh wrote for this batch, there are also interviews, like the one Margaret participated in. I tend to feature a lot of SFF writers, partly because I'm more familiar with their work, and partly because SFF writers respond really well to being invited. (Graphic novelists tend to be excited to be invited but too busy to contribute, though I keep following up!) I've been focusing on inviting romance novelists and have had a little success there, but I am looking for more mystery novelists, nonfiction writers, playwrights, and literary writers to invite. If you've got recommendations of approachable writers who interact with their readers online (that seems to be the recipe for successful responses to my invitations) who fit into those categories, I'd love to hear them!
alanajoli: (mini me)
So, the world didn't end in December. That's just the start of the good things on my list as we're entering 2013.

Yesterday, first day of the year, I got a (small) royalty check from the sales of Into the Reach and Departure, which is a great way to start a new year off right! I checked my sales report today, and the 99 cent sale definitely encouraged people to buy the books. So hurrah for that! I'm leaving the sale open through this weekend, and after that will be putting the books up at $2.99, which is the price point that I, as a reader, will impulse buy. At any rate, I'm thrilled with the uptick in sales and am glad that people are out there reading the novels!

In addition, people have been saying nice things about Choice of Kung Fu. I don't know why it didn't occur to me that it would get covered in reviews, but I was surprised a few days after its release to see a lot of app reviews up on Google and iTunes -- by people I don't know. And most of them were nice! There were two really insightful reviews by bloggers that I thought I'd link to here: Dora at Casual Gameplay called the game "a rich, compelling narrative set against the backdrop of mystical ancient China" in her review. Tof Eklund of TouchArcade really got some of what the game was trying to do beyond just martial arts adventure; he wrote "what amazed me was seeing the Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian strains of thought, complete with their conflicts (but never categorical oppositions) that play out in the game, and seeing the opportunity to play according to those philosophies, or reject them all." I can't say how excited I am to see someone not only recognize my efforts in that direction, but to think I pulled it off.

Beyond reviews, my buddy Brian LeTendre wrote up a really nice piece about me and my work at his blog See Brian Write. I've really been enjoying Brian's web comic MoStache, and I've just (belatedly) purchased his novel Courting the King in Yellow, which promises to be full of Lovecraftian goodness. Knowing Brian as a gamer as well as a reviewer and podcaster, I know he tells a great story in person, so I'm looking forward to reading his prose!



In other news, 2012 was not an entire success: I did not make my reading goals for last year. Although I did read one non-work related nonfiction book (John "jaQ" Andrews's Quicklet on Castle Season 3, a novel by an autobio writer (The Silver Bowl by Diane Stanley, plus several David Weber novels), three rereads, several new graphic novels that weren't review books, and four kids books that weren't for MythSoc, I only read one novel outside my genres (The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley), and only drew down my physical TBR pile by two books instead of twelve.

This year, I'm setting that TBR goal higher, and repeating most of the other goals. Interestingly, out of 141 books I read (sometimes grouping together kids books and graphic novels), around 80 of those were for review for the various publications I write for. Which explains to me why maybe I missed a few of those goals I'd set for myself. To good reading in 2013!
alanajoli: (mini me)
It's holiday sale time over at DriveThruRPG, and the Drunken Goblin has a whole stocking full of great stuff to offer -- including the first two books of the Redemption Trilogy. Right now, you can get the books for 99 cents each! You can go straight to my books here, or see what else is on sale on the Drunken Goblin page.



Part of this sale is prepping for a Kickstarter. I've talked with editor Shawn Merwin and artist Lindsay Archer, and they're both on board for getting Regaining Home back out of the ether and into complete digital form. Keep an eye out here for further news about how you can help make book 3 a reality! (If you have any words of wisdom or advice about Kickstarter, I'd love to hear them!)

In other good news, Choice of Kung Fu has been submitted to online app sellers, and it should be appearing on the market just in time for Christmas. Despite the awesome Adam Morse sending me e-mails to keep me up to date on the launch date, I find myself semi-compulsively visiting the Choice of Games home page, so I can be among the first to see the public announcement when it hits. In the meantime, there are a few new games I haven't finished playing through, and I want to try them out before I start on my next game pitch!
alanajoli: (Default)
I am down to 33 messages in my inbox. This is the closest I've been to "success" since the end of September. I'm getting there! This means that work is getting done on this end, for which I'm glad -- but more on that topic later. Now, to the important business of interesting links, so I can close some browser tabs...

  • So, after I celebrated Amazon's cooperation with Overdrive as a success for library patrons (and library e-book circulation statistics), Amazon launched their own lending service for Prime members. The initial Publishers Weekly article gives some details, including how Amazon intended to launch without the Big Six publishers. PW blogger Peter Brantley followed up with his observations on the program, as well as the impact on libraries. Then yesterday, PW's Rachel Deahl reported that Amazon might be headed toward litigation, since they had apparently planned to lend books they didn't really have permission to lend. Additionally, agents are in an uproar because, although Amazon will pay publishers for books as a sale, the borrowed books will register differently from traditionally sold titles, meaning that the royalties could get very messy. I am never surprised at kerfuffles surrounding Amazon's business practices, and though I think the Kindle is a fantastic device (and I do rent, and occasionally purchase, streaming media from Amazon, at least so long as my free trial Prime membership lasts), every time a situation like this comes up, I'm glad I'm not further in bed with Amazon. Of course, if I eventually make the Redemption Trilogy available to Amazon customers, that relationship will inevitably change once again.

  • Speaking of e-readers, friend of the blog and former college classmate of mine John Andrews of the Hippo posted a concise and helpful overview of the different options on the market right now, including the new updates about the B&N line and price cuts (which, of course, come within months of my purchasing a Nook SimpleTouch, now known as the regular Nook). You're all familiar with my B&N company loyalty, of course, and thus can take all my commentary on e-readers with a grain of salt; John has no such biases that I'm aware of, and is, you know, a journalist and stuff, so his commentary is much more trustworthy.


  • The Muppets are coming soon! Tor.com very nicely linked to the last of the parody trailers for the film, which lampoons the first parody trailer and takes hits at the Twilight Saga. It makes me giggle. I'm so looking forward to it!

  • DriveThruRPG is hosting Teach Your Kids to Game Week from November 14 through November 21. Bug's already got her first set of dice, and she loves our huge-sized minis, so I figure we're already well on the way to a future gamer.

  • Jeffrey Taylor, another classmate of mine from Simon's Rock, is launching a new comic starting tomorrow. Clockworks Comics has its online launch party tomorrow -- you can check out more info on the facebook page.


And with that, I think my links are expended!
alanajoli: (Default)
I probably don't actually have enough links for an extravaganza, but it sounded good in my head, so I'll let it stand.


  • I've been waiting until it was public to announce this, and since this interview at Operation Awesome is up, I'm going to say that makes the news officially out there: [livejournal.com profile] lyster , aka Max Gladstone, is being represented by Weronika Janczuk of D4EO Literary Agency! He talks about it on his blog here. So many congratulations, Max! The world is one step closer to seeing your awesomeness in print!

  • New bits of my writing on the Web: a series review I did for School Library Journal is up here. The history column is progressing with some fun questions and answers. I got to write about the mysterious Great Oak at Double Beach, which no one remembers coming down; a wacky local legend about early governor of Connecticut Gurdon Saltonstall and the lake that bears his name; and weird road names in Branford and how they came to be. I've also started doing some articles for Branford Patch beyond the column, the first of which is about our local toy store, Kid Wishes, closing the bricks and mortar store and moving online..

  • Other new fun stuff related to my writing: the director's commentary style interview that I did with Brian LeTendre (of Mo Stache and Secret Identity Podcast) is up streaming here, and is available for download at my home e-tailer, DriveThru. (The interview is downloadable for free.)
  • Speaking of e-tailers and e-book sales (with just a slight segue jump), Chuck Wendig wrote a great piece on how the low ball prices on e-books can impact your favorite authors. Don't get me wrong -- I love getting books at the $3 price point. [livejournal.com profile] sartorias 's books are available at around that price over at Book View Cafe. I priced Into the Reach and Departure at under the $5 mark. [livejournal.com profile] jeff_duntemann 's new novella and an accompanying novella by James R. Strickland are priced together at $2.99 at Barnes and Noble, and will soon be on Kindle for the same price. Clearly, authors I know and respect are offering their fiction at rates that are incredibly affordable -- less, as Cat Valente says, than folks pay for a cup of designer coffee. I don't know how the business model will shape out, but it is interesting to watch. And I agree with (and am a follower of) Chuck's final point: if you like a writer, buy their stuff, and recommend that your friends do the same. I don't always have room in my budget to do so, and I may hold off until after the release date when cash is flowing more freely (and my review pile has fewer books in it!), but I try to support the authors I really want to keep writing more books.

  • Of course, that crazy e-book market is doing things that the e-prophets have been anticipating since, oh, 2000 when I went to the Denver Publishing Institute and first heard the voice crying out in the wilderness. According to PW, e-book sales were up 202% in February. But while those percentages don't always mean much to me, the big number in this article is that publishers reported over $90 million in e-book sales. Despite this, and despite the uptick in college students reading e-books, most college students aren't using e-readers for their text books. I'm actually kind of astonished by this, since I first got hooked on e-readers as a great idea when thinking about how much I'd have preferred to carry around something the size of a nook on campus, rather than all my text books -- assuming that it took notes more like a Kindle. ;) (I'm still not a fan of the nook's note taking capability in comparison, but luckily, I don't need to take notes much anymore, unless it's in a review book, and those are almost always ARCs.)

  • And last in e-book news, Kindle owners are in luck: they'll be able to start borrowing books from their libraries just like nook and Sony users! PW's link is down, weirdly, but here's the news from Venture Beat. No word yet on a time frame, but I'm super psyched that Amazon decided to make library lending possible for the Kindle. It's a big win for libraries!


Actually, that ended up being more links than I thought I had. Ta da, extravaganza complete!
alanajoli: (Default)
Second post of the day -- when was the last time that happened on this blog?

Over the past week or so, I've been e-mailing back and forth with the amazing Shawn Merwin (also known as Super Shawn, but don't let him know I spoiled his secret identity!). He asked me a bunch of questions about writing Into the Reach as a shared-world novel, and I answered them in detail. The result is this interview over at Critical Hits. When you get a chance, check it out!
alanajoli: (Default)
For a change, I'm actually the guest blogger instead of the blog hostee! [livejournal.com profile] lbickle was kind enough to offer me a little space on not one, but three of her blogs! You can find my little piece on writing in other people's worlds here at Laura's main blog or at her Alayna Williams blog.

I should have several more spots coming up soon -- I may have a couple of podcasts upcoming, along with an interview conducted by editor extraordinaire, Shawn Merwin. Hurrah for celebrating the e-book release!

I also now have a facebook fan page where I'll be linking to all of these crazy guest blogs and interviews and such.

--

A thought for the day: I've discovered that when I pick up a book and expect not to like it, and then end up discovering that I really do enjoy it, I like it more than I would have if I'd thought I was going to love it. Conversely, when I pick up a book I expect to like, and I don't, I'm even more disappointed and feel more dislike than I might have with no expectations.

E-book news

Mar. 3rd, 2011 12:08 pm
alanajoli: (Default)
Interesting news in e-books lately (besides the fact that mine are available…):

First, Random House, the last of the big six to hold-out on the agency model (making it possible for booksellers to offer discounts and promotions on their books) has succumbed, possibly due to the announcement of the new iPad. I don't necessarily think the agency model is a bad thing. I'm glad for writers to be getting their fair share of royalties. But I'm also a long-time Barnes and Noble member. That discount I get on print books can't be used on e-books, I believe due to the agency model. So it certainly makes memberships like the B&N one less useful. I imagine this is equally true for other stores offering loyalty incentives. It looks like the agency model is industry standard from here out, however. Maybe that will give some advantage to small presses that release e-books on the non-agency model – or maybe soon we won't recall what e-book purchasing was like before the agency model fell into place.

HarperCollins made some moves of its own this week, impacting library e-book lending. The company has decided that e-books should only be loaned 26 times before the library needs to lease a new copy. In response, some librarians are calling for a boycott. I'm still doing some research on this to decide whether it merits a rant about the way things are changing in the industry. I do think it's bad business to offer a product or service and then change the way that product or service is offered in such a way that the consumer loses out. I have not heard whether HC is going to be lowering its e-book prices for libraries to accommodate this change – which, if they were, would make me think, well, at least they're trying to make this pill easier to swallow. I e-mailed local library buyers asking about the average number of circulations a hardcover book can withstand, and 26 is actually not an unreasonable expectation for a very popular book. (The range the fiction buyer e-mailed me varied, but numbers like 18 and 33 and 25 make 26 seem in the ballpark.) Hardcover books are not eternal, of course. E-books incur no physical damage when they're loaned out the way that hardcovers or paperbacks do. Saying that there should be some limit on the number of times the e-books can be loaned does strike me as somewhat reasonable – though, again, I'd love to see some carrot being offered to librarians, such as a lower price, to make up for the change in policy.

Overall, though, libraries are not a cash cow. Many are struggling with budgets, and materials are only a portion of a library's expenses. I don't really think a boycott is going to be necessary from libraries: I do think HarperCollins is likely to see its sales drop as libraries make purchases that will stay in their collections. If I were a book buyer for a library and I had the choice between purchasing popular books that would never expire and popular books I could only loan out for about a year, I'd certainly select more from the first category than from the second category. It would allow me to stretch my budget further and acquire more books for my patrons to have access to. The cost/benefit analysis of buying HarperCollins titles is going to change, and it will surprise me greatly if they don't see an impact on purchases from libraries based on this decision – not out of moral outrage, but out of simple, logical budgeting.
alanajoli: (Default)
I keep having to turn the pages of my calendar. Time stops for no writer, it seems. Unless you have one of those really nacky time-stopping devices, but those are, admittedly, tough to come by, especially in this economy.

As a short update, I thought I'd share the message I sent out to my mailing list (and a couple of plugs for other writers at the end--give it a look!)

--

It's been a long time between updates, largely because I've been busy with review assignments and reference book work, which aren't so exciting to tell you about. I did recently begin writing a column for Branford Patch, called "The Town with Five Main Streets." It's a weekly column about the history of Branford, Connecticut, and starting next week, it's taking on a question and answer format. So, if you have a question about Branford's history, or just want to give me some new material to research, I hope you'll go check out the column and post either in the comments or in the Q&A area of Branford Patch.

If you're more interested in my fiction, and maybe you haven't gotten the chance to read Into the Reach and Departure, as they became hard to track down in print, I'm pleased to announce that they're available as e-books through DriveThruRPG! The rights have been released from the publisher back to me, and I'm delighted to be working with Matt McElroy, who is my review editor at Flames Rising, to make them available again as e-books. The really good news is that I'll have the chance to release Regaining Home, the third book in the trilogy, in the same format! The manuscript has been completed for a long time, but the editorial process stalled out before we could release it. I don't have a date yet for when I'm likely to make it available, but you can rest assured that instead of "maybe it will be released eventually," it will definitely be coming into e-print. The speed with which I'm able to get the edits done and the files ready for e-book may depend on how sales of the first two books progress -- meaning, I can take time away from other paying work more easily if I know I have an audience waiting.

I made a quick link to my DriveThru store here: http://tinyurl.com/aja-ebooks, but you can also go to DriveThruRPG.com and search for Alana Abbott (which brings up several other books I've contributed to) or Virgil and Beatrice, which is the store name for everything I list on DriveThru.

Thanks to everyone here for your continued interest in my writing, and your support of my career!

--

Speaking of books that are out...

Mark Henry/[livejournal.com profile] mdhenry's Road Trip of the Living Dead is out in mass market! If you didn't buy it as a trade, it's now nicely pocket sized. (It's also available as an e-book at a reduced price.)

Anton Strout/[livejournal.com profile] antonstrout has the fourth book of his Simon Canderous series, Dead Waters, releasing at the end of the month. Join the facebook party!

Looking to the beginning of March, watch out for Accidentally Catty, the latest Accidental book by Dakota Cassidy.

It's quite a line up! Whatever you're doing with your February, get out there and read something fun!
alanajoli: (Default)
One of my very favorite editors, who I've worked for on D&D projects, and who was my editor for Departure, has started a new column over on Critical Hits. Shawn Merwin is just an awesome possum guy, and he has a lot to say about gaming (including some tips I'd forgotten to think about in my home games) and about the nature of writing and editing. This is definitely going to be a column to follow, especially for gamers who are writers (and writers who are gamers).

Go check him out!
alanajoli: (writing)
Yesterday [livejournal.com profile] sartorias posted about her recent collaboration with [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija, and I thought I'd talk a little bit about my own experiences with collaborating. In some ways, I feel like I'm almost always collaborating on my storytelling. As a kid, I played a lot of let's pretend with my surrogate big sister and my actual little sister, saving the world as a space hero (using a swingset as our space ship -- I remember one time we got medals from the president), traveling across the prairie as pioneers (a boulder in the back yard was our wagon), and running bad guys (I don't remember what kind) in the winter by sliding down a big neighborhood snow pile.

And when I started writing, I played in other people's worlds. The first fiction I remember writing was based on an old comic of my mom's from when she was a child. I wrote a play featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse when I was in upper elementary school, using the style I saw on the shorts on the New Mickey Mouse Club. Shortly thereafter, I wrote a script for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. In middle school, I worked on a long Star Wars novel that, naively, I expected to submit to Lucasfilm; I was devastated to learn you had to be invited to write for the franchise.

It was while writing the Star Wars piece that I started writing an original story. I'd read about a contest in Disney Adventures magazine for a new super hero; I designed one that I got so attached to, I redesigned her (rights to the entries were owned by Disney after submitting, so she had to be revamped) and wrote my first novel. I discovered as a high school freshman just how many publishers didn't want to look at stories with anthropomorphic animals, and since one of her main powers was talking to animals, well, that was a stumbling block. There's still some good material in the young writing, though I'd rewrite the entire story now in a different setting if I ever got back to it.

In high school, I started writing short stories about children with dragon powers; I shared them with a friend and he wrote some short stories back. It was my world -- I'd made the rules -- but he played in it. I shortly thereafter joined his D&D group (after being, at the time, the youngest invited), and I started group storytelling in D&D, which is a fabulously collaborative format.

I collaborated once on a short story in college, which I still think is quite a good piece, and wonder if I shouldn't contact my cowriter and see if we should send it around. We only ever submitted it to the L. Ron Hubbard "Writers of the Future" contest, and now I wonder if, as a co-written piece, it was even eligible. In that effort, we took turns writing sections, but since we were local (just across campus), I remember talking out quite a bit of it as well, and editing each other's sections. I don't know that it would have worked long term as a collaborative relationship, but for the duration of the assignment, it was fun.

Though I've done plenty of other non-collaborative writing, it didn't surprise me to end up first published with shared-world fiction. Into the Reach and Departure (and the still sitting in my drawer conclusion, Regaining Home) take place in someone else's world -- albeit one I helped flesh out quite a bit. My ownership rights are dubious (hence the drawer) because I didn't create the world. The writing experience, however, was great -- I liked the whole goal of the novels not only being a good story, but also being designed to make the world more appealing, to tie in aspects and characters from the setting as wink and a nod to the roleplaying audience.

And now I'm writing Blood and Tumult back and forth with [livejournal.com profile] lyster, both of us playing in a world we didn't create. I've really enjoyed writing in the world of Baeg Tobar; I feel like it's a strong setting with really great elements, and I hope that our serial novel both embraces and enhances the work that's gone before. It's a huge privilege to work with [livejournal.com profile] lyster, who I really believe is destined for stardom (his manuscript that's making the rounds right now was easily in the top five books I read last year, and probably in the top two -- and that without the benefit of an editor). He's not only a motivating factor (I keep his message that he's sent me a new chapter as an "unread" message in my inbox, so my e-mail reminds me that I need to send him a chapter back every time I open it). He's also keeping the story fresh for me -- we were required to work from an outline, which always takes some of the excitement out of the actual writing process for me, because I know what's going to happen next. So having his take on things every two chapters makes it a lot more fun to see the twists and turns. I think stylistically he has a better sense of prose than I do, and so I'm striving to make my prose live up to his. Of course, I'm sure my own style comes through as well, and I hope that by the time it's finished, we'll both have mimicked each other's styles so successfully that the whole thing will blend into a complete piece.

So, yes, collaboration. I enjoy it. :)
alanajoli: (Into the Reach)
Don't forget to to post about your Muse in MtU&E's first contest before the deadline on Saturday!

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I've been putting this off and putting this off, because I think some part of me was really hoping for a resolution other than this one. It looks like WhiteSilver Publishing, the company that published Into the Reach and Departure, is well and truly vanished. That means that Regaining Home, the third novel in the series, really never will come out as a published book. (Due to its being set in the setting for the Chronicles of Ramlar, and being the third in a trilogy, I can't see taking the draft to another publishing house and expecting that it would go anywhere.)

We'd started the editorial process on the novel back in the summer of 2007, when we originally expected the novels to come out fairly close together. Those edits were put on hold when WhiteSilver first started to have problems. So what I have is the pre-edited finished draft of Regaining Home. Because there's no possibility of my ever being paid for the novel, I'm not inclined to go through the whole editorial process (despite the fact that it would give me another chance to work with the fabulous [livejournal.com profile] smerwin29) or solicit artwork for a cover (despite how much I'd love for Lindsay Archer to do another cover for me). But because I wrote the thing, and because I ended Departure on a cliffhanger, I'm not inclined to let the book just rot on my hard drive, either.

I've gone through a number of options since I started to suspect that this was the inevitable outcome, and the idea that I've pretty much settled on is releasing the draft of the novel on my home page, where people could read it for free. (Stephenie Meyer released her draft of the unfinished Midnight Sun on her home page, so there's at least a precedent, though obviously for very different reasons.) The writing isn't polished (because it's a draft), and there are things I'd change if I were going back to seriously work on the project (because it's a draft), but it is an end to the story, and despite all it's problems, I want it to exist.

So, that's the plan. I'm still working on details (such as format for release -- just as html, or as a download? -- etc.), but I'll announce here when it goes up. If other folks have released their fiction for free on a novel-sized scale and have advice to offer, I'd love to hear it.
alanajoli: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] nalini_singh guest blogged today over at Silk and Shadows, listing ten things that were always true about her books. I thought it would be a fun experiment to try this on my own, so I did in the comments over there. It's hard! It's particularly hard since the space western story, "Rodeo in Area 51" took out a lot of the short-cut kind of things I could use if all of my stories were fantasy. But most of these even apply to the contemporary fiction pieces I wrote in my thesis.

Of course, when I look at this list, I imagine I see things that only I see when the writing's done.

1. There’s always an element of faith or belief, even if it’s the person fighting against their faith.
2. Borrowed mythology shows up, sometimes recognizably, sometimes disguised. I couldn’t use real-world myths for the Redemption trilogy, so I had to clothe them differently. (I'm not sure that "Rodeo in Area 51" fulfills this qualification.)
3. There’s often an unstated reference to a philosopher’s ideas (I’ve drawn on Owen Barfield and Jon Kabat Zinn for various tales).
4. There are strong women.
5. Often times, the people playing the role of nurturer or poet/romantic are male.
6. Relationships are a core focus, but often, the relationships between people who aren’t romantically involved are as important (or more important) than the ones that are. Sisters, friends, strangers who accidentally become important to each other, and even the relationship between my rodeo rider and an experimental motor-bike in the space western — they’re all over the place.
7. The cast is almost always multi-cultural, even if that just means elves or split generations. ("Nomi's Wish" is the hardest to fit into this category, but the age difference between the modern girls and Nomi, and the difference in her culture as a child from their own, is about as close to qualifying as I can bring it. I'm actually working harder on this, particularly given that rantsplosion that happened last year on various SF blogs, and I think it's important to have characters of different cultural backgrounds. In Blackstone Academy, the main characters are still predominantly white--one is learning about her Quinnipiac heritage over the course of the story, and one grew up with eccentric, mixed-religion parents, but I'm not kidding myself into thinking that they're not closest to my own culture and world-view than--but I want the school to feel diverse. Right now, I've just made a point of diversifying the names of the secondary characters, but I'm trying to be incredibly conscious of multi-cultural awareness as I'm writing, so I don't get to the end and feel like the setting is white-washed.)
8. Often the characters start out having failed at something, and part of the story is their having to overcome the emotions of having failed.
9. The emotional core of the story is almost always a moment that happens in a character’s head, rather than in a direct action climax.
10. Um… they all have my name in the byline?

As you can see, I ran out of steam for number ten -- but try this with your own writing and see if it's as challenging for you as it was for me!

--

Quick link: YA writer Albert Borris had a stroke in December, so he's been unable to promote his novel, Crash into Me, which releases this month, as he's still trying to get his words back. I wish him healing and recovery, and hope that a positive book release will help spur both forward!
alanajoli: (Default)
I've discovered Google alerts. Now I get a note in my inbox every time I post a blog entry (or every time one of my reviews goes up at Flames Rising). Those seem to be my most common internet mentions lately, and the alert function is keeping me from googling myself too much, so it's been a fun little experiment. Notably, Alana Joli Abbott brings up alerts that are consistently actually me. Alana Abbott, on the other hand, brings up a lot of Alanas and Abbotts that are not grouped together. Still, fun technology.

Ideally, the alert system should keep me from missing the odd reviews of short stories I've had published, or new reviews of my books, that get posted from time to time. As it turns out, I'd missed a really brilliant review of Departure posted on Amazon back in 2007, and just read it for the first time today. Reading what that reviewer had to say really makes me eager for Regaining Home to eventually get out there in the world. Editor Shawn and I have agreed that we're going to keep working on it when we have time, despite the limbo it has been hanging in since I finished the manuscript back in 2007. I don't know what will happen with it for sure, but I hate the feeling of that story existing only in my head, when clearly, there are at least a handful of people who would love to have the chance to read it.

One of these days!
alanajoli: (Default)
I got this over at [livejournal.com profile] tltrent's and realized she probably didn't want it completed in her comments section.

1. Unpublished completed works:
Novels:
Safari Scarab - This is the first novel I ever wrote (finished in high school), and I think I'd like to do a full rewrite, giving it an entirely different setting, but leaving the plot and character motivations largely the same.

Short Stories:
I've given up counting the number of times my short stories have been rejected. Note: I've submitted them all to Glimmer Train, but none have been accepted there. The ones currently making the rounds are:
"Autumn Leaves" -- a story about identity, family, and the power of myth, sort of
"Moving Back to Europe" -- a story about conflict avoidance and learning how to actually face problems instead of turning away
"Rocks" -- a true fable about a boy, a rock, a shaman, and a journey
"Nomi's Wish" -- my very favorite of my pieces, about two sisters traveling on the Isle of Man, trying to get close to the storyteller they both loved as children
"The Valley" -- a near-horror story, out with [livejournal.com profile] t_e_o_p right now, so I can hope it'll change categories soon!
"Leaving Moscow" -- I need to scan this in, since the electronic copy is gone; it's based on a Chekov play, The Three Sisters, which may be such an obscure reference that it never really comes through

2. Unpublished Incomplete Works
Novel: Children of Gods - Tentative title, as it's not done, and I don't actually want to *write* the synopsis, though apparently I can tell the whole story in person, which I did this weekend. I'm not sure if this is a good sign or a bad sign.

3. Solicited Unfinished Works
Nonfiction-
A solicited but not yet begun interview with a local environmentalist for CTGreenScene, where I hope to become a regular contributor; reviews of Ilona Andrew's Magic Bites, Patricia McKillip's Solstice Wood, Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely, and assorted books on mythology for School Library Journal.

4. Published Works:
Novels: Into the Reach and Departure for White Silver. Regaining Home is somewhere in the ether between unpublished and published.
Comics: Cowboys and Aliens 2 for Platinum. Worlds at War, which is now its own seperate comic, is on its way. Maybe December or January.
RPG stuff: Gallia, Steampunk Musha RPG, and various contributions to other books

So, I changed the meme around a bit to sort of encompass what it is I'm actually working on. But the easiest thing to notice here is that while I've been published through solicitation, the stuff I've actually had to shop around has been hard to place with the right home. Which should be encouraging to folks who are shopping stuff around--I think that's really the hardest part of the whole process.
alanajoli: (Default)
For those of you interested in reading the reviews of my novels, Matt at Flames Rising just posted a great review of Departure. Thanks Matt! I feel like Matt really got what I was trying to do with the novel, and that's thrilling. ;)

Oh, for those who have read Departure and are as frustrated as Matt with the cliff-hanger, I promise I didn't know Regaining Home was going to be delayed! I had no intention of being quite this mean! As soon as I hear word on when Regaining Home will be back on the schedule, I'll let you all know.
alanajoli: (Default)
I think I've mentioned here that I work part time at my local library (to help me stay sane--working at home, by one's self, when one is a naturally chatty person, is perhaps not the best plan). We have a wonderful library: great staff, great building, great programs, the works. It's a nice environment to spend part of my week in. It also helps me stay in touch with what people are reading, lets me promote books by the extremely promotable authors I know, and occasionally gives me a wonderful moment of the type that happened to me in yesterday's shift.

I was working at the desk that serves our DVDs, grahpic novels, and young adult sections. One of our regular teen patrons came up to the desk and asked, "Do you know if the new book by Alana Abbott is out?"

Do I ever! "That's my book," I said proudly, to a sort of blank look in response. "It's on display on the table."

I took her to it and handed it to her. "The first one was so good!" she said.

"Thank you!" I returned enthusiastically. She looked at me blankly again, and I said, "By my book, I mean I wrote it."

"Really?" she said in disbelief.

"Really," I said, showing her my picture at the back.

Her face dawned with recognition. "It really is!" she said excitedly. We chatted very briefly after that--she told me about a book she's working on that sounds pretty exciting as well.

It completely made my day.
alanajoli: (Default)
My first reader Arielle Kesweder and I had the following conversation via chat the other day. I thought it was interesting (read: humorous) enough to share. It's a little cleaned up (typos and such are acceptable in chat, but not in blogging), but all of the content has retained its original intent.

Me: What color are Lydia DuShain's eyes?
Arielle: I want to say green, but...... I could be wrong
Me: I don't think I've ever said.
Arielle: Really? You've never done the "such and such color eyes flashing"?
Me: Kennerly has green eyes, but none of the other main characters seem to have designated colors.
Arielle: Do a search for the word eye--shouldn't take that long.
Me: Longer than you'd think.
Arielle: Really?
Me: I use "eyes" a lot.

Five minutes later, after searching through the word document of Departure:

Me: So I definitely gave the color of Hesam's eyes, and the color of the eyes of the former priestess of Nate'.

Three minutes later in the ongoing search...

Me: Waha! Nara has brown eyes with gold flecks. Still no Lydia.
Arielle: So far so good...

Another two minutes pass...

Me: Jonas has brown eyes.
Arielle: lol. You should be writing this down somewhere.
Me: I am. Right here in the chat window.

Four minutes later, moving into searching the current document of Regaining Home:

Me: I use the word eyes a lot
Arielle: How many times? Is it counting?
Me: (Some unnamed minor character on page 144 has green eyes) It isn't counting, no.
Arielle: Ah. I'd be curious to know.

After a clever find and replace of "eyes" with "eyes":

Me: In 163 pages, I've used the word eyes 183 times.
Arielle: Wow. That's more than once per page.
Me: I know. It's not something I would have noticed without a find and replace mechanism, though.
Arielle: Does it make you question your usage?
Me: Well, every time you describe a character closing his or her eyes, she or he has to open them on the same page. Or usually does.
Arielle: Ah, see, now that makes sense.
Me: I often describe what the eyes are doing, or what the eyes are expressing. "She felt their eyes on her as she moved" rather than "She felt someone watching her."
Arielle: Unless you put the time limit in the first descrpition: "She closed her eyes for just a second."
Me: Well, yes. But the closing and opening of eyes is often indicative of an emotional expression as well.
Arielle: Eyes are very important. I'm no longer surprised you'd use them so much. Very telling feature.
Me: (Of course, now that we know, we're going to notice it in my writing every time it comes up.)
Arielle: Well, -now- I will be since I know that now you are
Me: Never mind! I said nothing. I'm only going to be paranoid about it, so better for you not to notice.
Arielle: I will now be watching for signs of you being paranoid about it, and quite possibly tease you about in my comments. It's a thing now :)

For the record, Lydia now officially has green eyes. Taru has always had gold eyes in my head, but apparently never had it on paper.

And there you have it: disecting usage of the word "eyes" in a fantasy novel. Please, don't go through with a highlighter.

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Alana Joli Abbott

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