Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Much Ado About...Something? In Which I Wonder If It's Time to Leave Clifton Heights For A Season

It's been awhile since I blogged meaningfully. I have the day off for Thanksgiving break, have some news to share and some thoughts too, so here it goes. First, the cool stuff:

Recently, my short story "Out of Field Theory" appeared in Shock Totem Magazine's special Halloween issue. Both print and ebook versions are now available. I find myself in good company, appearing alongside John Boden and Bracken MacLeodDavid G. BlakeRose Blackthorn, Kriscinda Lee Everitt, Barry Lee Dejasu, Ken WoodSydney Leigh, Lee ThomasMike LombardoJeremy Wagner and Babs Boden. If you buy the print edition, you get the ebook free, so it's more than worth checking out.

Also, I recently shared the news that my first short story collection, Things Slip Through, will soon be re-distributed through Ingram Spark, and will hopefully be available to stock on retail bookshelves across the country. It's a really cool step, but to be honest, I'm keeping the whole thing in perspective. Yes, technically, if the whole things works out, my work will now be more available than ever before. 

But, availability doesn't necessarily equal sales. Just because it's on the bookshelf at Barnes & Noble and other book stores (if I can even get them to stock it) doesn't mean anyone will actually buy it, a fact I'm sure many veterans can attest to. However, when Joe Mynhardt at Crystal Lake Publishing asked me if I wanted to give it a go, I said yes. A year and a half after its publication, and I think (maybe pessimistically) that the collection has gone as far as it will through Amazon (though I imagine that with every new release, it'll experience a sales bump). 

Anyway, after a good run it's finally slipping down the ranks, and the time seems right to "take a step up." That's always been my goal, that no matter what I do, every step I take is FORWARD or UPWARD, (even if they're small, methodical steps), and not sideways. This is a chance to take a step forward (not a guarantee), one I'm willing to take.

Honestly, I'm just hoping the entire venture will work out well for Crystal Lake. I hope they won't experience any losses, I hope it will give them (and, hopefully, me) a little more visibility. In the end, if the move doesn't hurt them, and if I get to walk into my own Barnes & Noble and see my book on the shelf, another life-long dream will be attained. Anyway, redistribution means new layout, the results of which I find very satisfactory:

And finally, the crux of this post: moving forward, and where I go from here. I'm currently finished with the first round of edits on my next project, scheduled for a June 2015 release: Through A Mirror, Darkly. It's a novella quartet set in Clifton Heights, in the spirit of Charles L. Grant's Oxrun Station novella quartets, though I hope told in my way, in my voice. I was excited to get the green light on the project, as I feel like these novellas represent my best work yet.

HOWEVER...I ran into a little hump. A  drawback to working within a connected universe. Listening to the audiobook of Devourer of Souls, I came across a reference I'd forgotten that I'd made, which threatened to completely change my plans for the current project because of the continuity issue it made. This is the first time that's happened, and it's caused me to think very hard about HOW much longer I want to write these interconnected stories set in Clifton Heights.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not going to toss the whole thing aside. There are endless opportunities for short stories and novellas set in this town. So many people, so many characters to set into motion. But this little hiccup has caused me to think of, for the very first time, the downsides to writing within a contained universe, and how it might threaten to not only inhibit me as a writer, but also how - if the stories become too inter-referential - prohibit new readers from jumping aboard.

I haven't come to any conclusions, as of yet. If it's one thing I've learned, productivity takes precedence: you keep writing, keep pushing forward. You can always edit and change and tweak things. But if you allow yourself to get locked up with fears and doubts? Well, you can't edit or tweak or change zero words. 

So I've come to no firm ideas, yet. This book and the following - my first novel - The Mighty Dead, are both firmly set in Clifton Heights. After that? Who knows?

It might be time to take another step UP, and forge into new territory, outside my comfort  zone of Clifton Heights. Either way, I think that after these next two books, it will be time to "up my game" once again, and take a chance on something new.