sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
My, how time flies sometimes, when you're having fun. Or, you know, not.

I've been having vivid dreams lately, which probably means something. I had a strange, semi-lucid dream recently. I woke up one morning before my alarm clock went off and I wanted very much to go back to sleep before it did. I was lying there trying to do just that when I noticed someone walking around in the bedroom. I knew it wasn't my lovely wife, so I asked, "Who's there?"

No answer. I asked again. "Who's there?"

Still no answer, though I caught  glimpse of someone in a gray suit just going toward the door. "Who's there, dammit!" I yelled. The figure turns and walks over to stand by the bed. It's my youngest brother. He looks at me, then leans over and says, "I'm here to tell you that you are sleeping."

At which point I realize that he's right. I am asleep and I'm having a lucid dream. He, having delivered his message, then turns and walks out of the bedroom. I call to him through the open door, "As long as you're here, send some hot starlet in here!" After all, I figure, no reason not to waste a perfectly good lucid dream. Alas, then I really did wake up.

Writing Stuff ahead--be warned.

I've been struggling with my writing for a while, trying to recapture my mojo since the long hiatus while I was packing up to sell the house, then moving, and unpacking, and dealing with the household-wide illness following the move. It's been slow. Much slower than I'd hoped or expected, but I think--I hope--I've regained my footing.

I finished and submitted a new story this week. The first one in far too long, but only the first of many, if I can keep at it. I sent it to Ellora's Cave, an erotic romance epublisher, much larger (with a much bigger audience) than Cobblestone Press. If they accept it, I hope it will garner more sales than I've made there.

I've also got five short erotica tales epublished at Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble (and Sony, Kobo, and other sites via Smashwords' distribution agreements). I've assembled them into a single compilation file as well, and will be publishing that tonight or tomorrow as well. The individual stories have been priced at $0.99 each; the collection will go for $2.99, which a) will save money for anyone who wanted to buy all five stories, and b) will net me a much bigger piece of the pie (70% of $2.99, or $2.09 rather than 35% of $0.99, which would add up to $1.75 if someone bought all five short stories individually).

I am following Dean Wesley Smith's advice in this regard. I've been reading his blog religiously, where he's been discussing the changes in publishing, and chronicling his experiences (and others') as they try to learn how to surf the wave of change. One of the things I keep reading, in Dean's blog, as well as in others by other writers, is that it may be better financially to pursue self-publication than to try to sell a book to New York. I've seen a number of people run the numbers based on typical advances, sales, accounting, and whatnot, and it seems to be true.

Nor are they cherrypicking the handful of people who've been making huge sales (and profits) self-publishing. I won't try to summarize it all here (read Dean's blog, or Kristine Kathryn Rusch's blog, or J. A. Konrath, or Mike Resnick, and others to get the full story). But it seems to make sense.

Add to that, that there are no publication length restrictions in epublishing. Unlike traditional publishing, you can write short stories, novellas and novelettes (or "short novels"), novels, or gigantic doorstop epics. It's all good. You're not limited to the lengths New York can profitably publish and sell. Whatever length the story needs to be is a publishable length. Nobody has any real handle on the "right" price yet, though there are strongly held opinions; I think probably price will ultimately settle down to fairly standard pricing based on overall length, but that's just a guess.

So rather than try to write to an arbitrary 90-120,000 word length, I want to try to produce more but shorter works. Traditionally published novels used to be much shorter than they are now, from 30,000 words on up. There were always exceptions (romance, for instance, or "men's adventure" series*, westerns, and the like), but for a long time anything longer than a short story but not a full-length (by the ever-growing standard of NYC publishing) novel was hard to get published anywhere.

Epublishing has no paper costs, no minimum page or word count. Shorter works, priced below what paperbacks (to say nothing of hardbacks) cost are a viable option again. I've even seen it suggested that old-fashioned serials, continuing stories written and published at regular intervals are a possibility. I'm not planning to try that, but I see no reason why it couldn't work.

*The Destroyer novels, for instance. Over140 books in that series, and still going. The Executioner, Able Team, Longarm (a western series), and others. The novels weren't long, but there were a hell of a lot of them. Going back even further, the classic pulp novels (Doc Savage, The Shadow, and others) were similar. No reason you couldn't write something like that and epublish it today.

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
Or, Dreams About Role-Playing.

I dreamed a lot last night. Don't remember most of them now, except that they had something to do with conflicts. I do remember the end of the dream. I was engaged in a running combat with a bunch of other people. I was, of course, using my reality-manipulating powers (as I am wont to do in dreams, even when I'm not entirely lucid--I am aware that I can manipulate my environment, even though I don't quite grasp that it's a dream).

So at some point, the fight moves into a giant toy store (paging Dr. Freud), where we're running around in the aisles trying to find and ambush one another. At some point I spot the last of a bunch of toy lightsabres and I think, "Hey--a lightsabre. That has potential!" and make a grab for it. It gets yanked out of my reach for a moment, but I get my hands on it, and whoosh I light it up. I have some fun slicing game boxes and shelving with it, then go looking for an opponent.

I find one, someone I vaguely recognize, possibly from earlier in the dream or from other dreams. (Yes, I have a recurring cast of characters, don't you?) We play a cat and mouse game for a while, before he tries to dump a trash barrel full of water on me in classic "bucket of water propped on a door" style. I saw it coming and turned my lightsabre into an umbrella. He pops around the corner--and I spear him with my (again) lightsabre. We stand there looking at one another for a moment. I wiggle the handle of the lightsabre around on his chest, just making it clear that he's really most sincerely dead. At whch point he asks "What the hell is that supposed to be?"

And I tell him, "It's a lightsabre. A 1d6 HKA, NND..." and other Hero System gibberish. He seems kind of disappointed that he's out of action and has to sit out. So I tell him, "It's only 1d6," meaning he isn't dead, just badly wounded. "But I had to make sure you were down, 'cause you're dangerous." And he looks at me and says, "Yeah, because I'm a deadly prankster."

Well, now I feel bad. Maybe he's right, that I'm going overboard about making killing attacks when this is all supposed to be fun. So I suggest that maybe he's got some garish healing potions he could take, or maybe some preposterous healing foam he could apply to the burn wound that goes all the way through his torso, which would make him good as new immediately. "Just an idea," I say, as I wander off in search of more opponents with a less Kill Em All attitude in mind. Behind me, he seems to have brightened up considerably, and I suspect he'll be coming after me again as soon as he's done with his potion of healing. what does this have to do with anything? Probably nothing. Or maybe it has to do with my Thursday gaming group, which has gotten remarkably bloodthirsty of late. More so than I like, but the campaign has just about run its course, so I haven't objected much. We'll be doing something else fairly soon.

Or maybe it has to do with my concluding that the novel I've been trying to write isn't working. After consulting with my Mastermind Group (i.e., my wife and a couple of writer friends), I have concluded that this isn't a case of self-doubt, but a justifiable appraisal of the project. That's not an easy decision--I worry that I'm fooling myself and it really is just self-doubt. But I really think I'm right.

I've been trying to cobble together a coherent story out of bits and pieces, all about the same character, any one of which I think works on its own, and might make a good short story with some work--but as a whole, it just has no core. So I'm shelving it. (Never delete anything. You might have a use for it one day.) I'll be working on a different story, one I've already started, and I intend to finish it by the end of October. It'll be a fairly short novel, but a novel nonetheless.

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I've been having trouble sleeping lately. I had a cold recently, got over it...I thought, then had a relapse. Now I think I'm really over it. And I'm having trouble sleeping. I go bed...and lie there with my mind racing. Thinking about writing, and plots and characters and story ideas. Which would be great if it accomplished anything, but it doesn't, really.

I tend to go over the same ideas repeatedly, circling endlessly without getting any new insights. I've tried various techniques for calming my brain. Counting backwards from 100 with each breath--but that doesn't do it. Telling myself that "Now is the time to rest. You can worry about these things tomorrow." That doesn't help a lot either. I try to change the focus of my thoughts, but with only limited success.

So I lie in bed for a long while, look at the clock, and see that twenty minutes, forty minutes, or an hour has passed. At which point I get up, since one thing I do do consistently is try not to let that happen. I want my brain to associate the bedroom with sleep or sex--and nothing else. So I get up and read for a while, until I feel sleepy, then go back to bed. This may mean getting a short night's sleep, but what can you do?

Of late, even that hasn't worked. I come back to bed sleepy...and still end up tossing and turning (sometimes revolving like a roast on a spit--on my left side, on my stomach, on my right side, on my back, lather, rinse, repeat). It's annoying. I wonder if the fact that I was taking Nyquil every night for a few nights and now I'm not is part of the problem, but I don't know.

Part of it, too, is that I'm sure I'm actually sleeping more than I think I am. My lovely and talented wife often makes sport of me for claiming I wasn't asleep when I doze on the sofa, or take a nap. And she's right. Hard to argue that you weren't asleep when you were snoring. I drift in and out of sleep with no markers for the transition, so I often think I never slept when in fact I did.

This all reached the level of absurdity today (or this morning, whatever). I was lying sleeplessly in bed, tossing and turning. I decided to get up. So I threw the covers aside, got out of bed, and walked around the foot of the bed--very closely, it's tight quarters--and brushed someone's foot which was hanging over the foot of the bed. This disturbed said person, who pushed the covers down and raised her head to see what was going on. It was a woman who was not my lovely and talented wife.

Which is when I realized I was dreaming. I realized I was having a lucid dream, and that I was actually asleep after all. Asleep--and dreaming, it appears, that I was awake and unable to sleep. This was very strange and a little bit frustrating, but it also presented an opportunity. I have semi-lucid dreams fairly often. I won't quite reach the point of knowing it's a dream, but I'll realize I can control my environment, cause or control or prevent events, and influence the actions of other people in the dream. It's a lot of fun, but not truly a lucid dream. Those are rarer.

But in this case, I was fully lucid. I was dreaming and I knew I was dreaming. So I decided to seize the moment. I climbed back into bed with my anonymous but attractive co-star and started making out with her. It was very enjoyable, and I remember thinking repeatedly that I was impressed by the fidelity of the dream. Except that I knew it was a dream, it was incredibly realistic.

And enjoyable. Alas, just when it was getting really interesting...I woke up. Which was frustrating but unsurprising. My sex dreams always end just when they're getting really good. I'm sure that says something about my subconscious, but I don't know what.

So I woke up, and realized that I had, in fact, been dreaming even though I thought I'd been awake the first time. Which makes me wonder how often I'm sleeping for a few minutes at a time on these "sleepless" nights and just never realize it. It's a mystery.

In other news, I wrote about 2500 words on Monday and the same again today, on two separate short stories. Erotica, both. And both need to be completed. But once they're finished, I'll have two new stories to send out. Yesterday I didn't write at all, I spent a big chunk of my day doing yard work since it was a rare sunny day (as of late) and not likely to recur.

After all the endless rain, the yard desperately needed mowing, so I mowed, and had Twoson mow as well. I used the weedwacker
on the grass that was too long for the reel mower to cut it effectively, and also made serious inroads on the jungle of weeds and wild grass that had taken over the edges of the yard. I also applied Weed-b-Gon to the dandelions and other weeds that are making a serious stab at colonizing huge swaths of the lawn. We'll see how that works.

Tomorrow: more writing.


sinanju: The Shadow (Default)

August 2017

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