Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Of Sequels And Remakes

I've blogged in the past about doing followups to my current published work. I've been asked about sequels to Epoch and Evil?, and every now and then I've tossed ideas around in my mind. My current project, A Walk-In To Remember, is a sequel to one of my as-yet unpublished novels.

And, I'm planning a major remake. More on that later.

I've actually got a really good idea for an Epoch 2, one which would expand on the first while introducing new elements. It is a story that will stand on its own, but it might also draw new readers to the first book.

So, why am I not writing it yet? That's a bit complicated. Any sequel I write to Epoch, I'm contractually bound to offer to Flux first. That shouldn't be a problem, but I haven't heard from Flux about the last two books I sent them. That was a year ago. My future with them, if you'll pardon the pun, appears to be in flux.

I'm sure there is a good reason for the delay (we are in the middle of a recession, after all), and I hope they are still interested in working with me. However, if the opposite turns out to be true, then an Epoch sequel makes no sense, career-wise. Why should I put in a year's work on a book I'd have to offer them, if they no longer want anything from me? I'd be far better served to put my efforts into a project that isn't bound by any contract, at least until I know what's going on.

These are the type of things you have to think about when you become a published author. It's no longer just about writing whatever I want - there is now a business and career aspect that must come into play with each project.

With that in mind, let's turn to that major remake I mentioned. I want to get back into the Middle-Grade market, and I want to bring one of my favourite characters to light. Before I began work on Attack of the Intergalactic Soul Hunters, I'd already written a series of five short novels about a 10-year-old boy named Rytis Maxwell. He was my antidote to what I saw as the typical kid in a supernaturally-themed children's book. You know, a kid who'd never been involved with the supernatural before suddenly being confronted with ghosts, aliens or something else weird and evil. His parents don't believe him and neither do the authorities, forcing the kid to deal with it on his own.

All well and good, but I decided to have some fun with it. Enter Rytis, who by the age of ten has already dealt with every conceivable form of supernatural evil. He's staked vampires, de-probed aliens busted all kinds of ghosts. And he's sick of it. All he wants is a normal, boring childhood, free from adventure and excitement. And, of course, he doesn't get it.

A fun premise from which to launch a series, which is exactly what I did. Unfortunately, I was still learning my craft when I began Rytis' adventures. The first story was nice, and very, very funny (if I do say so myself, and I did). However, I now see it is too short, and not as epic as it needs to be. I love Rytis - he's one of my favourite characters, and writing him has always brought me joy. The only way the rest of the world is going to get to know and love him, I feel, is if I give that series of mine a major overhaul. Again, a business decision.

So that's my next big project - a new (and much better) first adventure for my hero. And possibly Epoch 2, depending on how things go. And of course there's my current project, A Walk-In To Remember.

At least I'm not stuck for ideas!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Fighting The Block

I do, from time to time, face the condition known as writer's block. I don't like to admit this - I've always thought, in my naive and innocent way, that it would never happen to me. I receive a near-constant flow of ideas for stories, so that isn't the problem. All the ideas in the universe can't help me when the writing itself dries up.

Sometimes I just don't feel like it. Sometimes I'm stuck for something to write. I'll have ideas, but which ones do I commit myself to? Writing a novel can be a daunting prospect - you need enthusiasm to get you through to the end. Worrying about whether I'll have that enthusiasm can kill a project before it begins.

The time between finishing a novel and starting a new one is always a hard time for me. My wife, Violet, is used to it now, and she always assures me it will pass. And she's right, bless her. It always does. However, that knowledge does me little good while I'm in the thick of it.

I can also get blocked in the middle of a project. I'll lose some of that valuable enthusiasm, and the writing starts to feel like work. Or I'll get an idea for an even better project, a story so exciting I can't wait to tell it, and the current project starts to look kind of lame in comparison. I'll try to rush myself, to just get this current novel done and over with so I can move on to the better one. Or, I'll toss the current book out (or put it on hold) while I launch into the new, more exciting project. Many writers I know would caution against this. Indeed, for me it's had mixed results. The writing block will be broken and I'll get several chapters into the new project, only to have the same thing happen. And then the old project will start to look really good again. And I'll start to do them both at the same time.

I'm not necessarily saying that jumping between stories is a bad thing. My last three novel projects came together this way, after all. I've found I can pick up from where I left off with no trouble at all, especially if I believe in the story. However, I have found that an awful lot of editing is required to make the first part match up with the second.

Sometimes, the block can come because of outside pressures. A bad job is a creativity killer if you aren't careful. Bad news also puts a dent into creativity. I was halfway through the third Soul Hunters novel when I found out my publisher wasn't interested in picking up the second one. That basically knocked the wind out of Soul Hunter 3's sails - I haven't touched it since.

One way I combat the dreaded block is to launch a bunch of little projects (for example, this very post). That usually stirs up the creative juices, and gets me rolling on my main project again. It doesn't always work, however; in some cases I'll get a bit done on each small project, only to end up blocked on all of them! Usually I'm able to get moving on one eventually, and then the others follow.

Currently, I'm three-quarters of the way through my current novel, A Walk-In To Remember. Things have slowed down considerably; financial pressures are worrying away at me, along with a few professional ones. I've launched a number of smaller blog-post projects (like this one, and a few more reviews over on Biblical Proportions), and several ideas for much more exciting novels are bubbling away in my mind.

But am I worried? Well... kinda, yeah. I'll see it through, however. I always do. After all, I got this thing done, didn't I?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

More Great News For Me!

I received a very special bit of news from the publicity department at Flux yesterday! Please head over to Worlds of Tim to see what that exciting bit of news is.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

2010 Has Begun

By the time I think of something to do a blog post about, I realize that way too much time has passed. Here I am, back from the netherworld bloggers seem to be in when they aren't posting regularly, to update on the life that is mine.

Many things are the same. I'm still waiting to hear on the fate of two of my books. In fact, it was just about this time last year that those same two books were submitted. If any of you writers out there think that the wait-times for a response from a publisher go down after you've been published (and have an agent), think again. It's humbling, realizing just how disposable you are.

The same is true of my current job. I usually work six hours every weekday evening and another six on Saturday afternoons doing telephone surveys. However, due to bad luck in the business world, those hours have been cut back severely. For the time being, it will be three and a half hours Monday to Thursday, with no Friday or Saturday shifts. Just when I thought my financial situation was about to get better.

All is not lost - I finally got the second payment for the German rights to Epoch. That was a nice little sum. More will be coming for the rights to Evil?, but I imagine I'll have to wait a bit to see that. I still don't know if Evil? is a success. It seems like it is - I've had a lot of feedback, blog reviews and even interviews this time around - but I won't know for sure until I see the royalty statement.

I'm currently on Chapter 22 of my current novel, A Walk-In To Remember. It's a sequel to The Five Demons You Meet In Hell, which I am currently editing. I'm hopeful I'll have a draft ready to show my agent by early February.

Karma continues to be a source of joy. He's grown more affectionate, but no less curious of the world around him. He's also developed a worrying addiction to cat treats (no surprise there). As a matter of fact, he's due for his next fix. Excuse me...