Pulps are Back!

Someday this summer, Amazon will unveil Vella, a new method of reading Amazon stories. Readers can read the first three episodes of any story for free, and then pay per episode after. Each episode is designed to be a short bite of each story, between 500 and 5000 words. That breaks down to between a page and ten pages per episode, roughly.

I’ve decided to put a few stories on there that will be available when Vella goes live for readers. (Current rumor is that Vella will be promoted on Prime Day, on June 21, but that’s only a rumor.)

What kind of stories await?

Well, I figured that old pulp was basically designed for this kind of storytelling, so I followed that route.

First, we have Doc Passion and the Floating City. Doc’s experiment went wild and destroyed his orbiting space station… again. But when he and his assistant Brunt are rescued by a mysterious utopia floating on the edge of space, they know there’s something more going on! Join the adventure as the Doc, passionate for science, and Brunt, his long-suffering assistant, discover the terrible secret of the floating city and topple its nefarious master!

Then I’m co-writing an entry with my friend Nathaniel J. Peters titled Dinos of the Old West. Cowboys and carnosaurs. Stetsons and stegosaurs. Deputies and dinosaurs. That’s right, folks. What would make the wild west wilder? Dinosaurs. Follow the Sheriff of Golconda as he deals with raptor gangs, triceratops thieves, and a galloping gallimimus or two. Welcome to a Wilder Wild West.

Doc Passion is already complete at 14 episodes. It’s a wild science fiction ride with as many crazy ideas as I could pack into it.

Dinos of the Old West will be a continuing story organized into seasons. It’s sitting at 11 episodes at the moment, though that’s only a quarter of the way through the first season.

And this is one of the benefits of Vella. It’s designed for continuing stories. Nathaniel and I have plotted out the first season and have some solid ideas of what happens in season 2. Our plan is to have those 11 episodes up at Vella’s launch, and then put up an additional episode every week. That posting schedule may well change, depending how many people are reading and our personal schedules, of course.

And that’s also one of the benefits of writing in a pulp style. Those stories were intended to be read over the course of several months, with the action pulling readers along. Many of the stories hinged on over-the-top action and boundless creativity. I’m hoping these stories match that spirit.

Whenever Vella goes live, I’ll be letting you know here and posting links to the stories. If the format sounds good to you, make sure you check it out!

Publish? Perish?

The Keeper of Tales came out over three months ago now. I’m pretty proud of it. But something interesting has happened… sales have dropped off. It’s not getting all that much attention, as far as I can tell.

Now that’s not uncommon in the least. Most books make their best sales within the first month of release, and then they sort of piddle out. There’s a reason “publish or perish” is a saying. Course, I usually hear that in relation to college professors, but it applies just as equally to authors.

With every publication, authors get eyes on their words again. And if someone likes what they read, well, they might just check out that author’s backlist. I know I’ve done it before. When I first discovered Neal Shusterman, I started looking for other books he wrote. Same thing with Robert B. Parker. And Peter David. And… well, you get the idea.

In professional writing, generally the more you publish, the more each book makes as readers start searching up that backlist.

What that means practically for me is that if I want to make more sales of The Keeper of Tales, I need to get another novel out there!

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Eat a Book

Before you feed others, you gotta eat yourself.

No. Don’t eat yourself. That’s just weird. I mean, you gotta eat something for yourself. Like, before you cook something for someone else, you gotta make sure you’re eating, or else you’ll pass out and then no one gets food!

It’s something that I tell others. If you’re gonna write, you gotta read. Some writers will tell you to read everything you can get your hands on. Others will say you need to read things you love. Still others will tell you that you need to read what other people are reading, so you know what to do to get people to read your stuff. All of that has some logic to it.

Me? I really think it’s simpler than that.

You just gotta read.

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Using Slang to Spice Up a World

Oi! You gonna shilly-shally here, you tuft-hunter? Well, don’t be kicksy! Pull up a chair and let’s voker, shall we?

Right.

So, my forthcoming novel, Dragons of the Ashfall, takes place in Londinium, an imaginary steampunk city. And when you’re in a steampunk setting, your characters should talk that way. If they speak like 21st century Americans, like yours truly happens to be, it hurts the setting.

Well, I’ve never lived in an imaginary steampunk setting.

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I Lost My Pants

I had no idea where the novel was going. When I wrote the rough draft of The Keeper of Tales, I really had no idea what was going on. Who were the characters? What was this world? When I began, all I had was a feeling I wanted to replicate. I wanted the story to begin where I felt Return of the King ended—not the plot, but the emotions.

I introduced new characters haphazardly. I discovered the nuts and bolts of the world as I wrote. After that first draft, my wife read the words. Then we did the world-building to weave into the first revision. As we wrote the backstories for the main characters, I had an epiphany. “Lazul’s wife is dead!”

My wife looked at me like I was an idiot. “Of course she is!”

Because I had made it up as I went along, I really had no idea who most of the characters really were. Apparently my wife had a better grip of that than I did!

This process of writing is called pantsing. In other words, I made it up by the seat of my pants.

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