About Time

Five years ago, I set out to publish an eBook. The so-called eBook revolution was still a distant speck on the horizon. At the time, the Kindle had barely sparked. There was no Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader, or iRiver. I’m not entirely sure why I embarked on the journey, except that I had the idea for the story and it was burning a hole in my head.

I wrote and copyrighted the 10,000-word story. Upon completion, I discovered that I was uncertain of the exact type of work I had created. I originally called it a novella. Then I decided that it was much too short to be called a novella, so I called it a short story. Now I’m calling it a novelette based on the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) guidelines for manuscript sizes.

With great anticipation, I "designed" the eBook (only to find out much later that what I created was an absolute abomination in terms of the true meaning of the word "design"). I generated a PDF and circulated it among a few close friends. Then I let it die undistributed.


At the time, self-publishing and distributing an eBook didn’t really seem all that easy to me. I researched it a little and gave up, choosing instead to submit the manuscript to a variety of traditionally published science fiction magazines. Inevitably, the manuscript either didn’t fit into the publication’s guidelines or was simply not what the editor was "looking for."

This Christmas, I was gifted with my first e-reader device (unless you count the e-Reader apps I had previously installed on my laptop and my phone). I love it. It caused me to immediately purchase and download the newest Stephen King work. Additionally, it inspired me to revisit my long dormant novelette. 

The process of self-publishing an eBook as been much simplified recently. It is as simple as uploading the book to the various eBook distribution channels (or using a service that does that for you). You can even upload your book if it is a design abomination. However, I chose to have my original manuscript professionally designed instead. Although an eBook is not the same as a print book, I still think it should be pleasing to and easy on the eyes.

Therefore, I am pleased to announce that my novelette will soon be available for download in Kindle and ePub formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, and the Google eBookstore. I am also pleased to announce that the process (plus a little prodding from some friends and loved ones) has inspired me to renew my efforts to finish the second draft of my novel.

So, Happy New Year to all you budding authors out there. I’m going to spend 2012 writing. I hope you do as well.

Good Storytelling or Rut?

Stephen King once said that he is not so much a “good writer” as a “good re-writer.” And I think that would have to be said of anyone who tells a tale of any significant length in type.

Perhaps there are some writers who just “get it right” the first time through. I have had a little experience with getting it right the first time, but most of the time I write, then I revisit and write some more. Then I revisit and edit some choppiness. Then I revisit and write some more. Then I rewrite.

It occurs to me that there are several good reasons writers need to revisit and rewrite portions of a work in progress:

  1. A story evolves in the writer’s mind, and there may be elements that need to be added in earlier places to reflect later evolutions of the plot.
  2. The writer may have the basic skeleton of the plot written out in a basic narrative form, but the characters and settings haven’t been fleshed out well enough for the reader to actually enjoy the story or “get it.”
  3. There may be choppy sections of text where the writer originally struggled with conveying his story  or message to the reader that need to be smoothed out or rewritten completely later.

Like any other job, the ease of writing, the “getting it right the first time,” depends mainly on the frame of mind of the author at the particular time on the particular day he is writing.

Sometimes the words just come, and flow, and the writer rides a comfortable stream of consciousness that pools into keystrokes unobstructed.

And then there are the days when all he can do is pound his head against the desk.

The Art of the Word Count

I am a meticulous word-counter.

It doesn’t matter how well I am telling a story–how poetic the prose or how professional and entertaining the narrative–if I haven’t written at least 1,000 words by the end of a two-hour session of pounding keys.

A thousand words isn’t a lot, but I imagine I’m slower at the craft than most, more careful in my first draft than many other wordsmiths, who spend a greater amount of time rewriting on the second and third times through than I.

Tonight I am pleased to announce that I wrote 1,230 words on a new narrative piece of fiction, and I feel good about it. Not only do I feel good about the word count, but I also feel good about the the story, and the characters, and the pace of the tale-telling.

It’s the kind of story I actually must force myself to slow down in the telling. Otherwise, I tend to skip over some narrative that is unimportant to me in my mind because I’ve already noted it in my head, but is important to the reader for a complete comprehension of the characters, the setting, and the circumstances.

If only I had more hours in the day to write, which is, unfortunately, no longer my day job.

My Copyright Certificate Arrived

Some months ago (about six, to be precise), I submitted an application with the United States Copyright Office to obtain a registered copyright for my time travel-related novella Timecast. According to the Copyright Office website, it takes an average of four months to procure the copyright and receive the copyright certificate in the mail.

My certificate, which turns out to be an exact photocopy of the form I mailed to the office with an attached message from the Copyright Registerer notifying me that my copyright has been registered, arrived Saturday, Feb. 16, 2008. My application and fee for registration arrived at the Registerer’s office Friday, Aug. 10, 2007.

Now, I’m willing to forgive the delay because I am quite certain a great deal of research goes into whether a copyright applicant should, indeed, be certified by the Registerer’s office as owner of said copyright.

I also understand that this is “government work,” which is typically much slower than service performed by the private sector.

However, I do think the U.S. Copyright Office is misleading the public a bit with the four-month statement on its website. My certificate took two months longer than that to arrive in my mailbox.

In fact, I had, as of a couple of months ago, given up on obtaining my certificate, assumed that I had been rejected because I missed some minor detail in the submission guidelines for my copyright.

Still and all, I am happy to have the piece of paper stating that my creative work is officially mine.