Episodic Writing

I remember getting a comment back from an editor on one of my early stories that said my writing was episodic. I didn’t know exactly what was meant by that, but I knew it wasn’t good. It took me awhile, but I finally figured out what episodic meant. It meant there wasn’t enough character arc or story arc, and that the chapters were too neat, self-contained—like an episode. So I tried to correct that. I was more conscious of having arcs, of crafting scenes that built upon one another and of creating characters that pulled you through the story, which is good for a novel. I’ve recently read a novel, though, that is unapologetically episodic. In fact it doesn’t have chapters. It has episodes. The Human Division  was first released as three ebooks, and then several months later the hardback and audiobook were released. At the same time a new ebook came out with the complete book plus a couple of extra codas that the hardback and audiobook book had as extra features. I think the book needed to be episodic because of the way it was first released, which was similar to the way the stories were serialized in the paper. Think of the Sherlock Holmes stories. When I heard about this book I was curious to read it. I’m also a big John Scalzi fan. His book Redshirts is one of my all time favorites. I have to say I think it was very effective. It’s different from his other novels. It’s very much like a TV show, similar to Babylon 5 in structure. And while there aren’t...

The Next Big Thing

Snake Talker Today I’m hosting the Next Big Thing blog campaign. The Next Big Thing is an international campaign that began in Australia. Authors and illustrators of books for kids and young adults talk about their recently published books and/or those that are due to be released. Each author who has been nominated turns around and nominates a couple of other authors. We all answer the same questions about our work. It’s really just a great big game of “Tag, you’re it.” Today is my turn to answer The Next Big Thing’s standard questions about my book, Snake Talker, and I’m tagging two of my favorite fellow kids’ book authors, Ann Koffsky and Sean McCollum, to go next. What is the working title of your next book? The one I’m currently working on is still in my head and not yet on paper so I’m going to talk about a book that is already out. Snake Talker came out over a year ago. Where did the idea come from for the book? I actually got two ideas for books at the same time. I decided to write this one first because I knew more about the story. I don’t remember exactly where the idea came from. Like so many story ideas they seem to be made up of bits and pieces of things that interest me. They merge in my subconscious and suddenly the idea is there. What genre does your book fall under? YA science fiction. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? You’ve got me on that one....

The Wild West for Publishing

Once a month I host the SCBWI Denver Schmooze with Hilari Bell. Today we had a wonderful speaker, Deb Courtney, Managing Partner of Courtney Literary, LLC, who gave a talk on epublishing and using social media to promote your books. Boy, did I learn a lot. I’ve done some epublishing, as well as traditional publishing, so I know the steps to getting a book ready for press. What I picked up was some general information about the market and how to use social media. Deb is a micro publisher. She has created a niche for herself in today’s Wild West of Publishing that didn’t exist ten years ago. She does managed self-publishing, what she describes as, “Tip to toe full service publishing.” You have to send a query to Deb, the same type of query you would send to a traditional publisher. If she likes your idea, she’ll ask for the manuscript. She has a couple of readers who know her tastes. If she decides to take you on, then she’ll meet with you and outline a publishing and marketing plan. She might decide epublishing is the best approach, or she might decide to also do some POD. She positions your books in select bookstores as well as promoting them online. That’s just a very, very brief overview of what she does. If you are interested in approaching her then I would recommend checking out her submission guidelines. What I found fascinating was her information about the epublishing market. In one quarter last year ebooks made $282 millions dollars. Adult ebooks during that quarter grew 28.4%. Childrens and YA...