Monthly Archives: April 2011

Cyberpunk story finally submitted to Dreamspinner!

I finally got my cyberpunk story, now titled The Dogs of Cyberwar, polished up as good as I can make it, and I submitted it to Dreamspinner Press this afternoon!

This was, by far, the most awkward submission I’ve ever sent off.  The problem occurred when I began doing some final polishing this morning.  This turned into some substantial changes throughout the manuscript, which would all be well and good…except that I had accidentally opened up the backup copy of the manuscript, rather than the main copy I was working on. 

When I put together the submission query letter, I attached the novella and the synopsis (which I think is actually one of the better synopses I’ve written — short and succinct) to the e-mail, I proceeded to grab them from the folder where the backup copy was located.  This would have been fine, since that’s the copy I’d just spent the morning modifying. 

However, I noticed that I’d named the synopsis file “Dogs of Cyberspace Synopsis” instead of “Dogs of Cyberwar Synopsis.”  So I went into the main copy folder and renamed the file.  But whenever I attempted to browse for that file, it kept showing the original “cyberspace” name, instead.  I verified that the name of the file in the folder I was looking at said “cyberwar,” but the browser kept showing me a file with “cyberspace” in the title.  Thinking that the browser had cached the original folder contents (which browsers sometimes do), I exited out of everything and went back in.  But the discrepency still existed, so I rebooted. 

Now, when it rebooted, I of course opened the main copy folder, rather than the backup copy folder, since that’s where I thought I’d been working all along.  The file said “cyberspace,” which didn’t make much sense.  Except that I’d had experiences with thumb drives (where my main copy folder was located) sometime not retaining changes.  I’ve actually lost files by saving them on thumb drives, pulling the drive out and finding the file missing when I plug the drive back in.

So I renamed the file again, and this time the browser found it with the correct name.  I then sent it off.

Only when the editor at Dreamspinner replied that she’d received the submission and would let me know, did I realize what had happened.  The files I’d sent her from the main folder were dated yesterday!  At first, I completely freaked out, thinking I’d lost all of the changes I’d made that morning.  But Erich asked if I was sure I sent the correct files, so I thought to check my backup folder, and there everything was, all up to date and named correctly.

Thankfully, I’ve been working with Dreamspinner for a while now.  I highly recommend against following up a query letter to a publisher you’ve never worked with with a message saying, “Um…would you mind looking at these files, instead of the two I just sent you?”  Fortunately, the editor at DSP was fine with that.

Now I get to stress while they consider the story.  Even though I like the story and think it’s pretty well put together, I’m concerned about it.  In the first place, though I did have some readers tell me they loved it, a couple readers were blasé about it.  That could just be personal preference, of course.  Not everyone likes the same kind of stories. 

But the other concern is the fact that it’s clearly “to be continued.”  The story is complete, but the ending indicates another story to come.  In fact, I’m already plotting out two more stories with these characters.  I’m even weaving some vague Irish mythological themes into it.  I know DSP prints series of novels, but I don’t know how they feel about a trilogy of novellas.  They might want me to finish all three first.

Or, of course, they might not like it, at all.  Then I’ll have to decide whether it’s worth sending to other publishers or if it needs some major work first.

In other news, I’ve finished the second round of edits on We’re Both Straight, Right? and I sent that back Friday night.  I think the next thing they’ll send me will probably be the galley proof of the pdf, which I’ll have to check over for minor typos and things like that.  At that stage, they don’t like the writer to do much rewriting of the text.  Publication is still six weeks away.

Shinosuke is coming along.  It’s up to about 10k words now.  It’s going to require a major rewrite, to sort out all the Japanese etiquette.  I was at a party last night, talking to a friend who’s majoring in Japanese studies, and two of his classmates.  We were trying to sort it all out, and they told me some things that I’ll have to take into account, such as their belief that only women would use the suffix –sama, for the most part.  It’s all very difficult to sort out, and I don’t know how to get definitive answers.  But the main thing to worry about, right now, is the story.  I’ll have to sort out the rest later.

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First Time for Everything 2011 Daily Dose is now on sale!

The 2011 Daily Dose package from Dreamspinner Press, called First Time for Everything, is now on sale!

This anthology includes my short novella, We’re Both Straight, Right? (formerly known as Zack and Larry Make a Porno), along with twenty-nine other stories, delivered to your mailbox, one per day, for the entire month of June.  Order this month, and the Daily Dose is only $39.99 for all 30 stories!

(I know, $39.99 sounds like a lot.  But if you bought each of the stories individually, it would be far more. )

For now, you can’t buy the stories individually, but they’ll become available in June, if you’d prefer to buy them that way.

2011 Daily Dose

First Time for Everything

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Balance of Power in Relationships

Assuming the romance between two characters is appropriate (i.e., within acceptable cultural guidelines), in terms of their ages, there’s another factor that can sometimes give readers pause:  the balance of power between them.  I’ve recently come across this in a novel that takes place in feudal Japan, and I’ve been running up against it, as I write Shinosuke. 

Basically, if one character is in a position of relative power over the other, it makes readers a little squeamish, when a romantic relationship starts up between those characters.  Teacher-Student is one example, even if the student is over eighteen, and another is Employer-Employee.  There is also the potential for this issue to come up any time the age difference between the two characters is more than a few years, especially if one is between, say, eighteen and twenty-five.  The reader finds herself wondering if the romance is real, or if the subordinate character simply feels that they have no choice but to go along with what the dominant character wants.   Or, in the case of a large age difference, the younger character may be subconsciously dominated by the older character.  (This, to me, seems less of a concern in a contemporary story, than in a historical.  Young people growing up in the modern Western world are no longer raised to automatically defer to their elders.  Kids today!)

This is particularly an issue in feudal japan, when dealing with the relationship between a samurai and a commoner.  Samurai had the right to kill any commoner who displeased them!  So, getting back to my story, from the get-go, the relationship between Shinosuke and Senpachi is imbalanced.  Obviously, Senpachi has no intention of harming Shinosuke, but Shinosuke has no way of knowing that.  Even if the samurai says, “I would never harm you,” Shinosuke would have to be pretty naive to believe him.  And even if the character believes Senpachi, the reader might think Shinosuke is being a stupid teenager.

(The issue I had with the first third of the samurai novel I’m currently reading, which is otherwise well written and enjoyable, is that the lord made it clear that the other character’s life was at his disposal several times, imprisoning him and punishing him in ways that would have Amnesty International sending reports to the U.N.  While it was perfectly in keeping with the culture and period, I had a hard time sympathizing with the main character falling in love with this man.  On the other hand, I suspect it was meant to appeal to the BDSM crowd — of which, I am not a part. *)

So, what to do, what to do? 

Well, step one is to make damned sure Senpachi doesn’t ever mistreat Shinosuke.  He’s teaching the young man bushido — the Way of the Warrior.  And as a teacher, he will have to be stern.  But most readers have seen enough movies like The Karate Kid or even Kung Fu Panda (which we watched last night — not bad!) to recognize the difference between stern and sadistic.  Whether I can pull it off will simply depend upon my writing ability. 

Step two is to make the romance almost entirely Shinosuke’s idea.  There is simply no way to have Senpachi broach the subject without it appearing that he’s abusing his position as mentor to the young man.  In fact, he will have to put up some resistance.  His attempts to rebuff Shinosuke, and Shinosuke’s hurt over having his advances refused, will, one hopes, eventually make the reader sympathetic to Shinosuke’s cause — i.e., winning over the heart of Senpachi.  We then move from “Why is that lecherous older man hitting on his student?” to “Why can’t that jerk see how much his rejection is hurting Shinosuke?” 

Welcome to Romance Plotting 101!

*NOTE:  It’s also a common element in manga, which may be more pertinent.  I’m a fan of manga and anime, but I often find the dominant/submissive elements of the stories not to my tastes.

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