The Road Less Traveled

"Two roads diverged in the wood, and I--I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." -Robert FrostI’ve had a lovely 5-day staycation… that ends tonight. If you’ll remember, last week I had thought to start a micro-NaNo effort to push further on book 3 of my Red Slaves trilogy. The sharp-eyed among you will note that I have made progress–though only a fraction of what I’d intended to accomplish on that story.

Instead, I’ve been noodling on two other stories that have captured my interest. I’ve added status bars for both of them to my sidebar, as I’ve made significant headway on each. I’m quite happy with Trick of the Tail, in fact, and think I might be able to finish the first draft for it this week. It’s a novelette set in the Katarr universe that gave the name to my publishing house. I was honored when Gayla asked me to contribute a story there, and handed me a raft of world-building notes as well as an idea for a story that needed to be told in that context. I’m hoping pursuing this option gives the well-established fan-base for that universe a gateway drug for my other stories.


My plan, in taking this divergent path, is actually in keeping with Dean Wesley Smith’s advice, brilliantly summed up by Karen Woodward in a year-old post about advice to indie authors. (It’s worth a read if you haven’t been following all of DWS’ posts.) Essentially: Stay more focused on new words of fiction than on promotion. The corollary not mentioned in that advice is that if you can work your fiction into a series so readers have time to grow to love the world you’re writing in, you have a built-in audience and a much easier point of access for your later work.

In fact, DWS recently posted his year-in-review summary, which reinforced my appreciation for the indie path I’ve chosen: I have both the control and the freedom to pursue these tangents as they become worthwhile options. I’ve put significant work into building a network of trustworthy fellow travelers, and learning more about my craft, but my primary goal and focus will always be on publishing quality work that becomes a sought-after and trusted brand in its own right.

So I will continue to work on Fire to Dragon later this week, but am thoroughly enjoying returning to my pantsing roots as a short-term palate-cleanser to make my push to completion for the bigger work a little more fun. Technically, this is the (overdue) final check-in for the last 2013 ROW80, and next Sunday kicks off Round 1 of 2014, wherein we state our goals, etc.

In terms of the goals I’d set at the outset (1K words per week, 1 blog post per week, 5 walks per week, and all classwork as assigned, on time), I missed the word count by at least half, but still managed to produce, revise, and release Hallow’s Eve Triptych during this round. I also beat my 1 blog post per week goal, with a handful of bonus posts. Exercise started out strong, but derailed in November with illness and the onset of arctic weather. And the class… I think the professor decided he couldn’t let a student finish the whole class with a 100% grade, so I lost 10 unexplained points in the 27-page final I turned in. I’m still maintaining a straight-A average, which still has me shaking my head.

So I’m generally satisfied with my progress. I just need to defend my fiction-writing time more vigorously to make sure I’m able to stay on track with my goal of three releases per year. We’ll see whether I revise my goals at all for the next round. In the meantime, check out how my fellow ROW80ers did on their goals.

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