Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Old is New Again: Serialized Novels

Serialized novels have become a popular way to publish stories in the past few years. Some of the advantages of publishing as a serial include readers getting new parts of the story on a regular basis as it’s being written, instead of having to wait a long time for the whole novel to be finished; and authors can get feedback (and sometimes money) for their writing while they’re still working. But serial novels aren’t a new invention that happened on the internet.

In the 19th century, most novels in the U.S., Britain, and across Europe were actually published serially. Famous works like Charles Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers, Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin were published with a new chapter every week or month in magazines and newspapers. When the story was complete, all of the parts would be collected in a single volume, which is how we read these novels today. But when they first appeared, readers would wait for the story in installments, which could be spread out over an entire year.

This method of publishing fell out of fashion with the invention of broadcast radio and television. Today, we think of episodes in a television series as multi-part stories, but written fiction comes out in books once every year or two. Only a handful of novels were published as serials during the 20th century.

But when the internet made it easy for anyone to publish their stories, serialized fiction made a come back. It started with amateur writers posting stories on their own websites, forums, and newsgroups. Then sites sprang up for writers to share free stories more easily, like Fanfiction.net. Now there are too many of these communities to name, where thousands of free stories are shared, talked about, and rated by readers and writers.

With widespread ebooks distribution, professional authors gained the ability to sell these serials online. Unlike printing where there are limitations on the length of stories that can be economically printed and distributed, digital works can easily be shorter (or longer) than the limited range of traditional novels. Now serialized novels, or series of connected novellas or episodes, are gaining popular readership in stores like Amazon and Smashwords.

After seeing how well serials work for other authors, I’m starting to experiment with serials. Last year, I posted a novel, Witch Hunt, on Wattpad for free at the rate of one chapter a day for NaNoWriMo. I did get some feedback as I wrote, but I found that most readers couldn’t keep up with that pace, and I’ve seen that most successful authors on Wattpad write at the rate of one or two chapters a week. I revised that novel and put it on sale—and surprisingly, even after I gave it away for free first, there are still readers willing to buy it!

miscreation-ep1Then this summer, Holly Lisle challenged writers on her How To Think Sideways site to write and publish a monthly serial as part of her How To Write A Series course. Following her advice, I’ve started a series of novellas using characters from my established Wyld Magic universe. The first episode, The Voyage of the Miscreation #1: “ The Voyage Begins,” was published last week. I’m excited to see how the series turns out as more episodes come out. Hopefully, I can engage readers who look forward to getting a piece of the story every month.

Have you ever read a serialized novel? How did you feel about having to wait for the next part of the story to come out? What rate do you think is good for new parts to come out?

Information about the history of serial novels from Wikipedia.

 

friends?

Games of ChanceI’m currently setting up an eMail list for Will Hahn (the first volume of his Magnus Opus “Judgement’s Tale” has done quite well this month (much better than we had hoped for), and we’d like to keep that going even when the book becomes less visible on amazon). As I did so, I wondered for a split second why I was putting so much time and effort into Will’s campaign. I could be spending the same amount of time on my own campaign or on writing more books, right?

Wrong, oh, sooooo wrong! Will is my FRIEND and that’s more important than anything in the world. When I went to primary school I had only two friends; one went to a different school, and the other one more or less dumped me on day two. At middle school I found one friend, and it worked for a while, but then she moved and that was the end of it. I never made many new friends after that except for one during my time at university and one during my PhD in Bavaria. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of people I got along with fine. They just weren’t the people I consider friends.

Friends are there for me when I need them. Friends will let me know, sometimes quite brutally, when I’m wrong. They’ll call me or write eMails when I don’t have the time to read/listen, and I’ll be happy they do. Friends keep me on track. Having a good friend is better than reading a good book (which is my most favorite pastime aside from family life). For years now I had accepted the fact that the three friends I have in Germany would be the only ones for the rest of my life. I count myself lucky to have them to this day even though they live quite far away (nods to Kerstin, Anke, and Walter).

But when I sat there going through the tedious process of setting up a list and a website (not done yet), I was very surprised when I counted the friends I made online. Of course, the topmost one is Will, but there are many more. I realized how very happy I am when I can connect with other writers, readers or people who are really interested in some obscure thing or other I’m thinking about.

So this post is to let all of you (and I’m sure you know who you are) know that I’m deeply grateful that you’re here. In my world, there’s nothing better than my friends (except for my husband who’s a friend too and my kids). I’ll always be there for you as long as I’m alive.

How about your friends? Tell me in the comments about those special ones you’d like to have the world know about. Are they readers? What do they do that you love them so much? I’m curious…

Thoughts on Genre

I’ve been thinking about genre recently. The genres I prefer to read…and the genres I choose to write.

I know the defining characteristics of genre. I can tell the difference between fantasy, science fiction, and mystery. I can even tell when they overlap (I’ve been reading a very good series by Kristine Kathryn Rusch which melds science fiction with mystery. If you haven’t met Retrieval Artist Miles Flint, I highly recommend you do so quickly 😀 ), but where in the story does genre reside?

Let’s look at the bare bones of a story: A character – in a setting – with a problem.

What part of that equation represents genre? I’m going to posit that genre resides in the setting.

The character has to be relatable to the reader, someone the reader can identify with and care about. Even if the character is an alien, s/he has to have enough “humanity” to allow the reader inside his/her skin. So, genre doesn’t reside in character.

The problem also has to be relatable. Something the reader understands and can identify with. So no matter the genre, the problem must be of a common enough nature to allow the reader to care whether or not the character solves it. Nope, the problem (plot) doesn’t represent genre.

Setting is where genre resides. Science fiction settings are vastly different from fantasy settings. Mysteries can take place in a sci-fi or fantasy setting, but then they aren’t classified as mysteries (unless the setting is so minimally sci-fi as to make it almost invisible – JD Robb’s “In Death” series fits this bill).

Romance is character-centric with the essential element residing in relationship, but romance also transcends all the genres. You name a genre, and there’s a romance sub-genre covering it.

So, setting, and how the character understands and interacts with the setting, is where genre resides.

In order to write science fiction, an author doesn’t have to be a scientist. S/he just needs to imagine a rich enough world (setting) for the reader to know that the characters don’t live on our planet / in our time / or within our current understanding of the physical universe.

Back to the bones of story:  A character the reader can identify with (thereby gaining access to the story) – in a setting (which determines the genre) – with a problem (which defines the plot).

What do you think?

Fairy Tale Retellings

Fairy tales were the first stories I read on my own, and I loved them. My favorite is an obscure tale called “The Spiderhans” and it tells the story of a girl who defeat a giantess to get her cow back. Simultaneously, she rescues a cursed prince. I like it so much because in contrast to a lot of the more traditional fairy tales, the main character is female… and spunky.

So it seems no surprise that I started writing retellings of my favorite stories. I already covered “Snow White and Rose Red”, “The Beauty and the Beast”, “Rumpelstiltskin” (was published by German publisher some time ago) and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. Currently, I’m working on “Brother and Sister” by the Brothers Grimm. When I thought about possible publication, I searched the Internet and guess what I found? Fairy tale retellings seem to be rather popular.

I also re-discovered an author who I love to read. She writes very interesting and often twisted versions of fairy tales and novels that resemble fairy tales. Her name is Danyelle Leafty. She’s already published several novels. I can only recommend her books to anyone who likes this kind of story. her most recent short story is “Curious Leaf” where a flower wants to fly. You can read a free excerpt here.

If you read the excerpt, let me know what you think (I loved the story. It’s very poetic), and while you’re at it, please tell me your favorite fairy tale. I might get around to twisting it once I’m done with my current WIPs. 😀

 

We proudly present…

William L. Hahn’s

Games of Chance
Part One of Judgement’s Tale

cover art for Games of Chance

Will and I have been working toward this goal for a few weeks already (of course Will worked much longer – read his last post and you’ll know what I mean). Since I had the pleasure of reading the whole novel, parts 1 to 4, I can only say that this is one of the few Epic Fantasy books I really, really enjoyed. Every single word is there for a purpose. I couldn’t find a single boring place (only one with an infodump but that’s long been corrected).

Go to amazon and order your copy right away.

About the Book:
For twenty centuries the Lands of Hope prospered from their Heroes’ peace, but suffer now from their absence as a curse thickens over the central kingdom known as the Percentalion. An immortal omniscient conspirator schemes to escape the extra-worldly prison restraining his tide of undeath, using a demonic ally in a plot to bring back hell on earth. Solemn Judgement steps onto these Lands both a stranger and an orphan, driven to complete the lore his father died to give him.

In a world beset with increasing chaos, the bravest Children of Hope must take mortal risks. A young woodsman’s spear-cast, a desperate bid to save his comrades; the Healers Guildmistress’ cheery smile, hiding a grim secret and a heavy burden of guilt; the prince of Shilar’s speech in a foreign tongue, a gambit to avoid bloodshed or even war. As a new generation of heroes, scattered across the kingdoms, bets their lives and more, Solemn Judgement- soon to be known as The Man in Grey- must learn to play… Games of Chance: Part One of Judgement’s Tale

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