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L. Shelby - Racciman's World - News Category 1 Talking With Winds

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1 Talking With Winds News

Submission Nerves Addendum

Have checked. Agents A, B, C, D & E really do want to see a brief query letter describing the book in question, only. No part of the story whatsoever is to be included. (Who are all these agents that I see people talking about in newsgroups and forums that ask for three chapters, or five page outlines, or what have you? They aren't on *my* list.)

So I'm back to working and reworking the letter, hoping I can figure out how to describe my story in a way that actually manages to interest someone. I find myself writing:
“Certain he is not a hero, and terrified of becoming a villain, Asond is saved from the fate of becoming a tragic figure by his amusingly reprehensible habit of pointing everyone's flaws — including his own — in the snarkiest and most sarcastic way possible.”

I read this to my 15-year-old son (one of only three people beside myself in the whole wide world who has actually read this story all the way through) and ask “What do you think?”

“Well, mom, that's very… accurate.”
“But is it appealing?”
“No, but it's very accurate.”

Submission Nerves

I have just sent Talking With Winds out again. I now need to convince myself to write some agent queries.

I have spent the last hour writing and rewriting this post trying to come up with something to say that would then convince me to go write the agent queries. Bah! To not write them, is to give up on the possibility of snagging an agent before actually selling a book. I hate eliminating possibilities without very good reason. Cynicism is not a good reason. I will go do the queries.

Writing Progress

“Frozen Witness” has arrived in the editor's inbox and I'm supposed to hear back in about a month.
“Velvet Lies” is in the mail. (Thank you, Zeborah, for your comments, they were a big help!)

And, I have 11 out of 19 Chapters worth of fixes done for _Talking With Winds_, which I'm hoping to get into the mail next week. Although, I keep *reading* it instead of fixing it. (I just get this huge kick out of Asond going around insulting everyone. I'm sure this means I suffer from some serious character flaws, but I can't help it.)

Incurable Infatuation

I spent over 3 hours yesterday reading the first third of Winds to Ben (my fourteen year old), because reading it aloud is such a good way to notice certain kinds of problems, even if it is a bit rough on the vocal chords. Afterwards I made an utter pest of myself by wandering around the house quoting my favorite bits at people. I think it's supposed to be uncool to like your own writing, but I can't help it. I *like* this story. I *like* Cantata… I like them all. That's why I went to all the work of writing them down, right?

Jigsaw Prose

Well, yesterday I tore chapter two of Winds apart and put it back together again using a bunch of the bits that I had removed from chapter one. That was… interesting. The fact that the structure of the book is chapters divided into fairly equal halves, with the first half being her viewpoint and the second half being his, doesn't help. (No, that's not hers and his in a romantic sense.) The stuff that got removed from the end of chapter one had to be time shifted so that it could go into the middle of chapter two, and the stuff that was at the beginning of chapter two had to be either time shifted backward, rewritten into the other viewpoint, or dumped. But chapter two now contains plot moving stuff, and since it didn't really have any before, that's got to be a step in the right direction.

Today I moved on to my next trouble spot, about a third of the way through the book, and added an incident that didn't previously exist. I removed a character interaction that I rather liked in order to do so, but it wasn't necessary, and it didn't *fit* any more. Mostly because, once again, the structure of the book required that I flip some stuff from one viewpoint to the other — which is actually kind of fun to see. Although the narrative voice remains fairly constant, stuff still changes just because of who we are seeing it through.

I now no longer have any large fixes that I know about, and after I run through my critter's comments to catch the small stuff, I'll have nothing more to do on it until someone else reads it. If my Dad hasn't called me up to tell me what I'm supposed to be doing for him by then, I'm going to be in a bit of a quandry. I don't want to get involved in another rough draft of something only to get pulled away from it before it's gotten properly started, that would be totally frustrating. On the other hand, I don't want to sit around and twiddle my thumbs either.

Back in the Saddle again

I've not been writing so I would have time/energy to help my dad with his new business, but at the moment he doesn't seem to sure about what he wants me to be doing, so Boyd convinced me I should do some writing after all.

Monday I sent a query out, and today I revised Chapter 1 of Talking With Winds. Chopped it down to the size it should be, and everything. :)
Of course, now chapter two makes no sense whatsoever, but that's how progress works sometimes.

Receiving criticism…

Went to my in person crit group today, and listened to comments on Chapter 2 of Talking With Winds. The chapter is very slight, and they pointed this out. They wanted conflict, but I don't see any conflict to be had there, it's just a “jumping straight into the next bit felt wrong so I have a little connecting material here” chapter. Maybe I can introduce some tension by having Samanth talk about fighting Trolls, and maybe have her discussing what problems her people might be going through? Or maybe when read in a chunk with one and three it's fine pretty much as it is. I dunno.

The revised chapter one is up on critters this week. So far I have two responses, but I haven't managed to get around to reading them yet. I still have to do *my* critters critting too.

Long Time No Say

I haven't really been neglecting my writing as completely as it looks. (No blog entries for a month. Oops!)
I've been trying to collect reader comments on Talking With Winds, and I've been doing a bit of critting myself. Also I wrote a short story and entered it in a contest for Julie Czerneda's newsgroup at sffnet. I came in fourth place! I even won something. (I'm not sure what, exactly, a used PDA, supposedly. That's what the contest was for, it was an excuse to give away some PDAs the the owners didn't need anymore.) My entry was called “Princess of Waves”. It takes place in Racciman's World, and is based on the Viashi Cards.

Generic vs. Unique

Word Count: 8311

Was reading comments on Talking with Winds.
'Too generic, if you want to sell it you are going to have to insert something unique.'
I could make fairly major changes to Cantata and all it took was a bit of thinking to see what would fit. But they were changes because the story was obviously broken, and I knew it was in trouble while I was writing it, and I hardly had to change anything in the first half to fix it, either. Trying to come up with a change to make to “fix” a story that isn't inherently broken sounds… less doable.

Besides, for me the delight of Racciman's World has always been the “generic done right” aspect of it. There is a *reason* why there are elves and humans and dwarves and etc. There's even a reason why they all speak the same language. Samanth's talent isn't supposed to reveal animals that, because the linguistic barrier has been breached, now sound just like humans — but animals whose communications are realistically limited to actual animal communications. I can't do “generic done right” without also being generic.
So maybe Song of Asolde will never be published. Or maybe it will only be published after I've made a name for myself with other books. I dunno, but at the moment I'm very dubious that I will be able to add in some gimick to make it more publishable without, for me, ruining what is the point of the whole thing.

Next question. Is Eyes sufficiently “un-generic” to get published?
Once again, I'm playing with standard genre conventions… although in a different genre.

I *like* reading typical stuff done well, I don't, as a reader demand something usual or unique in every book. I read *regencies* for heaven's sake, where I go… “Oh look, another wife won in a card game plot,” or “oh look, another gentlewoman forced into business plot” and so forth. It's the details and the quality of the writing and so forth that make the book worth reading, not some new “gimick”. I mean, gimicks are cool when you meet them and they work, but I get tired of the “gimick of the month club”. And you, know, I think there's a bit of a scarcity of straight forward gimickless adventure coming out. Whenever I think I've found one I seem to discover that it's been gimicked with some new form of ickyness. “S&M sex, hey, that ought to sell… child abuse — that's a good twist.” Gack! It makes me think maybe I'd rather buy another Burroughs than risk anything new.

At least Cantata doesn't strike anyone as being generic.
But I would rather not find myself writing *only* Cantata type stories. I like more variety than that.

Author's Note on Racciman's World

I'm going to blame it all on a guy named Tracy Hickman. He was at my first ever science fiction convention, and he did a panel on worldbuilding. I was a dedicated worldbuilder already, but my worlds had always been built alongside of the story that I was telling in them. Before Tracy explained how he approached worldbuilding, it had never occurd to me to build the world first, and find stories to tell in it afterward. So I thought I'd give it a try.

But what to base the world on? Well, they say 'write what you know', and as one of eight siblings, (and later the mother of six,) one of the things I knew was large family dynamics. So I decided to base a fantasy world on that. What would happen, I asked myself, if the gods of a fantasy world, were actually children? A family of children, with all their squabbles and shifting alliegences reflected in the world they created?

Writing Quote
'I don't care what happens to these people!'
-- The Eight Deadly Words (Dorothy Heydt)
Copyright © Michelle Bottorff

Email mbottorff at lshelby period com