Archive | June, 2015

Comparable Titles

22 Jun

The gothic novel I keep picking at—I mean revising—has now reached 399 pages.

This same novel is the one for which I have just begun contacting agents and publishers, even though I’m still sharing it with a novel critique group. The other members have busy lives with day jobs, while I am focused on writing and have multiple novels to revise and/or finish writing; in short, one chapter at a time every two weeks is the right pace for them, so I decided to go ahead and start querying my novel before I’m finished sharing it with the group. I’m still receiving valuable feedback that results in significant revision. I suppose this novel is rather complicated.

In the process of creating the book proposal for this gothic novel, I became arguably too wrapped up with researching comparable titles. Actually, it is a good idea for an author to regularly keep up with the genre or subgenre in which she or he writes; this is part of keeping up with the publishing industry.

In my query letter, I have written a small paragraph listing off three comparable titles and their authors. As I’ve discovered more comparable titles, I’ve changed the list of three.

Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century novels inspired my novel, but I have discovered that quite a few spooky gothic novels have come out in the past five years. (That is an appropriate time frame; if you pick comparable titles published ten or more years ago, they don’t necessarily reflect the current publishing industry.) I did much of the research on Goodreads and, after finding titles there, searched for them on the public library’s database, where I found most of them. I have therefore been engrossed in eerie, spooky novels and allowing the dishes to pile up in the sink.

Some Rewards of Fiction Writing

8 Jun

I know it’s appalling how much I’ve neglected this blog. I’ve been so busy…writing novels and short stories. That’s so much more rewarding than blogging. Bereavement has also been a rather significant distraction.

Rewarding? Do I deserve rewarding? I suppose not. I have an intense aversion to humans, and I want to be a recluse and live with six cats, like Edward Gorey. But I digress. That’s not what I was going to write about here.

I started writing fiction long before blogs existed. I was eleven and started writing adventure stories that tended to be fantasy fiction. I began writing fiction because I found this reality intolerable. My protagonists were like imaginary friends, much like those of the British playwright Alan Aykeburn. They were nothing like the bullies at school. When I was fourteen, I thought everything I previously wrote was terrible and threw it all out. I continued writing fiction primarily for escapist/survival reasons. The downside to this particular writing motivation was that fiction is supposed to be about conflict—about trouble—and I wanted to avoid conflict. I was too kind to my protagonists and created too many nice characters.

Since my undergraduate days, my fiction has often contained—in addition to a great deal more conflict—autobiographical elements that were most emphatically not escapist. Yet in the mid-1990s I decided I wanted to write related short stories set in an alternate reality that would simply be fun and escapist, at least for me. Therefore I created the paranormal world in which my character Margot lives, and I began writing quite a few stories.

Since my father suddenly died of cancer in May of 2014, I have in some ways regressed. At first I thought I would be more dedicated to Buddhism…but instead I immersed myself in gothic novels and resumed writing fiction set in Margot’s paranormal world. I’ve regressed to escapism instead of mindfulness. This is hardly the best coping mechanism, I know, but it has been creatively productive. I completed a gothic novel, and a novel critique group has been giving me great feedback; I’ve been revising in response to that feedback, and now I’m contacting agents and publishers. I’ve resumed working on another gothic novel set in the same world. More story ideas have been bouncing off these novels, and I’ve begun submitting a couple such completed stories.

I hope someday that all this work will be rewarded with publication. In the meantime, I shall keep writing and keep submitting my writing. Certainly, a lot of fiction writing is rewarding in itself.