Expressions of Exploration

I am an explorer. I really like to see what is beyond that hill and how one thing affects another. I like to push buttons and see things react. This affects a lot of how I see the world and interact with it. It gets expressed in a couple of my favorite hobbies.

Gaming

This is where I first ran across the idea of “explorer” as a classification rather than just a trait. The Bartle Test theorizes classifications around how people enjoy a game world. I tend to be an explorer, though I definitely have some of the other qualities.

I love video games. The rich worlds of plenty of things to push and interact with.

Travel

If gaming is an artificial world to play in, then travel is the act of playing in the real world. Predictably perhaps, I love travel. The same urge to see things and what is over that hill or around that corner leads me to be a wanderer when I travel. I look for the details and the small things when we travel. (Check out my travel blog all about the details if you want to see what I mean.)

To see crazy white cliffs in Turkey and wander in exotic cities just lights up my mind. It is awesome to explore and see what things are like.White Cliffs in Turkey

Writing

And so this leads me back to writing. (This is my author site after all.) I am beginning to see my writing urges as an expression of this desire to explore as well. To explore the world that I have created in my mind. It gets inspired by the world that I have traveled in and filtered through a wild imagination.

The world exploration is my favorite aspect of fantasy writing. I have had locales and maps in my head for many years. What I have struggled with is the story and character aspects of writing. I am getting better. (Sign #1 is that I have stories finished.) It helped to think of characters themselves as a landscape to explore. To explore not just the world they live in, but to explore the insides of the character as well. Then the story becomes the movement of one within the other.

– – –
I like to search and poke and prod. To see how things react. To experience new and different places. In gaming and in travel, and now in writing.

Why Novellas?

The stories that I have written and destined for publication fall into the novella category. Longer than a short story and yet not as long as novels. So it may beg the question, why?

Short Answer

I write in the novella length, because I can.

Long Answer

E-Novellas, especially self-published ones, are a viable product
In the age of e-readers, shorter stories are viable and marketable. Shorter, self-contained stories are just as entertaining and people do buy them.

When I self-publish, I don’t have a publisher putting a potentially artificial word limit on the story. I can write and finish the story that I want to. I read somewhere (I’ll add the citation if I find it again) that the 90K novel format was pushed by the publisher houses to justify higher book prices. Not sure if it is true, but it well could be. I look at my favorite books from the 1990’s and they are much shorter than the tomes now.

I can write, edit and publish stories faster.
From a reader and fan point of view, it means that the series can move forward more smoothly. Novella length stories are a lot easier for me to work on. My mind can hold the whole story at once and I can do edit runs in one or two sittings.

My plan is to publish one story every few months. No need to wait for a year for the next novel. That way if I get some extra time and ideas, I will be able to do a few standalone stories around the edges of the main series as well.

My mind can hold a novella.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to put out novels as well. And as I develop into a more mature writer, maybe I will. I have started several, but the grand sweeping nature of them tends to overwhelm my mind. I get lost in the threads and the complexity and it falls apart. The novella length, though, seems to fit in my head better. I can know the whole thing and mentally direct it easier.

It fits with my idea of the series.
I love epic fantasy. I read David Eddings’ five book series’ as a kid and loved them. I re-read the Wheel of Time saga every time a new one came out just to have it in my head to devour the latest book. And yet I don’t really want to be that kind of author, at least not right now.

On the other hand, I love Anime. An Anime series isn’t like a sitcom. It has a story arc and a definite direction within the season, and yet each episode (or small group of episodes) is a complete story as well. This is the idea that I driving me for Crossing the Dropline. Characters that are definitely going somewhere longterm, but with the overall story told in smaller chunks.

– – –
Although I kind of fell into writing shorter works, I am thrilled to be doing it like this. My mind is happier and I actually finish projects that I start.

Test Cover for Crossing the Dropline : Air Pirates

The first novella of the Crossing the Dropline series is off to beta readers, so I am beginning to concentrate on other aspects of its publication. Next up, the cover.

Cover2_xThe world of Crossing the Dropline is fantasy, but instead of the more typical medieval style setting, I have placed it closer to the 20’s and 30’s of our own world. The cover is meant to echo a travel poster from that time period. It features the floating islands that make up the world north of the Dropline where the stories take place.

Phase 2: Got some feedback on a writer’s forum and redid the cover. Here is the next version. I like it tons better. A wonder what a little push does to help.
Cover3_Nickel_x

Phase 3: Even more feedback. Another round of simplification and more font in the direction of the Art Deco feel I was going for.

The white band is gone and the colors are a less “box of crayons”.
Cover3a_Blackx

For the final cover check out the Books page. The title has since shifted to Queen of the Cloud Pirates as well.