Tag Archives: Alan Dean Foster

Path to Indie Publication: Part III–2003: Breakout year?

My Path to Indie Publication Series is a companion series to Marshall Ryan Maresca’s Path to Publication. I have been avidly reading Marshall’s posts since I discovered his blog. Read Part IPath to Indie Publication.

2003 Breakout Year *

101 submissions. Three sales. A Semi-Finalist in the Writers of the Future contest that earned me a K.D. Wentworth critique. I rewrote the story and sent it back out. Strange Horizons requested a rewrite. Alas, the rewrite, though it met their criteria, seemed to lack whatever would push it into the realm of a sale. In terms of my writing career, 2003 was a success.

I rode that wave of success to three convention appearances as a “professional” writer and panelist, well… the wave and my connections to fandom through the Heinlein Society.  I had some wonderful moments participating in panels with Alan Dean Foster and Greg Bear, but I felt like a pretender. I hadn’t written many new stories. I continued to teach Creative Writing at my high school and write some poetry as examples while I taught.

For the next few years my energy to submit fiction waned. I had spent fifteen years, collected 485 rejections, 14 short fiction sales and quite a bit of frustration. I puttered in short bursts on fiction, wrote reminders to myself about stories to write someday and gradually wound down to complete inactivity as a writer. This corresponded with a particularly hard time in my personal life. My creative energy went into theatre with Shakespeare NorthWest, and a few new songs and poems.

2010. The Future. Arthur C. Clarke had regrounded his future in 2010, why couldn’t I? I sent out a single submission. #500. For some reason that carried more weight. It didn’t sell. It took me a year to send out another, but I finished 2011 strong with 70 submissions. No sales. 2012 saw 37 more submissions up to August.

Sometime in 2012 I stumbled upon NANOWRIMO. I had an idea—a girl, an At-Risk teen, her DNA made up of 48 teen-age girls I’d worked with, surviving a realistic apocalypse. The basic setting was one I’d come up with back in 1997, not long after my first reading of Lord of the Flies. In world where almost everyone dies, even the worst humans will generally do the best they can. Not like Golding’s golden boys. So, I made a plan, created a list of nearly 40 potential scenes in the life of Lizzie. Then I wrote it. My brain had been thinking about it long enough and it pulled in all the things I knew. At the end of November I had 68, 000 words! And it was good. Rough, but good. I’d let a couple teen-aged girls read it as I was going along. It stuck with people. With o’ermuch hubris, I decided I would publish it the following August. The working title had gone from Zombie Zoo [Petty] to Where Have All Your Children Gone [Hooters] to All Is Silence In the World [Springsteen]. Finally, after reading a post from Mark Coker of Smashwords who said too long titles don’t sell well, I shortened it to All Is Silence.

In December, I cut the last couple thousand words and wrote 20,000 more trying to get the right ending. As the new year came I had finished a book. By January 2nd I’d decided I hated the 2nd attempt at an ending. Sigh.


Coming next week: Part IV–Synchronicity

* Adapted and expanded from the Foreword to Outward Bound: Science Fiction & Poetry, a collection of some of my published and unpublished works. Top