online novel

News updates

Sorry for the relative quiet on the blog front. I’ve been out for two weeks on a vacation in Scotland and Ireland (not research, I swear) and am now trying to settle back in another timezone while preparing for a convention. Masochism, yay!

It looks like I’ll be skipping the September Twitter chat and looking at October for the next chat. I will be coordinating with folks through the forums at Webfiction Guide (as that worked best last time) to shop some times around. Again, if you’re interested in the next chat, please poke me!

As for news – here’s what we have for you this time around

Wattpad announces Harlequin writing contest

As noted at Goodereader.com blog , Wattpad has partnered with Harlequin to host a writing contest. Not a surprising move as the most popular categories on Wattpad are often the romance stories (whether historical, teen, or paranormal).

The Official Blog explains that this is a smaller part of the larger “So you think you can write” Harlequin contest.  Wattpad folks must submit their first chapter of a near completed work (using the instructions outlined in the blog) and entries may be read by judges and considered for possible publication.

On the surface this sounds like a good contest for entrants, although it is worth reminding folks that Harlequin is somewhat notorious among more established writer’s circles as “not royalties friendly to authors.”  JA Konrath highlighted some problems with one imprint two years ago  . In 2009 Writer’s Beware also discussed one of the self-publishing imprints and the royalties issues that surrounded it.

Regardless, looks like you have until November 6 to enter… may still be worth a shot.

Established Author tries Serials on Kickstarter

I don’t make it a point to highlight every serial related Kickstarter project out there as I take issue with promoting projects from new authors who want to be paid to do what many of us do willingly already for free.  However, I’m always intrigued when more established folks want to experiment with serialization.  John Truman Wolfe, I suppose, is trying a great experiment of his own… testing his social networks as well as interest in his current books as well as the serial format. Not quite sure if his Kickstarter will fund but will be interested in the dissection of the outcome.  At the very least, compared to other “pay in advance” Kickstarter proposals, his seems to hold less risk than some of the others I’ve seen on Kickstarter.

Serials Novels: What’s Old is New Again

Seems like covering serial novels is also a regular favorite topic on many writer sites, but the Publisher Weekly’s blogs takes an opportunity to talk to a RWA author about her latest project, … yes a serial novel. Coreene Callahan describes her limited and positive experience with serialization. (Her novel was pushed out through Amazon at 1.99 for ten installments.)   Seems like Amazon has generally stuck with 1.99 and a short run as a serial… guessing it’s working as a model.

Moving from text to audio

Michael Litzky, author of the serial “Safe as Houses”, has started experimenting with audio versions of his currently running serial.  Not many in our small community make this transition (with MCA Hogarth and CB Wright/UBersoft also doing their own readings from time time), so it’s worth looking at and talking to Michael further down the road.   (I’m sure he’d value the feedback)

From around the web, authors ruminate on serials

I spy, you spy, let’s all spy on authors as they all expound on the serial format

And that’s all for this overdue news post. Interesting in contributing a news story or guest blog? Please see the Submissions page for details on how! 

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Guest Post by CA Sanders: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Serial

Where I’m Coming From

I’ve been writing professionally (or trying to write professionally) for almost fifteen years, but online serials are still new to me. When I started, the paradigm was print. Literary journals were the way to go, and they were all in paper and only taking the fanciest of the fancy. It was not an easy way to break in.

By the time that mags moved to the Internet, I was already convinced that I was awful and needed to get a real job (“get a real job” being the meanest thing that you can tell a writer), so I missed out on this initial orgy of zine activity. I got into it late, and I got in with reservations. Even now, I miss the scent of newly printed paper…sigh.

The Way We Write Now

It was last autumn. I had just finished my first novel, Song of Simon (due out Sept 1st, 2013, from Damnation Books), over the Summer, and I was looking for a new project. Song of Simon is an intense novel and writing it was emotionally draining. This time I wanted to write something a bit more lighthearted.

I guess I didn’t get out of that novel-writing state of mind. What began as a short story ballooned into a massive 16,000 word novelette, now known as The Watchmage of Old New York. I would’ve given up on it (it’s near impossible to sell something that size, and I have bills to pay), but I was having too much fun exploring the Watchmage world.

So now I was stuck with this albatross of a story hanging around my neck. No mag would have her, certainly no paying mag (I make it a point to only sell to paying mags. That magazines will pay nothing for our work and act like we should be grateful is a crime. But that is a different story).

I use Duotrope to find markets (you should too) and that’s where I found Jukepop Serials. A paying market that takes long stories? Sign me up. It hadn’t occurred to me to serialize Watchmage, but how could I resist?

I was biased against serials, I’m ashamed to say. I was a “professional” and serials were for fan fiction. I was an idiot.

Serials are not a new paradigm, they are the old one. Charles Dickens used to write serials, so did Bradbury and Edgar Rice Burroughs. I never realized this until I immersed myself into one of my own.

Healthy, Whole Grain, Serial

If I was going to boil serial writing down to three rules (and I will), they would be these:
1)Outline everything
2)Master pacing
3)Keep a healthy buffer

Outline Everything: I believe in doing this for everything you write, even blog posts. But outlines are especially important when you’re writing a serial. Once you post an installment, it’s there forever. I feel that going back to previous entries and changing them is unfair to your readers. Make sure that what goes on that page is exactly what you want.

This includes noting the important aspects about characters, plot, and the world of the story. In Watchmage, I found that I was uncomfortable with some of the main character’s characteristics. Looking back, I would’ve written him differently (which I am doing in the novelized reboot). You can avoid my mistake with preparation.

Outlining doesn’t stop once you start writing. One of my favorite things about writing is all the interesting people, places, and things that naturally pop up as the story goes on. Make sure you add these to your notes. Don’t forget anything, because you never know what’s gonna be important a few story arcs down the line.

That said, don’t make your plot outside too rigid. Think of it more as drawing with dots, and then connecting the dots. As long as you get from plot point to plot point, it doesn’t matter how you got there.

Master Pacing: Reading online is different from reading in print. For some reason, readers will only read a certain amount before they fade out. The big complaint that I have heard is eye strain. Regardless, a good chapter in an online serial is shorter than one in a print book.

I think that 1000-1500 words is a good length for an installment. You should be able to end at the end of a scene or a cliffhanger. Don’t rely too much on either. Cliffhangers keep the reader coming back, but they get old quickly. Think “tension and release.”

The major difference between a serial and a novel is that a serial is ongoing, where a novel has a finite end. This does not, however, mean that a serial is an open-ended mess.

I grew up reading comic books and watching pro wrestling, both of which I still love. Both are great examples of serial structure. A comic might go on for decades, but it’s broken up into story arcs. A story might go on for a few months, reach its conclusion, and then move on to another arc. Wrestling is the same way. John Cena might be feuding with Daniel Bryan now, but in a couple of months (after Bryan does the J.O.B…wrestling fans get it) he might feud with Randy Orton or Fandango (yes, there is a wrestler called Fandango). This is the way that your serial should be constructed. It provides closure for the reader without ending it.

For example, Watchmage currently has two story arcs. I could easily write more, but I am rebooting it. You could read one arc and be satisfied, or you could keep going. Readers need closure. In other words: don’t get carried away by your own awesomeness.

Keep A Buffer:

Writers will argue about the length, but you should always keep a buffer of at least a few weeks. This means that you have a few weeks’ worth of story written ahead of your installments. For Watchmage, I kept an eight week buffer.

Writing is like starting a hose with your mouth: you have to do a lot of sucking before things flow. The problem is, too many serial writers post those first few sucks before they realize that they don’t fit. This is why I keep a buffer. It gives me a chance to look back and edit my work before posting it. Remember: what has been posted cannot be unposted (ok, maybe it can, but it shouldn’t).

Another reason is because life happens, and sometimes you won’t be able to hit your deadline. The buffer allows you wiggle room for when you get the flu or your dog eats a Cadbury bar.

I hope this little insight into my conversion to serial writing, and the methods to my madness, have helped. If you disagree, that’s fine too. Everyone works differently, don’t be ashamed of your own technique. Be brilliant.

For more information on CA Sanders’ writing and projects, please connect with him at his website  http://www.casanders.net/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/casandersauthor 

Blog Guest: Sean Munger, author of “The Armored Satchel”

Sean Munger is the last scheduled guest post from the Jukepop Serials crowd.

He is the author of  “The Armored Satchel, a spy adventure that takes place in occupied Europe during World War II (https://www.jukepopserials.com/home/read/501).

Per Sean: “In this serial, Max Volcker, a young German who grew up in America, assumes the identity of a crack Nazi intelligence agent called “the Specter.” Using the Specter’s steel-reinforced briefcase packed with false identity papers and counterfeit cash, Max decides to become a double agent for the Allies—but finds the world of espionage is a lot more dangerous than he bargained for!”

Sean -please provide some background about yourself.

I am currently studying for a Ph.D. in American history. As part of my course of study, I also teach history classes at the university. This is definitely a full-time job, even during the summer—right now I’m preparing to teach a summer course on the history of the Iraq War. I do my writing in the evenings or on weekends or basically whenever there’s time.

Hobby-wise, I love to cook, especially spicy food—I can make several different Indian and Chinese dishes. I learned to cook mainly because restaurants could never make anything spicy enough for me, so I realized if I wanted food with a kick, I’d have to do it myself! I also read about and research, in a very unprofessional armchair-sleuth kind of way, missing persons cases, which have fascinated me for a long time. You’ll see I often post about missing persons on my blog (at seanmunger.com).

What are your current writing projects? Do you have another Jukepop serial in the works?

Right now I’m working on a new horror novel, titled Doppelgänger. It’s a creepy Victorian haunted house story, set in the 1880s, but it has a twist to it, and I hope it’s successful. I’m also putting the finishing touches on my second zombie novel, The Zombie Rebellion, which will be coming out from Samhain Publishing in May 2014. These have been my main projects recently. Strange as it sounds, The Armored Satchel started as a sideline.

I may do another serial. The character of Max has grown on me, and I think he’d be interesting to put into another adventure. I already have some vague thoughts on that but I’m not entirely decided on how to proceed yet.

Longer-term, I’ve got two projects in the pipeline that are likely to take a long time to get finished. The first is a book called The Valley of Forever, which I’ve been working on since 2010. It’s a science fiction book about the nature of time. The second is more speculative, but I’m hoping to do a re-boot of my science fiction series which began in 2006 with Life Without Giamotti. That’s a much longer-term project. (more…)

Blog Guest: Beth Raymond, author of “Secrets of the Conclave”

In this post, Online Novel continues highlighting authors who are part of the Jukepop Serials family.  

The third of the Jukepop authors to be featured is Beth Raymond, author of “Secrets of the Conclave” (http://www.jukepopserials.com/home/read/63), a story of political control and rebellion in a matriarchal society, with a little magic on the side.

bethraymondI’m not a professional writer. Well, I am, sort of—I’m a lawyer, and I write in that capacity. But the writing I do in my day job is far from creative. So, on the side, I write fiction. I realize it is rather cliché to be a lawyer and an author of fiction, but I had been writing fiction long before I ever became a lawyer. Indeed, I’ve written stories off-and-on throughout my life and I’ve taken courses in fiction writing both in college and as a pre-law school, working adult. Yet all of my previous work was in the short story format. I’d never tackled a novel, nor had I ever submitted anything for publication.

In 2005, I finally decided to try writing a novel as part of National Novel Writing Month. The product of this effort became the first draft of my serial, Secrets of the Conclave, now published at JukePop Serials. Admittedly, it wasn’t a very good draft—at times, it was downright cringe-worthy—but that’s not really the goal of NaNoWriMo, as participants like to call it. Instead, the goal is to write 50,000 words in a single month, and I succeeded in that. At the time, I had intended to edit that first draft, expand it, and try to publish it in some fashion—but then real life got in the way. And by real life, I mean law school, clerking, and my first job as a lawyer.

(more…)

Barometer post – Proposed Twitter Chat for Webfiction and Online serial authors

After a few tweet-exchanges with @ubersoft and @shutsumon last week, we thought there would be merit in organizing a tweet-chat later in the month to focus on online serials/ webfiction.

The first proposed chat would be a “Get to know each other” chat focusing on

  • Who You Are
  • Your free-to-read serial
  • Why you’re doing it
  • What you have learned so far.

Invitees are welcome from multiple platforms — including authors who host their own work (via their own blog/website) and those that post at free-to-read communities such as Jukepop Serials and  Wattpad.

Of course anyone else will be free to join in, including those who are curious about starting their own serial.

The reason for this call is that we have three major timezones to attempt to coordinate (North America, UK, and the NZ/AU) .   I’m looking to maximize participation and so want to poll those of you who are serious about participating about several proposed dates and times. (For reference, we are looking at two weekend blocks of times.)

I suspect many of you are on twitter (and we haven’t yet connected) so would you please comment/contact me via this post (or twitter @whirlyshirly or plumopera at gmail dot com) if you are serious about participating with your email.

Look for a more formal call on this blog once/if we can get things together.