Thursday, May 22, 2014

M. K. Theodoratus on the Twists and Turns of a Writing Career

Nobody promised us a rose garden, yet here we are anyway, trying to make it as writers. Today's guest, fantasy writer M. K. Theodoratus, has been wending a crooked path through the garden of words, looking for a place where her career can blossom. She shares a bit about her journey so far. 

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Twist & Turn – It’s Not a Dance, It’s a Writer’s Life
by M. K. Theodoratus

After four, maybe five, writing careers, I feel like I’ve seen it all. Publishing now is nothing like when I started writing.

How have I sold over the years? Confession magazines (if you can remember them). Short newspaper features back when they took freelance human-interest stuff. A weekly political column back in the Reagan years. Multiple sales of the same article to lots of little magazines who only bought one-time rights. Now, I’ve been playing with fantasy fiction.

Yeah, my “writing career” has done a lot of twisting and turning over the years as the publishing industry has changed. All the time while, I wrote bits and pieces of fiction, mostly unfinished.

I can verify that change equals opportunity. If the indie publishing movement hadn’t gained a foothold, I wouldn’t be writing this.

My most recent publishing venture started out at a writer’s conference when an indie (aka mom & pop) publisher said they were interested in my dark YA fantasy novel, There Be Demons.

Hooray for me. I got a contract that included nice royalties and a hard cover as well as an ebook. Got some wonderful editing which made the book totally better. Started building a social media platform to help with the marketing of my book, by revising and publishing some of the short stories languishing in my computer. Then, the publisher got sick, and the publishing process has stalled until she recovers.

Welcome to the real world of publishing. A world where writers have to twist and turn in order to survive. Bummer. Publishers and editors no longer hold a writer’s hand and teach them their craft or publicize their books unless they are A-list.

The good news in all of this turning: the “platform” I built now includes eight epubs – four free short stories and four 99c epubs. In them, you can see how I twisted away from one world – the Far Isles Half-Elven – to another – the world of Andor where demons roam.

My world of the Far Isle Half-Elven started when I was searching for a new idea to write about and began wondering how genetic drift within an elf-human population would influence the politics of a magical medieval world. I immediately had conflict in the change from a feudal society to a mercantile one plus the conflict among various individuals based the levels of magical power they controlled. I didn’t have any characters to play with until Mariah jumped into my mind, standing on a cliff in the midst of a receding gale. She was miserable because, after 400 years, her life had turned to dust.

Result: 500,000+ words sitting in my computer, a draft of Dark Solstice (a completed novel without a home now), plus some novellas and short stories. The free stories are downloaded frequently. The 99c novellas sell at a sick snail’s pace, though most of the reviews are nice.

Of course, you should never put all your stories in one world. I wrote other stories but nothing captured my imagination until I wondered about the problems gargoyles faced.

Night for the Gargoyles, which sold to a British e-magazine, was born. I liked the idea so much I drafted a complete novel, There Be Demons, switching points of view between Gillen, leader of the gargoyles guarding Trebridge, and Britt, one of the teens drafter by the angels to help the gargoyles. Snarky teens, conscientious gargoyles, and demons bent on conquest. What’s not to like?

The publisher liked it so much she wanted a sequel … and maybe a trilogy. My story writing twisted only enough to revise some stories to exist in the world of Andor where the demons roam.

End result: I’ve self-publish four Far Isles Half-Elven epubs and four Andor ones. Who know where my next twist will take me?

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You can learn more about M.K. Theodoratus on her website or follow her on Twitter. You can also visit the Far Isles Half-Elven website.

Purchase her fantasy books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers.

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