Wednesday, October 04, 2006

More ACFW Ruminations

Turns out it wasn't that I hit the word limit for the blog. I ran into some HTML problems that I don't fully understand. Oh well.

Anyway, on with my ACFW ruminations.

Third, I was amazed at how God was ready to give me little boosts throughout the conference. For example, after finding out that Bethany House is closed to sci-fi, I was feeling pretty glum. Part of it was a death of a dream -- for six years now, one of my daydreams has been to add to Bethany's impressive sci fi resume with my own trilogy. It was kind of hard to see that dream die. Part of it was also frustration with myself for not doing my homework and wasting one appointment. So as I'm feeling blue and rather down on myself and my story, I walked into my Early Bird appointment.

The Early Bird session at ACFW was a definite plus. Colleen Coble and Deborah Raney led this session. Basically the idea was that authors could send them their works-in-progress and have them critique what they were doing. Then in the actual session, we would discuss each others stories and brainstorm about how to pump up the conflict, where to take the stories, that sort of thing. Some of us signed up for small group brainstorming sessions and mine was on Friday afternoon.

So there I am, trudging into hospitality suite 1239, feeling pretty down on myself and my writing. I sit down and the first words out of Deborah and Colleen's mouths were, "We loved this story!" It perked me right up and kept me going.

The same sort of thing happened on Saturday. I had a paid critique with Bryan Davis. He basically "bled all over" the first twelve pages of my book and pointed out some problematic areas. But he too liked the concept of the story and our chat was a great boost for me.

Fourth, I now find myself at a sort of crossroads. Sort of. The one thing I took away from the conference about the current Christian market is the fact that it's pretty much closed to sci-fi. That's not to say that it'll be closed forever but it certainly is right now. That seems to be the bad news. The good news is that while very few Christian publishing houses are looking for fantasy, they won't automatically slam their doors to it either.

So what do I do? I have a Christian sci-fi trilogy, The Leader's Song, that is pretty much complete (the second and third books need some hammering; the first, just some polishing). I've been mulling over another sci-fi book that I'm tentatively calling The Dragon's Heart. While at the conference, I had another sci-fi idea that needs quite a bit of work but could be fun. So I guess on the one hand, I can continue to write books that may never sell.

On the other hand, I do have one or two fantasy ideas that aren't Christian. I've been mulling over one of them for two or three years now and I think I may be ready to start writing it soon. I wish there was some way to inject some Christianity into it, but honestly, I'm not sure how I could. I do have an idea for a fantasy trilogy but that still needs quite a bit of brainstorming to get ready and I'm a bit hesitant to do that.

On the third hand, part of me thinks the way to go is to ditch sci-fi and fantasy for a while. I started a speculative biography about Joesph Caiaphas about a year ago that kind of petered out. I also recently had an idea for a murder mystery set in Slovakia that could be kind of fun (but may not work; it depends upon what conditions in Slovakia were like during the Communist regime). I figured maybe I could make a shift into some different genres, try to get published there, and then go back to sci-fi if/when I become a more established writer. The problem with this is simple: I only have these two non-sci-fi/fantasy ideas. What do I do after these?

I'm really not sure what to do. Do I continue to stumble down the sci-fi path? Do I hop over to the fantasy path? Do I do a complete 180 and go down a path I've never really traveled before? Hmmmm. Well, if you're a reader of my blog or just stumbled on it on your way to something more interesting, please feel free to leave a comment or a suggestion.

Tomorrow I may post another dilemma I've been dealing with lately, namely the structure of The Leader's Song trilogy.


Jamison said...

Hey dude. Wow... that's quite a dilema. I guess one question I have is if you could shop your trilogy to regular Sci-Fi shops? Just because it's got a Christian theme to it shouldn't immediatly close doors should it?

I'm just thinking that if the Christian market isn't open to you then maybe, instead of trying to give them what they want, find a place that is willing to look at what you're writing from the sci-fi perspective, not the Christian angle. Just a thought anyway.

Shannon said...

I would suggest ... pray about it ... maybe even fast (yes, our writing really IS that important) ... and hear from God about it. Really. Do whatever He tells you to do.

Simple, yet not.

It was a huge privilege to mentor you during the conference, BTW ... and I greatly enjoyed just getting to hang out at odd moments. I'll be praying for you in all the real-life stuff going on ... do I ever relate to coming back and having to jump in with both feet!