A novel idea

I began work on Dreamdarkers several years ago, first written as a blog experiment—a daily post that served as a chapter in a short story.  That wee bit of fun promptly took on a life of its own.  Now this long while later it has finally reached maturity, at least in the sense that any writer can achieve: no one ever completes a work of poetry or prose, but rather they abandon it, for to do otherwise is to spend eternity on a single piece.  At some point a writer must walk away from it lest they tweak and edit and modify and redact until death.

Thus The Breaking of Worlds Book I: Dreamdarkers has reached its age of abandonment.  The story must continue, something it can only do if I move on to the next book in the series.  (Not to mention unrelated books I want to write!)

But finishing a book opens a whole world of drama for a writer.  In the archaic world of publishing, one must find an agent, then a publisher, then jump through hoops trying to make the book “acceptable” for publication.  And in making it acceptable for publication, the work becomes something other, something else, something new, for it no longer is what the author wrote but instead is what a publisher accepts.

Does it need to be that way?  Therein lies the question of the hour.

In pondering how I might handle Dreamdarkers (because, by golly, I want to get the story told, a long story, a story that only begins with this book), I’ve decided to toss out some random thoughts on what I’ve considered beyond the entrenched mode of publishing a book.  Not that I mind jumping through hoops to get published, but crowd-sourcing opinions never hurts.

Publishing through the existing industry means perhaps a good advance and not worrying about distribution and marketing and the like.  It’s also painful.

So let me tell you what I’ve been considering…

Whether daily or every other day, post a chapter of the novel here on my blog.  The first three chapters would be posted as public, available for everyone to see and read.

When it’s time to post the fourth chapter, allow people to decide if they want to continue reading it.  If they do, they can pay for it.

Paying for it means they can continue reading it here on my blog, but they can also receive either a printed copy or an electronic copy as well.  This provides a more comfortable reading experience while also allowing purchasers to remain involved in whatever comments conversation is happening on each post.

It’s that simple.

No, it wouldn’t give me a big advance, but it would get the series started, give people a try-before-you-buy opportunity by reading the first three chapters for free, and it would let me move on to the next book instead of tinkering with this one while I look for an agent and publisher.

Yes, I understand the financial implications of going this route.  I also understand what print-on-demand and e-book publication mean with regards to income and brick-and-mortar (bookstore) availability.

But honestly, the publishing industry is too entrenched, too good-ol’-boy, too slow.

And son of a gun, I want to tell some stories!  I want to share!  I want others to read what my imagination keeps creating.

So from an orbital level, how does this sound?  Too silly?  Too limited?  Or what?

Please be honest and forthcoming.  Tell me what you think.  I’d like to move forward as quickly as possible.  I want to keep writing.

Ambush in the Piney Woods

Deep in the Piney Woods of East Texas, late instars of the buck moth caterpillar (Hemileuca maia) have begun wandering.  Covered with hollow spines attached to poison sacs, they represent one of the fewer than twenty North American caterpillar species capable of stinging, though buck moth larvae do not inflict the kind of harm that southern flannel moths deliver.  Despite that, they remain well protected by their chemical defenses.

Close-up of a black buck moth caterpillar (Hemileuca maia) crawling on sand (IMG_1102)

Variations in color do not hide the telltale white dots or the prominent spines; as aposematic warnings go, these are sufficient for predators to know the danger involved should they grab one of the caterpillars.

Close-up of a buck moth caterpillar (Hemileuca maia) crawling in the sand (IMG_1128)

But the second-growth woods of East Texas offer more than the usual hunters, more than those who must deal with poisonous weapons covering the insects.  Yes, deep in the Piney Woods an ambush has been set for the buck moth caterpillar, and the perpetrators have no fear of these natural weapons.

A buck moth caterpillar (Hemileuca maia) being attacked by two spined soldier bug nymphs (Podisus maculiventris) (IMG_1350)

Small enough to slip in under the caterpillar’s defenses, spined soldier bug nymphs (Podisus maculiventris) lie in wait on a tree limb as a lone caterpillar ventures forth, a wanderer from this usually gregarious clan.  And upon that limb, one predatory stink bug at the rear and one in front, the buck moth larva realizes too late that its built-in protection offers little help against attackers who can move beneath the spines and who target the insect’s undefended underside.

Close-up of a spined soldier bug nymph (Podisus maculiventris) on a tree limb (IMG_1349)

Each nymph, not yet an adult, knows to keep its proboscis extended, a weapon and feeding tube always ready to pierce the soft flesh of the caterpillar.  They move in, stab, eat, move back when the insect flails in the false hope that it can defeat this ambush.  Its only escape is to let go of the branch and fall to the ground, but it cannot reason well enough to know that.  So it stands its ground against the marauders, feeling each stab in its legs and belly, whipping its abdomen and head from time to time but accomplishing nothing.

A buck moth caterpillar (Hemileuca maia) being attacked by two spined soldier bug nymphs (Podisus maculiventris) (IMG_1341)

When I leave behind this scene of nature’s amoral persistence, the bugs have once again attacked the caterpillar’s legs, one at the end and one nearer the front.  For its part, the caterpillar sits still, then flails, then sits still, then tries to escape, a cycle that repeats without effect, for the ambush is unending, unflinching, unyielding.  So long as they remain on the small branch, the attackers will prevail.

Deep in the Piney Woods of East Texas, death is a way of life, a way to survive, and chemical defenses mean little when an ambush strikes when and where you are most vulnerable.  Yes, deep in the Piney Woods an ambush plays out, and one dies so two may live.


Over the next several days this site will move to a new host.  Though I hope to make the transition as smooth as possible, I make no guarantees as to a lack of hiccups.  Mainly because I’m moving several sites at once, but also because I’m moving to a different hosting service.

Besides, one should never understimate Murphy’s Law, especially when an opportunity exists for several things to go wrong at once.

Hopefully after the move I can focus a bit more on blogging rather than the technology behind it.  I’ve taken a plethora of photographs since moving to East Texas in early February.  Now that spring has sprung, a veritable feast of photographic subjects fill each day.  I want to share that with you, along with news about my novels and other writing projects.