Choosing the Next Writing Project

So this weekend, I finally re-read my novel that I started years ago and had planned to jump into finishing for my first completed novel, adding a B-plot from the point of view of the other nation involved. And the bones of the six and half chapters I have written are very good. The world I’ve created is rich in detail, and when I incorporate the mythos that I introduced in The Cephalopod Maid, it will be even more full.

Then last night, I had a dream that sparked an amazing story idea, one that is exciting and timely with metaphors to our modern education system and the progression of our society, one that is maybe more marketable due to the protagonist being a teenager. And now I’m wondering if I should follow the new idea and see where it leads or stick with my original plan and file the new one away with the many, many other novel ideas I have. I don’t know. Somehow this one feels more timely, a more urgent story begging for my attention, but my first novel is looking askance at me and asking why I’m going to shove it aside once again.

It is a tough decision to make, but one I need to make soon because I have to write SOMETHING soon. There are words in me waiting to come out. After spending time polishing and editing the last draft of my graphic novel, it feels like it has been way too long.

Penumbra – a Dark Modern Fairy Tale

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Penumbra by Kat Micari cover art


An urban fantasy story that will grip you and leave you wanting more.

Fed up with the dirty city and a disenchanting life as a fashion model, Beauty’s world is at least safe.  But the illusion of safety shatters the night that she frees herself from her self-imposed fears only to be thrust into the magical underbelly of the city, where forces that want to save humanity and evil beings that want to feed off humanity’s despair fight for balance and power.

Driven from both the comforts and the trappings of her old life, now hunted by a cadre of sinister, rat-faced business men, Beauty’s only hope is to join with a strange magical ally. Together, with the help of fae creatures in unlikely guises, they must seek out an enchanted, improbable artifact that can heal the city before evil tips the balance, once and for all.

This powerful coming-of-age fairy tale follows the path of a young heroine who chooses to take fate into her own hands for the first time in her life, and of the consequences that her choice has on the magical beings of the city.

Why This Story?

Penumbra started as a short story years ago, but the main character got into my head.  Beauty is my response against the many young heroines popular today that rely solely on other’s for their strength and happiness.  In this story, on this journey, Beauty is finding herself.  It’s as much an inner journey for her as it is a traditional fairy tale.

I also had lots of fun creating my own creatures of magic and fantasy and playing with traditional fairy tale tropes in a modern setting.  Part of the joy of being an independent author, for me, is being able to write a story the way it wants to be written, serving the characters and the plot rather than a preconceived market put on me by an outside person.  The result, in this case, is positive, and I have high hopes for my future work as well.

The Giveaway

In celebration of Discovery 4 at Discover Authors being my first round robin blog tour, and as it is my birthday month, I will be giving away three (3) ebooks.  You can enter in many ways, up to three times.  First – comment on this blog.  Second – link to either the Amazon or Smashwords page via social media, and either comment here or email or tweet at me that you have done so with the link to your site so I can follow you.  I’ll count two social media links as separate entries.  On August 20th (the day after this blog tour ends), I will do a drawing and announce the winners!

Penumbra is available at Smashwords and Amazon.

The Possibilities are Sometimes a Little Too Endless…

About a month ago, I began making a concentrated effort to meditate at least a few minutes every day.  And I have been successful at least 4 days out of the week.  So yay!  This is definite progress.  The mantra I had chosen for this renewed effort was “I am full of possibilities”.  Let me tell you, this mantra has worked in spades.  We’ve managed to make it so my husband was able to quit his evening job, I have an appointment next Tuesday to get regular freelance work for the next several months (making GOOD money too, for a change), and my brain has been dumping creative idea after creative idea on me.  I seriously have enough writing, art, and music material to keep me going for the next decade at least (and yes, notes have been made on all of them so I don’t forget any).  I’ve also had a potential career-changing idea come to me that would change our plans somewhat for life but allow us to be self-employed business owners within a set time frame and give me a skill set that there are literally only a handful of people in the world that are capable of providing.  This idea would take time away from other creative endeavors, but I might be okay with that.  I need to let it simmer some more.

But here’s the thing, my brain is being pulled in SO many directions right now that I am constantly being distracted.  I’m flitting from one task to another, my eye being caught by any shiny object or idea that comes across it, and that’s not where I need to be right now.  I need to be focusing on getting Penumbra out.  The draft is completely finished, the cover is designed, so I just really need to knuckle down and do the business side of the project.  I need to get set up on Smashwords and Amazon, I need to open an account on Goodreads, I need to format the manuscript.  I need to tweak each of my pages, and then I need to move on to the print version.  But because my inner artist is in “new idea” stage, I’m rebelling against myself, and I end up wanting to sit and make music playlists or plan meals rather than do ANYTHING creative or business work-related.

To focus in, I’m going to give myself tonight to sit and play.  Afterwards, I’ll tackle some mending that I can do in front of the TV and relax.  Tomorrow we’ll do our household chores before having guests over for dinner, and I will write up a plan, and Sunday I will knuckle down and do the tweaking and formatting that I haven’t been able to bring myself to do.  I think I need to turn my creative brain off for a bit, so I’m putting my illustrations on hold until I get to the point of uploading my novella, which will enable me to hopefully be finishing and formatting the poetry collection while I’m waiting for the print version of the Penumbra.  And then I can start writing again.  Working this day job and trying to carve out what time I can means I can’t easily slip between creative and business brain, so I’m not even going to try.  I’ll still sketch and play piano and sing and continue writing morning pages, but I can’t commit my brain to more than that.

I also need a new mantra for my meditation over the next few weeks.  One that will allow me to focus in.  Any ideas?

Independent Verses Traditional Publishing

Many of my fellow writer friends and acquaintances are chasing the traditional publishing dream: query agents, get representation, sell to publisher, get success.  They acknowledge the growth of the self-pub and indie-pub movement and keep that in their back pockets as “Plan B”, and after a length of time chasing after an agent, many then dip their feet into this world.

The risk to this approach is that when you finally approach the self-publishing venture, you are already half-questioning your work.  Was I really not good enough to get an agent or am I just not marketable to them right now?  Is my work any good?  And after you release your book to the world and let the internet know via Facebook and Twitter, you can get dismayed and disappointed by the lack of sales, which only furthers your self-doubt.

I, instead, am embracing wholeheartedly the world of independent artist/entrepreneur.  I told my husband as we started our arts business together that I wanted to build an empire with him.  We both like to have control over every step of the process.  I don’t want an agent telling me that a story is too short or too long, or should have pink sparkling monkeys instead of purple striped otters.  I don’t want someone else choosing my cover art for me.  And I don’t want someone else setting my price point.  I’d rather release my work (after making sure that it’s the best possible work I can do and checking it very thoroughly for errors) and build my momentum slowly.  Make mistakes now before I’m in a partnership with anyone else.  And if the opportunity should arise for me to work with an agent or publisher, I will have the confidence of my previous indie published work behind me and will approach our relationship with that confidence, rather than gratefully accepting the crumbs that may be tossed my way (something I did for my first year out of grad school in another arts career – just grateful for a job, any job, to call myself a professional, until I realized I was only averaging $5 an hour).

I’m not saying my way is the right way or the only way, but it is the right way for me.  And if you are someone who is choosing to attempt the traditional publishing route, really ask yourself some difficult questions.  Are you only attempting to find an agent because you are looking for outside validation of the worth of your story?  Your ability to find an agent shouldn’t be the be all, end all of your attempts at writing.  And alternatively, if you are toying with the idea of self-publishing, are you prepared to do the legwork to get your story noticed?  Simply sharing to your 500 closest friends on Facebook and Twitter is not going to get you up the Amazon lists.

There are many paths to follow in our quest to share our creations with the world.  Keep an open mind, don’t close any doors, but be smart about your strengths and your flaws, and be honest with yourself.