Taking a Writing Staycation

I finished proofreading my book Friday night. I’d dance for joy, but it’s too damn hot. Here in Tennessee, we’re still over 100 degrees every day, and we only have two window air conditioners going in our house because our central unit broke (I daresay running almost continually was just too much for it). Currently, at 5:00 PM, it’s 90 degrees in the kitchen. Who will cook dinner has now become a serious argument in our house. Meals are sometimes skipped altogether.

Anyways, I told myself that I would take a vacation from my book for a week before I start in on the task of formatting it for e-book. (I also know that I’ll read through it one more time, looking for more typos). In fact, I may take off two weeks.

But don’t think I’ll be lying in a hammock outside, sipping pina coladas. (Way too hot for the hammock, although I’d never turn down a pina colada.) No, I have a list of writing chores to do during my “vacation.” (I only said I’d take a week off from my book, not from the rest of my writing.)

While I was in the editing zone this weekend, I went ahead and proofed a novella I’ve had sitting around for a few months. And despite having already made multiple covers for it, I made one more last night and decided I liked it the best.

So, my chore list for the next two weeks is:

1. Get my website fully functional. I have a skeletal version up, but I’m having trouble with some of the pictures loading and I just can’t get it to cooperate on dial-up. So I’ll have to stay late at work some evenings to beat it into submission.

2. Publish The Widow on Amazon and Smashwords. This requires that I actually study Smashwords’ style guide and apply it. Of course, this is also practice for my book, since I’ll have to do all the same things to it.

3. Go back and format “Vampire Lawyers” to comply with Smashwords’ style guide. While you can download the first volume from Smashwords, it’s only available on Smashwords. If I make it comply with the guidelines, there is the possibility that it will appear other places–like on Apple’s store, Barnes & Nobles, Amazon (I can’t list it on Amazon for free myself), etc.

4. Create the second volume of Vampire Lawyers and get it up on Smashwords.

I wasn’t kidding when I said my writing is a part-time job–bordering on full-time. I just hope, after three years, I can start making it pay. We sure would like to get a new air conditioner.

6 comments on “Taking a Writing Staycation

  1. Wallace says:

    Sounds like you’ve got a plan. Sorry about your dead central AC, mine has been dead for some time and I have to get by with just a window unit in the bedroom and a window unit in the livingroom. I’ve got a heat pump and the outside unit died. The rough cost of fixing it is around $2,000 so I think I’ll suffer along with the $99 window units from Wal-Mart for a while longer. They’re not really too bad, one keeps the bedroom in the low 70s all day long and the one in the living room keeps it below 80 most of the time. I did have to shut off the other rooms, tho, since the window unit is only 5050 btu and is too small to do more than one room. If you’ve got a spare $99 plus tax, you might look into buying another window unit from Wal-Mart to keep the kitchen temperatures at least in the low 80s.

    Glad to hear you’ve finished your proofing of your novel, I’m sure that takes a load off your mind. And glad to see you’ve finished your work on your novella, The Widow, and are ready to put it out there for sale too. It might bring in enough money to help pay for your web site and keep it updated for some years to come.

    Let me know, or, more precisely, put it on your blog, when the second volume of The Vampire Lawyer is on Smashwords. I’ve got volume one on my Nook and I’m looking forward to getting volume two there as well. I’ve already read them on line, but a I like having the set in one easy to read place I can get to without having to go online. Have you decided how many episodes you plan to write, or will it just go on forever until you get tired of it or resolve all his problems, as if that would ever happen. I guess you could just go on till you crank out 100,000 words or so and then just publish it as a novel, sort of like they did in the late 19th C. when most fiction was serialized in the weekly press.

    • Keri Peardon says:

      Right now, there’s no end in sight for Vampire Lawyers. I have a few future episodes already written and more in my head–probably enough, all together, to take us through the end of the year. I suppose I’ll end it when I get tired of it and can’t think of anything else to write.

      And, yes, the idea for it was based on Victorian penny dreadfuls. I’ve been reading Varney the Vampire (free from Goggle eBooks), which has something like 82 chapters. When I’m done with it, I’m thinking about re-writing it to make it more palatable for modern audiences. The story is actually pretty good, but the 19th century language is dense and it goes on too long.

      I thought about rewriting it to a modern setting (it was published in 1846, but the setting is actually 1746), but so much of the plot depends on women fainting and men dueling that I don’t think I can translate it into modern times without altering it more than I want to. I think I might bring the characters forward to the Victorian period–which is where most people expect them to be, given the original publication date–but otherwise leave the plot and setting alone and just make it read easier for a modern audience.

  2. Wallace says:

    What a unique idea, taking a story from a century or more ago and rewriting it in a more modern voice, but leaving the plot the same. I’ve heard of it with people doing covers of songs, the same music and lyrics but interpreted in a new way. And it happens all the time with somebody taking an old movie or TV show and redoing it with a different cast and a more contemporary setting. I’ve even heard of people taking an old book and rewriting it with a different slant, like the person did with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. And I’ve even heard of people taking a very old book, like Beowulf or Canterbury Tales, and updating the language to modern diction and grammar so that modern audiences can read it. But I’ve never heard of someone taking a fairly modern novel and rewriting it so that it is more easily read by a modern audience.

    Admittedly, 1846 is not all that recent, but it is more or less contemporary with Dickens and Mark Twain, and they are both still read exactly as written. Even Frankenstein, which was published in 1818, is still read exactly as written. Of course, those are considered classics of literature and not penny dreadfuls, but Varney the Vampire is still in print and still being read.

    I’m not sure it’s really worth your time to go thru the whole book and rewrite it in a simpler and more straightforward style when you can’t really take credit for anything except as perhaps a “translator” from Victorian florid Romance to modern Victorian novel. Maybe if you rewrote it as more of a Victorian Steampunk novel with Gothic Horror overtones it might be more worth your time, but as a straight up retelling of the same story with the same plot and same characters, it just seems pointless except as a writing exercise one might do in a college literature class.

    • Keri Peardon says:

      But I don’t think it is being read very much. Yes, it’s available for free, but there aren’t many people like you and me who can plow through such dense Victorian fluff. Hell, there are a lot of young people who complain that Dracula is too dense and not exciting enough.

      Mind you, I’m not advocating someone rewrite Dracula, but Varney’s dense and overlong, even by Victorian standards. But at the same time, it seems to have an interesting plot, with lots of action, that I think modern readers would like. Not to mention it’s a historic piece of vampire literature–unless I’m misremembering, it’s the first reference ever to a vampire having fangs and biting someone. It’s something I think every vampire-lover should read, but most of them will never make it through.

      Even though I find it interesting, it’s taking me forever to read it. Of course it’s very, very long, but there are times when I don’t read more than one chapter because it bogs down on the minutia of duels or really bad dialog.

      • Wallace says:

        I can see your point, but would that story be anything you could actually make money on? The rewrite would be yours, but the plot, characters, and complete storyline would be in the public domain. Could you copyright your version since it would all be your new words, or would there be some unclearness due to the public domain character of the original story? I know the author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies used about 60% of the original novel word for word, but added in or substituted the other 40% of his own writing. It was never clear to me whether his copyright covered the whole new book, or just the 40% original material he wrote.

        I would imagine your rewrite would be the same, with some large percentage being original and the rest your own words, with a substantial portion of the original text deleted. If, tho, you summarize or replace every sentence with your own text, it would be 100% your own writing, but still not your own idea.

        And there’s the problem of what to call it and who to list as the author. You can’t just say it’s VtV and list the original author since you rewrote it. On the other hand, you can’t just list youself as the author since the entire plot is from the original author. I guess you’d have to resort to something like:

        Varney the Vampire, by James Malcolm Rymer and subsequently rewritten by Keri Peardon for a Modern Audience.

        Or maybe: Varney the Vampire, No Longer Long In the Tooth But With A Modern Bite.

        Or still yet: Varney, Vamping It Up In The 21st. Century.

        And even: Varney, Not Your Great Great Great Great Grandfathers Vampire.

        And Finally: Varney, The Cliff Notes Version.

      • Keri Peardon says:

        I don’t know about copyrighting what I do. There’s obviously not a problem with me rewriting it, since it’s long out of copyright. To be honest, that’s as far as I thought about it. I’ll have to do some digging to see if I can come up with an answer. I would think that I could copyright my version, because, as far as I know, abridged books can be copyrighted, and that’s what I’m doing.

        I don’t want to name it Varney the Vampire, or the Feast of Blood, because that just sounds silly now (and maybe it was silly then). So it would get a new title, although the subtitle would be something like, “A modern adaption of Varney the Vampire.” Although I do like “No Longer Long In the Tooth But With A Modern Bite,” lol.

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