A writer’s reflections . . .

My silly boy loves the binder

I’ve buckled down the hatches and have really been polishing up my SciFi manuscript. My printout revisions are complete, my rewrite of chapter one is done, and now all that remains to be done is implementing the printout edits into the electronic master copy. At this rate, I’ll be on schedule to finish and submit by the end of May/early June.

So far, the working title is “Heritage Lost,” and at this moment, it looks like that title will stick through to the submission process. I have to say I am relieved. To date, this project has been perhaps my most challenging. It was my first foray into SciFi; I started it after coming off my longtime fantasy series, meaning the characters were strangers to me; and did I say it was my first time writing science fiction! SciFi is hard. I don’t think enough people appreciate all the hard work writers of the genre put in to their pieces in order to create good science fiction.

Now don’t get me wrong, my novel is no where close to being hard SF (I admire writers who can pull off that category), but I still had to put in several hours to create believable planets, species, politics, cultures, technology, etc. that would not go beyond my readers’  suspension of disbelief.  And believability is something I hope I’ve achieved, though I will always second guess myself on that.

No, “Heritage Lost” finds itself squarely in the the soft SF category, focusing on societal issues and characters. Of the subgenres, it probably best fits social science fiction and feminist science fiction. It addresses some challenging topics, particularly loss of cultural identity, expansionism, war, terrorism, radicalization, and gender issues — particularly as the series progresses. They are topics I hope I handle well and with the gravity they deserve. One of my main aims when tackling them is to do so in terms that nothing is black and white. People make varying decisions for varying reasons: One person’s wrong is another person’s right.

“Heritage Lost,” as its title hints, deals more with the loss of cultural, even personal, identity than the other themes, which grow as the series progresses. The main character’s personal and cultural identity is a mystery to her, lost in a war she’s too young to remember. Her lack of a past, which she’s ignored for a long time, is dredged up after she rescues a toddler who now finds himself in a similar situation. Along the way, she finds herself losing another identity, her home, her career, and her future.

I’m very hopeful this novel will be able to break into the publishing world, but I realize luck and timing will have to be on my side. I plan to try the traditional route, but I am also intrigued by the indie approach. Stories of success, like “Wool,” make self-publishing seem very tantalizing. “Wool,” for those unfamiliar with it, started as a standalone short story written by Hugh Howey, who later expanded the premise into a series. It became widely popular and was eventually picked up by Simon & Schuster while its movie rights were purchased by 20th Century Fox. And topping it off, Howey still retains full rights to his work, meaning he can still distribute it online. Who wouldn’t want to maintain rights and creative direction of their book?!

Creative freedom and maintaining full rights is very appealing, and I think that would be my main reason for choosing self-publishing, if I go that route. However, I have eight potential leads for the traditional method. First I’m going to submit the book to one of the biggest publishers of the genre. I probably have a snowflakes chance in hell of being accepted there, but I figure shoot high. My list also contains some smaller presses, too.

 I don’t know how many I will query, especially since the draw of self-publishing is growing. But I figure, take one step at a time: It will all work out in the end.

Published by smwright

Sarah Wright is the author of The Heritage Lost Series and several other works of speculative fiction. Professionally, she works as a staff writer and editor at a newspaper/magazine company. She enjoys interweaving her love of history into her writing, even in the most fantastic settings.

12 thoughts on “A writer’s reflections . . .

    1. Thanks, D! And you are not alone! I have major respect for hard SF writers, but I think it would do me in if I attempted it. Are you currently working on a project, too?

      1. Yes. I have a YA scifi trilogy and am working on the last book. (The hardest one…) I’m piddling around with a light western style steam punk novella. Worried it will turn into a full blown novel…

      2. Best luck on wrapping up your YA trilogy! And I can appreciate, I’m expecting this series to get tougher as I go >_<. Oh! The western steam punk novella sounds awesome. I love things with a western feel to them; it's probably why I love Firefly so much. Hehe, yeah, I've given up trying to write novellas: They ALWAYS end up as novels … just like my standalone novels always end up as series.

  1. Awesomeness! So excited to hear your progress. I’m confident whichever route you go by the book will be well-received.

    Btw. I can’t believe how much like Mr. Beefy your cat looks in that photo!

    1. I’ll have to let you know when it comes out! (Though if I end up self-publishing it, I will be in need of honest reviewers to whom I will give free electronic copies of it.) I would let you have a read presently, but I’m at the stage in the revision process where I start closing the door in order to get it ready for submissions; otherwise I’d never get it submitted, lol.

    1. Thanks for your interest, Shannon :-). Currently, the book is in it’s final revision phase: I’m just waiting for my last reader to get her revisions back to me (she’s been experiencing a few real life setbacks — it happens — but is on the downhill side of it) as I input my print-out revisions. I hope to still have it submitted by early July. I’m starting big, even though I don’t like the wait for this one publisher; however, I believe go big or stay home ;-). After them, I have a couple more lined up to try.

      And on P.P.S., thanks! Marinus is my big baby, follows me all over the place and likes to ride on my shoulders (really regret training him to want to do that >_<). His sisters can be as bad (all hand-reared after finding them in the goat pasture; think mommy died), but he has the most love, lol.

      1. Go big or go home – yes exactly! Why not start at the top? 🙂

        Awww cats on shoulders is the GREATEST thing. I used to have a cat who would lounge on my back occasionally. And I had another cat who would literally climb my pant leg with his claws when he wanted to be held. The cutest, most painful thing ever 😀

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