Oh gosh, has it really been a whole month already? Things are still kinda crazy here at Central, and we’re working on it amidst personal woes (financial, mostly) and emotional (ridiculous levels of “stage fright” – more on that in a moment.)
Where Are the Stories, Huh?
In a nutshell, we changed our original plan. Originally the goal was to have a couple of stories done by mid-May and posted on this here site. For a variety of reasons this turned out to be a really naive plan. So here’s what’s happened in the last month.
Our first story, “The First Law of Customer Service” was fully completed, but an opportunity came along that was rare and unexpected – we received a tip from a friend that her friend was looking for robot stories for an upcoming anthology about robot rebellions – said friend wasn’t interested in the topic herself, but would be willing to put forward another story to the editor of the anthology if she liked it. Our friend encouraged us to submit one of our stories. So we sent along “First Law” back in April. The story has been very well-received so far, and the process of submitting to the anthology is going on – at the typical snail’s pace of conventional publication.
Unfortunately what this means is that we can’t post it here, at all, due to that pesky “first publication rights” thing. And because of the snail’s pace of the process, it may be a long time before that story finally sees the light of day. Given the rarity of the opportunity, though, we thought we’d be fools not to try it out, and we’re learning a lot about the process of ‘proper’ story submission and editing along the way
Yeah, that friend we sent the story to? Turns out to be a Nebula Award nominee. Who likes our stuff enough to kindly let us know we’re ready for publication.
No pressure or anything.
So, Now What?
So that brings us to story #2, which is currently under the working title of “Party“, and will probably get a final name later. This story has been revised three times so far and is still half-finished, because we were not happy with the original raw draft and second draft, and felt that the story didn’t properly represent the underlying themes of this concept. However, this story is not going to be sent through normal publication – once it’s finished, it’ll be posted here. We’re shooting for end of May with this one as an absolute drop-dead. We absolutely recognize that the site needs stories, and that without stories there are no readers!
“Party” predominantly features Singularity’s Security Chief, Shell, one of our lead characters for the overall ‘verse, and a human reporter/mild adversary named Angel Martinez. Here’s a sample of the text in progress:
I really hate parties.
Shell, the Security Chief of Singularity, was getting tired. He’d already been at this “party” nonsense for the better part of a day — endless small talk and handshakes and smile smile smile with high-up mucketymucks he knew saw him as some kind of curiosity at best — and at this point all he wanted to do was sneak out for some fresh air and a hasty drag on a fuel bottle. He was tired of wearing clothing over his armor (ridiculous; he looked like one of those pets dressed up in sweaters, he thought) and he was tired of walking the floor scanning for threats and he was really, really tired of being stared at.
He missed the smell of ozone and oil in the LRS barracks; he missed the ocean air washing through the streets. He felt like he was trapped in a box full of sharp, pointy edges. It was so easy to make a mistake and say the wrong thing in a crowd like this, and he wasn’t the most politically correct helot to start with.
VIPs from Defense, aerospace designers, invited helot notables and reps from a half-dozen major manufacturers mingled, ate and drank around him without a care in the world, celebrating the new prototype and changing the course of history with their chatter. But Shell didn’t live in their world; he only suffered from it — from their plastic smiles, their turncoat decisions, their politics. And yet he was designed and duty-bound to defend them.
At least the presentation phase and the endless official speeches were over; he was glad for that. Shell’s backlit blue eyes shifted left and right as he worked the floor, moving around in the crowd while avoiding floating drink trays covered with data-cocktails and human liqueurs. He scanned the group of mingling notables for the seventeenth time of the night. Privacy rights violation- deep scanning not permitted, warned a system popup that Shell promptly overrode under his own authority. Nothing: bones and muscle, lightweight endoskeletons and synthskin, a few access implants in the humans, all green.
Root was there, dressed in immaculately tailored Prada black, small but powerful, animatedly chattering with a knot of military officials. Shell’s gaze settled on the First (the superhelot, the original prototype, the Governor, my friend) for a long moment. Root was completely at ease in these kinds of high-powered settings; he had been literally made for them, after all. He was totally at ease, remembering everyone’s names, stopping often to talk, always friendly and available. Now and then, he’d place a light touch on a man’s shoulder, issue a gesture of invitation toward chair or table, or pull someone aside for a discreet murmur. Shell envied Root’s effortless grace. That was the difference between First and Second — little things so easy to get wrong, a hair’s breadth of distance in their programming and capacity that felt like an uncrossable chasm to the Second.
Root fit in with the humans. Shell didn’t, and he knew it.
Story #3 is in outline form. It’s going to be set in New York, during the time when Shell was in the NYPD under an experimental pilot program, and will dig deeply into the cause of a string of mysterious suicides committed by one particular subtype of helots. Call it a disastrous “love story”. It will delve further into the relationship between two of the original helot prototypes, and why they carry grudges against each other at the present time. We’ll also meet Shell’s mechanic and street partner Andrew, and meet the rogue prototype “8″.
Since it’s taking us longer to write these pieces than we thought, due to perfectionism and stage fright and other issues, we’re delaying any sort of fundraising until we have at least these two stories complete for the offering. Both are turning out to be substantial efforts and much longer pieces than we originally thought they’d be. So we’re sorry that it’s been this long with no updates! We actually are still working against an intense real-life situation, but that’s no real excuse.
Self-publish or Conventional Publish?
We’ve talked to a few people and read a lot of different opinions about this. On the one hand we’ve been told that self-publishing is actually a better deal than conventional publication because of the reduced amount of support conventional publishers give authors, as well as the dramatically extended timeline between authorship and final market appearance. On the other, we’ve read that self-published authors have a greater chance of success when they already have an established name through conventional publishing. Which way to jump? Our decision was to split right down the middle. Short single stories like “First Law” are ideal to send off into the conventional mill, but we’re in a situation where we have about 30 days at a time before we lose our apartment. So we decided that some material would go one way and some the other.
We want to keep creative control over the primary characters and concepts of Singularity – that’s been one of our more critical reasons to look at self-publication. We are not sure that conventional publications will even be interested in this universe- and we don’t necessarily want to wait to share it with you. We can get material out to you much faster and retain more control doing it ourselves. The tradeoff is, of course, that it’s much harder, that it requires certain extra outlays, that it will take a lot more effort to get it into the eyes and e-readers of a potential audience. But we are going to consider looking at working with a small press as well, once we have a full bulk up of material enough to do an anthology-type book. We are not interested in ‘vanity’ publication, nor necessarily print-on-demand models. Our stories will be looked at by multiple editors before going live and at some point we’re going to purchase a block of ISBN numbers. This is the project we’ve been waiting our whole lives to do. It’s too important to us to not do it the way we see it.
So stick with us – we appreciate the patience and your support.
We’ll be back with more real soon!