June 18, 2017

WRITING ADVICE: What Do You Do When A Famous Writer Has A Book Published Whose “World” Idea Is VERY SIMILAR To One You Had?

In September of 2007, I started this blog with a bit of writing advice. A little over a year later, I discovered how little I knew about writing after hearing children’s writer, Lin Oliver speak at a convention hosted by the Minnesota Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Since then, I have shared (with their permission) and applied the writing wisdom of Lin Oliver, Jack McDevitt, Nathan Bransford, Mike Duran, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, SL Veihl, Bruce Bethke, and Julie Czerneda. Together they write in genres broad and deep, and have acted as agents, editors, publishers, columnists, and teachers. Since then, I figured I’ve got enough publications now that I can share some of the things I did “right” and I’m busy sharing that with you.

While I don’t write full-time, nor do I make enough money with my writing to live off of it...neither do all of the professional writers above...someone pays for and publishes ten percent of what I write. When I started this blog, that was NOT true, so I may have reached a point where my own advice is reasonably good. We shall see! Hemingway’s quote above will now remain unchanged as I work to increase my writing output and sales! As always, your comments are welcome!

Let me just say that this is weird because it happened to me before.

Many years ago, I had an idea and approached a publisher. It had to do with writing a fictional account of an historic incident with which I was familiar. After researching and writing for over a year, I approached an editor. She was very excited with the story. We worked together and then suddenly this book was published: https://www.amazon.com/Firestorm-Adventures-Time-Neubert-Schultz/dp/0876142765/ref=la_B001JRZJLS_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1497730292&sr=1-1

The editor I was working with said that wouldn’t matter, but the fact is that the book died and I was the holder of a paper manuscript that wasn’t worth anything. (I WILL say that the same editor bought a short story that I wrote – and bought a sidebar as well: https://shop.cricketmedia.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/small_image/166x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/c/r/cricket-magazine-july-2001.jpg)

Of course, the history of the Great Hickley Fire was there for the taking and there was nothing I could do to prove that I’d had the idea first – even if that could have been verified. It was just a weird coincidence that where that book's main character was named Maggie, my main character's name was Megan...

And now it appears to have happened again. Many years ago, I wrote the story, “Oath” that took place in a world very like the one presented in Brenda Cooper’s novel, WILDERS: “Coryn Williams has grown up in the megacity of Seacouver, where her every need is provided for—except satisfaction with her life. After her parents' suicides, her sister Lou fled the city to work on a rewilding crew, restoring lands once driven to the brink of ecological disaster by humans to a more natural state. Finally of age, Coryn leaves the city with her companion robot to look for her sister. But the outside world is not what she expects—it is rougher and more dangerous, and while some people help her, some resent the city and some covet her most precious resource: her companion robot. As Coryn struggles toward her sister, she uncovers a group of people with a sinister agenda that may endanger Seacouver. When Coryn does find her sister, Lou has secrets she won't share. Can Coryn and Lou learn to trust each other in order to discover the truth hidden behind the surface and to save both Seacouver and the rewilded lands?”

Here’s my story: http://www.stupefyingstoriesshowcase.com/0130826/0130826-40.html (published in 2013). Certainly not identical in any way, but the concept of people jammed into megacities and allowing the rest of the world to “go wild” again is similar enough to be…creepy.
So, to satisfy myself, I’ll give you the timeline that led to my stories.

I belonged to a blog group called THE FRIDAY CHALLENGE. Here’s the original challenge that sparked my idea: http://thefridaychallenge.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2010-03-14T08:00:00-05:00

I didn’t win that competition, but both Bruce Bethke and Henry Vogel had nice things to say about it – and offered me another challenge. http://thefridaychallenge.blogspot.com/2010/04/and-winner-of-greater-challenge-is.html

That’s where “Oath” came from.

Noodling around in that same world led next to another story published in PERIHELION MAGAZINE called “Invoking Fire” (no longer available online) and may lead to more stories because it’s really the first chapter of a YA quest novel. Another story that took place in the world I call Vertical Villages and Return To The Wild, was “Technopred”. In it, I postulate that our technological development has forced the evolution of intelligence in animals. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC seemed to think so as well when they produced “Raccoon Nation” (Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpAw5bDrw5w) You can also read my story here: http://aurorawolf.com/2013/05/guy-stewart/

Others are unpublished, but they’re there. I’ve also slotted other stories of mine into the same Universe that comes out of the Vertical Village Movement. In fact, a novel I’m shopping around, OUT OF THE DEBTOR STARS has major plot twists that take place in the MSP Vertical Village.

So – a question to the great “outdoors” – should I be worried or not?

Image: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/9f/22/3b/9f223b1e57a36e14db3eb13715fbe3f9.jpg

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