It’s Not Long Enough
It’s been about two years since I decided to get back into the writing game again.
I’d started writing young, when I was in fourth grade. Through junior high and high school, I’d written short stories, then part of a novel, and then another one. And then somehow it had drifted away from me on a tide of rejections and indifference from one publisher after another.
I went on with my life, every now and then taking a stab at the whole writing thing again. But every time I started up, I’d hit a road block:
—I wasn’t good enough.
—No one wanted what I was writing.
—My writing muscles had atrophied after so much time.
—I just… couldn’t.
Then something shifted. I had just gotten derailed once again and was complaining about it when my husband, Mark, gave me a serious dose of reality. If I wasn’t writing, he said, it was my own damned fault. I had no one to blame but myself. And the hell of it was, he was right.
So I started over again.
This time, I gave myself permission to be a failure. I allowed myself to write whatever came out, and to not prejudge it. And I went back and looked at some of my earlier work.
A lot of it was crap. But some of it was pretty damned good.
So I worked on exercising my writing muscles again, starting with short stories and scanning the MM publisher sites for upcoming anthologies that were accepting submissions. I was rejected by three of them. But one of them sold.
Then another, and another.
I decided to go longer, and started writing novellas. The first one was rejected for an anthology, but the publisher came back to me and asked me to resubmit it as a stand-alone. I did, and a day later, they accepted it.
I became more comfortable in my own writing skin, and wrote and sold another novella, and then another. And then the reviews started to come in.
They were pretty unanimous. “I liked the story. But it should have been longer.” They wanted to see more development of the storyline and the characters. At first, I was depressed. Then my friends pointed out that they wanted more!
And so I went longer.
The Autumn Lands is my longest story yet, clocking in at 35k. And while I have a couple more novellas in the pipeline that I wrote in late 2014 and early 2015, my next two efforts will both be both novellas. One of them I wrote for NaNo, and the other I’ve been working on for quite a while. I’m starting to get comfortable writing in the longer forms
I hope that my latest efforts will satisfy all the fiction size queens out there.
After all, size does matter.
Publisher: Mischief Corner Books
Author: J. Scott Coatsworth
Cover Artist: Freddy MacKay
Format: eBook, Paperback
Release Date: 1/27/16
Jerrith is running. Kissed by an elf, he can’t remain in his hometown of Althos any more. Not that he wanted to stay.
Caspian still hasn’t figured out why he kissed Jerrith, but he’s running too. Since he was exiled from the Autumn Lands, his past has been hazy, and his future uncertain.
But when a stray memory brings things into focus, the two decide to run toward something together. What they uncover will change how they see the world, and themselves, forever.
Rough hands hauled Cas away from the Vandris youth and out into the lamp-lit square of the little ramshackle town. He struggled, twisting back and forth, and got in a good punch to one of the men’s pug-nosed faces before they pushed him down to the hard cobblestone street, knocking the wind out of him.
“Twisted little Nevris bastard,” one of the men snarled above him as he struggled to draw a breath. He backed up against a lamp pole, but there was no escaping the bastards. His mind raced. How had he let himself get so distracted by the Vandris boy? Even now, as Cas watched the youth run away into the darkness, he was more concerned with the other’s safety than his own.
A punch to his gut brought him back to his current predicament. If he’d had his knife out of his carry sack…
Instead, he retreated into himself. Physical pain isn’t real, Jorrim, his trainer, had told him more than once. It’s just a sensation. If you know how, you can turn it off.
Emotional pain was another matter altogether.
He shut down and found relief even as the brute townsmen beat him, kicking his legs and ribs and punching his face over and over.
He felt none of it, floating on a calm internal sea while the storm raged outside. He gave them no satisfaction for their efforts, and eventually they gave up.
He felt his body being dragged away. To the gallows, he supposed, but in his detached state he couldn’t bring himself to care.
They dumped his body onto another hard surface. Metal clanged against metal.
After that, he was aware of nothing else but his dreams.
The hills of the Autumn Lands stretched out before Cas as far as he could see, each one different from the others but blending in to make a harmonious whole, a tapestry of reds and golds and fire-orange. In the distance, the waters of the Marrowmere glistened in the afternoon sunlight. His ultimate destination.
He was eighteen, the age of majority in the Autumn Lands, and he’d been sent out of Seasuir to the lake to be shown his destiny, just like every child of the royal line was. Cas’s father and grandfather before him had done the same.
He pulled his bow off his shoulder and sighted a dove flying over the next hill. With deadly accuracy, he loosed an arrow and brought it down. Along with the rambleberries he’d collected during the day, he’d at least have something to eat tonight.
He slipped down the hill into the next valley to retrieve his kill.
Something brought Cas out of his dreams. His body ached all over, and his ribs were especially sore from the beating he’d taken in the street. He would heal—if he lived long enough—and faster than these Vandris.
There it was again, the sound that had awakened him. He sat up in the dark room—a cell, he assumed—and winced at the pain that pierced his side. He reached up to touch his face in the darkness. There was dried blood there. He must look a fright.
He managed to get to his feet with some effort, ignoring the pain in his legs, and quietly paced his way around the cell. On one side there was a high window covered with metal bars, no more than two handlengths wide—the golden moon shone through, giving him enough light to see the rough edges of the small space. The cell was bounded on three sides by dark rock and mortar walls; with his hands, he could feel the cement that held the rough stones together.
The fourth side was a wall of metal bars. He followed them up and down with his hands; they were set firmly into the stone and there was no moving them. There was a heavy lock holding the door to his cell closed.
He was well and truly trapped.
Mischief Corner Books (info only): http://www.bookstrand.com/the-autumn-lands
Scott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.
Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”
Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi (http://www.queerscifi.com) site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.