Monday, August 16, 2021

I Decide to Publish on Kindle Vella

I don't know about other writers, but I think this is generally true--we get an idea and tuck it away for later. Later, of course, is a very fluid concept. Later can time out at a week, a month, or for me, over ten years. I don't even remember how long I've packed around the idea of how skateboards and anti-gravity technology would interact in the future. I've had the idea for a long time but haven't acted on it. And then Kindle Vella came along, and I decided to use that platform as a writing incentive for Grav Board, a serialized, episodic story about a teenager on an alien planet who likes to skateboard.

Here's the story description:
It was a brief, bloody war between the Wolfen and us--two planets destroyed along with a fleet of warships from each of our kind. Then sanity overcame aggression and a planet was chosen--Haven, a home for the diplomats and us, their kids. We were "gestures of good faith," hostages of a sort I guess. The Human and Wolfen kids were told to never interact, that we weren't old enough and smart enough to deal with First Contact issues. We nodded and said "yes," and of course, ignored them completely.

I've focused almost exclusively on blog and non-fiction writing for the last three years but have been wanting to get back into fiction. I had tried Wattpad some years back, another storytelling platform, but eventually threw in the towel. What I was writing didn't really match with the readers, I felt, but mostly in order to be successful on the platform, a lot of time had to be spent massaging the website to gain traction--more time than I was willing to spend. In my understanding, it was both a social and a publishing platform, and I wasn't either competent or inspired to spend the time at Wattpad necessary to highlight my writing.

I wanted to start writing fiction again, and this skateboarding story had always fascinated me--a blend of science fiction and growing up story, a story about friendship. The episodic nature of the platform suits my needs right now. I've written eight episodes so far, published five, and now have the opportunity to write regularly--daily--and to publish episodes to a schedule that will allow readers to expect "the next exciting installment."

It's a different experience for me because the platform (for me, at least) will lend itself to writing a rough draft, reading it over once, and then publishing it. I usually revise much more. The platform will allow me, though, to write the first draft, let it sit for a while, and then to revise and publish. I'm okay with the seat-of-your-pants style of publishing. Maybe it's the blog writing I've been doing the last few years. 

What I need right now is to write fiction. I'm finding it soothing, and I think that's because I'm investing more in the process than the outcome. If writing is a journey, then right now I want to enjoy the journey. What with all the turmoil in the world, having a reality that I control completely (as much as any writer controls the process) is reassuring. It's a safe haven that I can return to again and again, a Rivendell of creativity that nurtures me in times of trouble. 

Kindle Vella stories allow the first three episodes to be read for free. Then readers use tokens to gain access to following episodes, the number of tokens determined by the length of the episode. For instance, the fourth episode of Grav Board, "Hunt," is 1,459 words long and "costs" 14 tokens. Each episode has to be at least 600 words in length. Kindle provides each reader the first 200 tokens for free to get you reading.  

If you're a writer, then you know that "at least 600 words" for an episode is a nice little length for a sit-me-down writing session--and we can always write more, you know! It's kind of a wild leap into thin air for me writing on this platform. Perhaps the subject of alien skateboarding is an appropriate metaphor for this time in my writing life. 

If you want to read along with me as I write, please do so! After Kindle Direct Publishing informed me my first episodes were live, I went to the Kindle Vella site and tried to find Grav Board. Couldn't find it while searching categories. That's my biggest concern--the story drops into the immense ocean of platform content and disappears into the depths. 

This blog article is a bit of self-marketing. If folks who read my blog articles or books are interested, go to my story, read and hopefully enjoy, and then provide a response--a review or a thumbs up. You can also share via Facebook or Twitter. Also, collect those free tokens so you can read more than the first three episodes for free. I figure that with the first three episodes being free and with the free tokens, you can read around the first twenty episodes for free. After that, I think the next two hundred tokens would cost you something like two bucks. 

I've enjoyed writing the first three thousand words of this story. Getting back into the routine has been fulfilling. It's always great to have reader support, though, so follow along. It never hurts for a writer to remember that there's a reader hovering over your shoulder. It may not keep me completely aboveboard, but writers should feel free to plumb the depths for mysteries. Follow along (and, yes, there is a "follow story" button) and you'll be the first to see what treasure arises from the oceanic depths, still streaming with whatever water of creativity I can muster. 

Just be sure to enjoy. Grav Board won't feature the news of the day. All science fiction fans will tell you, though, that sometimes it's the news of tomorrow that makes the joy of today.

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