So I lied. I didn’t plan to lie. I really thought I wasn’t going to write any books this year—focus only on marketing. Ah, Bobby Burns, wonderful past poet, my plans “gang aft agley.” My words, however, should not be worthless nor my character terribly impugned. At least I hope not.
July 5, my publisher asked me if I would be willing to write a novella and have it to him by September 15. Now, I’ve been writing novels averaging over 140,000 words in length. I had to ask what the length of a novella was. He told me 20,000 to 30,000 words. I asked for twenty-four hours. I wanted to be certain that my manuscript readers on whom I depend would be with me. Both replied enthusiastically in the affirmative. Well, then, I found myself agreeing to deliver a manuscript by September 15. Yikes.
I spent some time thinking about how to choose a subject. I didn’t want to write outside my chosen subject of passion, peopling the Americas before the last Ice Age glaciation event. Then, it came to me. I’d write novellas, not just one. I’d write them identifying the places suspected of being pre-Clovis sites across the Americas. That could set me up for years and fill my time with effort of substantially less than a 140,000+ word novel. What a delightful opportunity.
I fumbled around wondering which site to pick first. It wasn’t difficult. The single most fascinating site to me is the Valsequillo area in Mexico. There was a find of a human skull that had been dated to 250,000 years ago. The location was under volcanic ash. The story of that location is messy. What happened there isn’t nice. I think of it as the ugly side of the Clovis-First power, not science, just strong fisted power. I may be misjudging it, but if so then I’m guilty. I don’t often go out that far on a limb, but in this case, I’m willing.
Many findings from that site have been removed, destroyed, made unavailable. Still, it hasn’t been utterly discredited and the findings that remain are amazing. That does not preclude stories from forming around what’s known. Storytellers will weave their tales. This one’s irresistible to me.
So, I now have a plan for a series of novellas growing. It’s exciting to me! The first is a “take” on Cinderella. Well, it’s a far-fetched take. In this case, Cinderella is a guy, age sixteen, whose name is Wing. The title of the story is 250,000 BC: From the Shadow of Popocatépetl. The name of the mountain is pronounced at the end so that petl sounds like petal (e.g., flower petal). The second e is not a long e.
Having to think small is a challenge. I’m already at about 9,000 words. That’s about one half to one third complete. Yeah, I do write fast. The writing style has changed. I remain utterly convinced these people have plenty of intelligence, but I’ve decided to limit their verbal communication to simple sentences. Ever try to limit yourself to writing in simple sentences? It can be hilarious!
Yeah, I know the story from end to end. I always have to do that before I write. I won’t give it away though. You’ll have to read the novella. It’ll be short! I hope to be able to send it off to my readers by the end of next week. I’m eager to get reaction to the change and the story.
Read the novella and decide whether to impugn my character!