Thank you for having me here, Brooke. Today I’ll be talking about Black Sheep: Letting go of the Past and how I came from writing the trilogy as a serial to publishing it in ebook.
Back in the days that I started out writing Black Sheep there wasn’t much market for gay fiction, not as far as I could see anyway. What I did encounter was a lot of writers writing serial stories for free online. Even though I wanted to get a traditional publishing deal I also didn’t feel like keeping Black Sheep to myself for all this time. And since I believed that most traditional publishers weren’t interested in gays, let alone gay teens at the time (back in 2008) I decided to join the horde and serial publish Black Sheep online.
Black Sheep: Letting go of the past, previously named Black Sheep Part 1, took me about three years to write. I wrote the first couple of chapters but since it took me a while and I had gotten in contact with someone who showed me a few errors I kept making, I rewrote it back in 2009. The version you can mostly find online is the 2009 version and in some cases a later version with more rewrites. Back in those days I only thought about my writing in measurements of how much I liked where the story was going and the sparse reviews I got. What really got me through finishing, especially part one, were a few friends I had gathered and their encouragements and love for the story. It was interesting to see how different people reacted to the story.
As I began taking my writing more seriously I became part of a critiquing group and although I didn’t put Black Sheep through the group fully I did learn a lot about the story and story writing. Things like better ways to explain things and how to properly format a story. This was during 2010, when the ebooks just came into the view of most writers. I didn’t embrace it at first, unsure how it all worked.
During that same time I was more and more focusing on becoming more serious about my writing. I read a lot of things about good writing and good story telling. By this time I was finishing up Black Sheep Part 1 and had started planning Black Sheep Part 2 and also some bits of Part 3.
Now it was late 2010 and I was doing regular writing exercises. I had put Black Sheep Part 1 aside and focused on Part 2. Part 2 took me about a year to write. At which point I also participated in NaNoWriMo, just a month after finishing Part 2.
My original plan was to publish the NaNoWriMo 2011 novel at this time but during the year I realised that the story needed more work than I had time for at that moment, plus after finishing Black Sheep part 3 in just 3 months, I knew it was a better idea to publish Black Sheep. Up until that point I hadn’t had any plans to publish Black Sheep other than as a serial. But I realised it was stupid to have a trilogy online but not easily available for everybody as an ebook.
I decided to give readers two things that the online serial didn’t have, the first one was a short story added to the end of the book that hadn’t been shown online yet. The second thing was something I had been worried about for a while, editing. I had no problem doing the editing myself when I published it online, but to have people pay for it was a whole other thing. I realised that if I was expecting people to be serious enough to buy my book I was going to have to be serious about the book and get it properly edited.
I looked around on writers fora and decided on one editor out of the five that I originally queried and I think I decided well. She is great to work with, showed genuine interest in the story and the genre and showed me some persistent errors that I made. She was very quick and very helpful. I’m glad that this was my first experience with an editor because I’ve heard some horrible stories from other writers, which scared me off for a bit.
By offering these two things I decided that even though Black Sheep: Letting go of the Past is an online serial it would still be worth it to publish it in ebook and print. Because I could offer a better experience for the reader than I have been able to with it as a serial. Black Sheep: Letting go of the Past has been experience after experience of firsts: my first English written story, my first full novella, my first series, my first online published work and now also my first edited and e-published story.
Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Brooke.
Kia Zi Shiru is a Dutch girl studying English and Creative Writing in the UK. Amongst her interests she finds writing, reading, doing research and learning different languages (including but not limited to: English, Dutch, French, German, HTML, Java, PHP and Assembly). Her writing and reading habits include books with Young Adults, gay themes, strong female or minority characters and fantasy elements (more often then not all at the same time).
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About Black Sheep: Letting Go of the Past...
But that plan is sabotaged when his new best friend, Jack, kisses him on New Year’s Eve, something Vic has been longing for and dreading in equal measure. Vic knows being gay in high school can be hell, and he’s scared sweet and innocent Jack won’t be able to handle him, or his past. It scares him more than anything now that his past has come back to haunt him, metaphorically and literally.
Vic tries to hide the horror of his past as long as possible, knowing that when Jack finds out what happened he will leave him.
As Vic takes a turn for the worse everybody but him realises how strong Jack and his love for Vic actually are. But is that enough for Vic to move on?
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“Vic?” Chris knocks on the door and enters. “Jack is here for you. He’s waiting downstairs. Need a minute or can he come up?”“I’m okay. Just need to, y’know.” I pick up my shirt and put on my wristbands again.The little devil takes two steps out of my room and yells, “Vic is jerking off, if you want to see him finish you need to be here quick!”As I lunge for her I see Jack standing downstairs. My eyes go wide and my mouth goes dry.“Sisters are fun, eh?” He smiles up at me and slowly starts walking up the stairs.Oh my, oh my. I hide my face in Chris’ neck. This is so embarrassing. He looks so hot, his hair is styled straight, he’s wearing super-tight black jeans, a fishnet shirt and a black leather choker with studs on them. I wish I had been jerking off, I wouldn’t have this problem in my pants right now.Chris giggles and escapes to her room. So I turn around quickly and walk inside mine to look for a way to disguise my ‘problem’.“You coming?” I ask as I sit on the chair in front of the computer.“Well, if you insist,” he drawls from the hall.Is he flirting? Oh no, this is getting bad. Maybe he doesn’t even realize what kind of reaction my body is having to him right now. And if he does realize and keeps doing this, I might not be able to restrain myself for long.He walks into my room and stops. “How are you feeling? You seem better.” He looks around and then decides to sit on the bed.“I’m feeling okay, I guess. I just woke up.” I look around, trying not to pay too much attention to him.