“Scissors, Rock and Paper Doll” Redux 2023

In late 2022, when I removed my science fiction novel, “Scissors, Rock and Paper Doll”, from the Xlibris imprimatur, it was mostly because Xlibris charged about $22 for the book.           I wanted to re-commission the novel through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and make it more affordable. It goes for $14.50 now.

            But I also wanted to clean it up, do some garden variety editing for misspellings and such. So, I reread the book with this in mind.

            “Scissors, Rock and Paper Doll” was written in the late 1980’s, almost 35 years ago. When I wrote it, I thought I was writing a short story, but I was an uninformed tyro. I had written a story that was a little over 100 pages long. A short story’s approximate limit is about up to 30 pages; a novelette between 30 and 70 pages. I had in fact written a novella, a work between 70 and 160 pages. After a novella we have a novel, 160 pages and up. My “short story” was repeatedly, and understandably, rejected by the short fiction magazines.

            I could not see my way to cutting out 70 or 80 pages, a little more than 65% to whittle “Scissors, Rock and Paper Doll” into a short story. I opted to continue the story, and turned it into a novel.

            When done, it sat in limbo for a spell. I sold short stories, but sold no novels. I decided to self-publish “Scissors” in the early 2000’s. I self-edited it and self-published it through Xlibris, a fine DIY literary venue.

            Since then, I’ve self-published three other novels and a collection of stories.

            I believe that with the passage of time and the exercise of writing and getting feedback through writers’ critique groups, I’ve become a better writer. I have come to earn accolades from a variety of corners, starting with the famous and illustrious author Paul Di Filippo. I’ve also earned multiple honorable mentions for my stories, and have been short-listed a number of times.

            So, it was no surprise to me that when I decided to edit and republish “Scissors, Rock and Paper Doll”, I was a little taken aback at what I read. As mentioned, I’d written this about 35 years ago.

            There are two strands to the novel: the original 100-page core which had grown in depth and length; and a second story that braided itself around the core. The two rivers of narrative met and united at the ending.

            With a few exceptions, I was happy with the original strand. The second strand, however, was — I hate to say it — subpar. I found it adolescent, predictable, generic and outdated.

            It was an adventure and a pleasure — as well as a sweat — to revisit and rework the material. I worked to make the text both more fantastic and poetic at the same time, and more believable. I found the crease and stress lines in my characters’ lives and restructured some of the events, as well as tropes, in order to let gravity do some of the hard work.

            I believe I succeeded in crafting a superior telling of “Scissors, Rock and Paper Doll” while preserving — and highlighting — the original structure and story. I was happy when I finished the first version of it in the early 2000’s. Twenty plus years later, I am more than happy. I’m titillated, excited, and proud.

            We have not, I hope, seen the last of Truman Ferry and her surrounding cast of characters — Muse, Carmen Ysidros Tyler and her brother Alejandro, and of course, the former Iceman Clay Tyler. I’ve been plotting two more novels to follow the first, to complete the story arc I came to intuit and envision when I finished this novel, my first.

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